Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

January 27, 2013

Spelling Practice in Baking Soda & Then Some Fun

My daughter has been struggling a bit with her spelling tests at school lately and she always lets out a huge groan when I tell her it’s time to practice.  Homework and studying is a constant struggle with her and I don’t want to turn her off of learning so I have been wracking my brain to come up with a fun way to study.

One of her favorite experiments that she constantly asks for is the baking soda and vinegar volcano so I decided to try and combine that with studying.  So I replaced the old baking soda that I was using to freshen up the refrigerator and split the box across two cookie trays (my 2 year old always wants to do “homework” too so I had to have one for him as well).  I then would give my daughter one of her spelling words to “write” in the baking soda.



I won’t say we had a complaint free study session but it was a 100% times better than straight studying and after we went through all of her words we moved on to the play time.

I pulled out the food coloring and learned that you don’t want to take your eyes off a 2 year old for even a second because next thing you know he will have used half a bottle of food coloring before you know it!  But I digress…I had them drop different food coloring all over their trays.



I don’t know if you can see but my son’s tray of baking soda was pretty evenly spread out and my daughter tried making mountains.  Once we moved onto the vinegar step we found having the smoother surface worked better.

I poured vinegar into two cups and gave the kids eye droppers to drop vinegar onto their trays.



The kids loved their colored mini-volcanoes as the baking soda and vinegar reacted to bubble up and ooze.

Once they had used up all their vinegar the kids immediately set in to squish, smash and draw in their trays.  My 5 year old and I talked about the difference in texture of the baking soda before the vinegar and after the vinegar.



When we were done and had washed hands I thought they would be walking around with purple hands as we just couldn’t get the color all off.  Fortunately after bath and play time in the water the color finally came out and their hands were back to normal. 🙂

So while we won’t be doing this all the time since we used up the entire box of old baking soda at least my daughter saw studying doesn’t have to be a drag.

October 6, 2012

Picture Word Lotto

Filed under: Learning,Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 8:39 pm

Picture Word Lotto

Picture Word Lotto is a game from Usborne Books & More that I purchased a couple months ago since a friend was asking how it was and I hate selling something I haven’t tried myself.  I haven’t had a chance to try it out until recently and am sort of kicking myself for not doing so sooner.

It’s designed for up to 4 players and it says for ages 4 years and up on the website but the game box itself says for ages 2-6.  My 2-year-old and my 5-year-old were both playing and having a ball so I’d say the age range on the box is accurate. It comes with 4 boards that have pictures and words on it.  Then there are two sets of cards. One set has pictures and words and the other set has just words.  You can play with either set depending on the ages of the players.  We started with the picture cards.  I laid them all face down and we took turns picking a card.  One person would flip a card over and say what picture they had and everyone would check to see whose board had the card and then place it on their board.  Whoever fills up their board first wins but we kept playing until everyone’s board was filled.

I was surprised how quickly my 2-year-old picked it up and then the second time we played we used the word cards and I was amazed at how many words both my 2-year-old and 5-year-old could recognize.  For the ones they didn’t know I had my 5-year-old sound them out.  For my 2-year-old I had him look for the word on his card so he could work on his matching skills. So not only is it a fun game but also a good learning experience.

Definitely would suggest this one to other parents!

September 25, 2012

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

I don’t know about where you live but the leaves on our trees have started to change colors and that means my 5 year old is asking why.  This book is really neat as it takes you through the four seasons and you follow a boy and his mama as they go out on leaf hunts during each season. They talk about the leaves they find and what is happening as the buds change into leaves, what makes leaves green and eventually why do the leaves change color.

This had my daughter asking to do one of her favorite activities…going on a nature hunt.  This is our second time doing this and she loved it as much as she did the first time.  Instead of painting the egg carton this time my daughter colored each well a different color using crayons and then we headed out.  We were on the hunt to see what we could find in nature that fell into each of the colors and collect a sample to bring back home.

Nature Hunt

Our front yard yielded lots of the colors thanks to our rose bushes.  And our neighbor was doing yard work so we came across lots of leaves on our walk.

I just had to share a picture of the nature hunt dance my daughter also came up with on our walk.

Nature Hunt Dance

We finished up our hunt at the park.  For the second time we had no luck finding anything blue other than the sky. Never realized just how hard it could be to find blue in nature around here.

Once we had all our nature items of course she wanted to do an activity with them.  So the next day we decided to do a collage.


My two year old initially wanted to paint Kai-Lan but of course once he saw glue he had to glue leaves as well.

Gluing Leaves

And the final collage!

Nature Collage

We did a couple other leaf/nature activities with our collection that I will post in the future.  If you are looking for other leaf/nature books we also did a nature hunt back in January and read There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves.

September 12, 2012

Kindergarten Interview

Filed under: Learning — by dsuzuki @ 12:03 pm

Starting Kindergarten

I can’t believe my daughter is now 5 years old and started kindergarten.  Here she is on her first day.  She is one of the tiniest in her class but other than some rough patches at drop off she’s doing wonderfully.  Someone had mentioned how they do an “interview” with their child each year and compare how the answers change. This sounded like a fun idea and perfect for a school project they need to do putting together a book about themselves.  If you haven’t done one I highly recommend it. You may be surprised by some of their answers.

