A Snowy Playdate

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Stuck inside on a cold day or just wishing Winter away with some hibernation…here are a few fun ideas to help make it a bit more bearable!

 We had a great little snow-themed play date with some little friends this week. It was nice to enjoy the idea of snow, seeing as ridiculously cold temperatures have been keeping us mostly indoors.

 We began with reading this adorable snowy story about what snowmen get up to while we’re sleeping – the kids thought it was great!

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The littlest and bigger kids alike loved this fine motor activity that consisted of transferring little ‘snowballs’ (cotton balls) into different containers using tongs, tweezers and scoops.

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We even brought some snow inside and enjoyed painting it using squirt bottles, spray bottles, droppers and paint brushes with water and food colouring. It was lots of fun – the kids came up with many different designs and especially loved covering every square inch with vibrant colour!

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Last the kids enjoyed a cute ‘build a snowman’ craft using some small parts (beads, buttons and orange triangle pieces), felt shapes (hats and scarves), googly eyes and round cotton pads. Everyone had access to all of the materials, along with some white glue and a sheet of paper…and no two snowmen were alike!

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Have you done any fun winter crafts or activities lately? Please share – I’d love to see them! 🙂

Letter of the Week ~ L

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Although my personal philosophy of letter learning is that they cannot be studied in isolation and should be learned in the context of words, as this is how we see them most often, we have a letter of the week at Mommy School.

Why, you may ask, do I do something opposite to what I just finished saying I believe in? Well, for one, we don’t study the one letter in isolation. Typically, we complete a letter craft, create a search and find sensory bin using items that begin with that letter, learn about the various sounds the letter makes in different parts of words (because the English language is crazy!) and plan our weekly fieldtrip to somewhere that begins with our letter. Sometimes, I include the letter in other ways throughout our week, but that’s often just a sweet combination of luck and coincidence!


Here’s what we got up to for Letter L Week:

 

Letter Dictionary:

Each of my older children gets the chance to find a hidden object that begins with our letter of the week from the rice bin. This week Little Momma chose a lollipop and Mr Man selected Leonardo, the Ninja Turtle.

I take a photo of the kids with their chosen objects and then have them complete their dictionary page. Little Momma writes a sentence and illustrates, ” L is for lollipop.” and Mr Man copies the upper and lower case letter and then draws his chosen object. We are working on his pencil grasp, but he is tracing – and that my friends is a small miracle!

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Letter Craft:

L is for Ladybug.

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To make your own: Pre-cut an upper-case letter L from red construction paper. Provide a shell from red paper, as well as a face, feet, antennas and dots from black paper. Add googly eyes and voila – a ladybug!

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Field Trip: 

Our field trip this week was to a landfill, followed by lunch at Luna Cafe.

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Everyone was pretty smitten with the idea of chocolate covered crepes for lunch…and really, can you blame us?!

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Journal Writing: 

To end-off our week the kids each spend some time writing in their journals about our weekly field trip. Often it is pictures for my younger guy with a few scribed sentences, while my eldest will write a few simple sentences on her own, using her word wall, ‘best guess’ spelling and some assistance from myself (she’s my perfectionist!).

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Art Appreciation: Mosaic

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I love the arts, especially the creativity it evokes in young people. However, my own artistic ability, as it relates to visual arts, is very limited, and so I thought a fun way to integrate it into our school plan for the year would be through monthly Art Appreciation projects.

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Our latest showing of appreciation for great art were our mosaic replicas!

We began with simple paper mosaics. The kids got to ‘draw’ with glue and then piece together a picture from their imagination. Little Momma even helped cut the coloured paper into small squares to get us started.

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I was quite impressed with Little Momma’s creation of Ariel, The Little Mermaid.

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We also gave a try at Byzantine Mosaic style art, using jewels and stickers on cardstock. However the intricate nature of such art work was not completed with the attention span of those 5 and younger 😉

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By far the favourite of our mosaics, were those we created using foods, dried black beans and alphabet pasta. Each child ‘drew’ an object or figure with white glue to be their focal point, which they then covered in the black beans. After completing the focal image they brushed glue around the remaining parts of the paper and sprinkled the pasta on top.

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The contrasting result was quite nice!

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Have fun creating some mosaics of your own! We’d love to see or hear about your works of art!

