The Holidays were killer and I totally neglected this blog. I also totally neglected the kid’s education. SmartyPants has learned to wrap presents all by himself… That’s about all he learned last month. We’ve been home for five days, and I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things. I’ve started making SmartyPants do at least two worksheets a day. He really needs to work on his handwriting. He hates it. He could tell me all the answers in less than five minutes, but writing it all out is torture to him. Poor boy.
I’ve really started dedicating time to CutiePie. Usually just when SmartyPants is doing his worksheets. She does not pick things up as quickly as SmartyPants did, and it’s been a little frustrating to me. I tested her today to see how much she knows.
ABCs: Name and Sound- A B M T; Just Name- C P W X Y; Just Sound- G H J K O Q S; Neither- D E I L N R U V Z
Colors: Able to point to correct color when asked: Red, Orange, Yellow, Purple, Pink, Brown, Black, White; Pointed to the Wrong Color- Green, Blue
Numbers: Can count to twelve out loud, When asked how many items, will only count 1-3 correctly.
So I guess now I’ll base our educational activities around the letters, colors, and numbers she doesn’t know. Then test her again in a couple of months. I think she’s a bright little girl, considering she is not yet two and a half. But, teaching her is MUCH different than teaching her brother. She prefers puzzles, painting, dancing and music.
I have recently purchased learning puzzles for CutiePie where she has to match uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as a Spanish workbook for SmartyPants. He’s recently become very interested in Spanish. They should be arriving from Amazon today. We’ll see how it goes!
I’ve recently become fond of Mod Podge and cutting wood in a miter box. So this year I decided to make a Thanksgiving decoration that was educational, fun, and nearly indestructible. This was super easy and I finished it in just a few hours. The kids play with it all the time, and we enjoy reenacting the first thanksgiving. We use a pirate ship for the Mayflower, use dollhouses for the pilgrims, and make paper tee-pees for the Indians. It’s so much fun that I decided to share it.
Here’s how to make it:
You’ll need scrap wood and a way to cut it, sandpaper, paint (white and brown), paint brush, mod podge, printer or printed images, scissors.
1. Find some pilgrim/Indian images online. There are a bunch of cute ones that you have to pay for, but if you work hard you can probably find some free images. Here are my favorite that I have found:
2. Print the images you want, and measure them. I printed out two of everything so I could put the picture of the front and the back of the block. (My printer was acting up, so the colors were super light. I had to outline everything in sharpie.)
3. Cut the wood to size. Then sand it. Be sure to cut some extra wood to make a table. Two short rectangles for the legs and a super long rectangle for the table top.
4. Paint the wooden blocks white. Paint the table top and table legs brown. Allow everything to dry.
5. Cut out the images, and make sure they fit on the wooden blocks. Some of them were slightly too big so I had to trim them down. Then, glue the images onto the painted wood with a little bit of mod podge.
6. Add a layer of modge podge over the entire block, the bottom is optional. Do this for all the blocks.
I came across this amazing lesson plan a few days ago, and bought some oreos went we went to the store today. SmartyPants was super excited. It’s not everyday that I buy oreos.
The first thing I did was find a diagram of the phases of the moon. SmartyPants and I looked at the diagram, naming each of the phases and talking about them.
Then, we took a ball and flashlight into my closet, to try to recreate the phases of the moon. You have to use a ball that isn’t translucent. The first few didn’t work We’d shine a light at the ball, and the light woud go right through it, making it “glow”. The kids had fun with that, too. Finally, we found a soccer ball, and that seemed to work well. We were able to recreate the phases of the moon easily after that.
The teacher begins the lesson plan by reading Eric Carle’s book, Papa Please Get the Moon for Me. We just happened to have that book. It’s one of CutiePie’s favoites. This time when we read it, we had the moon phase diagram on hand to match each picture to a phase of the moon. Eric Carle didn’t draw any quarter or gibbous moons. This bothered SmartyPants a little.
