Sunday, September 30, 2007

Making homework fun - ideas for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders

Off the path from pre-school activities, I wanted to share a fun way I've found to help my 1st and 3rd graders study for their spelling tests: A WORD SEARCH PUZZLE. I found it here and it's completely free. Simply type in their weekly spelling words, and make a different puzzle for every night of the week.

I've found that my girls enjoy working the puzzles, and it familiarizes them with their spelling words. They don't even realize they're learning!

There's also a free CROSSWORD PUZZLE MAKER . I use this for helping my 5th grader Drake study for a test. I spend a few minutes going through the chapter, find the important words and concepts that he will likely find on his social studies or science tests, and phrase a question or type the definition of the term. He needs to answer the question to fill in the blank on the crossword puzzle. Again, he's practicing and learning, and enjoying the challenge!

I make a different puzzle for him to work on for two or three nights before his test. It's done wonders for his test scores!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Circles are EVERYWHERE!

The kids didn't have school yesterday, so we went to the library. I thought while we were there we'd look for a book about shapes, but we saw so many circles on the way to the library, that I took lots of pictures and decided to make Luke his very own CIRCLE book.Before we even pulled out of the driveway, Luke looked up at the basketball hoop and shouted "circle!" (What an interesting way of looking at it!) Getting into the van, he pointed at the ignition and shouted "circle!" Along the way, we had to stop when Luke saw a large round bale of hay. Then, while sitting at a stop light, which last week he called "red" he now saw the red light as a circle. The library has a beautiful tower clock on it, shaped like a circle. And while we were at the library Quinn and I played a game of checkers (circles) while Luke "cooked" me lunch on the toy kitchen and served it to me on a circle plate.Who knew there were so many circles out there!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shapes Puzzle

We're having fun with circle shapes today, starting with this neat circle shape puzzle I created on my computer, using one of my graphics programs.

I made this beautiful flower, using many different colors of circles, then I printed two copies of it.

One copy I left intact. The second copy, I cut out all the circles.

One by one, naming the colors as we went ("yellow circle," purple circle," "red circle," etc.), Luke laid the various colored circles on top of the matching circles.
I also cut out the stem (rectangle) and leaves (triangles), but 2 year-old Luke had a bit of trouble matching up the leaves. So I tossed them, and today we just concentrated on the circles.

Want a copy of my circle puzzle flower to print out? Just send me an charge. I'll email a copy for you to print yourself.

Circle Cookies

I'll admit it...I've had a craving for homemade chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to figure out how to incorporate cooking-baking into some kind of lesson with almost 3-year old Luke.

Circles! That's it! Cookies are shaped like circles!

So, we took a detour from colors (a much needed detour, because I think Luke was tiring of our color hunts) and are concentrating on shapes for a while. Starting with the circle.

We baked yummy circle cookies.

Hmmmmmm! Yummy! The best circle cookies we've ever tasted! And such a fun and delicious way to learn our shapes.


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

Yesterday afternoon, while I was working, Luke was playing with his cars on the living room floor.

I heard him talking to himself while he was playing, so I stopped to listen. "Red light. Stop," he said. "Green light, go now."

I was so excited and proud! I stopped what I was doing, crawled down on the floor with him, and played.

He truly is learning his colors.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Sorting Game - Teaching Colors

Today we played the "sorting game" to get more practice with the color yellow.
I filled a bowl with an assortment of different color Legos. Then, using one of the yellow napkins that Luke and I bought at the store last week on our yellow hunt, we removed the Legos, one-by-one, from the bowl.
If the Lego was yellow, we said "YELLOW!" and placed it on the yellow napkin. If it was any other color, we set it on the white paper plate.
When we were finished sorting, we counted all the yellow Legos as we put them back into the bowl.
Then---what else?---we played with Legos!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yellow, yellow, everywhere!

Luke and I were playing outside yesterday, when he excitedly yelled, "Mommy! A yellow butterfly!" (Okay, he didn't actually say "butterfly" it was more like "flutterby.")

