Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Memorial Day: Peach Picking

I just love the opportunity to discover fun, family-oriented day trips around Austin! This Memorial Day we took a trip out to Fredericksburg, a rural, historic German area known for their delicious peaches.This peach season was a little sparse due to a bad freeze earlier in April, but we were still able to find Pesnik Farms, a u-pick orchard with plenty of peaches to pick. M carried the basket and thoroughly enjoyed picking the peaches that were low enough for her to reach. Once she discovered that she could also EAT the peaches, her enthusiasm knew no bounds! (It was hard to keep her from taking a bite out of each and every peach in her basket)I'm very much looking forward to making a juicy cobbler out of these peaches.
After we had picked our peaches and chatted with the farmer for a little bit, we headed into town to an old German bakery for lunch. With our stomachs full of German pancakes, reuben sandwiches, and German pastries, we sauntered back out into the town and of course, couldn't resist stopping in at into a used bookstore where the books were all 30% off.
A very nice afternoon for our family!

Sorting Letters

I still had a lot of foam sticker letters left over from another project, and the other day I found a new use for them. I labeled several disposable cups with common letters, separated those particular letters from the rest of the foam alphabet and let M sort them.

For some reason, sorting is still more of a challenge for M than simple, one-to-one matching; so this activity took a little work for M to catch on. In the end, though, it seemed worthwhile.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fun with the hose

Who needs a swimming pool? M had about 45 minutes worth of fun the other day playing with the hose (I turned it on very low) and filling up my empty flower pots.
And what's more-- I was able to get a lot done at the same time! I set up my ironing board on the deck and finished ironing a slew of my husband's dress shirts while she played- a great afternoon!We did have one casualty, though I'm afraid. Unbeknownst to me, M sneaked out her favorite stuffed doggie and gave him a "bath." He had to spend about 2 days drying in the sun!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dandelion Moneymaker for Kids

Is your lawn plagued with pesky dandelions? You could do what my dad did when we were growing up and pay your children to pick them. It solved a problem for him and gave us something fun and profitable to do during the summer!

My dad started out paying us a penny per dandelion, but after the first year, our zeal for the task increased and he had to lower the wage to 1/2 a penny per dandelion to keep us from running off with a fortune! (We had discovered that if you dig deep enough down into the dandelion plant, you can find dozens and dozens of buds at the base waiting to spring up- you can imagine what a goldmine we thought we had found once we made the discovery :-)

Have you come up with paid tasks that you find work well for both you and your children? I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shape and Letter Coloring

Today's educational activity involved multiple skills. On one page I drew the outlines of different shapes that M would recognize- each with a different color marker. This is how our interaction went:

Me: M, can you find the (heart)?
M points
Me: That's right. What color is it?
M: (red)
Me: (Red!) That's right. Can you find the (red) marker?
M points
Me: That's right. Now, can you color the (red) (heart) with the (red) marker?
M takes off the lid and scribbles on the (red) (heart) outline.

We did the same thing with a second page- only that time the page was filled with the outlines of different colored letters.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Upside Down Tomato Plant

Growing Great Kids shows you how to recycle an old pop bottle to be an upside down tomato planter. What a fun family activity!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Homemade Book: A Little Girl's Counting Book

I'm so thankful the Lord has given me girls. (2 so far- including my little one due in July). I just love making little girl things!

Here is my latest homemade book- a way for M to practice counting one through three. Recently, she started distinguishing between groups of one and two items. I thought maybe I could help her also recognize three things with a little practice.

Each page asks her to pick the picture with either one, two, or three of something. M's job is to lift up the correct picture. If she chooses correctly, there is a yellow star with that number in it. If she picks the wrong picture, she doesn't see anything when she lifts up the flap.

So far, she hasn't really caught on. We'll keep trying though because she really enjoys the book and all the pictures even though it is a little of a challenge for her to get the questions right.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Roly Poly Bugs

Do you have bugs that look like this near your home? Probably. They're pretty common little creatures. Why not take your toddler out to the yard, lift up a few rocks, and show them what this little bug can do?

Yesterday M and I spent about twenty minutes gently poking the bugs so that they turned into little balls. (I used a little stick, but M hasn't figured out that it's gross to touch bugs with your finger yet) Each time they rolled up, M pointed, shouted "Ball!" and hurried and look for more bugs to transform. Fun!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big and Little Bins

Lately M has been catching on to the concept of "big" and "little." (This is generally a fun thing; of course, there are those exceptions like the day when she decided to randomly point to her stomach, saying "little tummy" and then my own, with the solemn declaration "big tummy." :-)

Yesterday we tried a new activity using the big and little concept. I took 3 nesting blocks and labeled them "little," "bigger," and "biggest." Then I walked around the house and gathered up things that were similar but came in three different sizes (spice bottles, hairbows, stuffed animals, etc).

For each set of three, I asked M "Which (bunny) is little? Put the little bunny in the little box." "Which (bunny) is bigger?" "Which bunny is biggest?", etc. Little and Biggest were no problem at all, but Bigger was confusing. It was generally a good activity; so I might do it again sometime, but if I do I will either just use two boxes or I will label the middle one "medium" and spend some time working on that concept.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Homemade Book: Can you find the letter?

(Notice the pretty sheep painting on the front- that's a copy of an original painting that my sister did for M's sheep-themed nursery)

I just know you'll want to take a look at this book my mom made and sent to M recently!

Each page has a different letter for M to look for and point out as it appears in lots of different words. M is at just the right stage to be able to be successful at this skill and to enjoy it.
At the end of the book there is a section for M to point to the word that starts with a particular letter. This skill still confuses her, but it's good to have something challenging there too; I've seen plenty of times how we'll go over and over something that seems to totally go over her head, but then one day it just "clicks!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spoon Skills

New activities can sometimes frustrate M when she isn't able to do them right away. It's hard to know at times whether or not to encourage her to persevere or to put the activity away and save it for another time.

It was really fun recently, though, to see M initially frustrated with a skill and then figure it out and come to really, really enjoy it at the end.

To help M practice her "spoon skills" I set up two big pans, one of them filled with assorted play foods. I supplied her with a big spoon and asked her to transfer individual items from one pan to the other. She got such a kick out of "catching" oranges, pears, and canned beans and was so triumphant when she had transferred the entire batch.