Jun 30, 2011

Easy Sensory Box

During the summer between college and my first teaching job, I worked at a daycare.  They had a very nice, large sensory table for the children.  When I had my first son, I thought a sensory table would be wonderful, but they were way too big and expensive.  His first babysitter showed me how easy it was to create a small sensory box for your home.  I just purchased a small, flat storage container and started filling it with inexpensive or free items.  I always use old containers, such as yogurt containers in the sensory box. 

My toddler now enjoys the sensory box for about five minutes at a time, but as my older son grew he started enjoying it for up to thirty minutes in one sitting.  This would allow me to get the dishes done or cook a dinner. 

We started the sensory box with noodles.  I took one afternoon and dyed some of the noodles just for fun.  

Then we added rice to the sensory box.  My oldest son really liked driving his cars through the rice and making mountains for his construction workers. 

We've also tried soapy water.  This is fun to pour from container to container or drive boats around.  I also poke holes in the bottom of some of the containers so the water leaks through. 

Some other sensory items we've tried at playgroups are oatmeal, beans, play dough, and a cornstarch/water mixture. 

For easy cleanup, I always put an old towel under the box. When playtime is over, I simply shake the towel in the box, and then sweep the floor. I store everything we use in plastic bags inside the box. 

What kind of things have you used in a sensory table/box?

Jun 29, 2011

Carnival of Homeschooling

Visit As For My House to see the newest edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.  You can read my post Help Your Child Learn Multiplication Facts and many other great homeschooling links!

Jun 28, 2011

American Flag

I was trying to think of an activity to do with my toddler Sunday School class for the Fourth of July.  I decided to make an American flag and have the kids do thumb prints for the stars.  I found a blank American flag on the Internet and tried using finger paints with my one-year-old.  Angel Baby was not very impressed with the activity, but I think the three-year-olds will enjoy it.  I used finger paint at home, but I'm going to try a giant washable stamp pad with the church kiddos. 

Jun 27, 2011

Christian Education Website

Do you work with kids in your church, or are you looking for some Biblical material for your own kids?  I love using DLTK's Sites.  The Bible section has printables to color, lesson plans, mini books to make, crafts, songs, and puzzles.  The main site also has preschool material, animal crafts, holiday crafts and much more. 

Do you have a favorite website you would like to share?

Jun 25, 2011

Garage Sale Finds

When my husband and I first were married we thought it would be fun to go bike riding together.  So we went out and bought two brand new bikes for about $80 each.  Why?  We didn't know any better.  We wanted to go bike riding, and we wanted to go now. 

Since then, I've learned how to shop garage sales.  I've bought my sons three bikes and two scooters for less than the price of one new bike (less than $40 for all of them).  I always look ahead for good deals.  I bought all three bikes when my son was only around three years old.  Now I know this won't work if you don't have extra room, but we've always squeezed the extra things on the sides of the garage.  Now our oldest son is ready for the biggest bike, and our youngest son is just about ready for the smallest bike. (One of the scooters disappeared to Grandpa and Grandma house, so I wasn't able to include it in the picture.)   

Jun 23, 2011

Picture Book Math Part 3

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)
Upper elementary and middle school kids will love this book when studying circles.  This book along with the book Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, introduces children to important geometric terms such as diameter, radius, circumference and pi.  My middle school students were so engrossed in the book that they didn’t even realize they were learning anything until our discussion.  In the Dragon of Pi, Radius’ father is turned into a dragon until Radius finds the magic number (pi) to turn him back into a human.  In the First Round Table, Sir Cumference has to use his knowledge of math to find the best shape for a table.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.  

Jun 20, 2011

Personalized Counting/Color Book

I made this book for my oldest son when he was little.  Now my toddler is enjoying it.  I'm going to have to change a few pages to make it more personalized for him though. 

Each page was made as a slide on a PowerPoint presentation.  I found pictures of things Luke was interested in at the time.  Since he couldn't read, I made sure the color word was printed in that color and the number was written in words, digits, and shown in the number of pictures on the page.  After creating and printing each page, I simply put them in page protectors in a binder. 

