Friday, July 29, 2011

August Family Fun Calendar


Storytelling - A gift for the whole family

Everyone has favorite stories that they love to tell. People tell fairy tales, folk tales, childhood memories, old family legends, stories from friends or family or even just what happened to them today. Many of these stories will become tales that are told over and over but many of them will be forgotten.

Tell lots of stories in your family to stimulate your children. There are several things that stories can help children with.

1) Background: Many people wander through life wondering where they are going but it can be easier if you know where you came from. If your family has special traditions explain to your child why you do these things. That is something your child will carry with them always. Do you eat certain foods at certain times? Do you have a special vacation spot that you go to time and again? Explain these things to your child. Also dig deeper, tell them about your heritage. Where does your family hail from? You may learn several new things yourself.

2) Imagination: When you tell a story instead of reading a book a child must visualize the pictures on their own. This will assist with their reading comprehension and when they begin to write, an imagination will make it easier to come up with ideas. It can be difficult as an adult to use our imagination but try hard to stimulate your child's imagination.

3) Language: Telling stories and reading books are a great way to stimulate a child's language skills. They will hear words that they have never heard before, they will hear the proper sequence of words and they will detect the punctuation of phrases. The more words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary as they age. Be ready to explain a word to a child if you think it is a new word to them or if they ask for an explanation.

4) Convenience: You do not need any supplies to tell a story. You can do it in the car, the bed, a doctor's office or anyplace else that you may be.

5) Reading skills: Telling stories teaches a child the nuances of plot, sequence and characters. They will begin to understand the concept of a story long before they can actually read.

6) Lessons: Many stories that we tell or read often teach a lesson. Whether the lesson is about sharing, not hitting or just being nice many stories teach many lessons. After you tell your child a story, take a few minutes to talk to them about it. Ask what they learned in the story.

Story Projects:
Ask family members near and far to record themselves telling stories. They can read books, tell stories from their childhood, make up stories or recite fairy tales. These will be great for your child to listen too. It not only helps with their development but it also keeps family that they may not see every day familiar to them. If they do not want to record their voice they can also write the stories and your family can read them.

Story Dice: Have you seen these yet? They are wooden blocks purchased from a craft store that you draw pictures on or decoupage pictures onto them. Then you roll a dice and start telling the story based on the picture that comes up. Some samples that you can purchase are below.
Muffin Baby Shop on Etsy - I love that these are in color.

Mama Mayl's Shop on Etsy - love the symbol key and book.
Fancy Fannie's Shop on Etsy - I love the variety on these.
Oh Sew Crafty Canada's Shop on Etsy - These also come with a book to write your stories.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marshmallow Popper

You may have a popcorn popper in your house but do you have a marshmallow popper? I can not help you build the popcorn popper but I can assist with the marshmallow popper. This idea comes from Real Simple Magazine and equals cheap and fun entertainment!

Disposable cup
Rubber Band

Use your scissors to cut the bottom off of your cup. I then put a strip of tape around that bottom as it was a but jagged and I did not want to risk my son getting hurt or the balloon getting ripped.

Stretch your balloon a few times and then tie up the end. You are not going to be blowing the balloon up. Once you have tied it off, cut the balloon about two inches below your knot. You are only keeping the knotted end.

Stretch the knotted end over the bottom of your cup, covering the tape. Now use your rubber band around stretch it around the balloon edges to keep it on the cup.

To use the popper you will put a marshmallow inside the cup and then pull down on the balloon knot.

Once you get accurate with your marshmallow popper, make some targets on the ground and make a game out of it. We used rope to lay out circles and assigned a point value to each circle.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Five Green and Speckled Frogs

I was recently pondering what we should work on next and was playing around online looking for some inspiration. I came across the website, Picklebums and became very excited when I saw her adorable Five Green Frogs printable. The frogs are so cute and since my son loves frogs, I thought this would be perfect.

I printed out the page and wondered what I should do with it. I decided to make a Five Green and Speckled Frogs toy.

Five Green Frogs printable from Picklebums
Sticky backed craft foam (I used white)
Empty paper towel tube
Brown construction paper
5 Craft sticks
7 clothespins
glue (stick and school)

 I attached the frogs to sticky backed craft foam and then cut them all out. I then used the white glue to glue a craft stick to the back of each frog. I clipped a clothespin onto each frog to hold the stick until it dried.

Wrap the construction paper around the empty paper towel tube, using the glue stick at several intervals to adhere it on. Use the two remaining clothespins to slip one on each end of the paper towel tube until the glue dries.

Once the paper towel log has dried, use your scissors to cut five slits along the top for the craft sticks to fit into.

Once I got to this step I realized that the weight of the frogs on the log would roll the paper towel tube over so I cut a couple of tabs out of cardboard. The cardboard is actually a snack box from my recycling bin, I cut a couple of pieces about 1 inch wide by 2 inches long and folded them in half. I then glued them onto the log where the construction paper ended. Let this dry and then you are ready to proceed.

