Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tissue Paper Crafts!

These were just too cute not to share, and it's such a cute craft idea for all ages, I had to blog about it.

Within two days, two of my children, 4 year old Luke, and 10 year old Analisa, brought home from school these adorable Thanksgiving turkeys. Using basically the same materials -- colored tissue paper, brown construction paper, and glue -- these two age groups created these fun turkeys.

Luke's turkey (on the left), involved his cutting out a pre-drawn turkey head, and then gluing it on a paper plate (with the center cut out), and then gluing several square-shaped pieces of tissue paper around the plate, like a wreath. He even colored in a yellow beak, and a couple of eyes.

Analisa, who is in 4th grade, took her project a bit further, and after cutting out her turkey breast and head and gluing it onto a piece of construction paper, she then "pinched" each piece of colored tissue paper before gluing it around her turkey, giving it a "feather" look.

A simple craft idea that kids of all ages can do! As a mother of 6, I know I'm always looking for ways to keep everyone entertained at the same time!



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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let the Errands Begin!

It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and already I feel like my errand list has doubled in size. The look on 4-year old Luke's face when I tell him we have to "run errands" almost breaks my heart. The constant in and out of the car seat, the constant "no, honey, that toy is not on our list of things to buy today", is almost more than either of us can take!

So yesterday, before we left, I decided to try to make it into a game. I told him he had a mission (his big brother loves 007, so he knows all about spy missions!).

I told Luke we had to go to three places. At the first stop (the big hardware store), his job was to find 4 (his favorite number) blue (his favorite color) items and point them out to me.

Next, we went to Hobby Lobby (one of my most favorite places). Luke's job at this stop was to find 4 ROUND items. He spotted a huge round mirror, a round pillow, a round Christmas ornament, and try as I might, I can't remember the last round item he spotted!

Finally, the grocery store. This was a longer stop, and so I had to come up with something that would keep him occupied longer, so I asked him to count how many people were in each aisle, then he had to find 4 "orange" items (the color changed each aisle) in that aisle, AND to tell me what aisle number we were in by looking at the sign hanging from the ceiling. Then, when it was time to checkout, he was to count how many people were in line ahead of us, and as each person ahead of us finished her transaction, he had to re-count (5-4-3-2-1!).

The errands were completed with no meltdowns, Luke felt proud of his accomplishments, and I even bought him some sugar-free gum to thank him for his hard work of counting and finding.

Just another day of learning....


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time: The Best Gift

It's always a struggle in our busy lives to find "quality" time to spend with our children. But all our children want is our attention and time....and they don't judge us on quality.

4 year old Luke's preschool is a firm believer in sharing time with our children; so much so, in fact, that several times a year his teacher sends home a Family Coupon Book that contains "coupons," each coupon listing a simple activity we can do with our child just to spend some time with him/her.

I'm listing this month's coupon ideas, because I think it shows how simple it is to share a few minutes of time with our pre-schoolers:
  • Make and drink some hot chocolate together
  • Make and eat some popcorn together
  • Draw a picture together
  • Sing a song together
  • Play at the park
  • Match mittens or socks together
  • Bake some cookies (and eat them, too!)
  • Write a letter to a friend, and take it to the post office
  • Play a game together
  • Set the table together

In spite of the crazy, hectic daily schedules we all call our lives, I've found through these coupon ideas that it's really a simple thing to spend some time with our pre-schoolers (oh, and you get to eat a lot, too!).


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Monday, November 17, 2008

It only takes a minute

So many people are shocked when they learn that I have 6 children...."how do you do it?" is a common question.

I won't say I never have bad days (just ask my kids!), but I try to be organized and that has been the key to my "success."

But busy as I am as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I've learned that we can teach our children through everyday activites that only take a few extra minutes of our time, especially if we include the "teaching" with the everyday activities that we're doing anyway!

Take laundry (PLEASE!!! Take ALL my laundry! I feel like I'm drowning in it some days!). 4-year old Luke likes to help me fold laundry, so I ask his assistance by having him sort the clothes. He makes a pile for each sibling and one for mom and dad, and one for the towels. You can't believe how much this actually helps me! Then when I start folding, I take one person at a time, and it seems so much simpler this way. Luke then likes to take his siblings' folded laundry and place it neatly on each person's bed (for that person to put away when s/he gets home from school). He also takes his folded clothes, which we've sorted into "shirts" "pants" "underwear & socks" and "pajamas" and he puts these away in the correct drawers in his bedroom.
Have fun!
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Let's Get Cooking!

