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.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mail Carrier Memory Game

It's Community Helper month with Mother Goose Time! Sweet Pea and I are having a blast learning about different people and the jobs they do all around our small town. Today was "Mail Carrier" day, and although our mail carrier doesn't walk door to door, Sweet Pea recognizes his special delivery truck everyday and waves from our driveway saying "Bye, Mailman."
So when she was able to be like the mailman, she was so excited!
Mother Goose Time supplied us with a bag that could be stitched together with yarn (a great fine motor skill for older kids), but I went ahead and prepared that for her the night before. 
I wish I had let her try to stitch it together whether or not she would have been able to do it or not.  I know for next time.

After Sweet Pea received her own mailbag, she went right up to the mail carrier picture, pointed to him saying "Mailman," and put on her new "purse."  She's always been into purses... I don't even tote a purse...unless you count her diaper her love of purses and bracelets always makes me laugh and smile.
Anyway, onto our memory game...
We played our game on the coffee table, by placing the main 4 delivery place cards into some plastic lunch meat containers that I hoard kept.  You could totally put these pictures in different places in your room or even all over your home and do this activity.  Shes just 2 and 3 months, so we keep it a little simpler. 

To play the game, I showed Sweet Pea one of the 16 postcards, told her what it was, and asked her where she should deliver the letter.  She then placed the postcard in the plastic container of the one she thought was best. 

This little postcard had the same matching ambulance on the destination picture so it was much easier to locate.  Some postcards had an image that was not present in the destination picture at all and challenged her in thinking of where to place the letter.

In this picture, you can see the "Teacher" on the postcard in Sweet Pea's right hand. There was no teacher on the main destination card.  It was these cards that she stood there for a bit and really thought where it should be placed and I was amazed that she knew exactly where to place the card!  She truly astonishes me!  She didn't even turn to me to see what I thought or get approval
 (I would totally do that).  She just thought about it and placed the card.

Sweet Pea is an observer... always has been.  In this game, she had to play close attention to details.   When I asked her, "Why did you put your bird postcard there?" She pointed to the bird on the roof and said, "Bird."

When Sweet Pea completed all her deliveries, she put all her postcards back into her mail carrier bag.  Trying to keep her bag open and slide in the postcards proved to be quite challenging, and she became frustrated with holding the bag open. I helped her at this point keep her bag open, and she worked on sliding all her cards into the carrier bag.
But I now know some fine motor skills we need to work on. :) 

 Once all her mail was placed in her bag, she put on her "purse" and gave me the cheesiest grin!
She loved this game! In fact she and I played it again that evening, and then when Daddy got home from work, she just had to show and play with him!
Our entire family is enjoying playing and learning with Mother Goose Time!

A Review: Little Professionals Wooden Set

A quick review on something I purchased recently...

We are studying Community Helpers this month with our preschool curriculum, Mother Goose Time.  As I looked around my house to pull things for Sweet Pea to play with, I realized I had hardly anything to help reinforce the topic of community helpers.  So I did turned to the source that could help me in a bind and do it quick... amazon.  

And it does not break the bank! $14.99 my friends and it comes with 15 characters! That's a dollar a character!  And you will not find this kind of quality at your local Dollar Tree...just saying.  
And I love Dollar Tree.

All 15 characters come in a plastic bag and are made out of wood.  When I first saw them, I thought they might be small, but in my 2 year old's hands they are perfect.  They are the same size as many of her Fisher Price Little People, so adding these characters just adds more fun to what we already have!

The professionals are made of wood and are painted both on the front and the BACK! With the words on them... in 2 separate spots! In the picture below you can see the words "Police Officer" on the back, but Police Officer is also written on the base of the character as well.  Each of the 15 characters are labeled in this way. 


One awesome feature is the little triangle base added to the bottom. This keeps the characters standing up and much more study than if it was not there. 

I am just bringing one out a day as we learn about each person in our community using these. Sweet Pea has been playing with the firefighter, doctor, police officer, and today we added the scientist.  She incorporated them into her Fisher Price Barn and animal set she had out and was playing nonstop for 30 minutes to an hour with these.  That is a win for mom... I got the kitchen tidy!
The one hang up about these is they are not diverse in their skin tone at all.  But if you are looking for some good quality, well made, wooden people to add to your child's learning experience about those who work in the community, this is a great choice.