Category Archives: Preschool

IMG_4137

April Showers Crafts and Games!

It’s that time of year when we stand on the brink of sunshine and hours of outside play. So close we can almost smell it… yet it’s not quite here.

We are having one of those classic April weeks in Minnesota, where it’s too cold to play outside and every day looms of rain, so we decided to make the most of it! Today we learned all about the seasons, rain, and why there are April showers. ☺ I came up with a list of activities that would both demonstrate how rain works, and give the kids a hands on experience, plus a craft project o remember it by. It just happened that I was also able to incorporate appropriate books throughout the day to go with each activity.


The Seasons:

IMG_4136First, I chose 1 item to represent each season: a wooden snowflake, a red leaf, a small wooden flower, and a yellow circle for the sun. I placed the items in a bag and had each child reach in (without looking) to pull one out. We discussed each one and what it represented. They really enjoyed the suspense of this activity!

Then we read “When?” by Leo Lionni and “All Around Us” by Eric Carle. These were perfect! They both cover the seasons and things that happen in them. We talked about how we are in the season of spring and specifically, the month of April. In April it rains a lot so flowers can grow etc.

April and Rain:

IMG_4139Next, we moved to the dining room table where I placed a large mason jar filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water. I placed a plate on top and let it sit for a few minutes while we discussed how and why rain works. You can read more about it HERE. Next, I set 8-10 ice cubes on the plate. Within a few seconds, we could see a gentle mist coming down the jar from the bottom of the plate which looked like a light rain. They loved it!

Making their own rain clouds:

IMG_4142I filled a large clear container half full with water and added only 2 drops of blue food coloring. I wanted them to see the blue, but I didn’t want it to stain anything. ☺ I gave them each a container with cotton balls, a piece of paper, and tongs. If you don’t have enough tongs, we also used 2 matching serving forks and 2 matching serving slotted spoons. These may have even been easier. :-D I would also cover your workspace with a towel—everything got quite wet.

I explained that their cotton balls were clouds and they needed to fill them with water to become rain clouds. They dropped the cotton balls into the blue water, let them get wet and then set them on the paper to make designs. They LOVED this!! Before long, the cotton balls were back and forth and everywhere else. They wrung them out with their hands and started the process again. Everybody was wet, but they did this for about half an hour. Very fun activity that serves as a great visual for rain!

Rain Craft:FullSizeRender

I gave each child a piece of cardstock with a simple cloud drawn in the top portion. I had them fill it with Elmer’s glue and then cover it with cotton balls. Next we discussed how rain comes out of rain clouds, so they made their rain with the glue. I then sprinkled blue glitter on their rain, poured off the excess, and Voila! Beautiful rain coming down from their clouds. They were pretty giddy about all that glitter—especially since I was doing this with 4 little girls. ☺

IMG_4147Listening Walk:

It just happened that it wasn’t raining this afternoon, so we decided to get outside for a few minutes—it was still cold! :-D I wanted the walk to go with our spring theme though, so we read, “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers, then we got bundled up and headed out for our own listening walk. This was a lot of fun. All of the kids noticed things they had never noticed before. We discovered a lot of unique and new sounds as well finding some new life on trees and in plants. They were surprised to see and hear so many of the signs of spring we had been learning about.

FullSizeRenderOther books we read to go with the theme:

“Dora’s Serach for the Seasons” by Samantha Berger

“A Bunny for all Seasons” by Janet Schulman

“My Spring Robin” by Anne Rockwell

“Wee Little Lamb” by Lauren Thompson

Coloring Pages:

We finished the day with a couple of coloring pages that coordinated with the theme. I just got them off Google images and turned them into coloring sheets.

Soon the luster of spring will be here and we will miss these cold rainy days to do projects inside our home. I love the opportunities to take advantage of these less than desirable times! ☺

Happy Spring!

-Lydia

 

Resurrection Day Invitation to Play – Easter Crafts

image

During a season of bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it can be hard to direct our children toward the real meaning of Easter. This year, I wanted something that was hands-on and interactive but not a typical craft project. I came up with an Easter Invitation to Play that was God focused and reviewed many of the truths we have been learning the last few weeks.

