Monday, December 5, 2011

Pre-Dinner Art

This is what my kids were up to as I cooked dinner tonight:

V is getting to be quite the little artist, and J is quickly learning - she has long been proficient at solid shape figures (who needs stick figures anyway?).

Earlier today V was drawing "sword fish" and "whale sharks"... whose kid is this?!

J loves drawing her brother (and the way she says his name is absolutely adorable - I wish I could share).

Right now she is drawing "shrain shracks" can't you tell?

What do your kids do while you make dinner? Are you kids into drawing? Or something else? What is their favorite thing to draw?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 18, 2011

Co-op Preschool

A few moms from our LDS Congregation (ward) started a co-op preschool this year. None of us really have the money to send our kids to a preschool, nor would I really want to – I want to know exactly what is going on with my kids, and exactly who is teaching them. I know the moms pretty well, and our kids have played together for the last year since we moved in. We all have similar standards and I know my kids will be safe learning from them, and being with their children. Plus – once every few weeks, I get to teach them all!

The preschool was really easy for us to form. We met together and made a list of topics we want to cover. Then one of the moms made a schedule for us, rotating houses/moms each week. I put together a box of supplies (crayons, scissors, etc – we mostly all just donated a little of this and a little of that from our own supplies instead of purchasing supplies specifically for the preschool box – it worked out the best and was virtually free). The other mom bought a few posters (a calendar, the alphabet, etc) that we had laminated and put in the box to rotate homes.

Our schedule is really loose, and we’re not picky about anything – it’s preschool after all. We have our preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30am – 11:30am. We start with circle time where we talk about the calendar and the weather, and sing a few songs. Then we do coloring/activities for a number and a letter. Then we get into the lesson, and do some crafts or games. We also have snack time, then lay down for a few minutes, then we read books and have free play.

It’s pretty low key, and more than anything I think it just helps us feel like we are involved in getting our kids ready for Kindergarten (three of the four start Kindergarten next fall).

My favorite part is that I teach two days, and then I don’t teach again for a few weeks, and I get to send my high-energy four year old off to his friends house for a few hours two days a week. It’s such a fun thing because the kids love each other, and we moms only have to put in two days every four weeks or so. Basically the return on investment is very very high. I’m loving it!

Do you send your kids to preschool? Do you co-op with other moms? Do you just do it yourself at home? What kinds of things are you working on with your kids to get them ready for Kindergarten?

Thursday, November 17, 2011



Meet a Scrubbit!

IMG_0898This week in our co-op preschool we have been learning about personal hygiene. If you read my post on our Egg Teeth yesterday, you know that Tuesday we learned about brushing our teeth and washing our bodies (we even pantomimed taking a shower – it was fabulous – kids are awesome actors!)

Well, that left washing hands, taking care of our fingernails, and keeping our minds clean for today. IMG_0894For a craft, we made little Scrubbit creatures for the kids to put on their bathroom counters to remind them to “scrub it!”

Our co-op preschool is basically the 3 and 4 year old Sunday School class from our congregation, so since we are all Latter-Day Saints (LDS, or more commonly, Mormon), we do a lot of talking about gospel principles. Since the kids sang “The Lord Gave Me a Temple” in the Primary program last week, I thought it would be the perfect song for our theme this week. I was surprised at how well the kids remembered all the words! They never cease to amaze me, this little kids.

Want to make your own Scrubbit? First, go download Janeen Brady’s “Cleanliness” CD and book  - you won’t regret it. In fact, get all of her music (especially the “Standin’ Tall” series) it is the best, and I plan to get my kids very familiar with her music. Just kidding, you don’t have to do that first.

How to make a “Scrubbit”

IMG_0896Materials: You will need to grab some cheap sponges (I got six for about $2.50 at the big box store), some pipe cleaners, some pom poms, and of course, googly eyes. Also, you’ll need some glue – I used hot glue because it’s fast and easy (although I had to make sure none of the little munchkins got too close – they were pretty good about it).

Now turn on the music and have fun making these Scrubbits as the Scrubbits from the music teach your kids about hygiene!

IMG_0897Direction: Use something to poke holes in the sides and the bottom of the sponge – I used sharp, narrow scissors, but a chopstick, a pencil, really anything with a point would work fine. Cut the pipe cleaners into four pieces, even, or make the arms a little shorter, it doesn’t really matter. I let the kids shove the pipe cleaners in the sponge, but later I ended up hot gluing almost all of the arms and legs on, so you can decide which you want to do. Then glue on the eyes (some of the kids wanted pom poms under their googly eyes – I did what they wanted, it’s their Scrubbit, after all). After that I just let them loose with the markers. They had a blast drawing mustaches, ears, armpit hair (that one was my kid), and other fun accessories (including “boo boos”). I also glued pom poms on for feet, but you could use something else, or just leave the pipe cleaners.