We used this to go over the Five Green and Speckled Frog poem that is on the bottom of the printout. We also worked on adding and subtracting and making up new stories with the frogs. All in all, it was a huge hit!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Keeping Cool

I am not sure where you are, but here in KY the weather has been hot and humid! That means we need to find ways to keep cool so I thought I would go on a search to see how others are keeping cool this summer.

First we need a yummy dessert that does not require turning on the oven. Teaching with TLC really delivers with her amazing Ice Cream Cake. Doesn't it look delicious?

As much as would love to just eat dessert, I need some other nutrition too. Here is the  Katie Brown Blog with some great no cook recipes. I want to try the Gazpacho with Goat Cheese recipe that she links to from Real Simple Magazine. It looks delicious and the Farmer's Markets are bursting with fresh tomatoes!

If it is too hot to go outside where you are maybe you could do some of these activities.

The Line Game - Each person gets a piece of paper and they each draw a line on a piece of paper. It can be any kind of line: straight, angled, curvy or any other shape. Once the line is drawn, everyone switches paper. You now have to make a drawing from each other's line drawing. It is always fun to see what one person can make from another person's beginning.

Another great activity is Mad Libs. No need to always have the Mad Lib books, you can also make up your own stories. For Example:
Storyteller: There once was an animal. What kind of animal?
1st child: A Kangaroo!
Storyteller: There once was a kangaroo named_________.
2nd child: Star!
Storyteller: There once was a kangaroo named Star. Star liked to __________.
1st child: Wear socks!
Storyteller: There once was a kangaroo named Star. Star liked to wear socks.

The story can go on and on. You can also ask the kids to tell you the story. Once it gets some length to it (4-5 lines) ask them to repeat it to you. This will be fun and it will work on their attention and recall skills.

If you can go outside, try some of these ideas.

Come Together Kids Blog has a great Bubble Refill Station. The kids just go over and put more bubble solution in their containers. No worries! They also include a bubble mix to make at home.

Build a Kidwash! The kids can go through on foot or on bike. Keep cool is the name of the game. This post came from Discontinuity on Indestrucables.

Keep cool in this hot and humid weather!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Paint Movement

How do you move paint? With your fingers? With a paintbrush? What else can you use to move around some paint?

We used old hotel room keys and some "pre-approved credit cards" that came in the mail!

We put a few blobs of paint on a canvas and then I gave my son the cards to use instead of paintbrushes and he loved it!

He liked how the paint piled up on the card and the noise it made as you scraped it across the canvas. I am sure we will be trying this activity over and over again.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Art? Yes, Yes it is!

I had a great plan for an artistic endeavor. I thought it was genius and foolproof! I thought my son would love my idea! He had other plans for the art project and he had way more fun!

Gessoed Art Board (any size, we used 16x20)
craft paints
paper towels

We picked out some paints and decided we were going to make some drip paintings. I thought it would be so much fun to watch the colors combine. We put squirts of about 6-7 different colors on the board and then tilted the board to watch the paint roll down. The plan was that we would watch those roll down and then turn the board and do some more paint colors. Turn the board again and repeat until we were happy. Once we may the first turn and added the second colors, I could see the wheels turning in my son's head!

He wanted his hands in the paint so bad it was physically impossible to sit still. I let him mix the colors all up. I suggest doing this activity outside, we had paint everywhere! We also had an amazing amount of fun!

Once he had run his fingers all through the paint and mixed it all well, we went back to watching new paints run down the board. We would pick which color we thought would be the fastest and the slowest. He really enjoyed the race and he loves to see his art on his chest in his bedroom!

Because the paint was so thick, it did take over 24 hours to dry but it was worth it. Be sure to keep the board on top of the tray or another surface that it is okay to get pools of paint on.

Art is different to everyone but it should always be fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Worms, Worms, Worms

This past Friday (July 15th) was Gummy Worm Day! My son's teacher was so kind and invited me into the classroom to do a special segment on worms/gummy worms. I had so much fun and I think the kids enjoyed it too. I am sorry I do not have action pictures of the kids participating in the activities but I did not want to put a bunch of kid's pictures on here with out parent approval first.

First, I purchased 2 inch petri dishes for the whole class. Once I received them, I washed and sanitized them well to make them food ready. I then laid a small gummy worm in each dish and made blueberry gelatin to surround them. Each child then had a gummy worm snack to eat. They really enjoyed this, as how often does anyone eat anything out of a petri dish?

Next we played a game of "Pick Up Worms". I cut up several pipe cleaners/chenille stems into a variety of sizes and we used tweezers or ice tongs to pick them up. This was much like the game my son and I played picking up snakes, I just renamed it. To make it a bit more of a challenge, I put the "worms" in a container filled partway with colored rice.

