Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stamped Letters

Today we played with concrete stepping stone letter stamps and play- doh. Unfortunately, my well thought out plan did not go so well. I did not realize when I bought the stamps that there was a letter on each side, which made it very difficult for the boys to try and look for the letters that they needed.

I made cards for them to match the letters to, of different items such as animals that we recently saw at a local animal farm,

favorite characters,

different family members,

and ourselves.

The letters stamped very well into the dough but I just think that my boy's were to young for this one, although they did have fun. Then again they always do when there is play doh involved.

Why we need to work a little harder on letter recognition:
2 year old: I need the rainbow!! = letter c
4 year old: I need a number 2!! = letter A

Food Additives and Hyper-Activity

Something that I have been slowly trying to take out of my son's diet is un-natural food colorings. The following is an excerpt from an article that I recently read online:

"Food dye ADHD additives that cause reactions are Carmoisine, Tartrazine, Ponceau, Sunset Yellow, Carmoisine, Quinoline Yellow, and Allura Red. For instance Sunset Yellow (also known as Orange Yellow S, FD&C Yellow) has been known for inducing allergic reactions. It can be found in many products such as any orange, apricot or citrus jam or jellies, marzipan, hot chocolate mix, packaged soup mixes, breadcrumbs, cheese sauces and soft drinks and many other products that are yellow, orange, and red.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest would like the FDA to ban eight (Yellow 5 and 6, Red 3 and 40, Blue 1 and 2, Green 3, and Orange B) of the most common artificial dyes, or at least affix a warning label to products that contain the dyes such as "Warning: The artificial coloring in this food causes hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children." And, did you know that food companies are, as we speak, phasing out dyes in foods in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe? At McDonald's in the UK the strawberry syrup on a sundae is a red color from strawberries and in the US; the red color comes not from strawberries but a coal-derived chemical also known by the name, Red 40. That is insane!

Let's face it our kids love color and that is the only reason that children's snack food and cereals all contain the food dyes. But the color is only for appeal; too attract the child to want it, it holds no nutritional value. Even if your child does not have food dye ADHD allergies then why expose them to harmful chemicals such as these?"

The McDonald's comment shocked me until I read that a lot of food companies partake in the same process. I plan on doing a lot more research in the near future so I can make wiser decisions for my children.

$5.00 CVS Challenge - Week 8

The following items would have cost $29.85 without any coupons, sales or Extra Bucks but cost me$5.53 out of pocket, a savings of $24.32.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Simple Math Grid Games

We played a fun game this afternoon during lunch that my son truly enjoyed. I know that it was probably not a good idea to play "AS" we were eating with the dirty money and all, but with that being said we had a good time and we got some number practice in.

I quickly made a grid using Word then searched the internet for "Ham" from Toy Story graphics, printed them out and laminated each sheet for durability.

After my son took a nap I quickly found a whole bunch of free, already made Math Grid Games at PreKinders some with really cute themes so go check them out.
It is such a quick and simple way to get some practice in and can be easily made to match what ever theme your child is into!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Sticking To My Budget

In an effort to keep our money budgeted my new plan is to purchase a store gift card and try to stick to that amount monthly. For instance, for groceries and miscellaneous items that I usually pick up at Target I would put no more than $50.00 at a time. I always have extra cash on me just in case I go over but I spend a lot less when I "think" I only have $50.00.

Since I like to play along with the CVS $5.00 Challenge on Keeping the Kingdom First, I put $15.00 on the card. It adds an extra spin to the game as I see how long I can keep the card going for using my coupons and Extra Bucks plus it stops me from going crazy at the register on things I don't need like lip balm and candy!

Wordless Wednesday

Attention Target Shoppers - There is a strange kid on the loose, proceed with caution as he will not let go of the boots, gloves, flashlight or 70's style sunglasses!!!!

For more Wordless Wednesday posts please check out 5 Minutes for Mom or Go Graham Go!

My Second Blog Award

I wanted to say thank you to Jenny at Our Nifty Notebook for nominating me for my second blog award. I love Jenny's blog and it is one that I frequent often.

Award Rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

Pass the award to 15 (or whatever number of) other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are some blogs that I have come across recently and enjoy ( I only chose to list 5 since the rules suggest listing newly discovered blogs and I haven't had the chance to look for many new ones):
Thanks again to Jenny at Our Nifty Notebook, please check her blog out too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CVS Challenge - Week 7

It has been a great week at CVS this week (yes I went on Sunday morning even on vacation to take advantage of the super sale. The items below would have cost a total of $25.88 without sales, coupons or Extra Bucks but I paid only $9.97 out of pocket (a savings of 15.91) plus I earned $10.99 in Extra Bucks - more than I actually paid for the merchandise!!!!!!