What hygiene crafts have you done with your kids? Do they have a fun little friend that helps them “scrub it” when they are washing their hands, or brushing their teeth? Are you going make this craft? If you do, please share you photos!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way (and will not be compensated in any way) for mentioning Janeen Brady’s products in this post – I was raised on them and I believe in their effect on kids, and I use them with my own kids. I mentioned her products because I love them, and I think you will, too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Egg Teeth

In our co-op preschool this week, I am teaching the kids about hygiene.

On Tuesday we talked about brushing our teeth. As a sort of hands on experience (without having to make sure all the kids brought a toothbrush) I made some hard boiled eggs and had the kids draw on them with crayons (they picked their favorite foods and we pretended they were eating that food while we colored the eggs).

Later we took some old toothbrushes and some toothpaste and scrubbed those "teeth". It was fun to see the kids have to work pretty hard to get the "stains" off the "teeth" - I thunk they were surprised at how much work it really took to get the "teeth" clean. It was a fun object lesson for the kids, and I think we will definitely do it again!

What are your favorite object lessons to teach good hygiene?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sorting Practice

I have always been a believer that the best learning happens when kids are doing something that matters. Like cooking, cleaning, or, in this case, sorting laundry.

IMG_0717This is a great activity for your preschooler, because they can learn a lot of things – first, they are practicing sorting (and this is beyond just sorting by ‘color’ because they have to use classifiers like ‘light’ and ‘dark’ and ‘bright’). Second, they are learning that their clothes don’t just magically go from the laundry basket to their drawers. IMG_0720I have let my kids load the washer and the dryer since they were big enough to sit up on top of the dryer (top loading washer + dirty clothes + baby = baby putting things in a container – and what baby doesn’t enjoy doing that!) but now V is old enough to learn how to sort laundry, so sometimes they help me sort the laundry. J likes to help, too, but we have to tell her where each piece of laundry goes. She’s learning, though, and can sometimes do a few on her own.

What “real  life” activities do you do with your kids? How do they learn doing every day activities? Do you let them help with the dishes? Sort the laundry? Mop the floor? What concepts do you see them learning as they participate in daily life at home?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Child-Sized: in the garden

I think one of the best ways to teach your kids about the earth is to let them play in it!


2011-06-17 10.28.40We took a trip to the local nursery in the spring and the kids got to pick out their own flowers, then we came home and planted them! It was a lot of fun, and the kids had a great time watching them grow.

Children like to work – to them, it is play. If we can capitalize on that, then we can help them grow to love work even as adults. 2011-06-17 10.36.33Most work for me is play because my mother let work be my play, and now my favorite thing to do is go out and work in the yard, or build something, or write something, or solve a problem.

IMG_0430The best way to keep children happy “at work” is to provide child-sized tools for them to use in their work. When we bought our home, we had to go out and buy yard tools (shovels, rakes, etc). In our car on the way home were child-sized versions of the adult-sized tools we had just purchased. It is imporant that their tools are as high quality and of the same material we would buy. The yard tools we bought for the kids are made out of metal, not plastic. But you can expect them to work with a plastic shovel. You would never think of it. Having “real” tools requires a lot more adult supervision than most people like to give their children – for us it just happens, because we are always supervising our children.

What life-like, child-sized tools do you provide your children? Do they have child-sized kitchen utensils? Shop tools? Cleaning tools? How are you capitalizing on your child’s play?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tire Tunnels


Earlier this summer I had the kids with me at a tire and auto place having the brakes checked out on my husband’s car (turned out it needed a lot of work done… but that’s another story). Well, it was a little bit of a wait, and while we were sitting around with nothing to do, the kids discovered that they could climb through the tires in the shop.

IMG_0589 IMG_0587

I was just grateful to have them entertained for a while, and the store folks didn’t seem to mind.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nature Creations

We often have extra children in our home. We haven’t finished the requirements for our foster care license quite yet, so the children are not official foster children, but we often think of them as our children. We have been blessed to be in a position of helping several children (and their mothers) from broken homes. That is a story for another day.
One day while watching some extra kiddos, we took a walk and gathered stuff we found outside, and then made crafts and art projects using the things the kids picked up.
DSCN5024 One of our extra kids showing off his find.
DSCN5026 Little stuffing his bag full of sticks, rocks, and leaves.
DSCN5028Baby even enjoyed gathering rocks.
DSCN5034These boys are like peas in a pod. Little loves his “big brothers” and is constantly asking us to get him a big brother. These two brothers have spent a lot of time at our house and they feel like our children. We love them very much and we love their mom a lot, too. She’s an amazing woman. We enjoy these boys’ company when they come over. They are so well behaved and sweet kids.
DSCN5043After picking up lots of goodies, we headed back to the craft room to assemble our projects. One of our extras made some pigs from Angry Birds. Can you find them?
And here are the finished products. We had boats, spiders, Angry Birds, dinosaurs, faces, you name it. These kids were so creative. I loved watching them enjoy making something. 
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Find more fun activities for preschoolers over on 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hopscotch and Sidewalk Chalk

IMG_0555One of our favorite things to do when the weather is good is draw with sidewalk chalk. This particular time we drew fishes and whales (and the latter eating the former…)

And then I had a stroke of genius. Teach my kids hopscotch!

