Monday, November 28, 2016

Elf Traveling House

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3 more Mondays until Christmas!

I've been having way too much fun preparing for Joy, our Kindness Elf.  She debuts with our kids this week for the very first time.  I bought a 10 inch metal lunch box to store her and her belongings.  As you can see from the picture, they fit pretty nicely.  Here's the list of what I've put in it:


Crafts I've Made

- gingerbread cookies (buttons) on a cheery teal cookie sheet

- button Nativity scene set on a plastic canvas background




- folding bed out of plastic canvas sized to the doll and 1/2" thick






- printable Cheerios box

- printable cake mix box

- printable chocolate chip bag

- printable tissue box

- knitting: embroidery floss (variegated) on mini wood spools with large eye needles

- plastic canvas Christmas tree

- mini tea cup and saucer

- wood suitcase

- good luck minis frog and duck

- bottle of rock chips (for bath salts)

- elf dust in a bottle (elf medicine)


{Other Ideas}
- apron
- laptop
- coffee cup and newspaper
- colored pencils
- tablet
- towels
- candles
- sleeping bag
- fire
- mailbox
- movie screens and accessories
- doughnut box
- Luke 2 Bible
- envelopes
- mini J.O.Y. sign

Monday, November 21, 2016

Accessorize the Play Kitchen

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4 more Mondays until Christmas!

The kids are getting a play kitchen for Christmas!  My dad is building it, and I'm very excited.  I've been sewing up some felt food and collecting some clean recycling to stock their kitchen.  I thought it might be helpful for others if I did a blog post about play kitchen accessories.  I hope this inspires you in your own Christmas preparations!




Store-Bought Accessories

Amazon
Melissa and Doug Pots and Pans
Every kitchen needs some pots for the stovetop.  I like this set by M&D because they're a good size for pretend play (about 5" diameter) and they look durable.

Green Toys Tea Set
In all reality, these tea cups will probably become the kids regular drinking cups 80% of the time.  They're made from recycled milk jugs, so I feel good about letting my kids drink out of them.  I can see many tea parties in our future.

Melissa and Doug Fill 'Em Up Bowls
These are bowls with plastic pieces that fit into them to simulate different types of meals.  I know the kids will really be excited about the mac and cheese one, but the cereal will be popular too.  I like that they don't have a lot of pieces to lose.

Amazon
Realistic Chicken Eggs
30 eggs for $7 bucks is a steal!  You could even buy a chicken if your child would enjoy collecting their own eggs!  Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and baking.

International Bread Set
I love making bread, so I can see my kids making a lot of types of breads in their kitchen.  I like the variety in this set, as it includes both leavened and unleavened bread.

Melissa and Doug Christmas Cookie Set
This set looks like so much fun!  Velcro sticks the cookies together so that they can be "sliced" apart and baked.


Felt Groceries

I really enjoy making felt food!

- For our summer road trip, I made a "counting" pizza out of felt and plastic canvas.  This would be a good addition to our play kitchen as well.

- I love the cute foods from Bugga Bugs Patterns on Etsy like this grocery set and these cereal bowls.

- This blogger had a great idea for condiments using recycled bottles

Etsy
- Every holiday dinner needs a turkey with detachable parts!

- And perhaps pancakes for breakfast?

- Or maybe a bagel is your favorite?

- Check out this amazing bread!  Isn't it fabulous?

- This is a tutorial to turn a pizza crust into a soft taco.

Source
- Another amazing felt creation: a grilled cheese sandwich

- Matzah for Passover!  Gotta make it in time for spring.

- PBJ sandwich made with felt and hot glue.

- This steak has a raw side and a cooked side.

- I would never make this popcorn.


Felt Sweets

Nothing says play kitchen like treats!

- A few years ago, I made this set of felt muffins in a variety of flavors.  I still haven't gotten the courage to give them to the children yet.  Maybe they're ready this year?

- I started this insane felt cake about a year ago and haven't decided whether or not to finish it.  It's looks so fun!

Etsy
- I bought a pattern for cookies and cocoa from The Pixie Palace on Etsy that are absolutely adorable.  Now, um, I just need to make them (wink).

- These flour and sugar sacks are on my list of things to make.

- I'm going to try to make a couple pies this year (pattern coming soon).
Etsy

- I've been playing around with this free pattern for gingerbread men and snowmen cookies.

- Another inspiring felt food- smores!

- I also find this ice cream sundae pretty cool.


{See more ideas on Pinterest!}

Saturday, November 19, 2016

p is for pumpkins (year 3, week 10)

Pumpkin Week at Mommy School!

Monday
Gymnastics class!