I couldn't believe when I looked where he was pointing and there sat a small yellow....well, is it a moth? We'll call it a butterfly.

I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few shots.

It's amazing how many yellow things you can find when you focus on one single color.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A yellow train!

I couldn't believe our luck! While out running errands yesterday, we were stopped by a train...a YELLOW TRAIN!
I was so glad I had my camera with me, and Luke was so excited to see a yellow train.
It's really amazing how quickly Luke is learning his colors just by focusing on one color at a time.
Yellow has been more difficult, however, and I think we'll concentrate on yellow for another week before we move on to learning another color.

Fun Child Learning Activities - Colors

We took our fun color learning activities outside, when, while driving, Luke spotted yellow flowers out the car window.

I found a safe place to pull over, and Luke picked some yellow flowers for me.

He was so proud when I put them in a jar and placed them prominently on the kitchen table for all to see.


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Yellow Jello

As we continued our learning activities about the color yellow, a trip to the grocery store was in order.

I can't personally imagine any other reason in the world to purchase a box of yellow jello! And while we were there, we bought yellow plates and yellow plastic cups, too.

We also took lots of fun pictures of yellow fruits and vegetables, yellow mustard, and even yellow Sponge Bob Square Pants halloween candy buckets.

Even though Luke didn't like eating the yellow jello (he did try it, but quickly spit it out), we had fun "cooking" it together. And he was more than amazed when, several hours after putting it in the refrigerator, it was no longer water!

I couldn't talk anyone else in the family into eating the yellow jello, either.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Learning Lellow

Yellow is such a difficult word for small children to say, so in addition to learning to recognize this color, we're going to work on saying in correctly, too.

Yesterday, we took Brandon and his friend to the train station to catch a train to Chicago to catch the Cubs/Cardinals game (Cubs won, by the way :).

I wanted to catch some pictures of Luke with Brandon next to the train, but Luke got pretty nervous when it came into the station and didn't want to get anywhere near the train....he just wanted mommy to "hold me!"

We didn't have any problem with the instructions over the loud speaker to "stay behind the YELLOW line."

However, although Luke decided to assert some independence and not pose for pictures for mom, I did manage to snap a quick shot of him doing a Power Ranger move next to a bright yellow pole.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Learning our colors - Red

With the weather being wet and rainy the last two days of Red Week, we turned to inside activities to learn the color red.

Our "red hunt" was a blast! We took a shopping bag and walked through the house collecting red items: We found a red apple in the refrigerator, we found a red towel in the bathroom, and the toy box was a treasure trove of red cars! We found a red pillow, a red comb, and Brandon's red car sitting in the driveway (except we couldn't figure out how to fit that in our bag!)

After the hunt, we got out the coloring book and crayons we received from the firefighters we visited a few days ago, and colored this great big fire truck picture.

Another fun week, filled with lots of fun activities for spending time with 2-year old Luke, while also learning all about the color red.

We're thinking yellow will be the color next week....


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Friday, September 7, 2007

Field Trip Rain-Out

We tried our best to make it to the playground with the red slide and the red playground equipment, but we got rained out.

We drive by this playground every morning taking the big kids to school, so Luke and I decided it would be a fun place to visit during red week.

Minutes before we arrived, it started sprinkling, and I told Luke we might have to go to the red slide another day because it was going to be wet. But Luke thought about it a second and then announced, "I know! We can take a napkin to dry the water off the slide!"

He was so certain this would work, and I always have an extra stash of McDonald's napkins in the glove box, so we decided to give it a try.

Well, as soon as we parked the car, the downpour began in earnest. He did climb quickly to the top of the play structure, but even his napkin wasn't enough to dry the slide, so he refused to slide down it, fearing his pants would get too wet.

I got one quick picture before we ran back to the van.

We'll have to make a rain date for the red slide outing....


