Finger Painting Orcas and Crumpled Paper Art

I’ve been soooo quiet lately in the blogging/instagraming world lately. Lots have been happening with this little family the last few weeks and compounded with GORGEOUS summer weather, we are hardly at home! Then…I started POTTY TRAINING with N. That means: All HANDS on DECK! Anyhoo, long story short, we hardly had time to do much arts and craft!

Last week, my uncle asked if J can help draw or paint an orca for his FB banner. Unfortunately for uncle T, J’s main subjects for painting and drawings are rockets and dinosaurs. Even then, they sometimes look like amoebas 😉 I also (jokingly) offered to draw him an “ugly” whale if he wants something whimsical and child-like.

Even hubby made a submission….not bad! But it’s not a killer whale…

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To build up the children’s existing interest in these marine mammals, we hired out a few library books on whales, orcas, and dolphins. We learned that orcas are a type of dolphin! It’s not a whale!

They loved reading Humphrey The Lost Whale. It’s a true story about a humpback whale which deviated from his usual Mexico to Alaska migration by entering the San Francisco Bay. In fact, he got “lost” twice! Once in 1985 and another time in 1990.

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We also watched Meatball (aka Nemo) a few times….even saw a Nemo fish at the mall!

Who’s that behind you Dory and Marlin??

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Where’s Meatball?

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Orca Arts and Craft

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper – white, dark blue, light blue, pink/orange
  • Paint – black and white
  • Sponge
  • Cotton ball
  • Black pen
  • Scissors
  • Glue

First, I  handed the kids some light blue paper to crumple. The more crumpled the better. Then I asked them to flatten the paper out with some assistance from mummy. Once it’s flattened, I had the kids lightly paint over the paper with sponges and white paint. This makes it look like snow.

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While we are waiting for the mountains to dry, I drew some orcas with a black pen. Then I asked the kids to fill in the BLACK part of the whale with their fingers using a dotting technique. I figure this is better than using a brush since they always end up using their hands when they’re painting.

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Looks pretty good! For N, she’s younger, so I helped guide her hands to where we want the paint to go.

Once the mountains were dry, I cut the paper into mountain landscapes.

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Then glue the landscape on top of an orange or pink piece of construction paper that will become your sunset sky.

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Then I tore the blue construction paper width-wise to make the ocean.

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Glue that underneath your mountains.

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Then glue your orca onto the picture.

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Take a cotton ball and dab a little bit of white paint onto the picture to make it look like waves and splashes in the picture. If your child is older, they can help tear/cut the paper, and dab the white paint.

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And voila!

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Guess by Touch – Sensory and Discovery Game

Boy kids feel grow FAST! We have just bought our grommies some new shoes from the Outlets not too long ago. I was about to toss the little shoe boxes out when I thought of a fun sensory game for our gnomes.

First I outlined a circle on the box where I’m going to cut holes for little hands to fit into. I made them a bit big for my tots and you will catch them peeking! Haha 😉

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Then use a craft blade to cut the circles out. Use a sawing motion to cut it out more easily. The two shoe boxes we have are the kinds with flip lids. I made sure the holes were made on the side away from the opening that way I can place items into the box without the kids seeing what it was. The lid blocks their view. Although, my children tried very hard, stretching their necks to see around the lids!!

If you use a convention two-piece shoe box where the lid comes completely off like a gift box, just put the hole anywhere where there is no cardboard overlap or it’d be hard to cut through so many layers! Top of the lid would work too but you’ll just have to make sure the kids aren’t peeking when you place your object in the box!

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I bought this from Michael’s.

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Then I sanded the hole’s ridges a bit so the little ones don’t get a papercut. You can even table around the jagged edges with duct tape or masking tape.

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Then I arranged two trays. One set is for them to SEE the objects and one set for them to guess by touch. They feel the item and guess which item in the control tray they are feeling.

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Here we go!

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It’s furry! It’s a pom pom!

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Oops!

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Dinosaur!

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Then I gave them some wooden shapes and letters from Melissa and Doug to guess

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OH it’s coooold mama! ICE!

