Feed the Birds

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It’s been a cold, long winter here and while we have been able to cozy up by the fire, the birds have been left to the elements.

And so we have been doing our part to keep them fed – here are a couple of our favourite homemade bird feeders:

 

Peanut Butter Sunflower Rolls:

The kids really enjoy making these ones. They are quick and easy and only require a few items.

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Materials:

– Peanut Butter

– Plastic Knives

– Sunflower seeds (or any birdseed)

– Bowl or plate (for rolling)

– Toilet paper rolls

– String (for hanging)

– String

IMG_3356 Method:

Allow the children to spread peanut butter onto their desired number of toilet paper rolls. Then roll in your choice of bird seed. Lace a string through the roll, tie and they are ready to hang!

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Blueberry Cheerio Hearts:

These feeders are a tasty treat for the birds and also double and triple (and even quadruple!) as a snack for the kids and a fine motor and patterning activity!

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Materials:

– pipe cleaners

– cheerios

– blueberries

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Method:

Allow kids to thread the Cheerios and blueberries onto each pipe cleaner. This is a great opportunity to encourage younger children to be more precise in their fine motor activity, especially with the blueberries, which require much less force! For older children, ask them to create and continue a pattern as they thread. Once the kids are satisfied with their creation, twist the pipe cleaner ends and bend into a cute heart shape! Hang.

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 Our finished products are loved by the birds and even make the trees look pretty, but best of all, they bring the sounds of Spring to our yard…since the snow and cold don’t seem to be in a hurry to go!

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 Do have a favourite way to feed the birds in you area? Care to share? We are always looking for new ideas!

♥ 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! ♥

Family Fire Drill

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 One of Little Momma’s favourite things to do is practice our home fire drill plan. This kid is not only cautious, but also quite insistent on being prepared for all scenarios (much like her Momma 😉 ).

So when one of our good friends had his awesome firefighter-themed birthday party (complete with a tour of a fire station!), you can bet her little mind was spinning with how our own emergency plan added up against the pros.

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Following the party the kids thoughts and play were only of fire and rescue! And as soon as the little kids were up from nap, Little Momma ushered us to the table to get to work on creating a map of our fire and emergency plan, using the awesome templates we got from the fire station!

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We have 2 separate exit plans and have discussed a number of scenarios with the kids on when each one would be used. However, instead of having one central meeting place, we have one in the front yard and one in the back yard, seeing as our kids are still quite young and wouldn’t be able to leave our fenced backyard without help. We do plan to merge to one central meeting spot once they are a bit older.

We practiced our primary escape route first, which is out to our front yard, where we convene by the largest and furthest tree.

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Then, we tried a backyard emergency exit, where we meet at the furthest point by the back fence, until an adult is there, the kids know to wait.

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Every time we do a drill we are sure to discuss the importance of feeling doors for heat before opening them, crawling beneath smoke, staying visible (NEVER hiding) and calling for help if you’re trapped, as well as how to Stop, Drop and Roll should your clothing catch fire.

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         STOP                                                   DROP                                              ROLL!    

 

Although this can be a difficult topic to discuss, let alone role play with your family, as you never want to actually live this experience. The confidence it gives your children is invaluable, people who are prepared act faster and smarter under pressure in emergencies. You WANT your kids to be in the know!

Practice your family fire drill today and then again every couple of months to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. Let your children’s questions help fuel your own preparedness in keeping your home as safe as it can be.

And if you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend with such a sweet birthday party, contact your local fire department for a tour and some of their awesome resources!

Teachable Moments ~ IKEA-style

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{Teachable Moments} 

When I was teaching in the classroom, I was always striving to be an intentional teacher, who pounced readily on teachable moments as they would arise. And now as a parent, my philosophy is much the same. I am fueled by seizing these fleeting moments and doing my best to make them memorable for my children (and me too!).

This Summer, I have taken on the complete overhaul of our current playroom, in hopes of having both a playroom (downstairs) and a school & art/craft room (in the current playroom) come September. So this morning I packed up the kids and headed to IKEA for some of the storage units and accessories I will need. The trip to IKEA was an adventure in and of itself! But upon returning home there was work to be done 🙂

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We’ve been going through a rough patch with my Little Momma as of late. We are pretty sure it’s a result of school anxieties creeping up on her, with her Kindergarten debut just around the corner. So I have been making a point to spend some extra one-on-one time with her and love her extra hard to help ease some of her jitters. And I do love an opportunity to teach some useful life skills…and who hasn’t needed to work their way though an IKEA assembly?!

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Move over Daddy, today the girly’s took on an assembly task of our own while the younger kids napped 😉 It was like our very own Goldie Blox adventure!

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We began by looking over the instructions and exploring the hardware. IKEA instruction manuals are excellent for kids to follow along with – all pictures and numbered steps, no reading required.

