Saturday, July 30, 2011

Making a Water Table

Over the winter we had a big box that we filled with dry noodles and dollar store utensils.
(You can read more about our noodle-rific fun here.)

For the summer, we have bagged up all the noodles and converted our noodle box into a water table. 

A box...filled with water and bath toys...means lots of summer fun.  We did find that the kids seem to enjoy the water table more with it propped up on crates as opposed to being flat on the ground.

Yay for Summer!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Buying Some Time

Disclaimer:  My trusty camera is on the brink.  These sub-par pictures were all taken with my phone.

The other day I had three baking projects going in the kitchen.  For some unknown reason, I decided to work on all three projects simultaneously.  So, as I am working frantically in the kitchen, Abby comes up to ask of me her favorite question, "Do?"  Thankfully, I had just unpacked groceries, transferred the new oatmeal into a plastic container, and had the empty oatmeal canister on the counter.  Or, I should say, the empty oatmeal canister was buried under a few layers on the kitchen counter, because, as you know, I had three baking projects going. 

We cut an opening in the top of the canister and Abby worked on slipping knives through said opening.  Yes, you read it right...knives...plastic knives.  My first thought was that we could use poker chips, but I had no idea where to even begin looking for those.  Knives and Poker Chips.  Awesome.

Then she proceeded to unload the knives...

...and re-load the knives.  Look how fast her hand is moving.  You should have seen how fast I was moving in the kitchen.

Pretty soon, Eli wanted to get in on the action and I was even able to scrounge up two more oatmeal canisters.  I KNEW they would come in handy for something. 

With the addition of more knives, Star Wars Lego Guys, and some plastic cups, I had some happily entertained kiddos.

It is in moments like these that I know God provides for me in the very basic and mundane times of my day.  I needed to work in the kitchen.  I had kids that needed something to do.    In His graciousness to me, God brought to mind this activity, which I had seen sometime in the past, somewhere out there in Mommy Blog-land.  Divine timing for a tired mom with lots to do.  My kids even played long enough for me to clean my disaster of a kitchen.  That, is what this mom calls a miracle...a miracle wrapped up beautifully in an oatmeal canister.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fractions, Fractions Everywhere

Fractions are important.  

Ooooo...I like this...what an introduction for great problem solving.  "Six moms are shopping at Target and their children smell the popcorn.  If the popcorn costs 75 cents (I don't think Target popcorn costs 75 cents, but humor me) and the moms, of course, have no cash except for spare change at the bottom of their purses and the children will only be pacified with popcorn, how much does each mom have to pay?"
 In fact, as a math teacher, I will go so far as to say...fractions are a vital, foundational concept in mathematics.  If my goal was total mathematical world domination, the educational world, mind you, I would mandate that fractions be taught for an entire year.  Only Fractions. For an Entire Year.  At about the 3rd grade level.  Students need a deep understand of fractions and we're getting started over here in a very basic way.

Eli doesn't like to get dressed.  I guess I can't blame him...hanging out in your pajamas all day is pretty fun.  Last week, Eli had already put on his dedicates (by this I mean underwear, but I wasn't sure I could say "my kid was in his underwear" on a blog).  This is always the stopping point:  in his dedicates staring at the shirt and shorts before him.  Then it hit me.  After almost five years of dressing children, I knew what to say:

"Eli, you are already one-third done getting dressed."

He must be a mathematician like his mom, because he loved this.  I went on to explain, "Look, you have three pieces of clothing to put on and you already have one on.  This means that you are one-third done."    He quickly and happily put on his shorts..."Wow!  You are two-thirds done!  That means you are almost finished."  And the shorts..."Eli, you did it!  You are three-thirds done.  What does that mean?  Yup.  You are finished."

We have been dressing with fractions ever since.  Let me say, it is so hot right now that we need a smaller denominator.  To that end, I am pretty thankful that we don't have a denominator of, say, 7 or 8.  That's a winter denominator, my friends.

My kids also don't like having sunscreen put on.  Enter...fractions.

Oh how I love our swim shirts as it reduces our sunscreen denominator by one.  One head, two arms, and two legs.  We count along as each part gets greased done, two-fifths done, and so on. 

Now, these ideas are definitely not rocket science, but, I do think they are a great foundation for one day DOING rocket science.  In closing, I do have to admit, that total mathematical world (the educational one) domination might be a tiny, tiny thought in the back of my head.  I guess I will start by surrounding my kids with least, eight-elevenths of the time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Legos and Crayons

Recently, we combined two of our favorite things to make make one so-so art project.  Here is it, in all of it's marginal glory.

We started by arranging Legos on a Lego board. 

Next, we laid paper on top and rubbed a crayon over the paper...making kind of a Lego-crayon etching.