*I changed the names of her friends just for privacy purposes

2012 Interview

My favorite food is: chocolate!

My favorite game to play is: Hide and seek

My favorite TV show is: Upside Down Show

The coolest person on Earth is: Mommy and my cousin F. (This one made me feel so good!)

My favorite part of school is: P.E.

The thing I’m best at is: running

If I could go anywhere in the world it would be: the North Pole

My favorite color is: magenta

My favorite toy is: a yo-yo

My favorite book is: Max’s Easter Surprise

My best friend is: V and H 

If I had one wish it would be: to play with V and H 

My best memory is: playing tag with V in preschool

September 6, 2012

Sight Words Showdown

Filed under: Learning,Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 9:06 pm
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First off I have to apologize for the picture quality. I didn’t have my camera handy so I used my phone.  I came across this Showdown game on Pinterest which was pinned from Playdough to Plato’s blog.  We actually did the activity back in June but I’m bad about getting photos off my phone.  I wanted to make sure to mention this activity though because even now three months later my five year old still wants to play it.  She’s been picking up her sight words really quickly since we’ve started making a game of it rather than straight studying.

I made our two sets of the same sight words using two different color markers.

Sight Words Showdown

I picked out one card, told my daughter what it was and hid it against my chest (Playdough to Plato made a great suggestion to close your eyes to build anticipation and make it more fun for your child while they try to find the same word in their pile).

Sight Words

Then once she found it she also hid her card until I counted to three and then we both slapped our cards down and checked to see if they matched.

Sight Words Showdown


Once she learned a set of sight words I would just make a new set and kept going.  It’s a great way to make learning sight words fun.

August 24, 2012

Dancing Raisins (Bobbing bouncing raisins)

Filed under: Books,Learning,Science Activities — by dsuzuki @ 6:51 pm
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If you saw my post yesterday about the layered liquids experiment then you know I found it in a book we got recently.  Well on the opposite page was the bobbing bouncing raisin (or as I’ve seen it called elsewhere the dancing raisin) experiment and just so happens we had a container of raisins handy.

First we started off with this small spice container and 7-Up but not much luck. I figured we needed more soda and more fizz.

Dancing Raisins

Unfortunately our only bigger glass wasn’t totally clear but we still had fun watching what happened.  I wasn’t sure what to really expect and dropping the raisins in was like dropping those alka-seltzer tablets into water.  Instant fizz.


And then the cool reaction started as the raisins which had sank to the bottom slowly started getting covered in bubbles and next thing you know they were rising to the top and then falling back down.  The book we were using explained how the bubbles stick onto the raisin so when they rise they take the raisin with them and as the bubbles pop at the top the raisin sinks again.


Soon the experiment turned into a game of whether or not my daughter could catch the raisin before it sank back down.  It was surprisingly hard to do it since as she stuck her fingers in the bubbles would pop and the raisins sank like a rock.  That kept my daughter amused for awhile until the soda started to lose its carbonation.

Game Play

This is the book we used and you can purchase it through my store if interested.

Big book of science things to make and do

The Usborne Big book of Science things to make and do

August 23, 2012

Layered Liquids

Filed under: Books,Learning,Science Activities — by dsuzuki @ 10:44 pm
Tags: , ,

Have I mentioned how much I love being an Usborne Books & More consultant?  One reason is that I get to try out some amazing books because I really don’t like to sell books I haven’t read and enjoy myself.  Today my soon to be 5 year old and I busted out our new book, Big book of Science things to make and do, for our afternoon activity.  She picked out the Layered Liquids experiment.

First we had a cup full of cold water and food coloring. Note that I didn’t realize we should have been doing this in a separate cup and not the container we were going to be making layers in so after coloring the water we poured it back into the measuring cup.

Layered Liquid Water

Next came the cooking oil.  The directions just say to add 4 TBSP to the jar but I thought it would be fun for my daughter to see what would happen if you add food coloring.  It was neat seeing how it stayed in a little blob like in a lava lamp instead of mixing with the oil.  Even stirring wouldn’t get the food coloring to mix and I had her explain her observations about the difference in behavior of the food coloring in the water and oil.

Layered Liquid Oil

Then we slowly added the water to the jar (pouring it down the side of the jar) and watched as the water sank below the oil.  How cool right?  Thankfully since I’m rusty on all my science knowledge the book had a blurb explaining about the difference in density between oil and water caused the water to sink.  I did have to simplify saying that the water was just heavier even though I know it’s not the most accurate description but oh well.  You can’t really see it too well in the picture but it was also neat to see how the green food coloring we had put in the oil got sucked down into the water layer as well.

Layered Liquid mix

Finally we added some corn syrup to the bottle and watched that sink below the water and created three distinct layers. The green is the corn syrup, the black (it was supposed to be purple) is the water and the yellow is the oil.

layered liquid

After that we just played around with the mixture like stirring it up and watching them separate again.  We also tried adding more food coloring and watched as it slowly sank through the oil into the water layer.

