Let It Snow…Finally

The snow is falling…finally!  It’s been such a mild winter, that I’ve had to remind myself almost daily that spring is not just around the corner.  Today, it’s not hard to remember it is February, and isn’t the snow beautiful? IMG_2092 What better way to spend a snowy February morning than baking zucchini bread (I froze a little shredded zucchini from the summer garden back in August for just such an occasion) and making Valentines with my son for his preschool class?  The idea for the Valentines came from a Seventh Generation blog post, and the zucchini bread recipe comes from my old trusty Better Homes and Gardens cook book (handed down from my grandma) but I linked to some similar recipes in a previous post. IMG_2097 IMG_2098 How are you spending these February days?

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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom & Letter Fun

To give ourselves a new focus for the new year, I have decided to put our weekly art and sensory projects together around a new theme each week.  For a few months now, I have been making a point to give the kids 1 sensory activity per week and 1 organized art or crafting project each week.  Of course we encounter many experiences with art and things that engage our senses throughout our daily rhythms, but these are more incidental like coloring with crayons when my daughter wants to help me pay bills or kneading dough with me while I make bread.

As an early childhood teacher, I have always loved to build lessons and activities from books so I think I will try to start with a new book each week.  I am also considering adding a special game or activity with my son (3) to reinforce the skills that he is picking up so quickly.

This week I chose “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archembault for our book.  I chose it because my son has begun to show interest the letters in his name and my daughter has begun trying to sing the ABC Song.  If you’re not familiar, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” is a silly poem about all of the letters playing in a coconut tree.  We have been reading this book each morning after breakfast.  We have also been singing the ABC Song a lot!

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Sensory Activity:  Several months ago I died white rice green.  This is an easy project.  All you need is a bag or 2 of white rice and a few drops of food coloring.  Mix several drops of food coloring into about 1/4 cup of water per 2 lb bag of rice (I think I used 1 bag) in a large bowl.  Add rice and stir.  Kids love this part 🙂  You could add a little more fun and place everything in a sealable jar or plastic baggy and let the kids shake, shake, shake!  Once all of the rice is covered spread it out thinly on brown paper (I cut a grocery bag) or paper towel to dry.  This takes a while.  Plan to let it dry over night.  I keep our rice in a plastic container with an airtight lid.  (One day I spiced it up by adding the last few orange lentils from a package that I wanted to clear out of the pantry.)  When we want to play I simply open the lid.  We’ve added lots or enrichments to the rice like small plastic frogs, small people, we’ve hunted for gold treasure in the rice; but this week I added some wooden letters from my son’s Melissa & Doug word puzzle set.  I added a palm tree from a play set and voila, we have a “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” themed sensory box!  Both kids loved it, I even heard my son telling his sister (1) that he had found a letter from his name.  Something about the rice can really mezmorize young children.  It’s worth the bit of sweeping that is required to clean up.

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Art Project:  I used several full 8×11 sheets of construction paper in varied colors to draw a large block letter for each letter in my children’s names.  Then I gave them markers and encouraged them to fill their letters with color.  To my surprise, my son drew a line through the inside of each letter (essentially writing each letter).  He then embellished a couple of letters with different designs.  All of the letters turned out beautiful and when hung together they make fun name banners on each child’s bedroom door.  I am a huge advocate for giving children loose directions and a limited choice of materials for art.  They almost always surprise you with what they produce!  And it is always more beautiful than you could have predicted.

Happy day to you and yours!

“A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer”. ~Author Unknown

My Week in Review

I can hardly believe that Christmas Eve will be here on Tuesday.  For the week before Christmas, it’s been a pretty manageable one.  We:

  • Finished shopping
  • Baked cookies
  • Made cornstarch and salt dough ornaments
  • Painted
  • Dropped packages at the post office
  • Read lots of Christmas stories
  • Helped decorate Mimi’s and Boo’s new home for Christmas

…and we are counting down the days until the big day!  How is your family preparing for your celebrations?

