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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Paper cups = a hop and a skitter, and away we go!

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

Paper cups can become any sort of animal or creature you want...with a little imagination!  My 4 year old created these in his preschool class last fall and was extremely proud of his art work!  For the spider, he talked about how 'strong' he was to push the pipe cleaners through the cup.

And for the kangaroo, he was pleased to report that it could stand up on it's own and hold any candy we decided to put in it.  I asked if he'd rather put in something like grapes...but no, he thought it needed candy. Funny boy.
For each craft, start with a cup and let the child decorate it with paint or crayons or anything medium of choice. Note that the wax coating on most paper cups will not allow the crayon to mark well so paint is probably the best choice for full color covering.
The spider is created by turning the cup upside down, pushing a few pipe cleaners through, and adding googly eyes....making for a nice fall or Halloween craft!
The kangaroo is created by having the child color on paper and then cutting out an oval head as well as shapes for arms and then the lower torso/legs. Then glue the paper onto a large craft stick and then adhere the cup ontop.

Thanks for reading this 3rd and final post in this August series!  Join us next month for several new series for more ideas for Preschooler Activities.

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper bowls = turtle and a jellyfish
-Paper plates = octopus and a lamb

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome guests from Kids Closet!

Shout Out -- Welcome to all those visiting from the Kids Closet sale this past week!  Glad to have you here!

Search the blog for activity inspiration with your preschoolers by... 
a."Home" image at the top will bring you the latest and greatest posts.
b."Pages" along the top left will help with fast links to current and past posts with master lists of ideas.
c.Following on Facebook and/or Pinterest to see our hot topics!

The Northland sale was a good one and I'm looking forward to consigning again in a few weeks at the Lees Summit sale.  For those that don't know about Kids Closet, it's a seasonal consignment sale in Missouri and Kansas. Excellent staff and excellent prices on kids clothes, shoes, stuff, you name it! Check them out here.

Again, thanks for visiting and we hope to see you again!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Teaching Thankfulness -- Plus a free card offer today!

(Image of two FREE personalized cards I've made through earlier this year!)

The old saying is "Gratitude is a gift!" And what better gift can you help your child receive than to learn the value of thankfulness?!? One of the easiest ways to teach our little ones about being thankful is by writing Thank You cards. 
My youngsters love adding their own 'writing' on cards that we send out. Recipients cannot read their 'writing' but they often comment on how they appreciate it. Plus we take a moment to be crafty by adding stickers or coloring with crayons. 
Having your child watch you write is very important. They see that it's a life long skill to always work on and develop.  They see my address the cards which gives us the chance to practice our own address memorization (important Safety SKILL!!). And we get time to talk about the person/people we are writing to and share good memories about them. I encourage you to take a few moments to work with your kids in finding a way as a family to build a spirit of thankfulness!
There is something SO SPECIAL about handwritten notes so I make it a goal to send at least two thank you cards each month.  And one of my favorite sites has a deal to make this 'thankfulness' lesson FREE!!! (Really, truly free. I've made about 5 cards this year since they offer this type of code every other month or so!)

Right now on, you can personalize and send a card straight from your heart for FREE! Use coupon code CCK2248 a free card -- but the offer ends at midnight tonight, Sunday 8/26/12!
Here's how:
  • Login or Register with Cardstore.
  • Select a card to personalize.
  • Use promo code CCK2248 during checkout.
  • Hurry, this offer expires 8/26/12 at 11:59pm ET!!!!!!!
  • (If you miss out on Sunday the 26th, we'll be featuring more offers in this Thankfulness Series so stay tuned!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paper Bowls = shells, hats, name it, bowls can make creativity come to life!

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

Bring out the bowls!  My 4 year old completed many really neat projects in preschool last year; often using multiple mediums in making his creations!  This turtle is a prime example: Start with a paper bowl turned upside down. Have the preschooler paint the bottom.  While the paint dries, they can cut basic shapes to form the legs and head which can be taped down to the bottom of the rim. Then have the child put glue over the top of the bowl and apply something 'hard' for the shell, such as pieces of wood chips!

Next is a super easy jellyfish. Have the child paint or color the bottom of the bowl, complete with a face. Then have them select pieces of streamers and tape them to the underside of the rim. Ta-dah!!

TIPS: Operating a tape dispenser can be hard for little fingers. Once the child is around 2 years old or older, it's good to talk about safety when using tape, i.e. don't touch the cutting blade, don't put tape on wood tables or floors, etc. Then let them practice taping things down. Once they realize how fun it can be to tape things down, you can even let them help you with 'sticky' things like stamps or mailing labels.

Thanks for reading!

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper plates = octopus and a lamb (on 8/21/12)
-Paper cups = kangaroo and a spider
p.s. Check out the tips on how to educate and teach safety when using scissors and glue found in the previous post in this series about paper plates. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tissue paper crafts with preschoolers -- a fish!

