A Beautiful Mess

My three year old Littlest took his crayons outside the other day. It was a beautiful sunny day. And you can probably guess the results. The big kids ran inside to let me know about this goopy crisis occurring outside.

I’ve been praying about and preaching to myself about reacting less. Pausing in those messy moments. So I set aside the lunch dishes to inspect.

But rather than a mess, God allowed me to see art. Art just waiting to be made. And so we made it: a big beautiful mess.

Melted crayon rocks
We each took goopy crayons and made melted crayon rocks. Littlest’s rock happens to be the biggest.

 

melted rainbow crayons
With the left over ruined and ruining crayons, we made new rainbow crayons. Nothing like taking a “crisis” and making rainbows; after all, God himself did no less.

 

“A Poetry Tea”~ Littles-style

I’ve seen the idea spiraling around Pinterest, and I just had to get in on the action. I mean, poetry and a party was absolutely too much of a temptation for this poetic party animal.

So we had a “Poetry Tea,” littles-style.

Sharing Poetry with little ones

I found a few super fun poetry books at my local library (hint: illustrated poetry is a definite plus if you have little ones).

Poetry for little ones

 

And I gave in to all those years of “Ovaltine” commercials I heard growing up. I saw it in the tea aisle and figured it was as kid friendly as I could get, and nutritious as a bonus. To stick with the truly English tradition of tea, I made scones (a simple pre-packaged, pull-apart, throw on a baking sheet kind of scone—don’t be overly impressed, folks).

The kids were absolutely stoked. They pestered me for days about having our poetry tea. I had Middlest pick a bouquet for our table, and the party began.

Even Littlest decided to wake up from his nap in time to join us.

Poetry for Little Ones

All around an absolute blast. It’s definitely something we will do again, just not so sure I can pull it off as a weekly thing. Whenever we get to do it again, these littles will be super hungry for more!

Poetry for Little Ones
“More Ovaltine, please!”

Making the Most of Memories

I had no intention of celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday when it came around. Being very pregnant at the time, it was all I could do to make it through a day of normal school activities, much less plan anything special. But then, I woke up that morning and saw the adorable posts everyone had up and suddenly felt the urge to do something. And with that “something” I learned an important lesson.

There was no advanced prep and no lesson plan. The day was an impromptu celebration in every sense. I googled a few activities, printed off a few pages from the pbs.org website, and then went to the kitchen to brainstorm breakfast.

I stood in the kitchen for a few seconds and listened to my own cravings. Waffles sounded good. With sprinkles. Anything’s a celebration with sprinkles. I opened the fridge to survey what I had there for more ideas. There were some thawed strawberries swimming in their own juices; a little strawberry juice would make a nice sugar glaze for the waffles. And the green punch (compliments of my baby shower) would add the perfect finishing touch.

Then, we made Thing 1 and Thing 2 from popsicle sticks and a pom-pom cut in half. We made a Dr. Seuss bookmark, colored a few pages, read several Dr. Seuss books, played our Dr. Seuss games, and overall had a very memorable, fantastic day. The kids talked about it for days.

My important lesson? It doesn’t take much to make a memory, just a sincere effort. I didn’t spend hours planning the party. And it took very little effort overall (besides breakfast and the Things). Yet, the result was extremely rewarding. And honestly, it really would have been a shame not to join in all the fun. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss. And thanks for all the many happy memories.

Casual Friday activities

Last fall, I implemented our casual Fridays or “fun” Fridays, as the kids call them, where we lay aside our structured day for more relaxed learning. The workbooks, the readers, even the schedule are laid aside, and we tackle a little more “living” learning. It has worked out so well for us, such a nice finish for our week. Not only do the kids need it mentally, but I’ve found that I really need the change as well.

We make flip-books of the animals from the country we’ve studied or bake some cookies together or play games. Here’s a peak at what we did this last Friday.

Dice add-up game from Living Math Ideas. He played this nearly all day! It was a huge hit. Roll the dice, write the two numbers in the blank, add it up!
I put together a math supplement notebook from the printables at schoolsparks.com. The little one was thrilled, and she worked out of this notebook nearly all day!

They chose to do these activities at the dining room table. “Fun” Fridays are our day to get out of the school room a little bit. I was really surprised at what a huge hit these two activities turned out to be. They kept pulling them back out to work on them again and again. Before lunch, after lunch, after nap/quiet time, after supper (to show Daddy)—and then they asked to do it again the next day. I’d say these were definitely worth repeating.

We did take a little break to get a few more things in, like reading. My son chose the back porch area for this; and as it tends to get a little chilly back there, we all grabbed our favorite throws and blankets and cuddled together while my son read to us.

I chose this book from our Usborne Very First Readers set, since it reviewed our special sound of the week: "igh."
My son's choice and a hit with my daughter, too: Big Pig on a Dig.
The story of Noah—this book is a dual-reader. My son read the top lines, and I finished the story with the text at the bottom of each page.

Next, we took a moment to remember last year. I’d made a “yearbook” of sorts using Shutterfly, and then bided my time waiting for a significant sale. The sale code finally came, and I finally ordered a book of last year’s memories. The kids had a lot of fun reminiscing.

The blur of the photos is from the fact that I could hardly get pictures: the two of them were excitedly jumping and pointing and bobbing up and down. It was a fun stroll down memory lane.

And that was our day! A nice break from routine while still covering the essentials.

Peanut Butter and M&M Cookies

I’ve felt rather guilty about how few holiday-themed activities I’ve done with the kids; so for a “casual Friday” activity, we made peanut butter and M&M cookies.

The kids were so excited, especially my Little One who absolutely loves to cook. They helped pour in some of the ingredients; my son helped read the recipe, including the fractions which he is just beginning to learn about in school; and we did a little addition when Mommy didn’t feel like washing up the exact size measuring cup that was called for. They also had a lot of fun squishing the dough balls with a fork.

Not only was it very educational, it was very tasty. Merry Christmas!

 

Learning Casually

My newest experiment with our schedule has been our casual Fridays, breaking up the week with a little more informal learning—rather unschool-ish.

One of the fun activities that we got to do the other day was play one of our Dr. Seuss board games.

The particular game is based off the Dr. Seuss ABC book, one of our family favorites that I happen to have memorized. (I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has one or two of their kid’s favorite books on immediate recall. Please tell me I’m not.)

The game is simple. A spinner lets each player choose to go a certain number of spaces or to go to the BIG or little letter nearest to them. Each space is designated with and upper or lower case letter, and after landing on the space the player gets to find and collect the matching card that has both the letter and Dr. Seuss phrases (from the book) that use the letter’s sound (i.e. “A”=Aunt Annie; “a”=alligator). The object is to collect the most cards before the first player crosses the finish.

A little bit of a review for my son, but lots of fun for him to help teach his sister her letters and sounds, and definitely a lot of fun for a casual school day.