Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WFMW - "Salad" Gift Basket

Themes, are what work for me!

I love themes, keeping with a theme helps me plan so much; parties, homeschooling my little ones and most importantly presents. I love to give themed presents and gift baskets.

For instance, when checking a relative's gift registry for her bridal shower I saw that she was registered for a salad bowl, so I made this -

Here is a close-up of the "salad"...

I couldn't just give a salad bowl!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Giant Pretzel Jar - Ideas Wanted

Any Ideas?

Well, we just finished our gigantic jar of pretzels and now as I sit here staring at the empty container I can't bring myself to throw it out. I keep looking at it, thinking that there has to be something I can use it for...
Something crafty for this kids or myself, a toy for the dog, a giant "ocean in the bottle" or a giant "I Spy Bottle"??!?!?
Any ideas?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tot School - Dinosaur Theme

This is my fifth week of participating in Tot School by posting my learning activities with my two boys who are 29 and 52 months of age. Through reading the posts from Tot School I found a wonderful blog called Homeschool Creations who sponsors Preschool Corner.

Since I usually work with both of my boys at the same time and there is a two year age gap, I realize that some of my content my not be age appropriate for some of the tots in Tot School and would be a better fit for Preschool Corner so I figured it would be okay to post to both sites at the same time (I hope that is okay with everyone).
Since this is my first post for Preschool Corner I would formally like to introduce myself. Please feel free to read my first Tot School post here to read about my boys and what my goals and plans for teaching them are.

Dinosaur Theme Week

The little guy worked all week on a little dinosaur song that we learned from Kid Soup about colors and dinosaurs. I also printed the dinosaurs from there (I never did have a chance to properly cut them out or laminate them).
Also from my Kid Soup membership, I printed counting mats with pictures of dinosaurs with numbers for the big guy. We used our dog's biscuits as dinosaur bones (I wanted to paint them white for a better dinosaur bone effect but was afraid that my dog would get a hold of them).

The big guy tried his hand at tracing objects for the first time using our old Discovery Toys Place & Trace. He still needs a little more coordination with using markers before he can master the task.

The little guy worked on the "puzzles", especially the dinosaur one.

When the boys were sleeping I traced the dinosaur templates on black construction paper with a thin line of Elmer's Glue when once it dried made it very hard to see the images. In the morning I told the boys that there was "fossils" on the paper and gave them chalk to rub on the paper, revealing the dinosaur shapes.

The big guy made a paper plate volcano as a prop for his plastic dinosaurs.

This by far was the kid's favorite book of the week as David Carter pop-up books usually are. This book usually shows up at bedtime several times a week. Both boys love it.

I hid these "Treasure Stones" in our garden for the boys first to find, then break open to find little dinosaurs inside. To see my whole post on our Treasure Stones go here.

We played alot with our dinosaur counters this week,

I photocopied pages from the booklet (and laminated them) that came in our bucket of dinosaur counters for the big guy to use as sorting mats. I thought he was going to have trouble with it as he really had to sit and look hard at the line drawings and match the plastic counters to the pictures but he sailed right through it!

The little guy sorted them by color.

Here are some of the other books we focused on this week:

I still have lots of dinosaur themed things planned but unfortunately ran out of time this week. I will save them for the next time that dinosaurs come into out rotation. In the mean time, if you are interested to see what other parents are doing to teach their kids please stop by Homeschool Creations and 1+1+1=1.

Treasure Stones

I know that there have been loads of posts on various blogs on how to make "Treasure Stones" but some recipes differ slightly so I figured I would post how we made them.

First, I started with small plastic dinosaurs...

Then I mixed together:

1 cup flour

1 cup "used" coffee grinds

1/2 cup salt

1/4 cup sand (taken right out of the kid's sand box)

1 cup water

I would recommend adding the water slowly until you have a nice dough mixture, I added in the full cup of water and it made the dough difficult to work with and very hard to dry thoroughly.

I found it best to spoon a small amount in my hand, place my trinket in the middle, slide it on to a cookie sheet and add another glob right on top to close in the trinket.

From the different recipes that I read you can either bake in the oven or dry in the sun for 3 days. I opted for the oven (125 degrees for 20-30 mins, fingers crossed that I did not melt my dinosaurs). As I mentioned above, I think I added to much water as they were not fully dried and had some soft spots and were definitely not rock hard so I put them outside in the sun for an additional day.