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You can easily mix things up and have different themes. You can have a nature theme with leaves, rocks, sand, dirt, feathers, sea shells, pine cones, etc. Or  you can  have a kitchen food theme with uncooked pasta, uncooked rice, flour, salt, fruits and veggies.

It’s always great to learn while you play! This activity is a fantastic way for little ones to learn to discover, observe, categorize, and sort using their sense of touch. It was amazing to see and hear my near 4yo’s deductive reasoning and logic to work out what he was holding and feeling.

Hope you guys have as much fun as my little ones did! Be warned….kids younger than 4 are extremely tempted to peek but our 2yo had too much fun anyway!

National Sorry Day, Australia – Aboriginal Art – Dot Painting

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia. It has been an annual event since 1997 to remember and atone for policies that ripped 50,000 Aboriginal children from their families, resulting in a “Stolen Generation.”

Image from GetUp , a not-for-profit organisation. See link for more information on National Sorry Day.

I thought today would be the perfect day for the kids (and myself haha) to try dot painting!

Image from Kirkland Museum.

Dot painting is a traditional visual form of storytelling by the Aborigines of Australia. Natural canvas such as leaves, bark and wood are painted with paint made of sand, ochre, and seeds. Paintings often depict elaborate patterns and symbols. These symbols often help create Dreamtime stories which taught about life and Creation. To read more about Dreamtime stories, the origins of Aboriginal Dot Painting, or to see more examples of Dot Painting, visit:

Didges We Doo

National Museum of Australia

Kate Owen Gallery

For our dot painting lesson, we’ll need:

  • Q-tips (cotton swabs or sticks)
  • Paint (we stuck with our Crayola Washable Paints but acrylics is preferred)
  • Construction paper (or you can use leaves, rocks, tree bark, etc)
  • Didgeridoo music

For our little gnomes, I first showed them some pictures of dot painting on the laptop. I explained to them the origins of dot painting and how the paintings were used by Aboriginal elders to tell stories to children. Then I found some symbols used in Aboriginal art.

Aboriginal Art Graphic Symbols and Meanings

Image from Aboriginal Art Shop

aboriginal symbols

Image from Didges We Doo

Then I drew an outline of a sea turtle on each of their white construction paper

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Then I helped demonstrate and explain the technique behind dot painting. Tell your child to gently dip their Q-tip in their paint and dot along the outline of their picture. If you push too hard, the dot will be wider. Keep your Q-tip as straight as possible or your dots will look more like inconsistent blobs. 🙂 This is a great way to practice our fine motor skills! It does take some concentration.

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So far so good….

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Uh oh! The temptation to use our fingers and hands was too great!

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Well, that escalated quickly!

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Haha I wonder what story this tells….of poor sea turtle.

Managed to save one. Here’s the unsullied version of a fish and an Aboriginal symbol for “meeting place.”

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Morning at Super Franks on a Stormy Day!

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We’re in the middle of a terrible drought. Having a stormy and rainy day isn’t such a terrible thing! Oops, except J hates thunder 😦 No napping today!!

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I’ve been wanting to take the kids to Super Franks since we’ve moved here end of last year. It is our local entertainment center for kids here in Pleasanton. AKA “soft play” in Australian lingo. Being that there’s a thunderstorm in the forecast….and that we temporarily have a second car, we finally made a trip there today!

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Here’s my review of Super Franks:

At a glance:

  • Clean
  • Affordable ($8 per child and 2 free accompany adult, additional adult $2 each)
  • Targets family with children 7 and under
  • Scheduled activities and entertainment each day
  • Starbucks on site
  • 6 themed rooms
  • Play equipment look fresh and clean
  • Lots of seating area throughout the establishment for parents and tired kids
  • Plenty of dining areas upstairs and downstairs. Here is their menu

We started off in the Farm. We were in there for almost an hour!! The kids loved it! It had a small infant/toddler climb structure with a slide and a larger (outdoors) structure for older and more adventurous kids. It’s one of the smaller rooms and it quickly got crowded. It was actually the kids who wanted to leave in the end to check out the rest of the establishment.