The teacher who created this lesson had her students draw the phases of the moon next. but, we did that last. We were too excited to bust out the Oreos. I admit that I did most of the frosting removal. SmartyPants enjoyed placing the Oreos in the correct places, and instructing me on what to make next. Then, he drew pictures of each of the eight phases. (He made a mistake on Waxing Gibbous. But, he was so excited about it, I didn’t want to point it out. You can’t erase crayon, after all.)
Overall, it was a great lesson plan, and SmartyPants’ favorite day of school this week. Next time we see the moon, I’m going to ask him what phase it’s in.
Lava Lamps sounded like something my kiddos would enjoy, so this is the first experiment we tried. This lava lamp experiment is a perfect example of how water and oil do not mix, due to their different densities and molecular polarity.
The actual experiment was very simple. First we added 3/4 cup of water.
Then, we added the oil. We added too much. Stop well before the top of the bottle; 4 or 5 inches before the top of the bottle.
We followed the instructions and added the food coloring after the oil. The food coloring is water based, not oil based, so it sank down to the bottom of the oil. But, our drops got stuck floating between the oil and the water. It took some gentle swishing/shaking to get the water and the food coloring to mix.
Next, add half an Alka-seltzer tablet. The tablet is heavier than both oil and water, so it will sink to the bottom. But, as it dissolves it will create gas. The gas will rise to the top, bringing some of the colored water with it. Then, when the gas escapes at the top, the water will sink back down to the bottom.
We capped the bottle during this experiment because we were worried that our two year old, CutiePie, would push the bottle over. I REALLY didn’t want oil all over the kitchen. But, we did notice the the lava lamp works a little better with the cap off. I was surprised how short the lava lamp lasted. It is not a long experiment; within 5 minutes the show was over. After two times, my husband and I decided to see what would happen if you add an entire tablet (instead of half). It bubbled so much, so fast, that oil overflowed all over the counter. SmartyPants liked the “volcano”-like effects. It was a great educational family activity.
When I saw this experiment on pinterest, I immediately decided to do it. My kids LOVE pretending to blow out birthday candles, and I knew they’d love this. We didn’t have any play-dough So I looked up a quick recipe for salt dough. It was horrible, but it served it’s purpose. The kids really enjoyed rolling the dough in sprinkles and making little “cakes”. We put a candle in each of the three cakes.
This experiment demonstrates that fire needs three things to thrive: 1- Heat, 2- Air, 3- Fuel.
We did things a little out of order. First, we cut off the candle’s air supply by covering it with a big clear glass. Next, we demonstrated how the flame dies once there is no more fuel, by letting the candle burn until there was nothing left. Third, we put the flame out by removing the heat. The family in the pinterest article used a spray bottle. We didn’t have one handy, so we put some water in a medicine dropper.
This was another good experiment. It was a good opportunity to talk about fire safety and stop, drop and roll. We practiced crawling under “smoke” and how to check if the door knob is hot, so you don’t burn your hand. We discovered we probably should invest in some kind of emergency window ladder.
This last experiment involved CutiePie’s favorite candy, GUMMY BEARS! Gummy Bears are made from gelatin, then they are dried for a few days o give them a nice chewing texture. So, when you place them in water and make them grow, you are simply dehydrating them.
The kids managed to eat almost an entire bag of gummy bears in less
than five minutes, but I did manage to save two of each color. One for soaking, and one to compare it to.
The next day, we found this. I couldn’t tell if the bears had completely dissolved or not. There was also an odd waxy substance floating on the top.
When we compared them to the original gummy bears, it was obvious they had grown. They were super squishy and felt like jello. The kids poked and prodded the poor bears until most of them fell apart. There were two still intact. So, we left them out for a few days, and they shrank back down to size. But, they were ugly and stretched out. They never regained their original shape.
I’m not sure how much science this teaches. We talked about absorption and dehydration. That counts, right? I have since come upon an expansion to the experiment. You put gummy bears in water, some more in vinegar, and some more in club soda. I’ve also seen salt water. Make a hypothesis for each batch, and see if you’re right. We might do this next time.
