Friday, April 27, 2012

The Makings of a Butterfly Garden

Our butterfly garden and caterpillars arrived in the mail and our journey begins as we watch these caterpillars turn into butterflies! I'm not sure who's more excited me or the girls!


The girls have been loving the caterpillars!! Every morning they wake up and want to see the caterpillars.

They are obviously very curious about the caterpillars and the process of them turning into butterflies.  To learn more about the process we read this book From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman


To pick up on their growing interest we also found some pictures of caterpillars online and printed them out for the girls to observe.


We talked about the different characteristics we saw and I encouraged the girls to describe the various caterpillars.

After observing the real caterpillars and the pictures the girls created their own representations of caterpillars using mixed media of oil pastels and water colors.  When I taught with the Reggio Emilia Philosophy we did many projects that included mixed media, observational drawings and creating representations of what was being studied.

First they used the oil pastels to draw a caterpillar.


My 2 year old wanted to draw a caterpillar too and in her mind it was indeed a caterpillar!


Next they used watercolors to paint over the oil pastels. Mixing these two types of media creates a cool effect and texture when dried.


Mallory's completed caterpillar! She loved this project and I think we will do it again with butterfly pictures once our caterpillars turn into butterflies.


Be sure to check back as we document the growth of our caterpillars turning into butterflies!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Planting

Weekly Kids Co-op is up and running and there are loads of Earth Day activities so be sure to check them out!

We are continuing our Every Day is Earth Day fun and this week we painted terra cotta pots and planted seeds!

Earth Day

 I bought these super cheap planting pots from Michael's and the girls painted the outside of them.


 We read this book "Seeds, Seeds, Seeds" by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and talked about all different types of seeds.


We explored the seeds we were going to plant. The girls touched them and we talked about color, texture, and size of the seeds.

We talked about everything the seed would need to grow, water, sunlight, and soil. My 3 year old helped dig up some soil for our pots.


 We watered the seeds and now are waiting anxiously for them to grow!!


 By the way, do you love the Target $1 aisle as much as I do? I found all these goodies in the $1 aisle and they are perfect for our Earth Day activities!



PTM Storyboard

Check out more Earth Day activities at the weekly Kids Co-op below!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Parent Like It's 1984: Are We Over Involved As Parents Today?

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I have such fond memories of playing outside when I was a child. None of those memories included scheduled play dates, $1000 swing sets, perfectly landscaped fenced in yards, fancy sprinklers, adorable play cottages, and parents that hovered over us and intervened when the slightest tiff takes place. My children currently have or will have most of these things mentioned. (We are currently in the market for the $1000 swing set). My children are only 3 and 2 so the jury is still out on hovering and intervening too much but I do wonder "Will I be that parent?", and more importantly how do I avoid being too involved, giving them their space yet ensuring they are safe?

When I was growing up we lived next to a large field that was used for all the neighborhood kids to play running bases, capture the flag, kick ball, and Ghost in the Graveyard. On the other side of the field was Mr. Davis’s house. Mr. Davis was a cranky old man who lived alone and hated children. While we spent the day playing in the field, Mr. Davis spent the day yelling at us every time a ball would hit his house for fear it would break a window. We never even came close to breaking his windows. Looking back the yelling never really deterred us from playing there. We spent many an hour planning our defense against mean old Mr. Davis...."This time we were actually going to tell him It's not his lot...." All the while our parents never really intervened. Can you imagine those shenanigans flying today? When we weren’t playing in the field we often were swinging on a old tire that was attached to an even older tree to make a swing, digging in the puddles and dirt to make “mud pies”, running through the rusty old sprinkler, and riding our big wheels. Every kid in the neighborhood had a big wheel and the entire block was our driveway. Big Wheels were our first ever taste of freedom. We didn't need five different choices of riding vehicles. We had the freedom to roam the street as long as we stayed on our block. Parents called us in by yelling for us out the door. Am I advocating we go back to the days of no helmets or seat belts, and rusty metal swing sets? Of course not! Also, there’s the “The world is not as safe factor”, where kids shouldn’t be roaming free like we used to anyway. I do however think a little of that care free spontaneity is lost on children today. Dealing with Mr. Davis on our own built character and we bonded as neighborhood kids. As I think about what "playing outside" will be like for my daughters I know they'll have acess to many cool places, toys and experiences that I never had. However I also know they'll probably never have the empty lots, the freedom of roaming the block, and the overall simpleness of childhood that existed back then. A part of me wishes they could know the feeling when 'conquering' Mr.Davis with a big wheel and some Bubblicious chewing gum was all a kid needed for the perfect day!

Do you worry about raising kids in a generation where we are over involved as parents?

How do you strike the balance of safety and freedom when it comes to your kids?
Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Kids Co-op

Another week of wonderful activities all in one place! How cool is that?

Lots of fantastic Earth Day finds too!

Please join in on the fun!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Everyday is Earth Day- Magnify glass and nature

Earth Day

Here's the second post in a series I will be doing to celebrate Earth Day with young children.

