Friday, March 31, 2017

A Trip to the Pond

When I moved to this town 17 years ago, I hated it! 
It is a small college town halfway between 2 major cities.
"There's nothing here!  There's nothing to do!"
   I was from "the city" when I first arrived in this town, and I didn't know all the gems this new area  had to offer.  Frankly when I first moved here, I didn't care much for even learning what this town had to offer. 

But this small sleepy suburb hidden in the woods, with "nothing to do," worked its magic on me, and now it is home.  It took me becoming a mother to really understand what all this place I now call home had to provide.
Where else can we go on a nature walk, visit a pond, go out for frozen yogurt, stop at Walmart for a few quick items, all in an a couple of hours in the afternoon?  
Not in the city, that's for sure! 

That's what our Tuesday afternoon looked like this week.
The perfect ending to our March Pond Unit with Mother Goose Time.

The University in town has a duck pond on campus.  We've been several times this month, usually with friends, but on this day, we explored and looked for the things we learned about over the month with our pond unit.

Sweet Pea knows which animals are geese and which are ducks!  I couldn't believe my ears when I heard her call the goose a goose and not a duck!

New baby ducklings! 

Fish gobbling our bread!  Sweet Pea made her fish face when she saw the bread being dragged beneath the surface of the water. 

Of course we saw ducks!  Mostly sleeping on what is commonly known as "duck island," but a few acted interested in the bread we brought to share with them.  One even flew across the pond which inspired Sweet Pea to fly like a duck.

I caught this picture of a dragonfly (I think) taking a break and Sweet Pea was scared of it. 
 "Bee!" She's scared of flying insects just like her momma.  

We also saw a smashed turtle, but I didn't take a picture of that.  Sweet Pea did crouch down, inspect the turtle, and said it's name; but, we didn't linger long.  I had called Daddy on our way to the pond, and he took a quick break to meet us and watch Sweet Pea have fun!  
This is one of those perks of living in a small town... Daddy can come by for a little visit or come home for lunch.  The size of this town truly is a blessing.

Sweet Pea even found some feathers on the ground.  She spent a lot of time throwing them, watching them float on the wind, and gracefully land in the water.  I wish I had better pictures of her doing this.

Can you see the feather underneath the stadium sign?  It is right above the water line.

 Sweet Pea would have stayed all night, but I knew we had to go to the store.  A quick trip to the frozen yogurt stand sounded so good.
Bye ducks! Time for some frozen yogurt and a quick trip to Walmart.

Being a mom has really opened my eyes to so many things I have taken for granted.  
Things I may have thought were curses, truly are blessings.
Much of my perspective has changed through the eyes of motherhood.
The Lord teaches me so many new things through Sweet Pea.
I hope I never stop learning.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tot School: S is for Snake


Hey friends!  Had a GOD sighting last week.  Let me tell you about it.  So every Wednesday we go to our local library for Preschool Story-time.  It just so happened that we were studying and reading books on snakes which was the same thing I had planned for us to study that afternoon with our Mother Goose Time!  I adjusted the order of our days using the Planning Journal with our Mother Goose Time and you can read about that here.  
Don't you just love it when you see Him working out little details like that?!   I love it!
Our craft at the library was a paper plate snake and you can see Sweet Pea's below. 

She's begun to focus more and more on drawing circles, and I must say she does a great job when she really concentrates. After she colored the front and the back of the plate, I cut out a spiral from the outside of the plate toward the center making the snake shape.  Glue down some googly eyes and you have a snake! He's dangling in our kitchen now.

Once we returned home, and after a nice nap and slipping on her Elsa dress,
 Sweet Pea and I started our Snake study from MGT.
If you read my Planning Journal post, you know that we aren't doing all our days, but I did choose the snake day because of the magnifying glasses pictured below.  Each month MGT sends these paper magnifying glasses for kids to search and find the same picture in the thematic monthly poster.  Sweet Pea is obsessed with matching things, and she loves looking at our monthly picture and pointing and finding things.  So naturally we had to do Snake day.  

