Friday, March 31, 2017

Making a Chore Chart that Actually Works

Helping kids learn how to work is a must for a smooth running home and for continued life success for our children. I blogged earlier about important principles in teaching kids how to work. That post includes why we do not call them "chores" as a habit but "helper jobs" instead. Today I am sharing why our simple method works for making sure our kids actually do those helper jobs.

I recently got to spend a most enjoyable week with my mother-in-law and other family. I LOVE spending time with family. We live far away from each other and time spent together is a treat. We catch-up, laugh, play games, relax, watch the kids enjoy the company of family, and often help each other.

We also take the opportunity to learn from each other. Whether it's through discussing politics, kids, or spiritual development, I always come away enlightened and hopefully a little better person.

Our trip included some time at my older sister's house. While there, I saw the Helper Job system they are using right now and was excited to hear how it is working for them. "I love it!" my sister told me, "And here's why." As she explained why she loves the system they are using, I thought, "That is exactly why I love the system we are using!"

So here are a few principles that my sister and I have found (with our combined nine children) make for a successful Helper Job System (aka "Chore Chart")...

Principles for a Successful Chore Chart

1. Flexibility
  • Not everyday in the life of parenthood is the same. Ha! That's possibly the most obvious thing I've written in a long time!
  • Some days are busier than others with homework, projects, play dates, clubs, or sports.
  • A successful chart allows for some daily flexibility.
2. Choice
  • Sometimes kids are motivated and willing to serve. Other times, we find grumpy children for whom a two-minute clean-up is a major success. Having some choice in which job they will complete at different times leads to greater success.
  • Kids also feel more motivated and invested when they have some say it what they do.
2.  Accountability
  • If a helper system is too flexible with too much choice, kids may not ever feel the need to do the jobs! Flexibility and choice are off-set by accountability.
  • Accountability tells children they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
  • Some kids are busier than others in the family. Without accountability, you may find it is the same siblings who do not complete their jobs over and over.
  • Accountability is rewarding for those who complete their helper jobs.

Choose Jobs that Make the Chart Work for You

With these general principles in mind, you are ready to work out the details.

Brainstorm which jobs take up a significant part of your life. Also think about which jobs are most important for you to feel like your house is clean. I am a matching sock person, but I know many people who are not. For me the vital jobs include overall tidiness, bathrooms, floors, and kitchen cleanliness. Confession, I am very laid back when it comes to dusting!

Seriously consider including the wildcard, "Mom's Choice." This is my absolute favorite and a great way to get those miscellaneous places cleaned or infrequent jobs accomplished. Or dusting, I guess.

Your list of essential jobs will be different than mine, but make that list and decide how those duties can be shared. Countless households don't require enough of their children.

Kids thrive and help more readily when they realize their efforts are important for the household and truly helpful to you. Giving kids significant jobs also prepares them for independence.

Many people agonize over which jobs are age appropriate for their children. However, I have found that kids can do anything, and eventually, they have to learn to do everything to help around the house.

So, my toddlers are responsible for the same jobs as my older kids...we just do the jobs together. ;) After working side by side, you will know when your child is ready to work with a reminder checklist or completely independently. It will be different for each job and every child.

Expect More than What's Written

It's important to teach kids to be helpful and tidy, not just to check-off lists. The goal is competent, helpful members of society in the future, not just a clean house today. For example, although meal preparation is not on our list, we are teaching the kids to ask, "How can I help?" (Admittedly, this comes more naturally to some than others!)

We are each expected to clean as we go when it comes to toys, backpacks, and spills. We clear our dishes after meals, and I often enlist individual kids to help wash dishes or take out the trash.

There should never be a feeling that "I'm not doing it because it's not on my list." A chore chart is a helpful way to organize household efforts; it is not intended to limit helpfulness or inhibit discernment of needs.

Create Your System

There are countless ways to apply these principles to a system or chart. Small changes in routine or perspective can often make your current system more successful.