Mine, but only mine, turned out decently.  The kids had a hard time, I think because the board was not entirely covered with Legos.  The non-flat surface seemed to be problematic for the kids.

We tried again, this time removing the Legos from the Lego boards so that the kids were working with a totally flat surface.  This worked much better for them, though didn't produce the cool designs I had pictured.
Abby did work on her Lego coloring happily, but Eli jumped ship pretty quickly.  "This isnt' so exciting, Mom," he said.  I know, Buddy, I know.

This is one we might have to try again...when the kids are older or when their mom can think of a way to make it work better...which ever comes first.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Loving our Local Library

Yesterday, for a last-minute thing to do we went to our local library for a craft morning. Three different crafts were provided for 3-5 years olds and my two kids were the only ones there.  There's nothing like doing crafts someplace OTHER than your own home.  No clean up.  YAY!

Making sticker pictures.  Simple, but fun.

Making necklaces with lots of cool beads.
And the coolest one...there was bubble wrap wrapped around a cardboard paper towel tube.  You rolled the tube in paint and then rolled in on the paper.  What a great idea!
It's kind of hard for a boy to do crafts when there was a playground just outside the window through which he was looking.

As an extra bonus, we were able to check out some books, even though the library was not "officially" open.  I was excited to pick up this book which I have had on hold for awhile:

Making a sourdough starter from just flour and water?  I am looking forward to this science experiment!

So, with craft projects and new books in hand we headed out to the park.

Summer is such a great time for community events.  
Check out the calendar of your local library today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Tribute to U2

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a U2 concert in our very own hometown.  It was amazing.  AMAZING.  So, while I was watching the concert, I found myself thinking, "This is amazing.  AMAZING.  I need to do something with the kids that uses something U2ish."  Thankfully, the following song was early on in the concert and I didn't have to be totally lame, trying to think up a kid activity for the entire concert...


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nail Polish Game

Abby loves nail polish.  A girl after my own heart.  Strangly, she won't let me paint her toes, but she loves to just play with the bottles.  I guess they are pretty cool little bottles.  So, this morning, we played a Nail Polish Game.

We selected some polishes...notice...there are no OPI bottles in there.  We don't play games with OPI nail polish.
I painted a small bit of each color on a paper plate and we were ready.

The Nail Polish Game:  Abby would pick a bottle and put it on the matching color on the paper plate.  That's it.  You can see how thrilled Eli was with The Nail Polish Game.

It was also fun to feel the nail polish on the paper plate.  Abby would touch it and then say "cold."  We did talk a bit about how the nail polish felt and looked, which I wasn't even planning on doing until Abby said "cold,"...practicing good descriptive words...smooth, shiny, pretty, cold...

She did like it, though this face doesn't show it.

I had a cute little video of us playing our game, but am experiencing technical difficulties.  Bummer.

I am now off to paint my toes...or change a diaper or do dishes or throw in some laundry.  
I guess toes will have to wait.  
Bummer again.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Play-Doh on the Window?

This one keeps me on my toes.

I was happily working on the computer while Abby was happily coloring on our whiteboard...and herself...I found out upon turning around.

Now, not only had Abby been coloring on herself, but she was also sticking Play-Doh on the window.  So, of course,  choosing the bigger of the two offenses, the first thing out of my mouth was, "Abby, we don't put Play-Doh on the window."  The moment that this statement was delivered to my sweet, marker-covered child, I asked myself, "Hmm.  Why DON'T we put Play-Doh on the window?  Is there a really good reason why we don't put Play-Doh on the window?  I know why we don't put it on the carpet or furniture, but the window?  I am pretty sure it would be easy to clean up.  Exactly, why DON'T we put Play-Doh on the window?"  Coming up with no reasonable answer to this question, I decided to go with it.

Some happy, Play-Doh sticking children who might be considering if their mother has had a momentary lapse of sanity.
Great fun!

Lest we "just had fun," I gave Eli pieces and asked him to make an "E."  It was fun to watch him figure out how to put the pieces together to get a final product he liked.  He was also excited to peel off the Play-Doh to see the imprint left underneath.

Once the Play-Doh-on-the-window fun seemed exhausted, we simply removed the Play-Doh.  I asked Abby to take down all the PINK Play-Doh, practicing her color recognition and sorting skills.  Once again, big apologies to my kids that their mom is a teacher...always a teacher.

My camera battery died as we began the clean-up process, but with a baby wipe in hand, each kid set to work cleaning the window.  When they finished, it was cleaner than when we started.  Now, I am not saying that children should run willy-nilly through their homes sticking Play-Doh to the windows on a regular basis, but, under controlled and supervised conditions, this was lots of fun.

I guess we DO put Play-Doh on windows.