Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

October 30, 2011

Eight Spinning Planets by Brian James & Russell Benfanti

My daughter picked this one out when I took her to a Scholastic Warehouse sale and it’s become one of her favorite books.  It has cut outs and raised, plastic, colorful planets and each page gives a short informational paragraph about the planet.  The only cover image I was able to find shows the planets showing up randomly on the cover but the actual copy we had ordered them based on their distance from the Sun.  I was surprised how quickly my daughter memorized each blurb about the planets and would actually start telling me about the planet before I even finished the first sentence on each page.  We would also have discussions about why people could not live on the other planets because they are either too cold, too hot, made out of gas, etc.

She’s been begging for an activity to do with the planets so I had to rack my brain to come up with something.  I was going to cut out felt planets but I wanted something she could really contribute more to.  So I cut out circles for each planet out of tissue paper (knew I was saving them from her birthday gifts for a reason) & construction paper.  I hollowed out the construction paper and glued it to the tissue paper just to make it easier to handle once she started painting.  Then she used water colors to paint each planet.  I told her she could paint them however she wanted but she wanted to follow the book.

Once they were dry I laminated them and we used them on my ghetto, homemade light box.

She then started putting the planets in the order she thought they were from the Sun.

She did amazingly well and just mixed up Jupiter and Saturn and Neptune & Uranus.

I think this book is perfect for the preschooler or kindergartener.  It was fun to read and teaches kids the basics.  It was also interesting that they included Pluto and stated that it was no longer considered a planet.  This was a nice point since she recently watched a Blues Clues episode about planets and that included Pluto.

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October 29, 2011

Favorite Halloween Reads

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:52 pm
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Can you believe Halloween is almost upon us?  Can you believe how long the Christmas stuff has been out in stores already?  I know, I know, I digress a bit but I always thought they would at least wait until Halloween is past before moving onto Christmas.  Anyhow, back to Halloween.  Here are some of the books my four year old loves to read (and in fact we read several of them year round).

Spooky Hour by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees

The illustrations are great, the story has a nice rhythm as you read it aloud and the story is cute.

We’re Off to Find the Witch’s House by Richard Krieb and R.W. Alley

From Goodreads.com: It’s Halloween night, and as the moon rises, four children set off to find the witch’s house. on their way they encounter a host of silly, spooky characters, from a skittle-skattling skeleton to a shirking, lurking Dracula. Can they make it all the way to the witch’s house? or will their fears get the best of them? this humorous take on a favorite holiday begs to be read aloud again and again.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

Follow the little old lady on her way back home as she meets all sort of spooky things along the way.

Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

A cute remake of the classic Goodnight Moon with a Halloween flair.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

From Goodreads.com: The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom. But is there room on the broom for so many friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?

October 26, 2011

Magnetic or Not?

I’ve been eagerly building up my Swagbucks(if you don’t know about Swagbucks it’s very cool! Check out more here) so I could order this magnetic set for Kaitlyn and it finally arrived!  She was begging for an experiment so I just threw a bunch of stuff I found around the house into an empty container, drew up a piece of paper with circles for her to separate items that were magnetic from items that weren’t and handed her the magnet wands.  I wish I caught a picture of the look on her face when she picked up the first magnetic item with the wand.  She thought it was so cool.

I threw a bunch of cotton balls in the box too to make it more interesting for her to hunt for the items.  It made for an interesting discussion as well over why the cotton balls stayed on top while the heavier items fell to the bottom.  Once she figured out cotton balls weren’t magnetic she quickly figured out that her stuffed animals probably weren’t magnetic either because they were also “fluffy” in her words.

We went through all the items she found and talked about why she thought something was magnetic and other things weren’t.  She decided that plastic things are not magnetic where as metal things are.

After she sorted everything out we started doing some other experiments.  She found that the plastic ball container wasn’t magnetic but I asked her if she put one one of those metal discs in it did she think the disc would still be magnetic?  She guessed yes and voila!

We also tried to see what happens if she put the discs in the container and on the cover and waved the wand under them.  She had a lot of fun watching the discs move apparently by themselves and jump around the cover and box.