My son (3) is so excited!  I love watching him remember things from last year, and piece together all of the fun and joyful aspects of our holiday celebrations.  He has also just begun saying “I love you” to his dad and me!  This is the greatest gift he could give us this year 🙂  He really enjoys making gifts and getting them ready to give.

My daughter (1) is enjoying all of the reading and baking of the season!  She also seems to like the music and dancing.  I even notice her trying to sing the words to a few familiar songs 🙂  I can’t wait to see her reaction on Christmas morning.  The 1st year that they are old enough to understand what’s happening is so fun!

I am still knitting like crazy to finish the last cowl.  I’m busy getting all of the ingredients ready for our last batch of Christmas cookies (my favorite, Black Forest Cookies), our Christmas morning egg bake, and Christmas spaghetti dinner.  I’ve finished most of my wrapping.  Just a little more to do and a lot of assembly yet to be done this weekend.  This final stretch is always a little bitter-sweet for me (kind of like the beginning of autumn).

To every hearth a little fire,

To every table a little feast,

To every heart a joy,

To every child a toy,

Shelter for bird and beast.

(Traditional)

Warm wishes and blessings to you and yours this Christmas!

Blog Hop: Celebrating the Winter Solstice

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We’re hopping again… this time to Waldorf Inspired Learning for a lovely explanation of the Winter Solstice and the beauty to be found in celebrating the increasing light.  I look forward to making this lovely sun craft with my kids next week!

http://waldorfinspiredlearning.com/winter-solstice/

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Winter Sensory Box

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I am a lover of sensory activities.  They are rich in learning, calming, centering, and super fun!  They will keep your young children busy and quiet for longer than you think.  It’s way worth the bit of mess they create.  This week I made a winter sensory box with cotton balls, small branches of pine (from the back of our Christmas tree and clippings from the arborvitae in our front yard) and some woodland creature finger puppets (I threw in Santa too).  Both of my kids (3 & 1) had a lot of fun with it.  I had fun making it too 🙂

Do you have any ideas for fun sensory activities?

Turkey Kid Craft

 

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On this day before Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a fun & festive project to keep little hands busy and to brighten up the decorations for your feast 🙂  It’s a wonderful sensory activity too working with feathers and glue!  Both of my children (3 and 1) worked hard and were able to make a turkey of their own. 

Here’s what you need:

  • feathers
  • construction paper
  • glue (we used a glue stick and white glue)

For my son who’s 3 I let him use his own glue stick to glue feathers to a piece of orange construction paper.  For my daughter who’s 1 and a half I spread the glue on the paper and let her stick the feathers on.  I cut out brown turkey heads, orange beaks, and red snoods (the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck).  I let my son glue his face onto the turkey head.  I did this step for my daughter.  Then I glued the heads over the feathers with white glue.  We drew on black eyes.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

I hope all of my American friends are enjoying this prep time for our feasts tomorrow.  There isn’t a holiday that beats Thanksgiving in my mind.  What could be better than too much food, family and friends, a warm home that smells delicious, and a morning snuggling and watching a parade?  All of the best things in life in one day 😀

Happy Thanksgiving!

Playdough

This week’s sensory activity was play dough.  My son (3) helped me measure the ingredients.  And then he and his sister (1) played! I gave them long wooden cylinders from the block basket and a few leaf-shaped cookie cutters for fall.  They had a blast squishing and rolling and cutting.

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Here’s my favorite play dough recipe. (It comes from a collection of recipes I have compiled over years of teaching.  I don’t recall its origination.):

Mix all of the ingredients together in a pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the dough thickens enough to form a ball.  Dump onto the counter and knead (when it’s cool).  It should keep for a week in an airtight container.

1c. flour (I’ve used both bleached white and whole wheat and they both work well)

1c. water

1/4c. salt

2t. cream of tartar

1T. vegetable oil

food coloring.

If you don’t already make a point of giving your children a variety of sensory activities, I highly recommend it.  Not only are they wonderful learning experiences, they are often calming and incredibly engaging for children.  Best of all for us parents, they keep them busy and quiet for longer than you might think.