Thursday, March 9, 2017

Celebrating Read Across America Week

Nothing cooler than reading right? I love Read Across America Day! 

I love books and I cannot lie and so I kind of want everyone to love them too.  At some point, I will get where I can actually sit down alone and read an adult book.  However, for now, I just celebrate with the kids.  Besides, I like celebrating anything. 
I'm throwing it back here to about 3 years ago where I dressed the littles up for Dr. Seuss Day.  You can check out the posts for these outfits here and here and here.  

One fish. Two fish. Red fish. Blue fish! Here's a fun Dr. Seuss themed lunch for the kids.  This is one from last year when Caleb was in prek.  The fish were made with a cookie cutter on bread.  Then, I spread cream cheese on top, berries and candy eyes.  Add some goldfish, cubed ham, carrots and I drew on a Cat in the Hat cheese stick. Caleb loves opening his lunchbox to little "fun with food" surprises.

Another activity we did was building the cat's hat with addition facts. This was an "I need to keep you occupied so you don't get distracted and miss the school bus morning activity." lol We've also done this activity with numbers (putting them in the correct order) when he was in prek.

We did more fishy math afterschool.  We worked on graphing the colors, writing the numbers, tally marks, and answering a few questions.

This was on Friday.  The kids got to dress up like superheroes for Read Across America week.  Readers are definitely superheroes and get more and more super powers from reading.  I absolutely loved the school's superhero idea. 

We did some simple green eggs and ham with cat in the Hat skewers for breakfast.  Did you know that you can dye eggs naturally without using food coloring?  I just used a little of the juice from some thawed blueberries. You only have to use a little and it doesn't taste funny either.  Then we just have strawberries and bananas to make the cat's hat and a grape for his head.

Here's another throwback from last year when we had our Seuss mini party.  We watched The Lorax and traced hands to make that lovely mustache.   I just had to get the twins in there too. Lol.  Aj backed out of the pic at the last minute.  He remembered that this was not "cool." Haha! Teenagers! This is cool!  You can find some other Dr. Seuss crafts here.

Isn't that a cute little Lorax and what 5 year old wouldn't want edible cars?  The cars are put together using toothpicks that are attached to the grape wheels. This was his afterschool lunch with a "read together" book.  However, Caleb managed to read this book almost entirely on his own.

Remember in the last post, I mentioned I look for excuses to make big, pretty, party messes? Well, Dr. Seuss also fits the bill.  We've been having mini Dr. Seuss parties for a couple of years now.  I always do a book display, sometimes the food is themed, and we watch one of the Dr. Seuss movies. The kids always get really excited about it. Even the twins got a mini food platter for the party this year. 

Dr. Seuss parties of the past

Remember to make learning fun!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Simple Valentine's Day Fun

I love holidays and pretty much any of them.  It gives me a special reason to be creative, not that I don't take advantage of most days anyway (when there's time).  However, holidays give me a reason to justify making huge pretty messes because there's usually a mess somewhere.

Here are some simple, but fun ways we celebrated Valentine's Day this year.  

Of course there was fun food.  We all love to eat.  We had fresh fruit bowls with whipped cream and mini muffins for breakfast one day.

Heart waffles with syrup, whipped cream and fruit was another breakfast idea.  The twins had heart shaped waffles and fruit too without the syrup and cream.  And do you know what?  Even the teenager came out of the room and was like, "Ma, I want heart shaped waffles."  What?! Did my eyes deceive me?  He doesn't even eat breakfast at home anymore because he likes to eat at school with his friends.  However, he got heart shaped waffles today too and I was happy.

Now these are fun to make and fun to eat. Heart pancakes and strawberries that are cut in half and put on skewers.  We had little bowls of syrup and whipped cream nearby for dipping.

Some Activities

I made this heart number matching set a while back.  We initially used these to match the correct number of dots with the correct number.  Then we added the number words to identify and match to the correct numbers.  Now we use them for adding, subtracting and less than, greater than, and equal to.  These aren't laminated, but I need to if I want them to last.

We used colored pom poms for math and learning too.  Caleb was learning measuring at school this week so here's one "Valentine" activity we did.  I took two jars and had him guess how many he thought would fit into each jar and write the number down.  Then he put them in, counted them and wrote the number down to compare his guess and answer.  He also asked everyone in the house for their guesses too.

This is a cute little story book that we read together.  It subs in pictures for some of the words in the poem. 

Hershey kisses became a fun game of tic tac toe.  All the kids played against each other.  Caleb even earned bragging rights when he beat big brother AJ.

To incorporate some science activity in, I decided that they'll make "love boats" to see if they would sink or float.  I put lots of different items on the porch to see that they would build with.  They did have a friend to come over while they were making these and they were trying to hurry and finish.  They couldn't get off that porch fast enough.  They were like, "See ya!"