We talked a little about how magnets can repel each other if you try to push two “north” sides or two “south” sides together.  Then we went on a magnetic hunt through out the house.  She tested different things to see what was magnetic and what wasn’t.  She was right on most things although a few things were tricky.  We guessed our door knobs were magnetic but no luck there.  We also found the front of the washing machine was much more magnetic than the top.  I finally had to call stop to the hunt for bed time but even in bed she was guessing what else would be magnetic in the house and what wouldn’t be.  Definitely will be trying more magnetic experiments in the future.  Now I’m curious to see if I can find any good picture books about magnets.  Any suggestions?

October 20, 2011

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

This was another one of those books that we were checking out of the library so often and my daughter kept begging me not to return it and I would start racking up overdue fines.  I finally caved and just bought her a copy of her own.  It follows a giant squid’s journey through the ocean as it catalogs all the sea creatures that he is larger than.  He soon finds out he isn’t quite the largest thing in the ocean but still manages to find the up side after meeting something that is larger than he is.

My daughter just finds the squid so silly and she loves the part when he meets the whale that is larger than him and ends up in his tummy.  After reading it at night I have to leave this book in bed with her so she can flip through and look at the illustrations herself.  I sometimes hear her “reading” it to herself since she has it memorized before she falls asleep.

She loves doing arts and crafts so she started to create her own “ocean”.  First came the giant squid using a toilet paper roll.  I taped it up for her and cut up the legs and she colored and decorated it.  Then we moved on to creating a crab and turtle out of a paper plate and some construction paper.  She had a ton of fun painting them and making “happy” sea creatures.

Finally my attempt to cut out a whale which she thankfully recognized the shape and then she painted that as well.

Then we posted them all on a big sheet of paper that was the “ocean”.

She wanted to make the shrimp that were in the book as well but I hadn’t thought to cut out any shapes for that and I tried to convince her we could turn some macaroni into a shrimp but she wasn’t buying it.  So she was finally content to leave her ocean as is.

October 18, 2011

Rhyming Dust Bunnies Flash Cards

Filed under: Books,Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 9:54 pm

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas was a huge hit with both my daughter and myself (you can see some of our thoughts on it here) and now that she is really getting the hang of sounding words out I thought it might be fun to create some dust bunny flash cards.  I downloaded a PDF of images of the dust bunnies from Jan Thomas’ site and used Photoshop to pull them out into individual files.  I printed out a few copies of each dust bunny and wrote a rhyming word on each one and then laminated them.

I made it like a card game in which she picked one and sounded out the word and then had to find a dust bunny who was saying a rhyming word.

She had a lot of fun and I was a little surprised how well she could sound out some of the words.  She stumbled on “tar” since she didn’t really know what tar was but otherwise she was able to figure out all of the other words.

I am glad I laminated the cards because as expected my son also had to get into the mix and started flipping through the book and chewing on the cards.

If you haven’t checked out this book I highly suggest you do!

October 17, 2011

TV Night in Style-Making Lightning McQueen Out of a Box

Filed under: Arts and Crafts — by dsuzuki @ 8:50 pm

I’ve been wanting to make a car for Kaitlyn for awhile now and finally got motivated after seeing one at a friend’s house and then a Lightning McQueen one on Pinterest.  The one on Pinterest was sprayed painted and all spiffied up but I couldn’t get motivated enough to do that much.  So I opted for using some construction paper I got on clearance at Target.

I started off with this box left over from my son’s birthday gift and making a few cut outs.

Then I covered it up with construction paper.

I used some formula and Gerber snack tops to trace out the wheels since I can’t draw a circle to save my life.

Finally made the headlights, mouth and eyes.

I surprised Kaitlyn with it that night and she hopped right in.  It was a little too high for her to see out so she tossed a pillow in to sit on and it was perfect. And yes I was too lazy to finish off the bottom.

October 13, 2011

Learning Color Mixing Through Play

Filed under: Science Activities — by dsuzuki @ 9:27 pm
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My daughter was begging to do an “experiment” tonight and I was wondering what to do.  It so happens Blue’s Clues was on when I turned on the TV and they were talking about colors.  So during bath time I decided to give the kids a couple glow sticks to play with in the tub.  I gave them 4 colors and Kaitlyn watched how the glow changed the appearance of the water and reflected on the walls.  Both kiddos had a blast.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any good pictures of that.  After bath we broke out the food coloring again.  I used some caps from my sons bottles and filled 3 of them up with water.  We started off with the primary colors-red, yellow and blue.

