The Dollar Tree

I know that I’m not able to resist a trip there and surely, if you’re someone who’s able to shop at high-end establishments, you share no such desire or interest with me.

Oh but how I personally love perusing the aisles for coloring, crafting, toiletries, office supplies and/or home goods!  I think the toys as well, are pretty neat for the price and they really run the gamut.  Keeping a small stash always comes in handy for little visitors or for extras inside of goodie bags.

There’s also a ton of early learning items to be found there.  For example, even with today’s technology, my child was still very excited when I showed him the item below.  He was able to conveniently practice letters during car trips and I myself enjoy this childhood relic on occasion.

My plan is to present my child with a twenty-dollar bill along with instructions to choose twenty items from anywhere in the store that he would like me to purchase.  Of course, the exact total will be a bit more than that after tax, but you get the idea.

If you have more than one kid with you, then divvy up the total as you see fit.

You can do this with a five or ten-dollar bill (we happen to have a $20 that his grandmother gave him to spend as he so wishes.)  If you have money to burn, then by all means, count up even higher.  I think I would personally go bonkers if I had $50 to spend in the Dollar Tree but that’s simply not in the budget.

Or go in the other direction.  If they only have one dollar to spend then maybe they’ll focus on picking a single item that is really special!

Another idea is to have them choose one item per each person they know for surprise gift giving instead.  They can put down on paper the names of each person beforehand as a way to incorporate writing practice to the project.  The options are endless.

For instance, they can also sort by category and collect things like faux flowers, cups, pencils or a notepad.  Speaking of, I simply can’t get enough of writing instruments, folders and clipboards (color coordinated at that!)

 

Sidebar.  I hope when I return they still have a jumbo eraser I spotted but forgot to throw in my cart that had a message on it about making big mistakes.  I want to display it for symbolism.  If only we could invent something that truly wipes out the real errors we’ve made in life (since Mr. Clean’s little white sponge is not really magical.)

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this outing/activity suggestion over the summer months (assuming you won’t be on holiday in the South of France) at the time.

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Old Photographs

I remember the days when we had to take pictures with our old camera.  When we used up the roll, I also fondly recall taking the walk down to our local drug store to get them developed.

20180428_105712_hdr-1-2045490735.jpgThe film was then sent out and we counted the days until the pictures were finally ready for pick up.  Often, we just couldn’t wait until we got home to see them and so we opened the envelope right there as we stood at the counter.  Only then would we discover if all those random shots taken in the weeks prior were actually in focus or if our poses “came out good.”

Some were so awful that we’d laugh hysterically on the spot and if it was really bad, snatch them away from each other to destroy or hide it.  It was not to be shared.

Eventually,  drugstore chains began cropping up that were able to produce photos right on their premises and whenever possible, we’d happily pay the extra fee to get them printed within the hour.  That option felt like lightening speed for us back then.

But as you know, there are no such steps required in today’s digitized and selfie-obsessed nation.  We no longer have to wait any time at all to view any of our images.  In fact, since we’ve been able to snap and share so easily, I have neglected all those older photographs taken way before this technology came along– only being confronted with them when I’m reorganizing closets or unpacking after a move.  So now, some of our old photo albums are buried in a closet and falling apart.  Any loose photos are simply stacked in a box, but all of them belong on a proper shelf for display.

With our usual daily life tasks that demand so much of our attention, who the heck has time to go through a photo pile?  Lest we forget that our digital photos are also collecting their own dust because even if they’re being uploaded elsewhere, many are still just sitting across all of our devices, either way.  I can bet that the average person has at least one thousand photos on their phone right now and counting.  They’re continually hogging up memory and isn’t that ironic?

Various online tools like Shutterfly have helped me to create special things with my photos, both new and old, in the form of calendars, books, greeting cards, canvas prints, etc. for myself or as gifts, but we’ll never catch up, will we?

No matter, as I will keep sorting and categorizing them.  I’ve simply accepted the fact that this will be an ongoing project with no end date in sight, unless I cease to take another picture and that ain’t happening.

I keep reminding myself that if I ever lost them in fire or in some other way, I would be totally devastated.  So, while I have them (and air in my lungs) I will take the time to keep honoring all of these old photographs.

Busy with business cards

While going through a file box I came across a stack of something that needed another purpose.

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And so, my old business cards have been colored, counted and cut.  We’ve used them to play memory games and arranged them to form different shapes.  They’ve been converted into small flash cards, a mini pennant garland and tools for setting the table.

Future activity ideas will include writing practice (one card per each letter that can be shuffled later for the child to spell their own name) as well as to count how many.  I also thought to save all the colorful dots left over from all the hole-punching for easy table confetti to decorate our next birthday party.

As they’re made out of sturdy card stock, the possibilities are endless.

Flag Day!

It’s hard to keep up with all the honorary days for things that appear on the calendar.  I wouldn’t even try, if not for the fact that young children enjoy theme related activities and I, the teachable moments that are sure to follow.

My intent was to prepare something for the fourth of July, when I realized that there’s such a thing as National Flag Day taking place this month.  Well, I was already putting together a short presentation about the flag for the next holiday, so all I had to do was speed things up a bit.  (By the way, I love PowerPoint!)

