Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mail+Math+Life Savers = A Sweet Combination

Last week my kids received an exciting package in the mail from their grandpa (my dad). It contained a large bag of Lifesaver Gummies.  That alone would have been exciting for my boys, but to make it even sweeter my dad included a letter with instructions for a math activity using the Gummies.  My eager-to-learn 1st grader couldn't wait to begin, so we started right away.

Here is my son carefully reading the instructions.  The instructions consisted of things like this:  
1.) Get 3 sandwich bags. Put 3 Life Savers in one bag, 4 in another bag, and 5 in the last bag.  What is the total in the 3 bags?
2.) Now give your brother 1 Life Saver from the first bag, 2 from the second bag, and 1 from the third bag.  How many all together does he get?


At the end, A was instructed to count how many Life Savers there were total, which required him to count to 47.  My son loved this activity, and of course loved the candy. :)  I loved that he had the chance to practice his counting and adding skills and enjoyed doing it! Score one for Grandpa!  It was extra special that this came in the mail, but it would be a fun activity to plan for your own child as well.  You don't have to use Life Savers of course (that is just a favorite of my kids) - you could use Skittles, seasonal candies, etc.  It could also be adapted to a color sorting activity for younger children.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We've Had a Makeover!

Motherhood Moments has had a makeover!  My wonderful, talented husband designed this new template for me.  What do you think of our new look?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Apples and Snakes!

Tot School
K is currently 33 months old.  Our themes this week:  Apples and Snakes.  I know, strange combination, but sometimes you gotta go with the flow . . .


I finally made a felt board (has been on the to-do list for a while) and made an apple tree for it.  We said the rhyme, "Ten red apples in the tree, one for you and one for me.  Eight red apples in the tree, one for you and one for me . . . " and took the apples off the tree until they were all gone.  This idea came from Making Learning Fun.
I stuck some of our apple post its to the wall, and K "picked" them and put them into his basket, counting as he went.
We played "Pin the apple on the basket."  I saw this idea somewhere, but now I can't remember where!
Another idea from Making Learning Fun was making a play-doh mat with a tree, and then making apples out of play-doh to put on the tree.  I made these "apples" to show K how to do it . . .
but he had way more fun squishing the apples all together.  He wasn't too into the "making apples" idea, so it ended up just being play-doh free play.
I drew a couple of trees and gave K stickers to decorate them with, but he decided he wanted to draw his own tree.  So I gave him some markers and let him go at it.  I was pretty impressed with his tree!  He put some apples and two little squirrels on it.  He said the squirrels were him and his big brother. :)
He did this apple seed counting activity from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  After he matched the numbers to the apples with the correct amount of seeds (with my help), he pointed to the numbers with my pointer and counted.  Has anyone else noticed that everything is more fun for kids if you let them use a pointer? :)
This is when our theme went in a new direction.  We discovered 2 dead snakes (don't worry, they were the harmless kind!) near our house within 24 hours.  K was FASCINATED.  He kept wanting to go back and see the snakes "one more time." I'm a big believer that kids learn much better when you follow their interests, so we ditched the apples and did some snake stuff.
We made an "S is for snake" craft.  We read some snake books and looked at snake pictures on the internet (which Mommy didn't enjoy very much - the poisonous snakes freak me out!)
K's grandma and grandpa sent us a couple of wooden ready-to-paint snakes in the mail this week.  I (and they) have no idea how they timed that so perfectly!
We went to the park one day, and K lined up these cones that we had brought for soccer and started counting them all on his own.  I love when they do that kind of thing with no prodding.
Field trip!  We took a field trip on Friday to a Health and Safety Faire put on by our county's Office of Education.  It was great! The boys got to sit in a fire truck and a police car, take a train ride, make a craft, play at water tables, shop at a mock farmer's market, and received fireman hats and a bunch of other goodies.  Fun and free is a great combination!
See what more moms & tots are doing at 1+1+1=1.