I made an observation about my darling observant daughter today.  
If you look closely at the poster, you will see that there are several of the same type of animal living at the pond.  There are a few turtles, fish, and frogs.  When we started to play with the poster, I wanted her to do more than just match; therefore, I differentiated what we were doing.  
 "What animal is on a tree?" I asked.
You can see she had several options to choose from, and I thought it funny that she chose the smaller less noticeable turtle rather than the large crane.

When it came to matching the magnifying glass to the poster, Sweet Pea really studied the magnifying glass picture. For example, there is one of a frog on a lily pad with a forest green background.  Sweet Pea really had to study it to make sure she picked the right frog in the picture.  I knew she was observant, but the fact that she caught this without me probing at all, just spoke volumes to me about what she knows and her personality.

While Sweet Pea finished looking at the poster, I set up our Invitation to Create a Snake.  I really love that this was a different snake than the one we did at the library.  This invitation is great for fine motor skills by lacing beads and straws on to a pipe cleaner, but you could totally differentiate this for older kids. Maybe they notice the pattern on the snake's skin and create a pattern with the beads.  For Sweet Pea, who is 2.5 years old, she just worked on placing a bead or straw onto the pipe cleaner.

It wasn't long before she was more focused on pouring the beads from one tray to the other and rolling the beads around in her hands.  

I love how our activities can be easily modified to help her grow where she need to grow.  I love that I could do these activities in one shape or form at the age of 2 or the age of 5. 
Challenge your kids where they need to be challenged and simplify where it needs to be simplified.
You make it work for you and your kiddos!

Happy Differentiating!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Creating Alligator Skin

We are still hanging out at the pond and having so much fun.  I am definitely behind in my blogging, but I have been having so much fun with my girl.  Today during our Mother Goose Time (MGT), I gave her a choice between studying fish, ducks, or alligators.  She chose the ALLIGATOR and today Sweet Pea created a picture of ALLIGATOR SKIN!

I can not recommend Mother Goose Time highly enough, but if you don't have it, you can still enjoy this awesome Invitation to Create.

Gather your supplies:
-Painters Tape or Masking Tape
-Paint (tempra or finger if you want it to come out of clothes)
-Containers to hold glue and paint
-Bubble Wrap
-Cardstock or Watercolor paper to paint on
-Fine black glitter or sand
-Pictures of Alligator Skin or an Alligator book
-Tray or Baking Sheet that you can tape the cardstock to

Tape the paper to the tray.  By taping all 4 sides, you create a nice little border once you pull off the tape after the artwork has dried. Show the pictures of the alligator skin.  We talked about the colors she saw and whether the skin was smooth or rough.  We also read the book provided this month in our MGT kit and here's a link to that book.  It's a great way to introduce the alligator.

I had to show Sweet Pea how to use the bubble wrap once.  After I did, she went to town using the bubble wrap to create the perfect alligator skin texture.   

 Then she decided to drop glue dots from as high as she could.  For some reason this is how she likes to use a glue bottle.  I really like it too!  The glue doesn't get everywhere and she doesn't make giant blobs.  Just one dot at a time.  As I use to tell my classroom kids,
"One dot does a lot!"

Sweet Pea is just over 2 and a half.  Therefore, I modified our Invitation to Create by not bringing out the black glittery sand until she was done painting and gluing.  I grabbed a 1/4 tsp to help her pour the glittery sand.  She did a great job both shaking out the sand, and then precisely pouring it on her glue dots.  Great fine motor practice.  

When Sweet Pea was done, I took the tray with her artwork still taped to it outside to dry while we ate lunch. Unfortunately I turned the tray to the side and the black glittery sand spread everywhere. #momfail.
 I guess it would have spread everywhere anyway since we are having such a windy day here.
I still love it.  She's napping now and I went outside to check on her alligator skin artwork.
It was perfectly dry, so I peeled the tape from around the edges,
and placed her masterpiece on her table.
When she wakes up, I want her to figure out where to place it. 

Have fun creating with your kiddos!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Creating Cattails

We've had so much fun learning all about the Pond in our newest unit study!
Unfortunately Sweet Pea had the flu, so we haven't had many outdoor adventures to the local pond; however she did make her own picture of cattails at a pond the other day and had fun even with the flu.

