Thursday, September 30, 2010

Personal Picture Puzzle

Recently when I picked my son up from daycare they gave me an extra photo that they had taken of him and some of his friends putting together a puzzle. I love when they give me pictures, it makes me feel like I am involved in his day.

As I looked at this picture, I decided to make my own personal picture puzzle with it.

Craft sticks (jumbo sticks are preferable but I only had the regular sized ones)
Mod Podge
Picture of choice
Cardboard to cover area
Craft knife (to be used by parent only...I used my rotary cutter)

Lay out the craft sticks using enough that the entire picture will have sticks behind it. Once you have the length, put a piece of tape along the top and the bottom of the sticks to hold them together. Flip the sticks over and lay them tape side down. Now you will use the paintbrush to put a coat of Mod Podge over the sticks. Once you have good coverage on the sticks, lay the picture face up on top of the sticks. You will now want to put a layer of Mod Podge over the picture.

Once the first layer has had time to dry, I put on a second layer and let it dry. Once you are sure everything is dry, remove the tape and you will use an extra craft stick as a guide and use your craft knife to cut the sticks apart. Since my picture was black and white and my son is young I numbered the sticks in order.

When we are not using the puzzle, I keep it tied together with a ribbon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Teachngs - The Letter O

Another week and another letter down in our lessons. You can print out the letter O here.

Words that start with O: Oar, Oregon, Organ, Ostrich, Orangutan, Open, Oscillate & Orange.

For our crafts we focused on Owl, Octopus and Orbit.

For the first craft, we made an Owl by painting the letter O and then gluing on pieces that I cut from construction paper. My son walked around for at least an hour saying Owl, Owl but I think he meant Ow, Ow because he kept looking for the band aids.

Next up was our Octopus. We painted a letter O with blue paint and then he wanted to give it black legs so we cut eight strips of paper from black construction paper and wound it wound the end of the paint brush before gluing to the page. We then glued on two black eyes.

Our last activity was an Orbit. I opened eight markers and rubber banded them all together. Remember that poor Pluto was demoted so now there are only eight planets. We used the eight markers to make a big circle (an O) on our page and then we glued a yellow construction paper sun in the middle of the orbiting planets.

Foods that start with O: Orange, Octopus, Okra, Olives and Onions.

We stuck with the Owl theme and made an owl face snack. The base is a Chocolate Mini Moon Pie, the eyes are banana slices with chocolate covered raisin pupils and the beak is a cashew. My son loved this snack and I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the cuteness factor against the ease factor.

The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Banned Book Week

Well another Monday is upon us and that means it is time for Monday Meanderings. Normally, I would link you up with some very cute crafts or snacks but since this is Banned Book Week, I thought I would show you some of the books that have been banned.

Our first link is the American Library Association's list of the 100 most challenged or banned books from 2000-2009.

I personally find it sad that many of those books I have read and enjoyed them tremendously. The sad part is that somewhere there is a kid that will not be able to enjoy the books based on someone else's interpretation of the book. Everyone should be able to form their own opinion instead of some random person deciding for them.

I do believe that there are some books that are not appropriate for my three year old and since I am his parent, I can make that call on a book to book basis. Just because my son is not reading them does not mean I want the books off of the shelves. Each family has to decide for themselves what is appropriate and act on it. I would NEVER feel it is appropriate for me to tell you what to read, watch or eat. That is the right of every person to decide for themselves or their child.

Just glancing over the list I can assure you that we own all of the series in #1, I have read all of #13-#19 and #21 is one of my all time favorite books and movies. I read To Kill a Mockingbird about every other year.

Here is a list of banned children's books provided by Illinois Library. I can tell you that there are several books on this list that we own in our home or have checked out at our public library. I do not feel they have caused any damage to my child, they have enriched his life with language and illustrations just like any other book we have read.

During this week, look over the banned books and see how many of the books that you recall from your youth or see if there are books you already own that are on the list. I then challenge each of you to go to the public library and check out some of these books and make up your own mind: "Are they so bad that they have to be banned or is someone blowing the whole thing out of proportion?"

Have a great literary week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Childhood Emotions and How to Cope

Children frequently have a hard to putting their emotions into words or into acceptable actions. If they become angry they will frequently turn to hitting or kicking instead of words. This is not because they are violent; it is because they do not have the social skills yet to voice their anger or frustration.

