Thursday, March 31, 2011

Preschool: Week 13



Day 1 - Theme: Cars/Trucks

  • Color the truck coloring page
  • Talk about vocabulary word "gasoline"
  • Read Curious George and the Dump Truck
    • I really liked that this book had ducks in it (last week's theme) and even the vocab word "duckling."
  • Play with lots of cars and trucks (this part was easy!)
  • Sing The Wheels on the Bus

Day 2 - Letter: "M"
  • Color letter "M" coloring page
  • Talk about the sound the letter "M" makes
  • Talk about words that start with the letter "L" (Trevor came up with Mama and Month)
  • "M" Trace and Build Sheet (template)
  • Scrabble spelling: "do" "to" "too" "boo" and "zoo"

Day 3 - Number "13"
       
Day 4 - Shape: Rectangle
  • Look at the Rectangle handout
  • Practice tracing around the rectangle

Day 5 - Review and Activity


Happy Learning!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Red Light! Green Light!

This weekend was busy.  We had a wedding that took up most of our day Thursday and Friday, and then Saturday morning I woke up with the flu.  Yesterday I finally started feeling better, so I knew I needed to get back into doing school.  We just needed to finish up our week with one "Gross Motor Skills" activity, and our theme this past week was cars/trucks, so we played a fun game of "Red Light!  Green Light!"  I thought it would be fun to use signs instead of just saying the words, so first we had to construct our signs...


Not my best work, but Trevor said they were beautiful, and they got the job done =)

Next we played!  Since our theme was cars/trucks, instead of having him run or walk I had him push one of his cars.  Trevor went down across the room into the hallway and set his car on the ground.  I would switch the signs between  "STOP" and "GO" and, well, you know how the game goes!


He loved it.  Really, he couldn't get enough!  He wanted to play over and over again.  I love how these simple things are so fun for the little ones!  I liked it too.  I like reinforcing following directions ("STOP" and "GO").  I thought he did a great job at this, well, until the end when he just wanted to "GO!"  I like that it was not only following directions, but following directions while distracted (pushing the car).  I liked that it reinforced reading the word "GO" that we learned a couple of weeks ago, and started to teach him to read the word "STOP." 

So, if you've got little ones, enjoy them this morning!  I know I often need to enjoy more and parent less.

Happy Playing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preschool: A Closer Look - Trace and Build Letters

I'm excited to finally have our Trace and Build Letters laminated and cut and ready to use!  We talked about the letter "M" today during school, so we got to use the trace and build "M" page for the first time!  Trevor was really excited, as he is with anything new.



First I had him draw the lines used to make the letter M.  I thought he did a fairly good job.  The lines are not straight, but I could tell that he was trying.  We are working on holding writing utensils correctly.  He doesn't do it well yet, but at least this is better than clenching it in a fist!  I think his favorite part is wiping the page off after he is done =)



Next I gave him the correct pieces needed to build the letter "M."  I was impressed that he got the concept without me really explaining it.  Next time I might give him more pieces than he needs and let him try to pick the right ones out.



I knew this last part would be too advanced, but I thought I would give it a try.  I took the page away and asked him if he could make an "M" with the pieces.  At least he got the pieces in the right order!  I guess in an abstract sort of way it is an "M"  =)

Have you Downloaded these FREE Trace and Build Printables yet?





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Looking for more preschool information?  Click on the picture below to find a list of all the preschool posts here at Living and Learning at Home, plus some of my favorite preschool resources!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homemade Chapstick

A few years ago I stumbled across a recipe for homemade chapstick.  Since then I've made a few tweaks to the original recipe and have come up with a product that I really love!  It is made with quality ingredients that you can feel good about putting on your body, it is cheaper per tube than buying the stuff pre-made at the store, and best of all, it's so simple to make!  The hardest part is finding the ingredients, but with the internet, you can find anything!  I have been very happy with http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ for all sorts of ingredients including everything that is needed for this chapstick recipe! 

