Summer Learning – Camping

I used to love to camp, but admittedly it isn’t something we’ve done since having children. I am more than a bit overwhelmed at the thought of camping with littles. Overcoming that fear is for another day! Today we are talking about bringing the camping to us. My oldest has been begging to go camping for years and since we haven’t we like to set up our tent either in the backyard or even in our living room. Since it is a bit hot here in AZ at the moment we decided to have our campout inside!

Pretend Play:

I wish I had gotten some pictures of this but it was a busy morning! I put up our small pop up tent in the living room which was a huge hit with all the kids (ranging from 18 months to 5 years old). For the older kids they had some fun pretending to roast marshmallows. I made a campfire out of paper towel rolls and red, orange and yellow tissue paper. I had M go find 3 sticks and added cotton balls to the end with hot glue so they could roast marshmallows.

Read:

We had three books to read but attention spans weren’t there today so we read two of the three: Maisy Goes Camping and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I love to see what kiddos think of books and am ever impressed with the observations they have. Reading to children is the most important thing we could ever do for their education (in my opinion).

Maisy Goes Camping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fine Motor and Learning:

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I found some adorable free camping printables (source listed below). I only used a couple of them but there are a variety of options for whatever you may want to focus on. For our kiddos we focused on the following:

  • fine motor skills with some cutting practice
  • beginning letter sounds for camping vocabulary
  • spotting the differences in a line of animals.

Printable Source

Crafts:

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After reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt we were pumped to make a Bear Hunt Map! I had a different craft planned but couldn’t help but switch at the last minute.  These are so darn cute. I asked M what her favorite part of the playdate was and she emphatically told me it was the Bear Hunt. Once they made their maps we quickly added some stickers to “binoculars”. At that point we headed out for our Bear Hunt! It was so fun going through each area slowly and then running back quickly. The best part was how much energy they burned while on their Bear Hunt.

Camping Treats:

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We really couldn’t have this playdate without including some appropriate treats for the occasion. I started with an interactive campfire treat that they built out of raisins (the rocks around the fire), pretzel sticks (for the wood) and buttered popcorn (the fire!). I had seen a bunch of these types of snacks on Pinterest but most of them were super sugary treats. Since I knew I also wanted to include a s’mores treat I opted to find some healthier options. Then at the end we enjoyed s’mores pudding cups that I made ahead of time.

I hope that if you can’t get out to go camping in nature that you can enjoy a camping setup right at home! These ideas can be whipped up in no time and make for a lot of fun pretend play.

 

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Summer Learning – The Gruffalo

This Gruffalo playdate was so much fun! My dear friend who planned this did a phenomenal job. She is all about sensory play and didn’t disappoint. I have loved having a few structured activities this summer for my little ones. It’s amazing how much changes when we don’t have the structure of school. When we have planned activities these little people respond with better behavior. We love summer (except for the hot AZ heat) but a tiny bit of structure is imperative!

Read:

We started off by reading The Gruffalo since not all of the kiddos had heard it.

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Gruffalo Sensory:

She created this really fun sensory box that had all of the elements of “The Gruffalo” that was a huge hit with the younger kids but even the older children enjoyed it for a bit.

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Idea Source

The older kids also really enjoyed playing with the kits that were made to be the Owl Ice Cream, Scrambled Snake and Roasted Fox. The Owl Ice Cream was really fun because it was white playdough and she used feathers and googly eyes for them to add to it in order to make the “Owl Ice Cream”. Because it is open-ended this got a lot of play time.

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Fine Motor:

She found a really cute idea on Pinterest to clip the purple spikes on the Gruffalo for fine motor practice. She didn’t see anywhere that offered it as a download so she used a picture of a Gruffalo, cut the spikes off and made her own purple spikes out of cardstock and paper clips. This is a great fine motor skill disguised as just another playtime activity! I love it when they have so much fun that they don’t even realize they are doing something good for them.

