Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's on the Tray Wednesday 8

It's the middle of the week! Halfway to the weekend! You know what that means?

It's time for another fun week of What's on the Tray Wednesday! This is a link party for trays, bins, boxes, and bags- basically any way that you contain an activity to help your child focus on one thing at a time and to clean up before moving on to the next thing.

This week, we are doing Dr. Seuss tot trays. You can find my post here

Disclaimer: I do not put a "pin it" button on my WOTT posts because the pictures are not mine. If you are reading this post and would like to pin an activity, please click the link and pin it from the original blog!

The most clicked post from last week was from Jada Roo Can Do! Andrea already has her St. Patrick's Day trays out because her trays are switched monthly, and she also has some practical life skills trays, like building, cutting and opening/closing. My favorite tray of hers this month is the tray full of bottle caps. I actually just collected a second container of bottle caps from all the various places I was keeping them in the kitchen and I was trying to figure out what to do with them! Thanks for the idea, Andrea :)

Now on to my top three featured posts.

First, Jessica at Little Tiger Growing Up put together an owl/bird themed week for her son. She has trays that work on letters, Chinese characters, math concepts (tangrams), creativity, music...but my favorite tray was this simple art tray. She gave Tiger a Monet print and some bird stickers to decorate it. What a fabulous way to introduce art to a toddler! And to make it interactive. Love it. Tiger doesn't understand that this is a famous painting but he might recognize it when he sees it again.

Next, at We Can Do All Things, Adeline is enjoying the oil drip pan her mom hung up for her as a giant magnet board. Sandy has found so many amazing ways to use this tool, and I loved this idea so much I pinned it and cannot wait to buy an oil drip pan this weekend (okay, Hubby Man?) and figure out where in the world to put it. This week, Adeline was color matching on her oil drip pan magnet board of awesomeness.

Lastly, Lori from Cachey Mama's Classroom has a fun lacing activity to go along with The Mitten by Jan Brett. Since this is one of Boogie's favorite books recently,  I am partial to mitten activities :) So simple and easy to replicate, but great for fine motor skills!

Now, on to week 8!

The following rules are pretty standard across linky parties that I participate in, but it's all worth repeating :)

1. Link up a fun, kid-centered learning tray activity. Please link to the actual post, and not your homepage.

2. This linky party is only for activities that are contained- either to a tray, a bin, a workbox, a bag or whatever else you use to keep one activity in one place.

3. When you link up, please make sure you have included my What's on the Tray Wednesday button or a text link back to my site somewhere on your site (in the post, in your sidebar, on a linky party page). This way other people who are looking for tray activities can come back here and see what everyone else is doing.

4. I would love it if everyone who links up would become a follower of my blog via Google Friend Connect. If you leave a comment letting me know that you are a new follower, I will follow you back. It is always fun to "meet" new people who are doing the same types of things with their kids!

5. Each week, I will feature my three favorite trays from the previous week. So, if you link up, you are giving me permission to use one of your pictures. Hopefully, you will get some traffic on your blog as well :)

6. When you link up, I will visit your blog and comment on the wonderful things you are doing with your kids. Everyone loves feedback and encouragement!

7. Please comment on at least one other blog that has linked up. Again, people blog to connect with each other, and everyone appreciates being appreciated :)

WOTT is linked up here

Links away!
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Pinterest, Copyrights, Watermarks, Oh my!

I am not even sure how to start this post. I guess I will start with the positive! On the bottom of my right sidebar, I now have this button:

You can pin from H is for Homeschooling! I do have some guidelines, which I will get to below. Click on the "permission to pin" button to find a list of blogs granting pinning permission.

Okay, now on to the negative. That was fast, I know. Sorry!

The button is connected with my copyright and terms of use because the issues are related. If you go to this post at Corkboard Connections, you will get an overview of the problem, which is discussed much more in depth here at Technorati. Short version, Pinterest is awesome (how awesome do I think it is? I have over 1000 pins, and counting.) but they're kind of double talking as far as their terms of use. They say, pretty much in the same breath, to pin whatever you want and to only pin items that you solely own. Get 'Er Done Momma provides the actual quotes, if you are interested. When you sign up for Pinterest, the fine print also states that "you hereby grant [them] a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services." Basically, Pinterest can do whatever they want with whatever you post. I think the same is true of Facebook, Google and most social networking sites that I use, but it sounds scary in writing.