Check out the first one here featuring a nature walk and nature book: Everyday is Earth Day

The girls received these magnify glasses in their Easter baskets. I took them outside and we talked about all the parts of nature and our earth we could see up close through the magnify glass.


We walked around the yard and Mallory very quickly got excited about discovering nature through the glass. She was thrilled to see the objects/insects get bigger as we discussed all the details she could now see.

It became very clear how simple activities like this are so much about helping children discover the beauty around them literally in their own backyard/neighborhood.


After awhile she was enthusiastically running around coming up with her own list of items she wanted to find. "I want to find a ladybug.", "Let's look at this flower.", "Oh mommy, I found an ant."

Even my 2 year old loved exploring through the magnify glass!


Along with the magnify glass I also brought along some clip boards, papers and pencils. This is a great way to bring print outside. I thought Mallory might want to draw one of her items she discovered with the magnify glass but she chose to draw a tree instead. Picking up on her lead, I told her that was a great idea.

She made an observational drawing of her chosen tree and also wanted to do some plants as well. She's 3 year olds so this was purely about the process not the product. I encouraged her to look at the tree and we talked about the different parts of a tree.



Simple but fun way to explore our earth together!

Stay tuned for more activities in the next week to celebrate Earth Day. In the meantime please also check out Earth Day celebration blog hop for some wonderful ideas!!
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Letters To My Daughters

Back in the fall I posted about writing letters to my daughters and creating a keepsake binder for those letters. You can find that post here Letters to my daughters.

I just wrote Jillian's 2nd Birthday letter and thought I'd revisit that post to share with some new readers that have joined me since then.

You can do it anyway that suits you but I have chosen to write the letters on their birthdays and at the beginning of each school year.

I placed them in a binder like this:


Jillian's 2nd Birthday letter

Dear Jillian,

You are no longer my little baby anymore and I'm not quite sure exactly when it happened, that transition from babyhood to toddlerhood. I do remember recently rocking you in your chair before bed and being amazed at how much you've grown. Now, your feet dangle off the chair when not so long ago I could cradle all of you in my arms. Very recently you've started to want to do things all by yourself. Yesterday I was trying to put your shoe on and you said "No mommy, I do myself." I don't quite remember the exact day or time but somewhere in this past year you went from uttering some words to having full blown conversations with me, daddy and Mallory. You are constantly asking questions "Mommy, what's that sound?", "Why did you turn that off?", "We have Mac and Cheese for dinner, mommy?". I remember looking at you as a little baby and wondering what you'd be like, what type of personality you would have, what would make you giggle. This past year going from a one year old to a two year old your little personality has exploded! You are outgoing, waving hi to anyone that passes you in the cart at Target. Your beautiful brown curly hair seems to suit your bubbly loud disposition. You giggle over tickled feet and silly songs. You adore Mallory and in typical little sister fashion you want to do and say what she does, yet you are independent and stand your ground when necessary. You are a little love bug, a snuggler and ever so affectionate. I love how you say "kisses mommy" and pucker your little round lips to kiss me. I love when I cuddle with you, your head rests on my shoulder and I feel your little tiny hands rhythmically patting my back. That little gesture is so you, that's my Jillian. I'm not exactly sure the day, week or month but somewhere in the everyday-ness of our lives this past year the baby I once had truly turned into my little girl. You make me a better person just by being you and I will forever know I am the lucky one to be your mommy.

Happy 2nd Birthday sweet Jillian Faith.



Another shout out to Pinterest, I got the idea from the picture below through Pinterest!!

IMG_9600web copy copy
Friday, April 6, 2012

Rice Krispy Treat Easter Eggs

These are so fun for little ones and so simple you can do them as a last minute Easter project (like I did)!

I realized we hadn't done any Easter related projects at home this year so after a quick search I found these Easter Egg Treats on the Rice Krispy Treat website.  I am not a baker, unless you include boxed brownies and I often manage to screw those up as well.  But these were so easy and I knew the girls would love decorating them.

Really it's simply the traditional rice crispy treat recipe shaped into eggs but you can get the full recipe on the website listed above.


After we shaped them into eggs the girls decorated them!




Even grandma joined in the fun!


The final product and ready to enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weekly Kids Co-op

The weekly kids co-op is up and running!!  We had a fantastic turn out last week with some wonderful ideas!!

Be sure to link up your fantastic finds related to children's activities and learning experiences!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making Letters Using Pipe Cleaners

This little activity is an example of how simple it can be to incorporate creative ways to experiment with letters and print during play!

As my 3 year old was playing with the pipe cleaners I was demonstrating how you can turn them into letters.  She asked to make her name so I showed her how to bend and twist the pipe cleaners to make each letter in her name.


My 3 year old needed a lot of help as her fine motor skills weren't strong enough to make the letters on her own but an older child could definitely handle it on their own.

She did spell her name out and went through telling me what letter we needed to make next to complete her name.



My two year old also loved exploring the pipe cleaners and twisting and bending them. Great fine motor skills practice!!!


Super easy but fun activity to play with print!!

PTM Storyboard 2 Up Vertical