Thursday, May 31, 2012

Daddy's painting on display

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Wet-On-Wet Watercoloring

We've been enjoying watercoloring so much for the past few months!  Here's our favorite technique:
-use actual watercolor paper--it makes a difference.  It's a bit pricy and tricky to find.  You can get it at Hobby Lobby. 

-I cut one of the 9X12.5 inch pieces in half to make two pieces
-soak the paper in water for about 15 minutes
-remove from water, place on art tray
-use a small sponge to wipe away any excess water
-after dipping the brush in the water to wash between colors, do a quick wipe on the sponge to catch any excess color.  This prevents color mixing in the individual paint compartments.
-also--if painting with a young child, just take out one or two of the little paint squares and put them in a dish.  Too many colors is too much--start off simple by just removing one or two colors and using that at a time.  Also this prevents the child mixing colors and just ending up with a brown paper!

Right now we're using crayola watercolors, but I want to try liquid watercolors soon!  We have our eyes set on the stockmar watercolors....Maybe for Q's bday.  :) 
Anyhow, this technique yields beautiful blends of colors.  Daddy of course had to go and show us all up and paint the awesome-est painting ever.  It's hanging in Beck's room and I need to get a picture of it soon!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Bento for babies!

With Little Man being in school for a bit he needs to have a lunch.  Of course I couldn't resist packing his bento style, too.  :)  This lunch is hard-boiled egg yolks, part of a banana and some sweet potato chunks.  I love bento--it really helps me visually identify that I've hit all nutritional components for my kiddos--protein, veggies, and fruit, and for Q usually a starch.  I love these little silicon pinch bowls--I got them at walmart.  It's nice that they bend a little bit to help squeeze around different-sized objects!
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Week's Bible Focus-Acts 2:42-47

Each week we review the past week's lessons....we usually revisit one or two of the past manipulatives quickly.  This week we spent Monday reviewing.  Later in the week we added the new story.  We read Acts 2:42-47 out of the Children's Bible.  I had prepared (in a small basket) some plastic coins (enough for one for each clothespin), some corks (to serve as bread), some wooden spools (to serve as water), some fabric (for clothes) and some wooden blocks for building a temple.  I just searched around and grabbed items I had that would represent the actual items.  Really anything would work, and I encourage you to use items that just REPRESENT the real items instead of always creating manipulatives that look like the actual item--this encourages the children to use their imagination and think abstractly (representation). 

We talked about how the people shared everything and took care of one another.  So we acted out sharing food, money, water and clothes.  We built the "temple" and took the people there.  We got our "apostle popsicle sticks out" so the people could listen to the apostle's teaching (we cover Judas now since he is no longer in the stories since he's died). 

Then we pretended to break bread and take communion together with the people and I got out a little juice and cracker--Q LOVES pretending to take communion.  Through "practicing" she is beginning to learn what the real elements mean and why we use them. 
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Napkin storage

We were having lots of frustration at dinner because SOMEONE always needed more napkins while we were eating and I never remembered to bring a bunch to the table.  So I did a bit of rearranging and brought this wooden shelf into the eating area.  The top shelf holds a cool metal container--the top compartment holds napkin rings, and the bottom compartment holds cloth napkins.  It's easily accessible from the table!! 
Rolling cloth napkins and sliding on a ring is a great practical life and fine motor activity for children, by the way!

Also on the shelf is the bowl that holds Q's play fruits and veggies and a basket filled with aprons and smocks.  
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Baby Corner

Here is what the "baby corner" of our playroom looks like right now:
This shelf holds a basket of "stuff" he's enjoying right now--small potato masher, old cordless phone, bottlecaps strung together, a couple soft books, etc.  There are also his jars filled with various objects and a book I am currently reading to him because it says, "goodbye" a lot and he is learning to wave when we say "goodbye."

This shelf holds a basket with 3 board books, a basket of laminated photos of babies, a wooden egg and cup, and a peg puzzle.  He, of course, isn't able to put the puzzle together, but is instead working on taking the pieces OUT. 

In front of his mirror are some larger objects.  A wobble apple (one of my baby toys!!), a wooden ball tower from Melissa and Doug,

a wooden basket with 3 pieces from another puzzle for him to practice dumping,

(but mostly crawl around banging the tray on the makes a great sound!),

And his object-permanance box that Daddy made for Quinn originally.  It is beginning to teach him that objects are still there even if you can't see them (ie: when they are inside the box). 

