Thursday, January 28, 2010

Playing Outside

It's finally stopped raining! One of my kids favorite things to do is play outside! Today we headed to 'the country' (aka Grandma & Grandpa's) and spent a good chunk of the day playing with the leftover piles of snow, torturing observing the hibernating ladybugs, and getting out weeks worth of energy!
I want to do a year long Nature Study project with the kids. My goal is to make sure we're spending lots of time outside and observing/discussing what's going on around us. It will include observations, guided writing, pictures and art. I'm contemplating how to best put it all together. My initial idea was to make a binder, but I'm also considering making a computer presentation that can include lots of pictures. Have you done something similar, or do you have ideas for me?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Owl Week

We're learning about owls this week in anticipation of attending an  event at our local nature preserve this weekend.

We started by making owl dolls with our friend Princess R! First I printed a simple owl image. I taped the owl picture to the table and then taped a piece of muslin on top of it. The kids used fabric markers to trace the owl. They did way better with the tracing than I expected! Next they got to color their new friend in. Our owls are double sided. To make sure the owls were facing the same direction on each side, I flipped over the owl print out and traced it in sharpie. Then I taped it sharpie side up and they traced and colored again.

I took each kids' two owl drawings and pinned them with the right sides together before cutting them. Next I sewed around the edges leaving the bottom open so that I would be able to flip it right side out. After flipping it right side out we stuffed them and sewed them shut.
They took about an hour total and the kids are so excited about their new owl friends!

We read about owls in our Usborne Owl book. Tomorrow we are going to use the internet links from the book to watch a video of an owl hunting, listen to different owl sounds, and sing songs about owls

We played Owl Roll and Color Addition for math today. To play print out the linked page,  then take turns rolling two dice. Add the numbers (or dots) on the dice and color the corresponding area on the owl.  The first person to have their owl colored is the winner. I was trying to show Ryan how to add using a counting on technique. So if he rolled a four and two. I would have him put up four fingers, then two more and count it as four, five, six. 

We are going to the library to look for more owl books tomorrow. I'll let you know if we come up with anymore great owl activities!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Math- Counting

What kid wouldn't love a counting game with clothespins? I made this counting wheel with a different number of star stickers in each section. Ryan's job is to count the number of stars then find and attach the clothespin with the matching number on it. Since I would like to work on larger numbers, next time I would make larger sections so that it's easier to count when there are more stickers.

**I forgot to add that I put tally marks on the back so that I didn't have to count the stars to check it. You could write the number to make it self correcting, if that works for your little one.

Ella loves trying this by having her own wheel and clothespins. Of course she can't count, but trying to use the clothespins is great for her fine motor skills!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Fun Spelling Game

I love how the internet is full of great ideas! This morning I came across a great spelling game on one of my favorite blogs, My Two Happy Homeschoolers.

I sat down with our magnetic letters while the kids were resting and figured out easily decodable words that we had the correct letters for. (I came up with car, bat, pot, dog, mop, bug, sun, fox.) Next I cut out little clip art pics for the words. Here is a copy of my document to save you some time if you have the right letters :)

Just like Jennifer, I put the game into an egg carton with each word having it's own spot. Ryan loved it! He dubbed it The Word World Game, and sang a song from Word World every time he built a word. I'm going to need to make some harder words. It took Ryan about two minutes to finish them all, but he liked it and that's what matters!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sacramento Museum Day (2/6/10)

For my Sacramento Readers:

Twenty-five (25) greater Sacramento area museums will be offering free admission, all day long, during the 12th Annual Sacramento Museum Day. This event is presented by the Sacramento Association of Museums (SAM), and proudly supported by Umpqua Bank. Sacramento Museum Day takes place Saturday, February 6, 2010, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (all participating museums close at 5 p.m., with the last guests admitted at 4 p.m.).

Museum Day, a Sacramento cultural tradition, invites all members of the community to experience the Capital City’s incredible wealth of art, history, science and wildlife at numerous participating museums AT NO COST.

This info was taken directly from: (Thanks for the reminder from Heather :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Math- Writing Numbers

My usual worksheet loving kiddo hasn't been in the mood lately- which works for me! (For some reason for a long time Ryan has LOVED doing worksheets!)

So, we have been using a variety of methods to learn how to write our numbers. Today we tried to make the digits out of pipe-cleaners. This was actually harder for Ryan's little fingers than I expected. But, nevertheless we had fun with it for a few minutes and mommy was there to help.

