Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Meandersings - Road Trip

A couple of weeks ago, we supplied some activities for the car. This time, we are focusing on snacks. One tough thing about road trips is eating. No one wants to eat fast food all day and sit down meals can get expensive. Here are some snacks to pack and keep your family fed.

First we have Parenting with this delicious crunchy chickpea recipe. I can tell you from experience that these are delicious. We have made them plain and we have added chili powder to them. They are tasty any way you make them.

Next, we have Choose to Thrive with an amazing idea to carry vegetables and a dip. Her picture shows peanut butter and celery, but you could also do your favorite dip (Ranch, Spinach, etc.) with cut up veggies (carrots, snow peas, peppers, etc.).

Smashed Peas and Carrots has the best recipe! No bake Energy Bites. It is easy to make and has very few ingredients. Sounds perfect!

In addition these snacks, grab some more from our list:

Nuts - be sure they are age appropriate for your kids
Dried Fruits
Hard Boiled Eggs - peel the shells off before leaving home for a healthy protein
Cherry tomatoes - buy a variety of colors for a delicious and healthy snack
Grapes - Nature's perfect travel waste
Blueberries - another perfect, no waste snack
String Cheese
Peanut Butter and Crackers
Trail Mix - make your own mix! We loves Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, small pretzels, banana chips, dried pineapple and walnuts. Sometimes we add chocolate chips, but I try to not to add them if it is very warm out to prevent melting messes.
Orange segments
Drink mixes - every now and again it is good to have a flavored water
V8 juice

How do I keep the cold foods cold? We pack a small cooler that we keep in the car trunk and then a smaller insulated lunch bag or two are kept in the front of the car.

For our insulated lunch bags, I love the Packit Bag. They have not provided me with a sample or anything for this, but I purchased two bags on my own. You store them in the freezer and then pull them out to fill with food. They have kept my food cold for up to 9 hours! If you do not have a Packit, you can always freeze a water bottle to put in the bag and keep your food chilled.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finger Strength

As children work on writing, cutting and the variety of other activities that require coordination and strength to your hands, they can become frustrated. It is not always easy to master these skills, but finger strength is vital.

No one wants to just sit and trace letters and numbers all day to increase finger strength, so why not have some fun.

Some great activities to practice:

1) Have you ever considered the strength and coordination needed to hold several small items in your hands and to just sit down one item at a time? It is not an easy skill. To start, we each picked up 5 beans in our hands. Next we set the beans down, one at a time, onto a piece of paper.

2) The same concept as number one, but a little more difficult, is to have the child hold several coins in their hand and then put them one at a time in a piggy bank. This is more difficult because the coins have to be held just right to fit into the small slot of a piggy bank.

3) Monkey bars. This is not just finger strength, but works for your whole hand. You will need to hold your child to keep them safe. Hold around the waist and have them bend their knees while counting to a predetermined number. This also works on the child's core strength.

4) Play dough. Just the act of manipulating play dough requires finger strength and dexterity.

Have fun and give your child a chance to strengthen those muscles!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Teachings - I've Been Slimed!

Who you gonna' call? Ghostbusters! I found myself humming this song the whole time we did this experiment. Please tell me that you remember that movie!

For a little Science on a Tuesday Teaching, we decided to make some slime. Since I had that theme song running through my mind, I we decided to make our slime green. I we wanted it to look just like the slime that was put on Bill Murray's character, Venkman.

1 tsp Borax
1 cup warm water
4 oz Elmer's White School Glue
1/2 cup water
Food Coloring (we used neon green gel)

Put one cup of warm water in a bowl, add the Borax and stir until dissolved. Set this aside.

Pour the glue into a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup water and stir.

Add the food coloring and mix until you get the desired color.

Once that is mixed well, pour in the Borax/water mix. It will start to set up immediately. Use a spoon to stir it around and then get your hands in there.

At first it will be very wet and slimy but as you mix with your hands, it will dry out some and become more of a solid.

We loved playing with this and did numerous activities with it. The slime will take on any shape, so we used our sand molds, bowls and other things to put the slime into. Next, we would dump it out on the table and see how long it would take to flatten back out.

We also wanted to see how far across the table we could stretch it, without the slime ripping.

Have fun. We loved ours and have made numerous batches since then.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Father's Day

Father's Day is this weekend so here are some great ideas to make the Dads in your life happy.

First from Martha Stewart we have several great ideas. I love the decorated paper cube!

