Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter C Preschool Week in Review (with book list)

Here is a look back at the fun things we did last week for the letter C!

Calendar Time

This was the center and right side of our calender set up. The left side only changes with the season and weather, so I didn't include it in the picture for size sake.

Action- clap (printed from Homeschool Share)
Country- China (printed from National Geographic)
Sign Language- C (Not sure where I got mine. You can print the same thing at ABC Teach)
Animal- caterpillar (printed from the Animal ABCs at 1+1+1=1)
Words that start with C- cat, car, crow, computer, camel, coat, carrot, crocodile, circle (Printed from Raising Rock Star Preschoolers at 1+1+1=1)

Bible Time

Top row and bottom left- Bible verse tune, Bible verse, talking point, letter of the week Bible song (printed from Raising Rock Star Preschoolers at 1+1+1=1)

Bottom middle and bottom right- paid for as part of our We Choose Virtues curriculum


We read books about cookies, caterpillars, cats, and cows, then some miscellaneous books as well. The only ones from the above picture that we read more than once were Cookiebot, the Amelia Bedilia book, The Cabin (this surprised me because it is a pretty boring phonics book), and The Cow Who Clucked. Bam Bam loooooved The Cow Who Clucked. Books we own that I didn't remember to photograph- The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

We are renewing these books as often as they will let us. We own the very taped and ratty looking Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. I am pretty sure we will own most of the others after Boogie's birthday and Christmas. I recommend all of these if you have boys who love trucks.


I try to put activities that focus on our letter of the week all around the kitchen. Here was our fridge for C week.

I made the 3-part cards and cannot share them because I copied and pasted clipart that isn't mine. The flashcards on top of our pocket chart (Target dollar spot) are from a fabulous and free mommy-made curriculum called "Zoomin Movin Alphabet" over at Royal Baloo and Logi-Bear too.

Since c is for colors, I put these dollar store window clings on the dishwasher.

Each week, I have one alphabet, one letter of the week, one name, one numbers, and one logic activity. I won't share the name one on here for obvious reasons. The logic activity is math, but not counting or numbers. It is things like patterns, shapes, sequence, size and measurement.

Top left- math/numbers- clothespin counting and clipping printed from Tips from a Typical Mom.

Top right- fine motor and creativity- construction reusable stickers from the Melissa and Doug vehicles set.

Middle left- literacy/whole alphabet and sensory- corn sensory bin with 26 wooden letter beads.

Middle right- math/logic- colored cars for patterning. There are letters on some of the cars, too, so there was some literacy work there.

Bottom left- sensory and creativity- oatmeal sensory bin with construction vehicles.

Bottom right- literacy/letter of the week- cork board Cs. Boogie put the upper or lowercase letter on the cork board, stuck the push pins in the letter, then used rubber bands to connect the push pins and make the letter. Bam Bam got the geoboard to play with during this time.

May be linking up with some of these great parties.
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Update! Baby # 3 and Calm Down Lotion

Hi All!

I have missed blogging but just don't have the time right now. I hope to make time to let you know, maybe very briefly, what Boogie and Bam Bam are doing for preschool/tot school in September.

I wanted to share two quick things before I put the baby down and nap.

1- We welcomed Baby Boy # 3 to our family on July 19th. He is beautiful and amazing and he doesn't have a real nickname yet, so I will keep you posted on that :)

Baby 3 at 1 day old. So stinking cute, if I do say so myself :)

Baby 3 at one month old. Such a charmer and snugglebug!

My 3 boys the day baby came home <3
So, that is why things have been quiet here for awhile. Not quiet in real life, but in blog land :)

2- Speaking of not quiet in real life, here is my latest invention.

I saw a similar idea on Love Teaching Kids yesterday, and made a few adjustments.

This is a jar of cetaphil, not scented, because we have sensitive skin and allergies in this family. I stripped the label (easy actually, thank you, cetaphil!), stickered it up, and waited about 2 seconds for a meltdown. Haha, okay, it was a lot longer than that. Both boys are obviously still adjusting to the baby, so I knew it wouldn't go unused today.