With that in mind:

Be careful what you post. If you own it, I suggest using a watermark with your site name placed on the photo somewhere that it cannot be removed. I followed directions provided here at Monkeys Love Donuts to start doing this for my pictures. It is very easy. I started doing this based on a problem that Discovery Days and Montessori Moments posted about here where someone was copying and pasting entire posts from her blog onto their own blog. The explanation was innocent but it is still distressing.

If you don't own something you are pinning, make sure the blogger has given permission to pin, has a pin it button in their post, or use a photo that is obviously prepared for Pinterest. Most bloggers who are sharing their work with Pinterest in mind provide photos with a caption and their blog name already on it. I am not doing this 100% of the time, but I am being more aware of it.

If something is handmade and for sale (ie- Etsy items), consider that pinning directions for how to do it might cost someone else money. Do I have Etsy items on my Pinterest boards? Yes. But after reading this post from Joy in the Jumble, I am not sure that I should. I do not want to pay someone if I can do it myself, but when people post "how to" type pins of simple Etsy items, the shopowners probably do lose business.

Pin from original sources only. This is a great post from Just Lovely Things about this issue. Make sure before you repin that there is an actual picture and link and that it is the original source. I have pinned some things that I found out later were just pictures from Google and I had to search for the original article. I completely agree with her that credit should always be given to the original creator and not a copy cat. That is why I try to be very specific about where I get ideas from if they are not my own. And I try not to just say "I got the idea here" without typing out where "here" is. Some people won't click the link but if they see the blog title, at least you have tried.

My personal copyright and pinning guidelines for H is for Homeschooling are there at the bottom of my right sidebar, but I am going to repeat them here for good measure. I love Pinterest. I love knowing that people are enjoying my ideas. But, I think that people should always link back if they use my ideas or printables and I do not want pictures of my children on Pinterest or other blogs, unless I have given specific permission (ie- a guest post). If you have already used a picture of my boys and can replace it with a picture without them, I appreciate that. If you see a picture you would like to use and can crop it so that Boogie is not visible, I appreciate that. Always ask me if you are unsure. I try to always provide pictures of activities without pictures of Boogie. I am now putting watermarks on all my pictures and titles on many of my pictures for pinning purposes as well. I have not started putting titles on my trays yet, but they are pinnable. In general, I include a "pin it" button in any post with pictures that are appropriate for pinning. My Tot School posts do not include a pin it button because the pictures include my son. My Fave Five Friday and What's on the Tray Wednesday posts do not include pin it buttons because the photographs are not mine.

I know this wasn't my usual kind of post, but I think this is important, so I wanted to take the time to do it. Thank you for reading my blog, pinning my photos, linking up to my parties, hosting wonderful link parties, and leaving encouragement in your comments! I really appreciate the inspiration provided by the homeschooling, parenting and crafting community that I have found online.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Dr. Seuss Tot Trays

We're back with new tot trays this week! Hooray! And in case you can't tell when you see the pictures, I had a TON of fun planning! And the only money I spent was on some new Dr. Seuss books for Boogie ($5 at Walmart! Woot!) because I had everything else on hand! Yay!

I included either the actual books or pictures of the cover pages with each tray. We have a set from the library with 6 books in it so I did not have covers for those, which is why I printed out pictures. We don't have a copy of There's a Wocket in My Pocket, but I think my mom is bringing it this week when she visits. Boogie has already been enjoying the books for the first time. The last time we tried to read Dr. Seuss to him was when we did our letter E week and we were reading Horton Hatches the Egg and I think maybe it was just too long and involved for him. He has been absolutely loving the beginner's books. Since I was raised on Dr. Seuss, I am loving this! Hubby- Man is reading many of these for the first time and laughing through them, which I am also loving! Parenting has so many fun moments :)

On to the trays!

I love this tray. It is so simple but I have always adored this book. I wanted to touch a know what a truffula tree felt like so badly, and I always felt a little guilty, but I kind of wanted a thneed. I imagine it to be kind of like microfiber except even better. Moving beyond my childhood now, this tray is called "transferring truffula tufts" :) Dr. Seuss brings out the alliteration lover in me, what can I say?  Boogie can drop and dump the truffula tufts, or use the spoon to transfer them. We can count tufts by total or color and sort them by color as well. We can also make patterns.