August 2012 series 
Tissue paper crafts for preschoolers

What happens when you put water color paints on tissue paper? Something magical! (At least that's the story according to my 4 year old!)  In his summer school class, they did an undersea project and made fish. From start to finish, my son was in charge of his project; hence why this looks more like 'interpretative art' since his limited cutting skills cut off snip the fins!  Despite the unique shape of his fish, he was incredibly proud of his very own creation!!

Option 1 -- Start with a sheet of white tissue paper. Let the child paint with watercolors and watch the tissue change texture and shape as it absorbs and then dries the water!  For the finial touches, feel free to let them add any embellishments such as googly eyes, glitter, etc.
Option 2 -- Another idea is to let the child drizzle school glue onto a piece of paper, spread evenly with a paint brush and then have the child lay down pre-cut strips of tissue paper. Then cut the paper into the desired shape to create the object. To seal and add texture, brush the top with a light coat of water, then embellish.

Upcoming posts in this series during August 2012:
-Tissue paper 'fur' on a panda
-Tissue paper and other mediums to create texture on a bear

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Journaling cuteness....absolutely worth the time (& a Free book offer!)

Almost three years ago I started noting down the cute things my boys said or what they did or how they were growing.  Most of it was little comments I jotted in the "Notes" feature of my phone...typically right before bed and I was nursing my little guy.  I've always loved journaling but wasn't diligent when writing about my life.  But after I had kids and I was so sleep deprived and so busy, I didn't want to forget about all the funny things they said as time passed. And my commitment to write down something, anything, about our time together has been so rewarding! Even if you just write down one thing a month, you won't regret it!

But once I had all these notes, I thought, "What in the world am I going to do with these memories?" I've had a few photo books printed before and it hit me: Create your own journal-photo book!  Most photo book websites have the option for 'text-only' pages. So earlier this year, I compiled all the 2011 notes and had a book printed....and fell in love!

The awesome "News Of The Day" is that one of my favorite book-printing companies, Paper Coterie, is offering a chance to make your own book of quotes FOR FREE!  You do have to pay for shipping but it's a great value. Just go to their blog (here) and post a comment and they'll send you a link for the free product. Here's the image on their site related to the giveaway:

Here are a few of my favorites from my printed book of quotes in 2011:
From my 18 month old -- We were playing outside and suddenly the little guy started walking circles around our dog while saying, "duck duck doooo!" = he was playing Duck Duck Goose with her!

From my 3 year old -- After I got up in the morning, he said, "Uh, Mom. Your hair is crazy!" or the time when he met my white-haired aunt and said, "Hi. You are old." And lastly, as I was putting him to bed, he said, "Mom, are you going to do boring stuff now?" I said, "Yes, I'll be doing laundry." Then he said, "Great, I love boring stuff like that! Can I come help?" (anything to get out of bedtime, huh?!?)

Life is precious, so take a moment to make it memorable!  If you do make a book, please share in the comments below!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paper plates = Creative potential under sea and on land

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

If you happen to have paper plates sitting around your house, then your preschooler is craft-ready!! Paper plates can become a variety of shapes, objects, and much more with just a bit of help from crayons, streamers, and googly eyes!! Here are two examples of creativity my 4 year old worked on last spring while in his preschool class.

As shown in the title photo at the top, here is an octopus. It can be created by cutting a plate in-half, taping streamers to the 'inside' and then gluing the two halves together. Then, of course, encourage the child's creativity with decorating the outside!

Tip on Scissors:
My oldest child was just under 2 years old when my Parent Educator from the Parents As Teachers Program suggested that we let him use scissors...and that SCARED me! But she followed up her suggestion with a step-by-step plan:
Start with using 'practice' scissors found in play dough kits as the first step. Then introduce blunt-tip kid scissors and let the child snip the edge of a piece of paper. Once the child has gained the muscle skills needed to operate the opening and closing action of the actual scissors, then they can practice cutting lines drawn down the paper.
When teaching my preschoolers, I found it helpful to point out safety skills such as 'how to hold the paper' and we talked about 'what we do and don't cut'.  This came in handy later because they knew why they got in trouble when I turned to help their younger sibling and I found a snip in my new table cloth. *wink*

And earlier this year, my middle child had the joy of learning to use scissors by cutting straws (see the Straw Beads Busy Bag post here). At the time, he was about 2.5 years old and found it very rewarding to watch the straw piece go flying through the air versus just making a simple snip in paper.

And this is a sheep. Using the back of a paper plate, glue on pre-cut black ovals for the face and ears as well as cotton balls for the wool. A few eyes on the front and a masterpiece is made in a few short steps!

Tip: Regular school glue can be tough for a toddler to work with -- the bottle can be hard to squeeze and it takes practice to make the glue come out evenly. Encourage your little one to practice with your help!  Even glue sticks take skills to operate so be patient and let them practice with lots of scrap paper under the project to protect your table!

Thanks for reading this first post in a series of 3 this month related to Preschooler Activities using everyday paper products. Come back for more soon!

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper bowls = turtle and a jellyfish
-Paper cups = kangaroo and a spider

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to life...literally...

