Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

September 6, 2012

Sight Words Showdown

Filed under: Learning,Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 9:06 pm
Tags: ,

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

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.

May 19, 2012

Digging for Dinosaurs

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

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

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).

December 5, 2011

Moon, craters and getting down and dirty

Ever since my daughter got the book Eight Spinning Planets by Brian James & Russel Benfanti she has been asking me lots of questions about space, the planets, moon, etc that I just can’t remember the answers to.  So where do I turn when I need help?  The library!  We took and trip and browsed through their  astronomy books and she picked out a few along with a couple about the Earth in particular.  Then of course she started begging for some “observation” activities.  Just as a warning this one means letting the kids get down right and dirty.

Here were our favorite books we picked up:

Atlas of the Universe by Mark Garlick: Believe it or not she picked this one out herself. I tried to tell her it was more for adults (she’s 4) but she insisted and we picked it up about 3 weeks ago we have been reading a few pages every night at bed time and she loves it.  I don’t think she understands it all but everything in it just amazes her.

The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: This one talks about the planets and is much more kid friendly.  The only word of warning is that it’s on the older side and still talks about Pluto being a planet.  My daughter and I have already talked about how Pluto is no longer a planet so it didn’t really confuse her although she does feel bad that it’s no longer a planet.

What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: After talking about the planets, orbits and rotation she wanted to know more about why we have night and day and this was a nice book to go through.  Of course since it mentions the moon so often she started asking about craters, visiting the moon, etc.

Earth by Christine Taylor-Butler: This one talks about what the Earth is made of, the continents, volcanos, etc.

After reading all these books she really wanted to do some sort of experiment or observation.  Luckily I stumbled across this activity about recreating craters on the moon’s surface on I think it was Pinterest.  It coincided nicely with my daughter’s latest request to experiment to see what flour mixed with flour would feel like.

First I filled up one of our bins with a couple cups of flour:

Then added a layer of cocoa for some contrast (note for future reference: I left the cocoa kind fo pebbly but I think it might be better to smooth it out before starting the comet portion):

Next we found balls of different sizes and weights to try to see what different size craters they would make when they “impacted our moon”.

We observed how when they hit the “surface” it kicked up a cloud of dust into the air and talked about how this could stay in the air for a really long time.  We also looked at the different size dents and how deep the dents were when we dropped the different size balls.  She dropped them over and over to see how the craters would start to overlap and how it started to look like the surface of the moon.

Then we moved on to the seeing what water and flour mixed together felt like so I thought it prudent to move it outside.  Thank goodness I did.  First off it was great weather and we actually had a great view of the moon and talked about how the different colors were actually craters on the moon.

Then came the dirty phase of fun. Even my 16 month old had a blast.  I gave them a few things out of the kitchen: funnels, measuring cups, bowls, a strainer, etc.

My daughter really enjoyed feeling how gooey the mixture was and talked about how it was a “chocolate lake” (for those with kids who love Dora I’m sure you know what she was referring to.)

Once everything was nice and wet and gooey my daughter decided to see what would happen when our “comets” and “meteors” landed in water.  My son loved helping with this part as you can see.

All in all they both had a lot of fun and I think my daughter is finally satisfied with how all those craters on the moon were created.

December 2, 2011

Friday Finds 12/2/11

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books,DIY — by dsuzuki @ 11:44 pm
Tags: , , ,

Some of you may know I have a serious Pinterest addiction.  There are a ton of things I want to try but between work, the two kids, the two blogs, etc there just isn’t enough time.  So I just wanted to show case some of the great things I’ve stumbled upon and hope to try one day.  Let me know if you have tried them out yourself and what you thought.

Snow Playdoh

Homemade Glitter

Glitter Playdoh

Starry Night Glitter Jar

Busy Wallet-fill with items for kids-what a good idea!

Use old dresser as a dress up storage

Busy board for the little ones

November 4, 2011

Sounding out letters

I was fortunate to have scored an awesome deal on a National Geographic Little Kids subscription awhile back for just $5 (these deals seem to come around quite often so I would keep an eye out if you want one) and it was totally worth it.  My 4 year old loves the little magazines and will sit there with me until we have gone through every page.  They are filled with lots of interesting information like her favorite one right now is about glaciers and icebergs.  There are also cards that you can tear out that show a picture of an animal and the flip side has some facts about the animal written on them.  It’s amazing how much of this information they retain.

She’s also been learning her zoophonics and really getting into sounding out words so there’s the perfect activity where they show pictures of various items and write out the word but is missing the first letter.  She has been improving on this activity and mostly has a hard time figuring out what starts with a “k” vs a “c”.

We were sitting in the play room the other night and she starts pulling out random items from the cabinet where I store things I want to use in future craft activities and wanted me to make something for her.  I was exhausted from days of non-stop meetings at work so I threw together this not so impressive egg carton game for her.

I was initially thinking she could find small things that started with each letter and put them in the carton but quickly found that most of the stuff in our play room was much too large to fit in the carton.  Despite that I was surprised by how much she enjoyed this activity. She had so much fun running around trying to find an item that started with each letter like:

Her bean bag chair “L”adybug

A “F”rog toy

A “T”urtle and “N” was a hard one but she finally came up with…

Her “N”ose!

After she found something that started with each letter in the egg carton we went through again and this time tried to find something that was the same color as the letters in the carton.  She found yellow star stickers, green wheels, a blue book, etc.

I’m thinking when I have more time I may print out pictures of animals and have her sort those based on the first letter or take her outside and have her find things out there to match up with the letters.  There is an endless list of possibilities and as long as she’s having fun why not.  At least it’s a free form of entertainment that keeps her away from the TV!

November 2, 2011

Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley + Felt Activity

We borrowed this book countless numbers of times from the library and I finally got tired of having to request it and having my daughter ask every day if it had arrived yet so I bought a copy for her.  It’s a great book for those with little ones that are afraid of monsters which my daughter has started lately during bed time.  Each page has a die cut of a different feature of the monster’s face until you built the entire face and then you start telling the scraggly purple hair, sharp white teeth, etc to go away until you finally send the entire monster away and tell it to not come back “until I say so!”.  Kaitlyn loves reading it and it never fails to gain a giggle.  Still we were having trouble with her fear of monsters at night so I was debating what could I do to help.

I came across this post on Pinterest that had a pattern for making your own cut out of the big green monster and thought it would be a great activity for Kaitlyn.  Fortunately I had left over pieces of felt from when I made her turtle and hedgehog pillows that I could use for this activity.  It worked out great!  She had so much fun putting together the face.

Then she made the face go away:

And then we had some fun building our own monster faces with freckles, necklaces, red hair, drooling purple mouth, etc. and telling all of them to go away.

This was a wonderful activity that kept her busy and let her use her imagination to create whatever she wanted over and over with no waste unlike stickers or gluing scraps of paper together.  I’ve stored the pieces in a baggie to pull out for her.  In fact I think it would make a great busy bag to take to a restaurant or other places that I need to keep her occupied.

The best part was at bed time we went over if she thought she saw any monsters what was she supposed to do?  Tell them to go away and don’t come back!  Actually acting out the book added this whole new level of depth to the concept and seemed to sink in for her.