Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Most Adorable Suncatcher to Brighten Your Day

10 Creative Sun Catcher Crafts with The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Changes in seasons and weather patterns are always mesmerizing learning time for little kids! Adding a brilliant sun catcher to your window will draw their attention to the changing scenery outside in a very playful way! Aw, and they can really brighten any room! This collection is brought to you by the Weekly Kids Co-Op. You can also find our 10 fun ways to help kids turn around a terrible, horrible, no good, bad day here: How to Reset a Bad Day with the Weekly Kids Co-Op.

Pictured above:
Confetti, Beads and Button Hearts from Dabbling Momma.

Sunshine and Rainbows Collage and Play from My Bright Firefly.

St. Patrick's Day: Four Leaf Clover Craft from Danya Banya.

Tissue Paper Rainbow Suncatcher from Mom Inspired Life.

The glass door decorated with collages on contact paper from With Smile (the site is in Russian).

Pictured above:

Chinese Lantern Sun Catcher from The Gingerbread House.

Gelatin Heart Sun Catcher from Playful Matters.

Simple Sun Catcher Craft with Glue and Beads from Where Imagination Grows.

Easy Suncatchers Made by Toddlers from Craftulate.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Letter I is for Independence. Q-Tip Painting for Preschoolers.

Growing Independence: Tips and Activities for Little Kids

Preschoolers want to do everything by themselves. Developing life skills is the base of gaining more independence in every day activities... And so are support, encouragement, sharing the excitement of growing confidence and self-sufficiency. For the letter I, we have learned the word Independence and celebrated the Independence of a person and a country - the first history lesson for our little preschoolers. This post is a part of our "Creative ABCs" series found here: Creative ABCs.

All by Myself

Our favorite book of the week was "All by Myself" by Mercer Mayer. I think, this is the best one from the "Little Critter" series. The critter tries to get out of bed, go through his day, and go to bed all by himself. He tries to stay courageous, but the challenges he faces are often impossible! Hence, the pictures that my 3 year old found very laughable and silly.

The critter could do things by himself - he was "independent". It is so nice to have "independence".

The realization that she could do something better than the critter already gave her more confidence and encouragement to get more independent in her tasks!

Also, check out our new Practical Life Skills through Play collection: 10 Fun Ways to Promote Life Skills.


Independence - a New Word Kids Learned!

Independence starts with the short /I/ sound and is such a long word. We practice saying it again and again - with lots of laughs in between. Clapping and tapping the syllables - one of our favorites at this time - are great with this awesome word.

My Firefly learned that as much as she loves to be independent, so do all the other people in this country. We live in the United States (see our intro to US Geography with Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzle here: US States Learning Games for Kids).

It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, there was a king and his strong army of kings' men who told people what to do. People had to be independent and to decide what was important to them by themselves. They scared that king and his army away!

Nowadays, people have the rights to say what we want, go where we want and meet our friends as we want to, pray as we need to, read books and watch TV as we want to, play the way we'd like to.

For that reason, people love to celebrate their independence! They have the special day called Independence Day.

Painting with Q-tips

Using Q-tips for painting turned out to be a wonderful idea! It is so difficult for the little fingers to stay within the lines when coloring. My Firefly often gets frustrated with the result of an occasional awkward move of a crayon or a brush.

But not with Q-tips! They allow for much more accurate painting and coloring, and give the paintings the beautiful colors and texture. We started with painting the fireworks (see above), and have to have paint and Q-tips every day since then!

Here are the links to some wonderful free printable coloring pages made for Q-tip painting.

Valentine's Day Q-Tip Painting Printables from Totschooling.

Sofia the First Printables from 1+1+1=1.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Paper Plate Decorations and Preschool Activities

Dr. Seuss Craft Idea. Kids' Poetry with Poppins Book Nook.

Kids' Poetry is a theme for February at Poppins Book Nook. Dr. Seuss, with his fun Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, is ready to help when the mother is out. Our new paper plate Things are up to this challenge. They are to decorate the bedroom wall and reassure that it's safe to be by yourself! You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook activities here: Glowing Lights - the Power of Creative Play.