We also played a rousing game of "Worm in the Apple". All of the kids stood in a line with their legs spread. They were the apples. The child at the end of the line was the worm and had to crawl and wiggle through every one's legs. When he reached the front, he also became an apple and the new last person was the worm until everyone had a chance to be the worm.

I also made up a little sheet for everyone to measure their worm. For this, they used a gummy worm. I taped a seamstress' measuring tape down to the table and we measured each worm a couple of ways. First we just laid the worm down and measured it. Next, we stretched it out as far as we could without breaking it and measured it. This turned into a discussion of elasticity and how even though we stretched the worms, they went right back to their original shape. In addition to measuring the worms in inches, we also had a pre-made measuring stick of "unifix cubes". The kids wrote each measurement on their sheet and at the bottom of the sheet was a box to draw a picture of their worms.

The last activity was probably one of the favorites. I actually bought a container of night crawlers. I put a few in larger petri dishes and gave the children magnifying glasses to investigate them. We wrote down all of the words that they used to explain and describe the worms. In the beginning several kids were hesitant to touch the worms but by the end everyone was letting worms hag out in their hands. At the end of the experiment, we went outside and released the night crawlers into the garden that they have. The classroom is growing tomatoes and marigolds. We explained how the night crawlers would crawl around in the soil and make it loose and easy for the roots of the plants to go down deep and allow the plants to grow happy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Sidewalk Chalk Art

On the Family Fun Calendar for July we suggested going outside today and doing some sidewalk chalk art. I thought to myself, wonder what kind of art is out there using sidewalk chalk? So I went to my trusty friend Google and look at what I found.
This is pavement art by Julian Beever. I found it on the blog Having Lemonade.

This picture is from Incredible Art. They had a sidewalk chalk festival after turning in their AP Art folder. What a great way to relax.

This is a rendering of Leaf Cutter Ants also created by Julian Beever. I think everyone should check out his website. It is amazing what he can do! These are just chalk drawings on flat sidewalks. Shocking!

Some kid created chalk art:
Frugal Family Fun created this great butterfly garden on the sidewalk in front of their home.

This picture is from Drawing on Earth. They went to Hearst Elementary School in CA and drew this 80x80 butterfly with the 700+ kids working on it for three days!

Let your inner Picasso roam free tonight and every day. Get out to the sidewalk and be free!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life Cycle of a Snake

We recently read another of our books in the Life Cycle Series that I purchased. This time we read
Green Snake (Life Cycles) by David M. Schwartz. I still highly recommend this Life Cycle series. We love that there are actual photographs in the books instead of just illustrations.

After reading the book we decided to do a few activities.

First we talked about how most snake species lay eggs instead of giving live birth. We also discussed how snake eggs are not hard like a bird egg. They are more leathery feeling and have some give to them.

We then did an experiment to see how they feel. Since I do not care for snakes and have no desire to go on a snake hunt, we used a chicken egg. I hard boiled two regular chicken eggs. Once they were ready, I put one in the refrigerator and the other I put in a bowl and covered it with white vinegar. We let the eggs sit in their respective spots for 24 hours then we pulled them out to look at them again.

The egg that had been in the refrigerator looked and felt exactly the same as it had when we put it in there. The egg in the vinegar though, had taken on a new consistency. Instead of the shell being hard, it was more flexible. We could squeeze the shell without it cracking and it actually bent in under the pressure of our fingers. My son was fascinated by this.

Why this works: The eggshells are made of calcium carbonate and when the acid of the vinegar touches the calcium it causes a chemical reaction, which you witness with the bubbles coming from the egg in vinegar. The reaction will continue with the calcium turning into carbon dioxide (the bubbles) until the calcium is used up (about 24 hours). Now that you have this soft shelled egg, what do you do with it? Well, you can extend the experiment by leaving the same egg out on a table over night. The next day the eggshell will be hard again. The reason is that it stole the carbon dioxide that we breath out of the air.

The next thing we did was an exercise for fine motor skill development. I cut up numerous pipe cleaners/chenille stems into a variety of sizes and put them in a container. My son had to use tweezers to pick up the "snakes". Once he picked them up, he used the tweezers to sort them a few different ways: by color and by size. He loved doing this and was quite adept at using the tweezers.

Once we had sorted the "snakes" we graphed them a few ways: Longest to shortest, color wise and then how many of each color we had.

Have a great time studying snakes at your house!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Math Activity

We have been trying to work on our counting skills at my house so I whipped up a little activity for him to work with.

Construction Paper
Pipe Cleaner/Chenille Stems

Cut strips of construction paper about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. You will need one for each number you want to work on. Fold the strips in half and write a number on one side. I cut my pipe cleaners in half since they are originally so long. Now glue the paper around the top of the pipe cleaner with the number facing out.