Letter of the Week ~ K

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Although my personal philosophy of letter learning is that they cannot be studied in isolation and should be learned in the context of words, as this is how we see them most often, we have a letter of the week at Mommy School.

Why, you may ask, do I do something opposite to what I just finished saying I believe in? Well, for one, we don’t study the one letter in isolation. Typically, we complete a letter craft, create a search and find sensory bin using items that begin with that letter, learn about the various sounds the letter makes in different parts of words (because the English language is crazy!) and plan our weekly fieldtrip to somewhere that begins with our letter. Sometimes, I include the letter in other ways throughout our week, but that’s often just a sweet combination of luck and coincidence!


Here’s what we got up to for Letter K Week:

Letter Dictionary:

Each of my older children gets the chance to find a hidden object that begins with our letter of the week from the rice bin. This week Little Momma chose a kettle and Mr Man selected a koala bear.

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I take a photo of the kids with their chosen objects and then have them complete their dictionary page. Little Momma writes a sentence and illustrates, “K is for kettle.” and Mr Man copies the upper and lower case letter and then draws his chosen object.

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Letter Craft:

K is for King.

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To make your own: Pre-cut an upper-case letter K from construction paper (we used orange). Provide a crown cut-out, googly eyes and lots of glitter (we also added a mustache for added flair!).

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Field Trip: 

Our field trip this week was to a local indoor play place, Kids Kingdom. We met up with some friends and the kids all had a blast climbing, sliding and running around!

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Journal Writing: 

To end-off our week the kids each spend some time writing in their journals about our weekly field trip. Often it is pictures for my younger guy with a few scribed sentences, while my eldest will write a few simple sentences on her own, using her word wall, ‘best guess’ spelling and some assistance from myself (she’s my perfectionist!).

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♥ 100 Acts of Kindness ♥

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We are accepting the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge 2015, a fun and wonderful challenge shared by some very inspiring Mommas on the blogesphere, Kristina of Toddler Approved and Megan of Coffee Cups and Crayons.

The challenge is to keep track as you and your family complete 100 acts of kindness over the course of a month (today until Valentine’s Day!). Seems very fitting if you ask me to begin a kindness marathon on Martin Luther King’s birthday and to wrap it up on a day focused on all things nice and lovey (see those inspiring Mommas are smart too!).

We participated in this challenge last year and it was very fulfilling for our family and pretty amazing to watch our children not only want to show kindness to others, but also begin to acknowledge and show gratitude to those who showed them kindness.

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This time around I REALLY want to instill in my kids that kindness doesn’t cost a penny and that it can be done without needing to purchase anything. Our family budget is currently very tight, so this is a necessity for us, but regardless I think it is invaluable to teach our children that giving of our love and time is very often much more appreciated than giving of any material items.

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We began our discussion today about the challenge and the kids decided they wanted to use a heart banner to display our acts of kindness this year. We thought it would be nice to use our acts to help wrap our own home in kindness. And so we will hang our banner around the perimeter of our family room tomorrow and begin recording all of the kind things we do.

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At bedtime tonight, Little Momma asked if we could write our acts of kindness down on her magnadoodle before saying prayers, so we listed them off – and I ran out of space, so we are off to a good start!

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Little Momma also wanted to make note of why she acted kindly today, (and to be honest I was a little worried she would say it was at my recommendation or to try and ‘win’ the challenge) but instead she very thoughtfully shared that she “really wanted to be a nice person”.

*Melt*

And right there is a summation of why I LOVE this challenge and can’t wait to see how we grow in kindness and love once again this year! ♥

Cooking with Kids: Toblerone Shortbread

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I love baking with my kiddos! Yes, it’s messy and makes WAY more dishes than if I just do it myself, but their excitement for the process and pride in the finished product is TOTALLY worth it!

This was our favourite new recipe over the holidays – Toblerone Shortbread Cookies –  and we used it to practice our reading and measurement skills this week!

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I began by taking out all of the ingredients and measuring implements required and placing them on the table. Then I wrote out cue cards of each amount of ingredient that would be needed. I laid everything out for the kids to explore.

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The kids looked at each cue card and found the matching measuring cup/spoon and ingredient. It was a great practice for number, letter and word recognition/reading.

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If they found the correct match they got to measure it out and mix it into our recipe, which added a nice competitive streak to the whole ‘game’ of it!

