Friday, December 24, 2010

Counting Game Boards

I am always on the lookout for a fun way to teach math. I say this because math has never been my favorite subject. I find it boring and tedious. Having said this, I realize that math is a necessity so I try to make it more pleasant for me.

For Christmas, I made these little game boards. The board is 36 inches long and really thin and I purchased it at Hobby Lobby for less than $3.00. It is so thin that I was able to cut it into two 18 inch board games with nothing but my craft knife. Once it was cut in half, I painted both halves (I used Lush Foliage Crafters Acrylic from DecoArt and love the color).

Once the painted had dried completely, I stuck ten foam glittery stars to each board. I used a gold star at the top and bottom to signify the start and win sections. The other item that will accompany these boards is a foam cube that came in a package of foam cubes from the Target Dollar Spot. I used a permanent marker to put the dice numbers on the sides. My son is probably old enough to use a regular dice safely, but better safe than sorry.

I am not supplying any figures for the games because we will just use the abundance of dinosaur and other plastic critters that are around our home. The object is obvious, roll the die and move your figure that number of spaces.

We can also use the boards for teaching A-B patterns and color recognition. I am sure he will enjoy them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roll a Tree Math Game

I put together this game in about 5 minutes to work on our math skills. I cut 4 different sized triangles from green craft foam, one rectangle from brown craft foam and one crooked star from yellow craft foam.

The object is to roll the die and use the pieces that match the key card I drew up. We enjoyed playing this game. It reinforced the counting skills and worked on matching sizes since the triangles that form the tree get consistently smaller.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Decorating the Tree Math Skills

Working on our math skills some more for the holidays. I cut out a large triangle to represent a tree and then I traced a penny all over the tree. Once that was complete, I pulled out lots of pom poms and we got playing.

Each time we rolled the die, that is the number of pom poms we would put on the tree. If your pom poms are smaller or larger than mine, just use another item to trace for your circles. We enjoyed this game lots as it was math but we could be creative with how we put the colors on. I did not restrict my son's color choices but you could turn this into a patterning game also by making all even numbers a certain color and all odd numbers another color. There are a variety of ways to do this. AB patterns, ABC patterns, AABB patterns, AAB patterns, etc.

Learning can be fun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Kwanzaa Crafts

This week we will be preparing for Kwanzaa, which begins on 12/26/2010.

Enchanted Learning has a great page full of crafts and worksheets. They also discuss the history of Kwanzaa. I love the Candles  with treats inside. Use them to decorate the kids and then as gifts for the kids.

I love these candle holders from Making Friends. They are made from baby food jars.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Do you believe in Santa?

Picture courtesy of Science Blogs

When I was growing up, everyone that I knew believed in Santa Claus. That is not always the case these days. I am not here to tell you which is the "right" way to raise a child. I am just going to show you some different perspectives for both sides. Before I begin this I will preface it by saying that in my house we believe in Santa.

There is an article on Science Daily about a study done in 1896 and repeated in 1979. The study looked at 1,500 kids between the ages of 7 and 13 and whether they believed in Santa Claus or not. The study found that 46% of the kids in 1896 and 44% of the children in 1979 gradually found out on their own that Santa did not exist. The study went on to say that about half of each percent were disappointed that Santa was not real but very few (2% and 6% respectively) felt betrayed about the believe. Most of the children even continued to pretend for the sake of younger children that Santa did exist even though they knew it not to be true.

Last year, Parade Magazine ran an interesting article about a man and when he no longer believed in Santa. It makes for an interesting read about how when something significant happens in your life you can usually recall tiny details of that event forever. He recalls the moment that he stated aloud that he know longer believed, a shooting star shot across the sky. I was also 7 when I stopped believing. Nothing as dramatic as a shooting star for me. I was snooping under the tree one day after school (my parents told me not to but that just piqued my interest). My Mom had already wrapped my gifts from Santa and had stuck them in the very back under all of the family gifts. I found them and then I went to my older and wiser brother (he was 11) to inquire about how come Santa had already come to our house and if I still had to be good. My brother told me that there was no Santa and that Mom & Dad just did that for me. I was upset but not devastated and my parents still give me presents that say From: Santa on them and I am way past 7 years old now.

There is a blog I read called Teacher Tom's Blog. I like him as he lets the children in his care make the rules for their school. He had a great post recently about Santa. I hope you will click on the link to read it but basically in large circle they were talking and the subject of Santa was brought up. He played uninformed and pretended to have not heard of Santa. The children proceeded to tell him their take on Santa and how the whole magic process happens.

Many people do not want to teach their children about Santa because of the "lying". I do not want to lie to my child and I want to give him the best possible start in life. Santa is on every street corner and it is hard to explain to children that see him everywhere that he is not real. I have a friend who does not celebrate Santa in her house. There are no religious reasons or any "great reasons" (her words, not mine) that she decided to not teach about Santa. She just felt that there was enough misguidance in the average life that it was not her place to purposely mislead her children. They have never had their picture taken on Santa's lap and all of the gifts under their tree say who it is actually from instead of an imaginary person. I love my friend and I respect her right to bring her children up with any believe she wants. I never discuss Santa in front of her children but I am perplexed as to how to handle it when my child gets older. I spoke to her about it and she stated that she told her children that many people believe in Santa as a real person but in her heart it is more of a feeling than a person. When I asked her to explain she said that she felt that the best part of the "Santa" believe was the giving of gifts and the love. This is the part of Christmas she taught her children. She taught them to love one another and to show their love with words and sometimes with gifts. This is a believe that I can get behind but in my house we will still visit Santa every year.

