Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tape Resist

We worked on a tape resist project this week using watercolors. It was easy and quite pretty.

Watercolor paper
Blue painter's tape
watercolor paints

We started by using the blue painter's tape to make an initial on the piece of paper. Typically I would just tear this tape but since I wanted straight edges I cut the tape for this project.

We put the tape down on the paper and started filling in around the initial with our watercolors. Our paper was quite large and my son began losing interest in the project so I painted a blue border around ours and he just filled in to the border.

This is an easy and fun project. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the only white you want on the paper is underneath the tape so be sure to fill in all of the other areas with paint. Do not leave any little spots of white. I did not do a great job of getting the tape sealed well so some of our paint bled under the tape, but we still love the picture!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Friends

With school starting back many children will be under a lot of stress. As adults, we forget how hard it is to go up and introduce yourself to a total stranger. If we have no one to talk to or play with we have to spend the entire day alone, which is even less fun.

Can parents help their children to make friends? Do you have to bribe other children to play with your child? Of course not! Here are some ideas to help your child build up confidence and learn to make friends.

1) Give your child plenty of opportunities to play with other children. You child needs to spend time with children her own age, older than her and younger than her. If your child is not currently enrolled in child care or preschool you can still help her meet other kids. Arrange play dates with friend's kids, get involved in a playgroup, take a class together or just go to the park. This will give your child a chance to interact with other kids while still under your supervision.

2) Be patient! This can not be stressed enough. All children do not interact the same. You child may prefer to sit back and watch the other children before joining in, or he may just go right over and play with other kids. Either way is acceptable. Do not force your child to play with other children, it will only cause undue stress on all of the children involved.

3) Talk to your child about friends. Tell her about your friends and how happy you are when you are together. Let her see you having fun with friends. Ask her about her friends. Whom did she enjoy playing with at the park today? How did you feel when the boy took your book today? How could you have prevented that from happening? What kind of activities do you like to do with your friends?

4) Try not to interfere. If your child and another child are have a disagreement, do not jump right up and "take care of it". Allowing children to solve their own social problems is very important. Kids learn about rules by playing with others. At home we may "bend the rules" a bit for our kids but friends are not always so willing. They know the rules and what they expect. If your child and another child are in danger of hurting one another or the situation has escalated to a point that they can not resolve it, you need to assist them. A child can not be at their best socially until they are allowed to interact pleasantly and learn to compromise with other kids.

5) Play with your child like a child. Get down on the floor and have a tea party or play cars with your children. This will give you an opportunity to see how your child interacts with other children during play time. Does she boss you around? Does he always knock over your block tower? If the children are interacting this way with you, it is fair to assume that they will also interact this way with kids. Help your child to understand taking turns, being fair and being a good friend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Super Hero Training (or Gross Motor Skill Lessons)

Recently, my son has been obsessed with Super Heroes. He is not particular about his heroes either, wear a cape or costume and you are his man/woman.

I decided to work on our gross motor skills by setting up a Super Hero Training Course in our hallway. What? Super heroes have to work out just like everyone else. I actually got this great idea from the blog, Chicken Babies. She set up a "Spy Training Course" for a birthday party and I knew my son would love it.

The object of our training course was to go through the hallway without touching the crepe paper "traps" that were hanging from the walls.

We had lots of fun with this but be forewarned, he will expect you to participate and it takes some finesse to do it as an adult!

Once we finished with the course I let him run through the "Finish Lines" just like a famous runner winning a big race! He also loved that!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Pack a School Lunch

Some choices are not easy to make. You can send your child to school to eat what is probably heavily processed food, high in fat, calories and sodium or you can get up early every day and pack a lunch for him.

The first option is depressing, as kids need energy to learn and most school cafeterias serve food that has been processed far beyond it's natural state. The second option can be healthier, but it can also be time consuming.

Here are some great ideas for packing school lunches.