I think there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s what we used. You can tweak this to adapt to your materials and needs.image

White Play dough
Green Play dough
Three toothpicks or small sticks to serve as crosses
Pom-poms or small flowers
A strip of fabric or paper
Small pieces of paper or stones where you have written examples of sins
The bottom portion cut out of a cup

imageI gave each of the kids a plate with the above items. We have been learning all about the crucifixion and the resurrection so it was all very fresh in their minds. Before we began this portion though, we sat down and discussed the fact that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. He was perfect and did not have to die to take the consequence for his own sin. He died for us: it was our sin that paved the way to the cross. I wanted them to understand the significance of this truth. I had very small pieces of paper, maybe half inch by half-inch, and we wrote a different sin on about 30 of them. This was significant and they really understood it. Therefore, when they each received their plate with the items to use for the invitation to play, they each had about eight of the papers with sins. I explained that they were going to set up the scene however they would like. The toothpicks could be used as crosses, the white Play dough could be used to create a tomb and to cover the cup portion, or they could use the cup portion as the tomb and the white Play dough as the stone. I explained that the pom-poms could be flowers, or some other type of decoration. They could use the strip of paper as a road or some type of pathway. They could even use it as a linen cloth to wrap up a pom-pom to serve as Jesus. :-) The green Play dough could be used as grass or as a hill for the crosses to sit on. The one thing I told them I wanted them to include for sure was the pathway of sins. They all thought this made a lot of sense and were excited to dig in!

imageThey worked on this project for probably close to an hour, and came up with all sorts of scenes. I think it really helped to solidify the truths that we have been learning this week in a hands-on experience where they could actually do something with what they have been learning. I hope that you find this to be just as profitable with your kids!

Happy Easter!

-Lydia

image

Sun Catchers Craft

​As we gear up for spring, (and that extra hour of sunshine!) the kids and I did this great craft project I have to share with you! It’s cheap, easy, and makes a great gift to brighten someone’s day. We made sun catchers.

What you need:

• Contact paper
• Tissue Paper
• Ribbon
• Hole Punch
• Scissors
• Small suction cup with hook

​Simply trace a circle onto contact paper with a little hump on the top. It will look similar to a Christmas ornament.

​Cut out 2 of them for each sun catcher.

​Cut out several small squares of multi colored tissue paper.

​Peel the backing off the contact paper. This takes a bit of patience…

​Have the kids place their tissue paper squares all over the sticky side of the contact paper. My 13 month old did this no problem and loved it!

​When it’s full, place the matching contact paper circle on top. Line it up best you can, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

​Trim around the edges. This will catch the tissue paper hanging off the edges and is also an easy way to even out the circles.

​Punch a hole in the center of the hump part at the top.

​String a short thin ribbon through the hole and tie it in a loop.

​Hang on a window with a suction cup that has a hook. They sell 10-12 packs at Dollar Tree.

​These make great gifts to brighten someone’s day!

​Enjoy the sunshine!!
- Lydia

image

Our Fun Timeline! (K-4 or K-5)

The kids and I are doing American History this semester!

And one of the fun things we’ve been working on is an easy hand-on timeline.

image

- Print off some pictures of people we’ve been learning about. (The web is filled with free coloring sheets. I just google their names.)

- Color Them

- Cover them with packing tape (to laminate – but way cheaper)

- Cut out the peopleimage

(- The kids get to play with theirs [Reinforcing what we've learned])

-I put to mine on the timeline

That’s it! It’s easy and fun to do each week – and has added a lot to our History!image

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

image

I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

image

Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

image

Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

image

I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity

A different approach to play dough…

imageI recently posted about our fun Play dough invitation to play where the kids made their own flowers. See the link HERE. Today I’m going to share a fun, but different idea to use play dough and create flowers. I found that all the ages (2–almost 5) enjoyed this, but the almost 5 year old definitely got the most into it! This is great for kids who enjoy coloring or painting. I liked this concept because it encourages creativity, helps the kids use different motor skills than in painting/coloring yet different than typical play dough too. It was SO easy to prep and provided lots of variations. PLUS it’s reusable!

image

I simply googled “flower line drawing,” and selected the ones I thought were simple with plenty of wide open spaces. I decided to do one page worth, so I chose 4 and made them ¼ of a sheet in size. I pasted them in Word and adjusted them. I printed and laminated my sheet, cut them out, and presented them to the kids! Here is some of what they came up with!

If you want to use my sheet, HERE (Blog Flower Card Printables) is the attachment, otherwise, be creative and have fun!! :-)

-Lydia

5 Minute Homemade Playdough

imageI’ve mentioned in the past how much I love Invitations to Play. Many of these involve play dough which might just be because I enjoy making it so much. Today, I’m going to share with you, my all time favorite, “go to” play dough recipe. The best part? It only takes 5-10 minutes start to finish and uses all common ingredients. It’s also very flexible and forgiving!

HERE is the link to where I first found the recipe!

Ingredients:

¼ cup salt

1 cup flour

2 T cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 t oil

2 t food coloring (or however much you want!)

 

You can also add fragrance, glitter, etc.

 

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a pan.