Next post, I will share the chore chart that is working for us, as well as the system my sister uses to teach her children good habits and keep their house of Littles clean!

Happy Helping to you and your Littles!

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Do you have a Helper Job system you like? What makes it work? Leave a comment to let me know. I love hearing from you!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

E is for Ears!

Hello! Today we are exploring the letter E! There is a lot of fun happening here!

This is part of our alphabet lesson plan series, and the second in our set covering the five senses. Last time we learned about D is for Delicious! I hope these plans are helpful for you as you plan full preschool lessons at home or if you are just looking for some fun, educational, and budget-friendly activities for kids. Come along as we talk, sing, read, write, and play our way through the alphabet!

Print the Quick Reference "E is for Ears!" Preschool Lesson Plan
Visit the Preschool Lesson Plan Index to see what free plans are published or in the works!

Sing the Welcome Song. As we sing "Hello to All the Children in the World" each week, we are learning greetings in different languages. Today we started talking about those languages with the first in the song, "Bonjour!" We found France on a world map, comparing it to where we live. I shared a few facts that I knew Little #3 would find interesting, including personal ones such as who he knows that has lived there and what Dad and I saw when we visited. We also practiced saying some other French phrases.

Someday I'd like to get a large world map and stick a pin in every country we have visited!

I introduced E as our new letter for the day. We looked at the capital and lowercase E's and talked about making them with straight shapes and curvy shapes. While tracing the three lines on the capital E, I said, "One, two, three, rhymes with E." This helps distinguish E from F. We used a squishy bag (Ziploc filled with flour and water) to practice tracing the big and small E's. We flipped the bag over and practiced writing E without help and a few other letters. Little #3 loved the feel of the bag.

I introduced the sound of E (long and short) by reading and reviewing the book Erin and Her New Pet by Joanne Meier. Erin and her pet Penny go for a walk where they hear and meet "e" creatures.

PLAY-Letter Sort:
I gathered several objects that begin with the first five letters of the alphabet into a bag. I taped each letter A-E on a wall (you could also put them on the floor). Little #3 pulled objects from the bag and sorted them to the correct letter according to their beginning sounds. This is a difficult activity, and Little #3 definitely needed help. A simpler version is sorting by whether or not the objects begin with E.

Are there any body parts that begin with E? How about elbow, eyes, or ears? Last week we learned about the sense of taste. Today we are learning about ears and the sense of hearing. We talked about what kinds of sounds we can hear. What can we learn from different sounds? What would it be like if we could only hear and not see? We closed our eyes are talked about some of the sounds we could hear like an ambulance, the clothes dryer, and our own breathing. Do you know how your ears work?

We read Ears Are for Hearing by Paul Showers. This was a great introduction to how ears work with basic pictures accompanying understandable and correct explanations.

We got silly as we sang the classic "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"

Good listening skills are important for being polite, learning in school, and understanding others. We discussed how good listening skills include eye contact, being quiet and still, and paying attention.

We practiced being good listeners and following directions by playing Simon Says.

One of the most beautiful things we can hear with our ears is music. We read Mole Music by David McPhail. I love this book. The message teaches of persistence, while the illustrations are captivating and tell their own story of the good music can do when it touches hearts, and how our actions have far-reaching effects even if we don't know it. Besides, who doesn't love moles?


We danced to violin music with a simple version of ribbon wands...leftover birthday streamers!

As we started the next activity, Little #3 suddenly got REALLY grumpy! When I asked him what was wrong, he emphatically stated, "I'm starving!" I agree that it is hard to concentrate when one is starving. ;) (I do not thing the word "hungry" is in children's vocabulary; it is always "starving.") Some suggestions for snacks are edamame, eggs hard boiled, pretzel sticks that can make capital E's, or if it is last minute, anything you Eat. ;)

PLAY & WRITE-Instrument Guessing Game:
I made this Instrument Guessing Game Free Printable to go with this instrument video I found on YouTube. I like this video because of the variety of instruments like bagpipes and harmonica.

