Easter Fun Focusing on Jesus

Hi Mommy Teachers!  I hope you all enjoyed a fabulous Easter!  Many of you may have kids on Spring Break now, or perhaps your Spring Break was last week like my oldest’s was, or if you don’t get a Mardi Gras holiday like we do in Louisiana, yours may have been several weeks ago.  Or if you don’t have a child in school, then perhaps every week is Spring Break… or not.  What is a break when you’re a mom anyway?

Easter was so much fun this year for my family!  The night before Easter, our family had our 4th Annual Glow-in-the-Dark Easter Egg Hunt with friends!  While I read from our Jesus Storybook Bible about Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, the dads threw hundreds of glow-in-the-dark eggs in the field.  Jesus is the light in the darkness…great reminder!


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This year, for our egg hunt on Easter morning, we decided to hide 12 Scripture Eggs, or Resurrection Eggs.  We followed the guidelines from Your Homebased Mom’s post for the Easter Scripture Egg Activity.  She shares a list of items/symbols to include in each of your eggs to have a visual element to better connect to each scripture, the twelfth egg being empty to represent the empty tomb. Her post also includes a PDF that you can print out with each of the scriptures on it.

I know that this post is after Easter, but I wanted to share with you how we adapted wonderful activity to our family and how my kids processed it.  Be sure to pin it to your Easter and Holiday Pinterest boards for next year!


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My kids are 7, 5 and 2 and so I decided to hide three sets of Scripture Eggs to avoid a huge fight over who gets to learn about Jesus ;-).  I used 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 pink eggs and each of my kids knew which color they were searching for.  My kids each got a symbol in their eggs, but I rotated which kid got the scripture reference in his/her egg.  My husband had an New International Version (NIV) Bible open (or you can search for your favorite translation online) because the King James Version (KJV) can be confusing for the kids.

The kids were instructed to find the eggs, but not to open them.  When all the eggs were found, we sat down together and opened one egg at a time in order.  I loved hearing my 7-year-old say, “Hey!  There’s nothing in my 12!” and then the light bulb went off seconds later, “Oooooh because the tomb was empty!”


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The whole family really did enjoy this activity! There was a bigger purpose and defined focus for what each egg represented than years past when we filled the eggs with candy… and even my 2-year-old caught on.  When my oldest was joking around like they do on VeggieTales saying, “Easter is for chocolate bunnies,” my 2-year-old was the one who corrected him, “No, Easter is for Jesus!”

Easter win!

Oh, and here’s a Mommy win for egg dying…


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I call them “egg tongs.”  You’re welcome 😉

Remember to Pin this for next year!

An Elf Alternative

I have noticed that Elf lovers and Elf haters BOTH have something in common… they are happy with their own way of doing things.
Casey has great Elf ideas (that even incorporate Bible verses), and Krista is an example of someone who all of you Elf-Haters could relate to.  I am not Pro Elf or Anti Elf.

I think I might even fit into a whole new category.

I’m just kind of an observer of all things elf.  So, when I saw these elves, I bought them but I didn’t have any intention of doing the Elf on the Shelf thing.


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I actually had a few different ideas in mind:

1) To give them as gifts this year to friends, each holding Personalized Chocolate Bar with caricatures of our family dressed as elves.  (I was really proud when I came up with this gift idea!)


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2) To tell our kids that Santa sent us elf toys to take with us each time we go to do something special for Christmas (like picking out a Christmas tree, caroling, taking pictures with Santa, or going to parties).  If I forget to take them, we will just tell our elves all about them when we get home.  Each child gets their own elf and it is simply a plush toy – no magic involved.


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3) To decorate with the little cuties.


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4) To make boring spots of our house fun and festive…. like the microwave.  I love that their hands velcro together.


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There isn’t going to be much more to it than that for me, but this was exactly the elf I had been looking for if I was ever going to consider including Elves in our holiday traditions or household.

