Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

My husband just started his last semester of his masters (light at the end of the tunnel) and it has motivated me to do a little schooling of our own at home.

Little Miss loves to learn, and I'm not a fan of the TV being a, get ready for some home schooling 101 for toddlers/preschoolers!

My sweet kindergarten teacher mother-in-law gave me the down-low on pre-assessments, No Child Left Behind testing, and what kids need to know before they hit kindergarten.

I'll be posting lesson plans, learning activities, and a myriad of other developmental things I do with Little Miss to help her reach these goals. Please feel free to follow along with your child and get ready for kindergarten!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lemon Fresh Kitchen/Disposal

Here's a trick that is so simple you'll wonder why you didn't think of it before!

Is there a nasty smell emanating from your kitchen sink? Make yourself some fresh lemonade - but don't throw out the peel. Let the garbage disposal have it. Your drain/kitchen will smell lemony fresh! You can also use orange peel with great results!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Safety Kids: The Telephone Song

Little Miss isn't one to wander in public places - but I do keep a close eye on her still. My mom ingrained in me a fear of being lost as a child, which has now translated to a fear of losing my child. I was thinking about this today while driving home and flipped off the radio to have a chat with Little Miss. She's not quite 2 1/2 - so I keep things simple. Our conversation went something like this...

"Hey - do you want to learn a fun new song?"


"Okay, listen real close...I know my number, my telephone number it's XXX-XXXX...Here, I'll sing it again..."

I sang it to her about 4 times before she started singing along. Within 5 minutes she was singing the whole phrase by herself - including my 7 digit cell phone number flawlessly.

This perfection of the sequence of numbers was what I was going for and I praised it immensely! We called grandma and grandpa to tell them and let her show off her new song. We called daddy and left a message. All the praise really helped Little Miss not only practice the song, but get it cemented in her memory.

I then told her that if she ever got lost and couldn't find mommy or daddy she should find a nice adult that will help her call mommy's phone and she can sing them the song so they know the number to call.

I could see the little lightbulb click - she got it! She keeps singing it and pretending to call me on her play phone. So glad my mom had us listen to The Safety Kids while growing up - that song is catchy!

Not familiar with The Safety Kids? You can find all their music available for digital download here.

And if you just want the tune of the telephone song - here it is...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Zucchini Souffle

One of my family's summertime favorites! So good and packed with vegetables. We usually have our souffle with corn on the cob and/or fresh green beans. Enjoy!

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • Optional - green peppers, bacon bits
Mix oil, salt, onion, eggs - add Bisquick. Fold in zucchini and cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I didn't get a picture of the finished result because we were too busy devouring it. But it comes out a nice golden brown.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Early Literacy: Practicing Reading Comprehension with Your Preschooler

As parents, I think we all realize the importance of literacy. But sometimes we get so focused on making sure our kids know the ABCs and phonics that we forget about other very important aspects of early literacy.

Although knowing and writing the alphabet is essential, there is more to reading than that. There is so much to the art of reading, but I have decided to just focus on some ideas to help build reading comprehension. Comprehension skills help children to understand what they are reading. These ideas are things that you can do with very young children, and continue to practice with advanced readers.

1. Ask questions while you are reading with your children (or for older readers, ask questions while they are reading to you). You can ask questions once you’ve finished the book, or even throughout the story. Don’t limit your questions to what literally happened in the story. Ask them questions that relate the story to their own lives (How would you feel? Do you like…? What other stories have we read where this happens?).

2. Think aloud as you read to your children. Children learn a lot by watching us—but our thoughts are not something they can see. So as you are reading, say what you are thinking: “This reminds me of…This is like when we…..I wonder if…I think he must be feeling…I’m going to reread that because it didn’t make sense…Mmmm, I can almost taste the….I can imagine what it is like to…I wish I could…” These kinds of verbalized thoughts will help your child see what they should be thinking as they read.

3. Retelling stories is an important way to help children improve their comprehension skills. To retell a story, children can simply tell you the story in their own words. For older children, have them write a summary of the story. They can also act out the story using costumes and/or props. They can pretend to be the characters in the story, or act as a narrator and tell the story while acting it out:
  • Puppets: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

You can also make props such as these for retelling:
  • Flannel Board: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? By Eric Carle

Another great way to retell a story is to have kids make their own book. We colored a small picture-only version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You could also write your own version of the story. My daughter made Elmo, Elmo What Do You See?

4. Story Sequencing helps children to remember the order of the story. Have pictures of different parts of the story, and ask your child to put them in order. Discuss the story as you go along. For children who can already read, cut up sentences from the story or small descriptions of main events in the story, and have them place them in order. Don’t overwhelm children with too many events or intricate details.

  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
5. Draw a picture after reading a story. Have your child draw a picture of a scene in the story.

Reading comprehension is an important aspect of becoming a good reader. It helps children learn how to think as they are reading, and understand what they have read. It is important for your children to practice this skill throughout their reading career.

Some of these ideas were found in Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read and Write by Cunningham and Allington. If you have other ideas of how to practice story comprehension, please share them with us by leaving a comment below.

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Fresher Bathroom

Looking for a cheap, easy, eco-friendly way to freshen up your bathroom without using those aerosol air fresheners? Here it is!

You'll need...
  • tape
  • 1 q-tip
  • your favorite essential oil
Soak one end of the q-tip in your favorite essential oil. Then tape the q-tip to the inside of your toilet paper roll. Every time the roll spins the scent will be released. It is an awesome way to freshen up your bathroom and it lasts a very long time!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sensory Table - The Affordable Way

Here in Phoenix, it is H.O.T.--which is why we’ve been spending most of our days indoors. Finding something new to do each day is really challenging, but here is one activity that my 3 year old never tires of. I realize that for some of you, this time of year is when you are spending your days outside. So think of this as a good rainy-day activity.
Sensory tables are a good way for children to explore their creativity and learn through their senses. There are many commercial sensory tables (also called water tables or sand tables), but those can be pretty pricey. So I bought a $4 plastic bin to use on the floor or at the kitchen table instead. There are many things you can use in a sensory table, so this activity never gets old! Here are some ideas of what to put inside. If you have other examples, please share!!

Water (you could even add soap for some bubbles)
  • Measuring cups, funnels, spoons, whisk
  • Really, any kitchen utensil
  • Boats
  • Baby dolls and washcloths
  • Things to bury and rediscover (small toys, seashells, etc)
  • Spoons, shovels, cups, funnels
  • Trucks, cars

Shredded Paper or Confetti
  • Cups
  • containers with lids
Wood Chips (for older children)
  • Trucks, cars
Shaving Cream
  • Spoons
  • Brushes
  • Colored ice cubes (when they melt, they turn the shaving cream colors)

Cotton balls
  • Cups
  • Turkey baster (try to blow the cotton balls around)

some other ideas - Packing Peanuts, Oobleck, Slime, Scraps of Tin Foil (oh what a fun sound it makes!), Colored Noodles...

Of course you can mix and match any of these items, and I bet you have most of these things at home already. So stay in and get messy!

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baby #2

I'm 13 weeks along with baby #2!! I foresee a lot of posts dealing with baby #2, becoming a family of 4, transitioning...etc. Meanwhile - here's my cute little bug.

When we told Little Miss she immediately decided it was a little sister. She talks about the baby in my tummy and how it's growing healthy and strong. She also decided it's fun to poke the baby in my tummy. It's pretty funny.

So - all of you moms who have gone from 1 to 2...any advice? I hear it's a harder transition than going from 0 to 1.
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