Trip 2: All of the items below (also a small bottle of Tums which did not make it into the picture) would have cost a total of $44.03 without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks but I only paid $15.96 (I forgot to bring my Extra Bucks with me to the store), a savings of $28.07 plus I earned $4.00 in Extra Bucks.

Trip 3: The items below would have cost $8.27 but were free because I used some Extra Bucks.

Since next week's circular will be for June, here is the total that I have spent/saved in May shopping at CVS:
Total amount of merchandise purchased (without sales, coupons or Extra Bucks) = $234.87
Total spent out of pocket = $64.64
Total Saved = $170.23 (72%) plus I still have $11.00 in Extra Bucks to spend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day!!!

As I sit here this morning finalizing our family's plans for the holiday weekend. I wanted to wish my family, friends and e-buddies a safe and happy holiday.

Remember to take a moment to remember and be thankful for all the men and women who fought and those who are still fighting for the things we have!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Games We Play

Although we do not have a particular "Family Game Night" , playing board games with children of all ages is something that I believe is a great learning tool besides the fact that it is a great bonding experience where everyone is settled down and focusing on having fun together! We try to play games together several times a week.

My four year old loves playing games with me and I use his enthusiasm as a tool to get our "speech therapy homework" accomplished. Before he is allowed to take his turn he must first accomplish his task whether pronounce a word correctly or blow a horn to work on building his muscle tone. Sometimes he is so involved in playing a game that he does not realize that he is also getting speech practice in at the same time.

If a game is to difficult for him to understand or the little guy wants to play too, I just change the rules a little to make it more fun for all. Playing board games help teach them turn-taking, healthy competition, communication skills, vocabulary, visual perception, eye hand coordination and to focus their attention.

Here are some of our recent favorites:

1. Bouncin Bunnies by I-Play

2. Candy Land Castle Game by Milton Bradley

3. Cookin' Cookies Lunch Box Game by Fundex

4. Don't Wake Daddy by Parker Bros.

5. Matching Middles Oreo Game by Fisher Price

What are your favorite board games to play with your children?

Emerging Literacy Survey

Have you ever been concerned about your preschoolers learning abilities?

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, learning disabilities are often hard to pinpoint in young children. Most children have some difficulties with learning and behavior from time to time. If your child is having a clear or persistent pattern of problems with one or more of these behaviors during the early school years, and the problem persists over time, you should consider seeking further advice:

Learning the alphabet
Rhyming words
Connecting sounds and letters
Copying letters and numbers
Learning new vocabulary
Retelling stories
Remembering newly learned information
Paying attention
Playing with peers
Moving from one activity to another
Following directions and routines

I had some concerns for my son so together we recently sat and took the 20 question online screening available on the National Center for Learning Disabilities website. Although my son is still having loads of trouble with learning his letters, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that he did possess a lot of other early reading skills!!!

The site also has some great resources and a few free online games so give it a try.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

$5.00 CVS Challenge - Weeks 5 & 6

My week 5 had nothing good available for our family either by using coupons or obtaining Extra Bucks so I avoided the store completely.

I guess I missed the store all week and that is why week 6 started off with 2 trips!!

All of the items above would have cost a total of $39.21 with no sales, coupons or Extra Bucks, but I paid $6.48 - a savings of $32.73. Plus I earned $3.00 in Extra Bucks to use on my next trip (which was 2 miles up the road).

All of the above items would have cost $35.15 without sales, coupons and Extra Bucks. I spent a total of $9.47 out of pocket which is a savings of $25.68. Plus I earned an additional $3.00 in Extra Bucks.
Total value of merchandise purchased today - $74.36 , by only spending - $15.95 ($58.41 saved/79%).

***As a side note that I learned through viewing the $5.00 CVS Challenge entries - I laid out $2.00 to buy the 4 bottles of Dry Idea Deodarant (a product that I normally do not use) but I had obtained $4.00 in Extra Bucks, so I earned $2.00 for buying it.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Thanks to a little inspiration from Marie over at Makes and Takes with her great pictures and the simple directions included in the Sure-Jell package, the boys and I had great time making Strawberry Freezer Jam on Friday.

