Friday, June 28, 2013

4th of July Banner

The 4th of July is fast approaching and we have been having fun with red, white, and blue crafts.

Today I'm sharing our super easy, limited mess, kid made 4th of July banner.

We used white card stock paper, 4th of July ribbon from the $1 section, 4th of July puffy stickers also from the $1 section, and red and blue dot paint.

I cut the card stock into banner shapes ahead of time. I didn't have a pattern so I had to wing it.

I had the girls decorate half the pieces with the puffy stickers from the $1 aisle at Jo Ann Fabrics.

They loved using the stickers and peeling off the back and they didn't even know it but by doing this they are practicing those fine motor skills!

Once they completed the stickers we brought out the dot paint to decorate the other half of the banner pieces.

When they completed the decorating I used a hole puncher to punch holes in the top corners of the banner pieces and then strung the ribbon through.

We displayed the completed banner on our mantel! Nothing fancy but fun and easy that the kids enjoyed helping to create.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How To Make A Song Caddy

Like many families we love singing with the kids but often I get stuck in a rut of singing the same songs over and over. As cute as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is it definitely can get old after the 20th time belting it out to my 9 month old.

Some of our favorite times to sing are in the car and when changing my baby's diaper. It serves as a happy distraction for him when he is less than excited to be changed. I often thought of writing all our favorite songs on a list so when I need to quickly come up with one for the kids we can have them all in one place, look on the list, and choose which ones we want to sing. A list seemed so "stuffy" for young kids so I came up with a more hands-on solution to our song dilemmas and it turns out to be a fun way to recycle those Gerber Puff containers! 

The materials needed are index cards (cut into 4's) or small pieces of paper, marker, ribbon, empty Puff container, and alphabet stickers. 

The girls helped me pick out the letters needed (also served as a fun letter recognition activity for my 3 year old)  We spelled out SING A SONG for the outside of the container. 

We then wrote down all the songs we like to sing on the cut up index cards and placed them in the container.

I tied a ribbon around the top and we were done!

There you have it, our very own Song Caddy!  So easy to make and a great way to recycle containers.  The kids enjoy pulling out a song from the bin and my 4 year old is even sounding out some of the words. A simple way to bring print into their everyday lives and encourage those emergent readers!

You can bring it along for a car ride, place by the diaper changing table, use for a preschool classroom circle time, the ideas are endless!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

My Favorite Photography Tip in Capturing Those Genuine Moments

I've posted a few photography-kid related posts in the past and I often get the most feedback from those types of subjects. While I plan to still have many play based early learning posts on here I do want to continue to open up this little space of mine to a wider range of kid related topics including sharing my passion for children photography every now and then. It's been so much a part of me these last few years that it would be silly to keep it to myself.

On that note I wanted to share a few shots from our Father's Day photo session. Last year we started this tradition of taking photos of the kids to present to my hubby on Father's Day. He loved them and uses them to frame at his work. It's also great excuse to get updated photos of the kids all together.

We went to our local Botanic Gardens to do the session. I brought Grammy and Papa along to help entice smiles and giggles and had my lollipops ready for bribes!

It took all three of us singing and making silly noises just to get them to all look at the camera!

This is the picture (below) we ended giving to my husband for Father's Day and as you can see we have one half smile and the other two are all but frowning. Lollipop bribing and silly animal noises were not doing the trick for my little crew. Since this was the best out of all the shots we went with this one. Of course he loved the photo but in my photographer brain these aren't the expressions I had envisioned.

And then not even 2 minutes after I told them we were done taking pictures this happened.....

I just happened to still have my camera in hand and sitting in the same spot so I snapped away!

They are not sitting perfectly smiling looking at the camera but it was truly a genuine moment!  She was talking to him and playing and then leaned in to hug him.

In my years studying photography the #1 tip in my opinion for capturing those genuine moments is to

Sit back, Watch and Be Patient. Let them be themselves and let things unfold naturally.

I am the first to admit this is so hard to do especially when you have little ones involved and you are crunched for time but it is SO WORTH IT! I don't always get lucky but more often than not when I take this advice I walk away with a cherished memory forever captured in time!

One more thing to note, I obviously have a big fancy camera and some photography classes under my belt but you do not need to be a professional to capture those genuine moments. I've captured some pretty great moments with my iphone taking this same advice!

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Preschool Summer Bucket List {Instagram Style}

Well it's that time of year where everyone seems to be creating their summer bucket lists! If you browse through Pinterest you will see so many fabulous ideas and suggestions related to the summer bucket list!

Today I wanted to share our summer bucket list that I created with the girls.