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This is our green eggs tray. Reading Confetti reminded me about using plastic Easter eggs, and I decided to use just green ones. Like in our E week egg tray, there is a matching component with this tray. The tops of each egg have either a shape, letter or number to be matched to the bottom with the same shape, letter or number. There are 4 different shades of green eggs so there is a color shade matching component there. There is shape, letter, and number recognition involved in this tray. Boogie can open and close the egg carton and the actual eggs. There are 4 different colored green pom poms distributed throughout the eggs. The pom poms are not the same colors as the egg unfortunately, but Boogie will still enjoy them. I included green tongs so Boogie can use his fine motor skills to pick up the pom poms once he has flung them far and wide across the room. We can count the eggs and pom poms by color or total. We can sort the eggs and pom poms by color. We can make patterns out of the different colored eggs and pom poms too.

This tray is partly for letter recognition and partly for the fun and surprise factor of taking things in and out of the pocket. My plan is that I will take a letter, or a couple letters, and put them in the pocket. Then Boogie can take them out and we will talk about what the letters are. I am thinking we can spell simple words like his name, Mama, Dada and baby, too, just for fun. The box that the pocket is on also opens and closes with velcro. Besides putting things in and out, naming the letters, and making words, we can sort the letters by color. We can also match upper case and lower case letters.

I loved this book, too. Who am I kidding? I love them all! This tray was a bit more involved in the making and the trial and error process took awhile. First, I tried using homemade mod podge and covering the mini yogurt cups with tissue paper. That was a huge mess. Then, I was going to do construction paper like I did with our origami frog sorting cups. Thankfully, part of that process involves cutting a cup to spread it flat for a template. That was when I discovered the labels are not glued on. I peeled off the labels and had 5 blank hats. I used permanent marker to write the numbers, scribble some color on, and make the marks for the feathers. I used an exacto knife to make slits for the feathers. Ta da!  So, this tray is a color matching and counting tray. Boogie can put the feathers into the hats based on the colors, then count how many feathers are in each hat. This is a self-correcting activity because there are only the right number and color feathers for each hat. We can also count the hats or the total number of feathers.

I got the worksheet for this tray from Joyfully Weary. This is a matching game with Dr. Seuss hats. I think it is too involved for Boogie this year, but I thought it was too cute not to try. He is very good with puzzles and it is a similar concept so we will practice some direction following and see what he does with it.

One thing I love about these trays is all the different sensory experiences with touch they provide- the pom poms, feathers, jean pocket, wooden letters, and egg carton are such different textures than paper and plastic, which is what everything else is.

Want to see some of the other fun things we are doing for our Dr. Seuss theme week? You can download the Cat in the Hat dot marker page that I made here. And you can see our Dr. Seuss muffin tin meal here. We also did a Dr. Seuss Hat Pattern Activity here.

Linking up to these great parties
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Dr. Seuss Muffin Tin Meal

I am jumping on the muffin tin bandwagon! Boogie loves muffin cups so after some resisting, followed by some researching, I decided to give it a try. When I showed Boogie what I was doing, he got really excited and started saying please and cleaning up the activity he was working on. I told him to go sit by his chair and he raced to the table.

Without further ado, here is Boogie's first muffin tin meal, a Dr. Seuss themed one!

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I made Boogie green scrambled eggs by adding a drop of food coloring before cooking. Then I put some ham on a toothpick. He does not like lunch meat so I was not sure how this would go over. He took a bite and cried for his milk. Sigh. But he ate all the eggs after I convinced him they were really eggs. Obviously, this is for Green Eggs and Ham.

The grapes are filling in as mulberries for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Boogie ate the last of the blueberries yesterday, which is what I was going to use. Boogie only ate a couple, which surprised me because he usually loves grapes.

I got this idea from the Muffin Tin Mom, and this is actually why I decided to start with a Dr. Seuss week. I alternated slices of strawberries and bananas to make a Dr. Seuss hat for The Cat in the Hat. I made this hat on a popsicle stick instead of a skewer. Boogie ate a whole banana and then some strawberries.

The goldfish are for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I didn't have the colored ones and I didn't have a blue cupcake liner for the water. You make do with what you have! This is the only part of the tin that Boogie emptied. Of course.

The apple slices are for Ten Apples Up On Top. Again, Boogie usually loves apples, but wasn't interested.

That last strange looking mess is lime flavored green Jell-O that is standing in for Oobleck rom Bartholomew and the Oobleck. As far as I know, I came up with this idea on my own (though I am sure others have thought of it, too) and I was so excited because I was sure Boogie would love it. He fought me on it but finally tried a bite, spit it out, tried another bite, told me he liked it, ate a few more bites, then didn't want any more. Silly Boogie!