Here's an activity that I came up with to teach in Children's church, but you could use it anytime.  We certainly need reminders all the time.

First, I thought of 3 categories - God's love for us, Our love for Others, and Our love for God.  Then, I looked up scriptures to go along with each one.  With the help of Cate, we made two sets of these.  The class worked in groups to read each scripture to discuss and decide which category it fell under.  Afterwards, we discussed the scriptures and talked about ways to apply them in our lives and the lives of others.

Now, this is my kind of crooked crossword!  I was in a hurry and didn't realize how off it was, but it worked.  The kids enjoyed trying to find the words.  I'll be making sure they are lined up better next time, though.

Yall, I love this tablecloth.  I found it at Walmart one year.  It's thicker and has a soft back and you just wipe it off and reuse it.  I so prefer this than buying a countless number of the thin plastic tablecloths that get thrown away.
So for Vday we had heart waffles again and a really poor attempt at making bacon hearts.  Do you see a heart?  I tried. lol  Please note that Christmas clearance bag being decorated with paper hearts to carry school treats in.  I improvise like that!

We had a mini VDay treat that night as well.  I love these cute polka dot cups and napkins from Walmart.

We made some simple Vday lunches, not too much, because I couldn't get myself together.  Check out that heart muffin, though.  I found the silicone muffin pan at Walmart.

The twins got in on some Vday fun with some sensory play with rose petals.  These rose petals are so old that they were actually used in our wedding 10 years ago.  I may be a bit of a craft/education hoarder.  However, they loved making a mess with these and putting them in each container.

And when I say mess, here is the reality.  This is a different day and the big kids were playing with them too.  However, this is how it looks after everybody has gotten into them.  It's like something exploded.  Spread the love. lol

Don't they look like little big boys here? GOSH!

And then Valentines isn't the same without grandmas!

Hope you enjoyed this post and hope you all had a great Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Celebrating Black History

Another black history month is gone, but learning and studying about black history should still be on our agendas.  Being black isn't a skin color we wear for a month, but for 365 days of the year.  All day errr day.  Also, everyone could benefit from some knowledge of all history across the board regardless off your race.

One of the first things I did was order some books. Now, I'm a book junkie so there are books galore in this post.  Just don't ask me where I store them all. I may go minimalist on shoes, clothes, toy, hair products, but books...books are here to stay. Lol

These are some that I picked up from Amazon.  Sewing stories is the story of Harriet Powers who was a slave and became a great quilter. Two of her quilts are in museums today. The Patchwork Path is story about the journey to freedom using codes in the quilts.  This MLK speech book came with the cd and we've listened to it several times and talked about the metaphors and similes. Then, we have the illustrated poem "I, too, am America" by Langston Hughes. "What Color is My World" has lots of inventors in it and is told by children.
  Henry's Freedom Box is one that I have never heard of, but came across on a Facebook page.  I was so intrigued that I looked up the story and bought it for the kids. 

At the beginning of the month, I decided I would post some black history facts on the board to discuss with the kids.  Some days I didn't write on the board if we didn't have time or I'd forget. Then, sometimes we just used other means instead.

We actually did this activity for MLK Day in January instead of February.   This book came with a celebrate reading big book and several smaller books like these to celebrate reading with different cultural backgrounds.  I actually bought this years ago from a school system that I student taught in.

Here's Miss Cate pictured alongside Rudy Bridges for our Black history program a few years ago at church.  We dressed up as different people in history and played a guessing game. 

                                Image Source: google

Back of the Bus is the story of Rosa Parks told from a child's perspective.  I absolutely love that and the language in the story.  Cate has a marble similar to the one in the story that she now calls the tiger's eye.  

Yep.  More books.  This was my second order of books from Lemonade in the winter is a book about money, but I try to add diverse books to our book collection regularly. We also have "Child of the Civil Rights Movement" " Coretta Scott King" "My Black Me" - a collection of black poetry, "Back of the Bus" and "Happy Valentine's day Mouse."

I love to add props, activities, or visuals sometimes with our boards.  You can blame the teacher in me for that.  For instance we ate chips for a snack when we talked about George Crum.  We had ice cream for dessert when we discovered Alfred L. Cralle created the ice cream scoop.  I decided to pick a poem to analyze and talk about it with the kids for Phyllis Wheatley.  I just like to
teach and create so I just can't help myself sometimes.  It's just who I am.

We actually spent a lot of time talking about Harriet Tubman.  Cate was reading her life story for an AR book at the time too.  AR stands for accelerated reading in case you're not familiar with that.  It's reading books an answering questions on a computer.  Aj was also very excited discussing Harriet Tubman.  He heard Cate talking and then he came out of the room and started talking too.  They then went on about the frying pan and the dizzy sleeping spells, etc. 

After learning about how quilts helped people escape slavery and the quilts that Harriet Powers made, we decided to make a mini felt quilt as an activity.  I let them glue down their own designs on the squares to sew together and tell me what it stands for.

