Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dinosaur Train Names

Sorry I have been absent, friends! We have been having fun celebrating Ella's second birthday for like a whole week!

I wanted to share one more Dinosaur Train activity which I was inspired to make after seeing Carisa's pop bottle names from her Tools for Tots section. I wish I knew how to share documents online - if anyone wants to teach me I would love to learn and share this with anyone. If you like enough to do yourself, I just made a table in a Word document and copy and pasted the pictures from the website and typed the names in. I have been saving pop bottle tops and stuck little white circle stickers on top and wrote letters it. I plan on making the family names with pictures as Carisa did as well.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dinosaur alphabet

I love reading 1+1+1=1. Carisa always has such fun ideas and has done so much work making Tot Packs and Tot Books for her son. I have made the Very Hungry Caterpillar one and the Brown Bear one and my kids love them. She has also made one for Dinosaur Train, as her children love the show just as much as mine do. Aidan is beyond some of the stuff in the tot pack, but he is loving the dinosaur ABC's. She was so clever and made the whole uppercase and lowercase alphabet AND the matching dinosaur with its name card. And behind the letters is the dinosaur picture as well, so the kids can get a little help matching by looking at the dinosaur. Aidan loves it!

Did you know you can also play the Dinosaur Train: Dinosaurs A-Z song at PBS Kids? Just go to the video section of the website and click on Dinosaurs A-Z clip. I wish I could find it just as an audio clip we could download. Aidan is absorbing all the songs he is hearing on the radio, wouldn't it be cool if he listened to this song and memorized all those dinosaurs.

52 Week Challenge

Week 7 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

Friday is my little girl's second birthday. We celebrated with our families last weekend at my parent's house. Can't believe my little girl is already 2!

Meeting her new baby doll, one of the Bitty Baby twins. This is her first baby doll whose eyes close when you lay her down. She had a fun time trying to figure out how that worked!

She wasn't a huge fan of everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to her. Shortly after this photo she jumped up into my arms until the song was over and it was time to blow out the candles.

Check out the pretty cake my sister-in-law made. She is so talented I always have her make the kid's cakes. I feel like I am slacking in my motherly duties, but wouldn't you if you had such a talented artist in your family?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sue the T-Rex flip book

As this dinosaur obsession has really taken hold in our house, we have been talking about taking a family vacation to Chicago to see Sue. Sue is the T-Rex on exhibit at The Field Museum. While I was browsing their website I found a bunch of fun activities you can print off. My favorite is the T-Rex or the Triceratops flip books you can print out. There are also a few crossword and word search puzzles if you have older children.

You can also send a Sue e-card. Or just check out the image gallery and see how Sue came to be at the museum and what she looks like. Or check out her vital stats

So many fun things to discover on the Field Museum's website. We will definitely have to go check it out in person sometime soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgving Countdown

I know I said this week would would be about our Dinosaur Train activities, but I forgot to share our Thanksgiving countdown turkey. I printed out a turkey pattern, I believe from Preschool Express. My little man colored it and picked out the biggest googly eye he could find. I cut and numbered all the feathers and we worked together gluing it all together on a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper. Each day we look at the turkey to see how many days until Thanksgiving and write something we are thankful for on that day's feather.

It has been so fun seeing what my four year old is thankful for. I love today's contribution "for Ella pooping in the toilet" as his little sister has just started potty training. Ah, out of the mouths of babes.

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Dinosaur Train

My son is obsessed with dinosaurs. He has always liked dinosaurs, but ever since Dinosaur Train aired on PBS it has become an obsession. So this week I think I will share a few of the fun things we have been doing to really embrace this dinosaur mania and learn some fun facts along the way.

One thing I have done for him is print out the dinosaur cards and laminate them from the Dinosaur Train website. He had been having fun playing around on the website and going through the Field Guide himself, but I wanted him to be able to have something he could look at away from the computer. It was so thoughtful of PBS to include those printable cards! The cards include info on what time period the dinosaur is from, a photo of how large the dinosaur was compared to a child, what they ate, what their name means, along with a few other details. He can't read yet, but there is a lot of info on the card that he can understand through the symbols. (fish for carnivore, leaf for herbivore, both for omnivore)

As you can see, my son had fun trying to match up dinosaurs from his collection to the dinosaurs on the cards.

