Saying Thank You with A Handmade Card

thankfulness-header

There are a million different ways to make cards.  But I wanted to do something unique with Becca.  I had a package of silk leaves from Hobby Lobby, and I was wondering what to do with them.  And then it hit me – leaf cards!

thank-you-cards

As you can see, they turned out beautiful.  Here’s what we did, and the thoughts behind them.

  1. Peel the plastic stem backing off of silk leaves (or collect fresh fall leaves if you have them!)
  2. Gather card stock paper that is thick.  Fold each sheet in half.  (However many you decide to make is up to you.)
  3. Mix a little bit of water in a bowl with a lot of glue  – just runny enough to be able to paint with the glue.  Completely cover a sheet of thick card stock with the watery glue, leaves, and more watery glue on top.
  4. Lay them open flat to dry – on a plastic tablecloth or place mat.  NOTE – they will be wet enough that if you have used colored card stock, the wetness of the glue will leave color on whatever you let them dry on… I had to Ajax my white countertop to remove the orange.  Not even Magic Eraser would get it off.  Thankfully Ajax w bleach did the trick.  (So learn from my mistake!)  They will take quite a while to dry if you’ve used enough glue to truly hold the leaves on.
  5. Once they are dry, fold them back closed, and place a heavy pan on top of the stack of cards for a day or so to re-crease them. folded-cards
  6. Have your child dictate (or write) thank you notes to community helpers who make a difference, send to grandparents, or to other special people that your child wants to say thank you to.  (We are sending notes to our pastor, our local sheriff’s office, the guy at our post office who always helps us, and for the volunteers at our local fire department.)  If you’re going to mail, you’ll need to make sure that your paper starts out small enough to fit the leaves and everything inside an envelope.  Since we’re hand-delivering ours, we didn’t worry about the size, and I just used full 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper folded in half.

Looking for more Thankfulness and Thanksgiving ideas to use with your kids?  Check back here on Monday, and all next week!

The original Thankfulness and Thanksgiving post is here.

Seed Study: Collecting and Sorting

seed-study

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support of this blog!
It also contains links to previous posts to give you even more ideas…
happy reading!

It’s that time!!  Fall is upon us, and here in South Texas we’ve finally had a couple days with highs below 80F!  It’s actually jacket weather in the early mornings, and it’s going to be time very soon for this gardener to get back outside and clean up my flower beds that turned to weeds in the heat of the summer.  Becca has been feeling the change in the air, too… and has been begging to get outside and explore again, which is awesome!

A few weeks back (in the heat of the summer when we spent a LOT of time in the cool of The DoSeum), I came across this book in their library and fell in love.  (A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston) I ordered it for “such a time as this” and the other day we pulled it out to read before going on a seed hunt!  Becca was so excited to see our Texas Mountain Laurel seeds on the front cover- since our property is simply covered in Mountain Laurels!  I love that the author incorporates LOTS of different plant seeds, talks about how various seeds are transferred and planted naturally, and also shows timelines of how long various seeds take to sprout and produce fruit!  The illustrations by Sylvia Long are gorgeous, and it’s definitely a page turner that Becca loved – she begged to read it again when we got back inside, and also used it as a reference guide on our walk when she had questions.  (And I can’t wait to get more of Dianna’s books – she has several that I’ve added to our wishlist!)

So what did we do exactly?  First, we read the book.  Then, we grabbed a bucket and headed outside with Daisy.  We looked everywhere for seeds.  At first, she was just seeing Mountain Laurels and acorns on the ground.  But then her eye started getting more keen and she started looking AROUND instead of just down.  And then she started looking UP!  She was amazed at all of the seeds everywhere!  We collected seeds along our way through our nature trail (we live on an acre and a half of very wooded land), and then before we came inside, I showed her that Daisy had been collecting seeds for us, too!  What a fabulous way to see how animals transfer seeds!  She was in awe.  (If you don’t have this availability on your property, take a trip to your local wooded park or along the bank of the closest stream, etc.)