I’ll keep it simple for crafts by cutting strips of red and white construction paper (our rectangles) to tape against a blue background (our squares) and then draw the stars in because I don’t have stickers (which would have been nice.)  Anyway, this will cover colors, numbers and shapes.  Then, I’ll glue our paper flag to a stick and that’s it!

Later, we’ll view the slide show I created to notice patterns, do some math and then recite an original poem about what it represents.  I let the kids take turns hitting ENTER on the keyboard, while a toddler happily clicks on a computer mouse that’s been turned off.  All in the spirit of team work and a bit of practice with technology.

Finally, we’ll listen to a YouTube Playlist of videos about the flag during lunch!

Hope you like this activity idea and inspiration for your own lesson planning.

Follow us on Facebook to view a handy photo album of the slide presentation mentioned above that will be published there on June 14th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Heart Cards for Mother’s Day

Easy Peasy and Fun shared a helpful video you’ll see below for a DIY Heart Notebook.  I hope to get there eventually.  In the interest of time, their beautiful tutorial evolved into something I could present as a craft in a similar way but, faster.

Working with only two cutouts (using the heart template provided on their website) I decorated the outside of one (kids may just scribble or finger paint) and then wrote a personalized message on the inside of the other.  When the template is open, you have enough space for a simple stanza (one line per section.)  For example:

Roses are red / Violets are blue / On Mother’s Day… / It’s all about you!

You get the drift.

As shown above, they also resemble flowers, so another idea was to fold the edges so they look more like petals.  Then, I punctured the base to fit a straw through for the stem and tied green ribbon for the look of leaves.  On my own, I had separately drawn tiny little flower shapes that I cut out of pink paper and threw inside of the flower.  If you shake it, they’ll fall out like confetti and it’s something I added just for fun as a counting game.

I used regular copy paper for the inside heart and construction paper for the outside. Like I said, I only used two hearts but I’m sure you could make more to nest inside of each other.  I taped a piece of ribbon so it has a handle.

Lastly, while experimenting with the heart cutout in yet another way, it resulted in something interesting that should be suitable as a garland (and I’ll share that image once I get it together.)

Hope you like this craft suggestion and the original source for my inspiration as credited above.

Kids keep me busy with things like this but so does the kitchen and the food happens here.

Mega Bloks & Dice

I made a trip to the dollar store in search of a dust pan for the sole purpose of scooping these up, which in of itself became a game too.

We have a ton of Mega Blocks that that all ages seems to enjoy.  When we’re not building fortresses, we’re knocking them down with the help of a bat, stick or ball.  Inevitably, they also get scattered across the room, although not nearly as overwhelming as those tiny Lego pieces that torment most parents.

However, it’s beneficial to have them around for their fine motor development and Preschool Inspirations lists 10 reasons you may be interested in.  I didn’t realize that Lego has something called Duplo and if you’re as confused as I was, check out Mummy’s Reviews on the subject.   By the way, the Lego Group recently celebrated its 80th birthday and they released this short animated film about how it all began.  I always wondered about their story!

18121626_775387029296131_446824032315902541_o (1)I made a trip to the dollar store in search of a dust pan for the sole purpose of scooping these up, which in of itself became a game too.

18119264_774851866016314_1491292095600120682_nSince we also have a table for the set, I thought about incorporating a set of fuzzy dice that we’ve used in a variety of ways already for early learning fun.  I simply taped small notes to represent each color of blocks we have on each side, along with a wild card (“?”) and skipping a turn.  The question mark symbol replaced my initial note for “Pick” (the color of your choice) because it was being confused with pink and we don’t have those (need I say) yet.

Obviously, there are no fixed rules for this.  We pretty much played it by ear.  Whenever we threw our set of dice (one had the color coded notes, the other just their original number dots) it determined how many blocks we’d use in that color.

18198275_774851922682975_2671903230977208028_nThe winner of our little game would have been the first person to complete a section or level but we honestly never got that far.  What mattered most is that as we kept playing and taking turns, everyone was busy counting and that’s always a win.

Hope you like this activity idea!

Kids keep me busy with things like this but so does the kitchen and food happens here.

ABC States

… they exist in an alternate universe and we get to name them!

We love puzzles and while putting together some large pieces on the floor to form a map of the United States (Melissa & Doug has one we like very much) I thought of some other things we could do.

First, I looked up an alphabetical list of the 50 states I printed to keep visible.  Then, I created a table format in MS Word to have cut out cards for each state.  They can be categorized by each letter in the alphabet they represent.  For the letters that don’t have any states associated with them, we’ll play a game of make believe.  Naturally, they exist in an alternate universe and we get to name them!  What did your kids come up with?

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We’ll learn new things about the state we live in, as well as, those where any of our friends and family reside.  (You can find fun facts for each state on the wonderful website aptly titled A to Z Kids Stuff.)  We’ll also talk about places we’d like to visit (Hollywood, California to be exact) or mom & dad’s retirement plans for the Florida Keys.

The younger ones can lay out or hand us the alphabet cards (we happen to have a sturdy jumbo set) while the older ones associate them with each state.  Team work!  Hope you like this activity idea.

Follow on Facebook to view our ABC states photo album and more.

Kids keep me busy with things like this but so does the kitchen and food happens here.