Friday, December 14, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books

At first, I had intended on presenting my children with a selection of 24 Christmas-related books leading all the way to Christmas but since we have only one local English library and currently still haven't won the lottery (how can you win without buying a ticket?), it makes it a bit difficult to find these materials. As such, I decided to do the 12 days of Christmas in books starting on Christmas day and ending on Epiphany (aka January 6). It will give us access to "more" Christmas books from our library and Santa has also given me a hint that the kids may be receiving some new Christmas books this year again (hush, hush on my private connection with the big man). In the meantime, here is our suggested reading list for the holidays:

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books (pre-approved by Adrian) 4.5 years old

- Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett
- Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
-If you Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
- Fletcher andthe Snowflake Christmas by Julia Rawlinson
- Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson
-Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
-The Night Before Christmas (Pop Up) by Clement Clark Moore
-Babushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins
-Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean

The 12 Days of Christmas in Books (pre-approved by Zahavah) 2 years old

-Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day
-Merry Christmas Ollie! by Oliver Dunrea
-Mouse's First Christmas by Lauren Thompson
-The Cheerios Christmas Play Book by Lee Wade
-Where is Baby's Christmas Present? (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Karen Katz
-Maisy's Christmas Day by Lucy Cousins
-Tell me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker
-Christmas Peekaboo by Dawn Sirett
-Bunny's Fuzzy Christmas by Golden Books
-The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Book) by Patricia Scarry
-The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
-Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond

What's on your Tot and Preschooler's Reading list this season?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Countdown to Christmas - How to Spread the Cheer

Christmas is once again on its way (yay) and I cannot help but smile. I've always loved Christmas. I've always looked forward to Christmas and always felt melancholic when it was over. A big part of me thinks that my Christmas appreciation is anchored somewhere in my childhood. I remember some specific smells that would come around the holidays, some special movies, jingly songs, sparkly decorations, cheerful family gatherings, and so on. My parents -whether they knew it or not- were spreading through the holiday season, some Christmas cheer that made me fall in love with Christmas and everything surrounding it. I want my children to feel this same excitement when it comes to the holidays so this year, I've compiled a list of activities that should build the anticipation and the Christmas spirit.

Adrian's way of spreading Christmas cheer back in 2008

Countdown to Christmas - How to Spread the Cheer

1. Open the first door of your advent calendar
2. Start the Elf on the Shelf tradition
3. Visit a Christmas tree farm and "adopt" a tree
4. Deck the Halls with all the family members
5. Send a letter to Santa; an old fashioned one that requires a stamp!
6. Make your own Christmas ornament
7. Play some Christmas music
8. Watch Christmas movies (The Polar Express anyone?)
9. Watch Santa's parade / Visit a Christmas market
10. Go see Santa...just in case he didn't get the memo! ;)
11. Drop some coins into a Salvation Army bucket and the spread the cheer even further
12. Go caroling...even if it's door to door in your own house
13. Read some Christmas books (more on that later)
14.Kiss under the Mistletoe (the perfect excuse to steal a kiss from your little one!)
15. Go ice skating (outdoors or indoors!)
16. Take a walk at night to see the Christmas lights of the neighborhood
17. Make a gingerbread house and gingerbread people
18. Make a dish/drink infused with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to perfume the house
19. Go sledding (weee!)
20. Bake some Christmas cookies only children are allowed to decorate
21. Drink eggnog (bonus point if you make your own with the kids)
22. Encourage the kids to Wish "Merry Christmas" to a neighbor they know
23. See snippets of the "Nutcracker" ballet / play (Thank you YouTube and school plays!)
24. Track Santa thanks to NORAD; leave cookies and milk for him
25. Open a present...or two and say "thank you"!

How do you spread the cheer? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers - Part 3

Last Thanksgiving post...for the year at least! :) Or shall I say for Preschoolers? I should probably make at least one post regarding what little Z. did in Tot school for Thanksgiving... Anyhow, here are a few more activities Adrian did this Thanksgiving season.