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 Imaginative Play:

The kids didn’t have a chance to play with this but she also found really cute Gruffalo Story telling mats. This is the kind of thing that is great for a quiet time activity if anyone needs it! We love using story telling mats because it gives those little minds an opportunity to get creative. It is also great because they learn about putting things in the right order (beginning, middle and end).

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Printables used

Get Active:

We like to get them up and around once their little attention spans are stalled. This was a great activity to do in between to get them active both mentally and physically. They each had sheets where she had put printed pictures of the characters from the book, then they had to find the same matching pictures taped to the wall. This might have been the favorite activity of the day because they had a goal to find their matching pictures. Of course they got a little competitive but they even had fun helping their friends find their matches as well.

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Idea and Printable Source

Eat:

To represent The Gruffalo Crumble talked about in the book she made muddy buddies! It’s always great to end with a treat in my humble opionion. The kids didn’t mind either 😉 While we ate the delicious Gruffalo Crumble we watched the movie of The Gruffalo. Everyone was so wound up with excitement that this was a great way to end the playdate and calm down a little before we left. If you haven’t watched it yet you should. It’s great because it is a retelling of the story but slowly and with great animation. It kept everyones attention the entire time.

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Takeaway:

She sent us home with some really cute finger puppets that I forgot to photograph but listed the source below.

Idea Source

Feel free to use these ideas to put together a fun playdate with your friends or just your little ones!  This would be great to do on any school break really. You could do it on Fall break and add some fun dress up too! Think how cute it would be to dress up as a Gruffalo. Or even the mouse, snake, owl or fox! There’s really a lot that can be done with this theme.

 

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Summer Learning – Ocean Playdate

Our second learning playdate this summer was hosted by a good friend. Her son has been very into the ocean so she decided to go all out with the ocean playdate theme this time around. There’s something about a good theme that really gets me excited! She did a phenomenal job putting it all together and the kiddos had a blast. We had so much fun at this ocean playdate! We enjoyed sensory play, lots of arts and crafts, a little math and topped it off with some yummy ocean snacks!

Sensory:

As people started arriving we had ocean slime to play with. The kiddos enjoyed squishing, stamping and stretching the slime. There were even little gummy ocean animals to play with along side the slime.

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Math:

There were two math activities, one was a graphing sheet and the other was ocean animal tangrams! These littles are just started to become interested in math so it’s fun to see them light up when we connect the dots.

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 Graph Printable Source

 

Crafts:

There were THREE craft projects that we did as well. Crafts are always a winner with these kiddos. The first craft we started out with a piece of aluminum foil for each kids’ canvas. They placed ocean themed stickers down and then painted blue over it for the ocean. The second was a neat dancing jelly fish where they got to do a lot of gluing and then enjoyed making their jelly fish dance in the ocean! The third craft was creating sea creatures from a neat set of stickers. This might have been the favorite.

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Sea Life Sticker Source

Read:

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish By: Jarrett J Krosoczka

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Fish Eyes: A book you can count on By: Lois Ehlert

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Ate:

An ocean playdate wouldn’t be complete without a few snacks! We enjoyed little bags of goldfish as well as ocean jello! Look how cute it turned out!

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I hope that you get a chance to have an ocean playdate as well, it was so much fun! Hopefully the next playdate will better represented with pics from my new camera!

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Summer Learning – Ice Cream Playdate

We really enjoyed this ice cream playdate which included the following ice cream goodness:

  • ice cream play dough
  • an ice cream craft
  • ice cream rhyming
  • ice cream reading
  • homemade ice cream!

I believe in learning through play and figured an ice cream playdate would make a great start to our summer! Myself and a few of my friends decided that we wanted to have some fun with our Pre-school and Kindergarten age children this summer. We settled on a lot of  just for fun activities on our summer bucket list but we also wanted to include some learning. At this age I believe in learning that is mostly fun and learning through play.

A lot of the reason I chose this theme is because my eldest has been obsessed with ice cream. Ice cream clothes, pajamas and earrings to name a few! We recently switched an old piece of furniture from a puppet theatre into an Ice Cream Parlor. I found some cute cones at Lakeshore Learning, used ball pit balls for ice cream and added a few DIY’s to round things out.  We also snagged a cute sign from the Target dollar spot and added our own “flavors”. This was great pretend play in between activities while I was setting up for the next. Once I finish up a couple of details I will share the Ice Cream Parlor in all of it’s pretend play glory.

