Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grass Hair People

Provide small cups and markers and let your children decorate the cups with faces. After the drawings are complete, provide potting soil and grass seed. Children can plant grass seed in the cups. Be sure to place the cups in a sunny spot and water frequently. Once the grass grows tall enough children can give the grass hair person a haircut. You could also encourage your children to help fill in some bare patches on the lawn using their grass hair people.

Weekly Challenge: Whether you chose to do the rock activity, the grass activity, the May Day project or something entirely different, enjoy some aspect of nature and Spring with your children.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting ready for May Day!

May Day celebrations take place on May 1st. It's a time to celebrate springtime. I like to make May Baskets with my children. They decorate paper plates and then I roll each plate into a cone shape and staple it to secure the shape. A ribbon can be attached to the cone to serve as a handle. We go on a walk to collect wild flowers (or flowers around the yard) to place in our May baskets. Once our May baskets are filled, we give them away to brighten someones day. Of course, we also like to gather a few flowers to enjoy ourselves.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rock On!

I don't think I've ever met a child who didn't like rocks. Whatever the shape or size, rocks are cool and fun. Have you ever found a stow away rock while checking tiny pockets before tossing clothes in the wash? I know that I have. If your children enjoy rocks then they are sure to have fun with a project I'm going to share. This activity is easy and appropriate for one child at home or a group of children.

Give your child a small bucket and go for a rock hunt outside. I like to set a specific number ahead of time to add some simple math into the project. For example..."You may choose 10 rocks to place in your bucket". Of course you can also let your child choose rocks to his/her hearts content.

After the rock hunt, find some small containers or bowls and place a couple pieces of folded paper towel into each one. Pour a small amount of washable paint onto the paper towels to make "paint pads". Give your children a large piece of paper and they can dip the rocks onto the paint pads. Children can then use the rocks like they would a rubber stamp. Stamp the rocks onto the paper for rock prints.

Tip: You can find washable paint at almost any craft supply store. Click the link below to see an example:
Washable Paint

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Recipe For Fun: Pizzas

Recipe for individual mini pizzas:

I like using refrigerated biscuits but you can also use half of an English muffin or half of a bagel.
Each person can put his/her own sauce and choice of toppings on the mini pizza. I like to put several topping choices out in small bowls. Bake biscuits according to directions on tube or if using a bagel or English muffin, bake until cheese melts.

Tip: You can offer the traditional pizza sauce and toppings or get creative and try something different like barbeque sauce instead of pizza sauce and chicken instead of ham or pepperoni. One time my children and I even made breakfast style pizzas with maple syrup, bacon and cheese.

For more fun recipes check out the recipe section of my website:

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Cooking With Kids

I love cooking with kids. It’s often messy and most projects take longer than anticipated but it’s worth it because it instills a sense of joy in the kitchen at an early age. It also helps children feel like they are great helpers thus boosting their self esteem. When I was teaching preschool outside the home, I usually did a cooking project with the children once per week. At home, I cook, bake and create with my kids often. My children love helping in the kitchen. If you dropped by my house nearing a meal time or snack time, it would not be uncommon to find my kids in the kitchen stirring, pouring or spreading something. Cooking is a great way to easily incorporate math, science and a sensory experience into your day. And as a bonus, often children will be more likely to try something new just because they helped make it.

A challenge for the week: Let your children help cook at least one meal or snack. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, it can be as easy as letting them dump a pudding mix into a bowl, pour milk from a measuring cup into the pudding then whisk. Maybe even letting your child slice a banana with a butter knife (with close supervision) to add into the pudding. If you are just beginning to cook with kids, keep it easy.

I plan to add several kid friendly recipes from time to time so stop back often to see what's new.

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Making old toys new again

Do your kids have too many toys in their play area? Are they bored and overwhelmed? Is the play area often a mess and stressful to tidy? The solution at my house is doing a toy rotation every few weeks. I rotate the toys in my children’s bedroom and playroom storing toys out of their sight in our basement. They are never sad about toys leaving because they are so excited to have toys back that they haven’t played with in several weeks or even months.

Sometimes I choose a theme when I rotate and try to put toys into the play area that fit into the theme and sometimes I do not. The thing I enjoy about rotating toys is that it’s almost like Christmas time for my kids. I love the excitement they feel over old toys seeming new again. Clean-up time isn’t as overwhelming because they don’t have everything they own out at once. I also feel like our toys get more use when they are rotated because even though they may be stored away for several weeks or months, when they do come back out they get lots of use.

Another great thing about doing ongoing toy rotations is that it’s an easy time to weed out the toys that are broken, missing pieces, no longer age appropriate or no longer enjoyed. It’s also a time to be generous and get the children involved with donating toys. When I tell my children that there are other boys and girls who don’t have toys to play with, they feel compassion and are willing help fill bags with their toys to give away. I often have an ongoing donation bag going and then when it’s full, we drop it off. It’s a win, win, win situation. My children learn to be generous and feel compassion for others, we get more space and someone else gets to enjoy our once treasured toys.

When I was teaching preschool outside the home, I did toy rotations by swapping toys with other preschool, Young Fives and Kindergarten classrooms in our building. We often swapped large pretend play pieces as well as bins of manipulative toys (stringing beads, lacing cards, puzzles, blocks, etc) and children’s books to keep the children from getting bored with the same stuff.

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