When Bam Bam lost it about something, I asked if he wanted some calm down lotion. Instant quiet. "Yeah..." he said, cautious and curious. I sat down next to him on the floor where he had dramatically dropped and massaged the lotion into his feet, counting his toes and tickling him as we went. Boogie and I made up a song to the tune of Barney's clean-up song that you might want to use while you rub in the lotion. "Calm down, calm down, everybody for awhile. Calm down, calm down, turn that frown into a smile."

The beauty of this is that I don't raise my voice or stay frustrated because how could I with such a cute pudgy little body wiggling and giggling as I tickle him? It calms everyone down and turns the mood positive, emphasizing snuggles and closeness instead of a negative consequence. I think there is a time and place for other types of consequences, and we use other methods as well, but right now my boys are clamoring for my attention and this is exactly right for us for many problems during the day.

Okay, going to try to put the baby down (again) and nap myself before the bigger boys get up.

I may be linking up to some of these great parties!
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Monday, November 12, 2012

DIY textured alphabet placemat

This is so easy and simple that I cannot believe I didn't think of it! It was actually Hubby-Man's idea and I just tweaked it.

We have been working hard at learning letters this school year, and are trying to put the alphabet everywhere. Boogie is really into it and will ask what letter words start with or make the beginning sound of a word and try to figure out the letter. We are continuing with a letter of the week approach, but with a lot of holistic activities as well. It seems to be working for Boogie, he knows the sounds of a few letters, he can recognize all the letters of his name and about 5 others, I think, at this point. He does not write any of them yet, but that will come.

So, the idea. Our latest way of encouraging Boogie to recognize letters is to make him a textured alphabet placemat.

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I bought a $2 plain(ish) placemat at Walmart and a $5 giant bag of glittered, foam, uppercase alphabet stickers in primary colors (and white, which it didn't say on the bag). 

I played with the colors (I wanted to do it Montessori style and have the consonants blue and the vowels red, but there weren't enough blue consonants. I kept all the vowels red, though, and didn't use red for any consonants. So the groundwork is there.) and arrangements until I settled on a layout I liked, then I peeled them and stuck them. That's all! The fact that they are raised and a bit textured from the glitter will help Boogie make connections between seeing the letters and recognizing them or writing them.  

Because the letters are all a uniform height, it absolutely works as a placemat! I imagine that Boogie will mostly play with it after he eats, though, and is waiting for his brother to finish. We have a rule that he has to stay at the table while Bam Bam, Hubby-Man or I am still eating, and he is allowed to color, look at a book, or do schoolwork if he is antsy. This will go on the list of "Keep Boogie at the table" tricks. 

This idea actually stemmed from the geography and history placemats that Rachel uses over at Grasping for Objectivity in my Subjective Life.  We plan on buying those placemats and using her reward method of memorization for the alphabet as well as the geography/history facts. Basically, she puts a treat on a state, president's photo, or country and asks her daughter to identify what is under the treat. If she does, she gets the treat (nut, raisin, marshmallow). If she does not correctly identify it, Rachel corrects her, moves the treat, and her daughter tries again. By 3.5 or 4, her daughter knew all the presidents, the 50 states, and something like 60 countries! Sign Boogie and Bam Bam up! We will start with the alphabet and maybe alternate with one other placemat since we are going through the alphabet so slowly (one letter a week) and there is a lot more to the alphabet than memorization.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

First Snow of the Season Memory Photo

I always mean to take pictures of our family's footprints when we go to the beach, but I always forget. That thought popped into my head today though, so I did the next best thing- took a picture of the boys' shoe prints in the first snow of the season.

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Boogie LOVED the snow, but poor Bam Bam had a lot of trouble maneuvering in all his layers. And he couldn't play with the sand toys because of his mittens. So he kept trying to run away and find someone who would take off his mittens. I got a couple cute pictures of them individually, but it is very hard to get them to both cooperate and smile for a brothers shot these days, so this will have to do :)
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Monday, November 5, 2012

FREE Bible Verse Printable- 1 Corinthians 10:26

We are teaching Boogie Bible verses that address certain undesirable behaviors. I hope to post a lot more about this at some point, but for now I wanted to share a freebie.

With two little ones less than 2 years apart, we are constantly talking about sharing. I looked around the blogosphere to see if I could find a verse that got to the heart of the issue, but finally settled on creating my own. The concept that I am trying to teach our boys is that nothing is theirs. Everything we have is a gift from God, and all of it belongs to Him or comes from His goodness. I decided that 1 Corinthians 10:26 was a wonderful and simple verse to use to illustrate that fact.

