Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snowy Book Club: The Snowy Day, No Two Alike and Snowmen at Night

Our Mommy and Me Book Club is small (mostly because I wanted to include all the kids in Caroline's class at church and if we invited the class above or below her age, then, well, it would be huge.) Our numbers are usually 3 or 4 kids and their moms each week with the occasional 5-6 kid day and younger siblings thrown in too. I like it when there are 4-5 kids. More friends just make all the activities I plan more fun, I think! I loved having 2 newbies this week since Cl and Ce had never been before. They fit right into our play!

We started off with No Two Alike and the kids loved it! We talked about what makes US unique and special while still finding commonalities we share with others. An adorable book and the kiddos loved taking turns finding animals on the page. 
From that bird/snow book, it was a natural transition to felt/finger play: 
2 Little Blackbirds
Two Little Blackbirds sitting on a hill (hold 2 fingers in front of you, one from each hand)
One named Jack, one named Jill (lift one pointer finger and then the other)
Fly away Jack (hand behind back)
Fly away Jill (other hand behind back)
come back Jack (hand comes back to front)
come back Jill (other hand comes back)
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill. 
One named Jack, one named Jill.
 We did 3 verses (hill= jack and jill, cloud = quiet and loud, snow = fast and slow). It can be chanted or even sung.
The kids really got into this and loved doing the hand motions along with the poem. When I'm doing the felt I never take pictures, so this pic is afterwards during free play when the kids wanted to do the felt story themselves. 

Our next book was The Snowy Day. Some of the kids had read this book before and were quick to tell me how it ends (with the snowball melting in his pocket) before we even got to that point in the story. 
We sang "Snowflake, Snowflake, Little Snowflake" from Super Simple Songs (the video is adorable and you must go watch it with your kids if you haven't yet) and used our foam snowflakes to 
dance with while we sang. After they were sort of familiar with the song, each child got to choose where they wanted the snowflake to fall. We actually did this AGAIN when Gwen got home from Kinder. She wanted the snowflake to fall on her nose. :) (ps. Mommy, this photo is for you-- bc you said you wanted to see what she looks like with tooth #7 lost)
Of course, we had to have a snowstorm at the end with snowflakes falling everywhere!

Caroline tried to rescue the fallen flakes and put them back with their 'families'. :)

I was planning to read Snowmen at Night last, but actually ended up omitting it because the attention of the kids was waning (new kids and younger siblings, ya know. Gotta be flexible!). I opted to include Once There Was a Snowman song I'd planned to follow the book because I thought the kids would love it. And they did! I think we sang it 4 or 5 times! It was a great way to end the circle time.

They are melting... it happens a lot faster in song than in real life! :)

We made name snowmen for our craft (I guided their hands to write their names on each circle, then they glued them on and added snowman features and snow)

 I like that Caroline's snowman has feet... She is so funny!

  We finished off the book club with homemade frozen yogurt. The kids that got here early helped me make it and it was ready right about the time we were finished with everything. Perfect ending!

I loved the creativity displayed during free play--- Cl insisted that his train was driving through a snow storm. He wanted me to take a picture of his handy work. :)

We had a great time! I can hardly wait for our next book club on Penguins! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow: Chillin at Preschool

Appropriately, the weather provided us with snow this week to accompany our snow-themed preschool! 

We did some Upper and Lower case letter matching with this cute snowman I made. The letters attach with velcro. I observed that Caroline gravitated towards the easy ones (Ss Ww Oo Cc) and completely avoided the harder ones. Notice her little tongue there? She was thinking hard! I realized half way through that she really didn't KNOW all that many of her lower case letters or was mixing them up. At that point, rather than ask her to find and create her own matches, I put on the lower case, identified its name for her, had her repeat it back to me, then asked her to find the big one that goes with it. This version of the activity was much better received! I'm sure we can come back to it again for the harder version when she is ready. ;)

