Pin the heart

E. found a small box of thumb pins before Valentine’s Day and went back to it time and time again. She was asking how we use them and what they are for. So I decided to put together an activity in which she can use thumb pins and also connected to the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

 

I printed a do-a dot heart from the net and picked one our IKEA cork trivet. I coloured the dots so it would be more fun to use the right colour thumb pins.

While doing the pinning you can revise the colours and learn the word “cork” itself.

When finished she put more pins in the middle. The next day she pulled them all out and packed them away.

This activity helped her muscles strengthen in her hands as well. We’ll do more of this kind of activity as E. loved it and it’s a great pre-writing task. (We can revise shapes or have a shamrock to pin for St. Patrick’s Day etc.)

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Baking and reading (with recipe)

We’ve been cooking and baking with E. a lot ever since she could sit on the kitchen counter safely. (Check out my housework fun or Christmas gingerbread baking blog posts on our cokking adventures)

This week one day there was one of the rare occasions that L. (E.’s baby sister) was not sleeping in a sling on me so I managed to put her down and I could prepare a baking activity for E. while she was at the nursery.

As E. is familiar with the alphabet (check out this post on the alphabet activities and other ABC posts) and quite a lot of sight words (I haven’t written about it separately but I should) and E. has been handling picture and story books since she was born, it is no problem for her to recognise/read certain words.

I wanted to expand her knowledge of recognising words in a fun way.

Here is our oat and pumpkin cookie baking and reading fun:

I prepared everything beforehand (maybe next time it’ll be a measuring activity, when SHE can prepare all the ingredients).

Whoops… the R is missing from “butter” – sorry about the poor photo

Ingredients:

  • 150 g oat flakes
  • 100 g flour (I used oat and wholemeal flour mixed)
  • 100 g sugar (I use Xylitol)
  • 100 g butter or margarine
  • 120 g pumpkin purée (pre-baked)
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking powder
  • 1 egg

    optional: 

  • 5 g dried fruit of any kind (I use cranberries and raisins but you can add chocolate chips too)
  • vanilla extract
I made little cards for her to read and I placed them in front of each bowl. The twist was I mixed them up before she started the activity. 
First, she needed to swap the cards around to place them in front of the right bowl.

After that she cracked the egg.

Then the mixing could start. She added everything in a big bowl. I asked her to report me what she was doing as in a cooking show.
– I’m putting the flour in.
– Now comes the butter.

After all this, I made little balls out of the mixture (she doesn’t like to dirty her hands) and placed them on a tray covered with baking paper. Finally, I managed to convince her to flatten the balls with her fingers and palm.

It was a lovely treat after dinner time and we practised a lot of English. (Unfortunately the cookies were gone so quickly I couldn’t take a photo of them)

Do you cook or bake with your little one(s)? Let me know what in the comments.

Valentine’s Day sensory bin

Last year we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but used the opportunity to do a lot of fun crafts and activities with the symbols of Valentine’s day, like hearts, candies, chocolates etc.

This year I’ve come up with a sensory bin idea for this occasion.

What I used:

  • one big container (IKEA)
  • coloured rice – red, purple, and white (see how to make it below)
  • hearts, candies, feather, beads (whatever you have) to search for in the bin hidden in the rice
  • cups and bowls
  • tools like ladle, tongs, tweezers (I couldn’t find the tweezers 😦 )
How I coloured the rice:
You need:
  • a zip lock bag (IKEA)
  • 2 cups of rice (any kind of white rice will do)
  • food colouring (liquid type is better than the gel)
  • a bit of alcohol (optional)
How to do it:
Put 2 cups of rice in the zip lock bag, add 1 teaspoonful of red (or any other colour) food colouring and half a teaspoonful of alcohol. The latter is optional. It helps to get brighter colours plus your rice will last long if not forever…
Now give it a shake until the colour is everywhere on the rice. (I didn’t but you can do it with your child. It must be fun for them to see how the rice changes colour)
I did the same with the purple rice. As I didn’t have purple food colouring I mixed it out of red and blue beforehand.
I dried the rice on baking paper to make sure it won’t stain my hand and to get rid of the smell of alcohol.
I put the rice in the container (half red, half purple – my daughter did the mixing) and I also provided some white rice for extra fun.

What I put in the bin:

  1.  wooden muffin
  2. purple butterfly beads
  3. sparkly candies (cut out of a foam sheet but you can add real candy, too)
  4. red jingle bells
  5. wooden hearts
  6. pegs with hearts on
  7. purple pompoms
  8. pink flower-shaped beads
  9.  red feathers
  10. felt hearts
I hid them in the rice as much as I could.
Extras: I cut out 6 hearts and wrote the letters of my daughter’s name on them. I also put them in the bin so she can make her name when she finds them. (The easiest way to make the foam hearts is to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I pressed it on the foam sheet and cut along the print it made.)

