Friday, July 29, 2011

Our Sunflower Playhouse

One of our ongoing projects this summer has been a sunflower playhouse. We dug up one corner of our fenced-in backyard and planted both sunflower and bean plants. We then defined the area with a border of river rocks. The end goal is to have a fun and natural outdoor playhouse for the girls. It's not much to look at... yet. But, the sunflowers are getting bigger and bigger and now we're starting to see flower buds.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pet Shop in a Box

Since we were talking about dogs and cats last week, I thought it would be fun to put together a little pretend play kit for the girls. Pet Shop in a Box was created! I searched through all of our toys and found little cats, dogs, birds, and rabbits. I borrowed a few toys from our own pets, then looked through our play kitchen items for anything that might resemble pet food. I also threw in our doctor's kit as well. That way the girls could take care of any sick pet that came to their store.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Story Time: Books About Dogs & Cats

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Since we were talking about dogs and cats last week, I filled our book basket with books about them. We had some old favorites from our collection and some new books we found at the library. One such old favorite was My Cat Copies Me by Yoon-duck Kwon. It's a story about a little girl whose cat follows her around every day doing whatever she does. One day, the little girl thought it would be fun to follow her cat around instead. She spends the day learning how her cat sees the world. It's a perfect book for any child with a beloved pet cat.


Another fun book we found at the library was The Dog Who Cried Wolf by Keiko Kasza. It tells the story of a dog named Moka who lives with a little girl named Michelle. One day, after Michelle read him a book about wolves, he decided he wanted to live like a wolf. He runs away from home and has a grand time... that is, until he encounters a real wolf (don't worry, nothing scary happens). This is a fun book about a dog who was just a little bit naughty and a little girl who loves him very much.

We read a lot of fun books last week! Here are a few more that were in our basket.

Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera
Four Puppies by Anne Heathers
Bad Cat by Tracy McGuinness
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Poor Puppy and Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sorting Puffballs

Since AJ had a lot of fun learning how to play Memory with our seashell match game, I thought I'd come up with another version. It was also a sneaky little attempt to help her start recognizing her colors. It was pretty simple. I just gathered up a couple of bowls of puffballs and cut coordinating circles out of construction paper. Then I set the girls to work. Their goal was to put the puffballs in the correct colored spot. Lizzie thought it was great fun even though it too easy for her.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hawaii Basket

I've had this green basket forever. In the past, it's been used to hold toys and sometimes hold nothing. But, it's main purpose was to get in my way. While staring at it one day, it occurred to me that I could use it as a theme basket. Our first theme basket was bugs. It was full of books, coloring pages, small games and a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of it. After we were done with that, we turned it into a Hawaii basket. Lizzie has been fascinated by Hawaii lately, so I thought it would be fun to explore that theme. I found several books at the library.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Our Preschool Corner

Tucked between our couch and the wall is our little preschool corner. Other than the girls' bedrooms, we don't have a dedicated room for them. In the past (very recent past), their toys and books were taking over the living room and family room. I've been trying to tame it by making small spaces for their stuff. This is one of the spaces I created. This is the corner where we do all of our preschool activities. I keep small activities here that they can grab and work on whenever they feel like it. I also strung some twine along the banister where we can display some of their artwork.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ice Play

How do you beat the heat (and learn a little at the same time)? Playing with ice, of course! Yesterday, we set up a couple of simple experiments with ice. The first was ongoing as we played with our other experiment. We put some ice cubes in a small glass bowl, set it aside and waited to see how long it took to melt. We had to keep checking back to see the ice shrinking. It was completely fascinating (at least for the under 5 set)!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finger Painting

I had a revolution of sorts the other day. I was browsing (a great go-to source) and discovered a recipe for homemade finger paint. Who knew? Well, I'm sure some of you did... but, I didn't! It was cheap, easy and I had all the ingredients already in my pantry. 

I won't reprint the recipe here, but you can go to this link to find it. All you need is cornstarch, water, salt, sugar and food coloring or powdered tempura. Lizzie was very fascinated by the mixing of the colors. I think next time we'll experiment more with color mixing instead of just using primary colors.

This finger paint was also surprisingly easy to clean up, which is always a bonus. After making the paint, I just let the girls paint as they wished with it. I had to show AJ how to fingerpaint, but after that, I did not want to direct them. I love seeing what they can come up with on their own. The girls had a blast!

I love homemade art supplies! There's no worrying about what may be in there and it's a lot cheaper than buying them in the store. I'll definitely be exploring more recipes and I'll share the good ones with you. Oh, and we'll be finger painting a lot more as well!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Classic Stories: Fun With The Three Little Pigs

My oldest has been obsessed with the story of the Three Little Pigs lately. The version she's holding, by James Marshall, is especially popular in our house. The story is well-told and humorous and the pictures are classic Marshall. 

We've read it enough that she knows the book by memory, If you listen outside her room at night, you can hear her reciting the story before she falls asleep. She loves it. This obsession has made me realize that these classic stories are perfect for learning and fun.

So, how else can you use the story? For the preschool or younger set, you can:

- Build the houses and try to blow them down! Make paper "straws" for the straw house; it should blow down easily. Get out the wooden blocks for the stick house; again, it should blow down easily. Finally, get out the Legos for the brick house. No matter how much you huff and puff, it won't come down!
- Practice dramatic play. The story is easily told and most preschoolers would have a blast playing the different parts. You won't even need costumes!
- Create! Get out the play dough or construction paper and get to work. Make the pigs, make the houses, make the wolf.

If you have older children, you can:

- Challenge them to retell the story with other characters. How would the story be different if it were about the Three Little Bunnies or the Three Little Turtles?
- Make a comic book! Draw a large grid on paper, then draw the story out into the squares comic-book style.

Check out the library or any book store, you're sure to find a great version of the story. You can find the above version, by James Marshall, here at Amazon (and yes, I am a member of Amazon Affiliates).

Read the story and let your imagination run wild! Have fun!