I moved the butterfly wreath to the playroom for Beck and there is a plastic prism hanging from his mobile stand.  We removed the rugs and quilts so he can slide around on the wood floor now!  The objects on the top shelf (with the exception of the pinwheel) are all Quinn's and safely out of Beck's reach.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Science for babies--colander full of "stuff"

Which big sis and I did kitchen school this morning I gave B his school work, too.  I had prepared a colander with different items for him to explore on the tile.  Some wood, some metal, some plastic, some rubber....the goal was for him to notice how the different objects reacted on the hard tile floor.  Some make a loud clanging sound and some make a soft thud.  I showed him briefly how to hit the objects against the floor and then I left him to explore on his own.  He did so for about 5 minutes and then crawled off to check out some dirt on the floor and a stray pine needle.  Several other times during the day I sat him down in front of his work and he explored again.  Having a set of carefully chosen objects for baby to explore is a simple, gentle way to teach your baby!
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Acts 2-Peter speaks to the crowd

This week we are studying the story of Peter speaking to the crowd in Acts 2.  Yesterday I began by just reading the story and talking about it in our Children's Bible (we didn't find any great stories for this in any of our story versions so I used the International Children's Bible). 
Today we set up a scene for the story.  I had made a Peter figure with some wooden pieces (tutorial to come later).  We used clothespins to represent the crowd.  I love times when I can encourage Q to use her imagination to represent objects--great way to promote abstract thinking.  We spent some time standing them all up (fine motor!!) and talking about what a "crowd" is (vocabulary awareness!).  Then I read the words Peter spoke to the crowd (I picked and chose the most important parts that I knew she would understand--I definitely didn't read the whole part). 
Sidenote--I had a bowl filled with water sat out at the beginning.  I wouldn't tell Quinn what it was for--just that we'd need it for the story.  The anticipation was killing her, but she loved having a surprise to look forward to.  After reading the story I had her guess what we'd do with it.  Ummm, no...she didn't get it and I had to tell her.  But that's okay.  :)

Then we got to the part where the people had sad hearts, so Peter told them what to do.  This is our memory verse for the week!

Then we baptized the "people."  We practiced telling them that they were being baptized because they believed in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and we talked about what baptism means/is.  We also told them when they came up out of the water that the Holy Spirit lived in their hearts!

Quinn loved this!  Some of the peeps got multiple baptisms.  :)

After the Bible Story time was done, I let her play with water for a few minutes to practice dumping and pouring and scooping, since we already had the materials out. 
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Speaking in Tongues--Acts 2

After spending a week talking about the Holy Spirit coming down on the apostles as flames of fire, we moved on to talk about how the Holy Spirit caused the apostles to speak in all different languages to the people who were in Jerusalem.  To help illustrated this concept, I made some cards.  Each card has a country's flag on it and the word they use in their language for "Jesus."  I chose countries that are meaningful to Quinn--we have friends from Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, and Japan.  Q's cousin and a soon-to-be new baby friend are from Ethiopia.  Aunt Meg lives in Germany, and Matt and I got engaged in France (she knows the story.)  I chose to draw the flags myself with colored pencil to give them a handmade element, rather than printing them out.  There is something nice about teacher-created (mommy-created) materials.....

We have played some memory games with the cards and we also just read them and talk about the friend they represent.  And of course the miracle that it would be if someone could speak all these languages at once!
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

12 Apostles Manipulative

We have been focusing on a different Bible story (sometimes two if it works out better that way) each week.  We read it in our various Children's Bible and usually do some kind of manipulative and drama to go along with it.  Never anything fancy, but we are really enjoying ourselves and our Bible study time!

After Easter we began to study the formation of the church.  First we talked about the transfiguration.  To go with all of this, we made a 12 apostles manipulative I found the idea for HERE.  Quinn loved getting to use my permanent markers.  She colored their clothes and I did the faces.  We also made Jesus. 

We use the sticks to sing the "12 Apostles" song.  We can also refer back to it as we read in Acts and hear mention of the different men.  Quinn is most fascinated by Judas and the fact that he "was not a good friend" (her words) and betrayed Jesus. 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Science for babies--fun with spoons

My little man (9 months) is in love with the dropping game.  His sister was being cooperative about picking his spoon up each time it fell--fun game!  I ran and grabbed two more spoons of different types--so we had a plastic spoon, a rubber-tipped spoon and an all-metal one.  Then I let them continue with the game for a bit.  I led into a gentle discussion of "Which spoon is the loudest when it hits?" and we brainstormed possible reasons why.  Then Mommy stood up and dropped the spoons from high and we listened to each one's clatter.  We decided we liked the sound of the metal spoon best!  This simple science lesson begins to teach concepts such as properties of a solid, laws of gravity, sound, and even the properties of different solids (hardness, temperature, etc.)  If I were just doing this game with the baby I'd let him explore for a while and then drop them for him to show the different sounds.  We are also teaching him to say, "uhhh-ohhh" when it falls and "there it is!" by pointing at the spoon on the ground.