To download this Bible verse printable, just click on the picture below. Once you open the PDF, you can choose color or black and white. 

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Family Birthdays Photo Prayer Calendar

Both Boogie and Bam Bam are all about birthdays. Bam Bam's current favorite song is "Happy Birthday", which he requests by going "ba da" and blowing at me. When Boogie and I play with cloud dough, there must be candles, cupcake liners, and a million rounds of the song. There have been a lot of birthday parties around here for friends and family in the past few months, and the Lord gave me an idea based on the boys' enthusiasm.

I have been trying to find ways to make prayer a constant focus of our day. And not just prayer for ourselves, but prayer for others- for family and friends, as well as for the world. I plan on sharing more about this soon, but for today, here is the latest way we are praying.

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Each day, when we do our calendar time (you can see the post that highlights how we do calendar time by clicking on that link), the spot that used to have our little prayer book now has a calendar with photos of family members on the day of their birth. Boogie is not reading yet, but is very into family photos. So, we look at the day on our big calendar, then look at the day on the little calendar to see if it is anyone's birthday. If it is, if there is a picture on the current day, we start by identifying the person, because some family members we don't see very often. I tell Boogie the person's name and how they are related to us. We talk about all the fun things we do on birthdays. Then, we pray for the person, asking God to bless them and give them a special day. If there is anything specific that I know that person is going through or dealing with (health issues, pregnancy, financial problems, military service), we pray specifically. We thank God for that person.

An extension that I would like to do is to be a blessing to the person and have Boogie decorate a card that we can send. I used to be great about that kind of thing but since having kids, have dropped the ball. I hope to include Boogie in creating a special card and teaching him about random acts of kindness. For any family members reading this, know that even if you don't get a card, we are praying! Arts and crafts always depend on the day with a three year old boy, I am finding.

How do you make prayer a fun and tangible thing for your young child?

May be linking up to these great parties!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DIY Hard Hat Cake Pops

One of my dear friends makes amazing desserts for her kids' parties. Her creativity in cooking and baking always makes me feel like I need to go back to housewife school because I must have missed a class. When she made cake pops for her son's baptism about 2 years ago now, I filed the idea away because Hubby-Man and I loved them so much.

After our sweet little Bam Bam's dino-themed first birthday party this summer, I asked Boogie what kind of cake he wanted. Without hesitation, he told me he wanted an excavator cake for his birday.

Yes, my child can pronounce excavator with great clarity, but adorably cannot pronounce birthday.

Thank goodness for the internet. I do not know how mothers mustered up the energy to create fancy cakes for their kids without any kind of guide when my generation was little and before that. I pinned away construction cakes with reckless abandon. Boogie's Lightning McQueen second birthday cake and Bam Bam's dino cake were cute, but I didn't want to use another mold. They stress me out because no matter how much Crisco and cooking spray I use, I always lose the pattern and do it by hand and it never turns out like I want. An icing artist, I am not. While I was searching, I remember cake pops, which brings me back to this post. The light bulb went off and I knew that, along with his excavator cake, I wanted to make hard hat cake pops.

I was surprised that there wasn't already a tutorial for such a thing since there were so many construction parties on Pinterest. I saw hard hat cake pops for sale, but no how to's. So here I am to fill in that blank with my own imperfect but delicious instructions for how I made Boogie's.

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I am going to include a lot of pictures and links back to the sites that helped me get through the process. It is time-consuming but not hard if you do all the steps. I followed most of the directions at Sweet April's blog, but missed the shortening tip the first time. More on that, later.

The picture you see above, the ones for the party, were my second attempt. They are not perfect but they are a million times better than the first time!

Here is what you need to make these adorable treats for your little one.

If you are making any other dessert, one cake mix will make plenty. If you are only making cake pops for dessert, you should probably make 2 boxes. They go fast! I forgot to include two things in this picture, I just realized. I also used a cake pop stand (and Styrofoam but you don't need both) and decorative icing in a tube for the details. Sorry!

First thing you need to do is bake a cake mix according to the directions.