For our playdate I focused on a few fun activities to get our summer started off right!

Ice Cream Play dough:

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You really can’t beat a good sensory activity. This play dough is really neat because it actually feels (minus the cold) and looks like ice cream! It is definitely  “edible” but unless you want your child hyped up on frosting and powdered sugar tell them not to eat it ;-).

 

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Rhyming Activity:

This was a really fun activity that we were able to work on scissor skills as well as rhyming words! I found it on Teachers Pay Teachers, which if you haven’t heard of is stellar! This was an ice cream playdate win for sure.

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Craft:

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For my daughter this was probably one of her favorite parts because she loves anything to do with arts and crafts. This was a super simple option that still allowed for some creativity with the “toppings”. To keep things quick I cut out the cones and let each kid glue that to the page and then I had a bowl of “ice cream” (a mixture of glue and shaving cream) ready for them to scoop on top and then they added sprinkles.

 

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Reading:

We read “Should I Share My Ice Cream” By: Mo Willems which they thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards we talked about what it means to be a good friend and how sharing is integral to that.

Should I Share my Ice Cream?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last but not least we couldn’t have an ice cream playdate without making homemade ice cream! We found a simple vanilla ice cream recipe in our ice cream maker.

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We went through the activities pretty easily and I even took a bunch of pictures with my new DSLR! Unfortunately… I’m still learning what the heck I’m doing because I used a memory card that wasn’t appropriately formatted and I lost all of those adorable pics. Super sad panda. Great example of how I TRY to DIY… and it doesn’t always work out. I hope this helps you organize a fun Ice Cream Playdate with all of the fun ideas compiled!

 

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mother daughter

Happy Mother’s Day

Almost 3 years ago exactly (thanks Facebook memories), I quit working to stay home with my then only child who was 1 year old. Many people expressed joy that I would be able to do this. Then there were others who wanted to “warn” me of how I would feel. Suffocated, bored, etc. These were just a few ways people told me that I would feel about being a stay at home mother (SAHM). I can 100% say at this point that they were/are wrong. For me, being home with my kids (now two of them) has been an amazing journey. It was absolutely the right choice for me and my family. I loved working and plan on going back at some point.

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 Right now I focus all of my time and energy on snuggling up my two girls tight while also:

  • Reading library book after library book
  • Playing “princess family”
  • Singing songs
  • Having dance parties to Trolls music
  • Teaching life lessons
  • Kissing boo boos.

And what don’t I do? I don’t ever feel suffocated or bored or whatever else they said I would feel.

As many people do in situations such as these, they simply want you to feel their pain. These people want– no, they desperately need to overlay their emotions and feelings onto your soul. It isn’t that they aren’t trying to drag you down. No, they simply don’t know how to express the pain they feel in their position. The best thing you can do is to not let their negative energy affect you while at the same time having sympathy for their pain. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Let’s all do our best not to throw the worst part of ourselves at other people. Maybe instead we should focus on our best selves and share that loud and proud.

All of this to say that we should be lifting up our fellow mothers. Encouraging each to be who they are and do what is best for them. We all have different beliefs, strengths, desires and goals. Let’s help all the mamas out there to be who they want to be and do what they want to do.

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 Happy Mother’s day to every mother, pseudo mother, other mother, and woman who wants to be a mother. May you each enjoy this day and be buoyed up in the joy that is motherhood.

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Motherhood is

Motherhood

Motherhood is a crazy thing. It runs the gamut of emotions and on the daily we move from one extreme to another (I mean our kids… but maybe us too!)

Motherhood…

Sometimes it’s silly

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Sometimes it’s exhausting

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Sometimes it’s sweet

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Sometimes it’s confused

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Sometimes it’s grumpy

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Sometimes it’s proud

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Sometimes it’s irritable

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Sometimes it’s content

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Sometimes it’s messy

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Sometimes it’s magical

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None of these pics have been edited, because that’s life right now. But this is what my life has been lately and although it’s not perfect (not even close) it’s mine and I love it.

