Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Costumes

Have you ever wondered about the children who are in the hospital during Halloween?  Where do they trick or treat? Why are they in there? How are their parents holding up?

My father got cancer when I was ten years old. I was a child. And hearing the word cancer was not scary. I had no idea, clueless and carefree. But, what I witnessed, what is burned into my memory, will always be scary.
I somehow get drawn to blogs of people who are battling cancer, or their children are. I feel like I have a bond with them in some strange way.

So years ago I found out about Princess Alexa.  I was reading through a good friends blog, who happened to be her cancer nurse.  I didn't have children then, but now I really can not even imagine what Crys Aigner went through watching her daughter have cancer.

Alexa lost her battle to Stage IV Neuroblastoma in 2008.  You can read Alexa's story here.
Her mother started a foundation in her daughter's name. It provides dress up closets to hospitals, so children can play and feel normal.  Since the children are undergoing various treatments, the costumes have to be NEW, not gently used.

So, here is what I think we should all do:
After Halloween, all the costumes go on sale.  We should all buy some and send them to the foundation! They don't know me, or know that I want to help out. I just always have this women and her story in my mind every Halloween.
The Dress Up Drive is held the first two weeks in November.
More details can be found here:

Just more of a PSA than a teaching blog tonight. Hope yall don't mind.

Sneak Peek of our Halloween Costumes:


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sticker-ing a Pumpkin: Fine Motor Work

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest
I pinned the above picture because it was cute.

No other/educational reason really!  Simply cute and I love that!!

The above blogger used star sequins and tacky glued them to the pumpkins for a Crafty Girls Night Out!  (She also made an amazing sequined drip pumpkin!  You have to check it out!)

Her picture reminded me of those little star stickers and I thought, what a fun Fine Motor Activity!

So we pulled out the sticker stars and stickered away!

(Iphone picture.  Sorry.)
Carter's chubby fingers hard at work!
*Notice the crumbled sticker sheet laying next to the pumpkin.  We had a mini-meltdown.

Fancy, fancy!! 


Peeling those stickers is hard work!!  They were tiny and a bit challenging as the paper would pull up along with the sticker....which caused the meltdown.  Bigger stickers would have been a bit better for him.

Confession:  I totally tried to encourage to push him to pick the silver or gold stars but he wanted the blue.  Bad Mommy!!!

(And Carter 21 Months)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

Beware: This was also created on the Coffee-High, long nap day!!

Time for some fall flavored Play Dough!!  
It smells so good, you can't blame your child for wanting to taste it!  Ha!

I saw a yummy Pumpkin Spice Play Dough picture on Pinterest. 
And it didn't look like this.  Mine didn't turn out so nice.

It was too globby at first.  So not my favorite recipe.

But hey, after a little kneading, it was fine.

My suggestion for a recipe is:
Use Red and Yellow food coloring.  LOTS of it.
Then add 3 Tbs. of Pumpkin Pie Spice OR Cinnamon.

Changing out the COLOR and SMELL of your play dough add a new dimension to their Sensory Learning!  

Teaching Tips:
  1. Play with them.  They will learn by watching you!
  2. Let them explore on their own too.  
  3. Mimic what they do with the play dough.  It will affirm their exploration.
  4. Talk to your kiddo about the new color and smell. Great way to naturally have a Color Lesson!
  5. See if they can roll it into a "snake" or a "ball."  This is skill they have to build up to!! (Note:  The play dough above was NOT rolled by Carter.)

Now, I need a Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Adios!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen and a Halloween Craft

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Muffins on pinterest.

Two ingredients: cake mix and canned pumpkin. (I used spice cake and added chocolate chunks)
Seriously, you can't mess it up.
And they can eat it without having that raw egg thought in the back of your mind.  (Anyone else still eat raw cookie dough anyways... no, just me??)

And then I got bored waiting for Daddy to come home! And out came the paint and drop cloth.
Just fill the vase with candy corn and instant cuteness!! 
(I found the sticks next to the popsicle sticks at the craft store.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photos: Create Memories & Build LANGUAGE!

We all know that blogging is a way to share our stories, our lives, our joys and sorrows and our beliefs with others. It keeps family and friends near and far entwined in our daily lives.