Here is the larger cubby with double slides. J had no troubles climbing but N needed some assistance.

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Josh wasn’t too interested in the Mini Gym and it does look like it would appeal more to older kids with a basketball court and zip line.

As you venture further, you’ll find two more rooms: The Arcade Room and Safari Room

The Arcade has roughly 30-40 rides, video, and redemption games. Our 2 and near 4 year olds loved the rides and games especially since they were catered just for their size and age. All games and rides range between 1-3 tokens. Each token is $.25. We were trying to start this one game and it didn’t seem to work. When I went to push the “eject coin” button, it spat out 4 tokens! Bonus. I guess other kids had trouble with the machine.

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We went into the Safari Room towards the end since they had “music circle” scheduled at 11am. I’ll come back to this room further into the review.

We went upstairs (yes this place is so huge that there is an upstairs too) and found The Fish Tank and Taught Town Village.

The Fish Tank is a dimmed room filled with black light and an (glowing) “Under the Sea” theme. The room has a foam pit with soft ramps for easy access, yellow submarine to play pretend with, a large jumpy, and other toys to play with. Just watch out for little ones in the dark!

The foam pit. The kids loved diving into it and N loved putting the foam blocks back into the pit. She a tidy little thing!

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We all live in the yellow submarine…the yellow submarine…

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Then I convinced the kids to check out what else the place had to offer and we went to Taught Town Village on the other side of the Fish Tank.

This room was fantastic! It had rides, a slide, and play houses that make up a miniature town! You can even play dress up as a fireman. A great room for kids with great imagination and have a love for pretend play.

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After spending a little bit of time here, we decided to go check out the Music Circle time at the Safari Adventure room.

Unfortunately, we missed most of the Music Circle time because we were having too much fun upstairs. Luckily we caught the end and Ne got to enjoy a quick song/dance and bubble time!

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J also braved the huge double slide! We saw one outside of our local theater the other day and unfortunately the little gnomes were too nervous to do it on their own. This time, I was able to accompany J once and he did it again all by himself. Proud mama! I think he was pretty pleased with himself too 😉 Just look at this tough guy here…

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There were tons of other fun toys to keep these guys busy too.

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This picture doesn’t do it justice but I just love the decor here. The kids loved it too….often pointing out the animals on the walls. The elephant was a huge hit with N of course!

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In a nutshell, today was a big success. The kids had a fantastic time and got to rid some of those beans. There were times where I thought I had lost N especially in the arcade area. That was a little scary. She’s a bit fearless and the room is quite open and it’s not enclosed by gates like the other rooms. She could have ventured into the restrooms or out the front. I can see this can be worse on a busy day or a busier time of day. I was amazed to see just how much people were there on a Thursday morning!

I receive regular special offers and programs via email after I had signed up on their website. I think they often have coupons for free Starbucks drink and tokens. So definitely worth checking out!

We didn’t buy their food but they have a pretty good range! Check out their menu in above link.

After we got into the car and onto the road, J already asked if we can come back tomorrow. So that’s his review for you there!

Earth Day – Crumpled Recycled Paper Art Project

It may be hard to teach young toddlers the concept of Earth Day and recycling, but there are way to get them accustomed and familiar to it. Our kids usually comes with us when we take the rubbish out since it’s on the way to the elevators.

We have two garbage shoots. One is for general waste and one for recycling. They really enjoy helping us throw empty plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, etc down the garbage shoot. Near our mailboxes, there is also a recycle bin for junk mail (paper). They love helping me recycle the junk mail 🙂 Imagine your kids fighting over hot deals from Safeway.

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Today I wanted to do an Earth Day art project using up some of our used construction paper. They were previously used to doodle on.

Materials:

  • Used and/or new construction paper (Black, Blue, Green, Brown)
  • Scissors
  • Paint (White, Green, Brown)
  • Sponge (or paint brushes)
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape
  • Toothbrush

Music / Videos:

I looked up recycling music and found some goodies on YouTube!