What about in your house? Do you teach your kids about Santa?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is Creativity Alive and Well In Your Home?

Not long ago, Newsweek magazine published an article about how creativity in kids is declining each year. Kids today are used to playing with a toy based on its sole purpose. They no longer look at a toy and say “What else can it do?” Almost all toys come with batteries these days and they do not lend themselves to creative play. Without creativity in your life, how can you look at a problem and know how to solve it? How can you improve the world without creativity? The answer to both of these questions is that you can’t.

It is time to bring creativity back into your home. Below are some suggestions on how to go about this.

Have an electronic item/appliance that no longer works? Take it apart and let the kids play with the pieces; encourage them to create something with it. Your your best judgement on ages and size of pieces.

Give your child an empty cardboard box or paper towel tube and then ask them “What do you think you can make with this?” Once they bounce some ideas, encourage them to try making those things. Boxes can become boats, houses, cars or planes. Paper towel tubes can become binoculars, tunnels for cars or magic fairy wands.

Research shows that children learn lots through make believe. Encourage them to pick out a favorite story and act it out with them. They could even make some props to go along with the story if they would like.

Leave Halloween costumes and other dress up clothes accessible to your kids year round.

Have a fort building contest. Lay our some blankets and fabrics and see what they come up with.

Keep art supplies accessible for the kids. Set up a corner in a room where they have space to create a project.

Busy hands help the brain to form. Building blocks and Lego’s are great activities but they are not the only thing to build with. Give your child a deck of cards, or some miniature marshmallows and toothpicks, regular marshmallows and coffee stirrers or straws. The possibilities are endless.

Play lots of different types of music in your home. Ask your children how a piece of music makes them feel; happy, sad, excited. Every piece of music stimulates something in us.

Encourage your kids to be creative in their daily endeavors. Encourage them to look at all solutions before they pick one.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Christmas Crafts

Last week was Hanukkah crafts, this week we move on to some Christmas crafts. Next week we will be covering some Kwanzaa crafts so be sure to come back for that.

A cute and simple snack for the kids. Love the marshmallow snowmen at Random Thoughts of a Super Mom.

Love these ornaments from Mumma Made It and if you used plastic ornaments it would be doable for most ages.

Homemade Mommas made a very cute gumdrop tree. For my son (3 years old), it would be hard to use a glue gun and let him participate so I would probably pre-stick toothpicks into the tree and let him stick the gumdrops on in any design he chose.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eye Exams

The Child Care Council has been notified recently that the Dr. Bizer offices in Lexington, KY are offering eye exams for only $1.00! This is a great oppurntunity to get all of the family's eyes checked. The state has a mandated eye exam that is required prior to January 1st. The offer experies 12/25/2010 so make your appointment now.

Coupon for $1.00 Eye Exam

If you have a Dr. Bizer's in your area, check to see if they are participating in this program.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Each family has their own specific holiday traditions but sometimes it is fun to add some additional ones to your family. These traditions are what the kids will remember when they grow up and move out of your house. They may not remember a gift 10 years from now but they will remember your traditions.

Here are some traditions that I practice or I have heard of practicing every year.

1) Take the kids pictures in the same place every year.
2) Writing letters to Santa.
3) Using the same stockings every year.
4)Always put up the tree at the same time each year.
5) A day of cookie decorating.
6) A girls day - all the girls/women in the family spend the day together going out to a meal.
7) A boys day - all the boys/men in the family spend the day together going to a ballgame.
8) Open one gift on Christmas Eve. We open pajamas.
9) Having the same breakfast every year.
10) Reading of special holiday books.
11) Picking a charity to donate to.
12) Picking a person from an angel tree. We always pick one close in age to my son.
13) Sending out Holiday cards.
14) Sending out Thank You cards. If your child is too young to write, take their picture with the gift, print it out and let them draw a picture for the recipient.
15) Setting out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
16) Elf on the Shelf. We set our Elf (named Buddy) out on the shelf and he reports to Santa if my son is being good or bad.
17) Put the kids in pajamas and then go for a car ride to look at lights.
18) Buy one ornament for each child. When they move out, they will have ornaments for their first tree.
19) Make ornaments every year with the children.

Those are some good traditions to think about when you are trying to decide on some for your family. What other traditions do you do?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Hanukkuh Crafts

With the Holidays upon is, this is a great time to learn about the variety of celebrations in December. We will start with Hanukkah.

First up is Amazing Moms with a very preschool friendly Menorah. Who knew plastic cups and wooden spoons could bring people together?

Next we have a homemade Dreidel made of a file folder from The Examiner. I love that they have the link to print this out and since you are using a file folder, you should be able to really play. She even includes the rules of the game.

Here is another Menorah, but this one is from Nick Jr. They want you to purchase stickers to decorate the Menorah, but it would be nice to have the kids draw or paint symbols for Hanukkah. You could turn it into a whole lesson on what the symbols mean.

Last but not least we have Creative Jewish Mom with some great party favors for the kids.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homemade Gift - Memory Game

I was in Hobby Lobby recently and bought some stamps with a coupon I had. I decided to use the stamps to make my son a memory game for Christmas.

I stamped each picture on two different rounds discs. My discs are about 2 inches round. I just used black ink to keep them simple looking. It would also be easy to draw pictures in the discs. I drew on the sun and crescent moon.

I am pleased with how these turned out and they will make a very cute gift for my son. I went with a nature theme but it would be easy to make them with trucks or dolls. If you do not want to stamp the discs it would also be easy to put fabric or paper on one side of each disc. This game can be customized to match any interest your child may have.