Making a Pilgrim Hat with Beans

This is  long activity but look how beautiful it is! I strongly recommend doing the buckle of the hat first and then the rest. We did the buckle with yellow split peas and the rest with black beans. Using a brush and liquid glue, it went well for gluing. Then, Adrian spread a handful of beans at a time. Staying within the lines was the biggest challenge. Get your own template from LearnCreateLove.

Make your Own Cornucopia

This is a small cornucopia I found at Michael's. I have a big one for the family but figured Adrian could fill his own. He quite enjoyed it and loved picking his dessert from his own cornucopia.

Catch that Turkey Game

I originally saw this on Mrs. Lee's Kinder Kids, and just had to make it for Adrian. You can find the sheet on her class's blog but you'll have to make your own letter cards. I simply found a cute turkey clipart for mine, printed just enough of them, wrote the letters we needed, put a paperclip on each, provided a magnetic wand (from one of our puzzles) and set it out for Adrian with a brown dot marker. The goal is to "catch" the turkey. Adrian had to catch all the letters shown on the turkey in order to catch the turkey so with his wand, he had to catch ALL the letters and dot them as he went along. Sometimes, letters appeared more than once. Sometimes, letters were capital, sometimes not but those were considered different! It was a long game but he loved it and...caught the turkey.

Game in Progress

Napkin Folding and Inserting Napkins into their Rings

In preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner, we practiced folding cloth napkins and putting them into napkin rings. It is definitely not as easy as it seems. The less folds the better. A. was not particularly enamored with the folding. He thought it was too hard even as I was folding along. But he really liked putting the rings on.

Thanksgiving Patterning with Stampers

Stock on these at Oriental Trading Company. They have them under different themes and they always come in packages of like 4 so your kids can make presents to friends too yet they are still affordable. We did our usual patterning activities with them where Adrian has to complete What Comes Next? with the stampers.

Learning how to Set the Table - With Max & Ruby

Not a big hit. In fact, not a hit at all. Adrian didn't want to do this activity. I guess he knows how to set the table and so he didn't feel like this was a fun school activity at all. If you do wish to do it with your child (a younger one may appreciate the true value of this exercise), I found this practice place setting placemat on Nick Jr.'s Website.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers - Part 2

Yeah, I know. It is December and I'm still posting about Thanksgiving. Eeek! I am way behind but to be honest, I had not expected to encounter any problems with picture posting! I am so glad it is behind me now (I literally obsessed over the problem!). Anyhow, here are some more Thanksgiving activities I put together for Adrian, 4.5 years old. I know it is "a bit" late for you guys to put them in action but there is always next year and besides, these are just way too cute not to be shared... :)

Handprint Thanksgiving Turkey - Make sure yours is spelled right! :)

Adrian is not a huge fan of the arts. Somehow, he doesn't mind when it involves paints though. For this, I used various earthy washable non-toxic colors. They can either be painted on your child's hand or you can paint them on yourself. In Adrian's case, I painted them on his hand, let him press it down firmly and on once it was dry, he drew on the legs with a marker, chose a goggly eye, glued it on and I finalized with the misspelled greeting! :) Gotta hand it to the mama to ruin the art project of her young one! :) The handprint turkey project was previously featured on Kaboose which is where I first saw this idea.

Turkey Feather Plucking

I thought this would be totally fun but I guess I needed more feathers or maybe the feathers needed to be contained or maybe it needed to be more like a race or festive or something? Adrian took this very seriously and tried his best to pluck only 1 feather at a time. I was simply asking him to pluck feathers knowing it is difficult to pluck feathers with tweezers. It became frustrating at one point for him. I showed him how to do it sideways since he insisted on picking one feather at a time and couldn't always pick it by the stem. Anyhow, next time, the timer will come in, a tiny bin, AND a load of feathers! LOL Idea...graciously taken from Mrs.Lee's Kinder Kids.