Next is, Me and My Pink Mixer, with one of my favorite photo props. We have done this before for several holidays. You can buy the wooden letters like Me & My Pink Mixer, or make them out of paper, or even make paper signs.

I Can Teach My Child made this adorable shadowbox using old ties. I love it and think it would look great on any Dad's wall!

Lastly, we have I Heart Crafty Things, with another cute photo prop. I must admit that the reason I love this one so much is that I do it with my son each year and have done it each year since he could stand. I just use the same frame each year and change out the picture. It is a great way to see the growth each year.

Do something nice for the Dads in your life!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fabulous Friday - Fun Fitness

Okay, I admit it! I would always take the stairs if they were musical. This would be so much fun!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Meanderings: Summer Snacks - Vegetables!

With Summer, comes vegetables fresh from the garden. Do you kids have an aversion to vegetables? Do they fall apart at anything green/healthy? Here are some ideas to get your kids to try out vegetables on their own.


First is Taste of Home with this great vegetable spiral recipe. Most kids love bread sticks, add some vegetables to get them to try .

Dashing Dish created these delicious looking Cauliflower Pizza Bites. I am going to try these, as my son loves pizza.

I have never met a child that doesn't like chips! Why not fry up some Root Vegetable Chips courtesy of Gooseberry Mooseberry.

Those are some great recipes to get started, but some days it is all about presentation!
Here are some great vegetable presentations:
Veggie skeleton from Neatorama
Sesame Veggie Trays by Off Beat Mama

Another thing that we do in our household is make lots of our veggies (and fruit) in fun shapes using cookie cutters.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fabulous Friday - Drum Time

Who knew that 5 gallon buckets could make such beautiful music? Sit your kids down this weekend and teach them how to make something beatiful from nothing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Road Trip

Summer brings out the scariest of words for parents: Road Trip! Before we were parents, road trips were lots of fun. Now that we are parents, road trips can be torture! Have you ever been in a car on a 2 hour trip with a 5 year old that asks you every 5 minutes, "Are we there yet?" Or even worse, one that says "I need to potty" every 10 miles. It is stressful!

Here are some great ideas to keep the kids attention on your next family drive.

Prepared Not Scared has an amazing assortment of printables for road trips, from I spy to Slug Bug.

Next we have Finley and Oliver with a very cool LEGO travel box. I love this and think there are many different sized boxes you could use to change up the size.

My Kind of Makeover shows you how to make a cheap cookie tray into a travel magnetic board. The best part of this (other than being cheap)? She also has lots of magnetic activities.
Such as: magnetic crayons; magnetic stickers; and magnetic puzzles.

These should be a good start. Have a safe trip!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fabulous Friday - Bubble

As I was searching YouTube, I came across this great bubble video from Steve Spangler Science. I love giant bubbles and love when they do bubbles around a person.
Get out side and make some bubbles with your kids.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Band Aids Anonymous

I have a confession to make. This is not easy for me. It torments me on a daily basis, but I hear that confession is good for the soul. Here goes: My 5 year old is addicted to Band Aids.

Shew, I feel better confessing that! We have tried everything to try and get him to stop using all of the band aids in the house. It was bad enough when he just wanted to stick band aids on his own body, but recently all of his toys have become "accident proned". Do you know how hard it is to get a sticky band aid off of a stuffed animal?

I thought about this and was trying to come up with a solution, short of having to remove the limbs from all of his toys. I have seen several instances online where people have made "toy band aids". I thought I would give that a try.

I pulled out some felt in a variety of colors, including white. I then cut a few rectangles in a variety of sizes from all the felt colors, except for the white. Next, I wounded off the corners because band aids are rounded. Once that was done, I cut some small pieces from the white felt to be the actual bandages. I glued mine on (it does not take much glue).

I then turned my son lose on his toys with his felt band aids. He loves it! Though he has requested more band aids. I told you that his toys are all "accident proned".

This was a very inexpensive project since I just used felt scraps.I made them in about 5-10 minutes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Teachings - Learning the Letters

When a child is learning the alphabet, it is not enough to merely show them the alphabet and expect them to learn it. A child has to be shown something in several different contexts in order to retain it. Before you can even teach them the alphabet, you should teach them the sounds of lettes. This lets the child understand that letters make sounds, sounds make words, words make sentences and sentences make stories. It is a natural transition. When you move onto naming letters, be sure to restate the sound each letter makes.