First we have This Lunch Rox with some healthy recipes and beautiful lunches. She does take an extra minute to make them decorative. In this case she sliced a piece of cheese to resemble Pac-Man and laid it on top of the sandwich. Check out her website for some great lunches, recipes and snacks.

Next we have Wendolonia. She does a weekly recap of lunches and snacks that she packs for her young children. Some of the pictures look delicious and I love that she does a week at a time in her posting.

Kat's Bento Love shows how to re-use leftovers for an appetizing lunch. The meals are for adults but they are healthy and tempting.

One thing that can get expensive and wasteful for packing a lunch is plastic bags to store sandwiches or snacks. We try to use bowls or reusable bags. There is a great tutorial for making your own sandwich bags at We Wilsons Blog. You can make them in a variety of sizes and just pick out your favorite material at the store and you are ready to go.

If you start packing lunches there are some small things you can do that will make it more pleasant for your kids. First, get some cookie cutters! A shaped sandwich can be lots more fun than plain. You can use the cutters for just about anything you put in the lunch box. Second, buy some small stickers or write a short note to your child. They will be so excited to see it in the lunch box that they may even eat all of the vegetables you packed.

Another neat trick: Banana writing! Take a toothpick and write on the skin of your banana without going through the skin to the fruit. It takes a little bit, but by lunch time your message will show clearly on the banana peel.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lost Ladybug Project

Do your kids enjoy science? Would they be interested in helping out the Entomologists at Cornell? This is your opportunity to contribute to a real scientific study and teach your children the impact that all people have. In the past 20 years the number of native species ladybugs has been declining rapidly and the non-native species are becoming more abundant. The rare species are the two spotted and the nine spotted ladybugs. The shift has occurred as people have imported ladybugs for bio control. There was such demand for ladybugs that they have now shifted in nature and the Asian species are more common that the natives. The researchers at Cornell are working hard to figure out the drastic change and what must be done to get the ladybug system back into balance. Please help out by going to their website. The Lost Ladybug Project is an important bit of research being done shoulder to shoulder with children, parents, and scientists.

Ladybug History

Some believe that ladybugs were given their name in Europe after the red robes of the Virgin Mary ("Our Lady") or because farmers believed they were sent to them by "Our Lady" to save the farms from the "ravages of pests". They were originally called "The Beetles of Our Lady" and that was eventually shortened to "Lady Beetles", which they are commonly called now.

Ladybugs are predators and a gardener's best friend. They feast on primarily aphids. Even in the larval stage they will consume aphids and other soft body insects such as mites and white flies. All of the insects consumed by ladybugs are considered pests in gardens. If you find ladybugs in your garden you can rest assured that they are eating these pests and you will not have to resort to chemical use.

Ladybugs hibernate in the winter and they prefer to hibernate in groups. They will frequently get under the siding of a home and sleep away the winter. During hibernation they will consume their own body fat to survive. Have you ever found a ladybug in your home? Often times they will be hibernating the warmth inside your home will awaken them, They then travel towards the heat and right into your home. Sadly many of the ladybugs that wake up mid-winter and go into our homes will not survive. Ladybugs need humidity to survive and to stay hydrated. Most homes are very dry in the winter causing the ladybugs to dehydrate.

When ladybugs are frightened they will leave a small yellow substance in their wake. This is not a waste matter, instead it is their blood. When they are frightened they will pull in their legs and pretend to be dead. To keep up the look of death they will release a bit of blood  from their legs by way of "reflex bleeding". Many of their predators find it to be foul smelling and will not consume them.

The Lost Ladybug Project is a great way to get involved in science and the website is a wealth of information. There is a teaching section with lesson plans, identification tools, and so much more. Get involved in Science!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Solar S'mores

Since it has been so hot here we decided to get some use from all that sunshine. We made Solar S'mores!

Aluminum Foil
Plastic Wrap
Graham Crackers
Chocolate Bar

Line the interior of your box with foil. Lay the graham crackers on the foil and layer the chocolate and marshmallows on top. Cover the box with a piece of plastic wrap to keep bugs and dirt off of your snack. Set the box in a sunny area until your S'mores are ready.