Make your Own Popcorn, Craft some and then Eat some

Ah...Fresh popcorn. There is nothing like the smell or taste of real, fresh, warm popcorn. With Adrian's help, I decided to pop some real popcorn in a pan with some canola oil. I let A. pour the oil and the corn and then we waited and listened. He didn't really care for the taste of popcorn but that's ok. We made it to taste it yes, but it was also for our craft. Adrian was actually quite concerned it wouldn't stick in our craft but it did. For our Indian Corn craft, we used liquid glue and pressed a bit and let dry and it worked. I pre-cut a template of green construction paper prior to school time.

Writing Practice

Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great Free package about Thanksgiving. I didn't use much of it but Adrian really need more writing practice so I printed out this sheet for him. The graphics were very cute.

Homemade Turkey Buttoning Practice

Buttoning practice idea found on Counting Coconuts. I'm not going to lie...My son is still having issues with getting dressed and buttoning this turkey's feather on was actually tough for him. I deliberately made the holes big but it still was difficult. I guess we'll have to do more of that, eh? 

A piece of Pumpkin Pie anyone?

I know this is not the prettiest pie to look at but I am a bit short on time during the holiday season (are we all not?) and so although I initially planned on making this pie out of felt and all fluffy and cute, it ended up being cut-up pieces of constructions pieces. It sadly was as boring as it looks but it still worked as a math activity. We successfully added and subtracted and counted. Prompts can be such as: Mama ate one piece, Adrian had one too. How many pieces are left? Daddy arrives. He wants pie too. He has one piece and then wants another. How many pieces did daddy have? How many pieces were eaten? How many are left? Etc.

Not picture but very fun? Your very own Turkey Trot!

Many cities organize their own annual turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day. Why not hold your own for your little ones? This way, there is no pressure if the weather is not clement! :) Just keep it short and fun. A small prize won't hurt either! :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving for Preschoolers - Part 1

Thanksgiving. It has come and gone and December is almost here but I am still taking the time to share with you today a few of the activities my preschooler and I did during Thanksgiving week. I will probably post another time -or two- on the topic at a later time.

Going Nuts

Nothing is prettier than a basket of un-shelled nuts. I brought some back from the grocery for the holidays and showed Adrian. First we explored them with our hands to feel their surface, smelled them, shook them and finally sorted them, counted them and learned their names. We finalized the activity by cracking open one of each. We once again smelled the nuts, felts the inside shells (walnuts can be prickly-careful!) and finally had a taste! I, of course, do not recommend doing this activity if your child has a nut allergy...I also believe that children are not supposed to eat nuts under age 6 because they pose a choking hazard. I was a bit nervous about the hazelnut being round and big so I asked A. to really chew it down! :) A. ended up LOVING the nuts and asked for more so I said we'd crack more later for snacking and use the rest in baking. :)

Spooning cranberries

Yes! Even in Germany we were able to find some fresh American cranberries to do this activity. My son loves berries and so when I mentioned "cranberries" he so wanted to eat them right away. :) Anyhow, the activity went well and was originally found on The Adventures of Bear.

Feeding the pilgrims and American Indians at Thanksgiving

Who's coming for dinner? How many people? I borrowed a small plastic table from my daughter's playset, put a number on it and told my son that the number he saw on the table was the number of people we were expecting for Thanksgiving. He then had to pick the small cut-up cards and arrange them around the table for dinner. I made the little cards using many clipart files made by PamsClipart. They included pilgrims and American Indians. Very cutely designed AND free. 

Quill writing a lot more difficult than it looks...Of course this feather is not a real quill and this was simple tempera paint but it was not exactly easy to glide this feather to get any "ink" down. The idea was to "write like the Pilgrims" did back in the day. It was fun but a bit frustrating. The letters and shapes you can actually discern on the paper were made by me to show A. he could actually do it but had to trace over several times. Idea was seen on The Adventures of Bear.