E. was pretty excited about the bin as soon as she saw it.

She poured in the extra white rice.

She happily used the ladle and the tongs.

She used the bowls to put in whatever she found. (It was interesting to see that she separated them like hearts, round things like pompoms, bells, and beads all by herself)

She also enjoyed mixing the coloured rice with her hands.

After she’d found and taken out everything she asked Daddy to find what she’d hidden. Then they took turns and did the same again and again.

The next day I gave her 2 sheets with the objects she can find in the bin on the top and she selected them in each column. We did a little counting as well.

On the second day I also added the letter of “I LOVE YOU”
With a little help she could put it together.

She’s been playing with it ever since.
-Mommy, we can play with it on the floor, too – she said and continued down there.

TWO other activities to do with the rice:

  1. write with fingers
  2. I spy bottle

What are these? Come back later to check them out. I’ll show them to you in another post.

Advent Calendar Activities Days 14-20

I know we are past Christmas time but I was busy with giving birth 😉 So here come some more Advent activities we did with E. waiting for Christmas (2015) to come:

  1. Snowflake out of popsicle sticks (Day 14)

    I decided to give some Christmas presents to the nursery teachers (2), the dinner lady (1) and the afternoon nurse (1). In the gift there was a bath bomb, a box of chocolates and something that E. made for them. You can see in the earlier advent post the Christmas baubles she made with pompoms and jingle bells.

    For the other two presents we prepared 2 snowflake ornaments that could be a great decoration for the Christmas tree.

    What you need (for 1 snowflake):
    – 3 popsicle sticks or spatulas (you can buy them in a box of 100 at the chemist’s or in crafts shops but the latter is more expensive)
    – blue and white paint
    – paint brush
    – shiny sprinkle (I had tiny, blue and silver stars)
    – sliver snowflakes (optional)
    – gray ribbon

    How to do it:

    Before she started I glued 3 popsicle sticks together in the shape of a snowflake.

    E. painted the popsicle sticks white and blue. She also experimented to mix the 2 colours to get a light blue hue. She painted both sides of the 2 snowflakes.

    While the paint was wet she scattered some sprinkle on them. This was the time she had enough. She did a great and thorough job with the painting and the sprinkling.

    We needed to wait for the paint to dry, so I put the snowflakes aside to return to them later when they’re dry. She didn’t want to do anything else with them later on, so I needed to finish them. I added the sparkly, silver snowflakes at the end of the stick and also attached a silver ribbon on top so that they can be hung on the Christmas tree.

    Unfortunately, the photo I took of the final result is blurry.

    She helped me put the presents together. She also made a Christmas card to each little packet with stickers and she traced my letters inside but signed them all by herself. This is what they looked:

  2. Roll and Count Christmas (Day 15)

    After the crafty day we played a counting game. I found this activity in the Christmas Tot pack by 3dinosaur. I printed pages 37/38.  I laminated the counting sheet and added green marbles for the counting.

    Opening the activity pack

    I didn’t make the die but cut out the pictures and stuck them on a big Styrofoam die we have at home.

    The whole family played. At the very beginning we all guessed which picture will have 5 counters for the first time. Then we rolled the die and placed the marbles on the mat.

  3. Window stickers (Day 16)

    I didn’t need to prepare much for this activity and still, it was fun. What’s more, this one also involved the whole family.

    I bought (at KIK) winter and Christmas themed window stickers. I just presented to E. and she did the job. Actually she did a great job decorating her windows.

  4. Christmas tree decoration with play dough (Day 17)

    I printed a Christmas tree and coloured it, then laminated it. I put out some play dough, and Christmas related moulds like a candle, a bell, a circle shape for the baubles, a star etc.


    The fun began. E. decorated the Christmas tree and was really proud of the final product.

  5. Christmas patterning  (Day 18)

    I made the Christmas pattern activity back in 2014. We hadn’t got to play with it then but a year later. The set needs retouching and after that I’ll add it as a free printable.

  6. Decorate the Christmas trees with pompoms – counting activity (Day 19)

    I found this counting activity on one of my fav blogs: Welcome to Mommyhood.

    I printed and laminated the tree cards and provided E. with small, colourful pompoms.

    She ordered the number cards then placed the pompoms on them accordingly.

    She wasn’t too fascinated by this activity. It wasn’t too challenging for her, though she liked the pompoms, which she grouped according to colours at the end of the activity.

  7. Roll and build a snowman (Day 20)

    Here is the link to the printable: roll and build a snowman. (ateachingmommy has a Snow and ice pack, which is more than worth downloading including a lot of winter activities for preschoolers)

    You just need to print the snowman parts. It is optional to laminate them but I did as I want to play with it more and probably next year two kids will test its durability.

    E. selected the different shapes and grouped them before the game.

     The hat suited the dog too 🙂

    I presented them with a big die then we could start playing. E. called her Daddy to play:
    – Daddy, come. A lot of people have to play this game.