So, that is my first attempt at making a themed, fun, relatively healthy muffin tin meal! I consider it  a success! He did not eat everything BUT besides his excitement and going to the table without a fuss, the big deal is that HE TRIED EVERYTHING! He chewed and swallowed at least one bite of everything I gave him. I was so proud of him and really glad I tried this. So we will definitely be muffin tinning more often :)

You can also see our Dr. Seuss tot trays here or download the Cat in the Hat dot marker page I made here. You can also see the Dr. Seuss hat pattern activity here.

Linking up to these great parties!
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lesson Learned- Dirt and Boogers

I just have to say that I love reading and sharing the guest posts for my "Lesson Learned" series. We all have moments that we look back on and know we could have done things differently. Often we feel ashamed of those moments and don't tell anyone about them because we think we have failed. My goal in hosting this series is that we will see that even though we all show the perfect side of parenting, homeschooling, and crafting on our blogs, there is a whole mess of imperfect that DOESN'T mean we have failed, but instead means we have learned a lesson.

This week, Amanda from Dirt and Boogers shares about a lesson learned. Her son, J, is so stinking cute, and Amanda does all kinds of amazing sensory activities with him. One of my favorite things about discovering Amanda's blog, aside from the perfect title, is that she lets J learn through getting messy and has tons of pictures to prove it. Until I started researching homeschooling over the summer, I NEVER would have done most of the things I do with Boogie. But Dirt and Boogers is one of the blogs that opened my eyes to the joys of letting your child get messy, make noise and use household items in a safe and experimental way. Please read her post below and then head over to her blog to find some fun and frugal ideas to do with your child!


I’m Amanda and I blog over at Dirt and Boogers.  I have a little boy, J, who will be 2 in May.  I was so excited about Sierra’s new feature and immediately signed up to post.  Then then dread set in …“What in the heck was I going to write about?”   Sure, I make plenty of mistakes, but I don’t’ like sharing them with EVERYONE!

My first thought was to share an activity gone bad…which I have several…but I thought I’d get a bit more personal. 

When J was 14 months old I decided to start doing “lesson plans” with him.  I picked a theme, checked out books from the library, and made up art projects that all went with the theme.  Sounds wonderful huh?  The problem was that I was doing activities that were way out of reach for him developmentally.  The sad part is that I have a degree in child development, and I knew better.
You see, J’s been a bit slower to talk than the rest of his friends.  I thought I’d move things along by doing more structured activities with him.

Our theme about Zoo Animals was about the time that I knew I needed to change something.

I decided to do 2 full weeks of activities on zoo animals and focus each day on a different animal.  At the end of the 2 weeks, we had a fridge full of zoo animals.

The problem was that out of all these animals, J only made two of them!  I did all the other ones while he watched!  GASP!!!  He was able to color the tiger and giraffe by himself, the rest of them required a lot of “assistance” from me. 

I wanted him to do them correctly, so I forced him to create the way I wanted him to create.  It wasn’t fun for him and it wasn’t fun for me. 

Here’s me helping doing his craft activity.

I still feel really silly for trying this with J.  I would never have done things so developmentally inappropriate with the children I used to work with.  It’s amazing how someone can throw all their education and experience out of the window when it comes to their own child!

I can’t say that he got much out of doing these craft projects.  He just wasn’t developmentally ready to do crafts.  Young toddlers really need to be doing a lot of sensory activities and open ended art.
Since then, I’ve changed things up and we do more free, child-centered, play.  I’m happier and J’s happier.


If you would like to participate in this series (running on Sundays), please email me at hisforhomeschooling {at} gmail {dot} com!  
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

{FREE} Cat in the Hat Dot Marker Page

I am planning a Dr. Seuss week for Boogie in honor of the wonderful rhyming king's birthday on March 2nd. As I have been collecting, oh, about a million ideas on Pinterest, I was brainstorming what I wanted to do with Boogie. I am always trying to simplify great ideas to make them appropriate for my little boy. As I was searching, I thought to myself, "I hope I find a The Cat in the Hat hat dot marker page." As I looked and looked and looked through pins and printables, I did not see one. (If there is one out there, I would love to know about it so I can link to it!) So, I found a great template created by Amanda Post at (if you have never been to her site, there are tons of other great freebies), created a dot marker page for Boogie, then contacted Amanda and got her permission to share it with all of you (Thanks, Amanda)! So, just in time for a Dr. Seuss unit, here (when you click on the picture below) is a very simple hat dot marker page, perfect for the tot in your house!