We also discussed the Bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  This was the name given to one of the wealthiest black communities in America.  On June 1, 1921, it was air bombed and burned to the ground by a group of jealous whites organized by the KKK.  It killed 3,000 African Americans and destroyed 600 businesses.  It wasn't recognized in state history until 1996.

These are clearly award winning drawings right here! lol  I tried.  I really wanted a visual here, but I was slack on my planning this day and did not have myself together.

These books were some we read over a course of time where I failed to post any of our black history updates on the Instagram and Facebook. (@cuddleskissesnchaos)  Aj is all about sports so we've had him read Adrian Peterson's book and David Robinson along with our board facts.  We try to make sure he's reading.  You know... teenagers.

Cate has also been checking out books from school to go along with our black history studies.  She checked out this book on Barbara Jordan who was the first African American congresswoman to come from the south. (Texas).

Cate and I also happened to still be up one night while the story of Maya Angelou was on PBS.  We ended up staying up to watch that too. 

I told yall I love books!  Here's more!   I've had the kids read and write me summaries on their choice from the Five Brave Explorers before, but we didn't do it this time. 

I love books and they are great resources to have and to pass on.  However, here are two facebook pages that you can follow to learn black history facts everyday.

Zinn Education Project - all history
National Civil Rights Museum

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some of these books helpful! 

PS. A few of these books were found at the Goodwill and library book sales.  Always check those types of sales to save money on books.  I've gotten several classic children's books for 49 cents each!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Journey To Minimalism - Bathroom Stashes

I was in the bathroom one day doing my hair and minding my own business when Mr. Andre decided that he needed to bother me.  He started telling me that Cate and I needed our own bathroom for all our hair stuff and that he was not sharing a bathroom with me anymore.  Now, I don't have a whole lot of hair stuff.  Well, at least I don't think I do.  I try to stick with the tried and true. 

One problem was that it was just thrown all over the counter and had been like that for about a week or two at that point.  You know those tiny little humans of mine kind of keep me from getting things done.  I mean I have to keep Baby A out of the toilet and Baby B from eating tissue so we just have to hurry out of the bathroom. lol   Anyway, his comment made me think about what did I have so I decided to pull it all out and evaluate it.

Here's my stash of hair products.  Not much, right?  However, I did wonder why I had certain items - containers with just a dab of product left in them, stuff I haven't used since I returned to natural like 4 years ago, and lots of hair serums for shine.  So I like shine, huh?  I hardly use these, but I guess I'm about to start.

So I went through them and had just a few that I could get rid of.  The ecostyler was pretty much empty except for the hard bits around the edges and so was the Camille Rose.  That 'just for me' hair grease was probably 5 years old and smelled terrible.  I threw it out.  I got rid of the Dr. Miracles and put the bottles with just a little bit left in them on the counter for us to use up immediately.  I also have a few other products not marked out that I plan to use up and not purchase again.

Next, we moved on to the hair gear. I am a natural hair girl so I don't use any of this stuff on a regular basis.  It only comes into play when we straighten our hair. 

So here's what we got rid of.  However, I'm still considering getting rid of those two barreled curling irons because we mostly use flat irons for everything or rollers.  I'm going to think about that for a few days.

Moving on to the combs and brushes.  How many do you need?  Apparently, I needed a lot and I bet half of these were likely purchased because I couldn't find one of them.  I haven't even used a rake comb since I had a pixie middle school.  You know those packs of brown combs you get from the hair store?  You really don't know what all the combs do, but you get the most combs in the pack for the money?  Yep, that's where some of these come from.

Wha-la! I did try to keep it at one of each for me and Cate.  This way we don't have to share as she becomes more concerned with her hair. 

My perfume sits on a little gold tray on a stand in the bathroom...collecting dust.  I rarely wear perfume.  After the twins were born and we discovered Cason had eczema, I abandoned it altogether.  Since his eczema seems to be gone, I'll spray a bit every now and then.

It just so happened that my sister and one of her friends were at the house as I was starting my purging party.  They ended up with a lot of these things.  I was glad I had someone to give them to because I really can't stand to throw something that can be used away.  Other things got given to others.  In the meantime, I'll be making sure to use up all the things that I have and trying to absolutely only keep things that I love and use.

Questions I asked myself during this process:

1.  What is this?
2.  Do I use this?
3. How long has it been since I used this?
4. Do I need this?
5.  Do I like this?
6.  Would I buy this again?
7. Who gave me this? Sometimes we like to hold stuff because someone bought it for us.

If you're going through your stuff ask yourself some of these questions.  When I have too much stuff, I feel overwhelmed and I get easily stressed out.  There's just too much stuff so I like things organized, but I just need to get rid of more things too.  The process wasn't too hard, but it was hard just to complete with the twins.  However, I'm trying to make more effort to have less stuff so I can have more life!