This recipe makes about 20 tubes (.15 oz), which enough to last anyone for quite a while!  I love it because I only have to make up a batch every couple of years =)




Ingredients:

1oz.   Beeswax
1oz.   Cocoa Butter
.5 oz. Sweet Almond Oil
1oz.   Shea or Mango Butter
         Essential Oil (for scent if desired)
         Vitamin E (for preservation if desired)








Using a double boiler (or similar contraption) melt together the beeswax, cocoa butter, and almond oil over a pan with simmering water in it.  When it is completely melted together, add the shea or mango butter and mix until liquefied.  If you are using an essential oil (about 10 drops) and/or Vitamin E (a few drops) stir them in just before you are ready to fill your tubes.







Working quickly, pour the liquid into your tubes (or whatever kind of container you desire).  I use a spoon to transfer the liquid, but I suppose you could pour right from the bowl if you are confident in your pouring skills!  The liquid will harden into the chapstick consistency your are used to very quickly (notice that the first few tubes in the picture are already hardening by the time I am finished filling the first row of tubes).




Happy Healing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Superfood Chocolate Cake



The past few weeks I've been trying to figure out what kind of cake to make for Mackenzie's birthday party.  Of course I would ideally like it to be somewhat healthy, but I also want it to be delicious for the party guests.  When I searched online for a "whole wheat cake" recipe, I found a recipe that looked decent and even contained some hidden spinach!  I gave it a try a few weeks ago when Trevor and I made our moon cake and it was really good!  I wanted to see if I could make it just a little healthier without compromising the taste, so I gave it another try yesterday with a few switched ingredients.  I know it's not completely healthy (it has some butter and sugar) but it's full of great superfoods and is made with fresh ground whole wheat!  Spinach, blueberries, dark chocolate, cacao, and even whole wheat are all considered superfoods for their dense nutritional content and the health benefits that they offer.  Do a search for "superfood" and any of those ingredients to learn more for yourself!  I didn't mess around trying to improve the butter or sugar, but if you've ever successfully substituted something for these ingredients while baking, I'd love to know!  Here is what I came up with...

Dark Chocolate Blueberry Cake

1c      frozen chopped spinach
1c      blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4T     butter
1/3 c  dark chocolate, chopped
1        egg
2t       vanilla
1/2 c   sugar
1c       whole wheat flour
2T      cacao powder (this is raw cocoa)
2t        baking powder
1/2 t    salt

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Cook spinach and blueberries either in the microwave or on top of the stove until soft.  Take the mixture and puree it in a blender or a food processor.
- Melt butter and dark chocolate together (on the stove, or in the microwave for 30 seconds).
- Stir together the wet ingredients (chocolate and butter mixture, spinach and blueberry mixture, egg, vanilla, and sugar).
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cacao powder, and salt).
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Pour the batter into cake pan or muffin tins. Bake for approximately 25 minutes (slightly more if you are doing one big cake).
- Cool completely.  It smells slightly like spinach if you eat it when it is warm =)

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preschool: A Closer Look - Number Flashcards

One thing that we use almost every week is a set of number flash cards I made up about a year ago.  I took 50 3x5 cards and on half of them I wrote the numbers 1-25 and on the other half I put the corresponding number of stickers.  I laminated these for durability.



 When it's number day for preschool I often will take these out.  There are so many things that can be done with these versatile cards.  Trevor practices counting the number of stickers on the cards and also tries to match the numeral card with the card that has the correct number of stickers.  You could have youngsters practice putting the numbers in the correct order or even have them simply identify the number.




 



Something that I work with Trevor on, but is still too difficult for him to really get, is matching the number card with its sticker card without actually counting the stickers.  This week I got out three sets of cards, the 5, 9 and 12 sets, and asked him different questions to hopefully help him start to get this concept.  I asked him things like...Which card has the most stickers on it?  What number is the biggest?  What card only has a few stickers on it?  Looking at items relative to one another is a pretty abstract concept for him still, but it's good to help him understand differences like big/small, many/few, etc.







