Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Snow Day!

Well, we had another day at home today. Somewhat unexpected for the Seattle area. It has been really cold here but no precipitation and even a little sun and blue skies. But Sunday night we had some snow. It was pretty fun because my husband and I were oblivious and my 5 year old was the first to spot it.

Anyway, as we were stuck at home today, I had to come up with some activities to keep us happy. My goal for today was to watch ZERO television. And I am happy to report that we succeeded.

We did some crafts including Paper Snowflakes

And some baking including Graham Squares

I was actually suprised that today passed pretty quickly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unplugged Project : Egg Cartons

This week's project is : Egg Cartons

My boys had a really fun time making alligators. One reason they liked it was we pulled out the paint (which is a rare treat indeed.) Another thing that made it fun was the alligators were thought-up and designed by my 5-year old. Being short on creativity myself, I was trying to convince him to make the standard (but cute!) caterpillar. He did not like that idea so I told him to come up with one himself - and he sure did.

"Googley eyes" always made things more fun too!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Celebrating MLK Day

I never really hear much about celebrating this holiday. I see articles in the paper about politicians giving speeches and the occasional festival but I don't really hear about families celebrating.

I have tried to do something each year with my kids, even if it is something small. We always listen to the "I Have a Dream" speech. Obviously, much of it is over the heads of my kids but it does give us an opportunity to talk about the history of our country, including slavery and segregation. Each year, my oldest understands a litte more.

I am making a point to teach the kids amout Marting Luther King Jr and about discrimination with a great hope that the next generation will continue what has been started.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Puzzle Storage

My son received a tub of ten puzzles as a gift. Each puzzle is stored in a flimsy zip-close bag. After a while, the bags were starting to look worse for the wear. Plus my son had trouble sealing it all the way and so puzzle pieces were escaping and getting mixed up. Not good when you are delaing with 10 similar puzzles.

So... I devised a new way to store the puzzles. The labels are actually photos I took of the puzzles as he completed them. That got extra bonus points from him! So much neater than before!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unplugged Project : Toothpicks or Popsicle Sticks

Time again for this week's project. I have been sick so I wasn't sure we were going to get to it this week but it turned out to be just what we needed to get through a slow Sunday afternoon.

This week was originally toothpicks but then MomUnplugged mentioned Popsicle Sticks as an alternative. The boys got some of those in their stockings this year at Christmas so that seemed like a good place to start. Thinking of popsicle sticks reminded me of one of the projects for the Puzzles Unplugged Project. So I took my inspiration from Heather, and my kids made puzzle pictures out of their sticks.

In fact, it looked like so much fun that I made one too! And the boys did not stop at just one, they made 2 each. My husband had fun attempting to put them together.

2 year old's creation
not sure what it is
but it is colorful!

5 year old's creation
It is a train on a train track going past a barn.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snow Day

We had a bit of snow last night. I hate to drive in even the smallest bit of snow and possible ice so the boys and I stayed home today. I really like staying home for a whole day and just relaxing a bit.

But what did we do so we did not lose our minds?

First we did some baking. The boys helped me make dinner rolls for later and pumpkin muffins to eat for our morning snack along with oranges.

Second, we did some cleaning up. They both helped put toys in their bins and then my 2.5 year old ran around with the dust buster while I let my 5 year old use the adult vacuum for the first time. He loved it! The cleaning took a fair bit of time.

Third, we played a board game together. Novel idea - mom sits down and gives them undivided attention!

Lastly, as it was approaching dinner time and I was getting tired of all the running and screaming, I pulled out the play-doh again and got another good hour of entertainment.

Successful snow day!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unplugged Project : Sculpture

This week's Unplugged Project is Sculpture. I'd just like to thank MomUnplugged for running the weekly projects. It really helps motivate me to try some different activities each week.

This week we pulled out the play-doh for the first time in about 2 years. Fortunately, although it was a bit dry, it was still usable and my kids played with it for a full hour. As it was the hour I was making dinner, it is likely they would have watched a video instead. So it saved my kids from at least one video and instead got them working and creating and thinking.
My youngest mainly cut and smashed and cut some more. My oldest did lots and lots and lots of different sculptures, mainly various numbers (like the 6 in the picture) and animals. They both had a really good time, especially considering I have very few play-doh tools. And now that I realize my play-doh is dried up, I am considering making my own. I have seen tons of recipes but I am not sure if I am up for it or not!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thank You Notes!

I think everyone is familiar with "letting things slide." There are so many "good" things to do with your time, but not enough time to do them all. Some common things to leave undone under pressure are laundry and cleaning.

But I have noticed recently that many people are adding writing thank you notes to the list of things that are not making the cut. I really think that is a shame. I don't think there is any need to explain why thank you notes are important, as it is obvious, so I wonder why they are so often left undone.

I write thank you notes to let others know how much we appreciate the spending their time and/or money on something for us. But the second reason, is to teach my children to be appreciative. (Note that the goal is not just to raise kids who write thank you notes, but to raise kids who are thankful and grateful for what they receive)

It was a little harder when they were young but now they are old enough to participate. For my older sons birthday thank yous, I wrote the words but he brought all his gifts to the table and drew a picture of each thing on the corresponding note. While he was doing this, I reminded him who each gift was from since he is not reading yet. For Christmas, I had both kids attempt to make cut-out christmas trees which we glued to some blank notes we had. They may not be the most beautiful cards ever but I hope they were enjoyed and appreciate by those who received them.

I hope I never decide to let making thank you notes slide into the pile of undone tasks around here!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Unplugged Project : Puzzles

This week's Unplugged Project idea was PUZZLES!

I did not manage to pull together much of a "project" this week but the idea did serve as inspiration for several puzzle activities.

First, I found some sodoku puzzles that only use the numbers 1,2,3,4 and taught my five-year old how to do them. He did 2 this week with some assistance but seemd to catch on to the concept pretty well. I am not sure if he will continue or not. I *thought* he was working on his 3rd one when I realized he was actually just doodling in the boxes! This also inspired me and I have been trying to practice my sodoku skills as well. So far I am still at "Easy"

Second, my husband led a rousing scavenger hunt and the boys both loved it. He made lists for each child and then after that, my 5-year old made a list for his dad to find. My husband (very smartly) included putting all items back where you found them as part of the game, and they could not move on to the next round until that was done.

These were really fun unplugged activities that the whole family participated in. Unfortunately, I have no good pictures to share.

Oh yeah, and we did do the cereal box puzzles a couple months ago as well so we did not repeat that this week.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What We Are Reading

Have I mentioned how much I love the library. My only problem is making sure I limit how many books we have out at one time. I was just sorting through our library box so I can take a big pile back! Then we can check out a whole bunch of new ones. Here are some that we are returning that we have really liked.

Night Tree by Eve Bunting (a Christmas story)
Not A Box by Antoinette Portis (my kids love ths one!)
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Lemons are not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (colors, really creative)
Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter (making maple syrup)