    So the three of us played.

    We rolled the die and got a body part, a hat or a scarf depending on the number we threw. The first person to finish the snowman was the winner.

    If your little one doesn’t like it if he or she is not the winner, you can build the snowman as a group.

    I’ll be back with 4 more Advent activities you might like and wish to try next Christmas time.

New year – new family member

The time has come to break the good news. Our family is growing. At the very moment I’m 9-month pregnant, which means an extra hard year behind us. Still, we are so happy and grateful to welcome the new baby in our family. I’m due on January 8th, 2016.

About the baby (and the pregnancy):

It’s a girl and her name’s initial is L. She’s very active in the tummy; her high time is between 5-6 am, 10-11 am, 5-6 pm and some time after 9 – whenever I lie down in bed she starts partying. How wonderful she’s got a routine. I pray to God she’ll stick to this when she’s born.

L.’s got a lot of hiccups, just like E. in my tummy. But her reaction to them is totally different. While E. bore it without any resistance, L. is really annoyed by her hiccups and starts kicking and moving around until it goes away.

The most important of all is that she is healthy and everything has been going well with my pregnancy. Perhaps as I’m older or just because every pregnancy is different from the other, I don’t feel so good in my skin as with E. (I know, I know I shouldn’t compare them).
– I had the morning sickness with L. but not with E. I’ve been more tired with L., though I had lots of time on my hand to relax with E. With an almost 4 year old it’s unimaginable.
– Around the 7th month of pregnancy with L. insomnia kicked in for a few weeks. I slept like a log until the last moments with E.
– Braxton hicks started about a month ago, which are rather frightening and I’ve been living in continuous uncertainty not knowing when the real birth-giving starts.
– I’ve been ill every other week since I got pregnant. Either E. brings something home from the nursery or I seem to catch illnesses more easily. (I’ve had 2 stomach bugs, 3 colds, 2 coughs, and 3 or 4 viral infections. I’m ill at the very moment too and I can only hope it’ll go away by the time we get to the hospital)
– I’ve got gestational diabetes. Not so serious (I do not need to count CH), still I have to keep a diet. It’s been 3 months now I’ve got used to it, however at the beginning I though it was the end of the world. I try not to eat anything with white flour or sugar in it.

About E.:

We told E. the big news quite early at the beginning (I think the baby was about 12-14 weeks old). As she is a very clever girl and interested in the human body to a great extent there was no point talking about flowers and bees, or the stork bringing the baby.

We showed her picture books and videos about the pregnancy, how the sperm meets the egg and become one, how they are joining/growing and so on. She seemed to understand the whole process (whenever we asked her about the baby later on, or how it was created she could exactly tell us every detail we’d explained to her.), which surprised us a lot. There were a few weeks when she always wanted to talk about the baby, to watch videos about the growing baby in the womb, to know how big the baby is and how she was developing.  She was quite excited. Then after a while she lost interest in the topic, which was kindled again when my bump was getting bigger.

We selected her old baby clothes together and she was more than happy to give them to her baby sister. The same happened with her toys. She helped me separate the baby toys she’s not playing with any more and she called the box L.’s box. Once I told her that we need to put away a few pairs of sock as she’d grown out of them, she highlighted that L. can use them soon. So sweet! What’s more, she wanted her sister to sleep in her room. (E. got a new ‘big girl’ bed and she offered her old one to L.)

Of course, we’ve been reading some books about new babies born in a family. We tried to focus her attention on how much babies might cry, and not being able to play with a newborn at the beginning. But she enjoyed the idea that she’ll never be alone in the future as she’ll have a baby sister. She also cherished the fact that she knows everything a baby doesn’t and she’ll be the one who’ll teach her. She doesn’t really want to talk to L., she prefers if Daddy reports to L. what “her big sister is doing or saying” ( – Daddy, tell L. what her big sister is playing with.” etc.)

About us:

Once I’m scared to death how I will survive with two small kids, with a 4-year-old energy bomb and a newborn who needs all Mommy’s attention. At other moments, of course, I feel confident and strong and I feel experienced enough to cope with the situation. But honestly I have no idea what we are facing…

One thing is sure: our language journey must go on. Though it is also rather uncertain how I’ll be able to write the blog, prepare activities for E., start everything from the beginning with L., find a native nanny and so on and so forth.

And there’s Daddy, who doesn’t like talking about his feelings, but I know he’s burdened with responsibility, financial issues, paternal fears or how he could be present more in our lives to help and support in as many ways as he can.

For sure, challenging times are coming for all of us; magical, blessed, still difficult and troublesome. But the challenge has been accepted.

28 Dec. 2015, 5.54 am
It might happen that our sweet daughter is born this year. 8 minute contractions have been on for more than 2 hours now.

07. Jan. 2016. – see an update on L’s arrival in our family