Friday, July 27, 2012

Educational Activity: Working Fine Motor Skills with Wooden Beads for Preschoolers

Written by Vicky from for
for ages 4 and up with Adult Participation & Supervision

This Bead Sequencing Set works great for preschoolers who are working on pattern recognition and younger ones who are still mastering small motor skills and colors. The set comes with over 60 beads, some wooden dowels and pattern cards.

Bead Sequencing Set for Preschoolers by Melissa & Doug, Working Fine Motor Skills
Bead Sequencing Set
We played with the Bead Sequencing Set in a number of ways. First, I placed a pattern card and dowel in the holder and asked my kids to help me replicate the pattern. They would tell me which piece came next and I would place it on the dowel. I am a former teacher and I could see the toy being used this way in a classroom setting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crafty Blogger: Marbling Art Rainy Day Preschool Craft

Marbling Art Rainy Day Preschool Craft

by Natalie from for
for Ages 3+ with Adult Participation and Supervision
Crafty Blogger: Marbling Art Rainy Day Preschool Craft

I love summertime---the long, warm days and playing outside in the sun! So much to do, but what about the occasional rainy day with stir-crazy kids? Gather up a few supplies and have them create bright and cheery Marbling Art! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ages & Stages: Batteries Not Required for Family Game Time

Written by Melanie from A Year of Jubilee Reviews for 

I am starting to sound like my Mother, “When I was a kid we didn’t have . . . ”  Wii, PlayStation, video games, iPhones, etc.  This comes on the tail of hearing the kids once again say, “Mom we need more batteries!” Crazy Wii remotes and gadgets always need more batteries.

Really, when I was a kid we didn’t have all this technology stealing our time. We had to do things like use our imagination and if we wanted to play a game we had to work together rather than with a cyber-friend, and get out an old fashioned board game. I ran down to our basement and eyed our board games--well over 50 games on the shelf! There may be one or two that need batteries for those noisy buzzers, but for the most part they are self-contained and ready to play. 

The games I love most are the ones that the whole family can play.

 Sometimes the younger kids team up with an older sibling.

I love to play with them and that helps to curb any potential disagreements. They do well on their own, but there are a few who are pretty competitive. I love to see my younger children playing funny word games with my older ones, and then the older ones jumping in and playing a younger game for the sake of the small ones. 

The simple card games are fun for everyone, and easy to play anywhere in the house.

The great thing about playing games is once you can get them away from the battery-operated games, they have a renewed interest in "old-fashioned" board games.

With summer travels you can even take games along with you like the Flip to Win Bingo Travel Game.
Flip To Win Bingo Travel Game

I have fond memories of playing a version of Travel Bingo with my brother on the way to Grandma’s house as a child. 

I first learned Rummy and go Fish with a deck of cards similar to the Classic Card Games Set by Melissa and Doug. 

Classic Card Games Set by Melissa & Doug

See if you can start up a family board game night, or at least take advantage of the air conditioning this summer and have your kids take out the batteries and play together as a group. They will benefit by using their imagination, working together as a team, learning new ideas, and spending time together as a family.

Melanie Schemanski, is the founder of A Year of Jubilee Reviews with an assortment of reviews, giveaways, and life stories. Melanie is a homeschooling Mama of 6 blessings, ranging from ages 4 to 17.. toddler to teen! She has been through the ages and stages and they just keep on coming. With years of experience under her belt she wanted to start sharing some of the insights she has found in raising her 5 boys and 1 girl through blogging.  She has loved writing since her first journalism class in high school and is excited to have found a niche to share her heart.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crafty Blogger: Best Friends Day Craft for Kids

Written by Dawn from Life Simply Fabulous for
for Ages 4 years and up with Adult Participation and Supervision 
 I asked my kids what they wanted to do for Friendship Day and they decided to make pictures of what they like to do with their best friends. They used paper, crayons, googly eyes, and stamps to make their friendship masterpieces! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Educational Activity: Outdoor Fun For The Birds

Written by Melanie from A Year of Jubilee Reviews for

Our move to Kentucky midyear put us behind schedule in our homeschooling for the term, at least in what this Mom wanted to see accomplished. I want to continue our studies a few days a week into the summer. Any more than that and I think there may be a mutiny! I don’t want the kids to miss the beautiful summer by being cooped up inside either though. So why not incorporate some of our learning into outdoor fun!