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring constantly,

It will pull away from all the edges and form a ball.

Dump onto wax paper or parchment paper and keep kneading until smooth.

Then add glitter if you want!

You can store it in a container or a Ziploc bag.

Some fun fragrance ideas:

  • Extracts
  • Fresh lemon, lime or orange
  • Scented body wash

 

This recipe is so quick and easy and personable, it makes wonderful last minute gifts or party favors in a cute container, it’s fun for a rainy day, and kids enjoy making it too!

 

-Lydia

image

A Letter to My Son

imageLately my almost-five year old has been using the same heart-wrenching phrase whenever he comes up against something he doesn’t want to do.

“But Mama! That doesn’t make me HAPPY!”

I wrote this letter as a pep-talk to myself, and I decided to share it because I thought other moms would relate!

 

 

My son,

It is not that I do not want you to be happy. I do want you to be happy. It fills my heart to nearly full when your eyes dance innocently and you break into exuberant laughter, when the pure joy of childhood seems to surround and embody you as you run around just enjoying it.

Yes, it fills my heart to nearly full when I see you happy.

But son, I have a job to do. During these few sweet years of childhood, I need to help prepare you to be a man. And adulthood is not all about being happy.

So while there are plenty of times for cuddling, playing ball, chasing each other around the yard, singing funny songs, and you telling me about your dreams, there must also be many times of learning to work harder than you feel like, having a good attitude when you’re tired, sharing a toy that you want to keep, sitting still when you want to play, being content when you don’t get something you want, being kind when someone has hurt you, and learning to trust God when you are scared.

All this and more must be learned during these years of childhood.

So while there will be plenty of fun and happy moments, there will also be many moments in the safest place possible – your home – to learn and grow and be prepared for times ahead.

image

Because when I see you respond rightly when tempted to get angry or share a toy you wanted to keep, you are winning spiritual battles and maturing into a man.

And those are the moments when I can see glimpses into the future of the wise and godly man you will become.

Those are the moments that my heart is not almost full; it is filled to overflowing.

- Verity

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” Ecc. 12:1 ESV

 

Teaching Children Flexibility

Some kids are more OCD then others.

My children are fairly flexible, but in a few areas…not so much!

It drives them CRAZY if they don’t get to sing every.single.word of any given song.

Here is how we talked about the important lesson of flexibility.

Object Lesson: Noodles (Spaghetti or Lasagna), water, pot.

(I’d suggest starting to heat water ahead of time or this object lesson will take awhile!)

Hold up the uncooked noodle.

Say, “Sometimes we don’t like things that we have to do. We get angry and break up because we are upset!!”

(BREAK Noodle)

Bring kids into kitchen. They can sit on a chair or stool a safe distance from the stove.

“But God allows us to have things happen each day until we can learn to be flexible. He lovingly allows things we don’t like – like having to pick up our toys or share. These things teach us flexibility.”

“Sometimes these things are uncomfortable  – like punishment or shots.”

(Put noodle into boiling water.) “This noodle is in an uncomfortable situation, but it will soon be flexible. It will be a better, more useful because of the hot water.”

DISCUSS: Let kids come up with situations where they can be flexible while the noodle cooks.

ACTIVITY: At the end we practiced singing a song, and they could not start singing until I pointed to them. I tried to make it into a game though it was still an effort on their part, they tried to be flexible and not sing until pointed at.

So there is simple lesson on flexibility. I couldn’t think of a good Bible verse though I wish I had. What ideas can you think of?

-Verity

Easy, Fun, and Valuable Preschool ‘Subject’

Picture

Our favorite and easiest preschool subject is something we do right at the beginning of school every day.

-It is the kids’ favorite ‘subject.’ They are always eager and excited to start school because they love this so much.

- It opens many good Bible teaching examples that they are ready for.

- It is easy to do every day.

- It has helped the kids to join in the worship at church.

- It only takes a couple minutes of prep each month.

So what is it?


Picture

For the last year and a half, we start school with a hymn each morning.

I pick a hymn we sing at church, and we sing one a month with school – learning a new verse each week. As we go through the month, I highlight what we have learned so far. We don’t always learn all the verses, but the word pictures and teaching opportunities are enthusiastically received by my little pupils.

I’ve also found it helps me, as a mom with just little ones to focus on bigger, eternal things if I put a copy on the fridge (my favorite spot ever!) to sing throughout the day when school has ended.

They don’t normally sing with me during the day, but they smile when I’m singing a song they know.

And they LOVE to sing a hymn they know with the congregation at church!!

(It is also one of the best feelings in the world to be at church and have your 3 and 4 year olds join in the worship!!)

-Verity