The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play —  and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

Our almost-four-year-old daughter is raising polar bears and panda bears in the bushes in our front yard. And, she feeds them sweet potatoes that she makes from the wood chips surrounding said bushes. She’s been raising these animals for more than a year, so we decided she needed some proper kitchen tools to help her along! Last Christmas, we bought her some stainless steel and aluminum cupspans, pots, spatulas, and spoons, and last spring, we made the simplest DIY mud kitchen that has ever been made. Why did we go to such lengths to encourage this play? Besides simply being an amazing creative outlet (I mean, think about the imagination required to keep those polar bears alive for so long!), did you know there are many, many other benefits to playing in dirt and mud? Read on for some of those benefits, as well as basic directions to our super simple mud kitchen!

Continue reading “The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever”

Child Development Resources for Parents and Teachers

Child Development Resources for Parents and Teachers

How comfortable are you with your understanding of your child’s development? Does your child ever do something that makes you wonder, “What on earth is going on in his head?” or “What happened to the child who always did _____? She seems like a completely different kid overnight!”

I was a Child Development major in college (and I have a graduate degree in Elementary Education…), and even I have to admit that my memory of all that I learned about how children grow, learn, and change so many years ago seems rocky at times. Fortunately, researchers have given us many wonderful resources, full of information that provides parents and teachers a small window into what’s happening in children’s brains.

And y’all, I refer to these resources ALL THE TIME. As a teacher, I owned a handful of these books and gave brochures with pertinent information to my students’ parents at the beginning of each year. As a parent, these have provided me with great comfort when we hit “What in the world is going on?” stages. Read on to see why it’s important to gain an understanding of stages of child development, as well as which resources for understanding stages of child development I love and why!

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Quick Writing Activity to Boost Neighborhood Morale

Quick Writing Activity to Boost Neighborhood Morale

A few weeks ago, I wrote a quick post with some easy ways to build literacy and writing skills in this time at home. In that post, I shared our “Have a Great Day!” sign that has been hanging on our front porch for close to two months now. Close to two months, and people still walk by, point and smile, stop to tell us how much they love it, and sometimes even take a picture of it! Today, I’ve got another porch sign for you to make — a sign thanking all your delivery people for their hard work and service.

Continue reading “Quick Writing Activity to Boost Neighborhood Morale”

Reader Poll!

Reader Poll!

Okay, all, I need your input! I’m working on my favorite booklist of the year —  my 2020 90 Books for 90 Days of Summer booklist! And, I need your help… I’ve got a massive list of finalists (WAY more than 90, because it’s just so hard to narrow it down!), but I want to make sure that this list is extremely easy for you all to use. Continue reading “Reader Poll!”

Brain Games Sticker Puzzles

Brain Games Sticker Puzzles

Okay, all, if you’ve been around for a few months, you’ve likely read about our girls’ obsession with the Workman Publishing Paint by Sticker Kids books. While we still love them, of course, I recently discovered a sticker puzzle mosaic series — Brain Games Sticker by Number/Letter books, by Publications International! Continue reading “Brain Games Sticker Puzzles”

Taking a Break for Spring Break

Taking a Break for Spring Break

Hello, all! This week is technically spring break for our girls. We were supposed to travel to see extended family, but we’re obviously staying put instead. Rather than venture cross-country and spend time with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents… We’ll venture around the block and hunker down, just the four of us.

And I’m not going to lie, our honeymoon period of sheltering in place and schooling at home definitely ended last weekend. We had some long, rough days and some wonderful days. And I had many moments where I realized that I am trying to accomplish way too much in this new and different season. I kept all of the to-dos I had already filled in my planner for the last month, while also adding the to-dos that come with keeping up with things these days (does anyone else feel like having everyone in your house all day, every day means that you ALWAYS have a sink full of dishes, even if you just washed them???). I had originally planned to take this week off of posting and social media to spend our travels focused on our family and our visits, and I’m going to stick to that plan! Continue reading “Taking a Break for Spring Break”

Caterpillar Day!

Caterpillar Day!

A few years ago, a friend introduced us to the wonder of raising our own caterpillars and watching them grow, metamorphosize, and fly away as butterflies. While we usually do this later in the spring, I had the foresight to order a caterpillar kit the day we learned school was cancelled for a while. So, for two weeks, we’ve been nurturing our caterpillars to their current chrysalis stage. And it dawned on me yesterday that this would make a very easy and terrifically fun theme for the morning! Read on to learn all about our caterpillar morning from yesterday and to see what our theme is going to be today. Continue reading “Caterpillar Day!”

A Tribute to Tomie dePaola

A Tribute to Tomie dePaola

We lost one of the greats yesterday, a storyteller beloved to many generations.

Do you have a favorite dePaola title from his more than 260 amazing contributions? My girls fell in love with Tomie dePaola’s stories through Strega Nona, which I also fondly remember from childhood, but some of our other dePaola favorites also include his Christmas stories, Bible treasuries, and his recent title Quiet.

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As you may know, we’ve been blessed to inherit an amazing collection of children’s books from my childhood next-door neighbor (and first grade teacher!). This lovely soul is also a huge Tomie dePaola fan (I probably also got my love of his work from her as a child!), and one of the boxes of books she sent this spring was full of his works, many signed! We cherished those treasures when they arrived but feel even more grateful to have them now.

Our prayers are with those mourning Tomie dePaola right now.

 

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Five Ways to Build Connection AND Literacy Skills During Shelter-In-Place

Five Ways to Build Connection AND Literacy Skills During Shelter-In-Place

Right now, it’s safe to assume that just about everyone is living in a shelter-in-place community and that your children are now learning from home for a bit. Today, I’ve got five easy ways to keep connections with neighbors, friends, and family strong while also growing some literacy skills at the same time. These are wins all around! Continue reading “Five Ways to Build Connection AND Literacy Skills During Shelter-In-Place”

Unexpected Homeschool Week 1 Check-In

Unexpected Homeschool Week 1 Check-In

So, how did your first week of surprise homeschooling go? Ours… definitely started out rocky. While we ended on a pretty good note, we all learned a lot over the course of the week. One of my biggest lightbulb moments came when I remembered that one of my favorite concepts in the classroom came from Responsive Classroom’s The First Six Weeks of SchoolClassroom teachers know that setting up routines, expectations, and rhythms needs to be done intentionally and takes focused time… Even up to six weeks of time! So if you were like me and hoped to hit the ground with a successful day on Monday, but felt like you got hit by a truck various times during the day, then a) you weren’t alone, and b) give it time! Continue reading “Unexpected Homeschool Week 1 Check-In”