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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Chalkboard for Childhood

You’d be hard pressed to find a good old-fashioned chalkboard nowadays and even if you did, depending on the size, it will cost you.

So, what’s the next best thing?  If you don’t already know, it’s chalkboard paint.

Perhaps your response is a firm, “No thank you.”  Or, maybe you’re simply asking yourself why on earth would you want to paint any wall like that.

Well, not everyone wants to that is for sure but if you have small children you just might be interested or so inspired.  Kids are notorious for scribbling on all types of surfaces so here’s one place they can dedicate such efforts.

The Inspired Treehouse shares the learning benefits as to Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface that might sway parents as well.

To my surprise, most elementary schools have done away with them (opting for white dry erase boards) so children today may never use one in class like we had the chance to while growing up.  Can we agree that even though it’s still vertical, it’s just not the same?  I fondly recall volunteering to clean the erasers and the boards often for my teachers.

Even small children who cannot yet work with chalk in their small hands can use their fingers or paint brushes dipped in water for writing or coloring practice on them.

When I took a trip to Home Depot, that’s when I first realized that there are many other color options available so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a blackboard, either.  Although, that’s exactly what I wanted.  I also noticed that the cans are small, so you might need more than one (I did.)

Lastly, if you don’t want to commit to this by sacrificing a wall in your home, you can paint a large piece of plywood instead.  The Artful Parent will show you How to Make Your Own Chalkboard and you really don’t need a backyard to put it to good use so, don’t let that stop you.

Even as an adult, I simply get a kick out of grabbing a piece of chalk to jot down my own life reminders, to do lists, meal plans and any sort of random family lesson planning.  Not to mention the games we play such as Hangman, Tic-tac-toe , drawing things or just keeping score. When we celebrated my son’s last birthday party, the board was used as a guest book for his friends to sign upon arrival.

The possibilities are endless.

And hey, I’ll be the first to admit that I personally had to have one, kids or no kids (much like the old-fashioned pencil sharpener nailed to my desk.)

Just Some Interesting Animal Facts!

After a trip to the spring Scholastic book fair at our local elementary school, we came home (as usual) with some goodies. 51vgO-vMKwL._SY323_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were in the mood for some nature lessons about the wild and  Sink Your Claws Into PREDATORS  fit the bill.  I wanted to make sure what we learned would really sink in 🙂 So, I followed up our reading with a short quiz.  My kid really gets a kick out of these little tests I put together for review and we both appreciate the three featured claws that are included in the book!

Below is a list of some of the facts shared in this title that maybe your kids will enjoy too!

Just Some Interesting Animal Facts!

  1. Great Horned Owls don’t have any teeth.
  2. Honey Badgers have been named “The World’s Most Fearless Creature” by The Guinness Book of World Records.
  3. American Black Bears can go without food, water, or exercise for 100 days in a row.
  4. The Bengal Tiger is an endangered species with only 2,500 left in the wild.
  5. The claws of a Grey Wolf are not used for slashing prey but for grip and speed during a chase as they sink into the ground like soccer cleats.
  6. Wolverines have a thick, greasy coat that repels water and frost and even their paws are like crampons (metal spikes mountain climbers attach their boots for traction.)
  7. The venom of a Red-Clawed Scorpion doesn’t hurt more than a bee sting.
  8. A Peregrine Falcon hunts other birds and bats while in midair and has been clocked going as fast as 200 miles per hour.
  9. Unlike most felines, Jaguars don’t mind water and will often take a dip while hunting.
  10. Female pride members (Lionesses) stick together for life.
  11. Tasmanian Devils let out a big sneeze as their pre-fight ritual to intimidate the competition.
  12. An African Clawed Frog has no tongue.
  13. “Ghost Cats of the Himalayas” is a nickname for Snow Leopards.
  14. Once a Grizzly bear grows up, they prefer to go it alone, staying solo rather than joining up with other bears.
  15. Legend says that just a whiff of a Fossa (a strange-looking creature found in Madagascar) is a smell that kills chickens.
  16. Bald eagles mate for life and will continue working with the same partner over many years, constructing some of the largest nests in the world together.
  17. Even if the prey of a Komodo Dragon gets away, it will eventually collapse due to the bacteria from this lizard’s poisonous saliva.
  18. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world and can go from sitting to sprinting at 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and can cover 20 feet in a single running step.
  19. The American Alligators have powerful jaws lined with about 80 teeth that once worn down fall out regularly but they’re constantly replaced (they’ll go through at least 3,000 in their lifetime.)
  20. Polar Bears are the biggest Apex predators on land.
Bonus fact question:  What’s a PLUMICORN?  Click here to find out and see great photography of the related creature!

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.

Puzzle Piece Flash Card Fun

19366258_1695850104049980_3213347774118269053_nWe have quite a few puzzles by Melissa and Doug around and the younger ones are still trying to put the right pieces in the right place.  Once a child has mastered the task however, they move on and get creative by incorporating the pieces into other forms of play, which is great!

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With this in mind, I thought of another option by printing the names of each piece as cards that we can remove from the deck, one at time.

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Mommy Scribble

If the child is able to read the word they see, they can go ahead and put the correlating piece in the appropriate place on the puzzle.  If not, we set them aside to go over them again later.

Some of the words are more familiar (as they’ve seen them before in our standard flash cards) such as “cow” but “excavator” not so much.  It’s all good.  They’ll get there, eventually!

This is a great way for us to continue working with the same puzzles we already have, but on another level as a new experience.  Maybe you have some of these in your toy chest too.  Our puzzles cover some of the animals found on the farm and jungle, sea creatures, as well as, vehicles for transportation and construction sites.

If you’d like to print the sheets we used for this puzzle piece sight word game, you can find them here.

Hope you like this activity idea and enjoy!

 

 

Thunder, Lightning.

It’s not just the little ones that want to run under the covers during a thunderstorm. It’s pretty scary for everybody, even when you’re indoors.

Trying your best to calm a child through one isn’t always easy and even more difficult once you lost power (it happens.)

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Photo Image Source: https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/16700/why-is-the-cumulonimbus-cloud-formation-so-dangerous

We’re always talking about the weather, but it was time to go beyond the temperature and what to carry with us when its raining. Mainly because I wasn’t able to explain this intimidating force of nature to myself, much less a child. I think we all know at the very least, that it’s dangerous to be outside at the time.

I knew thunder was loud and frightening, but does it always follow that flash of lightning? Thankfully, the Weather Wiz Kids had us covered, like an umbrella. You’ll find the answer to the question under Thunderstorms along with the causes, patterns and helpful safety tips. We also learned a new math game we can play during the next storm to find out how far away it is from us.

Also, try saying cumulonimbus clouds really fast? Soft Schools has more facts about them. Ever heard of Upward Lightning? Find it in this list of 10 Natural Phenomena You Have To See To Believe.

When the lights finally came back on, we sang about electricity leaping toward the ground / lightening is the flash of light / thunder is the sound:

 

 

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.