Friday, March 13, 2015

Community Clean-Up

Over the last week or two Erik and I have been discussing the meaning of "community". We talked about how a community is a group of people who live near each other and help each other out. As we've gone about our daily lives I point out people/places in our community and we talk about how they help everyone else. For example, our tiny town has one little store/gas station, where one can go to buy basic grocery items, treats/sodas, gas, and few other miscellaneous things. Erik and I talked about how nice it is that we can go get an ice cream bar or some gas any time we want/need to. We talked about the library, the church, the park, the ranger station (remember, we live in a tiny town at the edge of a wilderness area, even the ranger station is an significant part of our community).

We also talked about how it's important for everyone to help out to keep our community nice. Even little kids like Erik can help pick up trash from the park or on the side of a quiet road. The plan is to go to the park with a bag for trash and see if we can fill it up. Unfortunately, between the flu, the weather, and the everyday business of life, we have yet to make it to the park.

I am hopeful that this coming week is finally going to work out for us to get this done, and when it does happen I'll be sure to share some pictures and details of how this went. For now, we're going to move on to the letter D here on the blog, since there's no point in waiting to post new material until we meet this one goal.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TBT: The Carrot Conclusion

So this week we're going back to our Carrot on a String experiment to show you our results.

So, in case you missed the set up, here's what we did (you can go back to the first post for full details):




We made sure to water the carrot several times a day, and to move it to a warmer location at night in case things got too cold that close to the window. Each day Erik checked the carrot to measure its progress. Finally, on about day four this is what we had:
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Wait for it.....
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 Yum, right? So, good job to my Grandma, who hypothesized that it would rot. She is the winner!
Now, as any good scientist would, we didn't let this stop us. We analyzed where our experiment may have gone wrong, designed a few improvements, and gave it another shot.

I was worried from the beginning that coring out the top of the carrot like we did would remove the part of the carrot that we were hoping to have grow. So, this time we did two carrots, one with only half of the top cored out, and the other with a very shallow hole cored out of the entire top (so basically the same as our first experiment, just with less water holding capacity). I was hoping that one (or both) of these methods would create enough of a space to hold water while still leaving something left to grow.

 These were strung up in the window and given the same treatment as our first carrot. We waited several days, with Erik checking our progress each day. By day four this was our result:
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Did you really think I'd just show it to you?
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So, I guess this whole project was a great way for Erik to get introduced to the scientific method, as well as to learn that not all experiments turn out as you had hoped they would.
Maybe my kid is weird, but somehow we didn't feel this experiment lived up to this statement from the original source: "In a few days your kids will love the results." Maybe most kids like rotting carrots, who knows.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Counting Caterpillars


This adorable little math activity came to us by way of my mother-in-law, who is amazing. Included in the little zip-top baggie was a set of instructions, three felt leaves, and a pile of adorable little pipe cleaner caterpillars. Making this busy bag would be pretty easy, here are the supplies you would need:
- A copy of the instructions
-Three leaves cut out of green felt 
-Pipe Cleaners (the puffier they are, the better!)
-Glue

 Using wire cutters or scissors, cut your pipe cleaners to approx. 2 inch lengths. Fold the ends over just enough to tuck in the sharp ends. Glue some googly eyes on, and viola!
Erik had a lot of fun with this one. We did a few math questions (pictured above: Which leaf has the most caterpillars), then I let him play with the caterpillars for a few minutes. He named them all after characters in the Clara Caterpillar book we borrowed from the library this week, it was pretty cute. 

I love activities like the that are visually appealing, entertaining, and SO easy to put together!

*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, March 10, 2015

Book list for Learning the Letter C

Here are some of the books we've been enjoying while learning about the letter C. Some of these came from the library, and some we pulled from our Book Nook. 


Erik's favorite by far has been "A Bad Case of Stripes", which came out of our own collection. I wasn't sure he'd enjoy this one, as it seemed a bit too advanced for him, but I was wrong. He loves it. It is the story of a young girl who tries so hard to be what everyone else wants/expects of her that she looses the ability to be herself. Only by doing something true to herself does she regain her true form. 