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Bonus: We even got these delicious cookies out of all that learning 🙂

Letter of the Week ~ J

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Although my personal philosophy of letter learning is that they cannot be studied in isolation and should be learned in the context of words, as this is how we see them most often, we have a letter of the week at Mommy School.

Why, you may ask, do I do something opposite to what I just finished saying I believe in? Well, for one, we don’t study the one letter in isolation. Typically, we complete a letter craft, create a search and find sensory bin using items that begin with that letter, learn about the various sounds the letter makes in different parts of words (because the English language is crazy!) and plan our weekly fieldtrip to somewhere that begins with our letter. Sometimes, I include the letter in other ways throughout our week, but that’s often just a sweet combination of luck and coincidence!


Here’s what we got up to for Letter J Week:

Letter Dictionary:

Each of my older children gets the chance to find a hidden object that begins with our letter of the week from the rice bin. This week Little Momma chose some jingle bells and Mr Man selected a jug.

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I take a photo of the kids with their chosen objects and then have them complete their dictionary page. Little Momma writes a sentence and illustrates, “J is for jingle bells.” and Mr Man copies the upper and lower case letter and then draws his chosen object.

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Letter Craft:

J is for Jelly Fish.

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To make your own: Pre-cut an upper-case letter J from construction paper (we used red). Provide a jelly fish head, googly eyes and some paper scraps for your child to cut with squiggly scissors for tentacles as the details (some bonus fine motor practice!).

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Field Trip: 

Our field trip this week was to an area indoor trampoline park, Xtreme Trampoline, for some JUMPING! The kids enjoyed bouncing around and leaping into the foam pit. We followed up with some Booster JUICE for good measure!

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For our Friday movie snack, we made some fresh squeezed orange JUICE and JELLO – a great way to end our letter J week!

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Journal Writing: 

To end-off our week the kids each spend some time writing in their journals about our field trip. Often it is pictures for my younger guy with a few scribed sentences, while my eldest will write a few simple sentences on her own, using her word wall, ‘best guess’ spelling and some assistance from myself (she’s my perfectionist!).

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“Frozen” ~ Birthday Party

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Somehow, though it only seems like I blinked, this little girl who made me a Momma is 5 years old – a whole hand, it’s crazy!

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Though there are many difficulties about having a child’s birthday around the holidays, it’s pretty fun when you find a way to work it to your advantage!

Little Momma has caught the Frozen-bug, bad…going on a year now! So we knew a Frozen-theme would be top request. I saw these cute DIY melted snowman ornaments on Pinterest and thought they’d fit lovely with an invite to build a snowman!

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 We did mostly Target and Dollar Store finds for balloons, tablecloths, plates, napkins, hanging swirl decorations and the sign pictured above.

We also added an effect of Winter with some frozen marble balloons to line the walkway with, seeing as we had no snow here over the holidays.

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For snack we had these cute ‘Melted Olaf’ pudding cups with some blue lemonade we called ‘Frozen Waters’.

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For lunch I laid out some potluck-style items with little signs that read as follows:

  • “We finish each others…sandwiches” – assorted sandwiches
  • “Trolls” – meatballs
  • “Olaf’s Noses” – carrots and dip
  • “Sven’s Snacks” – cheese and crackers
  • “Olaf’s Arms” – pretzel sticks
  • “Frozen Hearts” – white chocolate dipped strawberries

The cake is always my favourite part. See, I got it in my head early on that I always wanted to make each child’s birthday cake, so it’s special for me. I feel like all of the birthday details and fuss will probably wash away in memories, but that the love that goes into these perfectly, imperfect cakes that their Momma makes will be felt forever {I’m cheesy like that!}.

Our Frozen Elsa cake was created using three round 8 inch chocolate cakes stacked and covered with blue icing. The snowflakes were made using white chocolate piped onto wax paper and set. The ice shards in behind Elsa were made using this recipe for blue rock candy.

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It’s fun to get to an age where kids can play games at parties! Here are a few that we enjoyed:

Pin the nose on Olaf

I free-handed an Olaf outline and cut out one carrot per child. The kids had fun spinning and trying to pin on Olaf’s nose!

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We had planned to be outside for some snowball toss and snowman building, but alas the weather would not bring snow! And so we played a snowball toss game using baskets and styrofoam balls, along with this alternative snowman activity.