Once everything has dried, set out the pipe cleaner counters and the beads. The child then has to string the correct number of beads on to the pipe cleaners.

This works on counting and fine motor skills. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Water Bombs

With Summer officially here, things are really starting to heat up. I love the pool but after a long day at work I do not always feel like driving to the pool and we don't have a pool in the back yard so what is a Mom to do? Get creative!

I made water bombs for us to play with and we have used them almost daily since.

Sponges (2 or 3 per bomb)
Cable ties

If you are using a large sponge (5 inch or so) you will only need 2 sponges per bomb. If you are using smaller sponges, you may want three sponges. Cut each sponge into thirds (larger sizes) or fourths (smaller sizes) and then stack them in layers. See picture for explanation.

Put a cable tie under the sponges and pull tight. Once you have it pulled all the way, trim off the excess.

Now squeeze, squish and soak your water bombs. Do not aim for the face and be sure to play nice!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Sensory Bins

If you have spent any time looking online at parent or teacher blogs then you know that themed sensory bins are a huge phenomenon! I love them and would love to personally play in several of them. There are some amazing and creative people out there that are designing these sensory bins.

Sensory bins are great for extending a theme in your classroom or home. There are three types of learners:
Auditory - meaning that you learn through listening. Verbal lectures, discussions and listening to what others have to say are the most beneficial for this type of learner. Auditory listeners are great at picking up the meaning of the speaker through listening to the tone and pitch of the lecture.
Visual - meaning that they need to see something to learn it. Visual learners not only need videos, flip charts, illustrations and diagrams but they also learn through the body and facial expressions of the speaker.
Kinesthetic - meaning they need a more hands on approach for learning. These learners typically have a hard time sitting still for long periods listening to lectures. They need to see, feel, and touch items to process. They need to move around to learn.

All learning styles can benefit from sensory bins but a Kinesthetic learner will really prosper with a sensory bin.

I have scoured the web looking for some of my favorite summer themed sensory bins and have included links below.

First, I have to include Counting Coconuts Blog. She has some amazing bins and does one each month for her son.

Some other sources for Sensory Bins:

As you can see, there are some very creative bins out there. I will give you a few pointers though:

1) Make sure everything is age appropriate. If your child stills put everything in her mouth, be vigilant about the items you put in the bin.
2) Put cups, spoons, scoops or other items in the bins to let your child practice those skills.
3) Be prepared. Yes, it can get messy but we put down a cheap vinyl tablecloth and put the bin on top of that.
4) If you are afraid of huge messes, use some of the bins strictly outdoors.
5) It does not have to be expensive. Buy bins at the dollar store and supplies at the dollar store, goodwill, thrift stores or dollar spot at Target.

Read this article from Counting Coconuts about her FAQ on sensory bins. Have more questions? Post them below and we will answer them as soon as possible.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Kids Matter and the Child Care Council of Kentucky would like to take a moment to wish you and your families a safe and fun 4th of July.

We wish you a festive and safe time with great friends and family!

Want a little math lesson for the kids? Have them poll guests about favorite grill foods, fireworks or ice cream flavors. Then the kids can graph the answers. Easy and fun, learning never rests!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Family Fun Calendar

The July Family Fun Calendar is ready to be downloaded. Enjoy!

Making Soap Mountains

We did the old standby experiment this week of Ivory Soap in the microwave. If you have not done this experiment yet, run don't walk to the nearest store and buy a few bars of Ivory Soap.

Take your bar of Ivory and cut it in half or thirds. Lay a piece of the soap on a paper plate and put it in the microwave for 45 seconds. You will be amazed at the results! The bar starts to expand and grow. It literally looks like a mountain of soap. When you look at it, it looks soft and squishy but looks can be deceiving. It is still hard just like a bar of soap.

This only works with Ivory soap but it will be beneficial to have another type of soap available to test also.

How it works:
When Ivory is manufactured they whip plenty of air into it. It is the only soap that floats in water. It does not float as well now as originally due to Proctor and Gamble changing the formula somewhat and adding glycerin to the mixture to keep it from dissolving so quickly. Back to the point though, when you heat up the soap it begins to soften and the air and water inside the soap will also heat up. When the water in the soap heats up, it vaporizes and when the air heats up, it expands causing the bar of soap to expand into a foam mass.

When you cut the bar of Ivory, look closely at the cut sides. Do you see bubbles or pockets of air in the soap? You would think you would since I just told you it contains lots of air but since the air is whipped into the soap during manufacturing you do not actually see the bubbles or air pockets.

The foam mass of soap that is now out of the microwave has not changed at all chemically. You can still wet it and build a lather. You can use it for a bath or shower. The only change is in the physical appearance. If you tried other bars of soap in the microwave you will see that they just begin to melt instead of expanding.