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Marvel Universe Live! Recap

My husband took our almost 5 year old to Marvel Universe Live! tonight in Cincinnati. Nothing like a little father daughter bonding with a couple of the world’s best superheroes!

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They enjoyed the action and stunts. They enjoyed seeing the different heroes and all ages were able to connect to the show and everyone in the crowd had a good time.

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The Marvel Universe will be in Cincinnati Thursday, Dec. 17 – Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. Kid’s tickets start at $20! (Not valid on premium seating.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies to children ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Follow Marvel Universe Live! on Facebook and Twitter and check out #MarvelUniverseLive.

While you are waiting for it to come to your town, check out these fun Marvel Universe inspired activities on Pinterest!

 

*I received items in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.*

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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.*

Army Spouses with Children, Sign UP for Project CAPS Today!

If you are or know an Army spouse with children ages 3-7 years old, please read below for more information about a COMPENSATED online survey opportunity:

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Project Caps (Child Adjustment to Parental Separation) is a Department of Defense-funded research project located at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Drs. Julie Wargo Aikins and Deane Aikins are trying to better understand the impact of Soldiers’ deployments on Spouses and young children. Participants will receive up to $50 once the survey is completed. To apply, please visit: http://bit.ly/msbwayne

Wayne State University is working on a DOD-funded research project called “Project Caps” to help them better understand the impact of soldier’s deployments on military spouses and young children. They are in need of Army spouses of currently deployed service members with small children between the ages of 3-7 to participate in a compensated online survey.
 
To apply visit: http://bit.ly/msbwayne
For more information, visit: http://projectcaps.com/about/information/
 
 
 
* I was compensated for this post as a MSB New Media blogger. All opinions are my own. Domesticating Michelle is not responsible for the online survey mentioned above nor the compensation for participating in it. #ad #spon #ArmyWifeSurvey *

Is Winter Over Yet?

I have been having a bit of mommy guilt lately. It seems like we’ve had more sick days than good days lately and I can’t help feel like it’s because they are in daycare all day now. Via Facebook, I know it’s not just us dealing with a steady stream of viruses and there are places getting way worse weather than we are here in Dayton, Ohio. However, none of it makes me feel any better when the past few weekends we have just ended up home all day because someone can’t be far from a bathroom or box of tissues.

With a forecast of a record low highs, I am taking a moment to think about the fun moments we’ve had this winter. I realized that I never finished my Christmas post. We were able to have some fun times over the holidays.

My baby turned 4 in January. Four! Sometimes it feels like she’s always been here and other times it seems like I just blinked and I have a little girl where a toddler was just standing.

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For her birthday, we ended up with a snow day and school was cancelled so her and her sister hung out with Daddy and played in the snow most of the day. To celebrate her birthday, we took her ice skating and went to Proto Build Bar to let her play the Giant Claw. She got a ball bouncy ball which I am surprised has not knocked something over in this house yet.

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My mother made her a gorgeous Elsa dress for her a while back that she seemed to finally grow into overnight. A good snow gave us a chance to head to a local park and quickly have a little fun taking some pictures. (She has a couple pairs of pants and fuzzy boots on underneath and we were only out of the car for a few minutes. Besides, the cold never bothered her anyways.)

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We have been taking advantage of time to play in the snow whenever we can. Of course, we have been bringing the snow inside when we can to let the girls play with it. They have been putting the arctic animals play set they got for Christmas and Frozen figurines to good use. With so much “crud” going around I don’t want to go to any indoor playground areas right now. When the weather is warm enough we go to the playground nearby or just play outside. We even made our first snowman!

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Kelsey also started dance lessons at Jeraldyne’s School of Dance. She has been loving it and can’t wait until the next week. Both girls have also enjoyed getting to watch the big kids, which is actually the second company modern class, before and after Kelsey’s class.

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Not to be left out, how cute is Aubrey with this little ponytail? The ladies at her daycare started putting them in since her hair is starting to get into her eyes.

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At least I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows for some flexibility. I was able to go ahead and get a new car which was an overdue purchase. I have even had both girls in the office with me at different times when they couldn’t go to school but Mom and Dad had to work.

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This past weekend Kelsey was sick Thursday – Saturday, my husband was sick Sunday (we were supposed to be going to see the Dayton Ballet), and then Aubrey got what ever it was on Monday-Tuesday. I feel like I am a ticking time bomb while hoping I don’t get it and that it will be gone from our house soon. Where we these “immunities” they are supposed to be building? It’s been a never ending cycle lately since it seems like the moment every one is good, someone catches something again. All I know is at least we have a washer and dryer and don’t pay for water.

I am still working on the whole work/life balance thing but I think it will get better eventually. I am definitely looking forward to being get out more on the weekends. We may even get crazy and make it to a ski mountain this winter and go snow tubing. Let’s just get through the next couple days first.

Stay warm out there.

Finger Paint Hearts Card

This year for Valentine’s for family I wanted to incorporate both girls. We do photo cards for Christmas so Valentine’s Day is a chance to let Kelsey be involved in the making and sending portions. I love that these finger paint hearts remind me of candy hearts!

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I brought out some finger paints and brushes and plain white paper and had each girl paint with one color at a time.

After they all dried, I cut the paper into small squares and then into hearts. If you have a little bit older child, they could do this part themselves.

Then, I laid all the blank cards out on the table and let the preschooler glue the hearts onto the fronts of the cards where she wanted to go. The only supervising I had to do was trying to make sure the hearts were contained on the front of the card or it may not fit into the envelope later.

I printed off a message for the inside and let Kelsey sign her and her sisters name. After the glue dried, we put them in the envelopes and put them in the mail. Of course, I also tossed a picture of the girls in, too.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Joy of a $2 Cash Register

A while back we were given a cute wooden toy kitchen. In addition to picking up some play food, I wanted to get a few “pantry” items but all the kits I came across either had pieces too big or too many to fit in the small spaces. I ended up hanging on to a couple of cereal sample boxes and other small boxes to recover and a few small items like a small container of sour cream and half and half to serve as pantry and refrigerator items.

If you’d like some printables, here are some fun labels ready to go. I also added a barcode to every item and covered everything in packing tape (I tip I picked up from a children’s museum) to help them survive.

My daughter has enjoyed playing with the kitchen but she also loves her shopping cart. I was finally able to repurpose the items into a grocery store set up with a recent thrift store purpose. I happened upon a $2 cash register that beeps, and has a cash drawer and card swipe sounds, and both girls love it.

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I may be more excited than my daughter about the possibilities: our coffee maker and pretend cookie tray can be a coffee shop, the pizza play set can be a full on restaurant, etc. Now that the younger one is beginning to interact and understand more, it’s fun to try to create play set ups that they can enjoy together.

Easy Grocery Store Play Set Up:

  • A couple of boxes and small grocery items that have been washed
  • Cover with some pretend labels to create a variety
  • Use some reusable or store shopping bags (you can just use the bag to store the rest of the items)
  • Toy cash register or calculator and play money

Designate an area to set up the store and some where to be the check out area. Stand back and let kiddos play!