Friday, June 29, 2012

Kid's Co-op



It's Friday and you know what that means? It's time for the Kids Co-op! Link-up your favorite kid-related post and make sure and check out all the fun that has been linked up from other bloggers.


After browsing through all the posts linked up last week, it looks like everyone has been having a lot of fun this June. I can't wait to see what is linked up this week! Here are three posts that caught my eye from last week.


Mommy Labs shared an indoor obstacle course and talked about the value of big body play. She shares some great information that should not be missed.



I'm always excited to hear about ideas for teaching children about all the corners of the world. All Done Monkey share some wonderful resources for travelling the world through music.


And finally, if your looking for a fun way to beat the heat this summer, The Children's Art Group showed you how to have fun while painting with colored ice.


Now it's time for all the fun you've been having! Please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs. It's time to link up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Books = Fun: Square Cat

We love books and we love doing crafts and activities based on these books. I've decided to house all of our book activities under one title: Books = Fun. I hope you find some good inspiration for a little book fun of your own!


We recently discovered a fun gem of a book, Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker. Square Cat is the story of Eula, a decidedly square-shaped cat. She doesn't like being square and longs to be round like her friends Patsy and Maude. With a little help from her friends, she learns that it's kind of fun to be square. I can't even begin to tell you how much the girls loved this book.


After reading and rereading the book about a dozen times, we decided to draw our own square cats. We decided on our favorite combination of oil pastels and liquid watercolors. I got the girls started with a large square on a piece of heavy-weight paper. 


The both got started turning their square into a cat. The above picture is AJ's (age 3). Don't you like those big, long ears?


This picture is Lizzie's (age 5). She's been going through a stage where she tries to copy pictures exactly. I've been amazed at how much her drawing has improved since she started this copying phase.


Once we were satisfied with our drawings, we got out the liquid watercolors. Since square cat was orange, that was the color we went with. Lizzie decided to paint her entire paper and AJ just painted her cat. I love how they both turned out!


Our current favorite art materials are oil pastels and liquid watercolors. What are your favorites?
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In the Kitchen: Knife Skills for Kids


In my first "In the Kitchen" post, I talked about the basic rules I taught my girls before letting them help in the kitchen. Today, I'm going to share a bit about knives. Yes, I know that one of the rules is not to touch sharp knives. We have a set of knives that I use all the time that are very, very sharp, so sharp that I've cut a chunk off the tip of my finger. These are not knives that kids should be touching. Nonetheless, I wanted to teach the girls how to properly use a knife.



Before we've ever used a knife in the kitchen, the girls have practiced cutting with items from their play kitchen. We have this cutting food box from Melissa and Doug. The girls have spent a lot of time playing with this set. (I would highly recommend this if your looking for a gift for a preschool age kid.) We've also practiced our cutting with play dough. Roll a snake shape with your play dough and have our kids practice cutting. We use plastic knives from our kitchen set with this. This is the perfect time to show them how to hold a knife, the correct way to cut, and how to keep your fingers curled under so you won't cut yourself. You can relax knowing there won't be any injuries while using these toy knives.



Once I felt more comfortable, we moved on to the kitchen. I allow the girls to cut using the knives from our silverware set. They're sharp enough to cut soft food, but not sharp enough to cause much injury. These knives can still cause injury, so please exercise caution and provide proper supervision while your child is cutting. Have them hold on to the knife's handle with the hand that they normally write with. They can hold on to the food with the other hand. Teach them to tuck their fingers in, so instead of cutting a finger, the knife will just brush against their knuckles. Some of the foods I allow the girls to cut are avocados, bananas, and other soft fruits and vegetables. 



Now that the girls are able to use a knife, they're able to make one of their favorite snack foods, guacamole. Here's my recipe for a super-easy kid-friendly guacamole.

Kid-Friendly Guacamole
2-3 avocados
1 tsp salt
dash of hot sauce (to taste)

Peel and cut the avocados. Use a fork (or potato masher) to mash the avocados. We find it easier to put the avocados in a wide, shallow bowl for mashing. While mashing, add the salt to taste. We like salty guacamole, so use more or less salt according to your tastes. Once it's mashed, add your hot sauce. This can be omitted if you don't like spicy food.

Spread on tortillas, use chips to dip, or even raw veggies. It's a great, healthy snack!

Do you let your kids use knives in the kitchen?
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Get Crafty: 4th of July Bunting


July 4th will be here before we know it, so the girls and I decided to work together to create a fun decoration for the holiday. We made this festive and very patriotic bunting with a few simple supplies.



Supplies Needed:
Red and blue construction paper
White paint
Sponge cut into a star shape
Crepe paper (found in the party supply section)
Stapler



Before beginning the project, I cut the construction paper into triangles. One sheet of blue and one sheet of red paper provided us with many triangles. I folded the paper in half lengthwise, then drew my triangles. I highlighted my lines in the above picture so you could see how I drew my lines. I cut along all the lines as well as cutting along my folded line down the middle. Once they were all cut out, the girls were ready to start making stars.



We used our sponges to stamp one star in the middle of each triangle. Then came the hard part, waiting for them to dry! But, they did look pretty all spread out on the table!



Once everything was dry, we sorted our triangles so that we had a red/blue/red/blue pattern. We took the red crepe paper and folded it in half. We put one triangle into the fold at a time and stapled it into the crepe paper (see picture below). We lined the triangles up side by side with the pointed side down to get the bunting look.



Now, we're all ready to decorate! We'll hang the bunting and display a few flags for a fun and festive 4th of July.

Do you like to decorate for the 4th of July?
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Linking up to the Show & Tell Blog Hop, Kids Get Crafty, The Sunday Showcase, and It's Playtime

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rhythm and Number Rhymes


Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap...
"There were 10 in the bed and the little one said,
Roll over, roll over"

What is rhythm? According to Dictionary.com, rhythm is a movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beataccent, or the like. Rhythm is present in every song or piece of music. It's also present in many poems and nursery rhymes. It can be simple or complicated. It may be composed of many different pauses and repetitions or just a simple standard, 1234, beat. 


We recently explored rhythm through the use of the book, One, Two, Skip a Few! First Number Rhymes. This book is full of classic number rhymes that you may already be familiar with, such as "One potato, two potato" and "One, two, three, four, five, Once I caught a fish alive." All of the rhymes have a definite rhythm to them, which made this activity lots of fun.  


We started with simple clapping. After we established a rhythm, we used the clapping to set our speed. We explored different speeds, trying fast and slow. We also tried a simple leg pat. Pat, pat, pat, pat. Once we mastered this simple rhythm, we moved on to something a bit more complicated and combined the claps and the pats.

Clap, pat, clap, pat, clap, pat...
"One, two, I love you,
Two, three, do you love me?"


Not only did we have fun, but we learned about a basic music term, rhythm. We learned that rhythm can help us remember the words to a rhyme. We also learned to have a whole lot of fun and add a new dimension to nursery rhymes by providing the accompanying rhythm.

How do you use rhythm in your play?
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Linking up to Mom's Library Link Party, The Sunday Showcase, and For the Kids Friday.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kid's Co-op



It's Friday and you know what that means? It's time for the Kids Co-op! Link-up your favorite kid-related post and make sure and check out all the fun that has been linked up from other bloggers!


I'm happy to be back and posting the Kid's Co-op weekly. The past couple of weeks have been busy with vacation and vacation prep, so I don't have any posts to feature. Instead, I'll share a bit of our week in the great outdoors with you. We had fun in the sun, swam in a lake, hiked through the woods, collected nature treasures, toured a beautiful garden, enjoyed the grandparents, and had an amazing week.



Now it's time for all the fun you've been having! Please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs. It's time to link up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun!





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Math Play: Kid-Made Counting Books


I realized recently that a lot of the crafts and activities we've been doing have been geared towards my 5-year-old. I realized that I needed to focus more on my 3-year-old with some of our activities. My girls are at a point where their skills, interests, and educational needs are vastly different. In light of this, I've made a goal to have a craft or activity each day that is geared towards each child's levels, therefore, at least two things a day. I'll admit it's a lofty goal and won't always be achievable, but it has made me much more aware of the need to go back to learning some of the more basic ideas. Counting is one of those ideas. We've checked out a fun variety of counting books from the library, we've gone on a counting walk, and we also made these fun counting books.



I was inspired by the pretty counting books on Living Montessori Now. I pinned it as soon as I saw it, knowing that I wanted the girls to make them someday. Deb provides a free printable if you don't want to make your own pages. Our printer was completely out of ink, so we just made our own pages. 

Supplies needed:
Construction paper
White paper
Scissors
Variety of stickers
Markers/crayons
Hole-punch
Yarn/ribbon/string



Our booklets were the size of a quarter sheet of paper. I pre-cut all of the pieces of paper. Each girl had 10 white pieces and 2 pieces of construction paper for the front and back covers. On each sheet of paper, I drew a circle in the bottom corner for the girls to write their numbers. I had them write each number from 1 - 10 in the circles, then put the correct number of stickers on each page. 



Lizzie (age 5) was able to work independently on her project, which gave me a chance to work with AJ (age 3). She does very well with her counting, but is still in the pre-writing stage, so I wrote out all her numbers for her. This also gave me a chance to work with her on recognizing the written numeral.


When the pages were done, we punched a hole in the top corner of each page. The girls put the pages in order and decorated the front covers of their book. We then put a small length of yarn through the holes to bind the book together. (Keep the yarn a bit loose, so you can turn the pages easily). Voila! Fun and easy counting books!