We were at a family gathering yesterday and Aidan was telling people about the different dinosaurs and then my husband and I would chime in with any other fun facts we have learned. This Dinosaur Train has been a good learning experience for the whole family!
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dress-Up Organization

Another genius idea just shared with me from my friend Kim. The same creative genius behind the pirate ship and build a house (and I hear that there is a Santa's workshop in the works for December - she is very creative with the appliance boxes!).

She scored some great costumes on the after-Halloween clearance sales, and combined with all her other cool dress-up stuff she already had, she was just tired of it all getting wrinkled and messy in a tub or just getting dumped out of the tub. So last night they went and bought this garment rack at Walmart for $10. They only put it halfway up so the kids can easily help themselves.

I think that is a very clever solution. The kids will easily be able to see what they have, find what they want and put it away when done. Thanks for sharing Kim!!!!!
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52 Week Challenge

Week 6 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

Last night I was chillin' with my girls, watching Oprah's episode from Monday that I had tivo'd (how on earth are you supposed to write tivo'd?). They were just being so cute. My little baby has been laughing so much lately, and mostly when big sister is near her. I called for daddy to come downstairs and take our picture.

Then I tried to take a few myself. I am so horrible at the self portrait, but I love Ella's face in this one...

... and Olivia's little eyes peeking into this one!

The 52 week challenge is all about getting mom back in the pictures. Click on the 52 week challenge button at the top and join in! I am so happy I did!

BTW - has anyone had any success at my picture pay it forward challenge? I have tried a couple of times but sadly the moms have declined, making little comments about how they would ruin the picture. I thought that was so sad, but didn't push them. I will keep trying though because I am treasuring all these pictures I have now of myself with my children and still hope to spread that joy to other moms!
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ping Pong - sort of

This is just a fun little game they had at my in-laws church on Halloween night. They had a lot of fun games, but I actually have a picture of this one, and the more I think about it, the more I want to recreate it at home. They just set up a few little buckets at the end of the table and gave the kids some ping pong balls. The kids bounced the ping pong balls across the table trying to get it to land in one of the buckets.

I honestly didn't think my kids were going to be able to get it to work when we walked in the room, but to my surprise they each got a few balls into the buckets. Ella (my almost 2 year old) was even smart enough to adjust how she was standing as her first couple went to the left, so she moved over further to the right and BINGO! She was getting them in the buckets. Such a smart little bear (or tiger I guess on this day!) I have.

This is such a simple game, but I can see my kids having a lot of fun with it. It will be excellent for their hand eye coordination and problem solving skills (as Ella demonstrated by adjusting her body). I'll just tuck this idea away for a rainy day.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun things to pass along

Before I forget, I wanted to pass along a few fun things I saw on the web. The first two are little felt turkey crafts/activities. I just grabbed some felt at Walmart this morning and am excited to make both of these. I think my kids will love them.

The third thing is a very clever little foosball table from Filth Wizardry.

Has anyone tried making a photo book from the Blurb.com? The Domestic Notebook has a post about it with a coupon code. I have always used Shutterfly before, but I am always up for trying something new. If you have used this site before, I would love to hear how you liked it (or didn't)!

50 free photocards. - um...yeah...sign me up for that! That is next on my to do list!

And go over to Money Saving Mom and see this great deal on board games at Toys R Us. I love getting board games and donating to Toys for Tots so this would make a great deal!

Okay, I think that is all for now. Hope everyone is having a fantastic Monday!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Author highlight: Mem Fox

Last week at the library, we ended up choosing several Mem Fox books. It was completely on accident too, which is the funny part. I think I had picked up Hello Baby!, and then Aidan chose Shoes from Grandpa, and The Magic Hat. I decided to go see if she had a website and what fun stuff she might have on it. Turns out she has a very nice website! She shares a little about herself, her favorite books, advice on how to read aloud to children - she even has a list of her ten read-aloud commandments. Two of my favorite parts of her website though are where she tells the stories behind the stories - where she got her ideas and inspirations for her books. My other favorite part is where she actually reads her stories for you to listen. I love hearing books read by their author and she reads (and sings) several of hers!

Here are a few of my favorite Mem Fox books. What is your favorite?

Friday, November 6, 2009

More shopping

Sorry everyone. I will share some fun projects again I promise. I have just been to Target a lot this week for some reason. They have just restocked their dollar section with some cool stuff so make sure you go check it out. I picked up some lacing beads, dinosaur magnets (my son will LOVE!) and some small letter blocks, for $2.50 each. I think I will save them for little stocking stuffers for Christmas.