Building Little Snow-Girls

Using toilet paper, button and carrot cut-outs, along with some scarves, the mom’s wrapped up their daughters and turned them into little wadding snowmen – it was pretty cute!

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For lootbags, I found some plastic Frozen cups at the Dollar Store and we filled them with some blue jellybeans, a wand, some Frozen glitter temporary tattoos and a Frozen bracelet and necklace. They were wrapped in cellophane and tied with a note that said, “Thanks ‘snow’ much for coming”.

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Happy Birthday to my amazing Little Momma – we are so very proud of the girl you are becoming – may all of your wishes come true!

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And a BIG thank-you to all of our wonderful friends and family who helped us celebrate another year of loving you! xoxox

Book Club ~ Mo Willems

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With the New Year we have started a monthly book club for a group of fellow homeschoolers in our area.

Each month will feature a new children’s author and share the love of reading with our early readers. The plan will be to read a story together, have other titles by the author available for the children to read and then bring our story to life through a craft and hands-on activity.


For our first month – JANUARY – we are celebrating the silly and fun stories of Mo Willems!

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Our primary focus for book club was “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, but we also had the following titles on hand for the children to enjoy:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  • Knuffle Bunny Free
  • Edwina – The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct
  • Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
  • That is Not a Good Idea
  • The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

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We began by reading the story aloud. I had the children collect unifix cubes for each time we had to tell the pigeon – “No!”. The kids all agreed that the pigeon was not doing her best listening.

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After reading the story we did a survey of whether or not we would let the pigeon drive the bus, if we had been the bus driver. Each child added their pigeon to our pictograph, and we added up our findings. Two kids were brave enough to let the pigeon drive, while the other 4 stuck with the bus driver’s discretion.

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Using my hand-crafted worksheet, (since printers only breakdown when you need 8 copies of a black-line master) the kids each got to choose, write and illustrate another vehicle that the pigeon would need to be stopped from driving. The children had some excellent ideas, like a truck, a train, a helicopter and an airplane – that crazy pigeon!

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Before moving on to some unstructured playtime, the kids each completed this cute hand print pigeon craft (credit to Pinterest!). Overall, we had a pretty fun inaugural book club, thanks to Mo Willlems silly tale!

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Come back next month and dive into the beautiful stories of Jan Brett along with us at Mommy School!

Letter of the Week ~ I

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 Although my personal philosophy of letter learning is that they cannot be studied in isolation and should be learned in the context of words, as this is how we see them most often, we have a letter of the week at Mommy School.

Why, you may ask, do I do something opposite to what I just finished saying I believe in? Well, for one, we don’t study the one letter in isolation. Typically, we complete a letter craft, create a search and find sensory bin using items that begin with that letter, learn about the various sounds the letter makes in different parts of words (because the English language is crazy!) and plan our weekly fieldtrip to somewhere that begins with our letter. Sometimes, I include the letter in other ways throughout our week, but that’s often just a sweet combination of luck and coincidence!


Here’s what we got up to for Letter I Week:

Letter Dictionary:

Each of my older children gets the chance to find a hidden object that begins with our letter of the week from the rice bin. This week Little Momma chose some Indian corn and Mr Man selected an ice-cream scoop.

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I take a photo of the kids with their chosen objects and then have them complete their dictionary page. Little Momma writes a sentence and illustrates, “I is for Indian corn.” and Mr Man copies the upper and lower case letter and then draws his chosen object.

 

Letter Craft:

I is for Iguana.

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To make your own: Pre-cut an upper-case letter I from green construction paper. Provide an iguana’s head and tail, googly eyes and of course a red tongue for the details.

 

Field Trip: 

Our field trip this week was to our local Reptile Zoo and Insectarium, Little Ray’s Reptiles. The kids enjoyed looking at the insect display and then learned more when the zoo keepers did a special presentation on insects and the amphibians and reptiles which feed on insects!

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We picked up a fun package of insects as a souvenir of our trip and the kids really loved sorting them and making imprints in playdough!

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Journal Writing: 

To end-off our week the kids each spend some time writing in their journals about our field trip. Often it is pictures for my younger guy with a few scribed sentences, while my eldest will write a few simple sentences on her own, using her word wall, ‘best guess’ spelling and some assistance from myself (she’s my perfectionist!).

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