My lack of posts are due to a minor technicality: I.almost.died.
...okay, so maybe it's a big technicality. *wink*

Prior to this summer, I was living life just like all the other busy moms of preschoolers: getting my kids ready for school by playing with Busy Bags, taking the oldest to gymnastics, teaching my kiddos about God and His goodness, making food, changing diapers, dealing with a not-good-sleeper baby, playdates with other mommies, more food and more diapers, being there for my hubby, and so forth.

Then *BAM*, one day I was sick....REALLY sick. My doc thought it was a virus because my symptoms were unusual: I had basically every illness in the book with only one constant pain which was that my intestines felt like they were on fire.  After a few days of suffering, we ignored my doc's review and my hubby took me into the ER.

The result after seeing several doctors and a surgery = my appendix had ruptured!!

Here I was, a VERY healthy person with no prior surgeries, no illness, no daily aches or pains, and I even birthed 3 babies with just mild meds....and I had a near-death experience!  Who knew that could happen?!?

Before the operation, docs weren't sure if it was my appendix because it didn't even show up on the CT scan and my symptoms were a-typical. After the operation, we found out that my appendix had spewed all it's infection all over my insides and it was now flat as a pancake (usually the size of your thumb)! And if I had waited another day or so, it would have infected my liver and ovaries. And if I had waited much longer...well, that's the scary part.

I am happy to say that I am back to life and back to a similar version of myself. I doubt I will ever be the same person I was before because I've learned a few things this summer...

What I've learned from this experience:
~~My husband is an amazing care-taker (which I already knew about but had 1st hand experience receiving his care) and I've also realized he is so forgiving of me.
Even when the house is a wreck, encourages me to rest; and even when the laundry piles up, he encourages me to just hang out with him.
I consider it the highest honor to have a husband that loves me this much. We celebrated 10 years of marriage a few weeks after this happened and we have a lot to celebrate after realizing how fragile life can be!

~~I've gained a new appreciation for motivation...when you have it, don't waste it!
When life hits you in the face and you think about all those projects you procrastinated on suddenly realize it's time to find what inspires you to be motivated and keep that inspiration nearby.
It has been many weeks of waiting and praying for healing from all the intestinal damage, of dealing with a constant brain fog, and several other side affects.  I can feel great in the morning while taking a shower, then 3 hours later, I am suddenly wiped out!
So I am learning to take advantage of motivation because I realize that my body doesn't let me work at the same pace as I did previously.  Sometimes it's just a matter of knowing you will have one hour of work-time during my baby's nap or in the early can get SO much done if you just start that time by being motivated!

~~I am thankful, so thankful, for a healthy body.
Right after surgery, I couldn't lift anything; not even my baby - not out of his crib or the high chair, not even in his carseat in/out of the car! We had to get very creative with naps on the floor and having my 5 year old pick up the baby to put him on my lap and using a travel high chair on the floor.
These days, I can now carry the baby but there are still challenges in very simple, daily things, Activities like going to the grocery store take longer because the baby + groceries in the cart exceeds my ability to push for very long. And that means I also am working on teaching grabby-handed 2-year-old how walk next to his older brother by the cart versus riding in the cart itself!
So I am daily reminded that I have a healthy body that I am working to regain!  And I'm reminded that we have only one body in this earthly it's so critical that we work our hardest to make it work well for us!

~~I've watched my children give me so much patience and grace and forgiveness; and realized that God does that for us every moment of every day.
On the days when I struggled with muscle cramps, my boys gave me extra gentle hugs and knew that I couldn't wrestle (one of their favorite things). On the days when my head is in a fog, my boys found new ways to play with each other and gave me a little space. On the days when I was grumpy from dealing with my pain, I would see their sad faces from my harsh reactions yet they would still be happy campers 10 minutes later and readily forgive me for my outbursts.
And the Lord is like that too. He knows all that we are dealing with and working through and how we sin against Him, yet he shows His unconditional love for us through the gift of His Son.

~~It's incredibly important to say "thank you" to people who support you; whether that's parents who help with your kids, or neighbors who bring you food, or friends who simply pray with you.
Take time to thank them so that those resources are there in the future. If you don't have these resources, take time now to find good connections with people in your community so they can be there for you if/when you need it.
For those that have been reading this blog over the past couple of months, I have been blown away by your continued interest and support!  I look forward to bringing you more ideas and connecting with you.
For those still reading this post, thank you! *wink*

~~And it's also incredibly important, as noted from above, to BE that person who can be 'thanked'....meaning, take the time to make a meal for a neighbor (even if they aren't so neighborly), and help a sister/cousin/friend with their kids (even just watching for 2 hours so that mom has a moment of free time), and, most importantly, pray for those around you!

~~Lastly, if you haven't already picked up this theme: TODAY IS A GIFT! Choose life... and choose to live it!

Again, thank you to those that continue to support this blog and to those investing your life to the betterment of your child.  Check back regularly for new posts planned to bring you lots of tips for inspired playtime with your preschooler!


Deuteronomy 30:19 - "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."