They need to see it, feel it, taste it, explore it. That can be intimidating for parents but there is no reason to worry. Just be sure to teach your child in a variety of ways. Don't panic, there are several ways to teach letters that are inexpensive and not overly time consuming.

First, you can show them a printed letter. Do not just show a flashcard, show them the printed letter in a variety of ways. Some examples, the aforementioned flashcard, a magazine, a street sign, etc.

Next, let them write the letter using hand over hand. If you have an easel, this is a great way to work on the letter. Put the chalk into your child's hand and then put your hand over their hand, now write your letter. If you have the easel chalkboard, this is great to work on wrist strength and an important skill for your child. After writing on the easel, you can also practice writing on a pad of paper on a table. This works the child's muscles differently and is also important to their development.

Now, pull out the play dough. Teach him how to roll out a "snake" and then work on forming the letter with your play dough snake. At my house, we have the "Roll-A-Dough Letters" from Handwriting Without Tears. This is a great product and we love it, but it is not necessary. This can easily be done at home. Our kit involves a tray, letter cards and dough. My favorite thing about the kit is that it shows you with an arrow, where to start making your letter. My least favorite thing about the kit is that the dough crumbles when you try to make it into a snake. We usually just use regular play dough.

Another tool that we use frequently is our Sandpaper Letters. You can purchase these online for around $30-$40 or you can check out Momtessori for directions on making your own sandpaper letters. She uses foam board for her background and then uses a die cut machine to cut the letters out of sandpaper. I have also seen them made with sand sprinkled over glue and with glitter glue or puffy paint. The thing I love about our Sandpaper letters is that there is a hole punched in the sandpaper to show you where to start tracing your letter. This can be done when you make them at home, or you could draw arrows with numbers, showing the direction to trace/write.

We also use our alphabet cookie cutters a lot. I do not bake a lot of cookies, but I use the cutters for anything. If my son wants cheese and sandwich meat (think homemade Lunchables), then I use cookie cutters to cut out the food. I also use them for cutting fruit or anything else. Cookies cutters are not just for cookies!

Another fun thing that we did is go around the house and take pictures of people and/or toys for each letter of the alphabet. I then assembled the pictures in an album and put the first letter of each word in the sleeve with each picture. This helps with the phonological awareness, as he already knows how to pronounce all of the items that I have taken pictures of.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Frugal Summer Fun Pt. 2

Time for some more activities for your family to do this Summer, without breaking the bank.

The Art Girl Jackie has a great tutorial on Sharpie Tie Dye. I love how she finished it off with an iron on.

Here is another great spin on the Melted Crayon Art that I see all over the Internet. This one is by Come Together Kids and I love the heart in the middle of the canvas.

Alphamom has a great tutorial on Sandpaper Printed Shirts. I love this idea and I am thinking of doing Super Hero logos for my son this summer.

Lastly,Create With Your Hands made a great sidewalk chalk neighborhood. My son would be so excited yo get all of his cars out there and go to town!

Let your creative side flourish this week with some frugal ideas!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fabulous Friday

Some days, parents and teachers get stressed. Today is Friday, let go of that stress and have some fun! Here is a great video of students being interviewed, while teachers are in the background breaking out their best dance moves.

It is light hearted and fun! Find a reason to dance every day. Let your kids see you enjoying life. In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic; be sure you are teaching them how to have fun!

Have a fabulous Friday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Frugal Summer Fun

Well, it is early May and the kids are already excited about Summer Vacations! I thought this would be a great time to start scouring the Internet to find some frugal family fun for Summer.

If you have not see this yet, you should get started now! Have you seen the Summer Bucket Lists? I love them! The entire family sits down together and thinks of things they want to do over the Summer. The list can be a wide list of items like: Find a new park; Sleep in a tent in the backyard; Summer reading; a Camp of your choice; Swimming; Wiener Roasts; Water balloons and on and on. Here is a link to Little Wonders' Days. She is having a linky party for Summer Bucket Lists and there are tons of ideas for activities to do, how to decorate your lists and your buckets. Check it out!

Parents Magazine has a fun summer games that only requires kids, pool noodles, balloons and laundry baskets. It looks like fun and I am pretty sure we will give it a whirl this Summer.

Next we have Filth Wizardry with a Tin Foil River. I love this idea and can not wait to do this. I need to start looking for some cool boats and fish to use in this.

While your are home and the kids are complaining that they are bored, why not challenge them to a bubble contest? Who can make the biggest bubble? Check out Design Dazzle for the top secret tips on making your bubble solution and your bubble wands.