The longer I’m a mother (it’s only been a whopping 3 years and 3 months-ish) the more that I’m truly grateful to my mom. I wanted to include a pic of her with my girls but she would kill me if I did … sooooo I didn’t 🙂 Give your mothers and “other mothers” lots of love this weekend!

 

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Three for Thursday - Quality time with McKenna

Three for Thursday – Quality time with McKenna

Thursdays are generally a pretty busy day for us over here. We have some of my nieces over every week and we have a lot of fun! Although it’s amazing it means that I don’t have oodles of time to post. Enter “Three for Thursday”. This series is going to be a day where I focus on a DIY topic that I’ve been meaning to give thought, time and energy to but simply haven’t scheduled that time in. Thursdays are that day now!

This week I’m thinking about what I can do to spend quality time with McKenna. She has been a super trooper since Drea was born (and even before that when I was miserable during the last 4 months of pregnancy). She has also started acting out a bit more. I told someone about a month ago that I had to put McKenna in time out for the first time. Overall, she has always been a good listener and does the things I ask. The most I ever had to do was count to 3. It’s a different story nowadays. People say it’s because she’s three years old now but I think it’s because she needs more attention. I do my very best to give her attention but when Drea is screaming her head off I have to admit that she comes first. SO, all that to say that I started trolling my Pins for a few things that McKenna would enjoy. As I was going through stuff I had pinned to do with her I found a few themes that she enjoys which I think is perfect! Without further adieu here are our Three for Thursday!

 

Dinosaur LoveDinosaur Hat Dinosaur Feet

Dinosaur DIY’s:

McKenna adores dinosaurs! She also loves crafting (really any DIY) with her mama and pretend play so I figured let’s kill two (errrr three I guess?) birds with one stone! We are gonna have a DIY  dinosaur day next week! I may even see if I can put a couple of dinosaur books on hold at the library to round it out.

 

Gardening LoveGardening Sensory Bin Gardening Sensory Bin (with printable!)

Gardening DIY’s:

Lately McKenna has been obsessed with gardening. I got a gardenia plant for my birthday a few months ago and she helps me to water it every. single. day. I guess it’s good because I’m a pretty forgetful person and she often reminds me! Maybe she will be my little DIY gardener. I found a couple of interesting gardening sensory bins we could easily DIY and I figure we’ve been wanting to do more sensory bins so this will be on the agenda next week!

 

Mermaid LoveMermaid Tail  /  Mermaid Peg Dolls

 

Mermaid DIY’s:

Even though she skips through big chunks of The Little Mermaid it may be one of her favorite movies. She loves the idea of mermaids as they seem so magical to her. There are so many fun mermaid DIY activities! The first picture above is an activity that I have been wanting to do for her for almost a year. A year people! I can’t believe I’ve let it get away from me for this long. The mermaid peg dolls I found recently in a search for a mermaid sensory bin. I wanted inexpensive mermaids that we could add. It was a bonus that we could work on designing them together.

 

Life isn’t about pinning. It’s about doing. Pin less, Do more! I will share more after we’ve completed these activities! What are you going to do this fabulous Thursday?

 

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Never say never … to Preschool anyways

I should know by now that of all people I should never say never! I truly change my mind about things ALL the time. Do you remember back when I said that I wasn’t planning on putting McKenna in preschool? Here’s the thing… I had decided that I wasn’t going to based on a few things, which you can read about here. Since then a couple of things have changed. The biggest is the addition of our sweet Drea to our family. I now know that I may have been a bit naive about what I could handle as far as teaching McKenna with another little vying for my attention.

If you recall I stated previously that I believe there are 3 reasons to put a child in Preschool:

  1. It helps children to learn their basics ahead of the game (obviously).
  2. It teaches children how to  be in social situations.
  3. It creates a setting early on for how to listen to directions, especially to someone other than the child’s parents.