Little #3 practiced writing numbers as he listened and guessed the order of the instruments. You could circle the instrument you most want to learn how to play.

We gathered miscellaneous materials from the recycle box, kitchen, and craft supplies.

Little #3 used his imagination to create instruments of his own. I loved watching him engineer. He thought of using water and experimented with it in a couple of his instruments.

We ended up with many instruments making all different sounds. You could also use items such as spoons, boxes of noodles, pots, etc. to make a "house band."

One animal with big ears is an elephant! We like the story of Elmer by David McKee about a patchwork elephant who learns to be happy being himself. We had read it more recently though, so we read a sequel, Elmer's Special Day. Another great elephant story with much the same moral is Disney's Dumbo.

While I read, Little #3 made an E to match Elmer using this Color by Letter Patchwork E Free Printable. He also traced the capital E's.

We finished our preschool fun for the day by singing our goodbye song.

Hopefully we'll see YOU next time as we continue learning about the senses with smell and F is for Fragrance!

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Leave a comment to let me know what activities your Littles are enjoying, what types of posts you'd like to see, or any other questions or thoughts you have.  I love hearing from you. Share pictures on social media using #lovinlifewithlittles. Thanks for visiting and Happy Preschooling!

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Top Posts of 2016

I just read a friend's blog post about her top posts of 2016. It was fun to see a review of the blog through its highlights. So, I am totally copying you my friend! :) Thank you for a great idea!

This blog is still pretty young, but I enjoyed looking back and seeing which posts have been most popular. Hopefully this is a chance for you to catch up on something you may have missed that will be helpful for you in your journey with Littles.

Be sure to follow by email in order to see new great posts as they come. Don't miss out on any of the fun in 2017!

Thank you to all my readers of 2016! It has been a great start!

Most Popular Posts of 2016 From Lovin' Life with Littles

#3. C is for Colors

This is a fun post in our Preschool Alphabet Lesson Plans series. There are many experiments, songs, games, and other activities about colors and the letter C.

#2. Five Simple Things Every Parent Can Do to Help Their Child Be Ready to Read

Despite the obnoxiously long title containing an agreement error, this is a fantastic post! ;) In this post I talk about some of the best daily habits that can be incorporated into every child's life. Parents can confidently do these together with their little ones to help them be ready to read.

#1. Seven Steps to a More Patient Child

Apparently we are all suffering from a lack of patience! :) The most popular post of 2016 shared steps to helping our kids gain greater patience. I wish more patient children upon all of us in the upcoming year!

I look forward to getting to know more of you next year. Thanks for following along as I am Lovin' Life with Littles. Hope you are too! Happy New Year!

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolutions and Revolutions

We sat on the bed discussing a matter of behavior that needed to stop. It had been increasing, slowly becoming more and more prevalent until not a day went by when we were not disturbed by it. Now, it was time to make a change, time for a revolution of sorts.

“Can you commit to doing this?” I asked.

“No. I won’t be able to do it,” my son replied.

We talked at length about why the change seemed so daunting, so unattainable.

“Do you want to do this?” I asked.

“Yes,” and then he started to cry. “I always wanted to do it.”

I hadn’t known. I truly had not known the state of his heart, but I was a step closer to understanding. He wanted to change, but he felt like it was too hard because too much happened that was out of his control.

 “I can’t do it,” he said.

“You can do a lot of things.” I named several of his talents. “Dad and I can help you do a lot more things. In fact, it is our job to help and teach you. But who can help you do all things?”

“Heavenly Father and Jesus?”

“That’s right. Between you, me, Dad, Heavenly Father, and Jesus, you can do all things.”

