Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kool-Aid Play Dough

Quench your thirst for a fun summer activity with this Kool-Aid Play Dough. The colors are vibrant and the scent makes you want to drink it up in a glass filled with ice on a hot summer day!

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tbs. oil
2 tbs. cream of tartar
1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid
1 cup water

1. Mix the first five ingredients together in a sauce pan then add water and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Remove from the pan when the dough starts to pull away from the sides and knead until smooth. Careful - this part is hot!

Now I'll serve up a glass full of learning activities with play dough!

Practice kitchen safety by placing a piece of tape or a sticker on the handle of the knife as a reminder of where to hold it.

Letter formation has never been so fun!

Now serving up a plate full of play dough pretend food. Order up!


Planet Play Dough. Or is that a brain?

Mixing colors, exploring textures, and getting a great work out for those fine motor muscles!

This non-toxic play dough will last for a few weeks in a closed container or Ziploc bag.

Pour a big glass of Kool-Aid Play Dough and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Countdown to Kindergarten is on!

Backpacks, pencils, and glue sticks galore, a new year in kindergarten is what's in store!

Before the bell rings for kindergarten next month, help your soon-to-be student prepare with my easy and fun Countdown to Kindergarten activity chain. Here's how it works -

1. Download the activity {here and here}. Google Docs likes to destroy my documents, so I hope this works okay!
2. Cut out the strips of paper and staple them together in a loop so they are connected {picture below}.
3. Each day, cut a strip of paper down and complete the activity that is listed.
4.Color in a picture on the treat tracker. After five activities are completed, a treat is given.

The last activity should be completed the day before school starts or as soon to it as possible, so check your calendar and get started. I am using school supplies as treats along the way and when we countdown to '1' day left before kindergarten and the last treat is awarded, I am going to surprise my little kindergartner with his backpack full of the school supplies from the list sent home from school.

Don't forget to add brain boosting learning opportunities along the way. For example, if the activity says: Draw four yellow circles., Ask your child to point to the color word - yellow, count the number of words in the sentence or point to the period.

The countdown to kindergarten is on at our house!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Community Helpers to the Rescue

Sound the sirens, open up and say 'ahhh', and find your floss! Our summer school theme of the week is community helpers. Lesson plans came easy with a doctor and dentist appointment for my little patient along with an invitation to Fire Station No 9 for a field trip all happening during the week. You can't get anymore hands-on than that!

While we wait to be called back to see the doctor, I will show you a fun activity that I have used in my classroom for years.

No peeking as you reach into the mystery bag and feel the items and try to guess what they are, one at a time. I added doctor related objects that I gathered from the medicine cabinet to the bag.

It's no mystery why kids love this activity!

Cavities beware, our trip to the dentist is here.

Our trip to the dentist was a success and we came home with a new toothbrush. I'm thinking it would make a great paintbrush for an art lesson!

I served up a lesson on sugary sweets and their torture on teeth on two paper plates. One plate for foods that are healthy for teeth and the other with foods that are unhealthy. Of course, this lesson came back to haunt me after we made the fire truck cake that is racing your way later in this post.

My little firefighters were all geared up for the fire station presentation only to learn that emergencies don't go away while toddlers are touring fire trucks.

As soon as the firefighters started to talk to the kids, a call would come and the men would have to jump in the truck and race off to the emergency scene.

While they were busy saving lives, we were busy exploring.

So even though we missed the presentation and truck tour due to more important situations, the kids had fun taking charge of the tour and learning about the life of a firefighter on their own.

Future Firefighters!

Our last stop on the fire station field trip was to fuel up on lunch at ...

 Firehouse Subs, of course! 

A kid-friendly firetruck cake drove its way into our lesson plans this week. Sound the sirens and follow these steps to make one at your fire station!

Tint vanilla frosting with red food coloring and stir.

Using a store-bought pound cake, cut off a 1/4 piece and set aside.

Frost the big part of the cake.

 Set the small part of the cake on top of the big part like this.

Add Oreo cookie wheels.

Sneak in a quick pattern lesson while adding red and yellow M&M sirens.

M&M brake lights and black decorator gel ladders on the back.

Add headlights and windows.

A kid-friendly firetruck cake to the rescue!

It was great seeing our community at work and keeping the kids busy and healthy at the same time. A few co-pays, emergencies, and M&M sirens later, and a week full of summer fun and learning came to the rescue!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer School by the Sea!