The Cat in the Hat

Our favorite book of the month is "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss. My 3 year old was puzzled by this book. So much mess! Good thing everything was in order when the mother came back!

The main point for my 3 year old: it is never safe to be without Mommy around. Not even in her bedroom at night. Monsters and bugs visit at times. Oh, but there are Thing 1 and Thing 2 now. Their smiley faces and amusing play ideas can brighten the day. Here is a rhyme we used:

My mother's away.
How bad that I stay?
Thing 1 and Thing 2,
What can you do?
A kiss and warm hug -
Get away, spooky bug!

Paper Plate Thing 1 and Thing 2

Pictured above: the lines are drawn free hand. The bold lines are for cutting.

The plate is ready for paint. Leave the face and the circle on the chest white.

Red paint is always so cheerful! Dr. Seuss is genius for this color combination; and plain lines draw attention to detail. Kids immediately notice the bright smile and the numbers. With Dr. Seuss's fun rhymes, we counted from 1 to 2, and from 2 to 1 - our first introduction to the backward counting.

While the red plates were aside and drying, we got to make the hand printed blue hair. I drew a circle on a printer paper to help with placing the hand.

To position arms and legs, fold each down and then up at a suitable angle. Make a fun spiral with a pencil for each limb. Note: I couldn't find the initial source for this paper plate doll craft idea.

The last step: glue the hair to the back of the head. Optional: use a black marker for tracing. That will make the features bold.

Kids' Poetry

It's time for the Poppins Book Nook - a book club that goes live on the last Monday of each months.
You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook books and activities here:

The theme for this month is "Kids' Poetry". Visit the hosts of Poppins Book Nook to find out what the kids were up to, their poetic adventures and discoveries.

The wonderful bloggers that participate in the Poppins Book Nook are:  Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~ Simple Living Mama

Kid’s Poetry Bundle Giveaway!
Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers
a chance to win a brand new storybook
or product that ties in with our theme for the month.
This month one lucky entrant will win
the Kids' Poetry Bundle.
The winner will enjoy two books full of poetry for children. The two books that they will win is the Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry and Poetry Speaks to Children (*kindly note that these are affiliate links and your purchase helps to run this book club). These two magical books will help your children learn about and have fun with poetry.
Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {}.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to Reset a Bad Day

10 Fun Ways to Help Kids Turn Around a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Bad Day

Oh, THAT day can happen... Cranky kids and everything. Stress reduction techniques for kids and family are in action here! This collection of fun things to do to reset, recharge, and enjoy the day again is brought to you by the Weekly Kids Co-Op. You can also find our 10 fun ways to promote life skills here: Practical Life Skills through Play.

Pictured above:

Music and dancing are always a great idea for cheering up and recharging. But here is some history with fun songs for all tastes: Free President Songs and Rhymes from Living Montessori Now.

Have a Happy Marmalade Day! found here: The Marmalade Day with a Bear Called Paddington from My Bright Firefly.

Play with the bright colors of the rainbow and a drinking straw! Straw Painted Rainbow from The Keeper of the Cheerios.

Count marshmallows on the cheerful hearts, then add some to the perfect hot chocolate!  Marshmallow Hearts Math from Simple Fun for Kids.

Paint a funny sheep with Q-tips, add a big smile - he'll smile back! Q-tip Painted Sheep from Dabbling Momma.

Go on an adventure: build a space fort! Build a Space Fort from Adventures of Adam.

Start a new family tradition! Some awesome ideas can be found here: St. Patrick’s Day Family Traditions From the Mouths of Moms from B-Inspired Mama.

Pictured above:

Rescue your favorite toys with this fun experiment! Fishing for Dinosaurs from Crafts on Sea.

Doodle some lovely pictures and make fun cards! Cutting Practice from The Practical Mom.

Kids are sick - get some advice from the respiratory therapist! Beat the Boogers from Hoops by Hand.