With the move just 3 hours south, I have still noticed several birds that I don’t recognize, birds that I hadn’t seen on our farm in Ohio. Bird watching is a global hobby enjoyed by all ages. A perfect outdoor fun project with learning and science in the mix!
Brainstorming with the kids we came up with some things we need/want for our bird watching adventure:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crafty Blogger: Build Your Own Ice Cream Truck Craft for Kids

by Melinda from LookWhatMomFound...and Dad too! for
for Ages 4 years and up with adult supervision and help

Our neighborhood is not just small---it's secluded. We never see an ice cream truck drive through ringing its bell and dishing out yummy treats. So, we made our own! ~Melinda
I saved about 2 weeks worth of cardboard boxes making sure they didn't cut up and tossed in the recycling. The kids and I spent about an hour putting together our own version of the Ice Cream man right in our own garage.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making the Perfect Menu for Your Pretend Play Restaurant

Written by Vicky from for
for ages 2 and up with Adult Participation & Supervision

My husband and I have been taking the kids out to eat more lately so they have become very interested in restaurants. What better way to build on that interest than to make a pretend restaurant at home? You would be surprised how easy it was to set up. We started out with some Melissa & Doug Jumbo Multi-Color Construction Paper and Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons

Jumbo Multi-Color Construction Paper and Jumbo Triangular Crayons

We found some play food we had around the house and decided that we could sell it at our restaurant.

We started out by making a menu. Since my kids are three and two I handled the writing while they drew the pictures. They drew pictures of each of the toy food items we had collected on the Melissa & Doug Construction Paper.

The Melissa & Doug Triangular Crayons are the perfect size for little hands. They are chunky enough that kids can really get a good grip on them and their triangular shape really encourages older kids to hold the crayons correctly. 

I was pretty impressed with the cookie drawn by my two year old. 

Our restaurant really didn't have a particular theme. You could get a potato or an ice cream cone. You've got to love that variety!

I made a cover for our menu. One of my daughters thought our restaurant should be called "Sweet Corn." I'd go to a restaurant with that name, what about you?

After I put our menu together, we went through it to decide how much the items should cost. My kids loved playing with some gold pirate coins that we have. All our items were priced so that you could pay with the gold coins.

They took turns being customers and waitresses.

"Here's your cake."

Time to pay the waitress.

A potato sounds good to my youngest.

"That costs 2 coins."

My kids had such a blast playing pretend restaurant. They even added the menu to their book basket and read it often. I love how this simple activity encouraged creativity and role playing. The kids also had a chance to practice their speech skills through their interactions. Of course, now, they can't wait to go back to a real restaurant!

Vicky Perreault is a busy mom to three kids - 3 year old twins and a 2 year old. She believes that kids learn best through play and hands on activities. As a former teacher, Vicky finds great joy in facilitating learning and play experiences for her children and sharing those ideas with other parents on her blog Mess For Less.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Crafty Blogger: "Spray" Painting for Kids!

by Amanda from Crafts-N-Things for Children for
for Ages 3 years and up with Adult Participation and Supervision

"This spray painting with colored water craft is an exciting way for kids to practice using their fine motor skills while creating artwork they can proudly display on the refrigerator." ~Amanda
My kids adore any kind of painting craft and I like to keep it interesting by changing it up any way that I can. My 4 year old is fascinated with the water spray bottle I use for their hair; he runs off with it just about every day. You can imagine how excited he was when I told him that we would be doing a colored water painting craft using a spray bottle! We decided on the theme of animals that can be found underwater.

Time Needed:
15 minutes plus drying time

Cover the work area. We lined our table with freezer paper I already had on hand since water doesn't leak through it. I also placed newspaper around the edges to catch any of the paint sprays.

Make the kid-friendly spray paint by placing a small amount of water in the spray bottle & adding paint. Mix it together by shaking the bottle. The amount of paint needed will depend on the amount of water used as well as how vibrant you would like the color to be once sprayed.

  • Have the child firmly place stickers on the paper. I gave my son the book of stickers and had him figure out which animals could be found in the water. 
  • Let the child spray paint over the entire surface of the paper. To help avoid puddles, make sure they are spraying at least a foot above their project.
  • If you end up with big puddles, use paper towel and gently dab it.
  • Set aside to dry.

I love the speckled look after it dries and how each of the stickers has a hint of blue on them making it seem like they really are underwater. This craft can be adapted for younger children or those not yet strong enough to squeeze the spray bottle by having them paint with watercolors instead. The may even be intrigued to find the paint slides right off the stickers! Depending on the type of paper used, the stickers can be pulled off to reveal a silhouette. Older children can get even more creative by drawing their own details inside the silhouettes.

