Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

May 18, 2012

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Little Wonders' Days

I stumbled across this post on Pinterest and thought having a summer bucket list broken down by amount of time needed would be great.  That way when we do have a free day, morning or after I can just go down our list and see what fits.  I have a ton of things pinned on Pinterest but I tried to choose the ones where I already have the materials at home so setting up wouldn’t be too hard.

So here is what is on our bucket list so far:

Full Day Activities

Half Day Activities

  • Host a summer book exchange party
  • Go to the park
  • Go to the aquatic center
  • Cherry picking

Two Hour or Less Activities

May 17, 2012

See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 10:49 pm
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See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

Sometimes it pays to check out a book that you never would have picked up before.  If you saw my post the other week you know I signed up to be an Usborne consultant because I wanted to buy so many children’s books from them that it made more sense to buy their consultant kit and then I fell in love.  This See Inside Your Body book was one of the books included in the kit that I had never heard of before and I was not about to push a book I hadn’t read before so my 4 yr old and I picked it up for bedtime tonight.  She loved it!  And I will admit I learned some new things too and got a refresher of things I hadn’t remembered from school.

Initially when we opened it up it looked a little daunting with the illustrations of the human skeleton and all the words.  The flaps were the main reason she was willing to give it a try and once we worked through each flap and I started reading the little blurbs she soon became fascinated.  One page talked about the bones in our body and as we read through that we looked at our hands and legs and imagined what would it be like if they were made up on one big bone instead of smaller bones connected to form joints that let us bend and move.

Her favorite section was about the brain and how it passes messages to the rest of your body to tell you to swat a fly or her favorite, to tell you your foot stinks when you sniff your toes at the end of the day!  That had her giggling even after we had to put the book down and turn out the lights.

For those with 5+ year olds (or 4 year olds who enjoy more non-fiction type books) don’t let the subject matter or  the fact that this isn’t a story book put you off.  It’s a fascinating read and makes for a good discussion book about how your body works.  We looked at our joints and veins, took deeps breathes and exhales to see how our lungs and diaphragm feel as we filled our lungs and let the air out, talked about why scabs forms on cuts and picking at them can cause new bleeding and acted out silly messages our brains could send the rest of our body.  Definitely glad I was sent this book and that we took a chance on reading it tonight.  My daughter has already told me she wants to take this for Sharing Day at school tomorrow.

May 11, 2012

Exciting News!

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 12:27 am

Usborne Books

I’ve been so excited to finally share the news that I am now an official Usborne Books consultant.  Basically what this means is I now have the ability to showcase and provide an opportunity for others to buy some awesome books from Usborne and provide people with the opportunity to earn free books.  I also learned that Usborne no longer sells their books to Amazon in protest of their attempts to control publishers and wipe out smaller, independent bookstores.

What this doesn’t mean…This will not affect my personal reviews about any books posted on this site.  I promise to continue to provide my honest opinion and opinions of my children about any book discussed on this site.  The main reason I joined Usborne was I was surprised how many of the books we love and that I was curious to get for my kids are Usborne books.

Two of our favorites:

That's not my dinosaur...

That’s not my dinosaur…

 That's not my penguin

That’s not my penguin…

At first I didn’t realize there was an entire series of these “That’s not my…” books but both my kids love them.  Each page has a different texture on it like “rough”, “fuzzy”, “slippery”, etc. and they enjoy touching each page.

Another series that I’ve had my eye on and just found out they are Usborne books as well are:

How Big is a million?

How Big is a Million?

 I saw How Big is a Million? in the store and after browsing online I found out there is also How Deep is the Sea? and How High is the Sky?

And the last book that was already on my wish list was:

On the Moon

On the Moon

 This one caught my eye since if you have read my earlier post you know that my four year old is on a space kick and loves reading any book about outer space.

You can be sure that I’ll be getting these and letting you know what the kiddos think of them.  If you are interested in purchasing any Usborne books I would appreciate if you would purchase through my online store but even if you buy elsewhere I doubt you will be disappointed in these books.

If you are like me and always want more books than my wallet can handle you can also contact me about “hosting” an eShow to which you can invite your friends. Through the month of May the more purchases made during your show the more free books you can earn.

May 9, 2012

Get Ready for the Children’s Summer Reading Programs

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 11:26 pm
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Can you believe the summer is almost here?  This year is going by so fast and I’m sure the summer will go by just as fast and I will find myself sending my daughter off to kindergarten!  I can’t believe how quickly they grow up and we just don’t realize it.  I was doing bedtime stories with her last night and to my surprise she read through 22 pages of an early reader book with minimal help on my part.  I was floored. She’s always loved books but when did she grow old enough to start reading on her own?