But maybe you do want this to be your Elf on the Shelf and in that case, CLICK HERE and go buy them. 🙂

 

DIY Rain Chain



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Head’s up!  Father’s day is THIS WEEKEND, not next like I kept telling myself.  My son had this brilliant idea to buy my husband some outdoor speakers for Father’s Day, which I really thought was a great idea (something I would enjoy too), but have you checked out the prices for those babies?  Yeah – it’s like the cost of formula for a year.  Not gonna happen.

Keep on brainstorming… Well, one thing my husband and I have always wanted is a rain chain… especially the copper ones that hang from beautiful, expensive copper gutters that we don’t have (as seen here in this video).  And those can be upwards of $100 or more… also not going to happen.

So, I decided that we are going to forego the pretty copper and make our own!  And I always say, “who can resist something handmade by kids?”  Let’s take a zero off of that $100 and make something similar for $10!

Supplies:  6 or more small terra cotta pots, 2 – 36″ extender chains for hanging planters

My kids and I picked up these small terra cotta pots from the Dollar General for $1 each.  They thought these were beautiful with the flowers painted on them… but I thought “eek!”  we can paint that… which they were ok with since I mentioned they would be the ones painting them.

 

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We bought 6 of them (because that’s what they had) and it makes a pretty decent length for a rain chain in my opinion.  We also purchased 36″ extender chains for hanging planters from the Dollar General which was $1.50… so we got 2 of them and got to work!



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Make sure that your pots have holes in the bottom because that is essential for this project for the chain to go through, and for the water to drain as well (because this is also a functional project).

The chain links are supposed to be bigger than the hole so your pots do not slip down the chain.  But how do you get the chain through the hole?

Using pliers I removed the link where I wanted my pot to rest.  I took that link and squished one side down which was the perfect size to go through the pot.



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I put about 5-6 links between one pot and the next.



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Then my kids wanted to do some more painting so I let them have at it 🙂



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This project probably took us about 30 minutes.  I will probably also get a large saucer and put some river rocks in it to collect water on the ground.  A nice little . to the !  (But then this would be more than a $10 project).

Extra:  Extra tip means extra $$.  If you want to seal the paint, use a clear matte acrylic spray paint that you can find at stores that sell spray paint (Walmart, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, etc.).

Happy Fathers Day to all of you Daddy Teachers and to all the Mommy Teachers who play both roles!

Summer School Supplies and Schedule



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Where did the Spring go???  Summer crept up on me and has already been filled with vacations and summer camps.  I have yet to have a single day where we are home long enough to even catch up on house chores, yet I need to organize our summer, like YESTERDAY, or else I will go bonkers.  I need a plan and a calendar of events – that’s the teacher side of me – and a nap – that’s the exhausted Mommy side of me.

I have to say, our lack of a routine has brought out some pretty ugly behaviors in my kids (and myself unfortunately – just being honest here since we’re all friends), and I am going to put an end to that.  So I am going to throw a lot at you guys at once so you can see our complete summer schedule, “school supply” list, and what we are learning this summer!  If any of you are out there treading water like I am, I know that you’ll start floating along as soon as a schedule/routine/plan/ANYTHING is in place!

Here is our schedule for days that we don’t have anything planned:

1.  TV goes off at 8 am

  • This gives Mommy enough time to wake up from my slumber, get the required amount of caffeine pumping through my system, and hopefully whip something like bowls of cereal up for breakfast (I am not a morning person).

2.  Worship!

  • This was a great idea by my friend, Kim!  She sets aside worship time for her kids and they choose how they want to spend that time!  They can create artwork, listen to music on a kid-friendly CD player, read their Bible, journal, dance, etc.  It is a great way to instill personal time with the Lord as a necessity from an early age.

3.  Outdoor play and snack

  • I am banking on no rainy days this summer!  But if it does rain, we will probably pull out some toy bins that I will reserve for rainy days only.  Other than that, you can catch us outside in the sprinkler!

4.  Learning Activity and Lessons

  • More on this below!

5.  Clean up and Chores

  • This summer I am introducing more chores to my 4 and 6 year old:  sweeping, dishes, laundry, vacuuming, toilets, bathroom and more!  Before they were helping out here and there, but now they will be carrying a lot more weight around the house.  I do plan on having a daily schedule for this, but haven’t quite gotten that organized yet.

