Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dinosaurs at Reiman Gardens

I know there are many readers here that don't live in central Iowa as we do and don't have access to Reiman Gardens, but there might be a museum or gardens or science center in your area that has a dinosaur exhibit too! This was the inspiration for our activities with dinosaurs lately. This summer Reiman Gardens has had many realistic looking dinosaurs lurking among the flowers and plants. It is so neat. They have little signs by the dinosaurs telling what their name is and a little about them. There is also an area where you can use little shovels and brushes and dig for dinosaur bones. The kids both love it and we can't wait to go back again!

I will try to post some pictures of our other activities soon. My laptop that I usually use and that had all my pictures on it has died. Luckily I have a computer geek for a husband so hopefully it will be back up and running again soon so I can show you what we have been up to!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dinosaur books

Here are a few of our favorite dinosaur books we found at the library this week:

This book does an excellent job explaining how dinosaur fossils are found and how they make it to museums for us to see.

Aidan really likes this one. Just a fun rhyming story about dinosaurs riding a train!

It looks like this one is part of a series of Harry and the Dinosaurs books. We will have to look and see if we can find the other ones because this one is super cute. Aidan will be attending preschool for the first time in the fall so this was a great story to start talking about what to expect when it is his turn to go to school. The story is about Harry going to school and taking his dinosaurs along with him. He spots another little boy who is very shy and wants to help him out. With the help of the dinosaurs the other little boy finally starts coming out of his shell and Harry has made a new friend. Really cute story with nice, colorful illustrations.

We actually read this one for the first time while visiting our friends, but I had to search it out at the library this week because Aidan really enjoyed reading it at their house. The boy and his mom are running errands one day only to find out they get to take home a dinosaur from each place they go (bakery, doctor, barbershop). It is a very fun story, except Aidan kept asking me why he doesn't get a dinosaur when he gets his hair cut!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Beginning Sounds

I put out our collection of animal/vehicle magnets for the kids to play with. It ended up being a fun lesson in beginning word sounds with Aidan. I would ask him which animal starts with a "Z" for instance. So he would sit there and look them all over making the "zzzzzzz" sound until his eyes finally fell upon the zebra. He would grab the zebra and excitedly show it to me announcing "Zebra starts with Z!!!!" It was a lot of fun watching him figure this out, and it kept his attention FAR longer than it kept mine I am sad to say.

We are actually excited to learn about dinosaurs this week, but I had to share this fun impromptu learning we had . We went to the library this morning and found a TON of fun books that we can't wait to read and share our recommendations with all of you. Stay tuned....
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Exploring Leaves

Last week on Sid the Science Kid, Sid and his friends explored leaves. They went out and collected a bunch of different leaves, brought them back to their classroom and talked about their observations. The learned about the different parts of a leaf (stem, vein), they sorted them by size/shape/color, and used their vocabulary to describe the different leaves.

Aidan and Ella happened to go visit their grandparents last week and came home with a bunch of different leaves they had collected. Papa has a lot of different kinds of trees in his yard and is much more knowledgeable than me, so I think it is super fun that Aidan was able to explore and learn about leaves with Papa! Though it was just a coincidence that the show and the activity happened in the same week, I think that worked out really well as Aidan was really interested in it and was excited to tell me all about what he had learned from Papa and Gram.

Check out the Sid the Science Kid site in their Leaf Investigators episode for some other fun things to do with your leaf collection!
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ocean Animals

Yesterday at Target we found these fun little ocean animals in the dollar section. After nap time the kids found the animals in a tub of water on the back deck. They played the rest of the afternoon with them! I love that these animals have what they are written on the bottom. So now when Aidan asks me what each animal is, I am able to tell the different between the seal, the sea lion and the sea dog. I had a better picture of all the animals but the computer just did something weird and I can't find it, so this will have to do. There was a turtle, a sea horse, fin whale, penguin, squid, lobster, swordfish, hammerhead shark, crab, sea otter, and a skate. I think that covers all of them.