Summer beach vacations are marked on the calendar, and my little school of fish and I have been swimming around in an ocean full of fun and learning. With a week of ocean theme activities planned and a field trip to the  Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea, we set sail to explore the tides of learning.

Learning with a list -

Making a list is a wonderful writing lesson. After deciding on the title for the list, have your child dictate the things that belong in that category, in this case, things we need to pack to take on our beach trip. While you are writing the list, you are modeling the correct way to write from left to right, handwriting/letter formation, spelling skills {sound out the words as you write them}, and finger spaces. Adding a picture helps young readers comprehend and works to reinforce the text to illustration connection.

Sneak in a reading lesson by having your child read the list back to you!

This octopus has the tastiest tentacles in town! After tracing the circles, coloring the arms, and gluing on cereal, your little guppy's fine motor skills will be swimming their way to success.

There are a sea of activities I print from KidsSoup.com. You have to become a paying member to print their activities, but it's cheap and helps me avoid a title wave of lesson plans each week! This activity is a read and match game and I added a brain booster activity by playing a random riddle game. My little learner had fun choosing a picture and giving me clues to find  it. For example: I swim fast and have sharp teeth. Who am I?
My reply: Something I hope we never actually learn about on our beach trip!

This sand-writing lesson was so cool. Fingertips were fast at work in this easy and engaging writing lesson. The only ink needed in this ocean is for squids!

Measuring sea creatures was the math concept covered by my little crab. If you think this simple math lesson I created really measures up, download it {here}!

Locating the oceans on the globe counts as a geography lesson and sharing shark facts and anatomy really sums up a science lesson.

And if you are still hungry for more ocean related activities, try this Octo-Dog served over shell macaroni and cheese, we made at the beach last year. Directions {here}!

Riding the wave of summer learning is easy and fun....in the sun!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Overcoming Obstacles

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome in life. Finding something fun to do on an early summer evening shouldn't be one of them.

So scour your backyard for some outdoor toys and find and open space.
And watch the joy of an obstacle course spread from face to face!

The first obstacle is lining everyone up from youngest to oldest {to avoid a stampede}. 

You can use just about anything you have on your property when setting up the course.  Just remember to keep it short and sweet so it won't take too long for all the kids to get a turn. After the kids go through it a few times, switch up the order or add in another challenge.

Make sure to cover some gross motor skills {hopping}, hand-eye coordination {baseball}, balancing {getting under the arch}, and a good dose of social skills {waiting in line patiently and keeping all hands, feet, and other objects to yourself}, good sportsmanship {Go Julian!} and lots of positive peer interactions {Your turn!}.

Let the games begin!

Under the hula hoop arch and into the creepy crawly caterpillar.

Football free throw!

Hop through the hoops.

The last stop is a grand slam!

 I hope this activity helps you stay on course this summer!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boys and Bugs

Insects were the weekly theme for our homeschool curriculum recently. Since boys and bugs are two things I have had to get use to since having children, I decided to stop bugging out about creepy crawlies and try to embrace the insect inspectors that crawl live in my house each day.

Warning: You may want to grab some bug spray or cortisone cream before reading the rest of this post!

Sensory trays are fun and easy to make. Plus they add a hands-on activity for little learners to explore and play with. This one is made from small rocks, fake moss, a twig, and dollar store insects.

The bug kit was a big hit!

It was filled with all the tools needed for the big bug hunt.

Let the search for six legged bugs begin!

Roly Poly on the pavement

 Should have gotten my degree in entomology for this one. Have you ever seen a piece of  'moss' that has legs and walks? Not sure the name of this one, but it is very cool...in a creepy, camouflage sort of way.

Of course, Ladybugs would be hanging out on the flowers loved most by the ladies.

Stop and smell the roses!

And don't forget to check under the blooms, where insects love to loom.

Ant Colony

Cicada Exoskeleton that was perched on the side of the swing set in the backyard.

If you still have ants in your pants, try this fun and easy science experiment -

 We chose four different types of foods (crackers, cookies, cereal, peanut butter) to set out for the ants to eat. We checked back periodically to see which food was the most popular and eaten the quickest.

Help your little critters set up their own insect habitat. Just find a log or piece of wood and place it somewhere that doesn't get much traffic, in your yard. Check underneath the wood once a week and record your observations in a journal. Bugs love the dark, dirty, moist environment that the wood provides and you will have your own insect inspectors all summer long.

Hope this post didn't bug you too much!