Mother Goose Time supplied us with sticks, green paper, and the blue sheet along with the inspiration photo of cattails.  I modified this Invitation to Create for her.  Although she tried to use scissors, her hand skills just aren't there yet; so I cut the green paper into strips.  I had some brown chenille stems (pipe cleaners) on hand and decided to add them to her supplies to help provide that cattail fuzzy texture.  I pointed to the picture and told her these were called cattails and we can find them at the pond.  Sweet Pea's response was "Meow.  Kitty cat.  Meow." I think most kids would respond like this but I still got tickled from it. 

My girl loves to place dots of glue all over the place.  No streams for her... just individual dots. It's funny to watch her.

After placing some green strips, I asked her if she could tear them into smaller pieces.  Tearing proved to be quite challenging for my 2 and a half year old.  It might have been the size of the paper, but honestly we haven't worked a lot on tearing things, but now we will. :)  

  Her finished masterpiece. 

Her pond of cattails is the perfect home for her 4-eyed mayfly that we did on our Mayfly Day from Mother Goose Time, and the caterpillar and butterfly she made when we studied 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 

So if your kiddo is sick, wants to be outdoors, and desires to do something, bring the outdoors to him or her by creating cattails and the creatures that can be found nearby. 

Happy creating! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Experiencing God with a Toddler

Have you ever experienced God?
I mean, have you ever been through something or looked at a particular person and 
KNOWN it was God right there?

I am the Kinder-5th Grade Children's Director at my church.
If you told me that I would be used by the Lord to teach kids about His love 10 years ago, I would have laughed in your face!  I wasn't even a believer then, and I didn't grow up in church. 
 How could God place me over children and teach them about Him?

But God placed me in Children's Ministry in the fall of  2011.  It is not something I sought nor thought I would ever do; it was at a time in my life where my husband and I were suffering through a year and a half of infertility with no end in sight.  But God placed me in the ministry to make Himself boldly known to me among other reasons only He knows.  There's no other way to explain the kind of person I am today than to start off by saying, "But God..."

I found out I was pregnant November 14, 2013, after 39 months (3 years 3 months)...exactly 1,200 days of praying and clutching at the Lord and His Word.  The moment I saw that pink plus sign appear, I fell to my knees, repentant of my unbelief, and telling the Lord that this child is not mine but His.  And she is.  Sweet Pea is completely His.  

In the words of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1:27-28
 "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 
28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

When I heard that Mother Goose Time had an Experience God pack for preschoolers, I could not wait to use it to teach Sweet Pea!  We received our first one this month: God Cares about My Worries.
Pretty perfect, huh?
That's a God thing ;)

It came with all of this!

There's a Teacher Guide with 20 different activities, 4 different Story Card Posters with the passage written on the back, and a poster with the Monthly Scripture Verse.

In the Child Craft and Family Activity Pack, you get everything below! 
Coloring sheets, activities to discuss and tell the story (This one is where Jesus walks on water), and materials for making 4 different craft projects.  You should really check it all out here.

But you know what the best part is?
Watching your child getting to know who God is.

"Sweet Pea, which person is Jesus?  Can you point to Jesus?"

"Right here."
I didn't even have to tell her.  She just knew.  We do read the Bible (Read And Learn Bible) to her and talk about Jesus all the time to her, but to see her unhesitatingly point to Him, 
my heart fills with peace and amazement. 

After telling her the story of Jesus walking on the water, we played a game that was suggested in the Teacher Guide.
Sweet Pea became Peter from Matthew 14:22-33 .  She stood on her boat (doormat) and followed a line across the water (floor) that would lead her to Jesus (cardboard cross).  She then would take hold of Jesus and walk with Him back to the boat.
She loved this game!  Daddy even got in on the action as she followed him to Jesus.  <3
She loved running down the lines (I had made 3) that went from the doormat.

It didn't take long for her turn this game into running around the house!  Look at that crazed hilarious face in that last pic! LOL!  So glad I captured that face.

Having fun Experiencing God...Experiencing the Living Word... Experiencing Jesus.
I'm so humbled that I get to see and experience moments like this with her. 

Be sure to keep up with our adventures Experiencing God here on the blog or on Facebook.

Here are some of the Bibles I use with kids whether my own or in Children's Church.