My favorite is probably "Clara Caterpillar", both for it's cute story and pictures, as well as for the incredible number of C's that are stuffed into the pages of this book. To quote the Amazon description: "A carefree cabbage caterpillar named Clara, who becomes a common cream-colored butterfly, can′t possibly compete with a catty, conceited caterpillar named Catisha, who becomes a captivating crimson-colored butterfly. Or can she?" Is that enough C's for you?

The Honorable Mentions go to: 

"Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?"; a fun collection from different illustrators showing why they each think the chicken crossed the road.

"The Carrot Seed"; Erik's favorite of the library books we checked out. It's a very simple story about a boy and his carrot. 


*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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cutting Practice

Erik loves to cut things up with his scissors. He will just sit and chop things into tiny pieces, just for the fun of it. I figured I'd use this to my advantage this week, and kill two birds with one stone. First, it helps him practice an important skill, second, it keeps him busy while I prep our activity for the day.
I've done things like this before where I gave Erik a sheet of paper to cut on while I'm busy, but this is the first time he really tried (and had some success) to cut on the lines. 
He decided peeling carrots looked like more fun, that's okay though because he was still building some great skills doing that too!
It's a simple activity, and the prep for it takes a minute, tops. But it keeps the kiddo busy and builds those finger muscles and hand-eye coordination, so it's a huge win in my book!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Chameleon Letter Craft

The other day Erik really wanted to paint, so we pulled out the water colors. I gave him a pile of blank papers to paint on, but he just kinda looked at them like he didn't know what to do with them. I started looking up coloring pages of his favorite movie characters on the internet and tracing them onto the papers for him to paint. Then, I realized this was a great way to add in something to do with our letter of the week. So, I grabbed the last paper and drew a large letter C on it.
 Surprisingly enough, he was just as excited to paint the C as he was to paint Mater and McQueen.
 After he was done painting, I realized we could use this as a base for our letter craft. So, using this idea as our base, we made a chameleon out of his colorful letter C. I think it's my favorite of all our letter crafts so far (you know, all 3 of them).
 Because Erik had never heard of or seen a chameleon, we got on youtube and watched a couple of fun little videos about them. We found this fun one of chameleons eating, and this one of them changing color. The really fun thing was an hour or two later when Erik was on the phone with his Grandma. He told her he'd made a picture of a chameleon, and Grandma (who had no idea how much, if any, time we'd spent actually learning about chameleons) started asking him questions about them. He was able to answer all her questions about chameleons without any help from me. It was fun to see how much he'd learned from such a simple activity.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

TBT: Color in a Bag, Plus More Color Mixing Fun!


For today's Throw Back Thursday post, we redid an activity that we've enjoyed before so that Sharli could get in on the fun too. This Color in a Bag activity is so much fun!
 It's been so long since we did this one that it was like a new activity for Erik. He loved it!
 I did have to watch Sharli carefully so that she didn't chew holes in the bags, but other than that this was a pretty low-stress activity.
 To add on to this one, we also added in some color mixing bottles. We found this idea on the same list of activities as our Carrot on a String activity. I've wished for a while now I could find some way to make a color mixing toy that would settle back into two distinct colors for long term play, so I was excited to try this idea out.

I was planning on making three of these bottles (yellow+red, red+blue, blue+yellow) but when it came time to put these together I couldn't find the other empty bottle I'd saved for this. Maybe we'll end up making the last bottle eventually, and if we do I'll be sure to share it with you all.
So, what do you need to make these babies? Let's gather our supplies:

- empty bottles with lids
-baby oil
-crayons (the original site calls for candle wax coloring, but crayons worked fine for us)
-water
-food coloring
-hot glue gun and glue

A few days before you want to assemble these, cut up the crayons (I used yellow crayons, it took 3-4 for one bottle of baby oil) into tiny shavings and put them in the bottle of baby oil. Let this sit for a few days until the crayons have mostly dissolved. 
When you're ready to assemble your bottles, fill them half full with water, colored with food coloring. Add your colored oil until the bottle is full, then seal the lid with the hot glue. You may want to shake up the bottle once before sealing it to make sure you didn't get too much of one color or the other. 
 When you shake the bottle, the colors mix together and you can see the bubbles of oil swirling in the water, almost like a lava lamp. They're really pretty! We found that the blue+yellow combo worked better, the red in the red+yellow bottle bled into the yellow oil a bit and so after a few shakes, the bottle just stayed orange. It was still really pretty though!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Coffee Grounds Writing Practice

