Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books of the Week – April 30, 2011

M has recently discovered Syd Hoff’s wonderful stories, and I’m rediscovering how much I loved them as a child.  We own Danny and the Dinosaur, which is a favorite, but M ran across the Syd Hoff collection at our library.  Interestingly, he knew they were somehow connected to Danny and the Dinosaur, because the illustrations are so similar.  (LOVE the illustrations!)

So, on to our new top four Syd Hoff books…

Sammy the Seal, written in 1959 :imageThis is the story of a seal who lives in the zoo, but is allowed to have a day off because of good behavior. :)  What I love about Syd Hoff is his ability to really know the imagination of a child, and to make this kind of idea seem perfectly reasonable! 

Thunderhoof, written in 1971:imageThis is the story of a wild horse who doesn’t want to be tamed, but eventually realizes that being loved isn’t so bad after all.  M likes to say “Good old feller” a lot after reading this book. :) 

Oliver, written in 1960:imageOliver is an elephant who had hoped to be in the circus, but the circus doesn’t need him.  He spends time with some children (who adore him; who wouldn’t want an elephant to play with?), and eventually the circus realizes just how talented Oliver really is.

Julius, written in 1959:image Julius is a gorilla and leaves the jungle to work at the circus.  He is the epitome of politeness – a real gentleman, and I really crack up at how he goes out of his way to be polite (this is a great model for kids!).  He ends up being pestered by a fly and scares a few people as he tries to shoo the fly away, but he is simply misunderstood.  Julius has such a big heart, and I think this was M’s favorite – he has asked for it daily and it’s one of his “in bed” books at night.

For more reviews of children’s books, check out Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns and Feed Me Books Friday.

Have a beautiful day! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Learning by Heart – I See the Moon

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
– Henry Ward Beecher

{M is 4 1/2 years old}

      M is in love with the moon.

It all began with If You Decide To Go To The Moon , by Faith McNulty: image I heard about this book from Natalie over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and thought M would like it.  Well, he did.  He couldn’t get enough of it and was instantly fascinated with outer space in general, and the moon in particular.  We have previously read books about outer space and the moon, but none of them sparked his interest as well as this one.

So we began a very simple little moon unit. 

We watched the launch of the space shuttle Discovery in February (yes, this is a pretty late post) live on the laptop:watching launch of DiscoveryIt was thrilling, to say the least.  He talked about it for days afterward.  I couldn’t quite get him to understand that they weren’t going to the moon, but oh well. :)  He loved learning about how everything is weightless in space and how the astronauts can float around inside of the space shuttle.  He wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details of how they live in it, especially how they go to the bathroom.  sigh.  It’s all part of learning, right? ;)

We played games with some beautiful space flashcards I picked up from Target over a year flashcard gameI was smart enough to get two sets at the time, although I wasn’t smart enough to think of a way to use them.  But once M’s interest in all things outer space was in high gear, I remembered this post of Ticia’s, where she created a game for her kids using these same flashcards.  Click on the link to her post to get the specific details.  This was fun and as soon as one of us had a card covered we flipped it over and read all of the interesting information on the back.  I think it would’ve gone a bit more quickly if we’d had more than just 2 players though, or if I had separated the flashcards into smaller groups.

We learned a bit about the phases of the moon too. 

We watched this video:

We looked at this page of the Starchild website a bit:imageThe website is part of NASA, and has tons of interesting things for children to learn about.  I highly recommend taking a look!  We only went over the moon phases web page, but I think we’ll be back to learn more!

I made some moon phases Montessori-style 3-part cards.  I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted online (for free anyway), so I used a public domain photo of the moon, and edited it to show the various phases:Moon Phases 3-part cards  
We had an art project waiting for us as M matched up these cards and labels, and I felt like he was hurrying through it to get to something more fun.  However, he has since talked about the “gibbous” moon on his own, so I guess some of it stuck! :)