We discussed what events typically initiated the unwanted behavior. We brainstormed what steps toward change might help him gain control in these difficult moments. At first, he could think of nothing. I suggested a few things, several were quite small or silly to show him that no idea was a bad idea. He started to share some of his own thoughts. It was easier for him to find suggestions for things I could change. However, eventually he came up with two very insightful causes for the behavior, two factors that had not crossed my mind.

My son felt that between us we could control those two factors which we determined to do. I made a personal commitment to him, a commitment to change me for his good.

“How about if you don’t commit to changing, but you commit to trying to change?” I asked.

He nodded. That he could do.

I did not tell him that trying to change is actually changing. Sincere effort really is all that ever really mattered.

The conversation ended sweetly. We both realized we were starving, and it was time to eat. We both felt heard and understood. We had changed our world. We had begun a revolution.

This year as you set about making your own resolutions, I hope you find something in this little story helpful. For there is great truth underlying these simple happenings. Part of the truth is underscored in a poem I can recite by heart because my mom had it hanging in our home when I was growing up.

The little things are most worthwhile,
A quite word, a look, a smile.
A listening ear that’s quick to share another’s thoughts, another’s cares.
Though sometimes they may seem quite small...
These little things mean most of all.
By Margaret Lindsay

During our conversation, it was the little things that changed the trajectory of my son’s behavior. It was the little smile from his baby sister as she sat on my lap that lightened the tension. It was the quiet voice and the commitment I made that told him I was not mad but that I was on his side. It was the little tear that told me what was in his heart.

In light of this blog, the poem has another meaning as well. The little things, those Littles, with loud voices, messy habits, and big hugs, those Littles with tantrums, smiles, and huge hearts, those Littles mean most of all.

As you set your intention for the upcoming year, where do your children, spouse, and other loved ones stand? What little things can you change to show more love and less frustration, more gratitude and less judgement? What little resolutions can you make that will cause revolutions for good in your life?
Wishing you all the best for a Happy New Year!

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Colorful Crystals Science Experiment

It is the oldest thing on earth. A teeny (about the width of four human hairs), tiny zircon. This little zircon was part of earth's crust and is thought to be 4.4 billion years old! (See a short clip here.) What is a zircon? It is a type of crystal. So are snow, salt, your beautiful diamond ring, and parts of your computer. Crystals are all around us and are used in countless ways. Their geometric shapes are beautiful and fascinating. Here is a simple experiment that allows you and your Littles to grow your own colorful crystals.

Preschool Science Experiment

We began this experiment as part of a homeschool lesson about colors and the letter C. However, it can also be incorporated into lessons about geology, experimental design, evaporation, or solutes. It also works well as a "Nothing but Fun!" activity. (You know, that kind of activity where the kids think they are "just playing", but we're really sneaking in all kinds of interesting knowledge.)

What are Crystals?

Crystals are solids that have microscopic structures which are highly ordered. Their atoms make repetitive patterns that eventually form smooth, flat surfaces. The structure and shapes vary widely.

Public Domain Photo of Diamonds
Crystals are solids with highly ordered microscopic structures.

Did You Know: Some crystals have pretty

How to Do the Experiment

I had heard of growing crystals at home but hadn't ever done it.  When planning this activity, I read about crystal growing here, here, and here.  We added our own twist and decided to set up a comparison experiment.  We called it "Colorful Crystals."

-Small pan for boiling (optional- you can mix without heating)
-3 home crystal substances/solutes (We chose alum, baking soda, and salt.  Other options could be sugar, borax, or Epsom salt.  This is where the experiment comes in.  Some substances grow crystals while others don't, and the crystals that form are of different structures.)
-3 clear cups
-3 pencils 
-White board or paper for a sign

Please have careful adult supervision and participation with this! 

1.) Dissolve your first solute (example is salt or alum) in 3/4 cup water at a low boil or near boil. (Heat is optional.) Use as much of the solute as you can until it won't dissolve anymore. This is a supersaturated mixture.

2.) Allow the mixture to cool enough that it won't melt your cup. Pour the mixture into a clear cup and add food coloring of your choice.

