Thursday, June 21, 2018

Learning about Place Value

Erik has been struggling to grasp the concept of place value, so we've been trying to find ways to make it more understandable. His school was doing a coin-wars fundraiser, so we pulled out our coin  jar and I set him to work counting sorting them out. 
We counted each kind of coin separately from the rest, starting with the smallest pile. He'd take a pile of coins (let's say dimes, for example) and sort them into piles of 10. Once we had all our piles of ten we counted how many piles and wrote the number on a white board. I pointed out that there was only enough room for us to write one digit in the space, so we had to figure out how to regroup the coins and write them digits in the correct space.
We did this same process with each of the different types of coins. I think by the time we were done he had a much better understanding of place value, though he still doesn't quite have it mastered. We'll keep working on it, but we're almost there.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Field Trip: Animal Encounters, Rio Salado Audubon Center

We are always on the lookout for free, family-friendly activities to enjoy, so when I spotted something about this one we jumped right on it.
The Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix, AZ is a really neat place. Inside you have a small visitor center with displays on the water cycle and water management. It's not huge, but what is there was interesting. Outside there is a beaver pond surrounded by pretty gardens, and even a unique little play area for the kids. There are walking paths around the gardens, as well as down to the nearby river.
 Every second Saturday, October-April, the center has their Animal Encounters event, where they bring birds from a rescue center and teach the public about the animals and about their program. It's all free and really fun for the whole family. We got there a bit early so we took a while to go outside to explore, birdwatch, and play.
The kids loved the butterfly garden. There weren't really any butterflies around that day, but we loved the play structures.



When it was time, we headed back inside to learn about some birds. It was really fascinating, and so fun to see these beautiful animals in person.
A falcon. 

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Gray Hawk? I don't remember for sure. 
After seeing all the birds we went back outside for a picnic and some more playing and exploring.

We found a path that led down to the river and enjoyed wandering that direction. The kids are always excited to get to find some water.

This was such a fun place to visit with our family, and such a great way to learn more about the animals that live all around us.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Letter U, Under the Sea

We happened to have a convergence of oceany awesomness at our house, and oh boy did we have fun with it! Erik had to write  report on sharks for school during the same week that it was my turn to host our pre-school coop and teach the letter U. We decided to go whole hog with an ocean theme for everyone! 

Some of our letter U activities included making sea Urchins out of play dough and toothpicks. Some of the kids were enthralled with the simple fun of stabbing their ball of play dough with all the toothpicks, some weren't as interested. 


 Another fun thing we did was to make a giant Under the sea coloring page for all the kids to share. I taped a sheet of craft paper (the back side of some leftover wrapping paper would work too) to the table and just free handed some ocean creatures on to it. Don't look too close, I'm not an artist! :) The kids don't care though, and they loved it.
Set out a variety of coloring tools (crayons, markers, pencils, etc) and let them go to work. We actually kept this on the table for a couple of days for my kids to work on, putting a table cloth over it when needed to protect it.
 One really fun resource for our Under the Sea week was this great book! You can see some of the crafts we did out of it in the background of the pictures above. The kids really really loved it!


Click the image to go check out the book on Amazon.

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Shaving Cream Spelling Practice

We are always looking for ways to make learning more engaging around here, so when Erik needed some help with his spelling words we decided to bust out one of our favorite supplies; shaving cream! Shaving cream free play has been one of Erik's favorite things since he was a toddler, and we've had lots of fun with it over the years. 

This day I set up all three kids with a tray, some shaving cream, and a few drops of food coloring. The older two loved it, but Maren wasn't quite as impressed. She played for a moment or two, then wanted to get cleaned up. Oh well, she'll learn to love it eventually. :)
 After giving the kids a few minutes to play around, I started having Erik spell his spelling words with his finger in the shaving cream. This works great because it gets both fine and gross motor muscles involved, as well as multiple senses. And, the more of yourself you get involved in an activity the better you remember it, so theoretically this is a great way to memorize those boring old spelling words!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Field Trip: Fire Station Tour

 Earlier this week we got to go on an awesome field trip with our friends from our Summer Reading Playgroup. We had all missed a public tour of the fire station earlier in the summer, and we were disappointed not to get to go. I decided to look into it, and found out that all that stood between us all and getting our kids into the fire station was a simple online form. We picked a day, got our form turned in, and we were ready to go!

My kids and I were the first ones to get there, so we goofed around while we waited for the rest of the group to get there.