Listening is an important life skill and one of the most difficult to teach. Many adults are not good listeners but we must make the effort to listen to our kids. When your child speaks to you, show her that her opinion and her life are important. Hang up the phone, stop what you are doing and give her your undivided attention. Ask questions about her day and her stories.

Teach your child empathy for other’s point of view. Ask your child how he would feel if Tommy took the truck away from him. It is important for kids to realize that other people get their feelings hurt also.

If you see your child being kind or considerate to someone else, let them know you saw it. Being nice should be praised as much as a new skill. You do not have to stop the action to praise them but later, let them know you saw the way they were being nice to their friend.

Taking turns is usually very hard for kids. Role play with them; let them play with a toy and then you ask to play with it. This will not only teach them to share but will also show them an appropriate way to ask to play with something.

Explain to your child that all of his emotions are okay but all of his actions are not. It is never appropriate to hit, kick or bite someone and it is dangerous to run away from you when they are upset.

Sometimes children become frustrated that things are hard for them to do. This is when you explain that something else that they can do easily now, used to be hard for them to do. They just have to practice to make it easier.

Children need to develop reasoning skills. Use everyday activities to encourage that. When you wake up in the morning, tell him that it is raining outside, what should you wear today? If your child asks you why all of the time, turn the question back on him by saying, “I am not sure, why do you think it is that way?” Then discuss his thoughts with him.

These can all help us through the tough times of dealing with emotional children. Just take a deep breath and try to explain to them. This is not the time for you to act irrationally. If you become upset or frustrated, how can you expect your kids to know how to act appropriately? Take a deep breath and then smile and help your child. These are reactions that you want your child to learn and children always learn at home first.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Playtime Can Be Stressful

Children are not born with the ability to get along already ingrained in their DNA. They must be taught how to get along and interact with people. Many kids are shy and playing in a group can be very stressful for them and their parents. Here are some hints on helping your child to get along with other kids.

Find a friend that is near your child’s age and find activities for them to do together. It is sometimes easier to approach another group of kids if they have a friend by their side already.

When your child has friends coming over to play, remember that some toys are easier to share than others. If your child has a toy that is near and dear to her heart, put it away during playtime. Some toys that are easier to share: Cars, balls, puzzles, dress up clothes, kitchen toys and musical instruments. When you get these out, be sure there are enough for each child to have a few.

Do not always jump right in to help when your child and another child have a disagreement. You should let them try to work it out unless they are getting aggressive or violent.

A great way to get kids to play together is a craft project. Hang a twin size sheet on the side of a fence and give each child a spray bottle with paint that has been slightly watered down. They can each spray their paint colors and swap colors with one another. Once the sheet is dry they can see the large project that they created together.

Before you go to a party with a shy child, talk to the child and let them know what to expect. Tell them that they do not have to participate if they do not want to. It is okay to watch everyone else. A shy child should never be pressured to participate in an activity, some kids like to play alongside other kids, some kids like to watch other kids play for awhile before they participate and yet others will jump right in with both feet.

There is no wrong or right way for a child to approach a group of kids and ask to be included but sometimes it can help a lot if you allow the kid to role play a little with you or a bigger sibling. It can help to build up a child’s courage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - The Letter N

Well, we are quickly makin git through our alphabet crafts and this week we move on to letter N.

Letter N Feel free to download our letter N wot owrk with.

Some words that start with N: Night, Nest, Need, Nap, Nose, Nickel, Noel, Note and Nanny

For our crafts we focused on Numbers and Noodles.

For our first craft, I wrote out the number 1-20 on small pieces of construction paper and then my son glued them onto the letter N. As he glued each one, we repeated the number by saying Number 1, Number 2, etc.

For our next craft, be prepared for a bit of a mess but a lot of fun! I cooked noodles until al dente then stuck them in the refrigerator to cool. Once they were cool, we poured out paint in to a paper plate and used the noodles as a paintbrush. It was fun and going well until he discovered that he could slam them down hard and paint would splatter! Nonetheless, this was fun for both of us!

Foods that start with the letter N: Nestle, Noodles, Nectatines, Nuts & Nachos.

We made Butterscotch Nests (they are not just for Easter anymore).

To make the nests, melt a bag of butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup peanut butter in microwave. Once melted, add a can of chow mein noodles and mix well trying not to break all of the noodles. Scoop out the noodles on to wax paper and used your hands to form nest shapes. We then used M & M's as our bird eggs since I did not have jellybeans, which is the typical egg on these.