Yummy! Sunshine makes delicious treats.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Voyage in to Space

This past Friday we celebrated Neil Armstrong's birthday and my son had so much fun that we decided to learn some more about space.

We made a constellation book to start. I let him make the constellation in any shape that he wanted and then we connected the dots. For this project you will need black construction paper, star stickers and white crayon.

Fold the paper in half, fourths and eighths and cut apart the pieces. Now let them put on the stickers in any design they want.

We also spent that evening outside looking at stars. When we came inside, we talked about the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and the North Star. I forgot to take pictures, be we arranged glow in the dark stars on his walls in the patterns.

Next we worked on the planets in our solar system. We started by doing a couple pages of water color paintings in a variety of colors. Once they had dried, we drew 8 lines with chalk on a piece of black construction paper. We reviewed the planets and the order in which the were from the sun. We talked about how big and hot the sun is and that the planets in order are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. I let me son pick out the colors of each planet and I cut out the shapes from our watercolor paintings. We then glued each planet on a chalk line on our paper. It made me sad to not include Pluto as a planet but no need to confuse him.

The last project that we did was discuss the phases of the moon. We used Oreo cookies as the moon and layed them out on a paper plate. A regular cookie went on the top as the New Moon. Two cookies were pulled apart and half of the cream filling removed from each one. These were each put on teh sides to signify the first quarter moon and the last quarter moon. The full moon was represented by a cookie split in half and the cream filling left intact.

Have fun and get out and explore! Since we had so much fun with this activity, it may continue into another week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Sneak Some Zucchini on to Your Neighbor's Porch Night

Did you know that this is "Sneak Some Zucchini on to Your Neighbor's Porch Night"? In honor of this "important" holiday I thought I would give you some zucchini links today.

On Instructables there is a post about carving a zucchini for Halloween. You will need to plan ahead for this so don't give away all of your zucchini tonight.

On Gina's Skinny Recipes they had these amazing Zucchini Pizza Bites! I served these last week at my house and my son ate 4 of them and kept telling me how much he loves pizza!

This recipe on Kaylyn's Kitchen has been moved to the top of my list of recipes to try! The Zucchini cups look delicious.

You can not post about Zucchini without adding in a Zucchini Bread! One of my favorites is this one from Hoosier Homemade.

Have a great time with your zucchini and be sure not to get caught putting it on a neighbor's porch!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Neil Armstrong!

August the 5th is Neil Armstrong's birthday, so at my house that means: "Space Party"! This year's party is a little bittersweet. After 30 years and 135 shuttle launches, the Space Program has been shut down. The shuttles are going to be on display in Virginia, New York, California and Florida. It would make a great trip for kids to see the actual shuttles that NASA has used for the last 30 years!

Shutting down NASA's Space Shuttle Program does not mean the end of astronauts or space exploration, it will just be different. If you grew up watching the space shuttles though, it is a sad occurrence.

Back to Neil Armstrong's birthday though! We celebrated it last year also and you can see those activities here. Last year's post also has some facts about that first walk upon the surface of the moon.

This year we did new activities. The first one is "Permanent Footprints". If you read last year's post then you know that the footprints that Neil Armstrong made on the moon in 1969 are still there! There is no wind or rain on the moon so footprints last forever. We talked about how to make permanent footprints on Earth and then we tried a few different activities to see what would last forever.

1) Step in water and make footprints. It is very hot here so these footprints lasted less than 5 minutes.
2) Paint our footprints. Since my son knows that I still have all of the hand and foot print activities that he has ever made (they are too adorable to get rid of), he knows that these are permanent to our family. We looked back at some of his footprint crafts and measured his current foot against them to see the growth.
3) We took Model Magic clay and made footprints. He loved doing this and we discussed how we had previously used it to make fossils.