Last year we simply jotted down all our ideas on a piece of paper and then my 4 year old liked to cross off each one as we completed them. This year I wanted to create something a little more hands-on and interactive.

I wanted to make sure this was a collaborative project and involved the girls in every step of the way.

I gathered some old scrapbooking paper and chip board letters that I had on hand from my scrapbooking days.  I taped the scrapbooking paper to a poster board and the girls helped me spell out Summer Bucket List with the letters. We then glued them to the top of the board.

We used index cards (cut up into small rectangles) and wrote each idea/activity on the cards. The girls helped me create our list together. We attached velcro stickers to each card and stuck them to the poster board. I also made an envelope for the bottom of the board. My 4 year old wrote "We did it" on the envelope. This allows for the girls to be able to easily pull off each activity upon completion and place in the envelope entitled "We did it".

They had fun practicing this over and over!

Our completed list, all ready to hang up for the summer! We also left some open spaces with velcro on the side incase we want to add some more cards to it in the next few weeks.

Now for the fun part!

Are you on Instagram? I have been having so much fun over there following so many fun kid bloggers, photographers, and friends.

Let's share our adventures this summer and tag #SBLwithkids each time you post an activity/idea off of your summer bucket list! I'm so excited to see what you all have in store and how fun will it be to inspire one another!!

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

How To Find The Best Preschool For Your Child

Looking for potential preschools can be overwhelming for parents. There are so many different choices available it can be difficult deciding which is the best fit for you and your child.

My first suggestion is to do some leg work on the types of preschools available in your area.

Some of these types include:



Play Based



Reggio Emilia 

State Funded For At-Risk Children 

It's important to note that some of these can overlap. For example you may have a play based religious preschool in your area.

Next you may want to educate yourself on the different types and decide which philosophies and settings align with your own ideas as well as your child's needs. I found this waldorf, playbased, montessori, what does it all mean? to be an excellent resource in breaking down some of the schools available.

Now comes the fun part. After narrowing down your schools you want to call and schedules tours of the school. I can't express enough how important it is to visit the school during open hours. You want to see the teachers and students in action. This will give you a nice idea of the overall environment of the school.

It's a good idea to leave your child home for the first visit. You are going to want to ask many questions and you don't want to be distracted by your child. Most schools will have an open house day where once enrolled your child can visit the school and meet the teachers before their first day.

I thought it would be helpful to list some questions that may help guide your school visits. When I taught preschool these were some of the many questions parents often asked. I also know it can be difficult to know what to ask especially if you are a first time parent and not used to the preschool environments.

Questions To Help Guide Your School Visits 

1. What is your philosophy?- A school should be ready to answer this immediately. You want to make sure it aligns with your research on the school. If they say they are play based you want to ensure they aren't using letter worksheets for "learning letters". You get the idea...

2. What is the daily schedule?- This will give you an idea of how your child's day will look.

3. How is parent communication achieved?- How will they contact you if there is a problem or if they need to discuss anything: notes, email, phone calls? Also, how do they inform parents of what's happening at school? Is there a weekly newsletter, monthly newsletter, class website? You may also want to ask how many parent teacher conferences are scheduled.

4. How do they deal with discipline?- Developmentally appropriate schools will use redirection and positive reinforcement and time outs sparingly- if at all.

5. Do they welcome parent helpers?- This was huge for me. My daughter was in a school once where they just really seemed to not encourage parents helping out in any way. It was frustrating as a former preschool teacher because I couldn't wait to be able to help out in my own children's classroom after being on the other side for so long. I also think it just plain looks bad if a school is discouraging parents coming into the classrooms.

6. What are their security measures?- Do parents need to be buzzed in? Are the doors locked at all times? Is the playground fenced in or safe from busy roads and high traffic areas?

7. How do they handle holidays and celebrations?- If this is something that is important to you, you might want find out if they have parties for Halloween, Valentine's Day etc. Do they celebrate birthdays? If it's a secular school do they celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah? Make sure the celebration philosophy fits with the experience you want for your child.

8. What's the teacher/child ratio?- Of course you want a good ratio where there aren't a million kids and one teacher! :)

9. What's the drop off/pick up procedure?- Make sure they have a plan in place for who's allowed to pick up your child. Also, you may want to look at logistics and make sure it works for your family.

10. What is the tuition and how are the payments scheduled? This is probably a no brainer and may be at the top of the list but I wanted to make sure to include it. :)

*I also wanted to mention that schools that are NAEYC accredited (NAEYC- stands for National Association for the Education of Young Children) mean they are approved as a high quality early childhood center. You can find out more about that here on the NAEYC website:

You can also find schools that are NAEYC accredited in your area on there as well.

Hope this helps! Happy Preschool Shopping!

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