3.) Set a pencil over the cup with a string tied to it that hangs down into the water. 

4.) Repeat steps 1-3 with the other two solutes, making each a different color.

5) Write a sign that says "Day 1" (we used a small whiteboard) and take a picture of the whole set-up. 

6) Talk about what you guess (hypothesize) might happen.  Little #3 guessed that all of them will make crystals, but they will all look different. (The depth of the hypothesis will be age-dependent.)

Preschool Science Experiment Set-Up

Sidenote: While the crystals grow best with supersaturated mixtures, we only had two tablespoons of alum, which wasn't enough to supersaturate our solution.  In order to keep the other variables constant, we used only two tablespoons of each solute and 3/4 cup water, or as close to those as a four-year-old measuring gets. :) You will get faster results than we did when you use more solute.

And Now, We Wait
Try not to disturb your crystals while you wait for them to grow.

Each morning change your sign and take a picture to see how the crystals change. 

I have read that some results start to appear after a few hours. We saw definite changes after two days.

We decided to wait two weeks. Little #3 loved being in charge of this experiment, writing the number of the day, and taking the pictures.

Science Experiment Day 12
It is hard to see the details in this picture, but crystals were growing on the sides and bottoms of the cups and on the yarn.

Well, two weeks came and it was time to finish up our experiment. Little #3 cried. We calmed the tears and talked about our options. We decided to let the crystals grow longer.

So dinners came and went. Holidays came and went. Birthdays came and went. And our little crystals continued to grow.

I don't know if it makes me crazy, lazy, or awesome, but that experiment sat on my kitchen counter for 65 days.

The Results

By 65 days, our water was almost completely evaporated, our crystals were as big as we thought they would get (debatably past their prime but nowhere near these giants), and we were both at peace about completing the experiment. ;)

Did You Know: Some of the biggest natural crystals
ever found are from a cave in Mexico and are 
up to four feet wide by 36 feet long.

We were not disappointed with our results either!

Science Experiment Day 65

The alum crystals were the first of our group to start forming. They were the largest of the three and grew mostly on the bottom of the cup.

Alum Crystals Science Experiment

The salt crystals formed all over the sides of the cup but most beautifully attached to the yarn. They were of tiny, perfect, cubic shapes.

Salt Crystals Science Experiment

Baking Soda
The baking soda crystals were the least definitively formed. They grew on the sides of the cup and in lumps on the bottom of the cup, as well as thickly on the yarn.

Shhh. Don't tell Little #3, but one of the other Littles confessed to squeezing the cup, sending the first set of crystals back into the water. This could be part of why these crystals were kind of gloppy. (Gloppy is a word, isn't it?)

Baking Soda Crystals Science Experiment

Record Your Results
Record your results using this Free Colorful Crystals Printable. Alternately, you can make your own.

Science Experiment Free Printable
Age 4
This was a good way to incorporate some writing for Little #3. Older kids could write more and draw more detailed pictures of the crystal shapes.

We had a fun time discussing our results. We talked about Little #3's hypothesis...he was right! We talked about how the crystals grew (see below) and if there were other substances around the house that could grow crystals. Little #3's favorite crystal was all of them and my favorite was alum. :)

Did You Know: Putting alum on a canker sore is
a great way to heal the sore.
You can find alum among the seasonings
at your grocery store.

Little #3 was really excited to put his crystals in bags and save them. He showed everyone in the family as well as everyone who came to visit.

Be aware that while many crystals are very strong, some of these that we made can be crushed or broken easily.

Preschool Science Experiment Results

How Do These Crystals Form?

When the solute is dissolved in the water, the molecules of the solute break apart and become surrounded by water. Sometimes those molecules of the solute bump into each other or another object (like the yarn or cup in our experiment). When enough of them bump together, they stay together. This is called nucleation.

