Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone is having a very pleasant Memorial Day!

I’ve been missing around here lately, but everything is fine.  Life has just been… happening… and I haven’t been able to find a spare minute to put two thoughts together much less blog about them.  Thank you to those of you who have emailed with concerns, you all mean so much to me. :)

No Art Box today (or last week – oops!), but I do have some fun posts scheduled for the coming days, so stay tuned!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

eBook Review – Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places by Angie Kauffman

Do you know Angie Kauffman?  She is the founder of no less than 3 blogs: Many Little Blessings, The Homeschool Classroom, and Catholic Mothers Online; as well as the co-founder of Homeschool Lifestyle Media.  I really enjoy reading her blogs; she’s a homeschool mama and has tons of inspiring ideas.

She recently published an e-book titled Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places.  She was kind enough to send me a free copy to review, and I loved it!

I’ve gathered a lot of great (and simple) ideas from this book that I hope to use with M in the weeks to come.  Three activities in particular that grabbed my attention, and that I know M will enjoy are an egg-carton train craft, a cardboard tube rocket ship craft, and a playhouse for small dolls (or action figures as the case may be… and is in this house) made from an old box.

There were many ideas that I know I’ve seen around the internet in one form or another, but it’s so great to have them all in one easy-to-refer-to spot, and there were many, many ideas that I haven’t come across anywhere else. 

This is really a fabulous resource for families with small children.  Your children will be having fun and you’ll know they are developing much needed skills.  The activities described in this book help develop fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social interactions, daily living skills, cognitive skills, spatial awareness, and imagination to name a few.

If you order your copy of this book before May 31st you can get a discount of 20% by using code TNS20!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review – Bible Jumble for Kids by Christopher D. Hudson

imageI recently received this little game book from Tyndale House Publishers.  It is full of jumble puzzles based on the Bible.  I think this would be a great companion to any home Bible lessons you may do with your children (it would be perfect for ages 8 to 12).  It’s sure to be a lot of fun, and it helps reinforce what they’ve already learned.   What a wonderful way to spend time together as a family!

Most of the puzzles were easy for me, but I still got a lot of enjoyment from them. :) 

Included in the book are the following:

  • Traditional Jumbles
  • Mystery Person Jumbles
  • Jumble Detective
  • Jumble Criss-Cross
  • Find the Jumbles
  • Bible Passage Jumbles

There are a total of 200 jumbles in the book.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exciting Things Ahead

Most likely you have heard of CSN Stores.  They have thousands of items to choose from, in over 200 websites,and all are very reasonably priced!   Check out this bathroom vanity and all the great furniture and toys they have!

I’m going to be reviewing some items for CSN, and it has literally taken me days to browse and make my choices.  What a chore, huh? ;)

Stay tuned, there are going to be some very exciting things ahead!

Updated Build-A-Letter Templates

My old templates for this activity have bugged me since I made them.  There are missing lines and they just didn’t look as nice as I wanted them to.  Of course I made them in a hurry, finishing them in the middle of the night if I remember correctly… so maybe that had something to do with it. 

Anyway, since I’m in the middle of transferring all my printables from Google Docs to Scribd, I thought I’d update these little guys in the process.

Go here to see the new version.  The old version is still out there, but in my opinion the new ones are much better.  I did forget about “W” (how can I forget a letter?  Is this a sign I should not homeschool?!), so if you use these, you’ll have to print 2 “M”s. :)  I didn’t realize this until I’d already turned it into a .pdf file and deleted the original.

*Never delete your original document.*

I’m working on some lowercase letter templates too and will have them posted as soon as they are done.  Making these is trickier than you’d think!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Art Box – 5/17/10

     may 019In the Art Box last week:  new watercolor paints, tempera paints, bug stamps, glue, paper, a handful of collage materials, scrapbook scissors, paintbrushes, sparkly gel pens

We bought some new Crayola watercolor paints over the weekend, and M is in love with them.  They are so bright and vivid… I was sure we’d tried Crayola in the past and they weren’t that much better than the Roseart ones we’ve been using.  I don’t know – maybe they changed up their recipe or something, because these are really beautiful watercolors!  It’s all he wanted to do all week (art-wise).

Here’s a bit of what he did…

Trying them out for the first time:may 008

Three of the many paintings he made with these:may 009

may 020

may 021Do you see the “spider” in the last one??  :)

Other than watercolor painting he didn’t do much.  He cut some paper and made me a little stamped card (he called it a card):may 006

And he stuck a googley eye onto his forehead and walked around one evening like this:may 005Swearing, the entire time, that he could actually see us. ;)

Have some children’s art you’d like to show off?  Link it up below (remember to link back here in your blog post)!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Science – Sink or Float & Magnetic or Non-Magnetic

I’ve been trying to have a morning activity ready for M when he wakes each day.  If I don’t he wanders around whining “what can I dooooo???”, and at that time of day it can be a very dangerous thing to whine anywhere near Mama.