Last week’s letter was F. This week’s letter was D. So, for today’s alphabet learning activity we played letter basketball. I made two large baskets/boxes and attached the letters D and F to the front. Then, I gathered a big box full of soft toys, bouncy balls, and beanie babies.
CutiePie would choose an item out of the box and I’d say, “Throw it in the ‘d-d-d’ box.” or “Throw it in the ‘f-f-f’ box”. Once she got the hang of it and was throwing the toys into the correct boxes, I started mixing letter names in there as well. “Throw it in the F box!”
Things went well for about 10 minutes until she lost interest and started throwing toys at her brother instead. SmartyPants wanted to play, too, so I made it a little harder by asking him questions like, “The word Doctor starts with this letter.” Or, “Put it into the box on the left.” Sometimes he has trouble with left and right.
This letter game was a great way to differentiate between the two letters, as well as review the letter F from last week. CutiePie is doing well two letters down, 24 to go!
With the new school year starting and CutiePie turning 2, I thought it would be the perfect time to buckle down and start teaching CutiePie her letters. She’s so stubborn, and usually refuses to practice her letters. CutiePie is just as smart as SmartyPants was at her age, so I know she CAN learn her letters, I just need to find a way to make her WANT to learn.
On Monday I started off by cutting out a big letter F out of orange construction paper. I told the kids that F was the letter of the day. I put some masking tape on the back of it, and let CutiePie put it anywhere she wanted. It ended up at the bottom of the stairs, so anytime we go up or down the stairs I stop and ask her what it is. She knew it after the first day. I just keep asking her to make it stick in her long term memory.
Then, I came up with an activity which I knew she would love. I saw this somewhere on pinterest or some blog… I can’t remember, it’s been awhile.
Basically you get all of your magnetic letters and dump them into a tub filled with water. Then, you make a fishing pole and attach a strong magnet. We used an old hard drive magnet. Those things are ridiculously strong! What seemed like the perfect idea was a disaster. I had no idea that our tub was made of metal. So the magnet was constantly stuck to the tub, instead of catching letters. It was HORRIBLE!
So we filled a large bin/plastic container with water and letters and the kids went fishing in there. Sort of like ice fishing. CutiePie LOVED it. Whenever she caught a letter we all went over what the letter was called and what sound it made. We had a ton of fun, and the floor only got a little wet.
We stopped after almost a half an hour of fishing fun. Mostly because the kids were fighting. They were having trouble taking turns. SmartyPants liked catching letters and trying to make words out of the letters he caught.
Overall, it was a very fun activity for the kids. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make learning letters a bit more fun. I would definitely recommend it to people who don’t have metal tubs.
Since then, the kids have been dry fishing. They dump the letters out onto the carpet and use the fishing pole to catch them. The magnetic letters have become one of their favorite toys.
This experiment was frustrating. I should have worked, I’ve seen it work! But, for some reason, it didn’t work. The first time I did it, I cut the stems diagonally under water. I filled the vases with lukewarm water, added the flower food, and added a few drops of food coloring. The instructions said the flowers would change color in 24 hours.
24 hours later, the flower was still very white. I did some research online and found some site that said not to add the flower food, and to add warm water and tons of food coloring. I immediately redid the experiment. I even recut the flowers. After 24 hours the flowers were still white. So, I waited…
Two days later we started seeing the green parts of the flower change colors. I had hope. A few days more and the tips of the white flowers were barely showing color. A week and a half went by and the flowers remained the same. Barely any color at all. It was quite a letdown. The flowers starting to wilt and die. So I took pictures.
You can see the color a lot better from the underside of the flower. The experiment was still educational, just not the dramatic transformation I expected.
I always see a lot of really awesome educational ideas on pinterest, but I hardly ever get around to doing any of it. So, I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to try some of them, and write about my experiences with them here. On to this month’s Best of Pinterest!