When that nucleus is formed, its outer edges have dangling bonds. Other nearby molecules attach to those bonds in the structural pattern specific to that solute. Eventually, the rough edges are filled with molecules, creating the smooth, flat surface of these crystals.

This site has some really helpful and simple pictures of the molecular process.

This whole process is sped up by evaporation. As the water evaporates, it leaves the molecules of the solute behind and searching for nearby bonds. We had a great discussion about evaporation as we asked, "Where did the water in the cup go?"

Your Turn

Now it is your turn to grow some incredible crystals! I hope you have fun and gain knowledge as you experiment with your Littles. Leave me a comment with any questions. Share pictures of your crystals using #lovinlifewithlittles. Be sure to Follow by Email to get even more insights, activities, and funny stories delivered to your mailbox from Lovin' Life with Littles.

Have you already grown crystals before? Which solute is your favorite? I'm thinking of trying Borax and sugar next time. I wonder if any crystals would grow if you mixed the solutes? Any other suggestions that we should try?

Preschool Science Experiment

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

D is for Delicious!

What a joy it is to see your kids discover and learn about the world around them.  They begin each day with such enthusiasm and dive into life at full speed.  They question, (if only I had a chocolate for every time I have answered "Why?") and process.  Those "ah-ha" moments are sheer bliss.  What a great responsibility we have to encourage that curiosity and teach them how to learn.  With the next portion of these alphabet lessons, we'll focus on helping our Littles recognize ways they can investigate their world using their five senses.

Before we get into the details of today's plan, I want to mention that I hope your home preschool adventures are going well.  I hope that these lesson plans are helpful for you.  If you have suggestions for how they could be more helpful, please let me know in the comments below.  If you haven't seen my quick tips for getting started with successful home preschool, check THIS out.  This is the fourth in our Alphabet Lesson Plan Series.  Find the first three lessons HERE.  Feel free to use and share these plans to talk, sing, read, write, and play your way through the alphabet.  You can use our full lesson plans, or, of course, pick individual activities to do with the Littles in your life.  I am also a budget-friendly Mama, so no worries there: our activities are always easy on the pocketbook.  Now, let's get to it!

Free Preschool Alphabet Lesson Plan for D

Print the Quick Reference "D is for Delicious!" Preschool Lesson Plan.
Visit the Preschool Lesson Plan Index to see what free plans are published or in the works!

Sing the Welcome Song.  We were lucky today to have our "big kids" home from school and joining us for Mommy Preschool!  As my oldest was the one to introduce us to "Hello to All the Children in the World," she was really excited to see that we have been learning it together.  We all sang along voraciously!

PLAY- Pipe Cleaner Letters:
Introduce the shape of capital D.  I cut a few pipe cleaners in half and gave each of the kids two pieces.  They then bent and twisted the pipe cleaners to make a big D and then a lowercase d.  After figuring out those two, they made whatever letters they wanted.

PLAY-Letter D Charades:
This was so much fun and a great way to introduce the sound D makes!  Kids never tire of this classic game that can be adapted to any topic.  Use this Free Letter D Charades Printable to get your game going!  Print out the cards and cut them apart.  Take turns getting the others to guess what's on the card by acting.  For young kids, you can allow a few sounds if that makes it more fun for them. 

Can you guess what word he is acting out that begins with the letter D?
As a challenge, kids can think of their own words to act out that begin with D.  The last word I acted out was "discover."  That led us to our next activity.  (Younger kids may not guess this word in which case you could just move on without acting it out.)

Discover is such a great word!  What does it mean to discover?  It is so much fun to investigate the world around us.  We have been given many tools to make those discoveries.  To introduce some of the ways we discover the world around us, we read the book No One But You by Douglas Wood.

The book is affirming prose about discovering the world in the way only you can, through your own senses.  The illustrations are beautiful.  It is not overtly a "senses" book, which I appreciated as it led to more feeling.  The emotion of the book helps the details stick with us.  The book led to thinking and discussion about learning about the world.

