Saturday, October 31, 2009

What My Child Is Reading – October 31, 2009

Most of our reading books this week were from the library. You can see some Halloween books (of course) in our list, but the only one that Anna really enjoyed was The Witch Who Was Afraid Of Witches. I wrote about that wonderful book in this post. Here are non-Halloween favorites of the week.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

I picked up this book in the library, because it was featured in Scholastic catalog. I am glad I did. Anna really enjoyed this simple rhyming story, memorized it almost immediately and asked a lot of questions about the illustrations by Helen Oxenbury (the same lady who illustrated We Are Going On a Bear Hunt). It’s really a good story about how similar we all are despite being born in different places and looking different.

Anno Counting Book

I read about this book sometime ago, and finally picked it up in the Concepts section of our library. When I opened it at home, I was surprised to discover that it contains no text whatsoever. Anna still enjoyed it a lot, and we were making our own story about each page. There are 13 pages total, with numbers 0-12, and each page has many opportunities for counting and discussion about how nature goes through 12 months of the year. I will be definitely looking for more Anno’s books in the future.

Cock A Doodle Moo

We read The Cow That Went Oink a couple of weeks back, and I took a similar book by Bernard Most this week. Quite frankly, I thought that The Cow That Went Oink is more inventive, but Anna enjoyed this one as much. The illustrations are very bright and detailed, and the humor of the story appeals to children. This book is short, so we read it on the days when I was trying to shorten Anna’s obligatory two books before bed ritual.

Who Hoots

I first learned about this book reading Infant Bibliophile blog. Both Anna and I enjoyed the book – I noticed that Anan really likes picture books with somewhat cartoonish pictures and not really interested at the moment in photo books. What I liked about the book is that it combines humorous text with some interesting facts about animals. For example, I didn’t know that mice have poor eyesight until reading it. And, again, the book is not long, so a younger child can digest it at one sitting without getting distracted.

What are your children reading this week. Link up and share. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The School Corner – October 30, 2009

Photobucket

Oct25_Tree_SM

It was a great week. Anna was in a good mood most of the time. She really enjoyed her birthday party last Saturday and was delighted by her presents. The weather was great – crisp and sunny, perfect for spending some time outside. A theme of the week in Anna’s school was Halloween, and they made a lot of interesting crafts there – toilet paper bats, painting candy corn with marbles, spiders, etc. She was in a crafty mood at home too and quite willing to go along with whatever project I had in mind. She was also very sweet and constantly told us how much she loves us. I truly enjoyed our time together.

Oct28_Reading_SM

Phonics. Anna’s reading really took off this week. It’s almost like her reading muscles need rest from time to time to gain new strength. She was asking for her “reading words” every day, and her fluency became much better. She doesn’t need to sound out many simple words any longer, she reads them as a unit. And she read two Bob books even though she still resorts to guessing the word a lot based on its first sound. I am really proud of her progress and her new confidence in her reading abilities.

Oct28_Math_SM

Math: My parents gave Anna this game called Addition War some time ago. I put her into her so-called “workboxes” in the kitchen about a month ago, but she wasn’t interested in the least. On Wednesday she pulled it out and wanted to play. I removed the cards where the sum was more than 10, and we played a round. She caught on very quickly and made a counting mistake only once. Interestingly, we tied in the end :) Simple math seems to come naturally to her, I don’t really use any kind of curriculum for it. We reinforce high counting by playing ball games when we count each throw.

My Own Human Body

Science: We are still focusing on Human Body – Anna seems to be very interested in the topic, and she plays doctor a lot. She is not interested in making her dolls and animals well, only real playmates will do. She really likes My Own Human Body book that we received from my parents more than a year ago. It ties well with her favorite birthday present – My Human Body puzzle. She does this puzzle a few times every day and discusses how our muscles and bones work. It’s fun to hear her voicing her learned opinions on how important sunscreen is and why we have hair.

Oct25_Crafts_SM

Arts and Crafts: We did many things this week – more than usual. Probably it was because this week Anna was always happily awake by the time I got home. Sometimes it takes her a while to get going in the afternoon, then we don’t get to do much. Anna “decorated” pumpkins, put together “a ba-a-ad witch”, drew her first real picture and did assorted other projects. I love it when she is truly engaged in her art, and I hope that she will inherit some of her papa’s creativity.