Jun 18, 2011

Learning with Monopoly

We all know that games like Monopoly reinforce math skills such as counting money, making change, adding and subtracting.  My husband and I discovered yesterday that the game can go beyond that in teaching your kids principles of handling money.  We have been through Dave Ramsey's program Financial Peace University.  (If you have not heard of Financial Peace University, I strongly recommend you look into it.)  One of the principles Dave Ramsey teaches is saving for purchases, and avoiding debt whenever possible. 

I overheard my husband explaining these principles to our son, Luke, yesterday during their monopoly game.  He told Luke to really think about the property purchase he wanted to make.  My son only had enough money to make the purchase with very little left over.  My husband explained that he needed to look toward the future and predict what might happen if he landed on someone else's property.  Then he went on to explain that we don't believe in going in debt, but rather saving for future expenses. Luke realized that he was going to need that money, and although he really wanted to purchase that property right now, he passed by without purchasing it.

Jun 17, 2011

Freebies in the Mail

Look what came in my mailbox this week!  Everything you see was free!  Whenever I see a chance to try a free sample of something, I take a minute and sign up for it. 

Jun 16, 2011

Indoor Toddler Swimming Pool Fun

Since we've been having some rainy weather lately, I created a fun indoor activity today.  I put my youngest son's toddler pool in the kitchen and tore pieces of a used magazine in it.  I let him sit in the pool and practice using his fine motor skills by tearing paper, without the mess around the house!

Jun 14, 2011

Help Your Child Learn Multiplication Facts


School House Rock: Multiplication Rock – Do you remember these songs from long ago?  Kids still like them today!  You can check these out from the library, watch them on youtube, or buy them.  

Skip Counting – Practice skip counting anytime you are waiting for something or riding in the car.  Have your child start with 2 and count 2, 4, 6, …  Take turns saying numbers or have siblings join in to help.  Then move on to harder numbers.  If your child likes to compete against himself, time how long it takes him to say the first twelve multiples, then see if he can beat his own time. 

Make arrays – Do you have legos or other building blocks around the house?  These are great for arrays.  Just look at the top of them.  Show your child that 2 by 4 equals 8 and 4 by 2 equals 8.  You can also use the building blocks to create arrays.  Give your child 24 blocks.  Ask her to make all of the arrays possible with the 24 blocks.  If she needs help, show here that you can build 1 x 24, 24 x 1, 2 x 12, 12 x 2, 3 x 8, 8 x 3, 4 x 6, and 6 x 4.

Play Games – My son loves it when he is allowed to play a game on the computer.  He doesn’t realize that he’s also learning at the same time!  His favorite CD-ROM game is Math Blaster.  On the Internet he enjoys playing Fun 4 the Brain.   

Flash Cards – This is not my son’s favorite math activity, but we try to make it fun.  I made my own flash cards on blank index cards.  We study one fact family at a time.  As he memorizes each family, we add that family to the rest and do a review.  Then we move on to the next fact family.  There are also printable flashcards here. 

    What do you use to teach multiplication facts and encourage memorization?



    Jun 13, 2011

    Family Favorite Radio Shows

    Our oldest son loves to listen to Adventures in Odyssey.  There are some episodes I think I've heard over forty times!  He begs to listen to it every time we are in the car.  How can I refuse to let him listen to a Christian values based radio theater program?  You can listen online, download episodes for a small price, or buy CDs from this website.  Join Whit and the gang from Odyssey as they learn more about Biblical values and Bible stories. 

    Jun 9, 2011

    H.E. Buddy Reading Program

    Here's another link to a reading program.  We participated last year and received a free t-shirt.  It looks like they are giving away t-shirts again this year for reading 10 books.

    H.E. Buddy Reading Program

    Easy Toddler Learning Activity

    We have been teaching our toddler to identify his nose, mouth, ears, and eyes.  Sometimes he'll point to one, but usually he just laughs.  My husband came up with a great idea yesterday.  Since he loves to put stickers on things, he told our toddler to put a sticker on his nose, and it worked!  Now we are going to play the sticker game to help identify things!

