Tuesday, November 30, 2010

EnJOY the Season

'Tis the season! We hear it and see it EVERYWHERE! Take stock of what you really want your children to remember about Christmas. Is it the story of Baby Jesus? Is it Santa Claus? Is it singing Christmas Carols? Is it the lighted Christmas Tree? All of these memories are special.

Since I am the eldest of the posters on this blog, my concept of the Christmas season is a little different from Sarah's and Suzie's. Now, when I was their age and had children the age of my grandchildren, I thought just like they do now. Their enthusiasm, joy, and love of the season is uplifting and fun! This is how holiday memories are made.

I, however, see it from a different perspective now. Christmas should not be a stressful time of year. Exciting, yes, but not stressful. Take a few moments to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas with your family. Make memories your children will carry on to their children. Relax and enjoy. While getting ready for Christmas is so fun, the truth is, your children won't remember the perfectly wrapped gifts, the perfect Christmas tree or the big, fluffy bows on the staircase. They will remember the warm hugs, smiles and the joyful enthusiasm and anticipation of Christmas.

Grammy's Tips:
Here's a little tip for this busy season. At the end of the day, when your floors are covered with toys and your couch with laundry, set your timer for three minutes. Take a few laundry baskets and gather up all the toys in one and throw the laundry in the other. Put them in a closet or any place that is out of sight (so that you are not reminded of what needs to be done.) Turn the lights low (the dust doesn't show:) and light the tree and candles. Take some time to sit quietly with your family and read a story, look at the Christmas cards you have received, play a short game, talk about the many gifts God has given us that are not under the tree... These feelings are what children will remember, and believe it or not, when your children are grown up these are the precious memories that you will have of the holidays as well.

Relax and have fun! Enjoy this season and the many blessings it brings.

Glitzy Christmas Pumpkins!

Fall is over and Christmas is on its way with gusto! The stores have been decorated with lights and tinsel for months, just anticipating everyone packing away the Fall decorations and finally pulling out the Holiday Glitz!

If you are looking for a fun activity for your little one to work on during your dinner prep ,"witching hour", try this fun alternative to TV. It is a fun way to bridge from Fall into the Christmas season!

  1. Pull out your fall pumpkin, glue, small scraps of Christmas wrapping, ribbon, lace, bows, etc.
  2. Put the pumpkin on a tray or newspaper and let your children collage the pumpkin with the Christmas supplies. Children can snip the supplies on their own, or you could offer them "Mom (pre)cut" supplies.

3. After the glue has dried, they can paint the collaged pumpkin with Modge Podge for a hard, shiny finish.

Remember, enjoy the process and HAVE FUN!!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Still Thankful...I'm Thankful Book

Being thankful doesn't end at Thanksgiving! Right? So here is the latest book to our collection. It is SUPER easy to make and it is by far Carter's favorite!

All you will need is:
1. Cheap-o photo album. (This one I use is defiantly Dollar Store quality: No cover, just the plastic drop-in-picture pages!)
2. Photos of family and friends. We all have TONS of photos in the computer...just print some!
3. Print these labels to put on each page. Don't have label paper? Just print and tape!

Action shot! Carter checking out his cousins! Hi Lex, Ella, Luke and Hudson!

Naked Carter, Clothed Mommy and Daddy! (When I get to the naked Carter picture he usually looks up at me and laughs! Ha ha!)

Teacher Tips:
  • Use highchair time wisely! This is a perfect opportunity to read books and sing songs! This is where the book originated, but now it has been added to his book basket and he has it out almost all day long!
  • When reading, follow the words with your finger, look at the pictures, talk about everyone and everything in them. Talk about how they look and what they are doing! Ask questions!

And I'll leave you with our final turkey pic. If you still haven't done it...do it! Their hands will be even bigger next year! :(

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Time!

Apples are a staple at snack time in most homes during the autumn season. Red, green, yellow... they are all great!

A fun cooking activity for your little one is:

Open one roll of canned biscuits
Separate the biscuits and lay on a cookie sheet
Spoon in two spoonfuls of apple pie filling (canned)
Fold the biscuit over and press edges together with a fork
Brush melted butter over the bread and bake in the oven at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes.

Individual apple pies or tarts!


Save 1/2 apple for some art fun.

You can press in one popsicle stick in half of the apple or just use your fingers to hold it and start painting.

For Toddlers and two year olds:

1. Press apple in your choice of color of dry jello (add a couple drops of water to dampen the powder)
2. Press the apple on to a piece of paper.
3. Perfect example of a sensory experience. You can taste it, smell it, see it and touch it!

For two and three year olds:

1. Press apple on a stamp pad.
2. Press the inked apple on a piece of paper.

For three and four year olds:

1. Press apple in assorted colors of paint
2. Press the painted apple on a piece of paper.

Try this too: cut the apple in half different ways and enjoy the different prints.

Have FUN!!!!!!

**A few picture examples have been added to our nature art post! Check them out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who are you Thankful for?