Layered Liquid Play

Not long after this my 2 year old woke up and wanted to play as well.  It didn’t take long for the concoction to be spilled and that was that for this experiment but we had a blast.  Even when daddy came home he was watching the experiment and making suggestions on things to try out.

This is the book we used and you can purchase it through my store if interested.

Big book of science things to make and do

The Usborne Big book of Science things to make and do

July 20, 2012

Practicing vocabulary using hangman

Filed under: Learning,Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 10:20 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been working with my daughter on reading and recognizing sight words.  She gets easily frustrated so I’ve been struggling to find ways to keep her interested in practicing.  With the weather being so nice and the kids wanting to be outside all the time I decided to try a simple game based off of hangman.

I started off with 3 and 4 letter words and she did great.  I didn’t actually limit her guesses and just let her guess as many times as she needed and then she figured out the word I was thinking of.

Then she decided she wanted to think of a word and let me guess.  I was impressed that she was actually able to think of a word, figure out how many letters were in it and then fill them in as I guessed.

Since she was enjoying the activity so much we also worked out some of the combination sounds we have been working on in our reading.

I would love to hear any other suggestions for making learning to recognize words fun.


July 16, 2012

Sea Shapes by Suse MacDonald & an art project

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 10:01 pm
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Sea Shapes by Suse MacDonald
This is a great book for introducing shapes in a fun way.  It takes each shape and transforms it into some fun picture in the sea from dolphins to starfish and many more.  My two year old liked flipping through it and naming all the shapes and trying to name all the creatures that were in the book.

While my two and four year olds were flipping through the pictures again I grabbed a few pieces of construction paper (which I snagged at a back to school sale since we tend to go through them quickly) and started cutting out several of each shape.  Luckily we have this shape sorter so I used each of the blocks to trace each shape since I have no artistic talent whatsoever.  It was a little late to start an art project so I saved them for the next day.

While my son was napping my four year old had a lot of fun using the shapes to make her own sea pictures.  First we used stick glue…


Shapes 2

I somehow missed taking a picture of the final outcome but she used the “leaf” shapes to make the fish’s tail.

Then later we used more of the shapes and some paint to make our own ocean.  I loved watching what she would come up with to create using the shapes and she painted waves, waterfalls and caves.

Painting shapes

Sea Paint

The other fun thing was blending paints together and working on what colors do you have to mix to make new colors.  We used a lot of blues, greens and white to make the ocean and then some yellow and orange for other items.  She amazed me how many of the color blends she’s remembered.

Final shape paint

My daughter had a blast creating fish, divers, water falls, etc. Sea Shapes is definitely a great book to brainstorm about such ideas.


June 17, 2012

Kids Activities in the Bay Area #1: Children’s Creativity Museum

Children's Creativity Museum

As my daughter gets older I’ve been spending more time exploring what kinds of activities and places we can go to keep busy and let her explore the world around here.  One of my latest finds was the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco.  I had never heard of it before but during a lunch out with some co-workers I saw a sign for it and looked it up.  I was excited to see that my local library lets you sign up for one free pass for two people each year(check your library’s website. I’ve found that several of my local libraries offer free passes to a bunch of different places).  So a couple of friends and I took our kids to check it out.

Parking is horrible in the city so we decided to take the Bart train which the kids loved!  I think they would have been happy with just that ride.

Bart Ride

The museum was just a short walk away from the Bart station and on our way in we ran into a festival going on and found out they have these every Friday through out the summer.  There was also this awesome playground.

Yerba Buena Playground

By time we made it off the playground and  into the museum it was lunch time and the museum had this nice patio with both kid sized and adult sized tables to eat at.


Once everyone was fed we started exploring.  First stop was this magnet building area.  My 4 year old daughter loved it!  All the kids had a ton of fun building things and we were there for a long time.

Magnet Building

There were also several “green” rooms that the kids could play on slides or dance in front of cameras and then see themselves on TV.


They also had a bunch of craft stations.  You could make cards or pictures with a bunch of materials laid out among tables, draw on the chalk board or play with some play doh.

CraftsPlay doh

They also had this cool wall where you could play with legos and this huge room with mushroom tables that each had an iPad attached to it.  There was some application that let you draw shapes that would turn into creatures that floated around large screens all over the ceiling.

Lego WalliPad play

We finished off the day riding their giant carousel and then riding the train back home.


We were there from roughly around 11 until 3:30 and only explored maybe half of the museum.  If your kids are a little older there also was an innovation lab where they gave you a bunch of materials and let you create things, a recording studio where you could sing and have them add all sorts of backgrounds to your music video to take home, a Photoshop lab, an animation lab where you could create creatures/things out of play doh and then create animated videos with them and a few more things.  You could probably spend all day there and not get bored.  They even had this “dreaming” area with bean bags to recline on, books to read and neat origami mobiles hanging over head.

If you are in the area I definitely suggest checking this museum out.  I do suggest packing your own lunch as the museum doesn’t have any sort of concession stand.  Fortunately we had brought our own food.

Check back soon for our Chabot Space & Science Museum Tykes Class.

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