The Mayflower

A cute little craft I had remembered seeing on a family crafting website a while ago. I thought it was Family Fun or something but I can't find it now. Anyhow, I had kept it on the back of my head hoping I wouldn't forget it when timing would be right! :) Teaching about Thanksgiving to a young 4 year old can be a bit tough but I thought this was a nice way to introduce it. Adrian made the Mayflower himself. We opened up a walnut, used one of the halves and he filled it with some yellow play doh. Then, he stuck some sails (which I pre-cut as his skills are still developing) on the toothpick using some pieces of tape. Finally, the toothpick was inserted in the play doh and we had our Mayflower replica! Adrian loved telling his daddy how he arrived to America on the Mayflower. It made me laugh. Truth be told. Adrian, like the Pilgrims arrived to America by ship for the first time but it was not with the Mayflower...

Linking up this post to:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

World...We have a Problem. A Picture Problem

I was informed recently that I have almost reached the free quota for picture posting on this blog through Picassa which is what is freely provided (and easy) to use with this blog. *Gulp* I am now researching other possibilities. I know they are out there. Some fellow bloggers have been blogging with pictures like me for years after all...and surely they are not all paying for that. I mean...I do not pay for storing my most precious pictures so paying for storing my blog picture sounds just a tad bit ridiculous.

Anyhow, I am unsure what I'll be doing next. I am not signing off for good; I am not ready for that. Although blogging takes way more time than I thought and is a bit less rewarding than anticipated, I still enjoy it which is the main goal. I may still post without pictures and add them later or I may hold off on posting until I find a solution....If you have one, feel free to comment on this post. Any help would be appreciated...

because blogging without pictures is like cake without frosting. It still tastes good but it just doesn't look nearly as enticing.


P.S. I have one more post planned with full on pictorial and to solution hunting...Wish me luck!

Just a quick update...It seems I have now worked things out for a full-on picture blog folks! I've teamed up with Flickr and am now resizing my pictures BIG time because even with Flickr's generous monthly allowance, 15 pictures almost costed me my entire November ration! LOL So, I'll be back more regularly now that I've figured things out! Yay!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Feeding A to Z - Trial # 1

I finally summed up the courage to put into action the menu I've been penning down for over a week. I mean, I've been meticulously decorticating what I should serve my kiddos for lunch, the portion size and how to appeal their little palate. Here, I present to you my first attempt at seizing their likings. It will be lots of trials and errors because let's face it; kids change on a daily basis. Some days they'll like peas, some days they won't (ok...peas are ALWAYS yucky!)  LOL

For my first "sit down" meal, I chose an entree consisting of fish. Fish? What the...? Really? Yes. My kids for some reason like fish. They don't like mac n' cheese, spaghetti and meatballs or chicken nuggets but they like fish. Go figure. Not that it's a bad thing. No complaints on that one. :)

Something Fishy, Something Crunchy and
and Something "Berry" Good

Above is a picture of Adrian's plate before he "attacked it" (he's a hungry boy upon his return from German school). He had a first course of cherry tomato (his favorite vegetable), tossed the salad overboard (I insist on putting it on his plate but it really is just a garnish right now) then he moved on to the dessert (the blueberries and raspberries), had a few bites of couscous and carrots and ended with the salmon making sure to go around "the green". All in all, there were some leftovers but he tried everything (except the romaine) and ate very well. He requested more berries. I tried to make the plate as colorful as possible and make the portion within the norms for a 4 year old. One day, maybe I'll explain how I calculate this. Then again, maybe one day I'll put his veggies in the big hollow part instead of the meat! LOL Just re-learning this one...

Zahavah was served the same dish with a smaller portion. She quickly munched on the romaine. She only eats the "crunchy parts". The rest is quickly rejected. She offered almost all her blueberries and her lonesome tomato to her brother...and then begged for his share of couscous in exchange. She ate all her fish and then asked me for my couscous. :) What about the carrots, you ask? Well, she ate most of them.

So what did we really have for lunch? Was it time consuming? Not at all. The longest part was the pre-heating of the oven and the baking. The actual hands-on time was practically as fast as sneezing.