Oct29_TinkerToy_SM

Fine Motor Skills/Prewriting. We didn’t do a lot of prewriting activities outside of crafts. I see a lot of great ideas for fine motor skills on the blogs I read, and The Adventures of Bear has an interesting series going on Pincer Grasp Workouts. I often think, “I should do that!”, but somehow can’t find the time. However, Anna does get some fine motor skills workout simply through play. She was very lucky to receive this Tinkertoy Classic Set from one of her friends, and putting together those rods and connectors is not an easy task for a three year old. Papa showed her how to build “a magic wand”, then she built one herself. In the background there is the Tinkertoy swing that papa had put together in about 2 minutes while I was still struggling to understand what can be done with this set. Boy, I sure hope that our daughter will inherit papa’s building skills too :)

To see what others are doing this week, visit two great weekly wrap-ups: Learning Through Love at My Family My Forever and Preschool Corner at Homeschool Creations.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coloring Outside the Lines

Oct28_Drawing_1

From time to time I attempt to offer Anna coloring pages, but she repeatedly rejects them. She is a lot more content to draw on the other side of the coloring sheet. This time I thought that it would be a good idea if she watches me color with crayons, since I am still trying to demonstrate to her that drawing or coloring with crayons or pencils is a lot more fun than blasted markers that bleed Oct28_Drawing_2 through the paper and make her hands “all painty”. While I was coloring my witch page diligently, Anna was busy drawing her hands and then doing some sort of complicated “connect-the-dots” of her own design. She proceeded to put 50 dots on the page (she counted them) and connect them with a line. Eventually she looked at my drawing and decided to contribute to it. She Oct28_Drawing_3 took my crayons and started to draw on the other side of my witch. It started as a sky and a boy with mad hair, then Anna changed her mind and said that the boy is in the purple bed (the purple lines represent his blanket) and he has a grass sheet and a rainbow curtain. I just love to see how her mind works, and I hope that we will see a lot more creative drawings over years with all kinds of tools – markers, paints and crayons.

StArt – The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches

Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches

I am very excited to share this book for StArt. Every Sunday we stop at the bookstore after our brunch and read a few books to Anna. My husband chose this one, and I was skeptical, because it’s rather long. But Anna was listening through all of it and said that she really wants to have it. It says on Amazon that this is the book for ages 8-11, but I assume that it’s about the reading level, not comprehension. In the book little witch Wendy is intimidated by her older sisters and thinks that she doesn’t have any “witch power”. A boy who lives nearby stops by at Halloween and helps her discover her powers. Anna loves it, and she is especially excited about the book, because she is going to be a witch for Halloween.

Oct28_Witch1_SM

I found a reference to this craft from Family Fun on one of the blogs I read, but, unfortunately, I can’t recall which. If you read my blog, drop me a comment, so I can credit you. It was perfect for our Story Stretcher, even though Anna commented that this craft witch is a “bad witch”. Strangely, she was pretty much unfazed by the idea of putting a “bad witch” together. I am thinking that all those Halloween preparations sort of “desensitized” her to scary characters.

Here is a completed project and a picture of Anna discovering her own witch powers:

Oct28_Witch2_SM

 Oct26_Broomstick_SM

For more story stretchers, visit StArt at A Mommy’s Adventures.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finding Time for Myself

Oct23_Natalie_Witch_SM

My friend Susana at My Family My Forever has opened the ongoing conversation last week about nutrition, exercise and finding time for yourself. I admit that this is a painful topic for me. I am working full time. My work day starts at 7 am and ends at 4 pm. I usually get up between 5 am and 5:30 am, when my family is still asleep. Technically, I could exercise in those only 30 minutes a day that I have to myself, but it’s the time that I use for blogging, and I am not willing to give it up. I come home shortly before 5 pm and then it’s go-go-go with Anna. I don’t blame her for the fact that she wants to be with me from the moment I walk into the door until the moment she goes to bed. She loves her papa, but she is still very much mama girl, and I enjoy being with her. However… it means that I literally don’t have a minute to myself until after 8 pm when she goes to bed. At best I can cook or pick up the house, but not exercise or, God forbid, get online. When Anna finally goes to bed, I check my email and catch up with work for at least another 30 minutes. By the time I am done, I don’t feel like doing anything that feels remotely like work. Usually we watch an episode of our show du jour on DVD (currently we are in the fifth season of CSI Las Vegas), talk a little, and by that time it’s 10:30 – time for bed.