Happy Learning!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preschool: Week 12



Day 1 - Theme: Ducks

Day 2 - Letter: "L"
  • Color letter "L" coloring page
  • Talk about the sound the letter "L" makes
  • Talk about words that start with the letter "L" (Thanks to a recently watched Word World episode Trevor came up with Log, Lever, and Lamp)
  • Scrabble spelling: "we" "he" "be" and "me"   (we reviewed this the rest of the week)

Day 3 - Number "12"
  • Count to the number "12"
  • Put twelve stickers on the number "12" handout, counting as you put them on
  • Put twelve pegs in the pegboard, counting as you go
  • Practice matching number flashcards
  • Put twelve pegs in pairs by color (more ideas for using the pegboard)
       
Day 4 - Color: White
  • Color a crescent shape white (on a black piece of construction paper)
  • Talk about the what things are white

Day 5 - Review and Activity

As a side note, Trevor has been enjoying dancing around the house this week while I have music on.  While I am all for free form, I was thinking that it might be nice to somehow work in some purposeful movements in there =)  I suppose I could choreograph something myself (watch out!), but I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations that they have used with their preschoolers for dance/movement (DVD's, books that have songs with corresponding actions, etc.)  Or has anyone participated in a preschool orientated class for that sort of thing?  I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Learning!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Craft Time! Tissue Paper Duck

To finish off this week's duck theme in preschool, we put together a duck craft.  The recommendation was to glue feathers to a duck picture, but seeing as I did not have feathers on hand, we improvised!  I am always for finding something I can use around the house before I hit the store to buy an item.  This time, instead of feathers, I decided that we would use tissue paper.  I always save tissue paper when I receive a present, and this is the kind of reason why =)  So, here is what we did....

I printed out a picture of a duck and colored in the beak and the feet orange.  Trevor then squeezed glue all over the body of the duck.  I ripped off squares (approx. 4inx4in) of yellow tissue paper and handed them to Trevor, who then crumpled them and stuck them onto the duck.



Trevor in action crumpling a piece of tissue paper.  He really enjoyed this part =)



I always try to let Trevor do as much of our projects on his own as he is capable of...even if doesn't look perfect!



A close up, detail shot, courtesy of Trevor. 



Trevor's finished project!

This was a fun, simple, and cheap project that mom and preschooler both enjoyed.  This method could be used for many different types of craft projects (think simple wreaths, picture frames, or mosaic type pictures) and can even be done with children who are a little older.  Have you ever done this type of project with your child?

Happy Crafting!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nuzzles and Noses

The kids have been battling a nasty cold this week.  There have been lots of coughs and nose blows.  So, needless to say, we haven't been doing much official learning around here.  If we get to doing some school today I might be able to post this past 'weeks' worth of school.

My heart brakes when I hear my baby coughing in the middle of the night, or when my little guy repeats for the tenth time in a morning, "I'm not feewing weewwy well."  But, I do like the laid back nature of a "sick week."  There has been lots of extra TV time and probably too many popsicles =)  And I am thoroughly enjoying the extra long naps and the extra baby cuddles.

So here's to you, kiddos!  I love you and I hope you will feel better soon!



Terrible picture, but it represents this week well.  Yucky nosed baby, happy as long as she's clinging to Mama. Trevor, being just a little too rough, not far behind.  Everyone in their PJ's?  Absolutely!

Happy Living!

Monday, March 7, 2011

My New Kitchen Toy

I posted a few weeks ago about a great recipe for whole wheat bread that some friends shared with me.  This bread has become a staple in our household.  Not only have we been enjoying freshly baked bread, but it is being made with freshly ground wheat!  Now I know what you're thinking..."Who in the world grinds wheat these days!?!"  When I first heard of the idea I had pictures in my head of large stone contraptions, perhaps a wheel of some sort, and maybe a mortar and pestle.  Really I had no idea what even to picture.  After only a small amount of research online, I found out that grinding wheat in this century is really not much different than running a mixer or a blender. 

I had never considered the benefit of freshly ground wheat before, and I am definitely no expert on it, but from what I've read, eating the entire wheat berry (bran, germ, and endosperm) is exceptionally nutritious.  I am often a cheapskate, so the fact that it is less expensive than good wheat bought at the store, wins me over too!  For a few months I had been buying freshly ground wheat from a friend, but I recently decided to take the plunge and buy my own grinder!  I decided on the Blendtec 52-601-FLP Kitchen Mill.


KTEC Kitchen Mill - Grain and Flour Mill (K-Tec)


The process of using it is so simple.  Once it is assembled, all you do is dump your wheat berries in the top opening (you might need to add more as you go if you are grinding a lot), turn the dial to how fine you want the flour, and turn it on.  It is very noisy, but it really grinds the berries quite quickly.  The flour comes out into the bottom bucket and is ready to use as soon as all the berries on the top have been ground and the machine is turned off.