So I drew a simple hopscotch board (complete with numbers) and taught the kids how to play. Baby mostly just jumped up and down the squares, but Little caught on to dropping the rock, skipping it, and picking it up on his way back. It was a great activity to help with gross motor skills like jumping, standing on one leg, and bending over to pick things up. IMG_0561IMG_0567

An added benefit was learning the order of numbers, and my favorite – they were wiped out and completely ready for naps afterwards!

Faith is like a little Seed

As part of our spring themes, we planted wildflower seeds in a little pot and watched them grow. Unfortunately, they weren’t very hardy and died before they even flowered, but it was fun to see them emerge from the soil!

We talked about how faith starts as a little seed, and if we give it water and sunshine (that is, if we study and pray, and are obedient) then the seed will eventually grow and flourish (that is, our faith will eventually grow into a testimony).


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Marketing

I am no bookstore owner, but when it comes to our home library, I sure love my kids to pick out good books. Well, since we only have good books, I like them to pick out books – of any kind. The problem with traditional bookshelves + kids is that the books are all crammed together, the kids can never put them back on their own, and they don’t even really know what is on the shelf, nor are they curious – especially pre-readers (both of my kids are pre-readers right now).

So when I was looking around for ideas for my kids’ room, I saw these shelves (and a lot more just like them) on Pinterest. And then, I put up a few myself:

DSCN5287 The new reading area in the kids’ room (please excuse the pink walls – we’re working on a paint color… any suggestions?)

The books are layered 3-5 books deep in spaces, and I fully intend to rotate them every few weeks, just to make sure some new books are out on top.

“The power of face-out works even at the lowest levels of literacy. When researchers observed a kindergarten classroom library for one week, 90 percent of the books that children chose had been shelved with the covers facing out.” (here)

DSCN5284 I had read about this a loong time ago and had every intention of making some face-out book displays for the kid’s books, but I never got around to it. I got these shelves at IKEA for about $15 each.  More expensive than rain gutter, but it was the easiest solution for me, since I am the main handy-man around here (handy-woman? eh, whatever). Three screws and it was in. I am going to go back and use some wall anchors because I couldn’t find the studs (my husband is out of town – which might have had something to do with that problem. Ha ha)

DSCN5289 Before I even had the books up on the shelves, both Little and Baby were devouring book after book (Little is 4, and Baby is 2, so they don’t actually read them – but they can tell the story pretty well from the picture, which is great in terms of literary development).

DSCN5288 These books will make it easier for us to pick the books we want to read for bedtime, as well. Which means faster bedtime routine (which I love – not that I don’t cherish bedtime, I really do – I just don’t like how long it takes to get to each step. I prefer to spend my time actually reading to the kids rather than hunting down books).

We keep a “book basket” in the living room, and I want to make a book sling for the family room downstairs so any book will have a home in any room in our house, and so books will be found in every room. The more places we can find to put books, the more our children will read – I’m sure of it!

How do you market reading to your children?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baby Genius

Today I met with a student for some math tutoring. We used Cuisenaire rods for some of her instruction, and E was really interested in them.

After lunch, reading time, and putting Baby down for a nap, I told E he could play with them. He played for a while, then told me he was done, and as I was cleaning up in the kitchen he said to me "When I grow up I want to buy some of these for me."

Ha ha kids say the darndest things, don't they?

So I told E that he could just play with the set we have. So he opened the box again and I noticed that he had perfectly sorted all of the rods. Then he told me he was going to make the designs on the lid. A few minutes later, he came downstairs super excited and told me I had to go upstairs and see it "right now".

This is what I saw -

Notice the pattern on the box lid? He did that without any help! I'm so proud of my little cutie :)

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Counting in the Kitchen

Disclaimer: we had just returned home from the city pool and the kids decided they wanted a bedtime snack before taking baths, so they were running around in their underwear while we had the snack. I am not normally the type to let the kids run around in their undies, let alone photograph them in such a state. Just so you know...

While the snack (quesadillas) was cooking on the stove, I decided now would be as good a time as any to practice meaningful counting (that is, when you count a group of objects, the number you "end on" corresponds to how many there are - so that the number 3 has meaning).