Moments from the Big Green Chair: Sputter, Sputter, Sput

One of our recent finds at the library was this book, Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell.  It is a very simple story about a driver and a little red car zooming around town, until the car runs out of gas (enter the "sputter, sputter, sput").  So they fill it up (gurgle, gurgle, glug) and zoom around town some more.  Despite how simple it is, my almost 3 year-old loved this book.  He wanted to read it again and again, and he enjoyed making the "gurgle, gurgle" and "zoom vroom" sounds for me.  There are a lot of fun activities you can do based on this book!
One thing we did was make an "R is for road" craft.  Here is K doing some gluing.
The finished product.  We made the "R" into the road, and I helped Kyle make lines in the middle with a white crayon.  I cut out a little person and car (that looked like the one from the book) and K glued them on.  His favorite part was gluing on the eye.  Then we made little houses by the road, and a hill like the one in the book.  We talked about the shapes of the houses as we glued them on.
K's favorite activity was acting out the story!  His car was a laundry basket, and I placed Baby J's steering wheel toy in the front (but you could improvise with a frisbee or anything round, or make your own steering wheel out of a paper plate with a hole cut in the middle).
I  pushed his "car" all around the living room, until . . . "sputter, sputter, sput" it ran out of gas.  So, he had to get a fill up.  We happen to have a gas pump toy, but you could make your own out of a cereal box like Ali did here.
I also made a road on the carpet using masking tape, and we added blocks to make tunnels and hills.  K had fun acting out the story some more with his little cars.
We skipped the brushes and used cars to paint instead!
The story repeats the words "up and down, all around the town" and "uphill and downhill" a couple of times, so it's also a great opportunity to do some "up" and "down" activities.  Here is K demonstrating "up"!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Messy Moments

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realize your little one has left the room, and is being just a little bit too quiet?  You suddenly realize you better check on him or her, so you rush into the other room and usually find something like this.  Hmmmm, maybe I should have just given Baby J his own box of Kleenex for his birthday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Joyful Moments

A joyful moment is . . . watching your baby take his first steps.

Joyful Moments

A joyful moment is . . . when this little face looks up at you and says, "Mommy, I love you.  You're my best friend. "

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun with Apples

K is 33 months old and J is 12 months old.
Tot School


This week, we had a theme:  Apples!  We had tons of fun with this theme - so much actually that we weren't able to do everything I wanted to, so I think we'll keep this theme for at least another week.  Here are some of the things we did:
K did a magnet page from Making Learning Fun.  Then, he decided he wanted to take off the magnet page and make monsters on the cookie sheet with his magnets.  This boy has an obsession with monsters, that will definitely be one of our themes in October!
He did these shape matching puzzles from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I put magnets on the back so they'd stick to the cookie sheet (he gets frustrated when they slide around).  He enjoyed this much more when I made it into a game.  I put 1/2 of all the apple halves in a basket for me and the other half in a basket for him.  Then we would take turns picking out a half, looking at the shape, and saying, "Do you have a star?" (or whatever the shape was) then the other person would find the other half and we'd put the apple together.  K LOVED this, and wanted to play it every day.
He put apples in order from biggest to smallest (this was also from Confessions of a Homeschooler).  It was cute because he said the biggest apple was Daddy, the next was Mommy, etc., with the smallest being Baby J.
When he had enough of these activities, he would get silly and do things like this. :)
We apple & spoon races (kind of like egg and spoon races) using artificial apples.  He picked one up from one basket and took it across the room to another basket.  We did egg and spoon races back around Easter time, and it was amazing how much his balancing skills have improved since then!
He also transferred the same apples from one basket to another using tongs. Yes, he opens his mouth when he's concentrating. :)
I found these apple shape post-it notes at Joann's.  I wrote the numbers 1-10 on them, stuck them on our easel, and had him swat whatever number I called out with a fly swatter (a new, clean, never-been-used-on-flies fly swatter that I got from the Dollar Tree).  Then we put the numbers in order.
We read Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss, and he made his own "Ten Apples up on K" craft (see previous post for more activities to go along with this book).
Non Apple Themed stuff:  he painted with cars and we made an "R is for road" craft.
After he finished painting, he said, "Let's have a car wash!"  So I let him wash his cars in the sink with bubbles - this turned out to be the perfect way to clean up, and it added on another 10 minutes to the activity. :)
He continued his love of puzzles.  I love this picture of him doing a puzzle in his "secret spot" behind the rocking chair in Baby J's room (he had to make sure J didn't get his puzzle pieces).
Baby J was LOVING his stacking rings this week, and got pretty good at them!
I also pulled out this old gumball machine toy that was A's, and Baby J really liked it (any toy that allows J to put objects into something else is a hit).  I don't think they sell this exact toy anymore, but there is a very similar toy at Target called the B. Sugar Chute.
We got out our instruments and sang songs and made a lot of noise!
We had to take J to the doctor for his 1 year check-up, so K was in doctor mode.  Here he is playing doctor with his beloved bear (he gave Mommy a check-up too).  I just love this picture!  Head over to 1+1+1=1 to see what others are doing!