I wanted to keep some little fruit chunks in there but it proved to be a little difficult to teach a 4 and a 2 year old the concept of "pulsing" the food processor. I think next time we will try mashing the fruit with a potato masher instead, as recommended in the directions that come with the Sure-Jell package. We are thinking of making Strawberry-Blueberry Jam next time.

I should have taken this picture before we added the berries. The whole bowl was just sugar!!! The standard recipe takes 4 cups!!!!!! I am thinking that next time we will look for the "less sugar needed" package of pectin.

Here are the "fruits" of our labor. The only bad part is that the boys were having a hard time waiting the 24 hours before you can eat it.

But Saturday afternoon, we went through a half of loaf of bread.

The only ingredients needed were:
Sugar (lots of it)
Pectin (such as Sure-Jell, Ball, etc.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recycling Old Artwork into New Projects

We recycled artwork that we recently made using simple pattern templates from Preschool Express and our Do-A-Dot Markers into Lacing Cards. I simply laminated the finished artwork, cut out the shape of the template and punched holes.

Lacing Cards are a great educational tool for preschoolers as they help promote fine motor skills and visual planning, which is something that I work on with both of my boys as much as possible.

One of the good things about making your own cards is that by varying the number of holes punched you can change the difficulty level. I use less holes in the cards that I make for my little guy so it is not so overwhelming for him.

I have also made them by laminating old cards or party invitations.

We like to use plastic lanyard string with a pony bead tied to the end.

My son's occupational therapist frequently has my son lace a border around his pictures on regular construction paper using curling ribbon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Coupon Organization

Recently a friend asked, how I keep track of all my coupons and receipts. Here is my solution -

A small photo album that is meant to hold 100 photographs is the perfect size to hold coupons and receipts and only cost me $2.00. The address labels and stick-on index tabs make it super easy to thumb through.

The main labels for my book are as follows:

  1. Kids

  2. Household

  3. Cleaning

  4. Laundry

  5. Health & Beauty

  6. Frozen

  7. Dairy

  8. Condiments

  9. Soup

  10. Sides

  11. Snacks

  12. General Grocery

  13. Baking

  14. Drinks

  15. Stores

Each section is then labeled with address label stickers with a "sub-category" such as -Health & Beauty: soap, teeth, shampoo & conditioner, etc.....

It works for me especially since it is fairly compact and fits right into my diaper bag or pocketbook.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Having Some Fun With Do-A-Dot Art!

Although when I first saw these "Dot Markers" in the store my first instinct was to think that they were just over-priced bingo dabbers. Then I started thinking are regular bingo markers non-toxic, conform to the astm standards and most importantly "WASHABLE"? So when I received my 40% off coupon for Michael's I picked up a box for the boys.

We have been having a lot of fun this week making different things with them. Including "tracing" our names...

Then I made a grid using Word and printed it out to work on some Fine Motor and Eye Hand Coordination skills. I asked the boys to put one dot in each square. The two year just had a ball putting dots everywhere and anywhere where my four year old took some time with this one.

This was not my original idea as I saw it on someone's blog but for the life of me I can not find it again, I know I should have written it down especially since I thought it was such a good idea!! If someone is reading this and knows where the idea was posted please let me know so I can give credit where it is due.

Then I decided to make a sequence card using the grid from the project above. We do this a lot with counters and such but my son did much better with the marker version of this game. I think it may have been that the lines were longer allowing for more repetition.

Then I printed out some basic shape templates to decorate from over at Preschool Express, which is an excellent site if you are not familiar with it.

And last but not least, we did some pictures from the Do-A-Dot series of "coloring" books although I forgot to take a picture of a finished product.

The boys had a great time with these markers and the mess was very minimal. I also think that with there grooved sides it was also good practice for my son to work on his "tripod" grasp which he is still having some trouble with.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Imagination Drawings

My son has been having some trouble using his imagination during play.

Today we did an art project that worked on using his imagination and helped with sparking his creativity. I gave him two pictures that I drew of a truck and a house. I asked him to turn the truck into a fire truck (his favorite) and to fill the "rooms" of the house with his family doing things in each room.

Here are his completed pictures, on which I wrote his comments on as we went over them together.

It was great to see that he put some thought into his pictures as he usually just scribbles to get something colored in. It was also great to be able to talk about the pictures in detail. I think he enjoyed working on this one.