Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

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.

July 20, 2012

Practicing vocabulary using hangman

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


May 19, 2012

Digging for Dinosaurs

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 11:33 pm
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Recently every time we go out in our backyard to play my 4 year old wants to dig for dinosaur bones.  She won’t believe me when I tell her I don’t think we will find any in our yard and she is so disappointed every time she turns up nothing.  So I decided to try out this dinosaur “fossils” activity I saw on Pinterest.  She had a blast but if I ever do it again I definitely need to get a wider variety of dinosaurs. Most of the ones we had were triceratops and just one velociraptor.

Making the rocks was pretty easy.  It ended up looking like this:

Rock mix

And then I wrapped the plastic dinosaurs I picked up from the Dollar Tree in the goop and laid them out in the sun to dry. They did kind of look like piles of poop initially so I had to warn my dad not to toss them out!  I turned them over after one day so the bottoms wouldn’t be too flat.  They were dry enough to remold into a rockish shape.

Dinosaur Eggs

I let them dry for about 2.5 days before my daughter was too impatient to wait any longer. They were solid enough as long as you weren’t really squeezing hard to purposely squish them.

Dry rocks

I buried them around her sand box and then let her go exploring and digging to find them.

Digging for dinosaursDiscovery!

and then she had a ton of fun cracking them open.

Uncovering the dinosaur

Once all eggs were found and cracked open we took the dinosaurs over to the “dino wash” to get the rest of the remaining pieces of rock that was stuck on the dinosaurs. Luckily we have this big wading pool that is filled with water that I’ve been trying to use up watering plants over for activities like this so it’s not a waste to just dump it all out.

Dino washDino wash 2

Dino wash 3

And then of course came the playing with the dinosaurs in their under water world.

Dino play

These were really easy to make and it kept her busy and happy that she finally got to dig up dinosaurs!

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

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
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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

March 23, 2012

Miss Fox’s Class Shapes Up by Eileen Spinelli & Outing to Coyote Hills Park

Miss Fox's Class Shapes Up by Eileen Spinelli

Our local library system was celebrating Art IS Education this month.

As part of Art IS Education, Alameda County Library is presenting 50 free arts events for youth and families. Many of these events focus on the theme “Creating a Better Future Together” encouraging library patrons young and old to explore through the arts ways we can create healthy lives, thriving families, peaceful communities and a green planet.

One of the resources they provided was a list of books that helped support the ideas about exercising, the environment and different types of art.  Several of them looks interesting and since my 4 year old’s preschool recently finished their “Race For Education” run and my daughter is excited about exercising I had to check this one out.  It starts off with Miss Fox noticing her students are so tired they fall asleep in class, have a hard time climbing up stairs and are not eating healthy foods.  She makes a decision to try and help her class shape up.  They talk about things the students can do to help each other and activities they can do at home with their families to become healthier.

I really enjoyed reading this with my daughter because we have been cutting back on the amount of TV she watches and she has been complaining about why.  Between reading this book and watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid (I know it’s a tv show but all in moderation right?) about how your body needs to exercise to stay healthy she has become much more cooperative.  She also finds it funny how one student doesn’t want to eat carrots as a healthy snacks because those are one my daughter’s favorite snacks.  Fortunately my daughter is pretty good about eating her vegetables so this isn’t an area we struggle in too much.

This was a fun book to read with my daughter and I am glad I came across it in the suggestion list from my library otherwise it’s not likely to have been one I would have picked up while browsing.

One of the activities the book mentions several times is riding your bicycle with your family.  Since we finally had a break in the rain I dragged my husband out of the house and told him we were taking the kids walking.  I wanted to take the kids to a park nearby called Coyote Hills because my daughter has a fascination with “mountains” (hills qualify as mountains in her mind so this park was perfect.) and it was a place I used to enjoy riding my bicycle before I had kids.

So off we went.  My daughter on her bicycle and I pushed our son in our jogging stroller.

Coyote Hills

I was impressed by how far she did manage to ride by herself and although she was getting tired we did make it to the picnic spot to have some lunch.

Coyote Hills-picnic

The kids caught their second wind and wanted to go hiking up the path above the picnic area.  It wasn’t the most stroller friendly so we ended leaving behind the stroller & bicycle hoping they would still be there when we came back.  At one point the path got too steep for my 20 month old so I did end up having to carry him (talk about getting exercise in!)

Once we reached the top of the peak there was a great view and the kids loved looking out at the water.  We could also see herds of sheep grazing on the other side of the hill which got my son really excited as he started to “baa” and yell “sheep, sheep!”.  We also found a couple lizards/salamanders? crawling around the rocks, several butterflies which my daughter loves and even a few turkey vultures flying around.

As we were afraid of our daughter was tuckered out by time we climbed back down and my husband ended up carrying her on his shoulders and carrying her bicycle back to the car.  I told him at least if we take them out here more often either our daughter’s stamina will increase enough for her to be able to ride longer or his stamina will increase enough that it’s not so tiring carrying her and her bicycle. 🙂

What are your favorite ways of enjoying the outdoors and getting the family to exercise together?

January 10, 2012

Potions Lab

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 8:00 am
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This winter has been amazingly mild and not much rain in comparison to past winters so the kids were bursting to go outside and play with water (one of their favorite activities).  It was still a tad cold so I decided to make a mini potions lab using some warm water, different containers and food coloring.