While visiting both Sarah and Suzy, I was amazed at the joy their boys had when reviewing the blog photos.  Pictures of a petting zoo experience came alive again as animal sounds and descriptive words came flowing out.  Pictures of an afternoon of swimming and pool basketball brought about lots of exciting conversation.  When we look at photos we have the opportunity to relive the experience.  Our senses come alive!  We can feel the wool on the sheep and the fur on the bunnies.  We can remember the cheering and excitement of jumping in the water and making a basket in the pool basketball game.  Every experience is a learning experience even when it is repeated and relived by looking at photos.

When you "relive" the experience with your children through photos, give them words.  STRETCH their vocabulary with positional words, such as "The cow is in front of the duck" etc.  Describe the way the animals felt, the way the flowers in the garden smelled, the taste of the blueberries you took on the picnic, etc.  They are building their vocabulary, their comprehension and are learning to "read" pictures. Most of all they are becoming story tellers and will soon be able to put their stories on paper.  Who knows?  They may be a published author one day!

Now, if you are more like me and not as tech savvy or use your computer strictly for "grown ups" here are a few easy and very inexpensive ideas to chronicle your family's life...create memories and build that language!

Tip #1 Never leave the house without your camera. Remember, everyday is an adventure and memories are being made.  Luckily, with Smart Phones, this is easy!

Tip #2 Snap the pictures!  Don't wait for those perfectly posed moments or you wll never have a finished product.  Just snap!!!!!  The more the better.

Tip #3 Every occassion is a special one.  Whether it is a morning at the park or a trip to the grocery store, turn it into a future learning experience and chronicle it with photos.
Tip#4 Print your photos.  Having them stored in your camera or having rolls of undeveloped film is no good to your child or to you.  PRINT THEM!
Tip #5 Don't store them in a box or toss them in a cabinet (sound familiar kids?) for that time when you will sit down and make those special, beautiful scrapbooks. That time never happened in this house. There are no beautiful scrapbooks, just shoe boxes of photos. I had good intentions though. :)

Tip #6 Go to the Dollar Store and purchase several small individual photo albums. The ones I am thinking of are about the size of a wallet. Fill them up!

Tip #7 You can make your own photo book by taking sandwich size zip lock baggies, put 2 photos back to back in each bag, zip it up and staple or binder ring several together for a photo book. Like So.

Tip #8 Sort the photos and place them in the books by events or outings or days.

Tip #9 Sit and relive the experience with your child. Add more descriptive language each time you "read" the photos.

Tip #10 Simple little photo book are perfect for something familiar or comfortable, when going to nursery or to a friends house.  They are perfect for a car trip or airplane travel, as well.  What a perfect little something to take to bed for nap or night time to recap the day.

Remember, make memories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Corn Starch Sensory Table

An impromptu rainstorm turned into an impromptu Sensory activity! 

By the way, we are so happy that all of our stuff has arrived in Canada!  
Including our Sensory Table!

We had THIS in our cupboard!

We added some mini pumpkins, tupperware, tongs, 

Cornstarch is so soft!  He had so much fun scooping it up, "just like a truck."  
He's obsessed with trucks at the moment.

This is messy work, no doubt.  He was covered in it, BUT totally worth it!  
He was engaged and hard working so intently for a good 30 minutes on this!  So sweet!

P.S.  This was impromptu, remember?  We didn't have a drop used dry-cleaning wrappers!

~Sarah (& Carter 20 months)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Creating a Home Learning Space

Honestly, the WHOLE world is your child's learning space!

And of course, your entire house is as well.  So don't feel that creating a separate space is absolutely necessary for your child to learn, because that is crazy talk!!

With that being said, I'm in panic mode as I'm warned daily about the Calgary Winter approaching in just a few short weeks.

Also, we have half of our basement to do something with...
So naturally, I thought that using the space for indoor activities (especially during winter) 
would be a great use of space!

It is a total mess right now. 

I'm just brainstorming ideas of set up and how we want to use the space.

But this is where we'll be spending our winter days.

A few prep projects I have in mind:

1. Paint the orange table and chair set.  A garage sale find for $30!
2. Organize our "library" collection.  (Possibly in a whole other closet.)
3. Create a rotation of selected books for different themes of interest. The selected books will be used in the basement and for different book baskets on each floor.  
(Example Themes: Fall, Thanksgiving, Pumpkins, etc. for now.)
4. Set up a few Work Stations, with planned, objective oriented, Play-Based activities.
5. Use the two walls above to display art or learning displays.  Hmm??