Next we made a Rocket. This was lots of fun! We used a sheet of construction paper to make our rocket.

Fold the paper in half long ways and cut it into two even pieces.

With one piece of paper, trace a circle on one end and fins on the other end (I ended up not using the fins I had cut because they were to big for my rocket.).

Take the top of of your film canister and set the top aside. Roll the paper around your film canister, leaving the open end at the bottom edge of the paper. Tape the paper around the canister to stay.

Now tape your fins on, if you choose to use them.

Now fold your circle into a cone and tape it on.

Congrats, you just built a rocket! Now turn the rocket over and fill the canister about halfway with water. Cut an antacid tablet (like alka-seltzer) in half and drop a half in the water. Put on the top quickly and set on a steady surface. Look for it to fly!

Since I could not get a good picture of the explosion, we took a video instead!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Great Childhood Memories


The other morning I got into my car and turned on the radio. The DJ was interviewing someone. I would normally change the channel because I prefer to listen to music during my morning commute, but this guy was talking about making childhood memorable. The DJ had already introduced him so I do not know who he was but he had some great things to say.

We try hard to make sure there are great memories for our children. Some people buy the latest, greatest toys; others take amazing trips and still others make sure there is plenty of family time. None of these memory making ways are incorrect! This guy had an amazing tradition with his kids though.

Every month he celebrated the child's birthday. He did not buy them a gift, he did not get them a cake, he did not have a big party, but he did celebrate. If the child was born on April 26, then on  the 26th of every month, he did something with the child. He always let the child pick the activity and it was always, one on one. All of the activities were small items to adults but meant lots to the children. How often does your child get to decide what activity you do? Usually the parent decides and the kid comes along. They were not expensive ideas, many months cost him nothing other than his time. They would go for bike rides, eat ice cream, have a picnic, drink hot chocolate, watch a movie or read a special book.

As parents, we all get busy sometimes and feel like there is too much to do and not enough time to get it done but occasionally we need to slow down. Give your child one evening every month that is just about them! These are the things that you remember into adulthood and that make you into the person you will become.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Teaching - Letter Search

It is important to review letters with young children on a daily basis to keep them fresh. As school is getting closer it is time to really step up those efforts. I have created a letter search for you to use.

This covers the letters A, B, C, D and E in both upper and lower case. We use this sheet with a dot marker. I ask my son to find all of the letter As on the page. He marks the upper case A with one color and the lower case a with another color. This verifies to me that he knows the letters, and he knows the upper and lowercase versions. Once that is complete, we move on to the letter B, then C, D, and E.

Feel free to download your copy.

I will work on getting all of the other letters completed also and may move on to the numbers.

In addition to doing this worksheet, take every opportunity to have your child point out letters to you. We point out letters on street signs, on vehicles, on mailboxes and everywhere else we can find them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Back to School

Today is August 1st and that means that school will be starting soon. Here in Fayette County, school sessions begin on August 11th. Here are some ideas to help ease the transition.

Go to bed earlier, starting at least one week prior to the first day of school. Start getting up on school time too.
Eat a heartier breakfast. This meal will now have to last until lunch.
Talk to the child about any fears they may have about back to school.

First day of school pictures are a rite of passage. Make them memorable by making chalkboard speech bubbles for your kids to hold. This idea is from Kami at Make and Takes.

A back to school jar is a great way to let a child know exactly how many days are left to school or any other occasion. Get a jar and let the child decorate it. Put in a small candy (like M Ms or Skittles), one candy for each day until school starts. Each morning they child can have one candy until the day school starts.

Back to school fairy is a great way to get kids in bed on that last night of freedom. Have them put their backpack beside the door before they go to bed so the back to school fairy can put gifts in it. Once they are asleep, slip some new school supplies and after school snacks in the backpack.

Get together some other parents and have a Boo-Hoo party! After you drop off the children, go for coffee or breakfast together. It is okay to cry with your friends, they know you and love you!