Just writing it down helped me understand that I need to get some time for myself on the weekends. We sort of fell into the routine when we either do some family activities or I spend some more 1:1 time with Anna. I need more time to myself to recharge. I want to say that I will use this time for exercise, but I know that it’s not going to happen until Christmas. We always do some homemade presents for Christmas – digital scrapbooks for our parents, and we are really behind. I have to use all the extra time to catch up with my part. However, I do want to start exercising in 2010. I am not overweight, but I am out of shape. I want to tone up and improve my flexibility. I am shooting for 2 times a week, gradually increasing to three times, and I hope to start playing tennis again. The challenge with tennis that either I have to find another partner, or we need a babysitter. This is another early 2010 resolution – having a date night out with my husband more than two times a year when my parents come over.

All that said, I think Susana provided a great perspective on things saying that all this craziness and business will not last forever. As my daughter grows up, she will inevitably move into her own world. I want to enjoy this time together and not to resent it. I admit that sometimes, on the days when I am tired and she is cranky, it’s not easy. But I am trying to remind myself that this moment shall pass and that early childhood will pass in a blink of an eye. I will still get to do all those things that I put on hold, I just have to hang in there and enjoy the present as much as I can.

Open Ended Art - Pumpkins

Oct26_OEA_1_SM OK, I admit that this Open-Ended project is very lame. I just gave Anna an orange craft foam and asked her what she can do with it. She said that we can carve a pumpkin. So far so good, but her idea of carving a pumpkin was taking scissors and shredding unfortunate foam into small pieces making “pumpkin juice”. Eventually I cut one pumpkin for her, and she “carved” it with a pen.  Oct26_OEA_2_SMI barely had time to take a picture of this pumpkin before it was shredded into pumpkin juice as well. As she was skipping around with her pumpkins, somehow she stumbled, flew over the chair and hit her head on the floor pretty hard. There was a lot of crying and then even more crying when she got her elbow stuck somehow in the chair. It was definitely not Anna’s lucky day. I liked our project from a couple weeks back a lot more and Oct12_Pumpkins_2_SM can’t resist from sharing it again. since I liked it so much. It’s a story of 5 pumpkins on the gate fully executed by Anna. Interestingly, she presented it on Sunday as a present for our best friends and recited the story for them with great dramatic flair. I just wish I had a video of her saying, there are witches in the air – she always has this feeling of wonder and awe in her voice when she recites that verse.

For more open-ended pumpkins visit Open-Ended Art at Mommies Wise Little Bookworms.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tree Hugging Tots - Pumpkins

Oct27_Pumpkins_SM

The topic of the week at Mommies Wise Little Bookworms is Pumpkins. To tell you the truth, I am a little tired of them. We have read probably ten different books about pumpkins in September and October. Our absolute favorite was this one:

It is pumpkin time

If you decide to read only one book about the pumpkins, consider this book. It combines nicely a fact-based story with engaging drawing and simple text that appeals to young children.

Oct17_Pumpkin

We also made sure that we see actual pumpkins this year. Our papa didn’t want to go to a pumpkin patch, but we went to a farm and saw some pumpkins still on the vines. One of our neighbors grows a small vegetable garden in the front yard, and Anna made a lot of comments about his pumpkin. She can’t wait for it to become a jack-o-lantern.

Oct12_Pumpkins_2_SM

Of course, we did many pumpkin crafts. Anna brought several pretty pumpkins from school – suncatcher, collage, pumpkin prints, etc. My favorite craft that we did at home was Anna’s take on Five Pumpkins Sitting On the Gate. The only thing that we didn’t do was actual pumpkin carving and eating pumpkin. My husband is not a big fan of either, but maybe he’ll change his mind next year.