As I started typing this post, I saw that Allie over at No Time for Flash Cards did a post about this same activity over at her site. Go on over and check it out. She has some great books listed on her post as well.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shape/Color Dice

Yesterday I got a free roll of toilet paper in the mail. I know that sounds funny, but I love getting free stuff in the mail. Seriously, check out the frugal blogs listed on the right side over there, they will tell you when and where you can sign up to get free stuff mailed to you.

The point of this post is that I looked at the nice little square box the toilet paper came in and thought it might be fun to make something with it. I decided to make a little game for my 19 month old. She still doesn't have a ton of words, but is really working on it. But even though she can't say many words yet, she definitely understands everything that you tell her. Lately I have been working with her on color and shape recognition. I took the box and filled it with some crumpled up pieces of paper to make it more sturdy. I covered it with a brown paper sack, and printed off 6 different shapes in 6 different colors I made in Microsoft Word. I used contact paper and packing tape to secure the shapes onto the box. I now have a little die (that is the singular for dice right?) that Ella can roll and whatever lands on top she can try to tell me the shape or the color or BOTH! I can't wait to try it out with her!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My new favorite website

I am not sure how I actually stumbled upon this site, but I LOVE her ideas. She has so many awesome ideas. I have particularly been interested in the early literacy and beginning writing ideas as these are what I want to start working on with Aidan (he will be 4 in September).

I just went out to Menards and got a bunch of nuts, bolts and washers because of her post here. I had actually forgotten about it for a couple of days, and then I saw Ella trying to unscrew the cap to the toothpaste and it reminded me of the motion of putting the nut on the bolt. So instead of having a big mess of toothpaste everywhere I wanted to give Ella something a little cleaner to practice her fine motor skills on.

They have played with these in a variety of ways, which is awesome. Ella likes to stack a bunch of washers on the bolt. Aidan likes to make put washers on and then put a nut on the end and then shake it (makes a fun noise). They also like to put them in cups or in the toy dump truck and haul them back and forth across the living room. Aidan calls it his garbage truck and he is picking up the garbage in front of the houses and taking it to the dump. See, not only a fun fine motor activity, but also creative outlet as well!!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Homemade Moon Sand

My friend Nan sent me a link to the Penny Pinching Parent website because they had a recipe for homemade moon sand. I was very much intrigued because the one time I have played with moon sand from the store with my two young children I kept freaking out because they were just tossing it all over and it was being "wasted". I know it only costs a few bucks, but you only get a tiny little bit! And I am too cheap to spend $5 and then have it only be used once and then be gone.

So I tried the recipe:

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups corn starch
6 cups sand

I accidentally added too much water so ours ended up more like sandy goop. I am hoping the water evaporates a little bit and we can use it as moon sand, but Aidan still had a ton of fun playing with the sandy goop anyway. Which is the whole point of the sensory experience in the first place.

Has anyone else tried this recipe or have a different recipe for homemade moon sand?
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Construction Zone

At the beginning of the week they closed a street right next to ours. All week long we have been listening to all the heavy machinery working. Ella keeps walking around the house pounding her fist into her other hand saying "Pound, pound, pound!". Aidan has been really interested in all the dump trucks going by. Today was the first day this week we haven't been busy with something else so we decided to take a walk over and see what was going on. We found a cozy spot under a nice big shady tree and watched the men at work. We got to see a bulldozer smoothing out the dirt, a digger putting extra dirt into the back of a dump truck, and another dump truck dumping a load of gravel. I tried to answer Aidan's questions about what all was going on as best I could. I am not exactly an expert in road construction. But the kids had a good time seeing where all the noise has been coming from this week. It was an excellent learning opportunity right in our backyard!

Summer always brings with it a ton of road construction. Do you have any construction sites near your house you could go check out? I guarantee your kids will be enthralled with all the big machines!


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