Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crafting with Kids: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments

Every year I choose a special ornament that goes with something special that happened that year to add to our Christmas tree.  My mother-in-law did this and wrote the dates on all my husband's ornaments from his childhood and when he and I got married, I wanted to carry on the tradition.

This year has been an especially hard year for us and trying to find an ornament has proven quite difficult.  While scrolling through Pinterest, I found the answer to my dilemma...
make our own ornaments! Perfect. And with all our Mother Goose Time supplies, this would be fun, easy, and hopefully a family tradition!  


Once we made the clay and added a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil to our recipe to trigger all the senses, we gathered our supplies, including our letter cookie cutters and shape stamps from Mother Goose Time.

Sweet Pea and I would make balls of clay. Afterwards I would press them flat with the bottom of one of our glass plates.  This allowed for a great circle shape that was equal in thickness and smooth in texture.  Sweet Pea would then get to work with her stamps and cookie cutters.  
We really wanted an ornament that was an "A", since Sweet Pea's name starts with "A".

Do not forget to use a straw or toothpick to make some holes to lace ribbon into your ornament!

Our ornaments needed drying time, so I put them on a cookie sheet and placed it on the counter for a few days, rotating them to help with the drying time.  The recipe made a ton of dough that keeps when wrapped in damp paper towels and in a plastic ziploc bag with hardly any air in it.  
It's sitting on my counter now, a full week later.  
Sweet Pea loved doing this activity so much that the next day she asked for her "White Playdough" to make some more ornaments.  So we used our "O" cookie cutter to make some wreaths.

After a few days of drying, it was time to paint our ornaments.  I put some red, yellow, and blue tempra paint into some cups for Sweet Pea and she grabbed her paintbrush. 

Mother Goose Time has given us so many opportunities to paint and work on fine motor skills, especially in their Invitations to Create!  I was so impressed with Sweet Pea's painting technique as she held the paintbrush.


Finger painting always wins out eventually, of course! 

After the ornaments dried, I laced some ribbon through the holes and put some glitter glue on the star.  I painted the "O" green and added embellishments to make our wreath ornament.  The pine cone pressing that Sweet Pea added to the "O" made the ideal texture for the wreath.

All of the ornaments are so beautiful on our tree and they are perfect to commemorate something great that happened this year:
all the learning, painting, and fun my girl and I have had with Mother Goose Time


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tot School: Teaching One-to-One Correspondence

Reciting numbers and memorizing their names is one thing....
Understanding that those numbers mean a certain amount is a whole nother ball game.
One-to-one correspondence is the ability to match one object to one corresponding number or object.

Each month Mother Goose Time sends some kind of math manipulative and some new number cards.
This month, as we study Winter in the Woods, Sweet Pea received some teddy bear counters along with the "4" and "14"number cards.  We only use the 1-10 number cards since Sweet Pea is just 2 years old.  
I decided to set up a little math match-up station after her nap and this is what it looked like.

And it was a failure.  I had way to much going on.
-Brand new toys (bear counters).
-Number cards she had not really been exposed to before.
-Shape cards she hadn't really been exposed to before either.
When you combine all the above with a 2 year old and start asking her questions...
it's just too much.  I was not getting the results from Sweet Pea that I was hoping... such as her placing the bears on the shapes and then counting and picking the right number symbol that went along with the shapes. 
It was just too much, and you can see what she did below. 

She had fun, but she didn't even play with the bears for very long!  I needed to reassess. So we made a deer mask, and I said we would play with the bears again tomorrow.

Round 2: The Next Day aka Bear Day
I had to ask myself 2 questions: 
"What is the first thing I want her to learn?"
Answer: I want her to be able to match one bear to one shape... one to one correspondence.  
Numerical symbols could come later. So I got rid of the number cards. 

Question 2:
"How could I keep her attention longer with the bears?"
Answer: Hide them and make her find them.
Our bear day had us building a den from some brown paper shreds also known as a perfect item to hide plastic bears in.
So while she napped, I set up our math station placing bears in an aluminum pan and hiding them beneath brown paper shreds and only placing our shape cards on her table.

She had a blast finding the bears!  And she did exactly what I was aiming for the first day without any problems! I would ask her to place one bear on each shape and she did.