Then I had her guess what color she would get when she would mix two colors together.  First she guessed red and yellow would make pink, yellow and blue would make brown and red and blue would make blue.  I then gave her a few empty tops so she could pour a little of the different colors into them to see what colors she could create.  She was so excited when she finally saw what colors she made.

I also was trying to teach her what secondary colors were as she created green, purple and orange.

Then she guessed correctly that if she mixed all the colors together she would get black.

She had so much fun with this she just wanted to keep mixing and mixing.  We dumped all the water out and started over again and she kept playing until bed time.  She could name the primary and secondary colors at the end of the night but we will see what she remembers tomorrow 🙂

October 11, 2011

Pinkalicious Play Date

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 9:15 pm
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This was an extremely cute book that my daughter loved especially when she was going through a phase of pink being her favorite color.  Everything had to be pink so reading about a girl who loved pink as much as she did who turned pink after eating too many pink cupcakes cracked her up.  I had a few friends over for a reading/craft play date.  Of course it wouldn’t be complete without pink cupcakes!

My friend did a wonderful job reading Pinkalicious to the kiddos while they enjoyed the cupcakes.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate with the outdoor part of the activity I wanted to do so we had to delay it and I did it with my daughter another day.  Voila!  Pinkalicious ice egg!

I found a few pink things we had lying around the house-hair clips, straws, squinkies, etc and I tossed them in a balloon, added some water and froze it.  Once a sunny day came around we took it outside to experiment on what it would take to get the stuff out of the egg.

First Kaitlyn tried dumping salt on it.

We found that while it melted a little it didn’t do much although it made some cool textures on the egg.  We rubbed the different sides to compare the smooth sides with the rougher side that had the ice melting grooves into it.

Then we tried some hot water which I helped with to make sure she didn’t burn herself.  That worked a lot better and she realized that if she kept flipping the egg over whichever side was in the water melted faster.  Check her out as she explains what she thinks is happening.

We slowly started breaking the stuff free.  Be free piggy!

The other neat surprise was the ice ball that formed inside one of the squinkie containers and the straw.

I was amazed how occupied this kept her.  I thought she would be bored once she got all the stuff out but she wanted to keep moving the container into the sun to see how long it would take for the rest of the egg to melt.  She even got a crazy idea that maybe if she ran in circles around the container it would help it melt faster. lol.  Kaitlyn loved it but she’s now in her purple loving stage so wants to do a Purplicious activity next.

October 10, 2011

Corn Art

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Science Activities — by dsuzuki @ 10:24 pm

I mentioned in my last post about going to the farm and picking corn with my daughter.  She decided she wanted to do an investigation today examining the corn we picked.  We looked at all the different colors they came in, how neat it was that the kernals grew in rows and we cut open a kernal to see what it looked like inside.

She then wanted to start picking the kernals off the cob and if you ever need to keep a child occupied this is an awesome activity.  She sat there picking kernels off for a long time.

I finally convinced her to move on to doing some art work with the kernals. We just used the back of a paper plate, some glue and then she started sticking kernals on.

She said this was a picture of her brother. 🙂

My favorite part of this experiment besides the cute portrait was examining all the amazing colored kernals there were.

October 8, 2011

DIY Hair Clips

Filed under: DIY — by dsuzuki @ 10:49 pm

I finally got off my butt and decided to try making some hair clips for my daughter after the kids were in bed.  It went surprisingly well.  Not perfect but not as bad as I was expecting.  I had picked up some fall ribbon from the dollar spot at Target and found this post on Pinterest on how to curl fabric ribbon.  It actually worked!  All you had to do was wrap the ribbon around wooden dowels and secure the ribbon with wooden clothes pins, preheat your oven to 275 degrees,lay ribbon wrapped dowels on a foil lined baking sheet and bake ribbon for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

I cut them in half and layered them on top of each other and used a couple stitches to hold them together.

The center looked a little bare so I used this ribbon tying technique found on Pinterest that uses a fork (strange I know but it worked too) to make a bow.  I had to modify it slightly to make the bow larger so it didn’t turn out quite as nice as when you tighten the bow on the fork but not as bad as my usually ribbon tying attempts.  Then I hot glued it to a hair clip I picked up using some UP rewards from Rite Aid that were expiring today.

and voila…Not perfect but I thought it was kind of cute for my first attempt.  I trimmed some of the ribbon edges and am going to have my daughter try it on tomorrow before I make the other side.

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