The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Fall Books

Has anyone seen the craze Story + Art = a great stART? Many bloggers are participating in this, including us very soon. The whoel idea is you choose a children's book and then an activity to accompany the book.

I have linked up some great ideas below.

A Mommy's Adventure did a great activity for There Was an Old Lady That Swallowed a Bat. If you have not read this book yet, we consider it "must read for Fall." This activity is also very cute and she has other great ideas on her website.

Red Ted Art made a great bird marrionette to accompany the book Leaf Trouble. I am going to be looking for this book at the library now.

These are just a small sampling of the Great StART stories that are online. Have a look around and find one for your next book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mealtime Can Be a Pleasure

Are mealtimes at your house full of stress and arguing? Do your kids treat you like a short order cook? Is the whole family stressed out by the time the meal hits the table?

I do not have a magic formula to help your kids appreciate your cooking and I can not snap my fingers and suddenly everyone uses proper table manners but I can give you some ideas to try out in hopes of cutting some of the stress with mealtime.

Take some old road maps and use them to make placemats. The standard placemat size is about 12” x 18”. Cut out the maps in this size and use it as a geography lesson for your kids while you are preparing dinners. If you want these to last a while, laminate them professionally or cover both sides with clear contact paper for a less expensive version of lamination.

Let the kids set the table for you. If they are not sure where everything goes yet, set a place setting on a piece of construction paper in the sun for a day. The paper will fade leaving an imprint of the proper way to set a table. Let the kids use this as a diagram.

Have certain toys that are available only during meal prep time. If they can only play with lacing toys while you are cooking, they will appreciate the toy more and keep occupied while you are busy.

While preparing dinner, allow the kids to wash the fruits and vegetables. If you are measuring things, let the kids count the 4 tablespoons or 2 eggs that you are adding to the recipe.

Meal time is the perfect time to begin teaching manners. Please and thank you should always be encouraged when sitting at the table. This is also a great time to catch up on one another’s day. Explain to your child how considerate it is to listen to one another and not interrupt. They will eventually catch on but do not expect a proper and polite child overnight.

Do not force a child to eat a food they do not like, even if they liked it last week. If you try to force a child to eat a food it will only cause control and power issues. It is not unusual for a child to only eat one or two types of food during a meal. Hopefully they will eventually try the new items; just let them do it on their own terms. Your chances are better if you prepare the new food with a food that you know they already love.

Like I said, I can not cure all of the ails that come with mealtime but I hope these hints will make meal time memorable for good reasons instead of stressful ones. Happy eating.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surprise Soap

If you have trouble getting your kids to clean up here is an easy idea to motivate them and it does not take much time or cost you much.


1 bar Ivory Soap


Small amount of water

Small toy

Grate one bar of Ivory soap. Once the entire bar has been grated, dip your hands in water and then use them to form the bottom half of a ball. Insert the toy on top of the formed soap in your hand and then cover with the remaining soap. Once it is well formed, set it over to the side and allow to dry for at least 24 hours before use.

I used the soap to hide a small dinosaur toy. One bar of Ivory soap made a large ball of soap that contains the dinosaur and then I had enough soap flakes left over to make an additional small ball of soap. My son is very excited about the prospect of finding a toy in his soap. Every time he gets the slightest speck of dirt, real or imagined, he wants to wash his hands.

I will also tell you that the grater that I used for this activity is one that gets used specifically for crafts. The last thing I want is for my fresh grated cheese to taste like soap or chalk or whatever I last had to grate for fun.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - Letter M

Well another Tuesday is upon us and that means it is time to move on to the Letter M as we craft and snack our way through the alphabet.

Feel free to download our Letter M to use for your activities.

Some words that start with M: Move, Make, Mule, Money, Music, Mash, Marry, Most, Majority, Myth and Mustard.

For our activities we used Marbles, Marbleizing, Mouse Paintings and Moose.

Our First activity involved Marble Painting. We used a disposable aluminum cake pan and put a piece of paper in the bottom of it. We then used a marble and dropped it into a paint color that was slightly watered down. We got the marble good and covered in paint and then used a spoon to scoop it out and dropped it in the pan on top of the paper. We then tilted the pan back and forth to roll the marble around. My son wanted to use a variety of paint colors and we only used on marble so we got some great color combinations.

For our next activity we Marbleized Paper. The steps are below.