-1 piece of (preferably fresh wild) salmon
-freshly ground pepper
-sea salt
-herbes de provence (found in the spice section of any grocery store)

-Near East Herbed Chicken Couscous
(plain is great too)

-Del Monte Sliced Carrots with Pull Top
(you can of course make your own but my kids prefer the canned ones...go figure)

-Romaine Lettuce
-Cherry Tomatoes

-Blueberries & Raspberries


Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper and herbes de provence. Bake for about 18 minutes or until fish is flaky. Oven should have been pre-heated at 200F previously.

Couscous instructions are on the package but all you really do is boil water, empty couscous, cover and wait 5 minutes. Yep. Easy pasta!

Serve with one big glass of fat-free milk!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In the Woods for Preschoolers - Part 3

My last, shorter, post on our "In the Woods" theme. I must say it was a bit tougher than I expected to find original ideas for the week. I had to broaden it to include camping, forest animals, star gazing and such. Adrian, as expected, wasn't thrilled by the topic either. It's not like we were talking about trains! LOL I think it would have been slightly different if we would have been living back in NY where wildlife roamed in our backyard. We literally had deers, rabbits, wild turkeys, and even a coyote at one point. I won't even mention the beautiful birds we got to observe. Oh nostalgia...Let's move on to the remaining activities I'd like to share with you all before I book a plane ticket back! LOL...

Missing our NY Backyard Deers this year

Star hunting with a flashlight in a darkened room

Tough to say from just this snapshot but this was actually a hunting activity done in the dark with a flashlight. What a thrill it was. I first wrote down several letters on several stars. Then, I put some tape on the back and taped them on the wall across a room that has black out curtains. When the  time came, I gave Adrian a flashlight and one of the stars. I told him to look for similar stars on the walls and told him exactly how many there were. He proceeded to gather all the stars. He loved it. I think he sometimes even pretended not to find some stars just because he loved shining the flashlight across the walls! :) We did a variant of this by taping the letters on the floor as well as furniture. 

Sizing - Finding the right bed for the right animal

Using our Forest Animals made by Learning Resources and some plastic food storage bins, the activity was to find the best bed for each animal. After all, some animals hibernate and need a bed for quite a while in the long winter nights... This sizing activity was easy peasy for my son but he still liked it.

Forest Animals Talks

I love Learning Resources Jumbo Animals. We have a lot of their sets and if it were up to me, we'd have all of them and believe me, I am working on it! :) I think I possibly like them more than the kids though. It's just that they are so great for little hands, so cute, and realistic looking. I just want to play with them and am a bit puzzled that they are not playing with them more I guess... Anyhow, during school with Adrian this week, I whipped these out because well...they do belong in this unit. We talked about each animal. We checked out what jumped out at us first. The antlers came up fast so we had a talk about them. We examined the animals' tails. We counted the animals' feet. We saw the owl had wings and could thus fly but that no other animal on our table could.  We also saw that the beaver's feet were slightly webbed in the back...Could he be spending a lot of time in the water like the ducks? It may not look like much but simple animals can bring out lots of questions and discussions...

Touch & Feel Backyard Experience - with your Eyes Covered

A backyard activity of touch and feel with a bandana over the eyes. We had one beautiful fall day here this week with nice temperatures and so I couldn't resist going out impromptu with Adrian. I placed a scarf on his eyes and  took him by the hand and made him feel different textures in our backyard. I then asked him what it could be. It was so difficult for him not to lift the scarf and look right after touching. He didn't mind having his eyes covered and walking but touching and not seeing, now, that bothered him! :) We still played a bit but then just enjoyed the fresh air. Textures to touch can be bark, cedar tree, grass, a flower, a fluffy bush, a fence, etc.