Plan some fun things to do together and put them onto the calendar! Free 2015 St Patrick’s Day Calendar Printable from 3 Dinosaurs.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Marmalade Day with a Bear Called Paddington

Paddington Bear Activities for Kids

My little one had her first visit to the movie theater. For this special occasion we chose this sweet and compassionate story. My Firefly followed the adventures and funny moments. The educational value is also great! She travelled through the jungles of Peru and the big city of London with the charming Paddington. The delightful ending is my favorite: every family should have a Marmalade Day - so very sweet! This post is part of the Kids in the Kitchen series. You can find our recent "Love Cookies" here: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Exploring oranges and stirring the sparkly orange goop - the awesome sensory play with bright colors and cheerful smell - for my 3 year old this experience was not the actual cooking, but rather playing, learning, bonding and fun.

Have a Happy Marmalade Day!

Orange Marmalade Day

Oranges are fun and healthy, but my picky eater could possibly take a bite on a better day. I am so glad she had to make her own orange juice! She drank two cups of freshly squeezed  juice - yay! Making juice is a great fine motor skills activity. We had to chat about the jungles of Peru and the color orange.

Fun Orange Facts for Kids

Are they a fruit or a vegetable?
The orange is a fruit from the citrus family. Some other citrus fruits are lemons and mandarins.

How do they grow?
Oranges grow on trees.

Where do they grow?
Oranges came from Asia. Christopher Columbus brought orange seeds to America. Nowadays California and Florida are the main producers of oranges in USA.

Why are they good for you?
Oranges are the perfect source of vitamin C. Vitamins C helps protect us from getting sick. Oranges are high in antioxidants and help you stay young and healthy. Gardeners sprinkle orange peel over vegetable patch to repel slugs. The state flower of Florida is a sweetly fragrant white orange. The flowers used to make the perfumes and flower water.

What should you look for?
The orange has a belly button. It is opposite the stem end and called navel. The bigger the navel, the sweeter that fruit will be.

How can you eat them?
The best way to get all the vitamin C is to eat them fresh. The freshly squeezed orange juice contains the highest amount of vitamin C. Orange jam is called marmalade.

Orange Marmalade Recipe

We made just a little - for fun. We used: 3-4 oranges (to allow for drinking fresh juice in a process), 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar.

  1. Wash oranges thoroughly - the peel is used in the marmalade.
  2. Cut oranges in half, squeeze juice and some pulp, and pure it in a large pan.
  3. With the knife or a vegetable peeler cut out the orange colored outer zest and cut it into fine ribbons.
  4. The remaining white pith and seeds have lots of natural pectin. Cut it into smaller cubes and bundle it into cloth.
  5. I through everything together with water and sugar on medium hit and stirred to dissolve sugar. Then placed the bag with pith in, brought to boil and simmered for 2 hours.
  6. Let it cool, pull the bag out and squeeze it really hard trying to remove as much juice as possible. Discard the pith.
  7. Bring to boil again, then simmer on low for an hour.
  8. Yum!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Practical Life Skills through Play

10 Fun Ways to Promote Life Skills

2 and 3 year olds love to follow you trying to help. But no task is easy at this age! To help kids gain control of the environment and self-confidence let them practice some basic life skills the fun way. Montessori practical life skills include learning to take care of self and environment, grace and courtesy, and developing fine and gross motor skills. Please, also visit family activities and resources for Valentine's Day found here: The 15 Most Lovely Valentine's Day Ideas.

Pictured above:

How exciting it would be to pick up the toys with a big bulldozer blade! DIY Bulldozer Blade Toy from Lalymom.

They spilled that juice again? Water transfer activity, taking care of a pet fish and Elmo craft can be found here: Rainbow Fish Crafts and Play for Toddlers from My Bright Firefly.

Dad is busy fixing stuff. The son can help with his hammer! Hand and Eye Coordination with a Hammer & Tees from Hands-on As We Grow.

Cheer up with the "Sick Day Slime" recipe with essential oil found here: A Slime Recipe That’s Perfect for a Sick Day! from B-Inspired Mama.

Cutting & Threading Practice with Straws from Powerful Mothering.

Play and decorate with flowers even after they pass their time: Beautiful, Fun and Educational Ways to use all Those Flowers from Spark and Pook.