Jack Johnson: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Going Green Song (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

Tom Chapin: Recycle Song

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I tried to find the biggest circle template to fit the paper. I ended up using a tupperware lid. Trace the large circle onto your blue paper. You will use this circle as your planet earth.

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Then I did a quick Google search for an image of earth. I searched for the Americas. You can choose your own view of earth of course!

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I found this from Fine Art America. I only used this image to help me draw my version of the Americas (no where as nice haha). You will see it further down the process.

Draw your continent onto a brown or green paper. Cut out your continents.

Have your child decorate the black paper with stars! We used an old toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush in white paint and spray paint the stars onto the black paper. Help little ones as they might not have the dexterity to do so. I had them hold the brush with one hand and scrape the brush head with the other hand’s thumb. Or you can guide them with your hands.

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After they’re happy with their stars, put it aside to dry and hand them their blue circles and brown/green continents to crumple! Take care NOT to rip the paper!

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After they are nicely crumpled, you can paint over them with your sponges or brushes.

With your blue planet, you will want to use the white paint to make clouds and storms! Tell your littlies that it is OK not to have your planet completely covered because you want to leave gaps for the ocean!

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Once they are done painting clouds, set these aside to dry and start painting the continents.

If you have a brown continent, you will want to use green paint. If you have a green continent, you will want to use brown.

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We didn’t have any brown paint, so I mixed yellow with purple. You can basically mix any primary color with its complementary color. Other colors you can mix: blue + orange; red + green

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Once these are done, set these aside to dry as well.

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While waiting for them to dry, I’ve cut out 3 arrows for each planet to represent the 3 Rs of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Once everything is dry, glue your blue planet onto the black starry backdrop. Then glue your continent onto your planet. Have it at an angle so it looks like it’s on it’s axial tilt. More realistic that way! To geek out your kids, you can explain that the Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5° away from the plane of the ecliptic. And it’s because of this tilt that we have seasons here on Earth! Whether you’re tilted towards or away from the sun! Ok, quick lesson over.

To finish the project off, I glued and taped my arrows (with a twist to make it 3-D and look more like the recycling symbol). I wrote the 3 R’s of Recycling on each arrow.

Note my initial typo….”reduce, reuCe, recycle.” The horror!!

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OK fixed!

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Mummy brains….

Happy EARTH DAY everyone! Please teach our children to help look after our beautiful planet.

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X – Rays and Sun Images – Activities with Toddlers

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Looking at X-Ray Images

I found some old x-rays of the kids the other day and thought it would be fun to show them what their bones look like!

Here’s J’s back, shoulders, ribs and arms! This was taken when he was only a day old!

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And here is a photo of my dating scan when I was 8 weeks along with N 🙂 The kids giggled when I pointed out they were only little eggs at that stage!

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X-Ray Paintings or Magic Paintings

Last week, I saw these gorgeous homemade “x-rays” on a fellow Instamom’s account. For the LIFE of me I cannot remember her account name nor find her account! I really wanted to thank her showing us this fun project!

What you will need:

  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Paper Towel
  • Dark-colored Paint (we used tempera paint because that’s what we have handy)
  • Paint prushes

Since the kids have never done this before and are still beginners when it comes to drawing and painting, I drew a few images to show and tell first.

I ripped two sheets of paper towels as you will need to sandwich your images. I kept the two sheets attached to make it easier to fold and align.

Take your glue and carefully draw your image or write your secret words on one of the sheets. If your paper towel is larger in size, just fold a single sheet in half before you apply your glue image/message.

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Then carefully fold the paper towels to sandwich your image.

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With your paint, you will want to water it down with a bit of water. I eyeballed the amount but it was about 1 dollop (1 tsp) of paint with 1-2 tbsp of water. Mix it real well.

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Then paint!

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This was the sample I showed the kids. Then I showed them a picture of a hand x-ray I found online.

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Josh immediately recognized it as a hand.

Then I showed them my next magic image:

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Not bad hey??

Now the little gnomes have their go:

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J had so much fun he wanted to make an image of a rocket too

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Sun (Burn) Images

It’s been beautifully sunny and warm lately. Every time we head out for the day, I lather the kids up with sunscreen. Here was a good way for me to demonstrate why we wear sunscreen!