6.  Lunch

  • In my mind I have a picture of us all singing and making lunch together, but, let’s face it, I will be making lunch while they probably pull out all the toys they just picked up.

7.  Naps/Reading

  • My boys have the option to either take a nap or have quiet reading time in their bed.

8.  Designated Electronic Free Time

  • This time will be earned minute by minute this summer!  More on that below.

After this, Daddy should be home from work and we will probably spend more time outside, working on dinner, and picking up for the evening.

This schedule will already have to start off really flexible as we have several weeks of camps and swim lessons that last the remainder of June, but at least my teacher self is more at ease with our plan.

SUMMER “SCHOOL SUPPLIES”

Now, that same teacher side of me also had to purchase some “school supplies” for this summer.



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  • Big chart paper – the kids love when I teach and draw on here like we are in a real classroom!
  • Journal Notebooks – I am hoping that each day we will spend a few minutes either drawing pictures (my 4 year old) or writing a short journal entry (my 6 year old) to keep up these skills for when they enter Pre-K and 2nd grade in the fall.
  • Craft Supplies – these were all impulse buys that I will figure SOMETHING to do with them… pipe cleaners, card stock, a large roll of Kraft paper, colored clothespins (after I thought, “really, Casey?  Was that a necessary purchase?”), markers, colored pencils and crayons
  • Behavior Chart supplies:  dry/erase poster, PLAY MONEY (more on this later), stickers, and picture frames (not pictured)
  • Adventure supplies:  magnifying glasses – my kids love to go exploring and we can only find one magnifying glass, so we got new ones.

Our crafts this summer will probably be super easy and consist mainly of card stock, pipe cleaners and random colored clothes pins (gee, I wonder why?).  With our busy, unpredictable schedule this summer (is this how it is with older kids?!?), I will be creating on the fly!

WHAT ARE WE LEARNING ABOUT THIS SUMMER?

Last summer, each week we studied a different subject matter that my kids were interested in: ocean life, community, seasons and weather, and more!

THIS summer, however, I am switching things up a bit and we are going to focus on positive behaviors that we typically talk about here and there, but we will take the time to explore them in depth.  These behaviors, or VIRTUES, will be taught and explored through role plays, crafts, songs (that we probably make up), journaling, drawing/painting, puppet shows, Bible verses and more!

VIRTUES:

  • KINDNESS
  • RESPECT
  • OBEDIENCE
  • RESPONSIBILITY
  • SERVICE
  • HONESTY
  • THANKFULNESS
  • SELF-CONTROL
  • COURAGE
  • CONFIDENCE
  • HUMILITY

GOOD BEHAVIOR + CHORES = ELECTRONIC FREE TIME

I am going to preface this part with a disclaimer:  every one has different parenting skills and not every one will agree with the method that my husband and I have chosen for the summer as rewards for our children’s behavior and house duties.

Some people believe that you should not reward behavior with extrinsic motivators (stickers, toys, play money, etc.), but in our case, our children are really having a hard time listening the first time we tell them to do something.  We are pulling this one specific trait out that we want to fix and will be rewarding them for listening the first time with $1 in play money.  When they have successfully learned to do so, we will slowly replace the reward with high fives and positive talk.

Our goals for our reward system this summer are to teach about responsibility, positive behaviors, earning privileges and MATH: money and time.  $1 corresponds with 1 minute of play time on their electronic entertainment of choice:  video games, computer, or TV.  This will help us enforce that these are all SPECIAL privileges, and that listening and behaving appropriately will help them earn those privileges.



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Now, I feel SLIGHTLY more prepared for the summer!  Do you have a summer schedule?  Please share with us your plans!!!

 

 

 

How Does Your Garden Grow? 5 Garden Activities



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Last Mother’s Day, my kids gave me a great planter for us to start a home garden!



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My husband works at a factory and they frequently get shipments of equipment that come in these long crates that are perfect for starting a garden (especially because they are free).  Keep your eyes peeled for wooden crates and pallets and you can get free planters as well!