Mmmm. I love yellow cake. My single cake pan was dirty and I was too lazy to clean it. That's okay, because the next step is, after the cake(s) cool, take them out of the pan and toss them in your mixer. Add anywhere from 1/2 a can to a whole can of icing. I chose vanilla icing and used about 3/4 of a can but I have used more and less with similar results. I suggest using half a can and testing the stickiness as you add more to taste. You want the cake and icing mix to be cookie dough consistency.

Next step is to scoop out the cake and roll it into a ball. You can use a melon baller or a tablespoon to help you. I did it by hand. This picture is from the first time I did it and they were TOO BIG. You should be able to easily fit 2 dozen onto a cookie sheet, not one dozen. This was partly why my first attempt failed. The balls were too heavy. I am sure some people have success with larger-sized cake balls, but the ones I made successfully were probably rounded tablespoon-sized.

Once you have all the balls rolled, you need to freeze them for at least a half hour. You can skip this step, but it will make the next step harder. I only had room for one cookie sheet at a time in my freezer, so I made the balls in shifts, and put the rest in tupperware in the fridge. I had to reshape them later but not a big deal.

When the half hour is almost over, prepare your candy melts. Think about how many cake pops you need or want to make, then take out half as many candy melts and cut them in half. These will be the hat brims. I got that brilliant idea from this post on KC Bakes.

Next, find a microwaveable dish with a lid and dump the rest of your candy melts inside. I didn't do this, but I would suggest using a container that is higher than it is wide so you can maximize the dipping. You want to be able to dunk the whole cake pop. If your dish is wide, you will need more candy melts to do this than if the dish is tall.

Now, here is the awesome step that I found out about in time for Boogie's party, and that made all the difference in the world. Add shortening to the candy melts. This will make the liquid thinner, which means a smoother coating and less chance that the cake pops will get stuck in the candy melts and fall off. Thank you, Homemaker Chic, for that bit of wisdom! Like I said, Sweet April's, did mention shortening, but Homemaker Chic suggested adding a lot more, so I did, and that made a huge difference.

Once you have your candy melted, and your cake pops frozen, get your sticks ready. This is another tip from Homemaker Chic that made all the difference to how my second batch turned out.

Dip your sticks into the candy melt. Make a hole in the cake pop and drizzle some candy melt inside the hole you just made. Dip your stick into the candy melt liquid again, then put the stick into the cake pop hole you already made. Lay the cake pop back on your cookie sheet and let it harden without any pressure on the "glue" or the cake pop. That "double glue" as she calls it makes all the difference. Even if your cake pops are not 100% frozen, that step will prevent you from losing any cake pops.

After 5 minutes or so, the candy should have set. You will probably want to re-heat the candy melt liquid you were using, just to make sure it is soupy and ready to go.

Then, the moment of truth. It is time to dip your cake pops. If your cake pops were not too big, were frozen and you did the double glue, there is no reason why any should fall off. The second time I made them, I did not lose a single one! All you have to do is dip your cake pop in the candy melt and pull it out, quickly.

The coating was beautiful and smooth with the addition of shortening! Next, add your hat brim, before the coating hardens. Just stick the half candy melt where you want it on the cake pop.

Then, dip the whole thing again. When you take it out, you can do a little tap or spin it around a little to make sure there is no dripping, then put your pop either in Styrofoam or a cake pop stand to harden.

Just for comparison, here is the first set I made, frozen before dipping, but without shortening, and without the "double glue."

Huge difference, right?? Don't let your cake pops look like that. Friends don't let friends serve mangled hard hats at parties.

When they are cool and set, use your decorative icing to make those 3 lines on top that make them look like hard hats.

A few sidenotes.

These would also make cute ducks if you used orange candy melts for the beaks (instead of brims), and used icing or candy for the eyes. Perfect for a baby shower, as my BFF pointed out!

A cooler way to contain these and display them then in a cheap cardboard cake pop stand would be like the mom did at Project Nursery (those came from a bakery, and there was no how to, but I worked from that picture once I got the idea). I would have loved to put them in a bucket or in the back of a dump truck with dirt cake, but I ran out of time and forgot.

Just in case you were wondering, Boogie and Bam Bam loved these, with and without shortening :)

Look terrible, still taste delicious, Mama!

Silly boy BEGGED to sit in his brother's high chair.

May be linking up to these great parties!
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