If you do not use your flour right away, it is good to keep it in the refrigerator.  The nutritional value of the flour decreases with time and keeping it cool slows down the loss.  From my experience, you can use fresh ground wheat just as you would any wheat flour, but if anyone has greater expertise, I'd love to know more!

This is a new experience for me, but so far I am loving grinding wheat and providing wholesome food for my family in this way.

Do any of you grind your own wheat?  What are your favorite things to make with it?

Happy Baking!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Feature: The Story About Ping



The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad Books)



This week in preschool our theme is ducks.  The book I have chosen to go with the theme is The Story about Ping.  We've had this book for a while, but I had never read it before this week.  The story itself is a bit long for a two year old, but we made it through it!  The plot is about a duck named Ping who lives on a boat with his large family of ducks. Each day they all leave the boat and then return at night when they are called.  The last duck to get on the boat gets spanked with a whip by the man who drives the boat.  One evening Ping realizes that he will be the last duck on the boat, but he didn't want to get spanked, so he did not get back on the boat.  The story tells of his adventures while off of the boat.  At one point he gets captured and almost finds himself on a plate as dinner.  Eventually, of course, he finds his way back to the boat and his family.  This time he again sees that he will be the last duck on the boat, but is willing to take the consequence instead of braving another night on his own.


I really like this book.  I love that it shows that decisions have consequences.  I love that Ping tried to do it his own way, but in the end he realized that doing the right thing was the better choice and accepted the punishment.

When I read the book, I immediately contrasted it to the Curious George stories.  Curious George always tells a fun tale, but my problem is that he is always bad or disobedient in some way, but never gets in trouble for it or has to pay any consequence.  In fact, from what I've seen, he is always praised for the good he caused even though it was disobedience that caused the good.  I guess it's the old "the end justifies the means" argument that I don't agree with.  My children have to choose to make good decisions and when they don't they have a consequence.  I don't want them to get the idea that it's cute or fun to make bad decisions or that everyone will think that they are just great in the end no matter what.  Real life isn't like that.  The Story About Ping teaches this lesson in a way that is still simple and interesting enough for a child's story.

And that is what I like about The Story About Ping!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Living in February: Life with a Two Year Old


The other night I was sitting in the kid’s room nursing Mackenzie, listening to Tim read the Bible to Trevor.  As the time went on I realized that their interaction in those few minutes captured perfectly what life with Trevor is like these days.  The conversation went something like this. 

Tim:        “What number is this?”  Trevor thinks for a couple of seconds…

Trevor:    “Twenty-six!” Tim starts reading from Matthew 26.

Tim:         “Trevor, sit still and listen to Daddy.” Then he proceeded to keep reading.

Trevor:     “What’s hypocrite mean?” Tim then offers a simple explanation and continues to read.

Trevor:     “Daddy, what’s tombs mean?” Again Tim answers and keeps reading. Trevor then crumples a                       page in the Bible.

Tim:          “Trevor, if you do that again you’re going to get your butt smacked. Listen to Daddy read.”                  He continues on.

Trevor:     “Daddy what’s Jerusalem mean?”  Tim answers. Trevor continues to squirm and crinkles a page                   again.  This time he does it with a sly look in his eye.  He knows exactly what he is doing.  He                    proceeded to get his butt smacked.

The scenario made me chuckle to myself because it was such a perfect snippet of what our days are like and how Trevor’s two and a half year old brain works.  Trevor is learning so much lately, always asking questions so he can understand better.  He constantly wants to know what words mean and how things work.  This ever expanding intelligence means that he also more knowledgeable about what is expected of him and he always wants to see how far he can push the limits.  This is very frustrating to me.  We try to be very consistent with our expectations and the consequences that come with disobedience so that he can learn the safety that comes with staying within the boundaries of obedience.  I try to remind myself that his disobedience is often just a result of his increasing intelligence.  He is learning cause and effect and also that he has the power to say “NO.”  The balance that I am trying to learn is encouraging his intellectual growth while still standing firm with expecting obedience from him.  Any of you moms have any advice of how to do this while also keeping your sanity?  =)  

Happy Living!