Amanda, also known as @artsy_momma, is a mommy blogger who loves doing all things creative. She enjoys doing crafts with her children as well as mommy made DIY projects. You can follow them on their creative learning journey by heading over to their Crafts-N-Things for Children blog. Amanda's motto is to inspire & encourage imagination in others. She also has a passion for creating handprint and footprint art and you can find her blogging everything from keepsakes and home decor ideas to just for fun crafts.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bumps in the Night: Dealing with Childhood Fears

Written by Wendy from for

One of my most vivid memories of childhood is sneaking down to sleep on the floor outside my parents' bedroom. Why would I do that? Because of Dr. Suess! Yes, as a child I was terrified of anything related to Dr. Suess. Weird? I always thought so until I got older and thought less about the actual fear and more about what might have triggered it. Many years later, I realized that those fears came to life at a time of great loss, change and adjustment for me, and the fear I developed was my way of coping.

Totally normal. Who knew?

Small children develop fears of lots of things, some more logical than others. Some of the most common childhood fears include:

• Strangers
• Floods, storms or natural disasters
• War and terrorism
• Monsters, ghosts
• Loss of a parent
• Being alone
• Being hurt

Some of these fears are based in reality, some not so much – but they all share a common thread: they are all very real to the child who is afraid.  Scary thoughts often rear their ugly heads at nighttime, especially during the preschool years when the imagination is developing at an increased rate and kids don't yet know how to turn it off.

As it turns out, fear is actually a good thing and a very healthy part of growing up and learning to manage feelings and emotions.  The process of facing and working through fears is a key step in the development of confidence and problem solving. But, what can you do in the here and now when all you want is a good night's sleep for the whole family?

Some might suggest fun fixes like "anti-monster spray" or a nightly closet check for ghosts to reassure a frightened child that the coast is clear.  I’m not a fan of these methods since they seem to reinforce the idea that these scary creatures do, in fact, exist. Here are a few suggestions to try instead:

Make bedtime a peaceful time. Wind down with lights dim and electronics off. Stay away from TV and news shows that could plant the seed for little imaginations to run wild when night falls. Consider a white noise machine, soothing music or nature sounds.
Make the bedroom a peaceful place. Is it possible to keep the majority of toys in a separate room to lessen stimulation? Do your best to eliminate distractions that could disrupt a restful slumber.

Focus on calm comfort. This could include anything from rocking or gentle massage to storytelling or the reading of a favorite book. One way to plant positive thoughts at the end of your little one's day is to assemble a book filled with peaceful photos, like baby animals sleeping or happy family memories. Read through it slowly, soothing with your voice, letting the tranquil mood take over.

Most importantly, be sure to respect and reassure your child. An interrupted night’s sleep can be frustrating but parenting doesn't end when the lights go down. Instead of scolding, shaming, or trying to inject too much reason, let your little one know that you, too, had fears once, but you learned how to conquer those fears. Offer kisses and hugs, a nightlight, or perhaps even a place in your room if that works for you. Acknowledging your child's feelings and helping him work through them will only benefit your whole family with a more self-assured child in the future.

~Sleep tight!

Wendy Cray Kaufman is an advertising copywriter, freelance writer, vegetable enthusiast, and the founder of ABCs and Garden Peas, a Central PA-based blog about natural parenting. When she's not writing, Wendy can usually be found chasing her energetic 2-year-old in the family’s garden.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Educational Activity: Tea Party Creative Play

Written by Samantha from for
for children ages 2 years and up with Adult Participation

I have four amazing boys and one VERY girly girl! To be honest my boys don’t mind playing tea party with their little sister! They aren’t thrilled, but they don’t mind ;) I decided to add to our little tea party by telling the kids that “You are not invited!” After a quick disappointed look from them I said, “Because, you have to come as someone else!!” We quickly ran to our dress up area and the kids all put on whatever outfits that they wanted and then told me their “New Name”. And the Guest list became: Mr. Tiger, Mr. Fire, Miss. Fairy and Superman!
Another exciting element was FOOD! I made mini banana muffins and tiny oat clusters (by Quaker). The idea was tiny food! Silver dollar pancakes would be fun!
All of the kids helped serve each other while they practiced their manners. So nice to hear “Please pass more Tea”, “May I have another crumpet?"
Melissa & Doug Bella Butterfly Pretend Play Tea Set Shown

The skill of pouring is very important in the development of a child's fine motor skills. I love that this tea pot has a snug lid so that even my little lady was able to pour all by herself!

This little lady was thrilled to have the tea party and didn’t want it to end!

This guy just came for the food!

Samantha is a stay at home mom of five children under the age of five. She teaches preschool from her home and loves it! She loves coming up with unique ways for her children and students to learn because when kids are having fun they learn so much better! You can find more activities and fun stuff at Samantha's blog Little Hands Big Work.
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