We've also used playdough and shaving cream in the last few days for some practice with writing our numbers. For when Ryan does want to do some handwriting practice I've put practice sheets into plastic page protectors. He has fun writing on them with an overhead marker (dry erase markers work too, but they smudge easily). His favorite part is when I take the paper out and the marker stays put! I love it because I don't have to make copies.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Giveaway is Still Going

Just a reminder that we are giving away four sets of books to our FaceBook Friends on 1/31.

Very few people emailed me after making it their Facebook Status: You can copy and paste this into your status bar: Check out this great blog:

I've added another way to win, blog about it! Blog about it and then post a comment on the original giveaway post!

Check out all the details at

Giveaway for a Spanish DVD

I've found another great giveaway! It's for a Spanish DVD called Adentro y Afuera. Check it out TODAY at! Good Luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Teaching Odd and Even Numbers

I recently discovered an amazing series of books , Math Start, by Stuart J. Murphy. Having been a math teacher before having my kids,  I am always looking for good stories to introduce math concepts. I'm so excited that this collection of 63 books will keep us busy for quite a while!

Missing Mittens is an adorable story about Farmer Bill trying to solve the mystery of the odd number of mittens. Great prose,
Bill went to see the horses.
Both were shaking in their stall.
Each needed four warm mittens-
that's eight mittens in all.
and beautifully illustrated pictures make the concept of odd and even numbers easily grasped by children as young as three!

After reading the book several times over the course of a couple days, Ryan and I made our own mittens to play with. Using the mittens and the idea of pairs was a simple way for Ryan to grasp the concept of odd and even. I would tell him a number and he would use the mittens to lay out pairs and decide if it was odd or even.

On another day I briefly set a foundation for repeated addition (i.e. multiplication) by asking questions like, how many mittens would you need for four dogs? How about for three chickens. Ryan really likes these questions and enjoyed drawing pictures to solve them. This is just one of several great activities that are included in the back of every Math Start Book.

Later in the week we practiced our odd and even skills using a different manipulative, unifix cubes. Ryan and I sat down with a 1-20 chart. Ryan picked a color for the odd numbers, and a different color for the even numbers. Then we started laying different values out in rows to determine if the numbers were even or odd. We had only gotten to five when Ryan said, hey- it's a pattern. Developing a strong number sense through activities such as this is priceless!

This was as far as I went with the concept of odd and even numbers since Ryan is only 3. But, there were many great activities for older kids in Don Balka's accompanying resource: Hands-On Math and Literature with Mathstart.

The best news is that I contacted Stuart Murphy  last week to request some samples to review for our blog and he so generously obliged!!! So, look for more great Math Start activities to be posted soon! 

All of the materials that I receive to review, will be donated to our local elementary school, Garden Valley Elementary.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Miss Dine Downtown Week!

For my Sacramento readers- this is one of downtown's best weeks! Dozens of great restaurants create special three-course dinner menus for only $30 per person. Just ask for the Dine Downtown menu at participating locations like, Mikuni's, Biba's, McCormick & Schmick's. You can see the full list and the menus at

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Losing TV Time

In the past few weeks Ryan has fallen into an old habit of getting out of bed constantly both at bedtime and during the night. We typically prefer to reward positive behavior, but a mama's gotta sleep!! So, I created this chart for Ryan. The 3 tv's are attached with velcro. Each time he comes out at bedtime or wakes us up during the night we will take a tv. If he doesn't have any tv's left in the morning he doesn't get any television time for that day. I'll let you know how it works...


So, for some reason I chose my husbands 90 hour workweek to launch an organizing frenzy. It all started with getting some new books, and realizing that our bookshelves were extremely cluttered. That led to dumping and sorting every toy bin in the house, then every closet met the same fate...
The good news is that I haven't been put in a padded room yet, plus now I actually know what we have and where it is! In doing the kids closets I realized that we have an amazing amount of resources that we never use. So, I actually typed up a list and used the ideas in Sue Patrick's Workbox System to devise a system to organize our days a bit.

As you can see we have 8 workboxes. Though, I think on preschool days and weekends I will only put out some of them. There is an activity in each box. The idea is that we will accomplish all of the activities in a day. Some of them are things that Ryan can do on his own., and some we will do together. Today they include 1. two letter puzzles 2. guided writing journal 3. number center 4. ABC go fish 5. Saxon lesson #50 6. wordbox spelling with letter magnets 7. sequence for kids 8. Missing Mittens Even & Odd Activity.