So one day this past week I set this out for him:may 001

It’s a basic sink or float activity, and he had to guess what each object would do before he placed it in the water.  He was right about 95% of the time. 

Then, I told him some of the items were magnetic and that he could find them by using his little fishing pole (from our homemade ABC fishing game).  He LOVED this and spent a good 25 minutes fishing things out and then putting them back in to fish out again. :)  may 004

This idea came from this post at The Wonder Years.

Next time we do this (and I’m sure we will be doing this again), we’ll do some sort of graphing activity… floats/magnetic, floats/non-magnetic, sinks/magnetic, sinks/non-magnetic… is what I’m imagining. 

This time he just sorted them into a pile of magnetic things and left the non-magnetic things in the water.may 005

Check out Science Sunday for more kids’ science!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Books of the Week – 5/15/10

Our top two favorites this week…

Little Bear’s Visit, by Else Minarik:imageI just can’t say enough good things about these Little Bear books – they are even better than I remember from when I was a child!  In this one Little Bear visits Grandfather Bear and Grandmother Bear, and gets a story from each one.  One story is about when Mother Bear was little and made friends with a little robin.  The other story is about a gremlin who has magic shoes. :)  M asks for this every day at least once.  It’s quite long – 4 chapters – and he sits for the entire thing, even the 2 pages where there are no pictures! 

His other favorite this week was Big Brown Bear’s Up and Down Day, by David McPhail(thanks, Kim!) :image This is a cute story about a rat trying to get Big Brown Bear to give up one of his slippers so he can use it for a bed.  But M loves this book mainly because there is a little toy car in it that winds up and goes, and the rat gets to drive it at the end. :)   

This is being linked to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and Feed Me Books Friday.  Check out both of these great sites for more book recommendations!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Preschool Corner / Weekly Wrap-Up – 5/14/10

M is 3.5 years old

We had a fun week, with no particular theme.  I am trying to have 1 to 2 weeks of theme-based activities, followed by at least 1 week of non-themed activities while I prepare for the next theme.  I’m hoping to get in a bug unit, then we will be DONE.  The plan is to enjoy a nice long break, get some much-needed things done around the house and just spend time having fun as a family.  :)

We started our week with a scavenger hunt.   This was so much fun.  M and his cousin, S, had a blast with this.  In fact, we had to do the whole thing again one evening with Daddy. :)  I created a chart for the kids, with pictures of 12 things for them to find in our backyard.  They took their little charts, a couple of crayons, and some plastic containers outside and began hunting: may 008
My niece was the first to find everything pictured, and was quite proud of herself:
may 009
A close up of her treasures, which she insisted on bringing home with her (much to my brother’s delight, heh):may 010I uploaded our scavenger hunt chart and you can find it here, if you think you’d like to use the same one.  It was a big hit!

The weather was awful, so we did a lot of indoor activities the rest of the week…

Fine Motor Skills:
A little fishing game where you try to catch the fish as they go in a circle and open and close their mouths:blog pictures 019   
M’s Lite Brite made its way onto his shelves, and he really had fun with it – all closed up in his room with the shades drawn. :)blog pictures 043
His little wooden dress-the-bear puzzle was out for him also; he played with it once and never bothered with it again:blog pictures 048
Literacy Skills:
I made a little name train for M, and he connected the train cars in order to spell his name.  I used velcro dots so they could stick to each other:blog pictures 054
He did his Bob the Builder Name puzzles (For these I use large flat marbles and write the letters on them with a sharpie):blog pictures 045
Colors / Sorting:
We’ve had this file folder game forever, and M always enjoys it.  I used Jolanthe’s color cards, and created pockets with the color name cards.  M goes through the stack and places each picture in the correct pocket.  He just loves pockets. :)may 001
Math Skills:
I found these at a thrift store and at first glance I thought they were Cuisenaire rods.  However, once I got them home and took a look at them… well, I’m not sure what they are or what to do with them.  Each single block unit is 1/2 inch.  The rods go from 1 unit up to 12 units, and apparently we don’t have a full set.  There’s only 2 8-unit rods, and only 1 10-unit rod.  Sigh.  Any ideas how we can use these?  Or, does anyone know what they are?  They are not the traditional Cuisenaire rod colors either.  I let M just play with them and explore them the first time I set them out.  I showed him how to create some designs, like a house and a stair (the stair was useful for showing the relation between the rods from shortest to longest).blog pictures 049
I hope everyone had great weeks!  I’m linking this up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up.  Be sure to go check them out!

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review – Hunter’s Moon


To be honest, I had some difficulty really getting into this book.  The beginning is set against a very promising backdrop - a grandfather dying and a family with too many secrets reuniting at the old family home as he passes away.  However, it's pretty slow-moving through the entire first half of the book, and I was often left wondering where, if anywhere, the story was going.

It seemed to me that the author tried to set up too many mysteries among the family members, without bringing half of them to any sort of resolution.  

The last few chapters were satisfyingly action-packed and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough, but truthfully getting there was painful and there were several times I was tempted to not bother finishing it at all.  I have read my share of complicated and detailed novels that take some time to get into, but are well worth the wait; unfortunately I can't include Hunter's Moon in that group.   