One of our neighbors came to our house a few weeks ago with a big box of food to see if we wanted any of it. The catch was all of it was past its expiration date. I dug through the box and found a few things that I thought would still be safe to consume or that could be re-purposed and let her do with the rest as she saw fit. Among other things we got some cans of sweetened condensed milk to make edible glossy paint to share with our play group friends and a few small bags of decaf coffee. 
I will admit that we are not coffee drinkers around here. I'm not aware of having ever had coffee to drink in my life, and I don't really care for the smell. So why would I keep the coffee? Well, there are all kinds of ideas going around online for ways to play with coffee grounds, such as "mud" play dough, home made fossils, worms and dirt sensory bins,  paint, and so much more. I thought we'd give some of them a shot, so I hung on to that old expired coffee. 
My plan was to start with some simple writing practice then move up to a sensory bin for both kids, then maybe some playdough. This was going to fill up several days worth of activity time, all with only using one material and a free (to us) one at that! 
For the writing practice, I just dumped a couple of packages of ground coffee onto a baking sheet and we had fun drawing designs and practicing writing the letter C. 



We played with this for probably about 10 minutes, but by that point I realized that unused ground coffee has a pretty dang strong aroma. And remember how I said I don't really care for that particular aroma? I was being nice. I REALLY don't like it. And apparently neither does Erik, he kept complaining about how stinky it was.
Finally, we gave up the attempt to get used to the smell. I emptied the remaining packets of coffee onto the tray and took it all outside to the garden. In a few months our veggie plants will thank us for the treat.
Now, I do have to say the really gritty feel of the coffee was a fun texture, and if we could have gotten past the smell we would have had a lot of fun with this one. If you happen to be one of the majority of our society who does enjoy coffee then I'd encourage you to give this one a try, either with unused ground coffee or the leftovers from the making of your morning cup (dry the grounds in the oven at the lowest possible temp).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Carrot Conundrum

For one of our letter C science activities we used the idea for Carrot on a String, found here. The instructions are clear enough, but what they don't tell you is what exactly is the end result of this experiment. I did a brief google search and still didn't come up with any clear description of what to expect, but I decided to go for it anyways. I am typing this post the same day that we started this experiment, so as I write this I still have no idea what's going to happen with our carrot. Don't worry though, I'll post again in a few days with the results.

So, what exactly is involved in the Carrot on a String experiment? Well, let me show you. First, let's gather our supplies:

-a carrot
-a vegetable peeler or small paring knife
-a string
-a large needle
-some water

First, using your paring knife or peeler, core out the top of a carrot.
 Next, attach the carrot to a string. We used a large needle, but it seems like you could also poke a hole with a small nail or anything else you have handy then push the string through.
 Pour some water in the top of the carrot.
 Hang the carrot in a sunny window for a few days and watch the magic unfold. Or at least that's the idea, we've yet to see for ourselves exactly what will happen, but we're hoping for something magical.
This was a simple experiment to put together, and it was really fun to talk with Erik about what might happen. After discussing many possibilities (some silly, some serious), we decided to write down our hypotheses. We made a little chart with everyone's predictions and hung it on the wall next to the window. Dad came home for his lunch break right about then, so he got to put forth a theory as well. 
 Then, as long as we had the carrots and the peeler out anyways, Erik practiced his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination and peeled some carrots to go with our lunch. What a good little slave helper!
So what is your hypothesis? Feel free to share in the comments and we'll see who gets it right!


***3/12/15: Okay, the results are in. If you want to know how this worked out, check out this post.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Letter C Preschool Activities


We just finished the letter C, and we had a lot of fun with this one. I can't wait to show you all the things we did! So, without further ado, here is the lesson plan for our letter C week. The links will go active as the posts go up over the next week or two. Hope you have as much fun as we did!

Language Development:
                Letter C Books
                Write in coffee grounds

Math Concepts:
                How Many Caterpillars?

Social Studies:
                Community Clean-up

Science:
                Color mixing
                Carrot on a string

Health and Physical Development:
                Cutting C’s (fine motor)

Creative Arts:
                Chameleon Letter C Craft