Our big guy opted to use Daddy's tools instead of the kid set which made me a little nervous. ADULT SUPERVISION IS REQUIRED WHEN USING "BIG BOY" TOOLS, as you can see in the next picture how close he came to cracking his skull instead of the "stones".

Daddy stepped in to help the little guy.

The boys had a great time, digging and excavating for their dinosaurs!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tot School - No Theme Week

I am sad to say that our "Dinosaur Themed Tot School" week was a bust this week!

First, it was my son's last week of actual district pre-school so there was lots of things planned outside of the home for the week.

Secondly, I bought two new games for the kids at the beginning of the week which quickly became favorites in the house and was all they wanted to do when we were inside.

And last but not least, I ran out of paint to make "dinosaur bones" for our paleontologist dig I had planned and the coffee grinds that I had drying to make dinosaur stones got moldy and grew "hair" so I had to throw it out.

The good news - the boys played wonderfully together with their new games, took turns, were not sore losers or winners for that matter and almost everything is reading for dinosaurs next week!!!!

Here are some pictures of the boys playing with their new games.

Hiss by Gamewright was by far the favorite of my two year old and it is an excellent game to reconfirm colors and to work on visual discrimination and orientation!!!!

The second game was "Feed The Kitty", again by Gamewright. It was a cute game too but the big guy had a harder time with winning/losing with this one.
We did get in some Occupational Therapy while playing with Perfection. You can see my original post on the Perfection game here and some name spelling with our "magical rocks"

To see what other had planned for their tot's this week click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My New Blog

Concrete Cowgirl Cooks...

I would like to introduce you to my new blog, Concrete Cowgirl Cooks! Please stop by when you get the chance and follow me along my cooking journey with Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. I plan on working my way through her delicious recipes one at a time just like the now famous "Julie/Julia Project" but with Biscuits and Gravy instead of Boeuf Bourguignon!

Unlike Julie from the blog, book and movie, I have NO real "joy" of cooking, actually I do not like it and I hate cleaning up from making dinner even more! I also lack ambition and cooking creativity and since I am truly a baker at heart, lack any confidence to shake things up a bit.

Why Ree - her recipes are approachable, her skill of writing invites you to try, while her photography "holds your hand" as you go along.

No, I am not trying to get a book deal or movie (especially since I don't know who the perfect star to play my part would be)...I am just learning to make some delicious meals for my family to work into my now non-existent repertoire so we are a not stuck with Meatloaf Mondays, Turkey Tuesdays, etc.

I hope in the end, I can really "WOW' my family, friends and myself with my cooking...wish me luck!

I Am a Member....

I am so giddy with excitement!!!!!

Kristen from the awesome blog "We are THAT Family" just posted a little snippet about my blog and has officially inducted me into her "society"!!!
I am so happy you would think I won an Academy Award.

If you are ever in need of a good laugh, stop by Kristen's blog for some real honest family humor! Her blog always puts a smile on my face and I am proud to be a part of her clan!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fun Dinner With The Kids

"Hairy Hot Dogs"
I love the fact that because my husband is a fireman there are plenty of occasions that he works nights, especially because I can get away with making this for dinner!!!!

The boys and I had lots of fun putting the hot dogs on to the spaghetti.

Just throw in a pot of boiling water and here is the result (sorry for the overly bright picture - my flash was a little screwy tonight).

I originally saw this done on the blog Plum Pudding.

But we jazzed them up a bit by adding some of the Velveeta cheese sauce from a package of Kraft Velveeta Shells and Cheese (I saved the pasta shells for an upcoming dinosaur project that we will be making).

The boys loved them but I got a little nervous that it might be a choking hazard for my little guy so I cut his up, which did not make him to happy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Calling All Women....

I have a question to ask....

Every time I see the commercial on television for the Clear Blue Easy brand pregnancy tests, I always seem to giggle when they make the following statement -

Clearblue® Easy Digital Pregnancy Test –Unmistakably clear results in words Did you know that 1 in 4 women can misread a traditional pregnancy test result?

I am just curious if this is true because I personally never had a problem, have any of you?????

The kids are still napping, can you tell that I am bored?!?!