Pictured above:

Some beautiful ideas for fine motor skills.

Chinese New Year Dragon Art for Toddlers from Learning and Exploring Through Play.

Dump Truck Shape Matching identification Craft from The Keeper of the Cheerios.

Freezing & Melting Colored Ice with Buttons from The Practical Mom.

Blueberry Pie Craft from Love to Laugh and Learn.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Rainbow Fish Crafts and Play for Toddlers

Fun Play with Elmo, Dorothy, and Her Friends

We were reading the very best Rainbow Fish books. That's when My Firefly realized that Elmo has a fish too... and she does not leave in the ocean. That led us to the water transfer activity, Elmo craft, and extra play with the ocean animals. Our previous Ocean Animals post can be found here: First Look at Ocean Animals.


Ocean Animals and a Water Transfer Activity

 "The Rainbow Fish Counting" and "The Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale" by Marcus Pfister are a couple of books from the Rainbow Fish series we found first. These cute books teach kindness and friendship, as well as introduce little readers to the ocean world.

Our tube of ocean animals and colorful rocks for the water tank was a present from a friend. Thank you! First, My Firefly played with the colorful rocks and sorted them onto our rainbow worksheet found here: Building a Rainbow. They make a water transfer activity that much more exciting. My Firefly practiced this important life skill again and again while learning her ocean animals names.

Dorothy's Water Tank

The kids were big fans of everything Elmo at a time. So we had to make a water tank for Dorothy. Yes, you guessed right - it is a former peanut butter jar. It turned out to be just the right size and allowed for practicing with the lead.

Dorothy lived there for a while swimming around the rocks and sea weed. She even got fed; and Elmo came to talk to his fish!

Elmo Craft

This simple craft was very loved one. We reviewed the letter E with it. As pictured below: a big red circle, a small orange circle, 2 black circles, black mouth shape, and googly eyes. I wrote letters E with her watching and she colored them with Do-a-Dot markers.

Before gluing it all together, I offered the parts for a free play. This picture puzzle is challenging enough for tots and great for practicing fine motor skills and creating a face.

Learning sizes with Elmo

  • Kids arranged Elmos by size with assistance
  • An adult outlined each picture while a kid was watching.
  • The pictures got removed again. Tots had to find one picture at a time to match to its outline.
  • Tots used a glue stick. The sizes were reviewed and named again while working with the glue.

The Rainbow Fish and The Big Blue Whale Can Share

We had a simple theatre performance. The "stage" is a picture of the ocean folded in two. The fish and the whale talk to each other, ask for a turn to eat the krill, say "Can you share?" and "Thank you". Oh, sharing is not an easy business!

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sunshine and Rainbows Collage and Play

Sunshine Mobile Preschool Craft

My Firefly's new favorite is a sunshine mobile we made. The fun collage for the sun and colorful paper tubes for the rainbow were meant to be a sun catcher, but are travelling around the house causing commotion instead. . Upcoming changes in weather and seasons got kids excited this week (thanks, groundhog!). The colorful rainbow box brought us months of play time too: D is for Dolphin. Spatial Sense - in the Coral Reef.

Finding Spring

"Finding Spring" by Carin Berger is our very favorite book of the week. Maurice, a baby bear, is looking for his first spring. Is it hard to find? He is leaving his Mama in the bear cave and running to the woods. His adventures are easy to follow with 1-2 sentences per picture.

The illustrations are a simple miracle! They didn't draw my attention first. But my 3 year old started staring at each of them finding new details every time. The pictures are collages made with cut outs from the magazine pages. They are simply awesome!

"Spring is all a little bear
named Maurice
can think about.
Where is it?
What is it?
When will it arrive?"

The Sunshine Collage

The pages from old magazines easily bring the special effects to a collage and have just the right texture for the contact paper. My Firefly had lots of fun with them. I quickly precut the pieces for the collage free hand. For the base, I cut out the blue cloud leaving a window inside. Then I placed it onto the contact film, covered it with the backing sheet, cut it out, and removed the backing.