To see other Tots with Pumpkins, visit Tree Hugging Tots at Mommies Wise Little Bookworms.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bedeluc Body Puzzle

Oct24_Bedeluc

We had a birthday party this Saturday, and Anna got a lot of new toys. So far her absolute favorite is this Your Body Puzzle. I learned about this toy from Susana at My Family My Forever. It’s not terribly complicated – each layer of the puzzle (organs, muscles, skin and clothes) has 7 pieces, and Anna very quickly figured out how to assemble them. She did it at least 10 times over the weekend, and she always looks very proud when she is done. I am excited too, because she didn’t display a lot of interest in puzzles previously. She would do them with me, but never independently. I also credit Anna’s school for her increased interest in puzzles – they always have “puzzle station” in the morning, and Anna usually heads right there when she comes to school. I am looking forward to a lot of puzzles as she gets older, I loved them as a child myself and can’t wait to do them with her.

To see toys popular with other children, visit Adriana's linky Toys My Children Are Actually Playing With.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Wish List – Top 5

Christy at Superheroes and Princesses asked us to share our own wish list. This is quite hard. One thing that I really want and cannot really have is more time, and we are blessed not to be too tight on money, so I don’t have many material things on my list. Still here it is:

Swing

1. I would really like to have a garden swing like this one. I hinted my husband liberally about it, and I think he got the hint. The only problem is that both my birthday and Christmas are in the winter, so I am not going to use it anytime soon. Still, I am dreaming of spending some afternoons swinging there and watching Anna play. And while I am dreaming, some landscaping of the part of our backyard would be nice too. Right now Anna calls this part “my very muddy place”.iPhone

2. I really want iPhone, but it’s the thing that I am unlikely to get anytime soon. I have a company-paid cell phone and their data services plan, which sadly doesn’t support iPhone, and it doesn’t make sense for me to shell out for a separate phone and carry two of them. Theoretically, I could jailbreak iPhone, but if something happens, then I cannot ask my famous IT department for help and I cannot call Apple or AT&T for help. Not a good situation to be with the phone I use at work. I hope that my company will see the light soon and extend their support to iPhones.

Massage Envy

3. I am horribly bad about taking care of myself, but my chiropractor recommended to look into Massage Envy membership. It’s pretty neat to be able to schedule a massage once a month and just stick to it.

4. This one is tricky. I want to have an evening out with my husband going to SF Ballet (my preference) or Opera (his preference). I want to dress up, put on makeup and not discuss our daughter even once all evening (hard for both of us). Unfortunately, since we don’t have a family close, this one is pretty impossible until my parents come to visit us. Next time they visit, I will make sure to surprise my husband with this kind of outing.DayWatch

5.  I like fantasy, and an American friend of mine introduced me to this great series written by a modern Russian author. I should be reading this in Russian, I suppose, but I read the first book (Night Watch) in English, and I am hooked. This is the second book in the series, and I am really looking forward to getting it – either for my birthday or for Christmas. I was informed by my husband that I am not allowed to get it myself :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What My Child Is Reading – October 24, 2009

Our winner of this week was If You Hopped Like a Frog by David Schwartz, but I already wrote about it yesterday. I will concentrate on other great books we enjoyed.

Stella ForestThis was an accidental library find, and we will definitely continue to pick up books from Stella series by Marie-Louise Gay. The characters are fun, and Anna appreciated a strong girl in this story leading her cautious brother (or maybe a friend) into an adventure. Certain part of the story contain humor for adults when children discuss the world around them as they understand it. The story is not short, but reads well, with limited amount of text on each page.

Mouse First Fall

I think I’ve seen this book for the first time at Tired, Need Sleep, and then on many more blogs. I kept looking for it in the library, and we ended up reading two other books in this series – Mouse’s First Halloween and Mouse’s First Day of School. Anna liked them, but not nearly as much as this one which we got at Scholastic book sale. We read it for about one hundred times already, and it’s still going strong.