Older kids would enjoy this too!  You could incorporate wooden spoons or even disposable plastic spoons.  Have them close their eyes, you drop a spoon and let them guess which one it is based on the sound.  Lots of opportunities for exploration!
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Easter Season rewind....the last supper.

(I blurred the faces of the kids who aren't mine....)

Here are two pictures of our "Last Supper" reinaction we did the Thursday before

Easter with some friends at a small park near our house. Everyone brought a few "people" from home and we found rocksand sticks to use to represent the wine and bread. One of the older
kids read the story out of a children's Bible and we used the little people and objects to act out the story.
Then we had made some unleavened bread the night before, so we broke bread together and drank grape juice and talked about what the elements symbolize. The best part was that the cat refused to get off the table--every time I threw him down he jumped up again.  So we continued on with our communion around the cat lounging front and center. Of course one of the kids spilled their entire cup of grape juice which caused a long pause as we searched for paper towels to mop it up. And amongst all the cat-ness and juice-spillage and fighting about who got the biggest piece of bread, and Disney Princess figures pretending to be disciples, there was an undeniable sense of holiness watching our kids commune together and reflect, as much as they can understand, on Christ's sacrifice. And somehow I think our reinaction might have more closely reflected the scene at the "First" communion than the "neat and tidy" one of da Vinci. Maybe minus the cat......But that's just my opinion. :)

Here are the "disciples" gathered together to share the "wine" and the "bread."
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Week's Bible Focus

After the Easter season we have begun to focus on the birth of the Church and the apostles as they began to spread the gospel.  This week we read the story of the Day of Pentecost.  We made "fire" crowns.  I just used scraps of felt that I freehanded into fire-ish shapes and sewed together.  Nothing fancy.  Q loves hers and wears it quite a bit!  I even sport mine around upon her request.
I also made up a song called "Fire on their Heads."  Again, nothing fancy, but I try to remember that 3 year olds don't learn from sitting at a table listening to the Bible being read.  They learn from making and doing and singing and playing and acting.  So we incorporated some of that!  We have been talking about the Holy Spirit all week......
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Science for babies....rock exploration.

If you know anything about my educational philosophies you know I am not in favor of pushing children academically.  I believe my kids have plenty of time to grasp "school skills" and will do so when they are developmentally ready.  Thus I tend to stay away from a lot of traditional educational methods....and even some of the things I DID when I taught in public school. 
That being said, I do believe in exposing my children to learning through simple, well-planned, child-centered environments. 

So today my boy had a science lesson.  It involved a wooden bowl (because have you ever heard the sound a wooden bowl makes when it clatters against a hard surface--divine....) and an assortment of rocks, chosen because of the differences in their textures, sizes, colors, and weights. 

All I did was set it out in front of him.  He held them, tasted them, threw them, rolled them, felt them, licked them, and crawled over them.  All the while learning valuable science skills such as properties of rocks, properties of solids, beginning concepts regarding weight, texture, volume (physical properties).  His eyes took in the color differences and hopefully his ears began depicting the differences in sound the various rocks made when dropped. 

And, I must note, this kept his interest for all of 5 minutes.  I spent more time than that collecting the rocks, finding the wooden bowl I wanted and getting it set out in front of him.  However I will frequently offer the rock bowl for him to explore and will know that he will come back to it and learn more about the rocks as he is ready. 

This activity could of course be adapted for any age.  Older kids could describe the rocks and play a game where they describe a rock and you try to guess which one they are talking about.  You could do crayon rubbings of the different surfaces.  You could line them up from biggest to smallest (heaviest-lightest, darkest-lightest in color, etc.).  Or you could just include a small bowl of rocks in your play area and allow creative little minds to do what they wish with them!!  Bet you will be amazed at the outcome.  And if your kids don't use them right away, step in and involve yourself in their play--gently suggest "What if we pretend these rocks....."  Voila!! 
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