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

This was delightful. Probably the last of the season unfortunately but definitely something I will be looking forward to putting together again come Spring. Scavenger hunts are always fun. Prior to preparing it, I looked at what we had in our neighborhood to make sure it would be possible for Adrian to gather all these objects and then we set off with the sheet in a plastic protector and a little bag. I knew  some items would be close to home and knew some would be on our way to a playground about 10minutes from here so it was a little walk with a reward and school into it! :) Adrian felt very proud when he had gathered everything. He would not play at the playground until he had found everything. A copy of this  hunt can be e-mailed to you per request. Ours included a pinecone, a daisy, a blade of grass, an acorn, a leaf, a twig, a rock and red berries.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In the Woods for Preschoolers - Part 2

Well I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! It's always a bit difficult being far from family during the holidays but I'm thankful I at least had my husband and kids to celebrate this year. I've got lots to be thankful for and one my many thanks goes to you my dear readers. Although nobody has commented yet (shyness, perhaps?), I can see all my posts have been read; some more than others. Well, keep on reading and don't be shy. Your comments are welcomed! For now,  here's a post featuring more woodland activities we did last week in preschool with 4.5 year old Adrian. I'll be posting more on this theme later.

Pinecone Bird Feeder

I actually had planned on doing this during Angry Birds week but we ran out of time. I figured it would work for this week as well. We used a well opened dry pinecone found during one of our walks. I let Adrian scoop out a good amount of creamy peanut butter on a plate and then let him pour a good amount of bird seed on another plate. I then showed him how to spread the peanut butter on the pine cone with a plastic knife so it wouldn't break the needles. He then spread it himself. After that, I asked him to roll the pinecone in the birdseed so it would be completely covered in birdseed. I personally tied the pinecone with a thread (it was messy and probably should have been done prior to anything but I was afraid it'd get in the way).  Adrian carried the pinecone by the thread and we hung it on a branch. He stayed out for quite a while waiting for the Angry Birds to come eat...

"Star to Star" Constellations

A cute variation of dot to dot! :) I personally could never see any constellations in the sky. I was always very bummed by it and tried very hard. I can't see them on the paper either but I'm quite hopefully my son will! :) I printed this worksheet from I'll probably use it again or a variant when we work on the Solar System later this year. I just thought that looking for constellations was something people did when they go camping in the woods you know. I know I did. Just didn't find them. Pfff.

Marshmallow Counting and Feeling

Using some marshmallows and number tiles, Adrian had to put out the right number of marshmallows requested per campers for their s'mores. And no, we didn't make any. I personally don't like them and I doubt A. would care for them. On top of that, graham crackers are a tough find around here... A. liked to feel the marshmallows though. First time he's ever touched them so we felt them fresh out of the bag, waited an hour when they are drier too and we also melted fun! We had a taste of one too (chewed it and well, he  didn't quite enjoy it... :)

Marshmallow Building

Well, since we had marshmallows on hand, why not have some more use out of them? I brought out some toothpicks and told Adrian we should try building things with the marshmallows and toothpicks. I built the 3D triangle and then he built the square. He then built another square but while building it shifted and WHAT? it became a diamond! He was so happy with this surprising result. Rectangles were also built along with a regular triangle and so on. 

Worksheets - Writing Practice and Shadow Matching

I am not a big fan of worksheets in general. Mostly because Adrian isn't. Once in a while though, I bring some out and he enjoys them. I try to keep them different. This time, we did shadow matching and writing practice under a camping theme thanks to 2TeachingMommies. Shadow matching was not and has not been challenging in a long time. Writing practice on the other hand could use more work. His pencil grip is not what it should be at this stage and neither is the time he uses to trace this! LOL

More Shadows - Real Ones  Made by Us

What's more fun than making animal shadows on a sheet? I remember doing this as a little girl and being delighted by some people doing some more intricate ones. Here's a copy from Old Book Illustrations showing various forms of hand shadow puppetry. Try a few or try them all. Camping has never been so fun!