Little Bear Special Friend

We don’t have an audio set for this book, and the book itself came from the sale section in Barnes & Noble some time last spring. Anna suddenly pulled it off the shelf and wanted to read again and again. I gather she is tired of fall books :) It’s a very cute story of friendship, seasons and fun winter activities, and I really like illustrations in this book. I am a little sad that my daughter will probably not get to see a snowman this winter again unless it’s a plastic one.

Franklin Halloween

We read so many character Halloween stories already – Clifford, Arthur, Corduroy. Anna doesn’t watch any of the shows, but enjoys the books about them. Franklin was discovered fairly recently, and we both enjoy these stories even though they are targeted at older children. Anna liked most of the story, but didn’t like the part about haunted house. No matter how many times we read this book, she always put her blanket over her head on this page.

What are your children reading this week? Link up and share.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The School Corner – October 23, 2009

Photobucket

Oct19_Birthday_SM

This week was even lighter academically than last week. Anna had new toys to play with and too excited to take naps. When she doesn’t take a nap, we only have about an hour and a half between my arrival from work at 5 pm and her dinner/bedtime routine at 6:30 pm. We used this time for opening presents, playing with them, going to the library or playing outside. Anna enjoyed celebrating her birthday at school with her friends. The preschool theme of the week is Autumn. They also do Letter of the Week, which Anna quite enjoys. Current letter is C – they are doing C crafts and collages of C words.

Oct17_Pumpkin Field Trip – Farm. Since my husband is not a big fan of pumpkin patches, we took Anna on the “semi-real” farm. I highly recommend Rancho San Antonio to people who live in Bay Area – it’s a beautiful and easy hiking path, and both parking and farm visit are free of charge. Anna had fun looking at fall harvest that wasn’t picked yet and at various farm animals. Of course, she had to be carried back – 1 mile hike was OK in one direction, but she was all done with walking on the way back.

Oct20_Zoo_SMField Trip – San Francisco Zoo. On Tuesday I took a day off, and we headed to San Francisco Zoo. Again, we were quite lucky with the weather. It was raining on Anna’s birthday, but Tuesday was beautiful and warm, even in SF. The zoo was very empty, and we managed to hit all the highlights in two hours. It helps to have a membership – we don’t feel forced to stay later than we really want to. Anna was not in a good mood – she wanted to ride in her stroller most of the time, and wasn’t particularly interested in any animals, just in the process of moving from one exhibit to another. We, on the other hand, really enjoyed African savannah exhibit – a true highlight of SF zoo.

Busy Body Book

Science. Since we had our fill of Autumn books and crafts already. we stuck with Our Body theme from the last week. Anna asked to read this library book several times and then entertained us with many pearls of wisdom that were always coming quite unexpectedly:

  • When the Wicked Witch died, her start stopped pumping…
  • I have blood all over me, and it’s all red.
  • Mama, do I have muscles in my popo (butt)?
  • What is my brain telling me? It’s telling me that I need some chocolate

If You Hopped

Math. I picked this book from the library quite by accident, and Anna fell in love with it. It’s a very interesting book for older kids and even for adults. It puts things in perspective – what humans could do if they were as strong as an ant, as fast as a spider, etc. Even though most of the material and the math behind it was totally over her head, Anna found the text and the illustrations very fascinating. Who knows maybe she even got a little bit of the math behind the comparisons – she keeps making the funniest remarks about measurements:

I am going to measure my kitty. Look, it fits perfectly into this box. Kitty is one-and-a-half inches long. It even makes sense, at least she is talking about inches and not about minutes :)

Learn Every Day Phonics

Phonics. My parents gave Anna this book of Phonics for her birthday (among many other presents that they sent her). I like the book, it’s a pretty nice phonics curriculum that goes pretty quickly into about second grade. I was always curious to find out what the kids are actually supposed to know by that time. It’s kind of amusing to realize that my freshly made three year old is at the kindergarten level in phonics. Anyway, Anna was excited about the book, and we did a couple of worksheets out of it. We didn’t do anything on Progressive Phonics due to total lack of time and desire on both sides.