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Watercolor Painting with Markers

M has been doing this forever and somehow I’ve never posted about it.  This was something he discovered completely on his own! 

We had a set of 6 chunky markers and he left them out for several days without their lids on.  Of course they were completely dried out by the time we realized it.   This happened about a year ago, and he still has, and uses,  the same markers!  His easel has a spot for a cup of water (for watercolor painting obviously), and one day he filled it up with water, dipped his dried markers in the water, and began drawing with them like nothing had happened.  

I think I’ve read somewhere that you can use dried markers this way, but I have no idea how M knew it!  He has made some really neat artwork in this way… kind of like regular marker drawing with a bit of watercolor painting here and there.  Again, he’s been doing this for the past year and the markers are still working great (as long as they are wet).

Want to see a little demonstration?  :)

Dip the dried up marker into the water:April 2010 012
Color on your paper:April 2010 015
And voila!  Beautiful artwork:April 2010 023
So, put those old markers to good use! :)

Have a beautiful day! :)  

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Art Box – 5/10/10

With 4 play dates last week (all were hosted at our house, I might add…  what was I thinking?) , and the rest of the time spent on errands, playing outside, etc., not much in the way of free art was done.  A couple of crafts for Mother’s Day made their way in to our busy week, but that was about all we had time for.  The Art Box was left untouched, except for this:may 015 may 014 (Mr. Grumpy was not happy about posing with it, but wouldn’t let go of it so I could take a picture of just the bag.)

It’s M’s new library book bag.  We take home anywhere from 20 to 40 books a week from our library and our old book bag was literally falling apart.  I bought some fabric markers and gave him his brand new bag.  He enjoyed drawing on it, and from what I was able to gather this isn’t anything in particular, just (very) abstract art. :) 

He always enjoys having something “different” to draw, paint, or color on.  I might let him add some embellishments later… we’ll see!

Have some children’s art you’d like to show off?  Link it up below (remember to link back here in your blog post)!

Have a beautiful day! :)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Science Experiment – Air Pressure / How Birds Fly

{I have been having the weirdest problems with scheduling posts lately.  You might have seen this post in your reader last week, and then had it disappear if you tried to look at it on the actual blog.  Too much mommy brain + too little coffee = crazy and incompetent.} 

As a final (whew!) bird-related activity, we did a little experiment to show how air pressure works using two balloons.

An experiment and balloons?  It doesn’t get much better than that if you are a 3 year old boy. :)

The way birds are shaped and the way they move their wings causes the air to move more quickly above them.  Quicker-moving air = less air pressure, so the air beneath them exerts the greater pressure and keeps them aloft!

To demonstrate that fast-moving air lowers air pressure, I blew up two small balloons, tied a length of yarn to each one and then hung them from our sofa table so they were level with one another.  You want them to be about 3 inches apart.  April 2010 031

Ask your child to think about what will happen to the balloons if he blows a straight line of air between the two of them.  When we blow directly on an object it moves away from the force of air, so it makes sense (sort of) that the balloons would move apart.  M was sure they would get “wider apart”, as he put it.

Here’s what happens:April 2010 035
They move toward each other and bump!  The still air on the sides of the balloons is exerting more pressure than the fast moving air between them, so it pushes them together! Pretty cool, huh?  ;)

You can do this with a strip of paper that you hold near your bottom lip – blow air directly over it and it should rise.  Or try two cardboard tubes on a table side by side with an inch of room between them; use a straw to blow air directly between them and watch them roll towards one another!

For more science fun with kids, go see Ticia’s Science Sunday posts!

Have a beautiful and blessed Mother’s Day! :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Books of the Week – 5/8/10

Here are M’s favorites from the past week:

Edward and the Pirates, by David McPhail image This was recommended to us by Kim at Educating Crumpet.  She thought M would enjoy it and she was right!  It has enough adventure and excitement (like Edward’s mom riding into his room on a white horse – really can a book get any more interesting or exciting than that?) without being frightening at all.  Edward can read and the pirates can’t, and this has sparked some sort of small flame in M – he is “reading” a lot lately (meaning books he’s memorized… I’m one of those moms that doesn't want my child to be reading on his own at 3, not that there’s anything wrong with that if you do. ;) ).  It’s a fun book and one I’m glad we got!

The Moon Might Be Milk, by Lisa Shulmanimage This one was listed a week or two ago at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  We found it at the library and M wants to read it at least a couple of times a day.  I’m not sure what is so fascinating about this book (it’s cute, but nowhere near the top of my list), but he really loves it!  The little girl and her animal friends are trying to decide what the moon is made of… flour? milk? sugar? butter? egg?   Turns out, it’s made of all these things when her Grandmother uses these ingredients to make moon cookies.  It gets my mouth watering every time and I think we’ll be trying the recipe that’s included sometime soon!

I’m linking this up to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and to Feed Me Books Friday.

Have a beautiful day! :)


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