WFMW - The Perfection Game and Fine Motor Skills

I am always on the look out for cheap ideas to teach my sons especially those items that are great multi-taskers. This week it is the Milton Bradley game of "Perfection" that works for me.

We use it as a puzzle to practice fine motor skills since the little shapes can only be picked up and placed in using a mature "pincer grip", great for shape recognition, eye-hand coordination and when I tell my 4 year old to start at the top left and work across each row he is practicing a great early literacy skill while training himself to think left to right, top to bottom!!!! All that and we have never even turned it on yet!
Now that is a great multi-tasker!!

Improving Hand Strength and Writing Skills

Isn't he cute....he loves to color (and hoard all the crayons and markers as he works). If you look at the next two pictures you can also see that he still has an immature hold on those crayons and does not use a "tripod" grasp.

you will not get those extra crayons and markers away from him!

Since my big guy has had lots of Occupational Therapy, I feel that I have some tricks up my sleeve to help the little guy with his coloring and writing skills that I would like to share with you all.

First of all, a lot of our crayons look like the one below. Actually we have a whole box of them! Some were broken unintentionally, others were broken by the big guy when he was learning to color because he would hold them so hard his knuckles would turn white and they would just snap in half and most of them I just broke in two as soon as they came home.

No I am not just a crayon murderer, the smaller size no longer fits in the palm of his hands, promoting the proper tripod grasp.

We have not tried these markers yet made by Crayola but they would work the same way due to their smaller size (they are on my list when I find them on sale).
Another great idea is to use an easel and have them color and write on it instead of a flat surface. Working on a vertical surface helps strengthen the whole arm which is an important foundation skill for writing plus it helps position the wrist correctly.

This is the type of tabletop easel that we use at our house. It is made by Battat for Parent's Magazine Toys, I purchased it a long time ago at Target for about $20.00.
Another good activity to improve the strength in the small muscles of the hand is to load a big ball of play-doh or therapy putty with small beads. It is also another way that the big guy and I work on counting skills. I just tell him that there are 15 beads hiding, can you find them all?

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Magical" Rocks

Well, they are MAGICAL to me!

A wise friend who works in "Special Education" told me awhile back to write letters on rocks for my son to help him learn the alphabet. At first I must admit, that although it sounded like a good idea, I had a hard time thinking that something so simple could possibly work since he was having so much trouble at home and at school.

My son attended early Pre-K at a local church starting at age 2 1/2 and since the age of 3 1/2 he has attended a Special Education and Therapeutic Preschool. So, with two solid years in actual school and all the work we did at home he still did not know how to spell his name, recognize more than three letters (only 1 was in his name) and occasionally confused numbers for letters until the MAGIC ROCKS!!!!!

As some of you already know, my son has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS and like a lot of kids on the Autism Spectrum who have attachments or fixations on certain items my son does too and his "thing" is rocks...the kid loves them!!!! My friend kept insisting with me to use the rocks to my advantage, he likes them and will pay attention!

On Friday night my mother handed the boys each a set of rocks with the letters of their names printed on them and kept arranging them in the proper order for about 15 minutes while reciting the letters.

After the initial 15 minutes the big guy had is name down pat!!! The next day he still had it plus if we included the little guy's letters into his pile he still knew which letters to pick out.

He still gets a little confused with the actual "names" of the letters at times but he knows which ones belong to him!

I guess I have to get out more paint and make some more letters soon!

If you have a child who is having some difficulties learning letters try using the things they truly love...I have a feeling I will be buying some cheap wooden trains in the future and using my Sharpie marker to make an alphabet train for my little guy.

$5.00 CVS Challenge - My Week 18

Trip 1 -
The following items plus the local Sunday newspaper without sales, coupons and previously earned Extra Bucks would have cost a total of $23.18 but I paid $6.99.

Trip 2 -
The following items would have cost a total of $37.97 without sales, coupons and the Extra Bucks earned in trip 1 but I paid a total of $7.00 out of pocket.

Here are this week's totals:
Total Amount of Merchandise (prior to discounts) - $61.14
Total Spent Out of Pocket - $13.99
Savings - $47.15
Extra Bucks Remaining - $6.00
Interested on how to get the best deals? Check out my post on how I make CVS work for me!