Computer Literacy - Learning about Twilight Turtle's Constellations

After moving from Denmark to New York, we purchased our son, then 16 months old, a little CloudB Twilight Turtle. We figured the move might cause some nighttime anxiety. After all, we had moved from Copenhagen's main street to a much more quiet, dead end type of NY surburbia street. There were no more loud crowds, sirens, street lights and such. Fast forward 2 years later, Twilight Turtle has now moved to Germany where we are now living and it is still keeping our Adrian happy at night. This week, Turtle even got to come out during daytime to participate in school activities. If you visit CloudB's website, you can actually see the constellations projected on your child's ceiling every night along with some details. Adrian was delighted. He loved moving the mouse along to see the constellations and I loved to think that at night, he was possibly looking for them when he had some trouble falling asleep...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In the Woods for Preschoolers

Time for a new post folks! I've been slacking way too much and I bet you guys missed me just as much as I missed you. So here is a little something to chew on...

Last week, we worked on a thematic called "In the Woods". I brainstormed all around it and came up with camping, forest animals, woodlands, starry nights, and the likes so you can expect this theme to be broad. :)

A lovely bonfire for our campsite

Of course, I had Adrian gather the wood for our bonfire. I dispersed the toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls around the room and then we assembled the fire and made the flames with some scrunched silk paper. I explained what people usually do around bonfires since we've never been camping with Adrian yet. We later had some more dramatic play with a makeshift tent under a table covered with a big sheet. :) I fluffed some pillows inside and blankets. It was quite cozy and we read a nice book by Karma Wilson; Bear Snores On. Quite nice to explain hibernation actually...

Pinecone Forecaster Science Experiment

A beautiful science experiment done with a simple pinecone found outside. We started with the one you see above; fully open and dry. We took a picture. I explained to Adrian that when it's warm, sunny and dry, pinecones are all opened and that when it gets moist, wet and snowy, they close up. As such some people used to use them to forecast the weather to prepare for trips before they had better ways to know what was coming. To prove my point, we immerse the same pinecone in a bowl of water and closed it for an hour. After an hour, it was already partially closed. See picture below. After 2 hours, it was so sealed that it looked like it had been glued. Adrian loved checking back on his pinecone several times. :) I read about this idea on Science Sparks.

1 hour later - pinecone has started closing

Mushroom picking in the yard

Something we did earlier this year but it was very well loved and deemed appropriate with this theme as well so I took it out again. It was loved just as much this time around and requested again later as well. I hid them around the yard and asked Adrian to find all 11 of them (dotted 0 to 10) and later, inside, he rowed them from 0 to 10). I made these myself using unpainted wooden drawer pulls! :)

Rhyming Words - Woodland Themed

Well that didn't go too well...I was looking forward to it and was very excited about it. I was so sad when I realized it was too advanced for A. Oh well. I'm still trying to challenge him more in the literacy department but this was definitely too challenging. If it isn't for your child, e-mail me and I'll send you a copy of my work. It features several forest animals and several rhyming words that need to be matched with the creatures. E.g. Fox - socks, moose - juice, deer - ear, etc.

Rock Painting

I wish our rocks had been bigger but rocks are sort of rare around here despite that fact that it's quite rural. Anyhow, Adrian and I decided to make ladybugs with our rocks since Zahavah will be hosting a ladybug birthday party in a few weeks. we figured it would be nice decorations beside the fact that they are easy to paint, cute AND also found in the woods.

* * *

This post was shared on Discover & Explore.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Feeding A to Z

Baby Adrian enjoying freshly made organic prunes
Picky eating. *sigh* When Adrian and Zahavah were just babies, they ate everything. And I really mean EVERYTHING. I made all of A's baby purees myself and had him try everything I found (yes, I did make some fresh passion fruit juice, deer stew and parsnip compote). Heck, he even "taught" me how to prepare certain foods and how to pick a ripe melon! Now I'm not writing this because I miss making these concoctions but rather because I miss when meal planning was easy. I miss being able to bring a dish to A's nose without the latter turning up on it. I miss when there was no food battle, no bribing, no "threatening" and no fuss. 