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Our RED field trip

I decided that RED week wouldn't be complete without a trip to our local fire station to check out the big red fire trucks!

Luke and I stopped by the Pekin, Illinois Fire Department completely unannounced, and were treated like royalty!

Luke got a chance to climb on every single fire truck. The fire fighters got a kick out of how excited he was, and kept asking him "what color is THIS truck?"

When we left, Luke received a "Jr. Firefighter" badge, a red plastic firefighter hat, some stickers, a firefighter baseball ("strike out fire!), and a coloring book, so he can color his own red fire trucks.

Such a fun time!


Seeing Red

This week is RED week, and are we ever seeing red!
Yesterday, we did the usual errand runs, and had fun at WalMart picking out red apples and red peppers and red towels and red shirts and red trucks and red trucks and red trucks (Luke LOVES trucks!).
But by far, my favorite picture was this one of my little male model posing next to a red fire hydrant.
I swear, I didn't tell him to pose that way....he's just had his picture taken so many times in the past week and half, that he walked right up to this bright red fire hydrant, leaned provocatively against it, and said "Okay, mom, take my picture."
What a ham!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Teaching the kids about money management

Fancy title "teaching the kids about money management" -- actually, we just went garage-sale-ing!

Saturday was a nice day, and Jack was out of town. The kids were super helpful doing their chores without too much complaining, so when I doled out the weekly allowance, I added an extra $3 to each of their open hands and announced we were going to check out some garage sales.

Well, you would have thought I told them we were going to Disney World! They were so excited they could barely contain themselves!

We soon set out looking for signs to guide us to untold treasures.

Here were the rules: Each child had $3.00 to spend. If you spent it all at the first stop, you'd have no more to spend if you found something you liked better later. So, you'd better love what you're buying, or pass. (That's where the "money management" comes in.....kind of like real life, isn't it?)

The first place we stopped was a treasure trove of free goodies (it was already 10:30 a.m., so many garage sell-ers were ready to start slashing prices, but I'd never seen one mark so many items FREE this early on a Saturday!) Analisa picked up an electric typewrite (*free*); Quinn grabbed a racquetball racket and a couple of tennis balls; I snagged some dishes (plates, bowls, cups....I keep thinking eventually 20-year old Brandon WILL move out!).

Quinn was the first to go broke, and was extremely disappointed when the shopping continued but she had no money. However, she had acquired some fun a dancing gorilla, and a tennis racket-shaped bug zapper (I thought it was a toy!), and a jewelry box.

Drake bought some great Jurassic Park Books, but then was disappointed and wished he'd held onto his money. But then he found a bubble umbrella (circa 1976) and an old wooden airplane, so he was happy.

Analisa, usually my spendthrift, was the big winner. At our last stop, she found a REAL telephone! The "old fashioned" kind with the rotary dial. I wasn't thinking clearly, since I'd spotted a gorgeous set of lamps for my newly painted bedroom marked down to just $3.50 for the pair, and I told her she could buy the phone. She's having a blast with it ("My very on phone!") but I think her friends' parents are tired of Analisa calling!

Luke came home with a toy amublance (which he calls a fire truck) and couldn't have been happier.

It was a fun morning, and I hope they learned a little bit about budgeting their money. Although they were all broke when it was over. Next time, I'll need to give them a lesson on saving some of their money....

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Green shirt, green paint, green clay

On the final day of "Green Week" I surprised Luke with a homemade "green" shirt! He didn't have a single green shirt in his closet, so, since I am the owner of I thought, duh! Make him a green shirt!

When he woke up in the morning, I surprised him with his new shirt, which was a simple white t-shirt with a green block in the center of it, and the word "green" on it. He was so excited....until I asked him to put it on. It took me several promptings to convince him to wear it, but once he had it on, he loved it!

Also today, we got out the green paint and the green clay and read his green book that we made earlier in the week.
I think with our next color, I'll use his artwork to make a t-shirt. Hopefully he'll be more inclined to wear it!