So, we brought our seeds inside, and then sorted them by the seeds that were obviously just seeds, and by what looked to be seeds inside seed pods.  We talked about how the pods don’t drop their seed until just the right time, and she explored opening a couple of the pods and discovered that they didn’t all have seeds!  One had a spider web, and it appeared the spider had probably eaten the seeds early on.  Another had shriveled, tiny seeds.  And yet another had a whole, healthy seed.  It was a great way to talk about how appearances on the outside aren’t everything – all of the seed pods looked the same on the outside.  She was ready to move on to a different activity, so I didn’t dwell on the character lesson, but the seed did get planted, so to speak. 😉

There was also a door left open to do more research about seeds – she wasn’t sure if the flowers that had seeds in their centers were considered seed pods or not, and she wasn’t sure about a couple of the weeds that we collected – and wants to know how their seeds get transferred.  So, there is plenty of room for more discussion and research, which we will do at the library next time.

There is also room to go back and review the sunflower life cycle unit that we did last fall – so glad I laminated everything! 🙂 (not an affiliate link, just giving credit where credit is due – it’s a great unit she has set up!)

What are you doing to get your kids outside as the weather begins to turn cooler?  Here are some other fall ideas you might enjoy!

Fall Tree Activities

Leaves
Leaf collection in your yard or a local park
Sorting by color/size/shape
Pressing/Leaf art
Books:
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert   My post about Leaf Man
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Apples
Apple picking at a local orchard (or even the grocery store if you don’t have an orchard close by)
Sorting by color and/or size (order largest to smallest)
Counting (put in groups to add, subtract, or even multiply or divide)
Making applesauce
Also check out my apple theme box here
And my apple activity center here
Books:
Apple Picking Day by Candice Ransom
Apples by Gail Gibbons

Pumpkins
Pumpkin selection at a pumpkin patch
Cut one open, sort and count seeds after estimating how many are inside
Making a jack-o-lantern, talk about what facial expressions say about our emotions
Books:
The Legend of Spookley The Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano
The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons

Never can get enough books?  Me neither!  Check out more of our favorite Fall Reads here!

Busy Hands, Happy Heart

busy-hands-header

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my blog!

Most of my posts here are about homeschooling Becca, but this one is all about what to do with the little ones… and highlights what I do to keep Gray occupied so Sis can learn.  (And SHHHH! he’s learning, too!)  Keeping your toddler occupied while your older child does homeschool is NOT easy!  But hopefully a few of these ideas will inspire you and be helpful on your journey!

fine-and-gross

One thing we really struggle with with Gray is that he still likes to put things in his mouth – a lot.  I can’t just give him an activity and pay total attention to Sis.  So, I have to very carefully select what he does when I’m busy with her.  He loves our pop beads set – so when I’m teaching her, I pull out only the large beads on a tray and let him sit on the bench right next to me in our family room (which doubles as our homeschool room).

homeschool-work-area
-homeschool work area-

If we are doing something downstairs at the dining room table, he gets to do play dough next to me, and loves to make prints in the dough.  We have little stackers, dominoes, construction trucks, and dinosaurs that all make awesome dough stamps, not to mention our fabulous cookie cutter set.  He can stay occupied with play dough for almost an hour!  (Plus, I make my own dough, so I can make it any color I want, and he loves to take two different colors of dough and squish them together… which works on those fine AND gross motor skills all at the same time!)

Back upstairs in the family room, we have a little Duplo table (this is the one I’d like to get once we move up to only Legos) and some diaper boxes full of Duplos that Gray loves to build with.  Then we also have big wooden blocks (that my dad made for me when I was little!) with which he can build larger-scale items.  We also keep crayons and coloring books readily available so that he can color when Sis is illustrating – because nothing is more exciting and makes you feel big and important like coloring when Sis is coloring.  And he has been enjoying playing with window clings that I got from Dollar Tree!

There are so many fabulous things you can get your little ones excited about that are going to stretch them and help them grow their fine AND gross motor skills.

pretend-play-activities

Pretend play is so important for little ones, and Gray is all about pretending.  He is fairly quiet with his pretend play, so he doesn’t distract Sis too much.  If you have a louder child who likes to play really loudly, you might want to skip this section and move on down to the academic ideas, leaving the pretend play for non-school times.