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If you are new to dot marker pages, first I suggest you laminate it or put it in a sheet protector (not necessary but helps protect from busy little hands and constant use), then here are some fun ways you can use them:

* with dot markers, also called bingo markers. You can find them on amazon, at a craft store (we got ours at Michaels with a coupon), or as bingo markers at the dollar store. The actual dot markers are non-toxic, which is why I went with that option. I can't vouch for the bingo markers.
* with any small round object (flat marbles, pom poms, pennies, and bingo chips are some of the most popular).
* put it on an oil drip pan, fridge, cookie sheet, or magnet dry erase board and use with these magnets or create your own.

Here is how we are going to use the page. First, I am going to color around the blank dots in the colors of the hat (red on top, white next, then alternating down). I provided the printable in black and white to save on ink for myself and everyone else. You're welcome :) If there is a high demand for a color version, I am happy to provide one, though! If your child is old enough, you can have them do the coloring before you laminate it for some more fine motor fun. Once the page is colored and laminated, we are going to use a combination of red pom poms and cotton balls (I don't think I have enough white pom poms) to fill in the blank dots and complete the pattern. This activity works fine motor skills and coordination (coloring if your child participates in that, dot markers, or using fingers, tongs, tweezers or chopsticks to place the manipulatives on the dots), 1:1 correspondence and counting skills, color recognition, color matching, and patterning. That's quite a lot out of one simple black and white worksheet!

If you do use this worksheet and blog about it, please be sure to link back to my blog so others know where to get the file. I would also love it if you would let me know that you used it so I can visit your blog and see it in action! I will be sure to post pictures of Boogie too :)

This worksheet is intended for personal, non-profit use only.


For more Dr. Seuss fun, see Boogie's Dr. Seuss tot trays here , Boogie's Dr. Seuss muffin tin meal here, or the Dr. Seuss hat pattern activity here

Linking up to these great parties!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Fave Five Friday- All things Mardi Gras!

Hooray for Friday!

I have not switched out our trays recently, due to all the germs flying around our house. Boogie and I have not been up to much school time. But, if I had switched out his trays, we would have had more fun with a Mardi Gras theme than President's Day at his age. So, this week, Fave Five Friday is all about Mardi Gras! Here are my five favorite Mardi Gras activities that we will not get to because of time, resources, or Boogie's age.

Disclaimer: I am not adding a "pin it" button to this page because these are NOT my ideas or creations and I am linking to posts, not pins. If you would like to pin these fabulous ideas, please make sure you click the link and pin them from the originating site! And you should go check out these awesome sites anyway :) 

You know how I just can't resist a sensory bin, right? Maybe someday I will have enough time and supplies built up that I can change them out for every single holiday and special occasion. Some day is most definitely not today. But this wonderful Mardi Gras sensory bin from The Picky Apple makes me wish it was!

Boogie finally enjoys tracing his hands so this adorable Mardi Gras mask from Handprint and Footprint Art might have been do-able this year, if not for everyone feeling so crummy. I love that this is really simple to make so that Boogie could do it without much help or guidance.

I am thinking about doing muffin tin meals with Boogie in March and seeing how they go. He is an incredibly picky eater so I am hoping adding some creativity to meal time will make him more adventurous. I love this Mardi Gras inspired healthy lunch from JDaniel4's Mom.

Maro's Kindergarten Crafts has this mask matching game that I can see working in two different ways. The way it is shown on the site is to cut the mask in half like mini-puzzles. I think you could also print out two of each and do some matching that way. To include your child, you could have them color the masks and cut them in half. If you are doing the double printing version, and your child is old enough, have them try to make identical masks for matching. If they are not old enough, maybe just stick to a single color for each mask :)

Unfortunately for me and for Bam Bam, Boogie has been really into noises lately. He went from just saying "funny noise" to also saying "silly sound" recently. He drops things to see what noise they make. He pushes different vehicles around his train tables to see how the wheels squeak or whir differently. He bangs puzzle pieces and pot lids together. I try to let him experiment when the timing is right (ie- Bam Bam isn't sleeping or grouchy). These Mardi Gras shakers from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas would be right up Boogie's alley because they make noise but they would also be right up my alley because they don't make too much noise.

And that wraps up another Fave Five Friday! I have a few more ideas on my Mardi Gras Pinterest board, if you are still celebrating. Otherwise, tune in next week :)
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

What a nice surprise at the end of a couple difficult weeks! Jean from the Dogwood Academy gave me the One Lovely Blog Award!

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
1. Link back to the one who gave you this award.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

Here are the 15 bloggers I am passing this award on to:
Each of these wonderful blogs has inspired me in my parenting, homeschooling and/or blogging. The women who write them are so special and sweet, so please go and see all the wonderful things they have to share. 
Have a great day!
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What's on The Tray Wednesday 7

Better late than never! Thanks for bearing with me while my family recovered. And thanks to everyone who linked up over the past two weeks!