I'm hoping that this system will allow for us to be more consistent in our activities, yet help us to use a greater variety of resources. Since we're seriously considering homeschooling I'm anxious to see if this system works for us. I'd love to hear from families that have used Sue Patrick's Workbox System.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I've been completely sucked into Blogland!!!

Everyday I take the few precious spare minutes I can find in a day to sit down and work on my blog. The problem is that I have found so many AMAZING blogs that I sit here checking all of them and then I find myself having to step back into reality and play rocket ship, wipe a butt, etc...

I am going to just share a few of the best I've found so far...I know how busy you are too. Plus, I want to make sure you come back to my lame little blog!

Be sure to check out:

Ok- that's as small as I could get that list!! Sorry ;) ** Several of these sites did a single post right around New Year's that summarized the best of last year!!

Sure enough Ella is crying in her bed, more later...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Toddler Tuesday- Pouring Palooza!

This year we had to move the kids activity table and chairs to set up the Christmas tree. I stuck it in the garage thinking that we could easily live without it for a few weeks. I was wrong, but I'm so glad! I think we have used the table everyday now that I realized I can easily move it anywhere in the house.

I was trying to cook a healthy dinner, even though Daddy was working late. So, instead of turning on the tv, I brought the table into the kitchen. I put a huge vinyl tablecloth on the floor and grabbed a few towels to have handy if when, things got messy. I gave the kids measuring cups, spoons, ladles, all kinds of stuff from the kitchen. I only gave them about 2.5 cups of water, but it was plenty!

Ella got some great practice pouring and stirring. Ryan had fun seeing how many ladles it took to fill up the different containers. Next time I'll mix up the toys and find a funnel. I may even get brave enough to add food coloring. 

The grand finale was when Ryan dumped the big measuring cup, and it all started raining off the table. Ella screamed shower and stuck her head under it! Well, it's only water and I got the ahi broiled and veggies sauteed- what more could a mama ask for!

In case you've got a keen eye and are wondering, Yes- that is the same Batman shirt as yesterday! It wasn't worth the battle this morning :)

Vitamins and Supplements for Kids

I frequently get asked by friends and family about vitamins and supplements. I thought I would put some recommendations here. Let it be clear- I am not a doctor, I have no medical training. I just put a lot of research into what I give my kids and thought it may be helpful. I have started buying all of these products on amazon. It is WAY cheaper and easier than trekking out to Whole Foods or the Co-Op. You can check out the products and buy them at my amazon store. Here's to a healthy family!

Another Giveaway

Just wanted to let all my new readers know about another great giveaway that I found in the ever-addicting blogland...You can win 4 Dr. Seuss books! I haven't taken the time to really comb through the blog yet, but what I have seen seems great. Check it out at

What great blogs to do you follow?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Math- Playing Store

Even though I have a kid that loves to do formal school work, there is no doubt about it that the BEST learning for kids comes from play and real life experiences. For today's math we set up a grocery store. Ryan's friend, S, was over and she loved the idea! I picked up some string tags at the dollar store, but you could just as easily make your own or even use masking tape. I went through the pantry and play food and picked ten items. Then I labeled them 1cent through 10 cents. While I was making the labels we talked about pennies, and the cent symbol.  I gave them each ten pennies in a cup (I figured the cup would be easier to manipulate than their play wallets, but I'll probably add the wallets next time). The kids loved choosing which items to buy and bringing them to me. The kids would count the money out to me, and then run back to find what else they had enough money for. S kept calling them moneys and Ryan kept saying dollars. I kept reminding them the correct words are pennies and cents. The kids didn't even realize that we were learning- they loved playing and got tons of practice counting, identifying numbers, and doing simple addition.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Win Free Books!! Tell a friend about our blog!

If I'm going to spend time writing this wonderful blog, I want to be sure that lots of wonderful people know about it! As part of an official 'launch' we are going to offer some great giveaways in the month of January!

You can win one of 4 great book sets!
Earn an entry in each of the following ways:
1. Become a Fan on Facebook!
2. Tell your friends to become a fan on Facebook by making it your status (email me when you do this please,
3. Post a comment on a post. You can only earn one entry per post, but you can comment on more than one post. Remember, the best kind of comments are feedback with suggestions :)
4. Blog about it! (post a comment here after you do)

The Book Sets:

Set #1: Baby's Very First Colors Book & When I Was A Baby

Set #2: The Big Book of Things to Spot & The Fish Who Could Wish

Set #3: Creepy Crawlies (Kid Kit includes book, bug holder and magnifier), The Big Bug Search

Set #4: First Thousand Words in Spanish & Animal Jigsaw Atlas