Tuesday
Today we had a play date with some good friends and made pumpkin muffins.  We also made homemade, pumpkin spice play dough, which all the kids enjoyed.  It was a bit crazy with seven kids under eight, but still lots of fun.

Dragonfly did some math tonight.  She's doing addition to ten and learning her numbers to 30.  She counts everything!  At the beginning of the year, she didn't know how to write any of the numbers.  Now, she can write 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9.  We're still doing hand over hand for 3, 5, and 8.  She was very excited to learn that the bigger numbers are just made up of those ten digits.  She almost knows how to write every number possible!  She loves to spy numbers everywhere.

Wednesday
AWANA day!

We were planning on opening a pumpkin today to play in the guts.  Our pumpkin got bumped around too much over the last week and has rotted.  Another week where the planned activity didn't go as planned.

Instead, I set Dragonfly up with a glow writing tray,
                                                         which kept her happy for a long time.


Thursday

I bought a pie pumpkin from the store, so we could try again with our exploration (although the rotting pumpkin became a discovery of its own).


We watched the Pumpkin Patch Parable on Youtube and then explored the inside of a pumpkin.  We roasted the seeds and talked about the pumpkin life cycle.  The kids loved munching the seeds!

Dragonfly did more math workbook.

Friday
We used candy pumpkins to work out addition problems.



Blog Posts About Pumpkins
turkey 10-frames
- s is for seeds unit
- thanksgiving spelling challenge printable
- h is for harvest unit

Printables
- pumpkin pie pretend play set
- pumpkin life cycle

Ideas
- pumpkin play dough
- pumpkin patch pudding cups
- pumpkin guts sensory bin
- counting to 100 with pumpkin seeds
- candy corn math
- gluten-free pumpkin play dough
- cornmeal writing tray

Videos
- how pumpkins grow video


Follow my PUMPKIN Pinterest board for more ideas!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Elf Movie Night (free printable)


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5 more Mondays until Christmas!

I got the idea for the elf-sized movie night from My Froggy Stuff.  They have a great tutorial on how to make a TV and accessories on their blog.  There blog inspired me to put together a whole pile of Christmas movie "screens," mini DVD cases, remotes, and DVDs.

I chose some of our favorite movies for the printable: Miracle on 34st Street (the 1947 version), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon), Elf, The Santa Clause, The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Jingle All the Way, and Home Alone.

To complete the miniature Christmas movie night, you may want to add a microwave popcorn box, packages of candy, or a take out container.  If you enjoy making things with polymer clay, then you'll want to check out the neat tutorial for theater snacks from Toni Ellison.

If the Elf isn't your thing, you could use these printables to host a barbie or stuffed animal movie night or to announce a "family date night" to your kids.


source
Elf Ideas for Movie Nights

- The Grinch: party, punch

- Elf: costume, printables, spaghetti

- A Charlie Brown Christmas: doctor booth

- How the Grinch Stole Christmas: caught

- A Christmas Story: pole, costume

- Frozen: frozen, snowman, snowgies

- The Nativity Story: Bible, nativity set

source
- The Santa Clause: the big guy

- Polar Express: conductor, train

- A Christmas Carol: bed

- Frosty the Snowman: meltedsweaterdonuts

-Despicable Me: minions

- Toy Story: Woody, Buzz, Slinky

- Star Wars: Darth Vaderrobespaceshipssnowflakes

Pin it for later!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

n is for night owl (year 3, week 9)

We spent a lot of time homeschooling in the dark this week as we learned about night owls.  We bought a black light flashlight for our schooling this week and did a lot of fun activities using the fascinating light.

Next year, I think we should have a glow light party for Day Light Savings Time day!







Monday
Gymnastics class!

After dinner, I let Dragonfly trace the numbers in her math workbook with highlighter.  It's not a great writing tool for every day but it was very fun tonight.  It was an easy way to make a boring task more interesting.

Then, Tadpole wanted to join the fun so I gave them both a highlighter and a piece of paper for drawing.  I had them draw with regular light first and then revealed their picture in black light.
They were delighted.


Tuesday
Election Day!

We watched a few videos about owls and compared them to reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and other birds.  Dragonfly was especially fascinated to realize so many animals hatch from eggs, but they're not all the same.

Wednesday
AWANA day!

Thursday
My week lost steam when I learned that my package of owl puke (pellet) had been stolen from the mail.  Amazon refunded us the price, but it hasn't been replaced.  Dragonfly was hoping for an entire skeleton for her "museum."  I told her we'd try again later this year.