It's time for another fun week of What's on the Tray Wednesday! This is a link party for trays, bins, boxes, and bags- basically any way that you contain an activity to help your child focus on one thing at a time and to clean up before moving on to the next thing.

Disclaimer: I do not put a "pin it" button on my WOTT posts because the pictures are not mine. If you are reading this post and would like to pin an activity, please click the link and pin it from the original blog!

Because the party ran two weeks, I decided to do the features a bit differently. This week I will feature the top 3 most clicked, as well of 3 of my favorites.

Most Clicked:

At Because They Love To Learn , Chrissy shares a simple, frugal, colorful sensory activity that teaches color matching with conversation hearts. Such a great Valentine activity for little to no cost!

Deb at Living Montessori Now shares how simple it is to turn a craft activity into a Montessori tray. Here, she shows how to present a heart-making activity using pony beads and pipe cleaners. The presentation is lovely and the finished result is precious.

At We Can Do All Things, Adeline's mama uses pom poms to teach 1:1 correspondence and color matching. What can't you do with pom poms? They are so good for fine motor skills and provide a sensory experience.


Over at Teaching My Blessings, Trina shares many wonderful ideas that she did with her boys over Valentine's Day. My favorite tray was this frugal, colorful, fun fine motor math tray. Try saying that three times fast! Her boys will match the clothespin with the correct written number with the card with the correct amount of hearts.

Amanda at Dirt and Boogers has done it again. She provides an amazing sensory experience with the potential for a huge mess and a lot of fun! What toddler wouldn't love this? A sensory tub full of ice and jello, red and hearts? Perfect for Valentine's Day!

At My Oatmeal Kisses, Kate shares all kinds of Valentine activities, including book tie-ins, pretend play, and this wonderful fine motor, 1:1 correspondence activity using heart shaped cereal! How cool is that? Snacking and learning about the letter V at the same time!

If you were featured this week, please feel free to use the button below!

Now, it's on to another fun week at What's on the Tray Wednesday!

The following rules are pretty standard across linky parties that I participate in, but it's all worth repeating :)

1. Link up a fun, kid-centered learning tray activity. Please link to the actual post, and not your homepage.

2. This linky party is only for activities that are contained- either to a tray, a bin, a workbox, a bag or whatever else you use to keep one activity in one place.

3. When you link up, please make sure you have included my What's on the Tray Wednesday button or a text link back to my site somewhere on your site (in the post, in your sidebar, on a linky party page). This way other people who are looking for tray activities can come back here and see what everyone else is doing.

4. I would love it if everyone who links up would become a follower of my blog via Google Friend Connect. If you leave a comment letting me know that you are a new follower, I will follow you back. It is always fun to "meet" new people who are doing the same types of things with their kids!

5. Each week, I will feature my three favorite trays from the previous week. So, if you link up, you are giving me permission to use one of your pictures. Hopefully, you will get some traffic on your blog as well :)

6. When you link up, I will visit your blog and comment on the wonderful things you are doing with your kids. Everyone loves feedback and encouragement!

7. Please comment on at least one other blog that has linked up. Again, people blog to connect with each other, and everyone appreciates being appreciated :)

WOTT is linked up here

Links away!
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

This 100th post is brought to you by two new linkies!

I am taking a break from my regularly scheduled coughing, sneezing, and sniffling to bring you some exciting blog news.

This is my 100th post! WOOT!! Achoo!

I did not get a fave five friday post out and I do not have any new content for this week (though I do hope to catch up on tot school posts) BUT I did update my pages, which you can find right under my header. One of the big updates is that my sensory bin page and my play dough page now include linky parties (maybe there is a different term if they run for an extended period? I dunno! I'm new at all this!) which will run throughout 2012. I love sharing my stuff on other people's sites, so I wanted to make it easier for you to share your stuff here :)

Happy linking!

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Lesson Learned- Taming the Goblin

This week in my new guest post series, Lesson Learned, "The Monko" from Taming the Goblin is here to share about life at home with her little boy. Goblin and Boogie are both October 2009 babies, so I always enjoy seeing the ways they are the same or different regarding their skills, abilities, and interests. I love the way the Monko writes about the things that go right and the things that don't go as planned with humor and reflection. She often makes me giggle at the same time that she is making me realize something about parenting. Her post "Someone forgot the importance of Child-led" is one of the reasons I felt compelled to be more transparent in my own blogging. I highly recommend that you read her post below and then go browse around her kid-friendly, idea-filled blog!