Moments From the Big Green Chair: Ten Apples Up On Top

Last week we read Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss.  The boys both loved this book and there are so many fun activities you can do along with it.  As you can see, we tried balancing apples on top of our heads just like they did in the book.  It's harder than it looks!  The boys had a blast trying, though!
We made a "Ten Apples Up On Top" craft.  I cut out a picture of each of them and they glued it to the bottom of a piece of  paper.  Then, they glued 10 apple cutouts on top of their heads.  We counted the apples as they glued.  You could also have them just draw a picture of themselves and then glue the apples on top.
I think this last activity was K's favorite.  We made a simple "mop" out of a paper towel roll, some yarn, and tape.  We pretended our wooden blocks were apples, and made a stack of ten.  Then, K pretended he was the bear in the story who tries to knock the apples off their heads with his mop.  
Crash!  Down went the apples!  We did this again, and again, and again. . .
I highly recommend reading this story with your little ones, it's a lot of fun!  Also, the text is pretty simple, so it's a great one for new readers to practice their reading skills. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Joy of Motherhood Comes in Moments

"Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction." M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chores


My husband and I have had the goal for a long time to start some kind of chores system with our boys. Our oldest is almost 6, so it's about time! We finally decided on a system, and so far it's working great! We made the above chore chart out of pegboard from the hardware store (we made it big enough so that we can add on Baby J eventually . . . and possibly one more). My husband cut some dowels into small pieces, and we used those to hang pictures of their required chores. We decided to go with pictures so that our 2 year-old could easily see what he was supposed to do. It's not the cutest chore chart I've seen (by far!) but it serves its purpose and should be durable. The boys each have a morning job, an afternoon job, and a dinner job. Then on Saturdays, they each have 3 or 4 jobs to do. I struggled with whether or not to pay them, but in the end we decided we would. It's a good opportunity for them to learn about money, and I'm hoping that it might eliminate some of the begging at the stores - I'll be able to tell them they can use their own money if they want something! Also, they're much more motivated this way! :) They get paid 10 cents per job. We pay them each night for the jobs they do (except Sunday), and then on Saturdays we exchange their dimes for dollars/quarters/etc., just so we don't have to constantly be getting more dimes. I got the idea to do the money this way here, her reasoning made a lot of sense to me. The boys are very motivated and my house is already much cleaner, yay!

Another idea for chores, especially with smaller children, is the "Chore Bucket." We used this idea a couple of years ago with my oldest son (though I didn't do a very good job of keeping it up). I just mod podged some cute paper onto an old formula can, then wrote different chores he could do on small pieces of paper. Then, I would just have him choose one or two per day.
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