Gray loves our new set of felt dinosaurs.  He likes to tell little stories with the dinosaurs, and can either use the portable board with which they came, or can use the larger cork board that I covered with felt that is up in our family room.  I love that both kids can stand together at the easel and play, or he can play alone right next to me while she works.  He also loves to drive his cars and trains on the activity rug that sits on the floor next to me, and cook “meals” for us in their kitchen, which is across the room. (This link is to a similar set – ours is no longer sold.)

He also loves to grab a reusable shopping bag and pretend he’s shopping, play dress up, and play with Little People figures.  The beauty of doing school in our family room is the multiplicity of options to keep him entertained.  We do not choose to have the tv on during school time.  That is far too distracting for Becca.

academic-activities

Sometimes there is just no other way than to teach her with him sitting in my lap or standing right next to me.  (His love language is touch.)  For those times, I have some little academic activities that aren’t distracting to her that I can do with him while she is working independently.  We have number puzzles matching the numerals 1-10 to their values, and he can sometimes do 1-5 alone.  Sometimes he gets frustrated when they don’t fit exactly together (fine motor work!), but I can help him.

He also loves our pattern block shapes that I made out of thick colored card stock and laminated.  I use them with Sis as math manipulatives, and he also loves to sort them out and try to count them.  You can print your own here for free!

I have also laminated some little basic puzzles that have come out of magazines the kids get – he loves to put the three pieces together to make the trucks, and can put them together wrong to be silly and it’s ok, so he feels very successful with those.

I love the Target dollar section.  Sometimes I get surprised and find a $3 item that I love and just have to have, but normally I stick to the $1 stuff.  I got some really neat felt sticker numbers there (for $1), and placed one each on a set of 10 index cards so that he can actually FEEL the number, and attempts to put them in order.

He loves so much the big bin of Scrabble letter tiles at the DoSeum, so I finally bought this set so that he can play with the letters at home – and Sis can use them for spelling practice!  They are both so excited to have their own letter tiles at home now!  Sis also enjoys playing Scrabble Jr, so this now gives him letter tiles to play with, without messing up the board while we are playing!

I hope that you find these ideas helpful, and I so appreciate you purchasing via my affiliate links!  What helpful hints do you have to share?  What do you like to do with your toddler?  And which of these ideas that I’ve shared are you ready to try this week?  Let me know!  I love to hear from you!  Send me comments, and please be sure to head over to my Facebook Page to get involved in the discussion!

P.W.A.T… for all ages!

I love to paint.  Seriously ya’ll, I LOVE to paint.  And I love nothing more than hanging out with good friends and painting!  And I definitely want to encourage my kids to love art as well.  Earlier in the summer I mentioned that we’re doing this summer on the (relatively) cheap.  And we’re doing pretty good at that.  But the one thing I mentioned in that post that was worth a splurge was Painting with a Twist.  And ya’ll, it so is worth the splurge.

This past week, I finally took the kids (and our babysitter!) to go paint.  I registered Becca and Hannah for canvases, and then planned to just wing it with Gray.  The girls were super excited, and both of their paintings turned out amazing!

Snip20160726_27

It never ceases to amaze me that these art teachers who instruct adult classes can be so good with even little bitty kids like Becca!  Nik was so patient with her, and when she decided to follow Mommy’s footsteps and “go rogue” with her painting… he didn’t bat an eye!  Instead, he and Katie (the manager/owner’s daughter) swung into action and what was to be a sea turtle turned into a fabulous chalk outline of a dolphin at Becca’s request!  I was so impressed with how compassionate they were and so willing to oblige.  And ya’ll, yes, these are my friends.  But I know they’d do the same for any other child that was in the studio.  And they have BECOME my friends because that’s the kind of people they are…  Because that’s just how they roll.  Becca is so proud of her dolphin – she hung it in her playhouse in the family room.

Katie even provided chalk to occupy Gray so that he could color on the butcher paper covering the table.  Talk about fabulous service!  I drew him a turtle outline, and he loved scribbling all over it.