A couple of things have changed for us in regards to these three areas. I’m still not concerned about McKenna’s learning skills. She is a fantastic learner and knows things I often don’t even realize. For instance, about a week ago she came to me telling me that her right leg got hurt. I was bewildered because I didn’t teach her left and right yet. I thought maybe she was just guessing but I tested her then and nearly every day I test her and she knows. I am amazed by her ability each and every day. BUT she has stopped actively working with me to learn new things. I believe it may be due to the fact that she gets less attention so when she is getting my full attention there are so many other things she wants to do with me.

In regards to being in social situations and listening to directions she has had additional opportunities (she is now in swim class and tumbling) to improve these skills but unfortunately her listening and direction following has declined. It seems to be that she is acting out in this area because she isn’t always getting my attention. Simply put, she needs more attention than I can give her and needs mental stimulation in the amounts that I used to be able to provide.

Once the decision was made I quickly went into searching for a viable option. I knew that I wanted a smaller environment so I setup to look at three different home preschools. It almost felt like a Goldilocks and the Three Bears situation. The first was super structured and they only had 2 kids (with a max capacity of 3) in the class. As much as I appreciated that I knew McKenna would get plenty of attention and learning in that environment it seemed more strict than I wanted for her. The second preschool that I went to had a ratio of waaaay too many kiddos to one adult. It was chaotic and due to the amount of children I wondered how much they were actually able to sit down and learn together. I had almost given up but went to check out the last preschool. I audibly sighed in relief when I walked in. It felt absolutely perfect. There were quite a few kids there but they had two teachers. The children were very well behaved, even though it was free play time. I knew that this was the one for us. She won’t start until the Fall but we are also participating in a loose preschool co-op for the summer which will be perfect for the time being and she talks about going to school ALL the time. Based on her excitement alone I know I made the right choice! At least until I change my mind again 😉

 

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welcome Drea

It’s been a long time

It has been a really REALLY long time since I’ve posted. And I’ve missed it… a LOT. I probably won’t have much time to post until life stabilizes a bit but I wanted to do a quick  update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing!

It all started with selling our house, yay! I loved that house oh so much, I did. But here’s the thing, it was just not the right house for the stage our family is in right now. Three stories and two sets of stairs was rough when I had just one kiddo. I can’t even imagine what I would do now. Especially since the kitchen and living space were on the mid level of the home. Anyhow, we sold the house and had to make quite a few requested repairs. During that process we had to find a home to rent. My hubby fell in love with a neighborhood so we knew where we were going to rent and indeed that’s where we are at. I am already feeling renters remorse due to a few issues in the home and the fact that I can’t decorate like I would my own home. I will talk more about that another time.

Then the next thing I knew it was holidays one after the other! We moved in and Thanksgiving was right around the corner, then of course Christmas, New Years…. all that fun stuff.

Most exciting of all our sweet Drea made her appearance on January 12th! That story will of course be coming soon as well. It’s been 3 weeks and I’m super exhausted but so in love with this new tiny human that we created. I’m very grateful to have my mom here to help me transition through this newborn phase as this has been a bit rough (although better out than in, the pregnancy itself was more exhausting than Drea is!).

I will be taking a break for awhile until the newborn fog has lifted and then I will gradually start back in because it is so fun to have my thoughts recorded and it helps my productivity level as well.

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It's a

Dear Future Baby….

gender

 

Dear Future Baby Girl!

I am so excited to know a little bit more about about you! I could’ve sworn that you were going to be a baby boy, but I’m so excited for another darling little girl. It’s nice to know so that I can do some planning. I held onto a few of McKenna’s old clothes but not enough! Luckily I was gifted all sorts of baby girl and baby boy clothes. Now I can get rid of half of those clothes!

The only thing that will be hard is coming up with a name that will fit you. Your daddy and I tend to disagree about girls names so we have a lot of work ahead of us here lol. You are already a vivacious little girl in my tummy – jumping and kicking around! Wish me luck in finding a name that your daddy likes! We love you so, so much and can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Your Mama