Since I found out about this series of guest posts back in January I have been fretting. I signed up straight away thinking that as I often have bad mummy days and disaster craft days I'd have plenty of material to choose from. Only the pressure of having to screw up made my life go swimmingly well for the best part of a month - I was the perfect parent (or at least my occasional grumps at Goblin were not interesting enough 'failures' to warrant a post). I was really starting to panic that I would have nothing to offer but I needn't have worried......

So on Friday I decided to make seed-cake bird feeders. I had seen beautiful pictures on other blogs of interestingly shaped seed-cakes suspended from trees by pretty ribbons. They looked adorable, and here is where I made my first mistake: Rather than saying "how much fun would Goblin get out of this?" I said " How awesome would these look on my blog?". 
I have discovered that blogs work in one of two ways: They can help to galvanize you to do cool things with your child even on days you don't feel like doing anything, because you know that you need something to write about that week; But on the other hand they can lead you to do stuff that your child isn't really interested in, just because you need something to write about that week; And they can lead you to gloss over the difficulties in an attempt to make a post read well. 

Our ingredients for the seed-cake bird feeders were 
- One bag of fruit and nuts,
- One big bag of sunflower seeds 
- One pint of dissolved gelatine. 

I thought I'd use a pestel and mortar to get Goblin to smash up the nuts for the feeders (which is good for motor skills). However the nuts proved too tough for Goblin so I ended up having to do all the smashing while he sat and watched. Now this is the kind of mistake I would probably come clean about in writing up a post. It was worth a try and I have learned that I need something softer next time. 

However I probably wouldn't 'fess up to my utter stupidity in dissolving the gelatine in boiling water and pouring it straight into the mix of nuts and seeds. This basically made the mixture completely out of bounds to Goblin as a scalding hazard. In writing this up my post would probably have said - "this could be an amazing sensory experience for your toddler mixing the nuts and cooled gelatine with their hands" - see I haven't lied, I'm not claiming it was an amazing sensory experience for Goblin, I'm just not pointing out that I was too stupid to allow it to be an amazing sensory experience for Goblin. 

When the mixture had cooled down a bit I gave Goblin a long handled spoon so he could help me spoon the mixture into a cupcake tray. In an ideal world I would have had my 'good patient parenting' head on and I would have let Goblin do his own thing with the mixture and sat back and watched the path he took. He probably would have played with it - picked it up with his hands, put some in his dumper truck etc. And eventually I would have been able to scoop it up and put it into trays. But by this time I was determined to make beautiful seed-cakes to put on my blog. So when Goblin started spooning mixture into "the wrong" tray, I started barking at him to spoon the mixture into the "right" tray. Then he started digging the mixture out of the cupcake holes that I had filled so he could put them in his tray. This was too much for me and I confiscated his spoon. (Wow - its quite hard being this honest about how utterly useless I sometimes am as a mother). 

So the activity that could have given Goblin a 30 - 45 minute fun activity playing with gooey birdseed and trays was ended rather abruptly after about 5 minutes. I then left Goblin with his dad while I put the trays in the kitchen to dry. 

But the disaster activity does not end there. When I went to turn out the seed-cakes the top of the cakes had solidified but the bottom half hadn't - and i'd failed to line the tray So they broke up as I took them out. This is what they looked like. 

Only one came out perfectly - obviously this is the one that would have made it into the blog post! 

One minor success was the straws I'd stuck through the middle which did actually create a decent hole for threading the string through. And the final (half) seed-cakes did hold together enough to be hung in the garden. 

Its not all as bad as it sounds. For a start I am quite good at reflecting on my parenting skills (and using this activity for this post has made me even better!) so I learnt some useful things from my activity and attitude: I learnt to remember to ask "what will Goblin get out of the activity" and not "what will I"; And doing an activity to attract the birds to our garden inspired me to go and buy a bird feeder to stick on our patio window. Goblin and I had a great trip to the pet shop where he enjoyed looking at the rabbits, holding a guineapig, staring at the tropical fish for ages, and picking out and paying for a bird feeder - he likes giving the stuff to the assistant at the counter. 

I think its okay to have days when your parenting skills fail, its an opportunity to learn and do better next time - that's why this series is a great idea, we can learn from each others mistakes too. But next time you read a blog post remember that bloggers have editorial power and they don't often blog about their parenting fails even though we all have them. 


