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Letters Make Words

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My 4 year old doesn’t turn until 5 until January so we have one more school year before Kindergarten. At daycare, she has been moved to a Pre-K class but even before this move, her teachers have been doing a great job of getting her interested in writing and reading more and more.

It still impresses me when she points to a word and can tell me what it is. Wasn’t she just learned how to walk yesterday?! I have been trying to work in ways to encourage her to practice identifying words at home.

When we were practicing recognizing letters I came up with this fishing game. I revisited the idea with words she knows. When she catches one, she has to say what it says, maybe find a matching fish, etc. I plan to make more of these using sight words to reinforce those as well.

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Words used: hat, bee, mop, pop, map, dog, top, fun, bat, log, tap, sun (Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop provided some inspiration on word choices.)

I was fortunate to get to review these Bath Toy Organizer with 36 Alphabet Letters and Numbers from Brilliant Babyz. Almost immediately, my 4 year old started trying to make words with the letters she was wading through and it has continued to be a popular activity.

In the video below, you can see what we talk through swapping letters out and sounding words out to get to a new word. My almost 2 year old participates in playing with the letters by putting them on and off the wall and I name the letters and numbers as she picks them up.

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The foam letters, once wet, stick right on to the shower wall and side of the tub without any damage to the wall grout, etc. The best part is the organizer it came with sticks right on to the wall so all the letters can dry out between uses. My girls can also put them away by themselves.

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You can see I am all about the bath toy storage. My Pinterest-y solution was putting a shower curtain rod across the back of the shower and attaching a couple of dollar store bins to it. They slide across, I can add more if I need it, and it only cost a couple bucks.

With summer, incorporating word practice into water activities has been an easy way to make it interesting. I’m going to have to work on some other ways as we head into the cooler months.

How do you encourage kids to practice letter recognition, letter sounds, and sight words?

*I received a product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Encouraging STEM with My Daughters

2015_04_04_9419I was never very good in math growing up. When it came to the sciences, I did well in biology and anatomy but horrible in chemistry or anything that required working with numbers. I know part of it is innate ability, but I am hoping that my daughters won’t be quite so math-phobic especially as the world is more and more geared to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related areas.

Regardless of whether or not they pursue careers in STEM, I want my girls to be able to keep up with the new demands of school as they get older and know that any career path could be for them. I am hoping that the everyday things I have been doing with my now 4 year old and almost 2 year old since they were born are laying the groundwork for math skills once she begins school.

  • Counting everything – Whether it’s the number of horses, the red fish at the aquarium, or the number of apples at the store. I try to remember to incorporate counting, adding and subtracting into everyday life so it becomes second nature. I am happy that my 4 year old can already do simple addition and subtraction.1415100_10100655504401116_470902690_o
  • Helping around the house – Whether it’s matching socks or setting a plate and fork at each place at the table, they are working on basic concepts for math.
  • Helping in the kitchen – Counting out how many scoops of flour, adding up fractions, and learning the differences in sizes are all incorporated in assisting with making cookies. Cutting up an apple is a great chance to review fractions so we’ll talk about cutting in half makes two, cut those in half marks 4, etc.
  • Children’s programs – whether it’s science museums or the monthly kids builds at home improvement stores, I use children’s programs to gain access to other toys and ways to encourage design.
  • Puzzles and building sets – In addition to matching and sorting, I encourage them to play with a variety of building sets to explore creating something from pieces that can then serve a function.

As my daughter starts the transition from preschooler to kindergartener, I’m exploring fun new ways to keep her interest. I was happy to get the chance to review ThinkFun’s Maker Studio Gears Set. It comes with a variety of pieces and gears to build a racecar, a cable car, a 3-wheeler and a motorcycle.

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Each kit includes:
• 1 Spool
• 2 Long Connectors, 3 Medium Connectors
• 1 Large Gear, 1 Medium Gear
• 2 Large Wheels, 2 Medium Wheels, 2 Small Wheels
• 3 5.5″ Rods, 3 1.5″ Rods
• 13 Hub Caps
• 1 Hole Punch
• 3 Rubber Bands
• 10 Engineering Challenges

For each build you’re given Engineering Challenges – experiment with friction, torque and propulsion as you engineer your solutions. My 4 year old is also working on following picture directions so I like that she could work with her father on identifying the parts and putting them together. The challenges do a good job of walking you through so that even if you aren’t an engineering expert, you, as the parent, can follow along and understand the concepts, too. Once you’ve mastered all four builds, you can get creative and design something that’s all your own! My husband enjoyed following along right with daughter.