My kids have all loved to help me in the kitchen....well, up until the age when I started requiring them to help me in the kitchen! But 4 year old Luke is destined to be a world renowned chef! He absolutely loves to cook. (And he absolutely MUST don is "Le Chef" apron before measuring the first ingredient.)

Admittedly, I often have to shoo him away because I'm in a hurry or because, quite honestly, it's not the easiest thing in the world to cook dinner when a 4 year old is measuring and stirring and helping!

But when I have time, he's so eager to jump up on a chair and help me read the recipe, and measure the ingredients, and stir everything together, then open the oven door while I put our creation into the oven.

Sometimes while we're working together, we talk about "WHY?"

  • "Why do you think we only put a little bit of salt in this recipe?"

  • "Why do you think we don't put peanut butter in the mashed potatoes?"

  • "Why do think we have to cook the lasagna before we eat it?"

We also talk about colors (what color is the pepper, what color is the flour, what color is the corn? why is the potato brown on the outside, and white on the inside?) and textures (does the egg feel gooey or soft?) and smells (why does sugar taste sweet, but smell so bad? Does the onion smell sweet?).

He's always so proud when the family sits down to eat a meal that he made. And I have to admit, after having the opportunity to spend that time with him, and seeing the smile on his face and the pride in his stance, my food always tastes a bit better.

If your little chef needs an apron, check out the designs available at You can even send me your child's artwork, and I can put that on an apron for you (or I can put it on an apron for Grandma!)

Bon appetit!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's Get Moving!

Another cold and rainy day meant finding some fun inside activities. But we're getting restless with not being able to go outside, and we wanted to MOVE!

Luke played "Follow the Leader" at pre-school today, and wanted to teach me how, so I let him lead the way.

The version of "Follow the Leader" we played was similar to "Simon Says" except that we were walking, and I was following behind him. We walked through the house, with him announcing "raise your hand" and I dutifully complied. "Jump on one foot!" "Turn around" "Scratch your head" "Look in the mirror and make a funny face" "Touch your toes" "Jump 4 times" (I told you 4 is his favorite number.) "Lay down on the floor and roll around" "Do a somersault" "Jump on the bed" (yes, I allowed this one today, for the sake of the game). We had such a good time, we collapsed into giggles (a mother's favorite sound).

Then it was my turn to lead, so I threw in some "rights" and "lefts", such as "Raise your left hand" and "Touch your right ear." Since Luke was behind me, he was able to mimic my moves, rather than standing in front of me, when his "rights" and "lefts" would have been mirrored.

I have a feeling this we'll be playing this game frequently this winter...

Have fun.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring our Veterans

I love that our community has an annual Veteran's Day Parade. Rain or shine (and today it was rain!), people line the streets and give tribute to some of the bravest, most honorable people to have walked the earth.

Many schools close today, but in our community, the children attend school and spend the day in celebration and remembrance, including participation in the parade.

Luke was excited to be riding on a float, waving his American flag, and singing patriotic songs.

I'm certain he didn't truly grasp the importance of what he was doing, but I hope that as he grows older, and learns more about his grandparents, and his uncles, and some of his older cousins, and the sacrifices they made for his freedom, that he will learn to appreciate the veterans, and will wave his flag with heartfelt pride.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sticky, smooth, cold, rough, flat, and soft

As promised, when Luke got off the bus today, I had an inside scavenger hunt ready for him.

I decided to break away from colors, and focus more on other physical characteristics, so I went with STICKY, SMOOTH, ROUGH, SOFT, FLAT, COLD and WARM.

I was really curious to see what he would find for each of these physical descriptions, and he didn't let me down!

I think the most fun was sticky....when he opened a piece of Halloween candy, put it in his mouth, then spit it out on his hands, announcing that his hands were now sticky!

He found the outside of the refrigerator smooth, and the inside cold. The top of his dresser was flat. His blankie was soft. The basket on the table was deemed rough.

He wanted to play more, so I threw in some shapes (triangle, rectangle, oval, circle, and square).

It's always so fun to play with our kids, and when they are learning in the process, it makes it even more rewarding.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Scavenger Hunt!

Today is another picture perfect day in Illinois....sunny, warm, absolutely not what one would expect in November!

Knowing that the cold rainy weather is on its way as early as tomorrow, when my pre-schooler hopped off the school bus today, I suggested that we sit out on the front porch for several minutes and enjoy the weather while he showed me his papers and told me about his adventures at school that day.