If you would like to participate in this series (running on Sundays), please email me at hisforhomeschooling {at} gmail {dot} com! 
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's on the Tray Wednesday # 6 Extended

We are all really sick with colds over here so I extended WOTT # 6 another week. That will give me more time to enjoy checking out the links and commenting.

To add another link to WOTT # 6, you can click here and it will take you to the original post.

Hope everyone else is healthy and enjoying Valentine's Day!
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Valentine Tot Trays (Part 2)

Boogie and Bam Bam are both really sick with horrible colds. Bam Bam is having a lot of trouble nursing and Boogie keeps waking up from the congestion. It's been really rough since about Thursday. But, I knew we were doing two weeks of Valentine activities and that they would be easy to switch out, so I pulled his slightly updated trays together Sunday night. Having things to sit down and do quietly (in front of the humidifier) is never a bad idea.

So, what's on the tray this week?

I have seen this color sort activity presented a couple different ways, usually using a worksheet from PreKinders.  I chose to cut out colored hearts instead. Boogie will match the conversation hearts to the correct colored paper hearts. He can open and close the box that the hearts are in. He will use fine motor skills to pick up the hearts and place them correctly. He will color match. There are five of each color conversation heart, so we can count up to 5 for each color, or we can count the total number of hearts. We can also count the 6 big hearts. We can talk about big and small with the conversation hearts, the paper hearts, and the heart box.

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This tray was inspired by Mama to 4 Blessings. Boogie will put the heart toothpicks into the sugar/Parmesan cheese container. The picks are in the top of a cooking spray bottle. Waste not :) There is 1:1 correspondence work here. Fine motor skills and coordination. We can talk about whether the picks are red or white. We can count the picks by color or total. Boogie can also open and close the lid and drop and dump the picks.


Boogie has done this type of tray many times before. There are four different types of erasers, and four of each one. Boogie will use the tweezers to sort the erasers. He will use fine motor skills. We can count the erasers by type or total. The erasers are from the Dollar Tree. The tweezers are from here on amazon.

This is a 1:1 correspondence and fine motor tray as well. Boogie will use the chopsticks to pick up the erasers and put them into the openings. We can count the openings and the erasers. We can talk about the four different colors of the erasers. We can count and sort by color or total (there are the same number of hearts as there are openings). We can make patterns with the colors as he places them in the openings. The ice cube tray and erasers are from Target. The chopsticks are on loan from one of Boogie's cousins.

This tray is a new idea for us that uses aspects of a bunch of different trays I have seen. There is a counting aspect as you can see from the second picture. Each opening of the muffin tray has a numbered sticker in it. Then, there are six different items and there is a different amount of each item (a plastic heart that pulls apart, 2 pom poms, 3 fake rose petals, 4 erasers, 5 flat marbles, 6 heart table scatter pieces). So, even though Boogie doesn't yet associate numbers with quantities, we can count as we sort the items by type. I gave Boogie a measuring spoon if he is interested in spooning any of the items, but to be honest, he gives the tools a try, but often reverts to using his fingers. So we will see. He can open and close the tin that the items are kept in on this tray. We can talk about how everything is red. I purposefully chose items with different textures so it would be a sensory experience for him.

Linking up to these great parties!
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Felt Valentine Cookies

I saw several wonderful ideas for felt Valentine's Day cookies in my Google reader and on Pinterest. Boogie really enjoyed all of our Christmas baking, so I thought he would enjoy some pretend baking in his kitchen set.

First I saw this link at Nap Time Crafters and love the way they look...but this project involved sewing. HA! I don't do sewing. I can, but I choose not to because I just don't have the time right now!

Then, at I Can Teach My Child, Jenae did something similar without any sewing. She got the idea from the Frugal Family Fun Blog. I realized that not only could I do this, but I could add my own little Sierra touch and make it really authentic for Boogie based on my container saving lunacy.

I am not giving a tutorial here, because those sites provide very thorough tutorials. I am just sharing our finished products here. 

In case Boogie enjoys this, I laminated and used velcro on the icing label so I can just switch it out depending on the holiday. And it is a win-win because he loves velcro. He can open and close and drop and dump with the containers while he is baking and decorating. 

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Inside the icing container, Boogie can choose from red, pink, or purple icing to top his cookies. I made six of each color icing so Boogie can choose to do all one color, or mix up the colors. Inside the sprinkles container, there are red, pink, purple, and white sprinkles.

This is how I am storing the cookie making fun on his shelf with all his trays at the moment.  He loves this little basket.

Anyone else making festive felt food for Valentine's Day?

Linking up to these great parties!

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