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we have been working on recognizing family faces (and names)! This is something you can do at home, and doesn't take much time or effort. We have these fancy store bought cubes:
Fancy picture cubes from Discount School Supply
They are marketed towards infants.... but I can tell you that my boys are 14 months old, and still love them! Each cube comes with a mirror and has 5 slots for pictures. You can put anything in there! We have pictures in ours at the moment. We roll them, find the person I am asking for, and then someone will find the mirror and stare at themselves in it for quite a while..... I'm sure our family can guess who that is!

But I also plan on putting animal flash cards in them, and practice animal sounds/identifying. I saw the Eric Carle Animal Cards at Anthropologie a few weeks ago, but I know you can get similar ones anywhere or print your own!  Then when they get bigger, alphabet picture cards and work on sounds/letter recognition... I mean the uses are endless. One day I'll be tossing the cube and there will be addition facts in there! 

Oh but wait, you say you don't have fancy picture cubes??? Not to worry. Here is a quick way to make your own! Remember learning is about the process, not the product!

Shoe boxes ( I have an abundance of little people shoe boxes, but use whatever size you have.)
Tape or glue
Wrapping Paper (Optional)

I have twins, I mentioned that right??  Ha, I think I am really funny, sorry. Here is the simple, fast, your kids are screaming at your feet and you need something quick way to make your own:
Step 1: Tape the lid on your shoe box.
Step 2 and 3: Tape the pictures on and label them.
Teacher tip for the day: Write how you see it in real books!
Capital letter followed by lowercase letters.
I can not tell you how hard it is to break the all caps writing from 5 year olds!

 Fancy, crafty, kids are napping shoe box:

Throw some wrapping paper over it.
 And if you are really fancy... type up the words!

My sister used call me and tell me her kids said they were thankful for me at bed time, it would melt my heart. So each night, before bed and with our prayers, we say who we are thankful for and who we love. We have a really long list. Some nights my husband and I are standing in a dark room over the cribs for a very long time!
Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkey Time

Who knew that keeping a blog updated between three people could be difficult? Okay, so it's not really difficult but you know how life gets crazy at times. So crazy that a long moment at the computer just never happens. Well, apparently it happens to three people at the same time!! Probably more once you throw kiddos in the mix!

Here is a little glimpse of what we are working on here in China.

You guessed it! The good old-fashioned hand turkey. We just did the print this morning! It was quite a sight to see. I know the house-keeping crew (Have I mentioned we live in a hotel?) thought I was crazy. I even tried to show them a picture of a hand turkey painting online. Still didn't make sense. Not sure why I thought it would! HA!

Well, it is a bit sloppy, but hey my little man is 10 months today! As you know, they grow up WAY too fast. Take a moment to celebrate their tiny features.

Once touched up, this fine piece of art will replace the Bum-pkin Art currently in the frame.

Gobble, gobble!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Give Thanks

In most of our homes, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and the happy gathering of family and friends. With the busy planning of the celebration, we many times focus on the product and not on the process of getting ready for the occasion. The children are many times left out of the preparation, which can leave them bored and frustrated. A lot of enjoyment can be found in having your chldren help prepare the decorations or part of the Thanksgiving dinner. A traditional fruit salad is always a hit and is simple for all ages to help prepare. A recipe will follow later in the blog.

Remember, you are building memories. Althougn this season is a fun time and many memories are formed, families often become overwhelmed with activities and children can especially feel the stress of shopping and the anticipation of events to come.

The focus of Thanksgiving is simple - THANKFULNESS. "Thank you" is a simple phrase. Children can be taught thankfulness by example, praying and being reminded of our many gifts from God that we sometimes take for granted. You can reiterate this by speaking often to your child of things you are thankful for. Words like, "I'm so thankful God gave you to me!" go a long way in building a child's self esteem as well as emphasizing the goodness of our Creator.

Have fun this month and remember to relax and keep it simple - it's all about THANK YOU!!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Four Little Leaves - finger play

Cut out these leaves or collect a leaf of each color, red, brown, gold, green.
Drop each leaf and let it flutter to the floor as you recite the corresponding color verse.

Four little leaves hanging from a tree.
Looking as lovely as can be.
Whoosh went the wind and one leaf said,
"I'll meet you on the ground, I'm, the color red!"

Three little leaves hanging from a tree,
Looking as lovely as can be.
Whoosh went the wind and another fell down,
This little leaf was the color brown.

Two little leaves hanging from a tree,
Looking as lovely as can be.
Whoosh went the wind, Oh my, It was cold!
Another leaf fell, it was the color gold.

One little leaf hanging from a tree,
Looking as lovely as can be.
Whoosh, went the wind and it started to sway,
But it was still green, so it had to stay!

*Need to print the words? Here they are!*

Print and cut the leaves and song. Throw it all in a ziplock baggie. Then keep on hand in the play area, kitchen or even your diaper bag for a little "go-to" fun!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaf Book (Ziplock Baggie Book)

While jogging the other day, I noticed tons of big leaves on the ground! So we stopped for a quick break to explore the leaves! Luckily, my camera was still in the stroller from Halloween!

