Weekday evenings are the busiest time of day for my family. We have to do school/babysitter pickup, dinner, homework, and our bedtime routine – times 4 – all in just over 2 hours. It can be difficult to make evenings enjoyable and not just a rush to get everything done. I am always looking for creative ways to make ordinary moments extraordinary, and this week Goldfish crackers helped make that happen!
There are many reasons why my kids and I set a “resolution” (we prefer to think of them as goals) of writing letters to their friends & family. Many of our friends live 3 thousand miles away in NY and with the time difference and our busy schedules, we do not call as much as we should – plus the kids LOVE getting mail! When I heard about the Post Pal Club, I knew that would be a super fun way to kick off implementation of our goal!
My oldest is a bright kid, but math has never been her strong suit. We have struggled for years with trying to help her catch up at home. We were thrilled to discover the Mathnasium – a center that not only focuses on Math, but does so in a way that is fun and customized to the child.
The Mathnasium of Gilbert helps students build their fundamental skills in Math, provide school homework help and test preparation – all with no additional homework! All practice is done at the center with specially trained Mathnasium certified instructors.
I am still in disbelief that the kids are going back to school next week! Whether you are getting ready to send your kids off for the first time, or for the last time, here are some fun ideas to make back-to-school fun and memorable for your child(ren).
I’d be willing to argue that kids waking up before parents are ready is the number one complaint among sleep-deprived parents. Before kids can read a clock, they can recognize colors! So I created a super simple solution – a color-coded clock!
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My kids love being read to – and they love when they have fun activities to accompany the story! This week I brought an idea to life that I remember seeing a long time ago. This activity accompanies the book There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly by Lucille Colandro. Colandro has an entire series of children’s books themed around “There was an old Lady who Swallowed a (fill in the blank)” and this activity will work for every book!
What you need
- One of the There Was an Old Lady… books
- Pipe Cleaners
- Alphabet beads
- Mrs. Butter-worths syrup bottle (clean and dry)
You may not have an empty syrup bottle lying around – but, that is what makes this activity so cute!
Better add Mrs. Butter-worth syrup & lots of waffles to the grocery list! #EveryMomDay Click To Tweet
What you need to do
Assemble your words. You will want to create a word for each item the old lady swallows. My book had the list on the back of the book (which made it easy!). How you do this may depend on the age of your children. You could have an older child sound the animals out and spell them by stringing the beads on the pipe cleaners. A preschool child can look for the letters you tell her to find and help string them. A toddler could string the beads you provide them or you could create them yourself! After stringing your beads on, twist at the end and cut off the excess pipe cleaner with scissors.
Read & Enjoy. When your words are all made it’s time to read and enjoy! Give your child(ren) the “Old Woman” (aka the Mrs. Butter-worth syrup container) and begin to read the book. Each time the old woman swallows an item, have your child drop that word into the woman’s belly! Adjust the activity for your child’s skills and abilities. Whether they are looking for the word themselves, sounding out the first letter, identifying colors (we used a different color for each word) or dropping the word you provide them.
What it teaches
- Fine motor skills. Kids will work on their fine motor skills as they assemble the words, stringing the letter beads onto the pipe cleaners. They will also work on similar skills as they pick up each word and drop them into the Old Lady’s belly!
- Taking turns. Kids will practice patience when participating in a group setting. Even 1:1, children will practice patience and turn taking between reading/listening and dropping the word into the bottle.
- Listening. This activity requires kids to pay close attention to which object is being swallowed, encouraging active listening skills.
- Letter/word recognition. Based on your child’s age and development, they will work on letter/sound/word recognition.
What else you can do
- Use a unique color for each word to work on color recognition
- Count the letters in each word
- Count the beads on each strip (if you used extra beads like I did)
- Make a unique set of words for multiple kids and pass the bottle around
- Make a unique set of words for each book in the series
- Create your own silly things for the Old Woman to swallow!
- Let the kids play with the leftover supplies! My 2 year old enjoyed stringing random letters on and off of pipe cleaners, whereas my 5 year old liked creating the alphabet (and her name) on her pipe cleaner. My 8 year old enjoyed creating silly/random words and phrases. My 5 year old also enjoyed creating her name by shaping 1-2 pipe cleaners into each letter of her name.
Share any tips or ideas for customizing this idea in the comments below!
This Learning Flower Clock helps teach kids how to read and write the time, when looking at an analog clock. The petals help them remember what minutes correspond with each number on the clock, and the leaves help them remember what the big and little hands represent. And it is a cute addition to any wall!
For this project you will need:
- One clock – preferably one with a yellow frame, the one I bought at Walmart is only available in stores… you could paint a clock if you cant find yellow, or just get creative with colors!
- 4 Sheets of construction paper in colors of your choosing. (2-petals, 1-stem, 1-leaves)
What you need to do:
STEP 1 ~ Cut your petals: Pick out 2 pieces of construction paper in the color that you would like to use for your flower petals. You want your petals to be slightly wider than the distance between neighboring numbers on the clock. For me, cutting each sheet into 8 equal pieces and rounding them out on one end, worked perfectly. I “played” with it on a scrap piece of paper first, then cut 12 petals out of my pink paper. Do not label the petals just yet – you will want to wait until after you attach them to the clock to make sure they all “read” the right way.
STEP 2 ~ Cut your leaves: Find the piece of construction paper that you want to use for the leaves. Fold/cut in half width-wise. Out of one half of the paper cut a big leaf, and then cut a smaller leaf out of the second half. I also preferred to wait to label my leaves until I glued them onto the stem later.
STEP 3 ~ Cut your Stem: Take a piece of paper in the color that you’d like your stem, and cut out a straight or curvy line diagonally across the paper – so it is as long as possible, and I like how it looks to have the point of the corner on the “finished” end.
STEP 4 ~ Attach your petals: You will want each petal to be centered with each number on the clock. I began with the 12, 3, 6, and 9, and used tape to secure them to the back of the clock. The tape should be on the back of the petal and will stick to the back/inside of the frame of the clock. Then you can carefully crease each petal so its not sticking up in the back. Fill in all the other numbers on your frame – overlapping the other petals, spacing them evenly, and keeping each petal centered with a number on the clock (not as tough as it sounds, promise!).
STEP 5 ~ Label the petals: Take your marker and write the minutes that correspond with the number on the clock, on the petal centered closest to that number.
STEP 6 ~ Assemble and label the leaves and stem: Tape (or glue) the leaves to the stem – one on each side. I decided to place one behind the stem, and one in front of the stem. Label the small leave with “hour” and the large leaf with “minute”
STEP 7 ~ Assemble on the wall: Hang your clock on the wall, then use tape to secure the stem/leaves in the correct spot, under the flower and tucking the top edge behind one of the petals.
The kids will love how fun and colorful this clock and wall decoration is, and you will love that it will help them learn how to tell time with an analog clock!