While most of us loved the book, one of my kids was adamant that "It's not only you!  Lots of people can do that!"  ;)  More literal thinkers may appreciate a more literal introduction to the senses, such as My Five Senses By Aliki. 

The sentences are simple and geared toward younger readers.  The story can be enhanced with questions and interaction.

After reading we discussed in what ways the kids in the story learned about the world.  That led to very briefly telling the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hear, and see.  Today we will "Discover Delicious" as we focus on the sense of taste. 

Everyone loves tasting food, but first, let's sing about it!  Immediately, an old-time favorite from my own childhood came to mind: "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas!"  Each verse brings a simple change in pronunciation that everyone enjoys.

Here is Raffi's version of Apples and Bananas.  (I do not have any rights to the video.)

I chose several different ingredients that I had on hand and put each in a separate bowl.  The ingredients all looked similar.  I used salt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, powdered milk, and flour.

The kids used cotton swabs dipped in water to taste each one. 

For the youngest (age 4), it was a comparing activity as he ranked the ingredients from "Most Delicious" to "Least Delicious." 

To incorporate writing, label each ingredient with a letter and have the kids write the letters in order from Most Delicious to Least Delicious.  The older kids enjoyed making a tongue map and figuring out if some parts of the tongue tasted various foods differently.  (Note that while different parts of the tongue are not entirely responsible for different tastes, slight differences can be detected.) As they tasted we also talked about which ingredients were sweet, sour, salty, bitter, etc.  We finished by washing down those less delicious tastes with a small sour then sweet treat...Sour Patch Kids!  Yummers!

After we finished tasting the different ingredients, we gathered back in our circle.  We talked about how you couldn't tell by looking at the ingredients whether or not they tasted good.  For that same reason, it is really important to try new foods.  You might end up liking them!  However, are there some things we should not try?  We don't eat foods from strangers or things that are bad for our bodies.  We talked briefly about how smoking and other drugs are bad for us, and if someone offers for us to try those we "Just say, 'No!'"

A great book here for a preschool crowd is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  That is an oft-repeated bedtime story at our house.  Since we do read it a lot, for today I chose The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain.  I love the way the Berenstain's approach life and solve all of its problems!  Mama Bear is the original Supernanny.  If you're not familiar with the Berenstain Bears, check them out for sure.  They offer simple, common sense solutions for every occasion through stories the kids enjoy.  A couple others we like are The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room and The Berenstain Bears and the Tooth Fairy (why do some cubs get 25 cents and others a whole dollar?)  In Too Much Junk Food the bears learn about eating healthy and exercising. 

After reading, we reviewed a few of the concepts discussed in the book.  Our bodies need many kinds of nutrients in order to function properly.  These nutrients come from different kinds of food.  Therefore, in order to be healthy, we need to eat a variety of foods in moderation, with limited sweets.  I showed them a picture of the US Government's MyPlate and mentioned that it's a good idea to try to have half of our food be fruits and vegetables. 

Using plastic play food (you could also use real food or pictures of food) we sorted foods into the different food groups.  You could also make it more simple by sorting into "Healthy" and "Not Healthy."  For any kind of food sorting, there are not always right and wrong answers.  The important thing is to get kids thinking about what is in the foods we eat and what those different foods do for our bodies. 

"Aiken Drum" is a fun song about a man living in the moon whose body parts are all made of different foods.  It's a fun idea to let kids choose what foods those are.  (I love that in this video the singers go with one child's suggestion that the pants are made of Dino Nuggets! ;)

The Nields sisters singing Aikendrum.  (I do not have any rights to the video.)

Our last activity was making a collage using this Free D is for Delicious! Collage Printable.

Free Preschool Printable: D is for Delicious!

First, we traced the three D's.  One of them might be tricky to find. ;)

Next we used the grocery advertisements I had saved from the mail the previous week.  The kids cut out pictures of foods that looked delicious to them and pasted the pictures on their mouth collage.  I asked questions like, "What kind of dairy would you choose?"  Mostly, they did whatever they wanted with the collage though. 