We will be back soon with more great links! Get out there and enjoy the weather with your kids!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer Safety - Water

Let's Talk Swimming By: Amanda Miller

With Summer comes hot weather. With hot weather comes swimming pools, lakes and other bodies of water. Have your kids had swim lessons yet? These days you can start with infants, getting them used to water. I went to the CDC's website and found these startling statistics:

In 2007, there were 3443 fatal unintentional (non-boating) drownings in the United States. This averages 10 deaths per day!

More than 1 in 5 of these fatal drownings were of children 14 years of age and younger. For every child who died from drowning, another 4 children received emergency room care for non fatal submersion injuries.

 Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2007, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning. Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.

Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4 years.

Seconds count. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims. The more quickly intervention occurs, the better change of improved outcomes.

I know that these statistics are frightening and it is not my intention to scare you into keeping your children away from water. Be sure your kids can swim. Sign them up for a quality swim class; if the skills are not mastered yet, be sure they wear a life jacket in and around water; be sure there is always a responsible adult watching kids around water and be sure the adult knows CPR.

Enjoy your summer this year and every year to come!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Family Fitness

Every time you turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, you are bombarded with stories about the obesity epidemic in the United States. You are also bombarded by advertising from people trying to sell you "convenience foods". Whether they are fast food restaurants or just pre-packaged prepare at home meals, we all know that these are not our healthiest options.

How do you battle the bulge with your family, without spending $100s on a gym membership for the whole family? There are several inexpensive options available. We are going to explore a few here.

1) Jump rope: You can buy a jump rope for each family member. Start out just getting your skills down and then you can work on getting faster and faster. The video above is former U.S. Olympian Buddy Lee showing you his prowess with a jump rope. Jumping rope is no longer just a little girl's game as she sings a cute rhyming song. A jump rope is a versatile and useful training too.

2) Geocaching: Have you ever gone Geocaching? It is a great activity for a family. I downloaded an app onto my IPhone but you can also just use your computer at home if you do not have a smart phone. You put in your location and it will tell you of all the caches near you. You then set out on a hike to the area it tells you to go to. The caches will be hidden so it will take some searching to find. Once you find the cache, there is usually a small gift inside with a notebook and pencil to sign in. Always remember when you are caching, if you take something, leave something. If you take the small gift, be sure to leave one in its place for the next person. Once you find the cache, you also put it back exactly where you found it. Now, be sure and log back onto the website to claim the find. Once you get started, it can be addictive! There are caches hidden all around the world, so wherever you are, there is a cache near you.

3) Pool Noodles: They are no longer just a fun pool toy! You can use them for a variety of activities. The picture above is from Parents Magazine and shows an obstacle course that was set up with pool noodles that had the ends taped together to form rings. There are tons of games you can play with pool noodles. In addition to the obstacle course, set up hopscotch with the rings; just toss a ring back and forth; toss bean bags into rings, the list goes on and on. The best news? You can purchase the pool noodles at the Dollar Stores!

Get outside and get active with your family! Good health is an amazing gift for your kids.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Teachings - Plant Parts

My son has been learning about plant parts, so we decided to work on that at home also. This was a quick and easy project. I cut out all of the supplies and stacked them to the side for him to glue down. He had to name the parts as he glued them down.

Construction paper (background color, flower color and green for leaves)
Green craft foam for stem
Black or brown pipe cleaners for stems

I went with the green craft foam for the stem to show the difference in the feel, but you could use construction paper for that also. We have also used brown yarn for the roots, I just had pipe cleaners available this time.

Cut out any flower shape you want, along with a few leaves, stem and roots. This is a fun project. In addition to working on the words: roots, stem, leaves & flower, we also talked about what flowers need to survive: Water, soil, light.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Meanderings - Farm Time

This week, I thought we could take the outdoors theme a little further with farm activities. Here are some great ones.

First up is The Diary of Dave's Wife, she had a birthday party with a farm theme for her son, which was adorable. For this segment, we will be focusing on her Barn Backdrop. I love it and she was able to make it inexpensively. How cute to set that up to play with farm animal toys!

Counting Coconuts has a great Farm sensory box. What child wouldn't want to break out singing "Old McDonald" after playing with this? She also has an amazing number of other sensory box ideas on her blog.

Here is an adorable hand print craft. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas contributes this. I love that the kids first paint on the barn, pond and meadow. Then they have to turn their hands in different directions for the animals.