We have been working on her writing. Honestly, I don't expect anywhere near perfection here, I just want her to practice holding the utensil and get her hands used to making motions to create letters. Caroline really enjoys it when I guide her hand with mine, which we do often, but when I am holding Emmett during school, that doesn't work so well. :)

Sometimes the simplest math is the most fun! Caroline is really good at sorting. She likes to do it too and will begin sorting objects unprompted throughout the day. Tiny things in parades, toys on the shelf... and in this case, snowflakes. This was just a bag of cheap foam snowflakes that came in three different colors and two sizes. I first directed her to sort the sizes. Then we counted each pile and she had to declare which one had most and which had least. Then we repeated the activity sorting the colors into three piles. She loved this and was devastated later in the week when she had to share these foam snowflakes with friends at our Mommy and me book club!
I threw in a little science with pics of real snowflakes in large and micro pics for matching. I planned to use these with a magnifying glass to increase the 'scientist' authenticity, but last minute I couldn't find the mag. glass and didn't feel like venturing into the frigid garage to see if it is stored away in the summer box (since we used it all summer to look at bugs). I found the idea here, but opted to make my own with color to aide in the matching process (and because the artist in me is fascinated by the rainbow of colors in a single flake's crystals!). If anyone wants a copy for printing, I'm happy to send it. Just leave your email in the comments. ;)

For some reason, Caroline REALLY wanted me to take a picture of her socks... silly girl! :)

We read Snow (Rylant) (I love the poetic quality of the text and the warmth of the illustrations), Snow (Shulevitz) (we counted snowflakes on each page until there were too many), Owl Moon (which was a little too much text for Caroline, but she enjoyed the gorgeous illustrations), Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Frost--- DO look for the illustrated version by Susan Jeffers! What a great introduction to classical poetry!), Sneezy the Snowman (Caroline LOVED my silly melting voice and used it herself when she retold the story to me :), and Snowmen at Night (Gwen also loved this one-- they were both drawn to the pickle-nosed snowman in particular, which I found interesting). I didn't do Snowflake Bentley with Caroline because I didn't think she had the attention span for it, but for slightly older children it is a great snowflake science book that pairs beautifully with the large and teeny snowflake matching activity!

and of course, what could be more appropriate for gross motor than outside playing in the snow? We have done that a lot this week.

We continued the snow theme for book club, but I'll save those books and activities for another post. Hope you all are enjoying chillin with your loved ones!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Noah's Ark: Obedience and Follow the Prophet

There are soooo many things you could do with this lesson because Noah's Ark immediately interests kids---I'm certain it is the animals! :) But the biggest lesson, I think, is a reminder of the safety in obedience. Earlier this week Caroline and Gwen didn't obey me in the parking lot of the library and I was very upset about the dangerous situation they created. It seemed a perfect time to remind them that they don't need to understand 'why' before they obey--- they need to trust and obey. And really, they can trust mom/dad and Heavenly Father because the rules/commands are not given for any reason other than love. 

Song: Follow the Prophet
Scripture:  John 14:15
Lesson: Noah's Ark/Obedience and Follow the Prophet
Activity: ark reenactment
Dessert: 'rainbow' animal crackers

The felt set (available from Keeping Life Creative) was a big hit, though Caroline was pretty concerned that we couldn't fit all the animals 'inside' the ark. Therefore we piled them up on top and they got to ride out the flood on each others' shoulders! :)

Gwen had a strange interest in the scoffers who didn't listen to Noah's warnings. It was a great opportunity to talk about how God wants to protect us and we should obey even if we don't understand why right away. It didn't matter that the rain was not coming down yet or that the ark was constructed on dry ground--- it might have been hard to understand why then too! But if we trust Heavenly Father and remember His love for us, then we can put our faith in his commandments and in the prophets regardless of our personal skepticism. Perfect segue into obeying mommy and daddy even if you don't understand why-- because we want to keep them safe too!

We role played a bit and made the couch our ark. The kids retrieved as many animals from their room as they could and we were happy to ride out the flood together. I misted them with 'rain' and they loved it! Everyone agreed that we DEFINITELY want to be 'on the ark' in life!

Then both girls wanted a chance to make 'rain' so we made arks for the animals out of the kitchen chairs. I think spraying their critters might have been their favorite part of the evening!

My favorite part was the next day when they took the spray bottles outside and sprayed each other in 40 degree weather for almost an hour! I think I refilled those spray bottles about 7 or 8 times each! Who would have thought that the flood was the best part of the story for reenacting in frigid winter weather?

We finished our family night with animal crackers (a peanut butter smear allowed the girls to sprinkle some rainbows on top--- a symbol of Heavenly Father's covenant!)

It was a fun evening! The proof was in the week that followed: the girls were quick to obey (especially in parking lots!) and if they seemed to scoff a bit before complying, all I had to do was ask if they were choosing to be on the ark or off... and they ended up making the right decision every time! Love my kids!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Trains Preschool

I think trains are awesome! Who says trains are only for boys? When Gwen turned 3 she wanted a Thomas the Train birthday cake and carried around her toy trains all the time. They even got 'blinged' with her jewelry. I was pretty excited to have a week of trains for Caroline to enjoy in Pre-K!

Freight Train by Donald Crews is such a cool book! I love the illustrations and we had a great time saying "whoosh" every time the train roared past something. I got this free printable train from which is an amazing resource for free printables! It comes in color or b/w pdf. To save ink, I did b/w and just colored it in to match the book illustrations. 
After laminating and attaching felt, this train was perfect for learning through play! After reading the book we did memory recall and tried to put the trains in the correct order. Then we did color matching and threw in a couple fun train songs to round it all out. Both girls have asked to play with the felt trains repeatedly this week (which makes me feel great!)

Caroline got to make her own name train. This fine motor activity included cutting and gluing AND picking up all those little pieces to carry as cargo. Since she worked so hard, she needed to fuel her body with cheese and dark choco chips box cars carrying raisins down a carrot track! She loved it and such a simple snack makes the gratification even sweeter!

While I did this activity with Caroline, she only did a handful of letters before losing interest. When Gwen got home for Kindergarten, however, she was all over this activity like white on rice!

The printable ABC train was from Selma Dawani's Transportation Pack (a free download) that I can't seem to find online again. But she has a blog with other free things, so maybe it will pop up again in the future. 

Gwen correctly matched all the capital letters with their lowercase counterparts! We also enjoyed reading:

Hope you enjoy some fun train activities at your home!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adam and Eve: Choices Have Consequences

This year we are focusing on scripture stories and the values they teach for our family nights. A few weeks ago we started off with the Creation (it was 2015 goals night), but lest I get very behind, I'm going to skip to last week's lesson on Choice and Accountability using the story of Adam and Eve. 

Song: Choose the Right
Scripture:  Alma 37:35
Lesson: Adam and Eve/Choice and Consequence
Activity: choice/consequence matching game or chutes and ladders game
Dessert: fruit

I used the felt figures to tell the story, emphasizing that with every choice there is a consequence and that the best consequences always come from making choices to obey Heavenly Father. 

 Then the kids got to take a turn telling the story to me. Caroline was really excited to be the snake (which was just fine with Gwen, who wanted to be the trees) and she enjoyed using her 'bad guy' raspy voice to tempt Adam and Eve. 
I found these adorable printable Adam and Eve felt figures at Keeping Life Creative (free download at her Teachers Pay Teachers store). But since the printable only came with one tree, I paired it with this one from I like that the fruit is multicolored and non-specific so that the kids don't think it was definitely an apple! I saved it as a jpg and then edited it in word to enlarge the trees before printing. I also wanted to complete the story with expulsion from the Garden of Eden, so I made my own fur/leather clothing for Adam and Eve. Everything except the clothes is backed with felt. The clothes are 'worn' using clear velcro dots (one side is on the people, the matching half is on the back of the fig leaf clothing and fur clothing). 