But I’m going slightly off track. This made me realize that soon she will be participating in reading programs/challenges and I’ve seen several upcoming summer programs.  Here are a few that you might want to check out.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

New York, NY–May 1, 2012– While athletes prepare for the 2012 Summer Olympics, kids will compete in their own challenge – the Scholastic Summer Challenge  a free, interactive reading program dedicated to helping kids keep their reading skills sharp throughout the summer by reading every day.  Kids everywhere willRead for the World Record by logging the minutes they spend reading this summer and attempting to beat the current world record of 64,213,141 minutes set during summer 2011. The 20 schools whose students log the most minutes will be recognized in the 2013 Scholastic Book of World Records.  Go to their site for more info.

PBS Kids iVillage Summer Reading Challenge

From PBS Kids’ website: Fight the summer slide and keep your child reading and learning all summer long with our free six-week program.

Sign up now and starting June 18 , you’ll get daily emails with literacy-building tips and activities from experts at PBS KIDS and Scholastic.

You’ll also get book suggestions and discounts, free downloads of PBS KIDS shows and a daily chance to win $1,000 and other great prizes.

Help your child discover the joys of reading. Sign up now!

Read More

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Program

How kids 14 and under can participate:

  1. Read for at least 15 minutes each day for a month.
    (Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning.)
  2. Add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week.
  3. Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed reading log PDF to earn your $5 HPB Back-to-School Bucks reading reward for the month.
  4. We’ll award one top reader per age group each month with a TOP READER prize – a $20 HPB Gift Card!*

Get more info at Half Price Books.

Barnes and Nobles Imagination Destination

Kids read 8 books and record it in their journal. Take the journal into a local B&N store and get a free book.  See their website for more details.

Check Your Local Library

I’m sure as summer approaches most public library’s will be running some sort of summer reading program so be sure to check our local branch.

April 26, 2012

Our Earth Day Fun: Re-using Paper Bags for Art

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Learning,Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 11:32 pm
Tags: ,

A little late but I figure better than never…our Earth Day activities.  I’m horrible at pre-planning but on the spur of the moment I thought it might be fun to do some Earth Day-ish arts and crafts.  It also didn’t hurt that it kept both kids busy while I cooked dinner.

We had gone grocery shopping and didn’t have enough cloth bags so we had some extra paper bags lying around.  I figured why not cut out a “tree” and let the kids decorate it.  At least it would be a form of re-use and I didn’t have to use brand new paper. Here the kids are decorating the top half of their trees:

Earth Day Arts & Crafts

Then when my son was down for a nap we headed outside because my daughter wants to get outside any chance she can get.  We hunted for leaves and then I showed her how to do leaf rubbings.  Sadly we couldn’t find many leaves in the yard but being the creative girl she is she proceeded to try doing rubbings on the cement patio, containers she found around the patio and even on a scrub brush logo.

Leaf Rubbings

Leaf Rubbings

Once she was done I taped the trunk to the top of the tree and here is her finished product:

Earth Day Tree

April 2, 2012

Upcycling Magnet Play

Both my 4 year old and my 20 month old love playing with magnets so I was trying to think of something new for them to play with and remembered this pin from Pinterest. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do but I’ve been too cheap to go buy magnets.  So instead I decided to try and upcycle some old magnets from refrigerator magnets that broke and those old calendar magnets we get from realtors.  I also had a bunch of left over craft items so I pulled out the glue gun, let my daughter pick out what she wanted on each piece of magnet and we went at it creating snowflakes, fuzz balls, pipe cleaner magnets, etc.

Then we needed something for the kids to put the magnets on.  I had cleaned out a couple cans of Campbell’s soup, pinched down the sharp edges and then covered them up with electrical tape just to be extra safe.  I let my daughter pick the colors and make designs using the tape.

My son didn’t quite get the concept of putting the magnets on the cans and kept putting them inside the cans (possibly because most of these upcycled magnets weren’t very strong and wouldn’t stick once you moved the cans around) so I pulled out this magnetic board.

Of course both kids had to have a flat board to play out so I dug out a cookie sheet as well.

While the kids were playing I cut out some pieces of construction paper thinking they could play chicka chicka boom boom since we also have some magnetic letters.

But my daughter proved more creative and started making her own creatures standing in the snow.

And here she created a “monster” and started reciting Go Away, Big Green Monster.  I wish I got a picture of her entire monster but she was too quick.

All in all the kids had a blast but next time I should definitely invest in stronger magnets so they wouldn’t keep sliding off the cans.

February 23, 2012

Friday Featured Product

Filed under: Learning,Manual Dexterity,Math,Motor skills — by dsuzuki @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There are only a handful of products I love enough that I really suggest to friends and family so I thought what better way to spread the word than mentioning here.  So for the next few Fridays I am hoping to highlight some of my favorite products for families with kids. Note: I either purchased these items, borrowed or was given them as gifts from families and friends.

Today I wanted to highlight the game Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg that came with my daughter’s Leappad.  She got one for Christmas and she cracks me up whenever she tells me what she is playing because she says the name of the game with such gusto.  Sometimes I ask her where she learned something and the answer is “Mr. Pencil saves Doodleburg!!!” with both arms raised up in the air.