I’ve known about this simple experiment for a long time. (One of my friends did this for her science experiment in elementary school.) But, I had never tried it until this week.
The instructions are simple. All you need are white carnations, food coloring, a bunch of vases, a knife and water. Fill the vases and dye the water different colors. We did red, purple, orange/yellow, blue, and green. Use the knife to trim the flowers to the correct length for the vases (an adult should do the cutting.) Then, put the flowers in the vases and wait. Wait, wait, wait… It will take several days. I will post updates.
If your kids liked this experiment, check out THIS half colored, half normal flower experiment on the Spangler Science web page. —->
This experiment is one that I’ve seen all over pinterest. You take Ivory Soap and put it in the microwave. Then, it swells up into something that resembles a cloud. What’s so special about Ivory Soap? The air content. The story goes like this:
A man who worked making mixing ivory soap went to lunch and left the mixing machine running too long. When he returned, the mixture was full of air, think whipped. He decided not to throw it away, but sold it instead. Everyone loved it because the extra air made the soap float!
It’s that same extra air that makes are amazing soap explosion possible.
Steve Spangler Science has a video that explains exactly how and why this experiment works. Here it is. If you don’t want to watch the video, you can just check out this link.
Afterwards, we tried to make cookie cutter soaps by mixing in water and food coloring. The lady on the pinterest link made it look so easy. She said it was just like making pie crusts. (I can’t make pie crusts, so I should have planned on failing miserably.) First I added too much water, and everything was way too sticky. Then, I added too more soap, and everything was too dry. It was a disaster. The kids couldn’t put them in the cookie cutters without destroying it. So, after making 2 not so cute star shapes, we just rolled the rest into balls. The kids actually like using the ball soaps better.
Here is a photo of the star soaps I tried to make. When my kids tried to use them, they pretty much just fell apart. It was sad. Most of the ball soaps are missing from this picture. The kids keep stealing them and running to the bathroom to wash their hands. It’s crazy how they actually WANT to wash their hands all the time.
This was SmartyPants’ favorite. I think the kids did it three times each. First we watched this video. Yes, it was a little over their heads, but I think SmartyPants got the gist of it. He at least knew that it was a chemical reaction.
Then, we poured a little bit of milk into bowls and added food coloring. I got some q-tips and put them in a small bowl of Dawn dish soap. (I don’t know if the brand matters, but I’ve heard that all natural soaps do not work as well.) Then, I let the children touch the middle of the milk with one of the q-tips. All the color raced towards the edge of the bowl. They loved it! I loved it, too.
This pintrest post was a collection of three addition worksheets featuring dominoes. SmartyPants loves dominoes and math, but usually dislikes math worksheets. (Probably because he doesn’t like writing.) So, he loved the first worksheet. He had a lot of fun finding the correct dominoes and “parking” them. I had to help him with the 11 and 12 parking spot. We usually just do addition up to 10. Besides, there was only one domino for each of those places, and a lot of wrong dominoes to wade through before they were found.
The second worksheet was still considered fun. He did it with no complaining. It was great addition practice. (We’re still working on writing the number 3 the right way.)
The third worksheet was too much for him. He complained about how hard it was, how he didn’t want to draw the dots or write numbers anymore. We didn’t end up finishing it anymore. I don’t make him do anything he isn’t excited about. SmartyPants is only four, and way ahead. I don’t want to force him to do things he doesn’t enjoy. Then he might not love learning and doing “school” anymore.
Overall, I highly recommend this domino addition lesson. I might just skip the last worksheet, or even print out two of the second worksheet, and have your child draw the dots the second time around.
I am so excited to share this game with everyone. I’ve had the idea for this game in my mind for months. So, this weekend, I finally decided to get it done. So, here is Bunny Wars. It’s a card game based on addition (up to 10), vegetables, and ninja bunnies. What’s not to love? (There’s actually a multiplication version, too, for all of you who have older kids.)