This year we have a few more!



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Now, this is a little intimidating for me because I do NOT have a green thumb… but my husband is a little bit better at watering…and my kids are REALLY good at watering… a little too good as they sometimes over water.

So many early childhood teachers will grow plants in the classroom for kids to learn the parts of the plant, how to care for a plant, and what plants need to grow: soil, water, sun.  Here are a few activities for you to do at home to teach your kids about growing plants if you have or plan on starting your own garden at home.

1.  Journal:  Have your kids document plant growth.

  • Pre-schoolers – model drawing sketches of what your plants look like each week and then give them a crayon for them to do the same (may not look like much, but they will at least think they are drawing a plant).  Introduce vocabulary such as plant, green, grow, sun, soil
  • Pre-K – have them add words to their drawings (even if their words are just a mix up of letters – write what they are trying to spell underneath).  Vocabulary:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant
  • Kinder – write a sentence or two describing the plant.  Vocabulary and discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, why plants are important
  • 1st grade and above – a paragraph (minimum) documenting any changes they may see, how long they watered, what time of the day they watered, etc.  Vocabulary and Discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, describe why plants are important, how they reproduce, nutrition and the benefits of eating home grown foods

2.  Predict:  Have your kids predict what is going to happen throughout the summer with their plants, use your journal from above to help document, then calculate results by a certain date at the end of the summer.

  • Calendar Math:  Using a summer calendar, mark the day you plant your plants.  Have your kids each choose a different date in which they predict they can start picking their ripe produce.
  • Measuring:  Using a ruler, guess the size of the produce and how tall the plants will become by the end of the summer.  Have them draw this out on poster paper to compare at the end of the summer.
  • Counting:  Predict the amount of produce each type of plant will produce.
  • Science – Weather:  predict the number of rainy days versus sunny days
  • Comparison:  predict what type of plant will produce the biggest/smallest, most/least amount, greenest, etc. produce

3.  Experiment:  Get several seedlings that are the same type and are all similar in size.  Experiment with different amounts of sunlight or soil type or watering schedule (choose one) to see what is the optimal amount for that particular plant.  Plant several seedlings in each of the different conditions to get the best average outcome.  And, go back to the first activity:  journal 🙂

4.  Create a Cookbook:  As your plants are growing, decide as a family what you are going to use your plants for and create a family cookbook together!  Take pictures of your growing plants to include in the “ingredients” section of each recipe.

BONUS:  Include a raw versus cooked taste test of each fruit/vegetable to include that 5th sense that we often don’t get to use in a classroom.

5.  Dissect the Plants:

  • Science:  learn about the different plant parts including the parts you don’t see… inside the stem, the roots, inside the fruit and flowers.  When you are finished, use the roots, stem, leaves, flowers to make art on a poster board.
  • Math:  Compare/Contrast the different types of plants:  length, leaf shape, fruit, root length and thickness and number of roots
  • Art:  Create leaf prints by placing a piece of paper on top of the leaves and using the edge of a crayon to etch the shape of the leaf.  Draw the type of produce next to each leaf.

BONUS:  One of my friends started a private Facebook group for some of her friends who wanted to start a home garden.  On it we are sharing pictures and knowledge with each other and when the produce is ripe, we will be having garden picking parties!  It is nice to see what everyone else is growing (and these ladies know way more than I do about gardening so it’s helpful too)!  I encourage you to start a similar group for your friends with green (or slightly unripened) thumbs.

It is so wonderful seeing how excited my kids are to watch our plants grow!  Right now, we just have bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, but we hope to fill our other planters soon!

Leyson and I tore a paper plate in half to draw our measurements of the peppers (paper plates are sturdier than sheets of paper thus easier to measure the peppers on).  We used a marker to draw a line on each side of the paper and later use a ruler to measure from line to line.  We numbered our peppers 1, 2 and 3.  Measure them week by week so you can see how much they grow in one week.



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How does your garden grow???  How have you involved your children in your garden?



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