Blog Posts About Owls
themed 10-frames
- n is for nocturnal unit

Printables
- parts of an owl worksheet
- types of owls
- parts of a barn owl
- owl pellet bone chart
- day and night sort
- nocturnal animals 3-part cards

Ideas
- glow in the dark play dough
- books about owls
- batty sensory bin
- 600 mosquitoes visual (what a bat eats)
- black light sensory bin

Videos
- all about owls
- all about bats

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review- PTSD and the Holidays

I just finished reading "Holidays and PTSD: A Parent's Guide to Survival" by my favorite blogger, Ranae Eddy (Every Star is Different).  Her and her husband (Jason) write about homeschooling their four special needs kids and have tons of free Montessori-style printables on their blog.  Even better, though, is how honestly, openly, and encouragingly they speak about life with special needs kids.  Not only are they parents who work hard to give their kids all the advantages, but Jason is also a family and marriage therapist (just like my dad!).  The combination of therapist who is also a parent lends a lot of credability to their writing.  I love hearing about their joys, fun, challenges, and victories.

In Renae and Jason's new e-book, they continue their gentle, practical wisdom as it relates to the holidays.  It's a great book for parents who are just beginning to understand PTSD as it relates to their children or parents who feel like they already understand their children's triggers.  The book manages to be helpful without being preachy and instructive while remaining humble.  The combination makes the book very encouraging for parents.  It's like a latte at the kitchen table followed by a big hug.  Few things could be better for a struggling family.

How I Became Your Mother- Dragonfly
My children do not have nearly as many diagnosis as the Eddy children, but I found the book very helpful for thinking about my children's triggers.  Dragonfly came to our house at three months old after being in three other families (you can read her story here).  Although I don't know all that she experienced in those first three months of her life, we have discovered some of her PTSD/anxiety triggers.  One of her fears is masks or anything that changes a person's face (make-up, hats, etc).  We have learned to help her by avoiding places where people might be wearing things on their face, like Santa, Halloween, dress-up costumes and the like.  If we can't avoid the situation, then we try to prep her very well for who is behind the mask and why they're wearing it.  Dragonfly is very rational and is very comforted by a good explanation.  She can often talk herself out of her fears or will spend a lot of time explaining to everyone else how she would deal with all sorts of bad situations.  In a lot of ways, she's been very easy to help, because she wants help herself.

When she finds herself in a new situation or is anxious about something, she always must have her Baby with her.  I can often tell how Dragonfly is feeling by how she is holding her baby.  Even at age 5, her Baby is so important to her that she will not sleep without her.  When Dragonfly was younger, we had three identical Babies.  I would swap them out on her constantly, so that she never developed a favorite.  Whenever a Baby got dirty or wet or skinky, there was always a clean baby to replace it.  This system worked great until she was about four and got too smart for my system.  She found the others and has since developed a favorite.  It was a sad day for me.  The other two Babies are still hanging around the house.  Dragonfly insists that they are her brothers' Babies and doesn't want to get rid of them.  The brothers will snuggle them occasionally, but they never cared as much about Baby as Dragonfly does.  As long as we have Baby, nothing in Dragonfly's world can be too big or too scary.

I was encouraged by the Eddy's book to continue trying other PTSD helpers and anxiety tools.  Check out their book for all their ideas.  Holidays and PTSD: a Parent's Guide to Survival



And check out today's blog post: I Think My Husband Has Autism.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Science Toys for Science Kids

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6 more Mondays until Christmas!

Dragonfly is a "Science Girl" so I'm always looking for gift ideas that fit her interests.  Biology seems to be her favorite science, but I've included the others to be fair.  I hope this list inspires you and the little "science geek" in your life.




Grow-A-Creature Kits

- tadpole to frog (add frog life cycle set and a book)

worm farm (add worm life cycle set and a book)

ant farm (add ant life cycle set and a book)

sea monkeys (aka brine shrimp)

                                     - larvae to ladybug (add ladybug life cycle set and a book)

                                     - caterpillar to butterfly (add butterfly life cycle set and a book)


Chemistry

- My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

- Learning Resources science lab (pretend play)

- Everything Kids' Science Experiment book




Engineering

- Legos (and Duplos)

- magnetic tiles

- tinker toys

- snap circuits

                                                        - traditional wood blocks

                                                        - western architecture wood blocks

                                                        - middle eastern architecture wood blocks

                                                        -  build-a-coliseum wood block set



Geology/Archaeology/Paleontology

- grow crystals

- Jr Paleontologist dig kit (add a book)

- dino claw collection

- Dig!  Discover the Civil War

- mummy excavation kit

- rock collection


Do It Yourself Kits

- Science Kit for Kids (Preschool Powol Packets)

- DIY Science Kit (Fun at Home with Kids)

- Dollar Store S.T.E.M. Kit (Little Bins for Little Hands)

- Kitchen Science Kit (Playdough to Plato)




Check out my other gift guide Tough Toys for Tough Kids!