The spray bottles were something relatively new to them so of course they went for those first.  Kaitlyn sprayed the water into the empty container and we compared the sound it made hitting the empty container vs when it started to fill up and was hitting water.

That was too slow for both kids so I uncapped the rest of the containers and let them start mixing things up.  I had a recycled Nesquik milk bottle, an empty olive oil plastic bottle, a plastic Snapple drink bottle, a condiment bottle and then gave them a couple funnels, a colander, mixing bowl and plastic eye droppers that my brother and his wife gave Kaitlyn for Christmas.  Both kids quickly got into the spirit of mixing the colors together and I found it funny that Michael kept insisting on trying to put the top of the eye dropper into the water instead of the tip.  Every once in awhile he would squeeze it just right that a jet of water would shoot out and spray someone without him even realizing it.

Kaitlyn initially started off mixing the colors slowly to see how the color would change but eventually it just turned into how fast could she start transferring water from one container to another.

The condiment bottle was another favorite as Kaitlyn found if she squeezed it really hard the water would shoot out really fast.

As always happens all the water ends up mixed together in one container and we were wrapping up the play when Kaitlyn begged to do the volcano experiment again.  Since daddy missed out the last time we did it she called him over and showed him how it worked.

Then the kids got a few more splashes in and off to the bath tub they went since the volcano experiment called for vinegar and both kids had hands that reeked of it.

January 9, 2012

Get Out and Play-Outdoor version of “angry birds”

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 5:42 am
Tags: , , ,

Since my parents bought our family an iPad2 for a group Christmas gift Kaitlyn has been hooked on Angry Birds.  I don’t want her to spend too much time on the computer and she loves being outside so I was trying to think of a fun way to bring Angry Birds to her without being in front of a computer screen.  Well, remember those cardboard boxes I mentioned that we had piled up from my online Christmas shopping?  They wouldn’t all fit in the recycling bin so they were piled up outside waiting for the next pick up.  I decided to start stacking them up and placing some of the kids’ foam bowling pins on them and let them have at it.

She loved it and was so excited.  She even got into making her own set ups with the boxes and pins.

My son also really got into it as he started off innocently enough picking up the balls she threw…

Then he decided it was a fun obstacle course…

Then it quickly turned into could Kaitlyn knock down the pins before he disassembled the boxes and ran off with the pins and boxes?

It was so much fun to do and it kept the kids occupied for a long time.  So if you need something to get the kids outside and away from the computer why not give it a try?  I think I’m actually going to miss the cardboard boxes when they are gone.

January 3, 2012

Clean Mud Outdoor Activity

Filed under: Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 2:30 pm
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I saw this pin about clean mud on Pinterest so had to try it out since my kids love to get down and dirty in the mud but of course it’s…well…dirty.  We never did get it to feel just like mud in my opinion (maybe not enough toilet paper?) but the kids still had a blast.  All we needed was a couple bins, water, dish detergent and toilet paper.  It did pain me to use toilet paper but they ended up not using very much and still had a great time.

I started each one out with their own tub so there wouldn’t be any arguing.

My son didn’t know what to make of the wet toilet paper and kept squishing it and throwing it out onto the grass which was kind of cute and funny to watch.

Since it was the holidays I decided to add a little Christmas cheer with food coloring.

Just in case you missed it I have to stress this is definitely an outdoor activity because as you can expect eventually they start pouring the water back & forth. So I gave them a bottle and a funnel for added fun.

Then of course you end up with this…

Which is not necessarily a bad thing because then they thought it was fun to “clean” the patio.

We ended the outdoor play with me spraying the patio down with a hose and the two of them running in front of the hose and getting soaking wet.  So I had to strip them down and take them straight into a warm bath.  So maybe a good idea if you need to get your kids into the bath tub 🙂

January 2, 2012

Going on a nature walk & There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves

For the holidays one of the great gifts my brother and his wife gave my daughter was this set of jumbo magnifiers from Discount School Supplies.

Kaitlyn was excited to use them so I took her and my 18 month old out on a “nature walk” around the neighborhood.  I took an empty 18 egg carton and painted different colors in each well (sorry, it was a rush so didn’t take any pictures).  We took that along with us, the magnifiers and a bucket and went seeking out things that were the color of each well.  I was amazed how much fun the kids had.  My 18 month old loved the magnifier and one thing I have to say about them is that they certainly are sturdy.  He fell down probably a dozen times and the thing never broke and he never let go of it.  The other thing that surprised me was that we weren’t able to find a single blue thing other than litter.  I guess maybe in the spring we might be able to find blue flowers.  Kaitlyn did have fun being silly by jumping in the air to try and pick some pieces of sky out of the air for her blue well. 🙂

When we got home the kids had a blast looking through all the things we picked up and comparing how they felt, the colors and textures.

We spent some time talking about how many different shapes of leaves there were and how they ranged in color from white, yellow, red, brown and green.

She has asked to go on another nature walk soon so I have to figure out what our next “hunt” will be for.  I can’t wait for spring when we can go searching for how many different types of flowers we can find.

On the book front related to leaves we have been reading There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves during bed time.

It’s a part of the same series as the old lady who swallowed a fly and a bell.  It was another fun read and Kaitlyn was laughing on our nature walk about how if we ate all the leaves we saw we would have a big ol’ belly like the lady in “that book”.

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