"This is serious work!"

"Why wouldn't I try and eat the leaves?"

I wanted to take some leaves home to let him check them out a bit more. So I snagged a few leaves on the way out.

I was just going to put them in ziplock baggies for him to explore. But, knowing him, they would be chomped to pieces shortly after. SO I decided to make them into a little board book with hopes that they will last a bit longer.

Here's how it was done:

The supplies: Cheerio Boxes for cardboard...I live in China, remember.
Ziplock baggies. These are the pages and cover. I used 6.
Durable Tape.
Hole puncher.
String or Ribbon for the binding.

Here is the start of my pages. I cut out the cereal boxes and glued red paper and leaves. If I had a Target I would just buy colored poster board and glue the leaves. Even quicker, 3.5x11 card stock...time is precious!

Lots of tape (and my dog hiding under the desk). One piece per ziplock bag.

Add each bag, one by one, with a piece of tape. Then tape the whole length of the binding really well. This will make hole punching really easy too! Then give it 4 punches!

Tie them up! Again...if I had Target I would use yarn. But as you can see, it doesn't matter!

Then stuff the pages in the baggies!

I have an extra page at the end where some pictures of Carter in the leaves will go!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall is in the air!

Hi! It's Rita!
The temperatures have dropped and it finally feels like fall here in Houston. Yes, even Houston has fallen leaves, acorns, pine needles, brown grass and other signs of fall. It doesn't last long around here so we have to take advantage of it!

Take your children on a nature hunt. Give them a brown paper bag and encourage them to collect "nature items." After they have a bag full of goodies, try some of these activities:

~ Fall Jewelry: Wrap a piece of wide masking tape, sticky side out, to your child's wrists and have them decorate the tape by sticking the items on the tape. This makes a BEAUTIFUL fall bracelet. ;)

~ Leaf Rubbings: Sort the items into leaves, acorns, hard or soft objects, needles, etc. Tape the items on a table (to keep them still) and cover with large pieces of butcher or manila paper. Give your child fall colored crayons with the paper removed and encourage him to rub or roll the crayons on its side over the paper. "Like MAGIC beautiful images of leaves, pine needles etc. appear." Remove the paper and repeat the process until your child is finished.

~ Leaf Press Painting: Older (than Carter, Luke and Hudson) children love to paint the leaves and press the paper on the leaves for a beautiful fall painting. This too, can be repeated over and over.

**Wow, wooden pieces glued to a piece of wood! Fancy Art! ;)

~ Nature Collage: If you have any old gift boxes, feel free to use the nature items, pieces of fabric, fall colored gems or sequins, feathers, etc, to collage the box to hold precious treasures.

~ Not Sure What to Call This: Arrange the leaves on a piece of waxed paper, cover the arrangement with another piece of waxed paper and iron it on low temperature. You can vary the project by adding shavings of fall colored crayons. REALLY PRETTY!!!

~ Texture Collage: Lay out a piece of contact paper, sticky side up, and let your child go free to arrange his fall findings on the sticky surface. WOW!! ;)

These activities not only encourage creativity but also build organizational skills by sorting and categorizing items. They build fine motor skills, and self esteem.

Important Teaching Moment:
Most of all, these activities bring to life God's many blessings in His creation. We can talk and read until we are blue in the face but when your child can touch it, smell it, see it, hear it and taste it, they will truly understand and appreciate God's gifts.

HAVE FUN and enjoy this short season!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mini Pumpkin Basketball

Hey, Suzie here.
Have I told you I have twins? That is my excuse for everything. Just ask my husband. It's the reason why the house isn't clean, why my kids have no pants on, and why I am lucky if I get lip gloss on everyday!
Anyways, teaching your children does not have to be hard, or time consuming. It just has to be meaningful! Just spend 10 minutes with them on this activity--- and everyone will be happy! In fact, as I am blogging this, he is still sitting there playing learning!

What you need:
Mini Pumpkins
A container, mine happens to be a plastic Jack-o-lantern
Just grab the pumpkins you have decorating your house for Fall!
Just checking it's still in there!
Things to remember while playing:
Count out loud with your children. Count by 1's, Count by 2's... like actual basketball!
When done playing, pull them out and count backwards!
Then, sit and count the ridges on the mini pumpkins!
Have Fun!

What We're Reading and Singing!

Let's add a bit of leafy-fun to our Fall Theme! Try reading Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, written by Lois Ehlert.

Here is a song to follow along!

"The Leaves on the Trees" (To the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)

The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown, orange and brown, orange and brown,
the leaves on the trees turn orange and brown, all through the town.

The leaves on the trees come tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down,
the leaves on the trees come tumbling down, all through the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish swish swish, swish swish swish, swish swish swish,
the leaves on the ground go swish swish swish, all through the town.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Recipes

I received this email today from my good friend, Martha Stewart, about all of these delicious pumpkin recipes!

Here are two I might try...
Pumpkin Cookies seem at my level.

Pumpkin Pudding. What a cute way to serve it!

She is good!

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