Squirt shaving cream in a pan with sides.

Squirt drops of paint on the shaving cream, using a variety of different colors.

Take a piece of paper and lay it on top of the paint and shaving cream, being sure to get all of the surface of the paper on the mixture. Now grab a corner of the paper and pull it off of the shaving cream.

Use a squeegee to scrape off all of the extra shaving cream and then set the paper over to dry. We were able to dip several pieces of paper in the paint.shaving cream mixture.

Once ours dried, we cut out an M from one of the pieces of paper to reaffirm the whole M lesson.

Next, we used Mice from the cat toy section and dipped them in paint and used them to paint papers. He loved this as we got verry messy.

For the next craft, we made Moose antlers for my son to wear. Sorry that the picture quality is blurry but he was a "charging" Moose every time he put on the antlers.

There were also numerous colorings of the letter M print out but I could not locate them, I am pretty sure he hid them in his room somewhere.

Foods that start with the letter M: Muffins, Marshmallows, Mint, Macaroni, Marscapone, Meatloaf, Melons and M & M's.

We made egg salad over the weekend so we took one of the eggs and made a Mouse. I used almonds for the ears, food markers for the face and licorice for the tail.

Hope you have a  great week working on the letter M with your kids.

The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Apple Time

Well, with the change of seasons almost upon us, it is a gret time to start thinking about apples and I have found some great apple activities for you.

Gobbling Apple Turkeys from Make and Takes

Recycled Apple Craft from No Time for Flash Cards

Apple pie play dough from Along the Way

Apple Stackers from Wee Folk Art

Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi has several activities and games to make.

Hope you enjoy all of the links to apple activities and don't forget the old staple of apple stamping. Have a great week and make a difference in the life of a child.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chores For Kids

Everyone that lives within a household should help to maintain that household. No one should be excused from chores at home. Even the smallest of kids can help out. Chores will help kids to learn responsibility and respect for their property and the property of others.

Do not be vague in what you want the child to do. “Go clean your room” is not only vague but it can be a daunting task also. Start with, "Go pick up all of your Lego’s and then we will work on something else.”

Label containers with pictures and words for what is stored inside. Kids can not put things away if they do not know where they belong.

Do not expect perfection. If you are going to go along behind some one and re-clean because it is not up to your standards then you are just setting yourself up to do chores alone. No one likes to think that they are not good enough. Some things can be below your standards and still be just fine.

Put on some music and dance around while doing chores, this will add an element of fun to the chores and kids will be more likely to participate.

Write each chore that needs to be done on a slip of paper. Each family member then pulls slips until they are gone. This way no one can say they always get stuck with the bad chores.

Be sure to compliment people for helping out. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and if a good deed gets noticed they will want that feeling again.

Make a game of clean up time. Turn on a song or set a timer and say “I think I can pick up more cars than you can before this song is over.” A challenge can go a long way in making things fun.

Be sure that there are some towels in an area that the kids can reach. If they can not reach the items needed to clean up a spill, they can not clean it up.

Kids want to be helpful and they want to do grown up things. This is the time to encourage this desire. All kids should know how to clean up around the house. When they do this, there should be a small reward also. If my son does his chores all week, we go out for donuts on Saturday mornings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coloring Rice

I have seen lots of blogs that talk about coloring rice for your kids and I really wanted to give it a try with my son. I pulled out a bag of rice, the Ziploc bags, the food coloring and then I realized I did not have enough alcohol in the house to do this activity.

I did already have my heart set on it though and since the rice is inexpensive, I decided to go ahead and wing it. I did not have alcohol in the house however I had lots of hand sanitizer in the house and it is mostly alcohol so I decided to use it in place of the alcohol.

I divided my rice evenly among 5 Ziploc bags for red, blue, green, yellow and purple rice. In each bag I used about 7-8 squirts of food coloring and about 2 squirts of hand sanitizer. I then squished the bags around until all of the rice was colored. Next I set the rice on the counter, in the bags to dry some. I came back about 1 hour later and things were colorful and dry. I poured it into our container with each color in a pretty row and it looked so beautiful! I was immediately glad that I did this project.

When my son came home, I showed him how pretty it was and then I dropped a few of the decorative erasers that you see everywhere in there and asked him to get them out with the measuring spoon or the ice tongs. He did pretty well but in about 35 seconds, it was no longer the pretty box I had made, it was his new creation and fortunately I thought it was pretty too!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - The Letter L

Another week, another letter. This week we had fun learning all about the letter L. Please feel free to download a copy of the letter L below.