To see what others are doing, visit Jolanthe’s Preschool Corner and Susana’s Learning Through Love linkies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Preschool Art: Monsters

My almost 3 year old does not enjoy monsters, but even she couldn’t resist a non-scary monster book and some monster making before Halloween. In this post I will share our monster, plus another 9 amazing monster ideas from Kid Blogger Network bloggers.
10 Amazing Monster Ideas for Preschoolers This post has been updated on September 9, 2014 with new graphics and round up links. Disclosure:I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

A Halloween Book That Teaches Math

Monster Musical Chairs
I am a big fan of MathStart series – it introduces basic math concepts to children in a fun and playful way, and it levels up rather gracefully. Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy introduces counting down concept through a game of musical chairs where 6 monsters are eliminated from the game one by one. Even though my daughter is not a fan of monsters or other otherwordly creatures, she couldn’t resist these cute monsters, enjoyed the story and replayed it on her own. I will keep the same counting down approach to introduce 10 amazing monster ideas that can extend this story.

10. Make-Your-Own-Monster With Stickers

 Monster-Making-Session
We went the lazy route in our house. I found this “Make a Monster” set at $1 section of Target and regretted bitterly a few days later that I only got one. These sets would make a perfect party favor for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party. They were a great value – with four monster outlines, a sticker sheet with “monster parts”, googly eyes and Smarty’s favorite item of late – glitter glue. Smarty dug into this project with unusual enthusiasm, and it was really the perfect art activity for a 3 year old child – just enough variety to make it open-ended, and not too overwhelming to frustrate her. It was also a perfect project for me – no preparation required and only very minimal cleanup needed. Smarty actually gave a lot of thoughts to her monsters and ended up making all four of them at once. She was very proud of the result.
Monster-Cards

9. Decorate a Stuffed Monster Softie

If you are crafty, you can whip up a monster softie for your preschoolers using a free pattern from Mama Smiles and have your children decorate it. I think even my monster-hating daughter would love this cutie (in fact, she does have a similar one knitted by my Mom’s friend).
Monster Softie from Mama Smiles

8. Play Dough Monsters

Play dough is a perfect monster building material, especially when glitter, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners are added to enrich play dough creation. The Imagination Tree shares dough monsters created by her young daughters that are very similar to our play dough monsters (unfortunately, I failed to snap pictures of them!)
play dough monsters from The Imagination Tree

7. TP Roll Monsters (Loo Monsters)

It’s amazing what a modest toilet paper roll can transform itself into in the right hands. Red Ted Art certainly has the magic touch to turn TP rolls into fantastic loo roll monsters.
Loo Monsters from Red Ted Art

6. Rock Monsters

Red Ted Art (again!) also offered another monster art idea for preschoolers – rock monsters. All you need is paint, rock, and googly eyes. However… you can get spooky and paint your rocks with glowing paint creating glowing stone eyes – such a brilliant idea!
Glowing Stone Eyes from Red Ted Art

5. Cookie Monsters

Monsters that you can eat? Count every preschooler in, especially if they are presented with colorful icing and candy eyes. These easy monster cookies from Red Ted Art (yes, yet again!) are easy indeed, and cookies could be made in advance, so eager decorators can jump right into monster making.
Monster Cookies from Red Ted Art

4. Mix and Match Felt Monsters

My daughter made “fixed” monsters with her monster cards, but And Next Comes L took the same idea of moving parts to the next level with felt monster shapes that children can mix and match to their hearts’ content.
Mix and Match Felt Monsters from And Next Comes L

3. Organic Shape Monsters

Organic shape monsters is a terrific creative idea for kids age 4 and older from Our Art Lately. Arrange a yarn into a shape and let their imaginations go wild. It could be a fun evening project to do for the whole family.
Organic Shape Monsters from Our Art Lately

2. Craft Yarn Monsters

Good things come to people who are not afraid of messy art. They get to make yarn monsters like these ones from Hands On As We Grow.
Yarn Monsters from Hands On As We Grow

1. Apple Monsters

The #1 on my own WOW list – amazing edible apple monsters from Kids Activities Blog. Want one now! Will be making one soon!
Apple Monster Faces from Kids Activities Blog

More Halloween Ideas for Kids?

Follow my Halloween Pinterest Board.
Follow Natalie Planet Smarty Pants's board Halloween on Pinterest.

Your Turn

Which of these 10 ideas is your favorite? Or do you have your own?

Follow me