She did great matching one bear to one shape! 
We were able to count "One bear on One circle",
 "One, Two bears on One, Two triangles", and
 "One, Two, Three bears on One, Two, Three stars."

She started losing interest by the time she was getting bears to go on the 4 squares, but she and I both had a lot of fun.  I could see her success, and I am so glad I reassessed and changed things up.  
My mom's words still ring in my ears now like they did when I was a child,
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

We will definitely try this one again, although I might hide the bears in something different.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cooking Confessions: Making Messes and Memories

In our monthly kits from Mother Goose Time, we get a "Giving Gosling" and "Friendship Feathers" each month.  They always have to do with a character trait that you want kids to be instilled with.  Last month the word was "Thankful" and this month's is "Respectful".  We don't do much with the supplies they send us (feathers and duckling), but my mind started turning into how to use them during this holiday season.  Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to show respect and thankfulness to one of our favorite community helpers... our mail carrier

We decided to make the mailman some cookies and leave them in the mailbox.  I bought just a tube of sugar cookie dough at the grocery store...  you know the kind you can slice and place on the cookie sheet? I had the great idea of Sweet Pea coloring sugar cookies with food coloring and water, but between the stabbing of the dough and the color not showing up, this was an EPIC FAIL.  
So we tried something different...
But first she had to cut out some letters using our Mother Goose Time letter cookie cutters.

After cutting a few letters, we decided to try sprinkles!  I had red, yellow, and orange- perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday! 
Quick tip #1: Check the holes that the sprinkles come out of before giving to your toddler unless you want to lose the whole bottle while getting your camera ready...

Take that fuzzy camera shot as you gasp while watching your toddler pour the entire bottle of sprinkles out through the lens of your camera.  EPIC FAIL.
Quick tip #2: Instead of using the sprinkle bottles, put some sprinkles in a bowl and toddlers can work on their fine motor skills by scooping sprinkles with with a 1/4 teaspoon.

Sweet Pea cut out letters for her and we made regular sugar cookies for our mailman and decorated them with sprinkles.


Quick Tip #3: Sugar cookies spread big time!  Give them some space or it will look like this and you will debate if the circle ones are mailman worthy in the mess that they are in.

Quick tip #4:  If you end up with enormous cookies because your slices were too thick and you try to remove them off the cookie sheet while they are hot, they will break into all sorts of pieces unless you have a spatula that is like 6 inches wide.  
Then you will really think, "We can't give these to the mailman! Hmmm... there goes my nap... I'll make him more cookies during nap time."  
So let them cool while on the cookie sheet.

Here's a little video of us reviewing the letters after they baked.

I made 5 new cookies during her nap, giving them lots of space on the cookie sheet and not making giant thick slices.

I found our Thankful feathers from last month, some clear bags and ribbon in my stash of craft supplies and put the gift together while Sweet Pea napped.

Aren't those feathers perfect!  At this point we have feathers that say "Loving," "Thankful," and "Respectful."  When she woke up, we took our special delivery to our mailbox.  This little activity, even with all it's messes and mishaps, was perfect in combining all 3 of those words.
And the memories we made we absolutely the best.


Much to be thankful for this year! 
Happy Thanksgiving yall!

Want some more ideas to cook with your kids? Check out this post.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Calendar Time: Teaching Patterns

Calendar time is one of my girl's most favorite parts of the day... and it happens everyday.
From my experience in public education, kids thrive in structured environments where they know what to expect, feel safe, and know where things are that they can have access to. 
We start our Mother Goose Time the same way everyday... with the Calendar and our brief circle time activities which could be a song or dance.  
The first thing I do is get my board ready the night before.  I remove the weather we had up, the day cloud and I hide Mother Goose somewhere in my house.
The board looks like this and you can find out more about it here:

Our school time mostly takes place after her nap, so if I forgot to hide Mother Goose the night before while she was asleep in bed, I can always hide it during nap time.  After Sweet Pea's nap (hence the pajamas in just about all of my posts), we go straight to do our Calendar Time.