I loved that the kids even seemed to pick up on the nuances of the story-- that families and learning through experience were essential components of Heavenly Father's plan for our happiness. Some deep thoughts here about free agency and Heavenly Father's omniscience. Not that I think they picked up on all of THAT, but at least it wasn't a shallow re-telling that cast Eve as the culprit. 

Then we played a little choice/consequence matching game that I made (simple illustrations, but they get the point across and gave the girls tangible life examples to help the concept sink in). Alternatively, could just play chutes and ladders. (Our FHE time is very short because of the time Eric gets home from work, so I opted to plan a much shorter game. Nothing worse than telling your little ones mid-ladder/slide that we'll have to put the game away now for bed time!)

Fruit makes a perfect snack to finish up! 

Gwen and Caroline both loved this FHE and wanted to keep playing with the Adam and Eve figures throughout the week. I still have to remind them (*constantly*) that choices have consequences, but I have hope in the promise that the Holy Spirit will carry the truth to their hearts. I want them to know they can turn to the Lord's Holy Scriptures to find truth to guide their lives and ultimately to point them towards their Savior. I love Him so much and want them to discover His love too!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Adore Chubby Babies

It is way harder than I anticipated to get these blog posts completed! Hang with me while I get a rhythm down for getting pics off my camera, editing them, uploading them, and then drafting fun entries!

I adore chubby babies! They just seem like pleasant little fat Buddhas to me. :) Luckily, I have one!
Emmett turned 4 months a couple of weeks ago and his stats qualify him for the Buddha category of cute!

4 month stats:
weight: 18 lb 4 oz (91%)
height: 25 1/4 in (49%)
head: 16 1/2 in (30%)
He wears 6-9 month clothes (here he is wearing a 9 month outfit-- fits perfectly around the waist, but a little long on his legs)
Side effect of a chubby baby is a good sleeper... and therefore a pleasant baby! Emmett is both! He didn't complain about being outside until he realized it was nap time. :)

He is very ticklish! Every time I change his clothes he just giggles and giggles. Here you can see his adorable rolls!
Emmett loves his sisters-- they can get him to laugh every time! Daddy and Mommy come in at a close second. He also loves milk and challenges me to keep him supplied adequately. When I am out and he isn't satisfied yet, he growls and complains at me, all the while gnawing as if that will make more milk appear. But he won't take a bottle (he doesn't get it. He just mouths it around with his tongue but never sucks). Therefore, we have spent the week practicing rice cereal and bananas. He is getting pretty good! Oh, and he is rolling over from back to tummy (but not the other way) like a pro now. :)

We love our sweet chubby Emmett!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Resolve to Record my Riveting Rowdy Rascals

 One of my resolutions this year is to pick back up on a journal. Too much of life has passed by in the past 2 years with scarcely a mention of specific memories. I find holes in my recollections and that saddens me. I started this blog to share pics with extended family. It turned into a journal. A place I can share experiences and testimony and have visual reminders of my progress and purpose (for those days when I wonder why I work so hard at being a mom)...and I think it is time to re-invite myself to keep this blog journal. 

I spend an exorbitant amount of time planning and preparing activities for my family. Whether it be preschool for Caroline:

Or engaging Family Home Evenings for all of us to enjoy:

I love doing this! It is fulfilling AND fun, exercise of talents AND weaknesses, and keeps my mind alive with ideas! 

But, I don't want to spend time during the day writing about memories instead of making them. So I hope to blog 3 times a week. I'll share my favorite FHE lessons/activities, my favorite preschool/kiddo activities, and maybe throw in a funny kid happening or field trip to round out our week. I hope this sounds fun to you all too! (feedback welcome!-- just be nice :)

That is my goal. Now it is achievable, measurable, written, and shared with anyone who reads here... so keep me accountable!