While we were talking, the falling leaves from the tree out front caught Luke's eye. He remarked, "Look, it's still Fall!" Which led naturally to a discussion about seasons, and that seasons are many weeks long, not like holidays, which are only one day. Our discussion then turned to things that we see in Fall, and the next thing you know, we had a list of things, including yellow leaves, and red leaves, and green leaves, and orange leaves, and nuts that fall from the trees, and sticks (small sticks, medium sticks, big sticks), and even rocks (small rocks, medium rocks, and big rocks).

With our list in one hand, and a bag in the other, we set off on a scavenger hunt to see if we could find everything on our list.

I think Luke most enjoyed finding the "big stick" which he insisted on dragging back to the house (although he was disappointed that I wouldn't let him bring it inside!).

When we returned to the porch, we looked through our treasures, and commented on the different sizes and shapes and colors.

It was a fun game, and Luke asked me if we could play it again tomorrow. Since the weather is turning cold and rainy, I'm thinking an inside scavenger hunt might be fun.....

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Importance of Voting

Today is election day.

As my kids have watched their television shows (i.e., Disney channel primarily), they have been told over and over about how important voting is in our country. In fact, I think it was the Disney Channel's website that actually had an online "election" where the kids could vote for either presidential candidate.

At school, my three grade schoolers (2d, 4th, and 6th) are voting in a mock election.

Voting is in the air!

I was thinking last night about my first venture to the voting booth. I'll admit it...I was terrified! I was afraid I would push the wrong button or completely mess something up. I was intimidated and absolutely certain that everyone else knew "how to do it."

So I decided I would take my children with me to the voting booth today and start familiarizing them with the voting process, so that as they eventually reach voting age, they will feel more comfortable. Plus, they're so eager that the candidate our family is voting for win, and the fact that this is such a monumental election, I thought it would be a great way to include them in a bit of history in the making.

Fortunately, we live in a very rural community, so when we arrived there were only 6 people in line ahead of us. As we walked through the line, the judges were so gracious as I explained to the kids about how they first ask for my identification, so they can first be sure it's me, and also to "cross my name off" because each person only gets one vote.

Next, they watched as the judge flipped through the book and found my voter registration form, and then asked me to sign the form so they could compare my signature to the signature on the form.

We stepped further down the line, where a very patient and kind judge explicitly explained the electronic voting procedure (we didn't have the option of a paper ballot this year), how to input the "secret 4-digit code" and then how to turn the wheel to select each candidate before pressing the vote button.

When at last we stepped into the voting booth, the kids gathered around, and watched closely to be sure I didn't make a mistake and vote for the wrong candidate! After all my selections were made, I pressed the "cast ballot" button, and we all double-checked the printed ballot that appeared, then, with their hands all on mine, I pressed the "cast ballot" button one last time and our vote was cast.

The kids then proudly wore their "I voted" stickers to school, and couldn't wait to share their story with all their friends.

On the way to school, I explained to them how privileged we are in America to have the right to vote. But I also explained to them that whichever candidate is elected, he will be our President, and even though that may not be the man we selected, he is definitely a person worthy to be president, and we should respect that he is in that position because of the "will of the people."

I just hope the excitement they are feeling today will stick with them as they mature into adulthood, and they will never forget that the freedom to vote for our candidate of choice is one of the many things that makes our country great.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun Activites for Everyday Learning

It's been a tumultuous several months as we've been dealing with trying to get a correct diagnosis for our now 12 year old son. Drake was "diagnosed" with ADHD at the age of 4, and was medicated for over 7 years. We're now closer to a true diagnosis (which appears to be Asperger Syndrome) and the past couple of months have been a roller coaster ride of emotions.

But, now it's time to get back to blogging and talking about fun pre-school learning activities!

Luke (who is now 4 and attending pre-school 3 hours a day) is growing and learning so much! But we always have time to squeeze in some learning in our everyday activities.

Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:

  • We were at a doctor's office last week, and Luke noticed the office number "4" on one of the doors (He's really into the number "4" now that he IS four!). We spent a few minutes walking up and down the hall pointing to each number and saying them out loud.... "1" "2" "3" "4" "5"!

  • Luke loves to sort things, so when I unload the dishwasher, I place all the silverware (that's not too sharp) on the table, and let him sort them, then put them away (this has also become one of his "chores" and he receives a weekly allowance for helping out).

  • We went for a walk and gathered leaves, then when we got home we separated them in various groups. First, we did colors (red, yellow, green, brown). Next, we did small, medium, large.

I've found that the best way to teach a pre-schooler is to keep it fun! And when I show an interest in sizes and shapes and colors, he is more excited to participate. Keep it positive....never push.


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