I helped My Firefly with placing the eyes. The eye lashes are her favorite - everything has to have eyelashes nowadays. They were drawn with the dry erase marker. Adhesive back acrylic gems were used for the decoration - excellent for fine motor skills practice.

Colored Sand and Glitter

We have our glitter in the salt shakers. The colored sand mix is a lovely sensory play. My Firefly shook it over the collage and finished by spreading it with her hands. Lots of smiles and giggles there.

Building a Rainbow

We reviewed the colors with the simple and nice Rainbow Do-a-Dot Worksheet from Gift of Curiosity. Then My Firefly picked the paint according to her completed worksheet.

The tubes were cut in half and painted. The next day, we played with them before assembling into the mobile. Rebuilding a rainbow again and again helped to learn the colors - and review the letters. This little one is really looking forward to spring!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The 15 Most Lovely Valentine's Day Ideas

Family Activities and Resources for Valentine's Day

Genuine and sparkly, these arts, crafts, and fun activities are to share some love for this coming Valentine's Day! You can find free printables to help you out. You can meet a hugging bear, or make some beautiful hearts and flowers with all the love attached. And of course, there are some wonderful Valentine activities - all from The Weekly Kids Co-Op! If you wish, some additional play date ideas can be found here: Fun Winter Play Date Ideas with The Weekly Kids Co-Op.

Pictured above:
10 Fun Ways to Say "I Love You, Daddy!"  from My Bright Firefly.

Marbled Hearts and Spin Art Hearts from Teaching 2 & 3 Year Olds.

Free Valentines Cards Printables designed for the little fingers from 3 Dinosaurs.

10 Fun Valentine Play Ideas for Toddlers from My Bright Firefly.

Hugging Valentine Bears from Cutting Tiny Bites.

 Crepe Paper Flower Cards from Powerful Mothering.

Pictured above:

Sweet Nothing Photo Holder from Lou Lou Girls.

Simple Valentine Heart Flower Craft from My Little Me.

You’re Tops Valentine Printable from B-Inspired Mama.

Drawing on Photo Paper from Mothers Madness.

Pictured above:

Montessori-Inspired Valentine Activities from Living Montessori Now.

"Have A Heart" T-Shirt from Cutting Tiny Bites.

Easy Valentines Crafts for Toddlers from Craftulate.

Valentine Printable Pack {100+ pages of free activities} from Gift of Curiosity.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Monday, February 2, 2015

First Look at Ocean Animals

Water Play and Animals for Tots

Playing with water is an all time favorite activity. That makes learning about ocean animals exciting! My Firefly loves her Ocean Animals book. She played with the coloring pages and made a pretty Valentine lacing card for her Grandma, enjoyed a pretty hand-made color matching activity and played in water.  Please, also visit our 10 Fun Valentine Play Ideas for Toddlers.

Ocean Animals Activities and a Book

"First Look at Ocean Animals" by Jamie McCune is one of Smithsonian Institution series. There is one animal per spread with 3-4 simple sentences. I love the illustrations! They are very colorful and engaging cut-paper art and a photograph.

Extra activities (free printables) are available online. Pictured below, one of the printables is a coral reef coloring page. I colored a couple see weeds to model. The rest is my tot's scribbles (26 months old at that time).


A Lacing Card - the Valentine Gift to Grandma

My Firefly painted the dolphin (a coloring page) first. At 27 months, she could not stay within the lines. So I let her enjoy the process and the colors, and master the brush. After the paint was dry, I cut it out and laminated. The holes are punched out heart shaped. I used a piece of chenille stem for a "needle". She was able to lace it, but not as neatly as pictured below. The activity is wonderful for the fine motor skills!


Color Matching Ocean Animals

We built a coral reef from the colorful sponges. I colored the animals to match the colors of the sponges and laminated them. My Firefly loved her simple matching activity tray. Of course, she used the sponges later for her favorite - water play!


J is for Jellyfish

This excellent Tot School Curriculum includes ocean animals into J is for Jellyfish week. It's free and I highly recommend it for any tots or young preschoolers! My Firefly have learned all her letters, numbers, and shapes, as well as practiced her fine motor skills and started writing all through playing and enjoying every second of it!

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