A candid conversation also came up about how much different foods cost and what was a good deal.  It's always fun to hear a kid's perspective on money.  ;)

In a rare turn of events, we didn't eat a snack today, unless you count flour and baking soda as a snack!  Learning about the sense of taste and didn't have a real snack!  Ironic right?  However, I wanted to give you some options.  There are not too many healthy, whole foods that start with the letter D.  Dates is my top pick.  It could be a new food for some littles.  Other ideas are dinosaur shaped nuggets, donuts, or dairy foods.  You could also classify anything as "delicious" and call it a day!

As usual, we finished with our goodbye song and see you next week!  (Then we kept playing, crafting, and doing whatever else we were doing together.  Even so, we have the official close to Mommy Preschool, wave, and say "See you next week!" :)

Hopefully we'll see YOU next week too!  We will explore hearing with E is for Ears!  Be sure to follow by email to receive a note to your inbox when new posts are published.

Leave a comment to let me know what activities your Littles are enjoying, what types of posts you'd like to see, or any other questions or thoughts you have.  I love hearing from you, and thanks for visiting!  Happy Preschooling!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Offering

This is my offering. 

It kind of makes me giggle to see where this came from.  The other day I was posting and writing about some of my favorite books.  I linked (as I always do) to a book link for convenience if someone reading this blog wants to learn more about that particular book.  (As you are the "someone reading this blog," thank you for being here!)  Afterwards I thought, "Is that what affiliate marketing is?"  If so, that's a pretty organic way of doing it, one I feel completely at ease with.  I began looking into affiliate marketing and "Disclosure Policy" popped up in several things I read.  I read some disclosure statements and started mulling over what I ought to disclose.  So, here is my disclosure policy.

I am a reader.  I am a thinker.  I am a learner who has been blessed with more than one person should.  I grew up surrounded by people who are successful in the things I think matter most: home, family, being a good person.  I have been blessed to watch people face challenges with faith and optimism, leading to a happy life regardless of circumstance.  I have always been a daughter, sister, friend, and a member of incredible extended family.  Now, I am a wife and mother and a fully-functioning member of society.  (Fully-functioning meaning I vote, volunteer at the kids' school, interact with my know, I'm an adult now.)  I continue to study and watch and ask questions, but it is also time to put into daily practice the principles I espouse.  It is time to actually forgive.  It is time to actually stay patient with children.  It is time to love.  It is also time to have fun with the kids, overcome bad days, and read a good novel.  So let's have a conversation.  I want to share the best of what I have seen and learned in the hopes that it will brighten your day, make your mommy job or day job a little simpler or more joyful, or bring you the encouragement you deserve that yes, you can do this.  Whatever it is, if it is right, there is a way to do it.

I felt a tug to be a part of this online conversation long before I joined in.  Then I jumped.  I began blogging.  I began asking myself what to write about and how to write about it.  If you're reading this, it is likely you have also been there.  In my head (and once in a while out loud) I now call myself a writer. 

In a separate train of thought, I wondered what I could do to help the finances of the family.  What did I have to offer?  Maybe, maybe I could make a dime through my blog.  If not, it would still be worth what I put in for my own learning and if I can be helpful for anyone out there.

So what am I disclosing?  I am disclosing that this blog is me.  Here I am sharing what has helped me and what I hope might help you.  The opinions are mine and are genuine.  If there are chances to also help my family financially, I am excited about that opportunity.  That may be in the form of affiliate links, reviews, or a myriad of other avenues I have read about.  I will always be honest about those avenues.  I giggle because I have not made a cent from this blog, but maybe, truthfully, hopefully, someday I will.  Maybe enough for a game of bowling.

Until that happens, and far beyond, the opinions and content of this blog are my responsibility.

It is my offering. 

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