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Showing posts from March, 2014

Make a Building Kit with Straws and Pipe Cleaners

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Once again, I am beginning a post with the disclaimer that this is not an original idea. I came across it in the April 2014 issue of Family Fun Magazine.  I don't see a link to it on their site, though, and since we added a few twists of our own I don't feel too bad posting our version here. (I really enjoy this magazine, by the way: it has a lot of fun ideas for kids pre-school through teen years. I think we'll be using several of them from the current issue. Oh, and it's fairly cheap - consider a subscription!)

I was immediately excited about this idea because my almost five-year-old son really enjoys building things. He is really attention-hungry and tends to resist solo projects: I anticipated that this project would hold my interest as well as his, and I was right. (To be fair, it may have held mine even a little better than his!)
It's also low mess, low cost, very simple for the adult, and re-usable. All great features in my book!

Here is what you will need

Dr…

Quick n' Dirty Tracing Book from Dollar Store Photo Album

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Today's DIY: Make a tracing book for your pre-schooler using a dollar store photo album.

Let me be sure to state right up front that this idea is Not Original. I don't remember exactly where I came across it first - Pinterest, I am sure! - but it's out there.
For instance, here's a Mommy who did it Much better than I did.  Of course, it also took her a lot longer. She had to create, resize, and print the letters, cut them out and mount them on card stock.
I did something similar for my 4 1/2 year old son, but I went even a step further and laminated the cards and hung them on a ring.  The project must have taken me at least 2 hours and consumed several rather expensive laminating sleeves.  Guess what: it is like pulling teethto get him to use it!

Admittedly the kid can be a mite contrary at times (and sometimes the rain is wet, too!) He seems to sense a learning activity 3 miles off and dig in his heels at the slightest hint.
Needless to say, we're going to have to…

Crocheted Mini Leprechaun Hat

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Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, here's a quick crochet pattern for a leprechaun hat. Whip one up (it took me around 30 minutes) and leave it with a couple of "gold" chocolate coins on the breakfast table for your kids to find!

Materials: 
Small amount of green yarn, worsted-weight
Small amount of black and yellow crochet thread or embroidery floss

Gauge is not important, but I used an "F" (3.75 m) hook for the hat and a #1 hook for the band.

Stitches: 
hdc = half double crochet
hdc2tog = half double crochet 2 together (decrease)
sl = slip stitch
ch = chain

Hat, in green
Tips: You will be be crocheting in front loops only on row 3, and back loops only on row 6. Here is an good explanation of which is which.
R1: 6 hdc in magic circle, sl to join
R2: ch 2 (counts as hdc), 1 hdc in same stitch, 2 hdc in each of next 6 stitches (12 total). Join with sl
The flat part of the crown is complete. The next row is worked with the hdcs in front loops only. The front loops…

Pre-School Chore Chart

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My husband and I want our kids to learn the value of work early in their lives. The "Entitlement" mentality is so pervasive in our culture, and so absolutely poisonous that we want to do anything we can to fight it. One of the things we're doing is starting the kids out with some simple, achievable chores while they're still pre-school aged. And, because we also want them to learn the value of money, some of these chores are paid.

I know, there are at least as many as schools of thought on the subject of allowance, chores, and kids as there are parents, but this is our very basic breakdown:
Basic Individual Responsibilities are unpaid. These include things like picking up toys, getting clothes into the laundry baskets, clearing their dirty dishes, etc.
Chores that benefit the Whole Family are paid. Some examples are vacuuming common areas, emptying the dishwasher, emptying the dryer, feeding the cat, etc.
Admittedly, there are some grey, ambiguous areas. Setting the ta…

Pin the Towel on the Rack

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Every time I went into the bathroom, the hand towel was on the floor. Every Time. Is it the fault of the slippery towel rod? Perhaps it's the too-short towel. Or maybe it's simply the fact that the rack is mounted about 6 inches above my kids' heads!


And it suddenly struck me one day that I was wasting way too much time mumbling (or worse) under my breath about the problem and waiting for my kids to grow another foot. I pulled a clip out of the kitchen drawer. I used it to clip the sides of the towel together under the rod. Problem solved.  No more mumbling under my breath. Happy Mommy.

Hi-Ho Pom-Pom O?

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Ah, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, the bane of my game closet. I can't stand it.  My son (4 1/2) asks for it regularly, but we rarely make it through the fussy, complicated set-up - quite possibly because my daughter (3) just likes playing with the fruit. The tiny, candy-colored fruit that inevitably gets knocked into and onto the floor where my other daughter (11 months) can grab it.  Most other parents that I've talked to have similar feelings of loathing - and yet we all seem to own a copy!

On the other hand, it does promote a couple of useful skills like counting, turn taking, and (arguably) dealing with set-backs when that stupid bird steals your fruit!
I brainstormed a Hi-Ho replacement that incorporates these skills and even adds some pincer-grip practice. I'm dubbing it (oh-so-creatively) "Hi-Ho Pom-Pom-O!"

Materials: 
Pom-Poms, at least 10 in each player's chosen colorA large bowl plus a smaller cup or bowl for each player(Optional) Child-sized tweezers (Mine look li…

DIY Learning Games

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In my last post, I shared how I created a Customizable Game Board, flexible enough to support a whole host of learning games. (Update: Here's another method for making a customizable board)
In this post I will share a number of games you can play using this board.  Of course, you don't have to make the reusable board in order to play them: you can always draw a custom board for any of the games!

Note that each of these games is targeted to kids between 3 and 5 years old. I would love your ideas for games for older children!

Before we begin, however, let's explore a few
Options for random number generation Every game needs a random element, and there are three basic methods for generating one
First: The classic die. (Hint: If you are tired of chasing them under tables and restoring toppled playing pieces, you might want to try rolling a die in a bubble! We have also used a basic clear Tupperware container to good effect.)
Of course, dice come in more than simple 6-sided cube…