I was getting overwhelmed, then reminded myself that I only have ONE student!  

I don't need 5 MILLION activities!!  

Just a few each week will do.

And hopefully, all this talk of being stuck inside is just a joke.  Right??  Right???  Right??

So, do any ideas for the projects listed above??
I'd love your help!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Environmental Print IS reading!

Did you know that my boys can read?!!
They are 2.
It's impressive.

Kidding, kind of. 
Environmental print is everywhere, and it is the first stages of pre reading.  The symbols, signs, and pictures tell your children a message. For each child it may be slightly different.

If this sounds like a foreign language to all our non teacher readers, please check out Pre-K Pages, she does an awesome job breaking it down.  And even has great ideas for pre-k teachers, or moms!

  • Check out her homework assignment! Each child was asked to bring in the cover of their favorite cereal box. (The only thing I would have done different is put black dots under each word for my kids to practice touching as they read.)  And then you have an awesome repetition book! (Meaning each page says ________ eats _________.)

photo from

Other environmental print examples:

My boys see this:
And say Apples.
We drive through and get apple slices (they are $1.00 and the skins are peeled.)  
They have yet to realize how amazing the french fries are.

They see this:

And they say lemonade.
I am SO SO sorry if you don't have one in your state. 
Truly, you are missing out on the best company geared for family fun.

Not everything revolves around food!
Luke see's this sign and shouts "hair cut" every single time.
Which is daily.
He has been there twice.
It really is amazing.

So, I decided to make an environmental print poster. But it would be just as fun to make a book, or collage, or put it in those fun picture cubes.

Environmental Print Poster:
Large sheet of Construction Paper
ClipArt, magazine pictures, food labels, real pictures, etc

My poster:

If I really wanted to do my poster right, I would have taken pictures of the signage where we actually go, like HEB, The Mall, parks, stop signs, school, school busses, etc.
Maybe that could be my next outing with the kids. and I could turn it into a book! Ohhh... and call it The Places We Go... 

I feel the need to add more posters to the wall. And SOON.

And before you throw out your trash next week, PLEASE, I beg you.... Take 30 seconds and just read this quick page from Dr. Jean's Trashable to Teachable!  It really is reading plus so much more!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Repurpose a Milk Jug

On a Coffee-High during Carter's nap, I was on a productive rage through the house!  This isn't normal behavior but I'm pretty sure the next few post from me will have taken place on this day.

(Bad iPhone picture.)

Do you always seem to have milk cartons in the recycle bin too??

In a bind for funnels, I cut them in half with a Big 'Ol Knife.

Then, trimmed them up with the scissors.  

Voila!  Funnels or Scoops (if keeping the lid on!)

Teacher Tip:
Bath toy!!  Think, daily, majorly fun, full body Sensory Tub! :)
Bring them to the playground for digging in some dirt!
Recycle Bin when the "repurposing" is old news!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lacing Bucket

Fine Motor work is so important, just think of all you do with those little hand muscles!

If you really need a reason....Pre-Writing skills!  You're little baby needs strong muscles to start writing all of those college essays!  ;o)  Plus, it's fabulous developmentally appropriate fun!

This Lacing Bucket is homemade...
I know, I know, it looks like a Melissa & Doug toy.  (NOT.)

Materials needed:
1. Coffee tub, with cardboard sides, not the metal sides.  
2. Thin rope.  I found mine at the Dollar Store.  
I like this better than yarn because it is stiffer and easier for his little hands.  
If you DO use yarn, tape up the ends to make it stiff!!

How to make it?
1. Spray paint the tub...optional.
2. Make holes in it.  
I stabbed it with a screwdriver...I was too lazy to find the screws.
3. Cut the rope into different lengths.

Threading is tough!! 

Show them how and let them at it!

I was expecting and ready for some frustrated melt downs! But pleasantly surprise.

If they do seem a bit frustrated, help them out.  
If a meltdown occurs, try again another day.
They may not be ready for the job and they are letting you know!

When all done, put the ropes in the tub, and lid back on!  It stores nicely!

~Sarah  (Carter 20 months)

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