    I've also thought about taking a picture of his nose, mouth, etc, and then making a small photo album with the pictures.  That way he can identify his own body parts.

    Jun 8, 2011

    Picture Book Math Part 2

    One Grain of Rice:  A Mathematical Folktale
    By: Demi

    After doing a good deed, Rani, an Indian village girl, convinces the raja to give her a single grain of rice.  The people are suffering from a drought, and the raja refuses to give the people rice from his storehouses.  The raja agrees to Rani’s request, but insists on giving her more.  Rani asks for her rice to be doubled each day for thirty days.  Each beautiful illustration shows how the doubling of rice starts to surprise the raja.  Rani ends up getting more than a billion grains of rice on the thirtieth day.  The book illustrates this with fold out pages to delight children.  The raja learns how to be generous in the end.  I have seen children from grade two through grade eight enjoy this story. 

    The M&M’s Brand Counting Book

    By:  Barbara Barbieri McGrath
    This book is great for younger children, preschool through grade one.  Chocolate M&M illustrations teach children about colors, counting, grouping, adding, subtracting, and simple shapes.  It’s even more fun to add real M&M’s to the learning experience!

    Click here to view Part 1.

    Jun 7, 2011

    Picture Book Math Part 1

    Being a teacher, I love to read.  Since I taught math most of the years I was in public school, I love to read math related picture books to my kids.  I’m going to share some of my favorite math related picture books in this series.  Try finding these books at your local library before purchasing them.  You can also try PaperBack Swap.  I haven’t tried the swap, but I’ve heard good things about it. 

    Math Curse
    By Jon Scieszka
    Illustrated by Lane Smith
    My all time favorite math book!  I’ve always started the school year with this book.  My age recommendation for this book is older elementary grades on up.  (My seventh and eighth graders enjoyed this book.)  The main character in this delightful book wakes up to a day where everything is a problem, a math problem!  She must go through her day solving a variety of different types of math problems.  Kids will love this one!

    How Much is a Million?
    By David M. Schwartz
    Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
    This is another book more appropriate for upper elementary and middle school grades.  Sometimes students have a hard time grasping how much a million really is.  This book gives kids a friendly, fun description and even a picture of a million.  Then it goes on to describe a billion and trillion with goldfish and stars. 

    Click here to view Part 2.

    Jun 3, 2011

    Make Your Own Costumes

    My son came home from church with this costume (Armor of God) a few months ago.  They made each piece a different week.  From what I can tell it mostly was made of cardboard, aluminum foil, elastic, and duct tape.  The shoes are socks covered in duct tape.  He loves it!  We missed the week they made the helmet so we had to substitute our own helmet. 

    What kind of costumes have you made?

    Make Your Own Crayons

    We did this one afternoon, and it was a success!

    Old broken crayons (remove the paper)
    Old muffin tins (I used cupcake liners in my muffin tins)

    Heat the oven to 250 degrees.  Place old broken crayons in the muffin liners.  We only filled each one about ½ full.  Heat in the oven until crayons have melted.  Let cool for several hours.  Enjoy your new crayons. 

    Have your kids practice mixing colors with this activity.  My son just wanted to put every color together. 

    Do you have a good recipe for making crayons?

    Jun 2, 2011

    Plastic Bottle Activity for Toddlers

    Plastic bottle (I used a one-liter soda bottle)

    This activity was so easy to make.  Start by showing your toddler how to put each clothespin in the bottle, and then shake the bottle to empty it.  This activity helps toddlers improve their fine motor skills as they try to put each clothespin in the bottle.  My son is now trying to get the lid off and on. 

    Please supervise this activity as the clothespins can break and cause a choking hazard.  You can use other small objects like crayons in the bottles. 

    What did you use in your plastic bottle activity?

    Free Educational Resource in Missouri

    I love to get educational resources free, and my oldest son also loves to get mail.  Missouri Department of Conservation offers a free subscription to their magazine,  Missouri Conservationist to Missouri residents.  They also offer a kids edition called Xplor.  Sign up and your child will get six issues a year. 

    Does your state offer any free conservation magazines?  If so, please leave a comment and link here for others.