This wonderful idea was from my Instagram pals over at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. They created images using light from the sun using light-reflective paper. Here is the DIY on their Pinterest page. If you are ever in their area, visit! They do some amazing and FUN activities there

Unfortunately, we don’t live near Pittsburgh and we don’t have any photosensitive paper + chemicals used for developing photos (a lost art?!). Luckily, PGHkids suggested using a plain black construction paper on a really sunny day. Can you see where this is going?

What you will need:

  • Dark colored construction paper ( we used black and brown)
  • Shapes and cut outs (we used beach toys and recycled construction paper the kids had drawn on prior)
  • Sunny spot

Place your shapes on top of you dark construction paper

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Find a sunny spot….

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Leave your sun pictures to “burn through” and…go play 🙂

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Come home and check out your sun images!

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Pretty neat!

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And kids, this is why you need to wear sunscreen!! Like the shapes on our paper, sunscreen protects your skin!

Sorry my pictures got turned somehow! :-/ ?

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Practicing Our Numbers and Letters – Name & Number Recognition + Tracing (Part 2)

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It’s been so difficult lately with the kids not sleeping as well at night. It might be something to do with the warmer nights. Whatever it is, it’s taking it’s toll on me! EXHAUSTION! Even after a quick shut-eye during their naps aren’t cutting it. Migraines!! Ahhhhh…..hence the lack of blogging lately.

However, I’ve been dying to share more of our letters and numbers activities!!

Writing in Shaving Cream with Scent Reinforcements 

Back when I was studying for the SATs (gosh that was centuries ago), I remember reading about how citrus scents can improve cognitive function like visual-motor responses, provide alertness, and assist in memory recall! I have to admit, if I smell a certain brand of perfume, it’d remind me of my days at the university because it was the brand my professor wore. Similarly, when I was living in Australia, if I smelled pine, I’d get homesick as it reminded me of the pine trees in America. How about a special dish that only your mom used to make? Anton Ego from Ratatouille anyone?

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Today, I cut up some ripe oranges and fresh lemons for the kids to smell, touch, and taste while we did our name recognition activity.

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I had them smell and taste some slices.

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Then placed sheets of foil in front of them to write their names on shaving cream. I’ve also presented their names with wooden letters so they can see how it should be spelled.

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Josh loves the letter “O” 🙂

To help him remember “J,” I told him to remember that it’s the letter that looks like a hook. For “H,” I told him it looks like a little bridge. Seems to work!

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So messy 😀

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Numbers Recognition and Counting – using foam numbers, index cards, cocktail sticks, and bottle caps

Here’s an easy activity you can do with your toddler. Although, it was not easy for big brother J to concentrate while little sister N was eagerly helping 😉

Here are my materials:

  • Homemade number flash cards with numbers written along with number of dots associated with that number
  • Cocktail stirrers
  • Bottle caps
  • $1-3 foam numbers from Target

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First, I laid out the cards from 1 – 10 and asked J to match the foam numbers to the cards. We read each number out loud.

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Then we sorted the bottle caps by color and counted how many there were. We found the matching index card and foam numbers. If J got stuck, I’d remind him to count the number of dots on the index card and match the bottle caps to the way the dots are drawn on the cards.

We used the stir sticks the same way and we used the sticks to trace the numbers like an ink-less pencil.

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We even sneaked in a little bit of simple maths (addition). Uh oh Tiger Mom alert! Poor kids.

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Wipe Off Activity Books

We’ve bought these activity books before but after our recent influx of tracing letters and numbers, J and N have refreshed their interests in these. J has been addicted! I couldn’t believe how his tracing improved so much in just a week. It was like he went to bed and woke up a year older!

We bought our wipe off books from Target for $4.99. They are by TRENDenterprises.com . They are full of fun activities, aligns with learning standards, and have bright, colorful pictures kids love…

I also found some good ones on Amazon by Roger Priddy.

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Love it when you can see good results from all the hard work for both parent and child! Happy learning everyone!