Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Kid's Tree: The Perfect Display For All Of Those Handmade Holiday Crafts

     11 Days! Only 11 days until Christmas! Can you believe it!?! I am getting so excited. B is nearly four years old now, and this year he is loving the holiday season. We have been been watching Christmas movies, singing carols and reading tons of holiday books. One of our favorite activities has been crafting. B has been making ornaments and decorations nonstop. By the end of the first week of December our home was overflowing with handmade holiday crafts. The entire family has enjoyed the daily additions to the holiday decor, but really, what are you supposed to do with all of those paper decorations? Well, you make a kid's tree of course!

     B had been asking for a real tree in addition to our traditionally decorated artificial tree which is safely tucked away (from little hands and wagging tails) in the foyer of our split level home. I was unsure if we should get one at first because what kid wants a tree that he can't decorate? And  what decorations are going to hold up against a very active (read "crazy at times") little boy and two spastic dogs (one of which is a smallish lab)? The only thought I had at first was plastic ornaments. We don't have any plastic ornaments. Then, I looked around our overly decorated living room and started smiling at the sight of all those oh-so-cute handmade paper decorations. PAPER DOESN'T SHATTER INTO A BILLION PIECES!!! A special Christmas tree just for B's crafts, how perfect!

     With a spot in the house in mind and a bundled up little boy snug in his car seat, we all headed down to the local Christmas tree farm. During the thirty minute ride B kept trying to convince us to tell him where we were going for his "special surprise."  As we pulled into the farm he was thrilled to discover row after row of beautiful Christmas trees. I wish I would have thought to video his recation when we arrived. It was priceless!

     After a nice hayride around the property we got down to the business at hand. B was off to find his tree. Since we were there on a Monday afternoon we had the entire place to ourselves. B was able to wonder though the trees looking for just the right one. We finally chose together and my little guy helped his daddy cut down a tree for the very first time.

     We had a wonderful time at the farm and have some amazing memories and photos from the day. And now B has his very own Christmas tree decorated with his own colorful crafts.

     I have enjoyed watching B admire his tree especially as he adds to it each day, and I know this will be a new holiday tradition for us. And who knows, maybe one day  (a very, very long time from now) I will sit back with a cup of hot coco and look on as B helps his own child decorate their own first "kid's tree."

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Happy Holidays!!!

The Letter Games

     Don't you just love watching your child learn through everyday play? I know I do! I was recently treated to an evening of playful learning with B when he decided to make a road out of his See & Spell word game puzzle. Although B often lines the individual puzzle bases end to end to form a road for his vehicles, I decided to make this time a bit more educational and fun.

     I sat down with my little guy and we worked together as a "word road construction crew." I handed B the puzzles and he laid them together. Then we dumped the letter pieces on the floor and filled in the "holes"  in the road to form words his trucks could ride over. As he was filling in each hole, B told me the sound the individual letter makes. After the road was completed we had a wonderful time driving emergency vehicles to the places they were needed (B is very interested in helping rescue those in need). Occasionally a letter would pop out of place and B would excitedly say which word had lost a letter and return the pieces to their correct locations.

     Before it was time to leave the playroom for the night I decided to try one more new game with B.  I asked him to dump all of his wooden letter pieces on the floor, which he happily did at once. It always amazes me how excited he gets when I ask him to make a mess! We worked together to flip all letters face up then B sat quietly listening for what I would say next. In my very best game show announcer voice I explained the rules of the "Quick Letter Find Word Building Game."

1)The announcer (that's mommy, of course) holds a word card up so that the player (that would be B) can not see the word.
2) The announcer lays the card puzzle in front of the player.
3) The player finds each letter needed to complete the word as quickly as possible and puts the letter pieces in the appropriate spots on the word card.
4) The player sounds out the word on the card before receiving well deserved applause from the announcer. Repeat steps 1-4 until all cards have been used or the player (and announce) needs a nap.

     B had a great time finding the letters as fast as he could and he was so proud when he read each completed word to me. I was thrilled with the fact B was learning so much all while playing an exciting new game. He was working on his patience while sitting quietly waiting on each new card to be shown. Looking for the puzzle pieces was helping reinforce his letter recognition (he still stumbles with a few letters from time to time). While adding each letter to the word puzzle he was saying the letter's sound and then actually reading the word at the end. In addition to being fun and educational, this game also served as a wonderful self-confidence booster. B was so proud of himself for knowing the letters, reading the words and "winning" the game.

     We will definitely enjoy these games many times again in the near future. And, I will continue to search for new and exciting educational play activities for my little learner. I hope you have a great time learning and playing with your little one too!

As you can see from the pictures above, B really enjoys his Melissa & Doug "See and Spell Learning Game." I was not able to locate this product on the Melissa & Doug website, but if you are interested in purchasing it you can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

I happily linked with the following: 


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Happy Playful Learning!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let The Children Craft

     With the holiday season in full swing, B and I have been busy crafting all sorts of fun Christmas and winter themed decorations, books and more.  We craft at home, library story times, and retail shops. I've discovered there is a nearly endless supply of holiday craft ideas out there. However, these ideas all require B and I to follow a structured set of directions. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the fact that I can go online and find a detailed post on most any subject. But, after yet another morning filled with structured crafts (this time at the local library) I decided B needed at little more freedom to let his creative juices flow.

     I wanted to stick with the Christmas theme but see where B's imagination took him. Out came the holiday art supplies. I filled a tray with red and green markers, crayons, glitter glue, paint dot markers, foam stickers and pom poms. I added a regular glue stick, scissors, Christmas stickers, greeting cards and cotton balls. I gave B colored paper, white paper plates, cardboard tubes, small paper bags and even a cardboard jar.

     B sat down at the table and got busy examining the supplies in front of him. Before long he had decided on a red sheet of paper and was covering it with whatever caught his eye.

     My little artist happily glued, stamped and colored for over forty-five minutes before I finally had to pull him away from the table (it was already past lunch time after all). He had a wonderful time creating and was so proud to show off his finished work for the camera!

     Although I love working with B on structured projects I am so happy he was excited to create on his own today. Sometimes between the worksheets, computer learning series, books and so on I forget to just let him learn by himself. B enjoyed his afternoon art session and I was actually able to clean the entire kitchen at one time while happily watching him work. All in all, I think this free-for-all activity will become a staple of our weekly routine.

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Happy Crafting!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let Your Child See You Read: A Book Review Of An Amish Wedding By Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller & Kelly Long

     I believe a child's love of learning, and reading, is most easily established in their very early years. Reading to your child helps promote their early reading skills and helps them form a life-long love of words and story. You can help foster their enthusiasm for the written word by setting a positive example. SHOW your child that reading is FUN! Let your child see you read to yourself at least once per week. It doesn't matter what you read. JUST READ! Here is a fun suggestion of reading material for you moms (and dads) who love Love. Happy Reading!!!

   An Amish Wedding by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller & Kelly Long

     An Amish Wedding is the wonderfully seamless gathering of three Amish novellas by best-selling authors Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Long. This engaging work of fiction follows three possible brides on their separate paths as they come together for a traditional Amish wedding. 

       Kelly Long begins the journey in A Perfect Secret as Luke Lantz purposes marriage to the beautiful nineteen-year-old Rose Bender. The two have been close friends for most of their young lives and their union would be pleasing to both families. But is that really enough of a reason to marry? Could there be more to a happy life than what they currently have? As Rose ponders what path she shall take, she helps as her dear friend Priscilla prepares for her own marriage to Chester Lapp.