These puzzles however have already been played with a lot. I love that there is no exact right answer. The pieces are all just squares or rectangles, so you can put the cars or animals together correctly, or if you want to be a little silly, you can mix and match and get some funny giggles from your kids when they put the elephant's head on the giraffe's body! There was also a girl one that had different outfits or something, but I just grabbed these two.

I love it when there are new things in the dollar section!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

52 Week Challenge

Week 5 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I actually have two pictures to share this week! The first is me with my little ladybug on Halloween. Isn't she cute?!

The second is me with my little bear at an awesome volleyball game last night. #8 ranked Iowa State beat #2 ranked Texas in game 5! It was awesome! I love volleyball! There definitely was some Hilton Magic happening last night! (I know that doesn't make sense to most of you. Hilton Colosseum is the name of our venue where they play volleyball and we call it Hilton Magic when the crowd is just really pulling the team through to a win with their awesome cheering.)

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Pirate Ship

My friend Kim and her husband have been having a great time making a pirate ship with their kids. They went to Lowes and got two big boxes, set it up in their playroom and started assembling and decorating their pirate ship. The kids helped decorate with some pirate themed stickers Kim had picked up. They made a mast and hung their pirate flags from it. Notice the skull and cross bones with the orange border was done by dad, the one on white paper and green paint is the five year old's version. SO CUTE!

This pirate ship comes complete with telescopes (gift wrap tube) so they can see any approaching ship, and a secret passageway into the other section. You can see the telescope on the left and the doors of the passageway at the back of the box.

Kim had some great finds in the Halloween clearance section of Target today as well. There was a lot of different skull and cross bones items, including the tablecloth (which is on the floor of the pirate ship, and that cool sign hanging from the door to the ship. And some little Halloween decorations hanging from the ceiling for fun!

Her son using the telescope. Or would it be a periscope. Sorry, can't think of the difference at this late point in the day!

Ah, and there be the pirate himself! Arg!
Thanks for sharing your fun with us!!!!!

Just wanted to share their cool use of appliance boxes and super cheap Halloween goodies in case you needed some more inspiration to go check out the Halloween clearance!
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Dress-up stock up

Have you all been to the Halloween clearance section at your local store? If you have not, you should get there right now! The costumes at my Target store today were 75% off. You could possibly find next year's Halloween costume, or just some things to use for dress-up. Or you could maybe use it as a Christmas present.

I grabbed a cowboy, little red riding hood, and a zebra head and tail to put in our dress up box. And since the cowboy was missing the trench coat I asked and they gave it to me for 90% off! So I got a cowboy vest, hat, bandanna, and sheriff's badge for a whopping $1.99. Hard to beat that deal.

I also grabbed a big bag of pumpkin erasers, a bag of spiders, and a package of little black couldron candy dishes. I have visions on using these things for patterning, sorting, sensory table, and probably some things I have not thought of yet.

So go check out the clearance section and see what you can find. And remember to ask for an extra discount if a piece of the costume is missing. Never hurts to ask! Let me know if you find any cool deals at your store!
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do A Dot Markers

These are the Dot Art markers that we used the other day. They are washable and non-toxic and SUPER FUN! They are just like bingo dotters. You can get them in all kinds of fun colors. There is a set called Rainbow, Brilliant, Shimmer, Fluorescent, and Jewel Tone.

There are also coloring books they sell to go along with them if you like. We do have a couple of those courtesy of Grandma, but mostly we use them for free art. Grandma was actually the one that bought them the markers. We have used them a TON and they are still going strong. If you wanted to go get some of these markers and have a Michael's store nearby, I would totally use one of their weekly 40% off coupons and go get some of these markers. They will last you a long time and you will have a lot of fun with them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping the kids busy

I don't know about you, but when I am trying to get dinner ready my kids turn crazy and are all over me. I know I should get them more involved in making the meals, but sometimes, I just need my space and I need them to be occupied with something else. So I am always trying to think of new things to keep their attention so I can get supper cooking.

What I came up with last week was just rolling out a big piece of paper on the kitchen counter, quickly stenciling with a few of our Halloween cookie cutters we already had out from play dough, and then I gave them their do-a dot markers. They had fun, were still sitting near me so I knew their weren't being mischievous in another room and it allowed me the time I needed to make dinner for the whole family.

What are some of your quick tricks to keep the kids busy during dinner prep?
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