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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Spelling Practice with Game Tiles

 I've been looking for fun ways to help Erik learn his spelling words, and while this one isn't super exciting, it's something out of the ordinary and that's good enough for me.
I pulled out our Banagrams game, but you could use Scrabble, or Boggle, or any other game that has letter tiles. I chose to use these ones because they don't have any numbers on them (like the Scrabble ones do) that might be distracting.
I sorted out a pile of all the letters that Erik would need and put the rest away. Then I gave him the pile and let him get started. I was really curious to see how he'd arrange them all on the table, and he's just like his mom. He wanted them all in a nice neat column. :)
 This activity was really great because it made him really have to think about which letter came next while he searched through the pile for it.
After he'd gotten them all spelled out on the table we went through all the words spelling them each out loud. He had fun and we made progress towards mastering his list, so it was great.
*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 18, 2017

Summer Reading Fun: Should I Share My Ice Cream?

When we discovered Mo Willems' "Elephant and Piggie" books, it was love at first sight. My kids love to listen to me read them (it helps that I do voices for each character) and Erik is even getting to the point where he can read them himself. I decided we'd use one of our favorite of these stories as our inspiration for our ice cream themed play group. 

 We started off with a fun play dough ice cream shop, complete with chocolate play dough. I had all our regular play dough toys out, plus ice cream cones, scoops, and sprinkles (beads). The kids had a blast with this one!

 Next we made our own ice cream cones with a few simple supplies. Did you know that you can buy already cut tissue paper squares at the dollar store? Like these, except I got mine at Dollar Tree for $1.
 For our sensory play, we let the kids go crazy with some "melted ice cream", aka shaving cream. It's cheap, it smells yummy, and it's pretty easy to clean up. That's three thumbs up from me!
 Our gross motor game was this fun sharing game. I was actually surprised at how much the kids enjoyed it. It was so easy to set up and was a lot of fun.
 For our snack we had ice cream of course! I chose ice cream sandwiches due to the low cost and ease of serving/clean-up. I did seriously consider making home made ice cream, which would have been Amazing, but a lot more work.

To round out our ice cream week, I had several fun ice cream books on hand for the kids to look at. They were all great, but the first two here were the definite favorites. Click any of the books below to go take a closer look at them 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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Shapes; Cutting and Sorting

 If you're like me, then you get a mountain of junk mail every week. Piles and piles of it. Normally I just toss it into the recycling, but then I realized that we could get more use out of it first. Here's what we did.

I started by having Erik cut different shapes out of construction paper, then I had Sharli glue them on to a piece of card-stock. We labeled each one, just because I can't seem to not label things. Also print awareness, let's go with that one. :)
 Next we gathered up all the sales papers from the grocery store, but you could also use old magazines. I handed each kid a pair of scissors, and told them to look for shapes.
 As we cut things out we sorted the pictures onto the shapes on our paper. Squares and circles were the easiest to find, but we managed to find one or two triangles, and even a heart shape. The kids had a blast, and spent more than half and hour cutting up all the papers. Even Maren got in on the action, tearing the papers randomly instead of cutting.
 When the kids got bored, we cleaned up the mess and I saved our cutouts and the paper with the shapes so that we can pull them out to play with later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Reading Fun: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 This week we had fun with Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. His books are so wonderful and so widely loved that you can find countless ideas out there to go along with any of them. It was hard to narrow things down to just these few.


 For our play dough activity this week the kids got to play with red and green play dough (favorite recipe here), large googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and an assortment of all our favorite play dough toys.

Our craft was caterpillar sponge painting. Instead of buying a bunch of cheap sponges and cutting them into circles, I bought a package of foam hair curlers from the dollar store. I took the foam part off the plastic frame and cut them in half in order to have enough for all the kids. It worked GREAT!
 Our sensory play was the biggest sticky wall I've ever made. I cut out a TON of green and red circles out of foam sheets, as well as grass, flowers, clouds, etc. I drew a sun and a few plants on the non-sticky side of the contact paper before taping it to the wall. Most of the kids had never seen a sticky wall before, so it was fun to introduce a new idea to them all. If you don't want to cut shapes out of foam, here's another route you could take)
 Our gross motor activity was feeding the Hungry Caterpillar. I painted a giant caterpillar onto a piece of foam board and cut a hole for the mouth. I propped the board up in front of an empty laundry basket and let the kids throw toy food in the caterpillar's mouth. Throwing things is always a big hit with the kids.
 For our snack we ate grape caterpillars. I wasn't sure about giving the kids pokey sticks, but they really really loved this snack! If I had just handed them the skewers and a bowl of grapes they would have loved to make their own, but I didn't think and made them ahead of time.
 I try to always have some other books that fit the theme for the kids to look at, so this week I had several of Eric Carle's bug books. Here are the ones we had, click the image to learn more about the book:











*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.