You can download and print the Moon Phases 3-Part Cards here:image

M had fun making a little outerspace artwork.
  We used black paper, green and blue chalk dipped in water, aluminum foil, scissors, sequins, silver glitter glue, and two circle-shaped lids:supplies for moon artwork
I showed M how to hold a lid and draw around it at the same time in order to draw a circle.  He cut one circle from foil for the moon, and one was drawn onto the black paper with chalk.  He drew some areas of land on his “earth circle” and then colored it in with wet chalk (wet chalk on black paper is fun, and a good art project all on its own).
He drew a face on his moon, then sparkled up the the rest of outer space with some sequin and glitter glue stars:finished artwork 
On a trip to visit my parents, we were lucky enough to find this amazing book in a box my mom wanted me to look through:space shuttle bookI’m not sure if or where it can be found, but it is truly amazing. :)  It is filled with facts, and after reading it, you can unfold the pages:space shuttle book (6)Open it up:space shuttle book (1)And you have a 4-foot long space shuttle model!  M was in space shuttle heaven. :)  There’s a lot of great details, like a satellite in the cargo area:space shuttle book (4)And a pull-out section showing the control panels and the area the astronauts live in:space shuttle book (3)(sorry that picture didn’t turn out so well!)

There were several other moon-related books we read; here are M’s favorites…

The Moon, by Seymour Simon:image This is long, but packed with information.  M wanted to read this one several times a day for two weeks straight.

I Took the Moon for a Walk, by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay:image

Moondance, by Frank Asch:image
Happy Birthday, Moon, by Frank Asch:
image  (M loves all the Moonbear books by Asch!)

The Berenstain Bears on the Moon, by Jan and Stan Berenstain:image
I’m linking this post up to Preschool Corner, and Weekly Wrap-Up, as well as Science Sunday!  Be sure to check them all out!
Have a beautiful day! :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Art Time - Painting with Melted Crayons

close upWe did this little art project a couple of days before St. Patrick’s Day; I liked the idea of using crayons to paint a rainbow, and it turned out better than I imagined.  M loved this and we’ll definitely do it again sometime soon.   I first saw the idea in a MaryAnn Kohl book (either Scribble Art or Preschool Art) about two years ago, but have since seen it around the blogosphere a couple of times too.

Using melted crayons to paint a bouquet of flowers would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift, or any spring-time sort of artwork!

We began with a bucket full of M’s “naked” (no paper) crayons.  He loves removing the paper and sharpening crayons, so this step was already done.  Seriously, if you need an activity for a rainy day, have your child peel paper off of crayons and then sharpen them with a crayon sharpener.  M could do this all day!Crayons with paper removed  

Next we chose several crayons in various shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  We broke them up (lots of fun!) and placed them by color into an old muffin tin, lined with paper cups:colors sorted into a muffin tin

I placed the muffin tin in a 400 (Fahrenheit) degree oven.  It took about 10 minutes for the crayons to completely melt.  In the meantime I boiled some water and poured it into a cake pan.  Once the crayons were melted I set the muffin tin into the cake pan too.  The hot water was there to keep the crayons melted, as they tend to harden pretty quickly.  If you have a warming tray you could use that instead.  I really need a warming tray!  :)melted crayons in a pan of hot water

I had pre-drawn our design and M used q-tips to paint it with the melted crayons:painting with q-tips (1)

painting with q-tips (2)     painting with q-tips (3)

The crayon went on very thick and created an incredible texture.  I just loved it!wonderful texture! 

M’s finished shamrock and rainbow:finished artworkThis looks so much more amazing in real life. :)

It was so much fun, we just had to make something else, so a quick heart was drawn and painted (and Mama got in on the action this time!):melted crayon heart


Linking to:

abc button

Have a beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Lent Went (3)

:) 1. artwork    2. lenten tray    3. countdown cross

Our Paschal candle, lit on Easter Sunday
The Jesse Tree has been such a meaningful part of Advent in our home that I thought perhaps we could do something similar during Lent.  I searched and searched and searched some more, but couldn’t find anything that seemed just right for us.  So, of course, I ended up making something of my own.  By the time I had everything figured out and ready to go we were well into Lent.  But it has turned out great, and we’ll use it for years to come, I’m sure.
I decided to use a flannel board as our background; it just works so nicely, and I like having the softness of felt pieces to place on it.  A simple flannel board is super easy to make!  Ours is about 30” high and 20” wide.
I cut a large cross from brown felt and tacked it onto the board.
All of the pieces we put on this were made by printing pictures and images onto transfer paper (like for t-shirts), which I then ironed onto white felt. 
We began with this little piece, made for Ash Wednesday (although, as I mentioned, we were a bit late):  Ash Wednesday piece - "fast and pray"
Then we had tiny little flower bulbs, numbered from 1 to 40 for the days of lent, and we placed the correct one on the cross each day:april 2011 025 At this time we’d also read the Bible reading for the day, or, if the story seemed a little too much for M’s understanding, we would read from our Little Acts of Grace book. 
Each Sunday we read two of the Sunday readings - one Old Testament story and one New Testament story - and placed small pictures illustrating the stories on the flannel board.  Here are the ones for the second Sunday – Moses striking a rock in the desert and water coming out for the thirsty people, and Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman:Moses strking the rock
The woman at the well 

Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent, so no flower bulbs those days.  This is how it looked about one-half of the way through:Lenten cross, half way through Lent
We also had some special pictures for Holy Thursday (The Last Supper), and Good Friday (a crucifix):clip_image002[4]clip_image002[6]
Then Easter morning came and…
Alleluia was freed from it’s little tomb and placed high on our board:Alleluia!
All the flower bulbs had burst into bloom! Easter morning
A picture of the empty tomb was in the center of the cross:empty tomb picture
It was really beautiful, and such a nice way to really make Lent this year a more meaningful part of our life.
This went over pretty well with M, although he does like the Jesse Tree more, because he gets “a yummy piece of candy” every day. :)  I felt like something was missing each day with just putting a flower bulb on the cross.  I think it would be nice to add something else – perhaps a list of little things to do, letting M pick one per day at the same time he places the bulb on the cross…. I’ll have to think about this some more! 
Just a little feather to put in your cap and think about… I am planning on making this available as a printable eventually, with more detailed instructions, daily readings, etc., and I plan on making a complete second set and holding a giveaway for it on my blog sometime early next year. :)  So if you are interested, make sure to check in around early February in 2012, if you can remember! :)
Have a beautiful day! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Lent Went (2)

:) 1. artwork    2. Lenten basket

Our Lenten BasketInspired by Montessori-style seasonal baskets, I decided to make a small grouping of items for M to look at and use as a springboard for his own little reflections during Lent.  I feel like I could’ve added a lot more to this, but I wanted to keep it simple, and honestly couldn’t come up with a lot of ideas that would be quick to put together (Lent had already begun when I finally got around to this – next year I intend to be a bit more on the ball).
I used a large rectangular basket, covered it with a purple cloth, and put the following items in it…

First, a wooden cross from Dollar Tree, which we’ve been using to learn about the various liturgical colors.  I originally came across this idea in Maria Montessori’s book, The Child in the Church , and then saw some “Father Pines” over at Catholic Icing.  I made simple little vestments for our cross and M enjoys changing them depending on the season and/or day.  To prepare the cross M sanded it a bit:sanding crossAnd then gave it a good rub down with some olive oil, which apparently didn’t make it onto the camera, darn it.White vestment for Easter, but it was purple during most of Lent
We also have a little laminated flip booklet with the stations of the cross:Stations of the Cross bookletI used scrapbook paper and stickers (Dollar Tree!) on the fronts of the cards, and some meditations and prayers, found here, on the backs of the cards.  We have gone over these, simply by stating what each station is called, looking at the picture, and thinking a bit about it.  I’ll save the meditations and prayers for another year, as this seemed to be enough for M right now. 
The sticker pack had two sets of stickers in it so I used the other one to make simple little stations, backed with felt:small felt Stations of the CrossM used these to match up to the cards mentioned above, and he could also place them on the flannel board if he wanted.
I also placed a wooden crucifix into the basket (this is a San Damiano Crucifix, which I absolutely love):San Damiano Crucifix
We read quite often from Little Acts of Grace:image So into the basket it went too.  It’s a sweet book of little ideas for showing our love for Jesus.
Last of all, the “A” word was hidden in an egg, and taped shut. :)  Alleluia to hide in an egg All through Lent we refrain from saying “Alleluia”, and then on Easter morning the Alleluias break out all over the place. :)  It really makes for a joyful Easter!  We placed our little felt Alleluia inside a purple egg, taped it shut, and waited.  This was a big deal to M; he loved the idea of a secret word!  Then Easter morning we took it out and placed it high on our Lenten Countdown Cross, which is what I’ll post about tomorrow. ;)  Stay tuned!
Have a beautiful day! :)


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