One of the awesome things Mother Goose Time does with their calendar is teach PATTERNS with color!  Last month, in October, the cards were colored yellow and green and the pattern was aabb 
(2 yellow, 2 green).  This month, the calendar has 3 colors (purple, green, and blue),
 and the pattern is abc.
Sweet Pea is just now grasping that there is a pattern going on, and so each day before I give her the number card, I ask her to guess what color it is.  We review before she guesses, and I point to the cards saying, "Look, our pattern is purple, green, blue, purple, green, blue... What comes after purple? What color do you think is next?"  Sometimes she gets it right, sometimes she gets it wrong.  But I am proud of her picking a color that is there and not something like "orange."

She then places her number on the next day (great fine motor skill practice), and I sing her our little daily song to the tune of  "Faire Jacques" aka "Are You Sleeping?"
 I recorded it in a video along with our weather time below. 

I recorded that video at the end of last month (October), and you can see that Mother Goose was already in her nest.  This month, November, I have been much more diligent about hiding Mother Goose the night before or during her nap. 
Once we finish our weather I will say, "Oh my goodness! Look!  Mother Goose is out of her nest!  She must be hiding in _____(room).  Can you find her and put her back in the nest?"
So we go on a hunt for Mother Goose.


Sweet Pea will find Mother Goose and then go and place her in the nest.  Sometimes Mother Goose is sitting up, but sometimes Sweet Pea says, "Night Night" and lays Mother Goose down in her nest... as seen below.  You can barely make out her tail feathers and beak.

I wish all those calendars I bought for my classroom a few years ago were as good as this one.  I just love that it is more than numbers and days of the week... it's the perfect place to teach PATTERNS too, and Mother Goose Time does a great job implementing an new one each month! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Turning Trash into Treasure

 Please excuse my pic heavy post.  
A huge reason I keep a blog is to share what our life was like together at this time.
A memory keeper for my girl and husband.
It's amazing what tragedy teaches you, and I don't want to overlook one picture that meant something to me.  So please excuse the excess of pictures :)

As a former art teacher (and one with a VERY SMALL BUDGET), you learn how to use and manipulate everyday items into extraordinary pieces of art.  That's what artists do.  
Art is a process of taking the everyday ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary. 
Art challenges us to see things differently...
Some artists challenge us to look at what we think is "trash" and see it as a treasure.  
Isn't that what Jesus, the greatest artist of all, does to us?
 He takes our ugliness... our trash... and turns it into treasure... turns us into treasure to bring honor and glory to Him.

On our "Recycler" day, Mother Goose Time (MGT), challenged kids with an Invitation to Create using recyclable materials... basically trash. 

MGT sent this picture of a fish sculpture made completely out of recyclable materials.  The Invitation was to create whatever the child wanted from recyclable materials as well.  The invitation was not to make a fish... but to focus on the material- the recyclables.  
 Unfortunately, in my small town, we don't have a recycling plant, but as a former hoarder teacher, I have definitely kept a few containers and "trash"-like items for the sake of using them again.  

Sweet Pea was enamored with the picture of the fish.  She studied it carefully first and we kind of played Search and Find:
"Can you find the green watering can?"  That's what she is pointing to in the above picture.

Then it was time to investigate our recyclables. 


She practiced some fine motor skills like tearing paper and foil.

Sweet Pea studied textures, such as scrunching the foil and touching the cotton balls.  After exploring our materials, I gave her a heavy piece of watercolor paper (to hold up against the materials) and glue.  I am really glad I had her explore the materials first before giving her glue and paper.  She's way into glue right now, so if I put that out, she would have never paid attention to the recyclable materials, which was the whole point! 

Sweet Pea loves to place little blobs of glue everywhere and then place things on the glue.  Much of her work ends up with bumps from unused glue blobs, but that is perfectly fine and makes her work hers. 

Having fun with some tulle I had stashed in a closet.

She saw this cow mask in the middle of making her artwork and just had to put it on :)  I love how the light glows behind her... does it get any cuter!?! (I know I am biased...)

Adding finishing touches with a brown marker while wearing a cow crown. 

Sweet Pea's finished masterpiece. 
All made from trash... 
That I will truly treasure.

If you want to learn more about our adventures using Mother Goose Time, be sure to check them out here.


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