Beginning the Game:
To begin the game, shuffle the cards and put them in one big stack in the middle of the table. At the beginning of your turn, draw one card. If it is a vegetable card, answer the math question. If it is a bunny card, follow the instructions below.
There are two types of cards: Bunnies and Vegetables. Most of the cards are vegetable cards. There are four different types of vegetables: Broccoli, Carrot, Tomato, and Corn. Each vegetable card has an addition problem; to add the card to your garden, you need to answer it correctly. The vegetables should be planted in rows, either horizontal or vertically, so you can easily determine how many of each card you have.
The bunny cards just add extra fun. The Bomb Bunny allows you to destroy one of your opponent’s cards. This vegetable card is then placed in the discard pile and not in your own garden. The Bomb Bunny is also discarded. The Thief Bunny allows you to steal an opponent’s card and plant it in your own garden. The bunny card in then discarded. When the Ninja Bunny in drawn, the player immediately draws another card. If another ninja bunny is drawn, the player must discard the second ninja bunny and draw another card. Then, the player resolves both cards. The Ninja Bunny allows you to choose someone to lose a turn. If you are playing a two player game and you draw the Ninja Bunny, you first draw a second card. Then, choose your opponent to lose a turn and resolve your second card, as well. Then go again, skipping your opponent’s turn. With the Ninja Bunny, we usually say “Hiya!” and tap our victim with the card. It’s more fun that way.
If all the cards in a draw pile are used up, then the discard pile should be shuffled and placed face down as the new draw pile. This is when the real war begins, because that pile will be mainly bunny cards. This usually does not happen in a two player game, because usually there are enough cards in the draw pile to finish the game.
Below are photos to give you an idea about how each card is used.
Winning the Game:
The first player who has three of each of the four vegetables in their garden wins. It is okay to have more than three of a particular vegetable. In fact, it usually occurs that way.
Here is the card game. Print it on card stock. I printed it on regular paper and then glued it to thicker paper. The edges keep coming unglued, especially when I’m trying to shuffle. It’s really obnoxious. The images are all in black and white. You can choose to color it or not. My kids helped me color mine. Can you tell? The numbers of copies you print depends on the number of players you have.
2-3 players = print 2 copies
3-4 players = print 3 copies
4-6 players = print 4 copies
If you use this game, please tell me what you think of it. It’s nice to have feedback!
I bought this 3D Solar System on a whim. It was on sale, and I thought the glow in the dark aspect might help cure SmartyPants of his fear of the dark. It arrived in the mail two days later and SmartyPants was so excited to hang the planets up above his bed. Even my one year old was excited, chanting “Moon!” and “Ball!” over and over again. The kit comes with clear string and star shaped thumbtacks to push into the ceiling. It also comes with glow in the dark star stickers, but we chose not to put those on the ceiling. It’s nearly impossible to take off later!
The planets come with two labels each. We attached one label on the bottom of the planet, and one on the side. The labels peel off a pit over the months, and you’ll have to press them back down every few months.
My Son immediately started learning the names of each of the planets. I cut out a section of the back of the box that told a bit about each planet. For the next few weeks, he fell asleep every night with that piece of box clutched in his hand.
Since then, we’ve added to the planets. We added four more dwarf planets: Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris; and we added a comet, space shuttle and asteroid belt. SmartyPants has been begging me to add moons, but when Jupiter has 50+ moons, it’s going to be difficult.
Pros: Develops an interest in the Solar System. Everything you need to install is included. Durable, Educational, and Fun.
Cons: The stickers don’t stick well. Pluto could be confusing. It’s the only dwarf planet included, they should either take it out or add the other dwarf planets. The colors are a little off. Saturn is not that green, and neptune is more of a blue purple than a pink purple. There is no sun included, so you’ll have to get creative with arranging the planets. We put a yellow circle on the wall, but I’ve heard of others arranging the planets around a ceiling light. It’s a little expensive at full price ($20), but if you watch the price, you can buy this item for $15 or less sometimes.