Gray had a blast, too… it was so much fun for ALL of us, and made me feel like it really is possible to take both of them somewhere and have a really fun, positive time where they both walk away happy and successful!

Snip20160726_26

 

All opinions in this post are my own.  I was not compensated for any mention of Painting with a Twist on this blog.  This was my own decision to share this information, and I was not asked to create this post for any intent of advertising for the company.  I am not an affiliate nor employee of Painting with a Twist.

Giraffes, giraffes, and more… giraffes!

You know that moment?  The one when your child blows your mind, again… and you think, “Really, God?  Am I REALLY the right one for this job?”

This weekend Cody took me on a fabulous two-night stay to Las Vegas.  It was our first getaway together since before we had kids.  (No, a “babymoon” when super pregnant with each child does NOT count as a true vacation with my sweetheart!)  And we had a wonderful time.  We did Vegas right.  We went to our favorite History Channel reality show stops (Gold & Silver Pawn and Count’s Kustoms), we spent time at various resorts along the Strip, went to do the Freemont Street Experience, spent a about $20 in some slot machines, and yes, we even renewed our vows in a service performed by none other than Elvis himself.  It was a wonderful weekend.  And then we came home.  Which was wonderful, too.  The kids were happy to see us, and it was great to sleep in our own bed again (although that bed at the MGM Grand was as close to perfect as I have slept in at a hotel in a very long time).

But then this morning came.  And reality dawned.  The two hour time difference smacked me in the face and coffee just wasn’t enough.  After dragging the kids through a grocery shopping trip that was simply exhausting for all three of us (each in different ways and for different reasons), we finally checked out and got into the car.  And that’s when it happened.  That moment came.

Becca opened her mouth.

And out flowed the most amazingly long run-on sentence with no breath taken in between that I had ever heard.  Basically, she wanted to learn EVERYTHING there is to know about giraffes IMMEDIATELY upon arrival to the house.  I convinced her that we could wait until after nap time, and Mommy would be more prepared.  (Aka – Mommy could be prepared at all because I have ZERO clue where this sudden interest in knowing EVERYTHING about giraffes came from, and of course had nothing printed about giraffes.)  So, instead of slamming my head repeatedly on the steering wheel (as I wanted to do), I calmly drove home, wondering, as mentioned above, how I could possibly be the right parent for this amazing child.

So, I somehow got the groceries unloaded, kids into rooms for play time, groceries put away, and then sat down to my computer to do a little work… and to find something, ANYTHING on giraffes.  Because with Becca, there is no hoping that she’ll forget.  Nope, I said I’d have it after nap time, so I’d better have it after nap time or I’ll have a sad scientist on my hands.

This is where Teachers Pay Teachers came in handy once again, for the bazillionth time.  I swear, I can always find just what I need on there – and this time each of the activities I got was free.  So I’m linking to them below for you – the creators have information about his/her products inside the files themselves.  And then I felt like I needed one more activity that would be a little bit more hands-on, so I created a cut and paste alphabetical order worksheet, which I’m also attaching below (for free!).

As soon as she got up, the first question she asked was “when can we start learning about giraffes?”  So I got her some lunch and when she was done, we sat down to begin.  She read the information sheets and answered the questions (I write her answers for her as she dictates them to me), and then she did the alphabetical order sheet, which she loved… and anytime I can get her to practice cutting it’s a good thing!  When we finished (about ten minutes later), I set her up to watch the Wild Kratts episode about giraffes, and she was super content.  When her daddy came home, she showed him her work sheets and told him everything she had learned about giraffes, and was so proud of all she had learned.

IMG_8415IMG_8413

Whew.  Mommy saved the day.  Again.  Barely.  So, if you have a child who is super into giraffes, there are some fun (and FREE) activities here.  Or, if you have a child who spontaneously spouts out things they want to learn about, check out Teachers Pay Teachers and search under the free stuff – you never know what treasures you’ll find!  🙂

Links to FREE printables about giraffes:
Graphic Organizers – with non-fiction Giraffe text IMG_8426

Giraffe Alphabetical Order cut and paste worksheetIMG_8423

Reading Comprehension Giraffes worksheetIMG_8425

Safari Literacy PacketIMG_8424