I just started playing a game with my fingers - I hid both hands behind my back, chose some fingers to hold up, then whipped them out and asked Little E to tell me how many there were. Lately we have been talking about how "5 is our one hand number, and 10 is our two hands number". So to mix things up I made sure to have fingers from each hand and to avoid sequential fingers. E did really well counting the fingers, and he seems to really understand that when he finishes, that number means "how many there are" - although he does like to get goofy with his counting sometimes and purposely mixes up his numbers. He thinks he's hilarious. Silly kid.

Then we moved on to "which hand has more fingers standing up" which E was really goo at spotting, and we reinforced meaningful counting by having him count each hand and then we would say "4 is more than 3" or whatever. When I held up all five fingers on each hand and asked "which hand has more," E surprised me by pointing to both hands. I don't know if I was more surprised that he knew they each had the same, or if I was surprised because he did t know how to describe the situation with words (he is usually quite loquacious - if he doesn't know how to tell us something, he usually makes up a new way to tell us). So I told him the had "the same" number of fingers and that led us to talk about number conservation (that 3=3, even if you've got apples and oranges... Or kiwis in our case).

I set out three apples and three kiwis and asked E which there were more of, apples or kiwis. You may remember we did this with our sensory tub a while ago with the beans. True to form, E picked the apples. Then we paired them up together, counted them, and discovered there were the same amount of each.

Meaningful counting and number conservation and two very important pre-math skills (remember one-to-one functions from algebra?). Developing these math skills while kids are still young will help them tremendously later in life. Now is the time for us to build all those processes in the brain.

I love doing activities that require nothing but me and the kids and whatever is within reach. You could do this activity with toy cars and balls. Or toothbrushes and hairbrushes, or pillows and blankets.

How do you find ways to play and learn?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Find more great preschool activities over at

I Can Teach My Child

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Uma Corrida

What does racing toy cars have to with learning?


Which car is faster? What colors are the cars? How many cars are racing?

These are all classification questions to talk with your kids about while they are playing with ... well, with anything, really.

Classifying objects is an important math skill.

I've started a blog about math and I'll be posting some more about classification and other pre-math skills over there. Be sure to check it out.

*the title is "a race" in Portuguese

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Wanderings – LDS Church History Museum

Remember to link to your Wednesday Wanderings post! It doesn’t have to be something that occurred on a Wednesday, nor do you have to write about it on a Wednesday – just link up to a post about somewhere you went!

Several months ago, we went to the LDS Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, UT with some friends. We spent our time in the children’s exhibit - A Book of Mormon Fiesta: A Latin–American Celebration – where we learned about all sorts of faithful Latter Day Saints from Latin America.

The exhibit was a lot like a children’s museum, but with a gospel focus. The kids loved it, and so did I!


This dump truck was a big hit. The kids loved putting anything and everything they could find (mostly puppets from the “rainforest” area) in the back. The story about the dump truck was fun – there was a man who would drive his dump truck to church because they lived so far away from the chapel, and they would often pick up people on their way to church and give them a ride in the back of the truck! How fun would that be to ride to church in a dump truck!? Okay, probably not as much fun as riding in my comfy car – but still, I bet the kids had a blast!

DSCN4596And of course, we better plant a garden! They had carrots that were shaped like a pyramid, round onions, and the potatoes were a rectangular block, so the kids would “plant” them into the shape that matched! Educational and fun! Not to mention great for learning about gardens. I think he ended up feeding some of the carrots to this lizard puppet.DSCN4597

DSCN4606And then Baby and I had to dress up and dance! They had little videos that would teach you some basic steps to a Latin dance, complete with costumes for dress up! Baby didn’t really like having the dress on, but at least I got moving!

The museum was a lot of fun, and on our way out, we passed by a life-size replica of the angel Moroni statue that graces the top of every spire of the LDS temples. Vince knew exactly what it was (we’re blessed to live very close to several temples, and pass them frequently). IMG_0230


Value 5star  Can you say “For freeeeeeeee!” (if you don’t get it, go watch Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories – seriously, it’s a cute movie – I have no idea how they got Adam Sandler to do it, but it was fun and clean!) You may have to pay for parking if you don’t want to walk super far (it’s in downtown Salt Lake City), but hey, $2 isn’t bad.

Location4star  Four stars because a I have a love-hate relationship with downtown areas. Love – the culture, the sites, the fun, the buildings, the actions. Hate – parking, keeping my kids from darting into busy roads, pollution, etc. But there is definitely more love than hate.

Fun Factor5star So much fun! And we got to talk about the gospel, the Book of Mormon, and the examples of some really great Saints!

Now it’s your turn!

Wednesday Wanderings

<a href="" target="_blank" title="Wednesday Wanderings"> <img src="" alt="Wednesday Wanderings" /></a>