German Baker's Little Mouse Bread

I still consider that Adrian eats better than the average kid and may be slightly less picky than most but until he eats most of what I eat, I'll probably still think of him as picky. What got me to write this piece (besides the venting opportunity of course) is the lunchtime interrogation mark. I'm a huge soup fan and occasionally, I'll have a sandwich instead. Of course, toddlers and preschoolers are not huge fans of either. Don't get me wrong...Z will eat nearly everything (except for tomatoes, broccoli and sometimes other random stuff) but A...Oh my! 

Z "Vulturing around" her grandpa for some banana toast

So what do we do for lunch? Well, I'll shamefully admit that I've been relying on Gerber Toddler and Preschooler Meals. Yup. I did look them up and overall, they weren't bad, especially since both the kids ate their veggies (which otherwise, they wouldn't) and the portions are good. Even better? They are ready-meals! I've tried several times to take these away and replace them with more "proper" food but A missed them and pushed away what I prepared. Well, the tables are now turning. A is starting to push away his Gerber meals (he gets "only" 3 a week by the way) saying he doesn't want them! Argh! Help! Help!, I thought. 

Trying my strawberry gelato under the envious eyes of baby sister Z

What do kids eat? I always thought mine would eat what I eat but...hahaha. I must have missed that baby class where they said kids don't like "mommy foods". I've been wanting to switch him entirely to real foods but was totally uninspired and now...well I had just better be! So what do kids eat? What do your kids eat at lunchtime? I figured since I'm home, I can actually make a warm meal but I have no intention of preparing a "dinner" for "lunch" either. Upon checking what kids eat for lunch on other blogs, websites and books, I find myself saying "he wouldn't eat that", or "Really?" So from now on, I'll be brainstorming homeschool classes AND lunch menus for our homeschool. Maybe it's time to franchise... LOL

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Angry Birds for Preschoolers - Part 3

Noooo! Not already the last post on the Angry Birds! This week was so much fun. Oh well, there's always the game, right? :)

Balancing marbles on golf tees

The Angry Birds are so very proud of their eggs and like to display them on pedestals! As such Adrian's job was to hammer in the pedestals and to then add the eggs on top. He simply loved it.

Angry Birds and their babies

Let's help the baby Angry Birds find their mommy and then, let's count how many babies each mommy has. Who has the most babies? Who has the least? How many babies are there total?

Angry bird eggs

Using homemade pompom Angry Birds and black beans, we pretended the beans were the eggs of the black birds. I added numbers in front of each bowl to indicate how many eggs each bird had in their nest.  Manipulating the beans was a bit of a fine motor activity I must say as they are so tiny to count.

Make your own Angry Bird

It was fun to make play doh birds. I let A choose his own feathers, goggly eyes and we used the "worms" from before to make feet. Making balls with play doh is still difficult for Adrian so I had to help but it was still enjoyable and creative.

Adrian made wings for his Angry Bird so it could fly

Cutting and classifying

I printed this activity from 1+1+1=1's Pack. I thought Adrian could first cut the 4 sheets to separate birds from piggies and then "read" where the pigs went and where the birds would go. It went very well and it was fairly easy for him to classify of  course.

Color by Word

From the same pack as mentioned above came a color by word activity. I had A "read" the color to see where to put what. He phonetically read the first letter and then chose the appropriate color.

Bird Matching Game / Memory Game

A favorite activity here. This one wasn't so easy. All birds and some were quite similar so A had to take his time. We printed these from Montessori Print Shop in their free download section. (Their cards are always nice and not expensive compared to the time it takes to make your own though)

Reproducing the app

Of course, Angry Birds week would not have been complete without a "real" game. In this picture, we see the Angry Birds with tin cans but we also used our wood blocks to build structures. Needless to say, it was noisy and exhilarating for Adrian. Building with blocks in a great activity for kids and A doesn't do it much...or didn't... ")

* * *

Today, I'm happily linking up to: