Teaching Heart Mom

Just a Mom With a Teaching Heart. Find fun activities to do with your kiddos and students (infant to age 10). www.teachingheart.net blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday - Do you know Dottie?

If you are a Weight Watchers member you should know Dottie. Do you??? Today's blog is all about Dottie...

Maybe it's that I have been on WW (Weight Watchers) at least ten times that I know so many tricks... I was super surprised at my last meeting to find out that many people did not know about Dotties Weight Loss Zone. I have been a fan of this site for years... I think I first went on WW when I was a junior in college and DWLZ was around. I also remember mentioning it at a WW meeting back in my second year of teaching (told you I have been on & off the wagon many times) and I was shushed by the leader. She mentioned how WW did not like the site because it encouraged people not to buy the dining out books they sell. So I am always fearful to mention it since then... but I mentioned it last week because they were talking about how it was hard to find points for restaurants and I had to tell everyone about my favorite diet site. The leader was open to me talking about the site. She knew about it... but isn't it funny how she herself didn't mention it... why, because they want you to spend nine extra dollars to but the dining out guide... don't do it!!! You pay enough weekly.

Anyhow, the site is great all over and is worth a surf if you are on a weight loss journey, as I am! The best part is the restaurants section. Look at all those restaurants... it's hard to find one that is not on this list!!! Here's the fun part, finding out how many points your food at the restaurant is. Even if you aren't on WW it's fun to see. Just know that the average number of points is 16 to 20 a day! I fall around 19 for my points range. So with that in mind click on Outback. How many of you can eat about half a Bloomin Onion on your own??? I will raise my hand... Look at that killer for the whole Bloomin Onion (2310 cal/134 g fat/0 g fiber/241 g carbs) it is 57.5 the points- OMG... So even if you have a little you could easily hit your maximum points for the day. Crazy stuff! Still there are lots of healthy items you can order on the menu and this will show you some choices. Print it out & bring it along to dinner with you...

Want a milkshake after dinner... Click on McDonald's.
Strawberry Shake: 12 fl oz cup 9 pts
Strawberry Shake: 16 fl oz cup 12.5 pts
Strawberry Shake: 21 fl oz cup 16.5
Strawberry Shake: 32 fl oz cup 24.5

Are you kidding me??? I am not going to waste about half my points for the day on this... doesn't even taste that great!!! I think I will make this instead!

What I do get at McDees is:
Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich w/o mayo [7.5 oz] (370 cal/4.5 g fat/3 g fiber/51 g carbs) 7 points
Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap with Honey Mustard (260 cal/9 g fat/1 g fiber/27 g carbs) 6 points
Apple Dippers [1 pkg] (35 cal/0 g fat/0 g fiber/8 g carbs) 0.5

How about Starbucks...

Thanks to DWLZ.com I get...
Skinny Mocha, Grande (16 fl oz) (130 cal/0 fat/0 fiber/19 carbs) 3 points
and on hot days
Mocha Light Frappuccino w/o whip: Grande (180 cal/1.5 g fat/4 g fiber/36 g carbs) 3 points

I eat at Max and Erma's at least once a month.
Thanks to DWLZ.com I know I should get...
Shrimp Stack Salad (As served) (322 cal/12.4 g fat/3.3 g fiber/33.4 g carbs) 7 points

Check out Panera...
DWLZ helped me pick these as faves:

Half Greek Salad 5.5 points
French Onion (with cheese & croutons) 4.5 points
Half Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil 6 points
Pumpkin Muffie 6 points

Those are just a few highlights from DWLZ. Thank heaven for Dottie... I don't know the lady but she is on my list of great people! Hopefully, with Dottie's help I can finally make lifetime. I am thankful to her for sharing such an awesome site with us all!!! Thanks Dot!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has always been on my top ten of favorite Children's books. I used it in the classroom often around this time of year. It became a big part of my weather units. My son and daughter have been asking to have this read to them daily for the past few days. Fun to see them both (age differences in all) enjoying a story together.

I was so excited when I found out that this book was going to be made into a movie. The last time I got this excited about a movie was when I found out that The Polar Express was going to be made into a movie. My husband gets excited about Star Wars movies and Lord of the Ring movies and me, I get excited about children's books getting made into movies. Yes, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is coming to theaters in September 2009.

Read the book to your kiddos to get them excited about the movie... As most Children's books that are turned into movies, the book will be different from the movie. Just from seeing the trailer I can see that the first part of the movie is nothing like the book. The three characters in the movie were never in the book. It is almost as if the book is the center part of the movie. So as you read, you may want to ask your kiddos how they think the weather became food... the movie will explain how the food started falling from the sky.

So over at Teaching Heart I will be working on a unit for this book with free printables and all... A work in progress.

While you wait... here are some links and a few ideas to use with the book.

Check out the Sony movie site for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. Here you can see the trailer. My kiddos loved watching the trailer. Also you can play games (some aren't up and running yet). You can learn about the movie and it's characters.

Hear the book read on You Tube.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Super Cute Spring Treats

I love all the cute bake goods & yummy foods people are making to celebrate Spring. Too bad I am on a diet! I remember as a child when my grandmother was still alive how she use to make us all egg shaped cakes with our names on them. Seems like memories of food are always easy for me to recall. hmmm???

I blogged here, about my friend Krista's cake. I wanted to share some other cute ideas!
First, I have to share my mom's coconut bunny cake. It is one of my favorites!One cake is the head. The other cake makes the bow and two ears. Decorate with Vanilla Icing and then top with white and pink coconut. Green coconut is used for the background! The recipe is found here!
Isn't he cute? He is made from a hard boiled egg!!!I got this recipe from the Pillsbury Classic Cookbook sent monthly. Visit http://www.pillsbury.com/ Click here to see the full recipe from the April 2005 issue.
Isn't this Easter Bunny Bread too cute? You can find the recipe here!
Buzzing by below. These bees are sooooo cute and the recipe seems super easy to me!
I love these Easter Nests... Check out the step by step directions here. You can't mess these up!
Let's get healthy with this Easter Bunny Salad. Go here for directions!
These chocolate Easter nests are yummy and easy to make. This recipe would make a special treat for Easter visitors or as a project to create with children.
Easter Basket Cupcakes. You can view the recipe here!
Still want more?
Tip Junkie has some neat-o food ideas.
I am trying these Resurrection Rolls this week.
And some treats to add to your basket!!!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cute Cake For Spring!!!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by crafty people who share!!! Here is a picture of a cake my girlfriend made for her daughter's birthday. It is so cute and seems very easy. It is a little scene with Peeps & Jelly Fish. The grass is green colored coconut and their is a lake with jelly fish in it. The path the Peeps are on is made of M&M's. So colorful and cute!! Thanks Krista for letting me share this!

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Upward Basketball Review

I have to give a shout out for a program that my son just finishing participating in. At South Hill Bible Chapel in McMurray, PA my son participated in Upward basketball. Upward is a fun, reliable, passionate and encouraging sports experience for boys and girls, in K5 through sixth grade. Upward provides first class, organized and detailed sports programming in basketball and other sports (cheerleaders too) at a very reasonably price for what you get in return! It was a privilege to be part of this program. My son learned about friendship, sportsmanship and of course basketball- all while getting a chance to learn about God. Through Upward, my son was exposed to quality coaching and sport development.

Upward emphasizes character and integrity. In fact, in order to build self-esteem and team spirit, each participant is awarded a star after each practice and game. The stars are colored and stand for different things: Christlikeness, best effort, best sportsmanship, best offense, best defense, and Scripture learning! My son was thrilled to get the stars and really worked to do his best. He was awarded the Christlikeness Star twice and seemed most excited about that star! We were too - bragging a bit!

The green star is for learning the scripture that is handed out after each weekly hour long practice. The scriptures come on colorful cards that the kids enjoy getting.
The weekly games were so cute. Each child had a nickname and an announcer would yell out their names as they ran through the Upward tunnel and onto the court! So sweet!!! There are also Upward Cheerleaders that cheer at the events -- very cute. You could see how each teammate made progress in sports skills throughout the program.

The program at South Hills Bible Chapel was so organized and ran so smoothly! I was very impressed and recommend it to all! Only good things to say! I am catholic and attend another church, so I am not biased in any way! (PS. Their summer camp is also OUTSTANDING!!!)
I really feel my son gained many sports skills as well as skills in faith and character. Upward is a national program and a local church in your area may have it. I highly recommend it!!!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Paper Clips & Bunnies

If you have been here before, you know that I like sharing ideas that "keep my kids busy"... here is something that kept my 3 year old entertained. All you need is a box of colorful paper clips and some kind of muffin tin. Here in the picture we are using a bunny tin. My daughter practiced sorting the colors. It took her some time to get over 100 paper clips into their correct muffin cup.

My six year old was even into it. He wanted his own tin to sort. He was much quicker getting the job done, but he had fun!
Just an easy idea for you when you need to keep the kiddos busy!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some Yum Which Won't End Up on Your Buns!

So, I am back on track again... The eating healthy tack, that is! Lost ten pounds in four weeks. Waaaahhhhooo.... only 30 more to go. But don't clap for me. I started WW (weight watchers) last year at this time and lost 7 pounds and then gave up. So when I went back to WW they started me at a 10 pound gain. According to them (after 4 weeks of watching what goes in & watching the scale go down 10), I am now at a weight loss of zero. Bummer! Baby steps, I know... It's a slow process. Believe me I have been processing weight loss since the birth of my first child and then at the third birthday of my second is when I decided enough was enough. Jeans in a size I refuse to go higher in were very tight in the waist. So here I go again hoping this time I make lifetime... Giving myself all the time I need. Praying I take off on average a pound to 2 pounds a week. Hoping to be down 20 by July. Maybe if I write it to you all, I will stick to it.

I have been exercising regularly for about a year now. Even ran a 5K. Unfortunately I began eating more too. Exercise does not mean you can eat more... took me a year to realize that. You have to do both at the same time.

Anyhow, here is one of my special weight loss secrets... Colleen's Yum Which Won't End Up on Your Buns Smoothie!!! Yes, only 2 points on WW!! Very filling snack.

1 - 2 cups frozen strawberries

1 cup of yogurt (WW has a 1 point yogurt)

6 oz of Diet Z UP

Place all in blender and smooth... RESULT - Yum Which Won't End Up On Your Buns. One problem, the kids want some??? So instead of diet soda, I add 1/2 cup of water and a little milk. They love it and they think they are having a milk shake.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Easter Season is Here - Another Reason to Read!

These are my two favorite books to read to my six year old this time of year...

After reading we discussed:

*Did the people change their minds about Jesus from Palm Sunday to Good Friday? In what ways?
*What do you think you would have done if you were with Jesus during this final week?
*What do you notice about the use of color in this book?
*Why is a cross so important to many people today? *
Why do you think we use such things as flowers and eggs on Easter Sunday?

You would be amazed at their responses to the above questions...

Write the following on piece of paper
Palm Sunday
Holy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Sunday

Give your kiddo paper and have them fold it twice to make 4 boxes. In each box, have your child make an illustration for each day and write a sentence or two to explain the illustration.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great Green Memories!

Hope you had a fun St. Pat's Day! I am sick this week dealing with a cold that makes me super tired... Not to mention that I have a million things going on over the next few months. But who has time to complain. :)

As I am laying on my bed playing people with my daughter on Monday after picking my son up from school, he asks; "Mom, do you remember last St. Pats Day when that Leprechaun visited our house?" Me... "ummm, yeah (thinking in my head... o, crap why did I start that?!) My son, "That was one of the best days of my life! St. Patrick's Day is so FUN!"
Of course as sick as I am... my heart thinks... "Wow, someday when he is 21 and going out for a beer with his buds he may tell them the stories of the times a Leprechaun visited his house and set up a cool scavenger hunt!" One of the best days of his life... so with the little bits and pieces I remember of my childhood, this may be one of the bits he remembers... So Monday night, you find me preparing to make St. Pats a great memory for my kids. Here is what I came up with this year:

When the kids woke up they found a treat at the table... Lucky Charms Cereal - The first sign of a Leprechaun... Mommy never let's us buy that.

Then after school they found this set-up on the table... Dress-up for the big fun with a note telling them Lucky the Leprechaun had stopped by and set up a scavenger hunt.
Off they went on the hunt. I managed to get some learning in to because my son had to read the clues to know where to look for the next clue. He did great and they found all the Shamrocks. The last one directed them to look outside.

Outside they found their treasurer boxes. They had to dig through the box to find three of each of the given items. They had a blast trying to find the hidden treasures. My daughter just enjoyed playing with the colored pasta.
Hopefully when they get older they will recall the little ways Mommy and Daddy tried to make some times extra special. I hope they will look fondly upon their green memories!!!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Home Hunt

Yes, we are still stuck inside... We need things to do inside! The old standbys are getting a little too old. I created this home scavenger hunt that can be used in your home and my home. The original idea came from my girlfriend Whitney. I tweaked it to make it a little different.

Click here to Print these cards. Cut them up. Keep one...

Here's how it works:

Let's say, you keep the laundry room one in your pocket. Then hide the rest. It would look like this..

Keep the Laundry Room card (this will be the first card you give to start the game) and hide the fireplace card in the laundry room.

Hide the front door card on the fireplace.

Hide the kitchen table card by the front door.

Hide the closet card by the kitchen table.

(so you are hiding the card they go to next)

Place all card in appropriate places.

(for the last area, you can leave a little treat if you choose!)

Once you have all the cards in place. Give the first card which will direct them where to go for the next card. In the case above, you would give the laundry room card. When they go into the laundry room, they would find the fireplace card. Next they would go to the fireplace where they would find the front door card. Off to the front door they go to find the kitchen table card. So on and so on... Keep them busy and active.

My son loved this and was very quick running around the house getting all the cards. He wanted to play again and again.

My daughter on the other hand, wanted to play but was not quick enough... so I tweaked this to make it multi age.

I printed out three sets of cards. I cut one set for my son, one set for my daughter and kept one sheet uncut as a key. While my son was doing the regular hunt,

I laid all the cards my daughter had on the floor for my daughter and had her match the card on the sheet. She had fun picking up the cards and putting them over the match on the sheet.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hodge Podge Of Links To Great Fun!!!

ST. Pat's Day Fun

- Ahhhh, make St. Pat's day truly magical for your kids, Forever Flamingo has such a cute idea.

- Go on a Lucky Gold Hunt with your kids.

- Check out his cute book!

Around The House

-I like this chore idea at Play, Explore, and Learn. I need to someday set up something formal like this for my kiddos.

Fun Learning

-Storytime and More posted some Dr. Seuss printables that your kids may enjoy!

-Ooooohhhh, my addiction to Starbucks may come in handy. Check out this great idea for paint holders.

-I am really enjoying all the thinks posted at the Saturday Showcase... Go check it out at

- I would like to try this Lamb Craft with my three year old this week.

-Wow, I love these green egg cookies and while you are looking check out all the great Seuss ideas!

For Mommy

-Make Mini Meatloafs

-Mommy Make Trail Mix

-Some Funny for the Facebook Moms...

-Difference between 1 and 4!

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Get Your Lucky Charms Game Free To Print

I am very much into tricking my kiddos into learning. I did it when I was a teacher and I continue to do it with my own children. My job today is to create standard based activities that make learning those state standards fun! I love creating these fun activities for my kiddos and students around the world. It is the best job! I have sold thousands of CD's filled with fun learning activities on the Kindergarten through Third Grade Level. Ninety percent of my customers who buy one CD come back to buy all my other CD's. I feel blessed that I get to touch so many kiddos little brains. If you are interested in my products to purchase for your favorite teacher or if you homeschool, please visit this page!
One thing I did promise myself when I started selling my creations was that I would still make sure that at least 30% would be free on Teaching Heart. Speaking of creating learning fun & FREE... Above is something free I would like to share with you in time for St. Patrick's Day. It is something my kids have been having fun with it.
All you need is a dice, two markers (I used apple jacks cereal), and this free printable pdf file.

The file is pretty large and will take you about five minutes to cut up and tape together once you have printed it. It has enough material for four players. You can play 1 to 4 players. If this is going to be used in a classroom, I suggest you laminate it!

The object is to collect all five lucky charms to put on your shamrock. When your shamrock is full, you are done and very lucky!

How to Play:
Each player gets one shamrock to fill.
Taking turns each player rolls the dice and moves their piece ahead.

Once they land they must pull a card and answer the question. You will see that I have two sets of cards on my board. One set is programed for my son (second grade sight words are already on some of the cards). I programed the rest of his cards (the blank ones provided) with math problems and the Kindergarten writing strokes. You can program the blank cards with skills your child or student needs to work on. The other set of cards have things my three year old is working on (shapes, colors, letter sounds, numbers). This game is great because two people working on two different levels can play together! Great when you have a six year old and a three year old playing together.
These two pictures below give you an idea of what two sets of different level cards would look like!!!

Once they answer the card correctly they complete the activity on the square they landed on. If they land on a lucky charm they do not have they may take the lucky charm and place it on their card. If they already have the charm, they do nothing. Each square tells you what to do. If it is blank, just wait for your next turn. Keep going around the board till the shamrock has one of each charm on it. Pretty self explanatory.

My kiddos loved this game! I hope your children or students enjoy it too and don't even realize they are practicing skills they need to know.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Take 20 Read To Your Bunny!!!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a mother who read to me.
--Strickland Gillilan

Since I started the website, Teaching Heart, I have received many emails from parents asking me for tips on how to prepare their child for grade K. If your child is in or has gone to preschool it is very likely that he/she has been exposed to the beginning Kindergarten Curriculum; although, it is still very important for you to help your child learn the basic readiness skills whether or not your child has gone to preschool. Your child will be at a disadvantage if he/she comes to school not knowing any letters, shapes, colors, and has never used a pencil or cut with scissors. Kindergarten standards have risen beyond playtime!! Students leaving Kindergarten are now expected to be able to read predictable and patterned texts, write, and problem-solve!! To get to this end result children must come to school with the basics so teachers can help your child meet the ever rising standards. To help you get your child on the right track I have complied a list of activities that I have and will use with my own children. I hope you have fun starting the learning at home.

If you only choose one choose to READ to your child every day and let him choose books he likes. Recorded books are also fun. Read to your bunny!

Reading often helps your child enjoy and look forward to this important skill.

Fill your house with reading material such as books, magazines, newspapers, etc.. Put reading material at your child's eye level to inspire curiosity. If you cannot buy books visit the local library. Resales also sell books at cheap prices. Also, try Ebay!

Put cheap magnetic letters on your refrigerator or with a magnetic cookie sheet so he/she can use them to explore learning letters and making names. Leap Frog makes a magnetic letter reader called the Word Whammer. This reads the letters and tells the sound made by each letter.

Be sure to teach letter sounds as well as letter names. I even suggest you leave the letter names out until your child knows the sounds and then introduce what we call the letter.

Write your child's name on a special paper so it can be used as a reference when writing her/his name.

Set aside a special drawer, basket, or tub to keep paper, pencils, markers, crayons, safety scissors, glue, and any other materials that will generate an interest in writing and creativity.

Use everyday situations as a learning experience for example "There is only one piece of paper left how can you and your brother both get a chance to draw a picture?"

When walking down the street or in the car talk about the things you see: colors, shapes, street signs, weather and nature are just a few! When they point to the McDonald's sign and say McDonald's, that is reading!!! In my daughters case... she points to the Target sign and says, "Target, Mommy's favorite!"

Again!!!!! Point out common street and store signs (Stop, K-Mart, McDonalds). The first words that children "read" are these common signs.

Make a scrap book of your child's art work and papers and with your child put papers in it. This helps build organizational skills.

make a scrapbook of things you want you kiddo to learn. If you want them to know their friends names, put pictures of their friends in it. My daughter's book has numbers, colors, her favorite shows, favorite food, places she likes to go, her phone number, and her street number in it.

Make up stories together or talk about the sequence of his/her day.

In the grocery store talk about colors, letters, numbers of the isles and the shapes of food or packages. Let them put three cucumbers in the baggie.

Let your child find numbers or letters in old magazines or newspapers. A yellow marker can be used to highlight or circle! For example, "Find all the m's and circle them, now count how many you found."

Count Cheerios, crackers, goldfish, or anything like this you serve as you place them in a bowl or plate. When serving a snack ask your child to pick a quantity. “Do you want one cookie or two cookies?”

Sort M&M's, Fruitloops, colored Gold Fish or Skittles by colors. Muffin tins are great for sorting counting bears into by color.

Talk about the letters in friends and relatives names. Ask questions like: What does Aunt Sue's name start with? or What sound does the C make in your sister Caitlin's name?

Help your child learn concept words like before, next, top, under, middle, forward. first, last, middle, etc. Experience these words with your child so that she understand their physical meanings (crawl under tables, over chairs, and so forth). Emphasize these words when talking ("First put the napkins on the table. Next put the fork on the napkins. Third put the plates in the middle of the placement.")This builds important math skills and will help your child be better able to follow classroom directions.

Five Finger Rule for Finding Just the Right Book – For Independent Readers
1. Open the book to the middle.
Select a full page of text.
2. Read the page (aloud if possible).
3. Put one finger up for every word you cannot pronounce or do not know.
4. If you get 5 fingers up on one page, the book is too difficult to read independently.
5. If you do not get any fingers up, but are reading very slowly and decoding almost every word, you will not enjoy the book.

What the experts say!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Our Happy Birthday Dr. Suess Fun...

I often miss being in the classroom. Today is one of those days I miss the most! I use to do lots of fun things with Dr. Seuss books when I was teaching. During this time of year, I devoted two weeks to a Unit study of Seuss books. We had a blast! Now my kids get a taste of a few of those same activities.

In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday my kiddos ate green eggs for breakfast (egg beaters with yellow and blue dye).
After Kindergarten we watched the DVD green Eggs and Ham. I let them watch these YOU TUBE Videos too:

At storytime, they each picked their favorite Dr. Seuss book for me to read. My daughter's choice was The Grinch. Not surprising because she looks like Cindy Lou Who and often calls our dog Max because she loves the story so much. My son picked Horton Hears a Who.

We made these cute cat cookies...




life savers!

We played a dice game called Roll the Cats Hats.
YOU NEED: Roll & Color The Cats Hat Activity Sheet

Red and Green Crayon

1 Dice

To Play With 2 Players:
One child gets a red crayon and the other gets a green crayon. They take turns rolling the dice and color in the number of hats they roll with their crayon. When the game board is all colored, the game is finished. The child who has the most hats colored wins.

To Play One Player:

Roll between a 1 and 3 color two hats red

Roll between a 3 and 6 color two hats green

After they have played and finished the sheet. Ask, how many red hats and how many green? Which color do you have the most of and which the least of.

SO Much More Seuss!!!

Visit the Crafty Crow... She has a post filled with ideas to help make celebrating with Seuss fun, fun, fun!

Visit Seussville for Lots of Fun for the Kids!!!

The Virtual Vine has great ideas too!

If they are good little cats, let your kiddos Try Some Online Games

OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO GAME (balloons and colors)

Even if you missed Seuss day you can still do these activities on any day! Reading Seuss is fun any day of the week!

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

In Honor of Read Across America Day!!!

At my son's school they were asked to wear a shirt that could be read on March 2nd; Read Across America Day. One of my many loves is iron-on computer paper... so here was another opportunity for me to use some. My son is a huge Star Wars fan and of course he thought we should make a Star Wars shirt. After a few image searches on GOOGLE, this is what we came up with:

It is Yoda holding a book and says "Read You Should" and the other side says "Read and the Force will Be With You!"
This is a shirt he can wear again and again.

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Getting Through These Last Few Months of Winter...

Wow, feels like winter has been here forever... O, how I look forward to getting outside with the kids again. Going to the parks, going swimming, long walks down to the lake to feed the ducks, bike rides on the trail, & time with friends. It is almost here... I can feel it. Come on Spring!!! While we wait, I wanted to share some products that have gotten us though these winter months. My three year old and six year old love these over and over again! If you need something to get you through the last few weeks of winter, why not give one of our favorites a try!!!

My Six Year Olds Faves:

Above you see my son working on a maze book. He has loved mazes since he was four. This keeps him busy for a good thirty minutes. I have found that the Kumon books are the best. The maze books are colorful and so full of detail to hold his interest. The book he is doing above is about Mazes around the world. They highlight icons in different countries and make a maze out of the icon. The back of the book has a World Map that shows you were each icon is in the world. Just an added bonus. Here is the book we love:

Also my son loves these cutting books. You actually create something out of what you cut. Very cute!!!

The teacher is me highly recommends the Kumon books. You can see more below and Super Fun Mama wrote a great review here.

These are also great practice in the summer months to stay fresh.

One of my Three Year Olds Faves
We love, love, love, love this product!!!! You will see my daughter below playing in the sand. I found these on Amazon and wasn't sure if I should buy one for her for her birthday. I am glad I did. She plays with her mermaid sandbox all day. Yes, you may get sand on your kitchen floor... but live a little! It comes with a thematic mat that I put down on the table and then place the box over the mat. She has a blast filling the little bucket with blue sand and hiding the tiny shells in the sand. All the little pieces you need are included! Around $20 may seem high... but you can do what I did... buy one and then make up other themes yourself using items from the dollar store.

Below are links to some.

I love Leap Frog products and so do my kids... I am not a big fan of sitting the kids in front of the TV. TV is a privilege in my house and usually is earned. I try to limit TV to 1 hour a day for both my kids & usually no TV on Saturdays. My daughter was not aloud to watch TV till her second birthday. There are exceptions; if we are traveling or at a friends house I do not keep track of TV time. Also they often will watch TV when they are at my gym or at the grocery store... those times I do not count. My reason for less TV is research based and is another blog for another day. However, quality shows is what I look for. This DVD below is the best... If you have only one DVD in your house, get this one. We have had it for four years and I my daughter & son knew their letter sounds by 18 months partially due to this DVD.

This is one of the best learning DVD's I have seen. It will be a great watch for the Pre-k to first grade classrooms. The DVD teaches the letter names. Most importantly, it teaches the letter sounds in a creative way. Viewers see the letters, hear the letter names, they see a picture/video that represents the sound each letter makes, and the viewer hears a catchy tune to match the letter sound. For instance, the letter C is shown in a cold environment with ice hanging from it. The letter comes to life by shivering and stating that it is /c/ /c/ /c/.... old. Then the characters in the story sing the catchy Leapfrog song; "The C says/c/, the C says /c/, every letter makes a sound. The C says /c/. This DVD/VHS is marketed towards parents to use with their PreK to First grader, but all teachers need to know about this video and share it with their class. It would be a great review or introduction to letter sounds. Teachers could also use the catchy phrases and visual representation of the letter sounds in their lessons by creating activities or visuals based on the video. Students will see the sounds letters make, hear the sounds, and sing the sounds. This video combined with strong phonics based classroom instruction will help reach a variety of learning styles and lead your students on the path to becoming strong readers.

Reading is a must at our house. We always read to each child at least thirty minutes a day. Now that my six year old can read himself, he also reads to us at least 10 minutes a day. Besides us reading aloud to the kids, here are some of my daughters favorite read alongs. These are great because they are short enough to keep her attention and she can hear the turn the page signal. About three months ago she started reading these independently. All I have to do is turn the CD on.

My son (six years old) is a big fan of the Disney Read Along Sets seen below.

Well, I hope you found something that will make the winter months go by quickly at your house.

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