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While we are still working up to being able to complete the projects (at 4, she’s not quite ready for utilizing the entire kit just yet) it will be a product we’ll be able to keep coming back to and trying new things. I also can’t wait to explore some of ThinkFun’s other offerings – Robot Turtles Game just went on the Christmas Wish List! To pick up a kit of your own, visit ThinkFun’s website or order through Amazon. You can also check them out on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Websites I like to follow:

Home Depot and Lowe’s have free kid’s workshops every month. If you are military, be sure to check the Blue Star Museums program for free admission to museums and centers nationwide.

*I received a product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

Video

Heroes of the City YouTube Review and Giveaway! #SummerLovin

Heroes of the City are an animated TV-series about rescue vehicles in a small town where everyone can be a hero! Follow the fantastically exciting adventures along with friends in town. Meet Paulie Police Car and Fiona Fire Engine as they help the townspeople find thieves, put out fires, and solve one of the many mysteries that happen in the otherwise quiet town. You will also get to know Calamity Crow, the most unlucky bird in town. Emphasizing friendship, Heroes of the City contains a great deal of warmth and what may be accomplished by helping each other. The cartoon is primarily targeted at children age 3 – 7.

They recently added a few more options on their YouTube Channel. In addition to new videos, giving you 6 hours of entertainment for 2-6 year olds, it is available in 18 different languages. Great for those of you with extended family or multilingual homes.

They have also added the Calamity Crow Kids Crafting Show. It provides tutorials for you and your children to watch and create together making wonderful, simple crafts with things found around the house.

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On the Calamity Crow Sketch and Guess show, you’ll have to try to guess what’s being drawn before the picture is completed.

Finally, in On Patrol with Heroes of the City, kids will follow the heroes on patrol in the city and help them out along the way. On Patrol with Heroes of the City is fun memory training for the younger children. There is an easy, medium and hard version of each reconnaissance missions.

Be sure to stop by the Heroes of the City YouTube Channel then enter to win a prize pack below. Keep scrolling to learn more about the Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 6/18/15 at 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email and has 24 hours to claim prize. Prize will be fulfilled by Heroes of the City. I have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Summer Lovin

Welcome to the Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop, hosted by Viva Veltoro and Lindsey Blogs. This giveaway hop is full of bloggers who are ready to celebrate the warm temperatures of Summer with some fabulous prizes. Be sure to hop around to them all, including the TWO Grand Prizes – the first on Lindsey Blogs at SEBG and the second over at Viva Veltoro!

Summer Lovin Grand Prize

Click here to enter and view this list…

So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and the Summer Lovin’ participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Monster Faces Activity

Halloween is around the corner and this year my almost 4 year old is into monsters. I love that the library near us has book bundles, a handful of books banded together on various topics that are on display. It makes it easy to grab a few books without trying to keep track of two girls heading in different directions while reading book spines. The latest batch that Kelsey picked out is a Monster themed set.

One of the favorites has been Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer. It’s about a monster who is like every other monster except she has some hobbies the other monsters just don’t get.

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In my usual fashion, I had some materials laying around, in this case sheets of felt, and had a quick idea. In the end, we have a fun new “busy bag” idea that my preschooler enjoyed and even my 1 year old had fun checking out. To create your own Monster Faces Felt Activity, just get a little creative with some scissors and felt and cut out shapes that could be eyes, mouth, etc. I just used basic shapes like triangles, circles, and squares in various sizes and some zig zag pieces that could maybe be hair, or teeth, or eyebrows.

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That’s pretty much it! It took a few minutes to get started and I just kept making more pieces from the scraps after cutting out bigger shapes. The girls played with these for a while until, well, the 1 year old started acting like a 1 year old and trying to grab all the pieces. You can only do so much.

Don’t mind the bedhead. We were still in pajamas at almost lunch time – who doesn’t love a lazy weekend morning. I hope your little monsters enjoy the activity, too!

 

Lessontrek: Online Homeschool Lesson Planning Tool

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I was given the opportunity to have a family member try out this homeschool lesson plan website. Lessontrek.com features include a lesson tracker, grade recording, printable options, secure information service, and copy/paste options between weeks. As a new service, there are still many features in development such as a gradebook, sharing subjects across students and attendance tracking.

Lessontrek.com has a responsive costumer support system but you do need to be somewhat tech savvy to take full advantage of the features in this lesson plan template system.