 We got to tour the living quarters of the station (which that adults thought was interesting), but the real excitement was when we finally got to go out into the engine bay and see the trucks. Oh boy were the kids excited! One of the fire fighters "turned out" in his full gear so the kids could see it all. They got to check out each piece before it got put on, which was really fun.
 It was sure hot out in the engine bay, we were grateful to get to be the ones watching the whole "turn out" process, but not have to do it ourselves. That poor firefighter was sweating up a storm!
Doing a dance, or putting on suspenders...you decide. :)
 The kids were fascinated to watch as the firefighter put his gear on, but once he had the face mask on and the air regulator going they were not so sure about going anywhere near him. It's so good for them to have a chance to see that this is not someone to be scared of in case they are ever in a situation where they need to be rescued. Seeing how scared the kids were made me think this is something we ought to do every year so they get to see it often enough to remember.
 The kids all got fire hats and other trinkets to take home with them, which of course is always a plus!
 What an awesome way to spend a day! I highly recommend reaching out to your local fire station to see if you can do a tour like this!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Curious George

My kids love Curious George books! We've read quite a few, but my favorite are the original H.A. Rey books that started it all. I decided to base this week's reading play group around the original Curious George book.
Unfortunately, we got so busy having fun that somehow I managed to forget to take a single picture. I've made up for this where I could with pictures from my files, and I'll make sure there are links leading you to the sites I took my inspiration from so that you can see these ideas in action.

For our play dough I gave the kids some green play dough, along with some toy monkeys and some leaves and flowers leftover from our garden theme.
After we read our book, we did this cute hand print craft with the kids. It turned out really cute, I can't believe I don't have one around here somewhere to take a picture of!

For our gross motor play we blew up a whole package of balloons for the kids to play with. Just like George, the kids LOVE balloons! Balloon free play is one of the quickest, easiest, least messy ways I know to keep kids occupied.
For our sensory play we did a rice bin. I have 50 lbs of rice that I keep handy for just such occasions. We added the monkeys and plants from our play dough fun, as well as all the digging/scooping toys I could find.
My original plan for the sensory play was to recreate George's ocean voyage by filling a kiddie pool with water and adding toy boats, monkeys, sea shells, etc. It was way too hot to play outside that day though, so we improvised and used the rice instead. The kids didn't know any better and they had a marvelous time!

For our snack I kept things simple with bananas. Easy Peasy!

I always try to have several books on hand that fit in with our theme. Click on the image below to go to Amazon and learn more about each book. Here's this week's book list:







*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Up, Down, and Around

 When I originally planned all these summer reading activities it was with the idea of implementing them in our local library using the book Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes, which I knew they had in their collection.  After our move, when I discovered that this book is nowhere to be found in our new library system (which surprised me because it's a huge library network), we had to switch things up and went with more of a general garden theme instead of just focusing on the tomatoes. It was still a lot of fun and worked out perfectly.

For our play dough this week I made this scrumptious smelling chocolate play dough. It looked like dirt, and the kids loved making their own little gardens with rocks, flowers/leaves, and toy bugs.
Our art project this week as really fun. The kids colored on coffee filters with markers, then sprayed their art work with water and watched the magic happen. After things dried in the sun for a bit we added some cute little apple borders I found here and hung our art on the wall.
For our gross motor, I had planned to play this fun apple toss game. I picked up a couple packages of these balls from Amazon for us to use. We ended up cutting things a bit short this week and never got around to playing the game, but I think the kids would have had a good time with it.

Our sensory bin this week was pretty epic. The kids thought it was amazing! I put 50 lbs of rice in a kiddie pool, added in the toys from our play dough fun plus all the fruits/veggies from our play food, and all the digging/scooping toys I could find. The kids had a blast digging and playing their pretend garden.
 For our snack this week we could have gone with any possible number of healthy garden fruits and/or veggies. Instead though I decided to have some fun with the kids and made a dirt cake instead. I assembled it in a clean flower pot (purchased just for this and scrubbed well before using), and stuck a couple bunches of fake flowers in there. It looked real enough that the kids were a bit shocked when I dug in and ate a big spoonful of the "dirt" right from the pot. I wish I'd gotten a picture, but they gobbled it up too fast for that.

Last, but not least, here is a list of all the fun garden themed books we used to inspire our fun. Clicking the image will take you to Amazon, where you can learn more about any book you're interested in.






*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links.