She loves this game and I’ve sat down with her a few times to watch her play because she’s always coming up with the most amazing, random comments that she says she’s learned from this game.  It focuses on skills like writing letters, numbers, tracing lines, drawing, colors, etc.  One day I was driving her to school and she tells me “Mommy, you are the left side of the car and I am on the right side.  That means we are sitting diagonal!”  I asked if she learned about diagonals at school and she said no it was from “Mr. Pencil saves Doodleburg!!!”  She’s gone on to mention learning about mixing colors, drawing various shapes and a couple nights ago she even started giving me a lesson about animation.  She, my 19 month old and I were doing some painting on scrap pieces of cardboard and I drew an ocean with fish jumping out of it.  Looking at the picture she tells me “Mommy, you can draw more frames so it looks like the fish are really jumping like in an animation.”  This shocked me because at 4 we have never talked about how cartoons are animated or about different frames that make up an animation.  I thought maybe this was something new that she was learning at school but nope, she shocked me again saying she learned this from Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg.

After all of these comments she has been making about what she has learned from this game and what she remembers even after not playing it for awhile has made me a huge fan of the game.  If you have a preschooler or a slightly older child (it’s rated for 4-7 year olds) then I highly suggest trying this game out.  It teaches some wonderful concepts, the letter and shape tracing has really helped my daughter slow down and really focus on what she is writing and things like colors, color mixing, etc really has helped reinforce what she is learning in preschool as well.  Definitely a 5 star game in my book!

February 19, 2012

Skippyjon Jones Shapes Up by Judy Shachner & the Shape Game

This was the latest Skippyjon Jones book we borrowed from our library.  Silly as usual while playing with shapes like hearts, circles, ovals, etc.  Other than the octagon nothing really new that my 4 year old didn’t know but she just loves watching Skippyjon’s antics.

Since my four year old daughter and I read this book and I am also working my 19 month old on his shapes and colors I decided to try out this game I saw on Pinterest. It was called Escape the Volcano Shape game and my kids loved it!  She provides a downloadable file for all the pieces and dice cut out which is awesome.  I printed them out and used my laminator to make them a little more durable since I knew the kids were going to be rough on them.  I’m so glad I did so especially for the dice.  I laminated it, scored the insides of where you had to make the folds and then taped it together.  Both kids got so excited about rolling the die that it got squashed multiple times but fortunately the laminate allowed the die to pop back into shape.

I initially thought only my daughter was going to get into it but my son  had so much fun watching her jump and sing and do all sorts of crazy things that he really got into it as well.  The shapes and colors were a breeze for my daughter so I would have my son tell me what shape she landed on and what color was it.

Then she would practice her reading to figure out what each piece said.  I was surprised how many sight words she now recognizes and she was able to sound out most of the other words.  There were some longer ones like “compliment” that stumped her but once I explained it I was pleasantly surprised with the things she came up with.  One task was to compliment someone and she said how sweet her “chubby cheeks” Michael was and the second time we played she said she loves how silky my hair is.  One of my favorites was watching her sing her favorite song which surprised me because she chose Rockabye Baby.

One thing I did learn after we played it the first time is definitely have to put the pieces closer together although I was impressed with how far my daughter did manage to jump.

And she also didn’t like that there were only 1s and 2s on the die.  So I used a sharpie to add a 3 side to it.  I think I am also going to create a few more pieces with other shapes like a star, oval and maybe a few other pieces.  I definitely suggest trying out this game.  It got the kids moving, laughing (loved watching her donkey kicks) and had a few surprises (like lollipops are her favorite treat).

February 3, 2012

Friday Feature: Melissa and Doug Puzzles

Filed under: Learning — by dsuzuki @ 4:50 am
Tags: , , , ,

There are only a handful of products I love enough that I really suggest to friends and family so I thought what better way to spread the word than mentioning here.  So for the next few Fridays I am hoping to highlight some of my favorite products for families with kids. Note: I either purchased these items, borrowed or was given them as gifts from families and friends.

Today I wanted to high light the Melissa and Doug puzzles and in particular the alphabet and number puzzles.

My daughter received the number puzzle as a gift when she was 2 or 3 and she really enjoyed it.  Especially since when you put the number back in it’s spot it actually talks.  Where it has really amazed me is with my 18 month old.  He absolutely adored this puzzle and was able to count to 10 by around 14 or 15 months and able to put them all in their correct spots.  Now he’s gotten to 11 and 12 and can say some of the higher numbers although he still sometimes gets confused and will say “one one” or “one two”.  My parents were so impressed by how much this puzzle helped that they bought him the alphabet version and my son quickly took to it as well.  He knows most of his alphabet now and I credit that mostly to the sight words dvd and my father working with him playing with these two puzzles.

No matter how many times I put these puzzles away in the toy closet my son always pulls them out to keep them on his table and constantly brings me various letters to tell me what they are.  He also points out various letters on the covers of books I am reading or in the newspaper.  In general I love Melissa and Doug puzzles but if you have to pick just one or two I would definitely suggest these two.

Other featured products:

Sight Words from Preschool Prep

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