My sister-in-law homeschools five children from high school to kindergarten. Lessontrek.com also proved to be a little tricky when trying to see all the grades and activities for one day at the same time. It may be best for families developing homeschool lesson plans for children close in age or 1-2 children. For another review of how to use the lesson plans features click here.

Are you interested in trying it for yourself?

Lessontrek would like to offer ALL of my readers 50% off a 1 year subscriptions. This will make their program very affordable for even tight budgets. Families can get a full year access to Lessontrek for just $30. You just need to click the $60 yearly and enter the code 2IOL50 in the Payment Info section. Your credit card will be charged $30 for a full year and then renew for $60 each year thereafter.

 

*I was compensated for this review. All opinions are my own and that of my contributors.

5 Ideas for Celebrating Earth Day with Toddlers and Preschoolers

I grew up participating in Girl Scouts and we did a lot of community service over the years. As an adult I continued to volunteer with college groups and other organizations. When I had children, I knew it was something I wanted to continue doing with them. With Earth Day this week, I wanted to share 5 ideas of things that you can do with toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Earth Day and any day.

Participate in a Clean Up
Litter removal projects are the easiest way to get little ones involved. You’ll have to point out to little ones what to pick up but you can make it interesting by discussing the colors or shapes of what you are picking up. They also love to hold the trash bag so that is a task they can do as well. Another nice feature is that they are walking and moving around which gets them nice and tired for nap time.
Check with your local parks and recreation, county or state parks departments, or solid waste management district for opportunities in your community. Just make sure you are able to pick a location that is a good distance away from water and traffic.

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Plant Something
Do a little research and find a little space to plant wild flowers or a butterfly garden this summer. It’s a great way to put those fine and gross motor skills to work scooping and dumping and placing seeds and flowers. You’ll also doing something good for the butterflies and insects and you’ll have a lot of garden visitors to discuss. It can also be a way to teach responsibility and an easy chore for little ones since they require some upkeep and maintenance. A lot of areas have somewhere that gives away tree seedlings this time of year.

Jack’s Garden is a children’s book with a nice overview of the process of how plants grow and the illustrations have labels insects, birds and flowers to use a guide as the season continues.

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Recycled Art
There are tons of project ideas out there for things to do with milk jugs, toilet paper rolls, and other items. You usually just need a few basic art supplies to create something useful. Check out Pintrest to get started.

Recycle Relay
Are your recyclables just sitting there waiting to be picked up? Why not play a little relay race? Depending on the age of your child, gather a variety of recyclable items and get a few boxes or containers. Label them “paper,” “metal,” and “plastic” either with words or pictures and place them a little distance away and encourage your child to sort the trash by running it over to the correct box. This can also be done with a group.

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Get Outside
Make it a point to get out and visit your local parks. Not only does it get you out of the house and away from the TV and computer, but kids love exploring leaves and sticks and climbing on things. Just being out in nature can teach your children that it is important to maintain it. Plus, lots of parks have programs, for free or cheap, to teach about a variety of topics.

*Post contains affiliate links.

Things to do With Plastic Easter Eggs

Easter is here again. We have had a lot going on lately and I am just now getting around to thinking about Easter related activities. Sadly, I think Kelsey being in preschool is making me lazy. Aubrey doesn’t doo much so there isn’t really a lot of need to come up with too many ideas. I am not even sure we’ll be dyeing eggs at this point and we decided to get classy and go out for brunch on Easter with the Easter Bunny. However, I did spend an hour helping to stuff 650 eggs with other moms today.

The most fun the girls have been having with the plastic eggs we have around the house is just playing with them as is. Kelsey, the 3 year old, enjoys organizing and sorting them. Aubrey, the 7 month old, likes to dump the carton of them out and mouth on them when she finally catches one.

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I found someone selling a bag of plastic eggs for $2 a few months ago and made a capital and lower case matching game with some of them when I was working on letter recognition with Kelsey. I also made some with numbers on them – one half has a numeral and the other half has the corresponding number of dots, from 1 to 12.

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For Easter morning, I already have some books and hair bows for baskets but I am also planning to stuff eggs with the pieces of a puzzle since Kelsey is into puzzles right now. I have a feeling, however, she is going to wonder where the candy is.

Check out Blogging Mamas for lots of great Easter themed ideas: Click here

We are going pretty low key this year but we’ll still have a good time. It is Aubrey’s first Easter so we had to have a little fun with it. Happy Easter from our family to yours.

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