Have you done any fun counting activities lately?
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In the Kitchen: Teaching Kitchen Safety

Today I'd like to introduce a new series of posts. Over the course of the next few months, the girls and I will be working in the kitchen. We'll be learning to safely use different kitchen tools, learning new skills, learning about nutrition, and other fun activities designed to get us in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy "In the Kitchen"! 


The girls have always loved to help me in the kitchen. They love to make cookies and smash the avocados when we make guacamole. But, before they began spending a lot of time with me in the kitchen, it became essential to teach them some basic rules to keep them and me safe in the kitchen. 

Why is kitchen safety important?
  • It's the first step in learning an important life skill.
  • It allows more independence in the kitchen.
  • It keeps mom and dad more relaxed when little helpers are in the kitchen.



Safety Skill #1: Never Touch a Sharp Knife! At 5 and 3, the girls are still too young to use a sharp knife. I keep things simple by restricting their use. It's easy in our kitchen, because all of our sharp knives have similar black handles. They know that if they see that handle, they are not to touch the knife. Even if a sharp knife is in reach, they know to leave it alone.



Safety Skill #2: Hands Off! Stoves are HOT! The girls have been taught to never touch the stove when it is on. We don't rest our hands on it, lean on it, or touch it. We also don't lay anything down on top of it or touch a pan sitting on the stove. In order to show them just how hot the stove is, they watched me quickly melt butter in a pan. With this lesson learned, I am able to supervise, but not hover, while the girls are stirring something on the stove. (*Note: I don't walk away when the girls are by the stove, but I do feel comfortable enough to reach for the salt or a spoon if needed)



Safety Skill #3: Always Stand Away From an Open Oven. When it's time for an adult to open the oven door, the girls step back a few feet. They are too far away to touch anything and it also gives mom or dad room to work. I let them come closer one time to feel the hot air coming from the oven. Now, they walk away without being asked.



Safety Skill #4: Always Wash Your Hands Before You Start Cooking. We always stop in the bathroom before working in the kitchen. Clean hands are essential for food safety. I've taught this skill by example. The girls have watched me time and time again wash my hands before cooking or after handling such things as raw meat. We learn more about this safety skill every time we work in the kitchen.

These are my top 4 kitchen safety rules that I find essential to teach before allowing the girls to work with me in the kitchen. Obviously, these are not the only kitchen safety rules; we learn more each time we are in the kitchen. But, these have instilled confidence in the girls and have made our experiences in the kitchen much more fun and rewarding. If you've been hesitant about letting your kids help in the kitchen, these rules are a perfect starting point. 

Have fun "In the Kitchen" with your kids!
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Get Crafty: Layered Tissue Paper Butterflies


Butterflies are always a popular subject in the Creative Family Fun household. So, when the girls wanted to do a craft project, the first thing that popped into my head was a butterfly project. We had a lot of leftover torn bits of tissue paper from another project, so we thought we'd use them to make layered tissue paper butterflies.



Supplies Needed:
White paper
Black marker
Torn bits of colored tissue paper
Glue
Paint brush
Scissors
Pipe cleaner
Tape



Before we started, I drew simple butterfly shapes on the paper. I gave the girls some glue that was thinned out with water to make brushing easier. They painted the glue on their paper and started sticking the tissue bits. I encouraged layering and overlapping to see what kind of pretty designs the girls could come up with. We didn't worry about staying within the lines either; we were planning on cutting out our butterflies.



Once the glue dried, we cut out our butterflies and attached our antennae. I cut a sparkly pipe cleaner in half. The girls bent each piece into a "u" shape. We then attached them to the back of our butterfly heads with tape. Simple and fun!



Perhaps the best part about this project was that the girls spent the afternoon playing with their new butterfly "toys." I love it when a craft project turns into a play thing!

Have you made anything fun with your kids lately?

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Linking up to Show & Tell and It's Playtime

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Reading Program #Readforgood

Join Readathon 2012

We're in full-on summer mode here at Creative Family Fun, as you can probably tell by my absence last week. We were off on our summer vacation last week, but now we are back and I'm ready to share with you all sorts of summer fun and activities. But, first I want to tell you about this awesome Readathon from MemeTales. No matter how much fun we'll be having, we'll keep learning throughout the summer and one way we'll do that is to participate in the summer Readathon.

How do you participate?
Participation is easy. Check out this post on the Memetales blog to find out everything you need to know. The Readathon starts tomorrow, so head on over and sign up if you want to participate!

Why should you participate?
It's fun. It's a great way to get your kids reading (or being read to). It helps prevent Summer Slide (a loss of learning that can occur in the summer). And, you'll support a good cause! (For every person who signs up for the Readathon, Memetales will donate a meal to send to a hungry child at FoodForEducation.org.

Head on over and sign up. I'd love for you to join us in the Memetales Summer Readathon!


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