Letter L

Some words that start with the letter L : Late, Lose, Love, Link, Lion, Laces, List, Lip and Lay

For our lesson, we focused on Lamb, Leaves, and Lady Bugs.

First up for us is Lamb. We printed out the letter L and then my son glued cotton balls to the L while I cut out a face for the Lamb. We then glued on the face and drew on an ear and four legs. My son always enjoys an activity that involves glue so this was a big hit.

For the next craft, we pulled out the glue again. This time we printed out the letter L and glued Leaves that we collected from the yard all over the L. We also made the Leaf necklace that we featured yesterday but my son has already misplaced it so I was unable to get a picture.

Continuing the Leave theme, we also made some Leaf Rubbings. It was later in the evening by now so instead of going outside to collect leaves, we used the leaf rubbing plates that I had stashed in my supplies. This would work just as easily though with real leaves. Lay the leaves back side up on a table, lay a piece of paper on top and then use the side of a crayon to rub it over the leaf to get the impression.

For the last activity, we made Lady Bugs. I took the round yard sale stickers that you can buy at any big box store and cut a few rows of them in half. My son then stuck the halves on a letter L. We then drew in the spots and the antennas.

Foods that start with the letter L: Lamb, Liver, Lollipop, Lettuce, Lemons, Limes, Licorice and Lox.

For our snack, we went with a great activity that I found on The Idea Room. If you have not checked out this site yet, give it a try. She has some great ideas on there. Our Lollipop Cookies were very easy. The dough was a great sensory activity for my son. He is not great at rolling dough into a snake just yet but he had a lot of fun trying.

We used packaged sugar cookie dough and divided it in fourths and colored each section with food color, red, blue, green and yellow. We then put it back in the refrigerator with each color wrapped individually in plastic wrap for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Then we pulled it back out and divided each color into about 10 balls each.

Next we took one of each ball and pressed them together and rolled them out into snakes. We then  wound the snakes around and around until all of the dough was gone.

Before you bake, put a lollipop stick into each cookie. Ours baked for about 10 minutes but follow your recipe's bake time.

The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection

Essential Art Supplies

My son is three and we seem to have enough art supplies for a small army. There are some things that I have found to be essential to our household. Most of these are not brand specific but the ones that are have not reimbursed me in any way. These products were all purchased with my personal funds and I have not been paid to endorse any products.

Crayon Rocks – If you have not tried these yet, I recommend giving them a try soon. They are crayons that are shaped just like rocks and they are the perfect grip size for toddlers. We love our Crayon Rocks to do rubbings with.

Watercolors – My son loves watercolors! It is one of his very favorite mediums to work with. He does not have a perfect grip yet so I use a fatter handled brush than the one that comes in the package. It helps him to grip.

Paper – Construction, Printer, Card stock, Watercolor and Lined Writing Paper for Beginners

Markers – We have a huge selection on markers and are not specific about a brand. He loves all of them and they all dry out when he leaves the cap off.

Crayons – Due to his age and lack of a strong grip, I prefer the fatter crayons. It is easier to show him a proper grip when using something with some substance to it.

Tempera Paint – I bought some large blocks of paint and he loves to use them for any project.

Glues – White school glue, Glue sticks, Gel school glue and glue dots. We also use a glue gun sometimes but he does not operate it.

Crayola Modeling Clay – I love the way this air dries, it feels really great and is lightweight.

Play Doh

Salad Spinner – This is perfect item to use in making spin art. Put your paper in the bottom of the salad spinner, put in a few drops of watered down paint, put on the lid and spin, spin, spin.

Ice Cube Trays – These are perfect for mixing up new paint colors. Each section can be a new color. This is a tiny cube tray but any tray can be used. We also have decorative silicone trays that we use for sorting colors and manipulatives in.

Misc. Items – Feathers, Chenille Sticks (Pipe Cleaners), Popsicle sticks, Paint Chips, Seashells, Stickers, Pom Poms, Coffee filters, Clothespins, Scrap Material and Sheets, Spray bottles and squirt bottles.

These are but a small sample of the art supplies that we keep in our stash. They all stay on a bookshelf in the playroom so he has access any time. Because he has free access, I also keep a vinyl place mat spread out on the floor of the guestroom. What kind of supplies are essentials in your home?