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Little Momma was such a great helper, locating the boards we needed, inserting the plugs and aligning & ‘clicking’ the pieces together.

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And the fine motor practice involved in turning the screws into place and then using an Allen key to tighten them was an excellent addition!

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Little Momma especially liked comparing the screws size differences to show what she had achieved.

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She even helped type and print out bin labels on the label maker for our toy bins. Now to finish the basement floors so the rearranging can begin. I promise to post some pictures once there is an end result to show off!

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And to end things off, what better use for a large flat box then to transform it into a beautiful art canvas ♥

I urge you to soak in all of the wonderful teachable moments you stumble upon….they really are the greatest of gifts!

 

Making Friends: Teaching Social Skills

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 Little Momma starts Kindergarten this year and I KNOW she is ready curriculum-wise and she has had lots of exposure to other children, but I imagine every parent worries to some degree about their child making friends.

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Her whole life I have been setting the stage for friend-making opportunities, through playdates and activities. But putting yourself out there on your own is a whole new experience and takes a lot more guts than merely playing with the kids your mum has invited over! And so I went into this summer with a plan to explicitly teach friend-making skills for my Little Momma to take with her on the first day of school!

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Sometimes we expect that kids will come by social skills by pure osmosis or coincidence, and though they can learn much from the examples they are shown, it is only through their own action that they will find their real groove and comfort zone.

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Explicitly teaching kids how to make new friends may feel awkward, but can help them gain confidence and ease in seemingly tense or novel situations. This can be especially important for shy children, who may otherwise avoid people or circumstances that are new to minimize uneasiness.

 Here are the skills we have been working on:

1) Approaching someone new {with intention}. Kids often approach one another…and then they just stand and stare….so we have been working on going up to new kids with the intention to say hello.

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2) Introducing yourself. This one may seem basic, but it’s surprising how many kids shut down when approaching or approached by a peer.

“Hi, I’m _________. What’s your name?”

“My name is {crazy dinosaur in high heels}. Do you want to play?”

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My only caution with this one is to review information that is okay to share with new friends and that which is best kept for those we know well (i.e. address and phone number). We have had many an occasion where Little Momma gets so excited in her introduction that she begins spewing where we live, along with an immediate invite. :p

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3) Simple playground games. Knowing how to play a few games not only allows your child to join in with others, but also provides them with some ideas or suggestions upon asking a new friend to play. Various sports, tag, Duck Duck Goose, hopscotch, ring around the rosie, follow the leader and I Spy are a few examples of the many games you can introduce to your children.

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4) Seeking out friends with similar interests. This one took a few tries for Little Momma (partially because I think she was working out what she was interested in), but she is starting to really get it. When looking for a new friend to approach, look for kids who are doing activities you like to do or playing games that you want to play. A little common ground is always nice when talking to someone new.

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5) Starting a conversation. Often the conversation will surround whatever the kids start playing. Little Momma will also usually introduce her younger brother and sister since they are normally in tow, which can lead to some discussion and comparison. To add to this repertoire, given Little Momma’s love for humour, I have worked on teaching her a few jokes that she can share with her little friends. This small and seemingly cheesy idea has done so much for her confidence in conversing with new friends.

“What do you get when you cross a fish and an elephant?” – “Swimming trunks!”

“Knock Knock. Who’s there. Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce in it’s freezing!”

“Where do snowmen keep their money?” – “In a snow-bank”

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Making friends can be scary….especially when you’re little and the world seems so very big. Why not give your child the tools she needs to help her feel more comfortable, prepared and ready to surround herself with playmates! The joy she will exude is totally worth it – and then some!

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Teachable Moments ~ Snails

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{Teachable Moments} 

When I was teaching in the classroom, I was always striving to be an intentional teacher, who pounced readily on teachable moments as they would arise. And now as a parent, my philosophy is much the same. I am fueled by seizing these fleeting moments and doing my best to make them memorable for my children (and me too!).

Today I had planned to get a lot of chores done around the house. Seeing as the morning was beautiful I thought I’d take the kids into the backyard and get some tidy-up and weeding done while they played. But you know how the best laid plans seem to go…

Little Momma and I came across a couple of snails in the clothes peg basket and next thing I knew we were emerged in the study and search of their species!

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We got out the magnifying glasses to get a closer look, pulled out our little bug cage and began researching the diet and habitat of snails on the iPad.

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Next we were collecting some bedding and food for our little friends to help make their new home comfy! Added learning bonus: Little Momma became quite the expert on the differences between stems, leaves and flowers!

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Little Momma was quite tickled with the end result and loved watching them glide around as they explored their new digs 🙂

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And yes, my backyard is still disorganized and my garden needs weeding, but at least I know a bit more about snails 😉

Isn’t it so freeing and refreshing to just go with the flow sometimes? Care to share one of your recent teachable moments?