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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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

C is for Color

This lesson was SO much fun for Little #3 and me!  There are a ton of incredible ways to learn about and experiment with colors.  It was hard to narrow down the activities to fit in one day, but what we ended up with was awesome.  Epic, in the voice of my eight-year-old.  Epic.  ;)

Before we get into the details of today's plan, I want to mention that I hope your home preschool adventures are also going well and that these lesson plans are helpful for you.  If you haven't seen my quick tips for getting started with successful home preschool, check THIS out.  This is the third in our Alphabet Lesson Plan Series.  Find the first two 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!

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

Gather on the floor for circle time and start with a welcome song.  Since this was our third week singing our new welcome song, "Hello to All the Children of the World," I asked Little #3 if he could remember any of the ways to say hello.  He thought of quite a few (even more if we count "nearly said it right.")  We repeated all of them: hello, bonjour, buenos dias, G'day, guten tag, konichiwa, ciao, shallom, dobrey dyen.  We followed along with the video for the full song.

Introduce the round shape of the letter C.  Little #3 remembers it as a half-circle.  Connecting new information to ideas that kids already know is a great way to help them learn and remember that new information.  The challenge today to help us learn the shape of the letter C was to find how many ways we could make that shape with our body.  You can use your whole body (for example, a back bend) or just parts (for example, your fingers).  Sometimes the first one is the hardest.  Once the kids pick-up on the idea, their imaginations are pretty limitless!

PLAY-Rhyming C's:
Next, we talked about the two sounds the letter C makes.  I like to introduce both sounds right from the start.  I say we use the hard C sound more often, and then we focus on that.  To practice the sound, we played Rhyming C's.  One person says a word that begins with the letter C.  The next person thinks of a word that rhymes.  Then trade roles.  Some good C words for rhyming include cat-bat, car-star, cap-tap, cent-bent, crib-bib, call-ball, crab-grab, and cook-book.  Rhyming with nonsense words is age-appropriate for preschoolers.  You can say, "That's a great rhyming nonsense word!  Now can you think of a real word that rhymes with car?  Think about something you might see up in the sky."

Now it is time to use a book to introduce the focus for today's lesson: colors.  We read a child's version of Noah's Ark.  One thing I appreciate about home preschool is that I can weave religious beliefs and morals into our learning.  As these are foundational to how I approach life and challenges, I love being able to pass this on to my kids.  We have A First Bible Story Book by Mary Hoffman.  Our book came with a CD.  We were given it years ago, and the kids love the versions of the 13 stories from the Old and New Testaments.

Other good stories to introduce the colors are A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman, What Makes a Rainbow: A Magic Ribbon Book by Betty Ann Schwartz, or Rainbow Rob by Jo Rigg, Roger Priddy, and Simon Mugford. 

I found this "Rainbow Song" on YouTube.  It was perfect for us.  The tune is simple and the words are easy to catch on to.  Only one warning: The words are "red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink."  Yes, if your Littles are anything like mine, a LONG conversation about why anyone would say pink is in the rainbow is sure to ensue.  You may want to pick a different song, but as I said, I liked the simplicity and melody of this one. 

TALK and PLAY-Make Your Own Rainbow:
What does it take to make a rainbow?  Figure out together that we see rainbows when the sunlight shines through the rain.  So we need light and water.  Do we have those things around here?  Do you think we can make our own rainbow?  Let the students think about possible ways to make a rainbow.  You can experiment with those different ways or steer them toward a configuration that should work right away.  An example is here, with other examples here.  We put water in a glass and let the light shine through onto a piece of white paper.  If it's not sunny, you can use a flashlight.  Depending on your Littles' previous knowledge and interest level, you can talk briefly about how white light has all the colors of the rainbow in it.  When the light goes through water or a prism it separates.

The experiment was a little underwhelming for us as we couldn't clearly see all the colors, but Little #3 still thought it was pretty incredible that he could make his own real rainbow!

WRITE and PLAY-Scavenger Hunt:
It was a beautiful day, perfect for heading outside.  I wrote up a quick scavenger hunt paper, but I made a nice Free Printable Colors Scavenger Hunt for you guys.  We took our scavenger hunt paper, a pencil, and a cup for collecting treasures and went for a little walk around the house and down the block.  Little #3 was enthusiastic about drawing pictures of the things he found for each color.  For the rainbow square he found something that had a lot of colors on it, as opposed to all the colors.  

There were of course so many choices for each color.  He ended up drawing a red fire hydrant, dry orange pine needles, a yellow flower, green grass, a blue hose faucet, a purple flower, a dried violet bloom, and a multicolored leaf.

Now that we have learned about all these colors, what happens if we start mixing colors?  Something about the costumes and strong beat make the "Sesame Street: OK Go - Three Primary Colors" song a hit at our house.  It is a great introduction to primary and secondary colors.  Be sure to get up, sing along, and dance!

Another great way to introduce color mixing is with the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  Here is a video reading of the book.

PLAY-Flashlight Mix-Up:
Can you remember what we just sang about?  What happens if you mix red and yellow?  What about if you mix red and blue or yellow and blue?  Turn out the lights.  Using a flashlight and some tissue paper in red, yellow, and blue, experiment with mixing the colors by overlapping the tissue paper on the end of the flashlight and shining it on the wall.  You can fold the paper over the sides of the flashlight and put a rubber band around the flashlight to help hold the tissue paper in place.  There is something about flashlights that never grows old for my Littles!

We went for celery with peanut butter and raisins on it and carrots on a cow plate. :)  Other options are crackers, cornbread, cantaloupe, cucumber, or cashews.  You could also opt for Captain Crunch, candy, corn chips, cookies, and cake, although it's getting harder and harder to do that these days. ;)   

Bonus Riddle:  What kind of cup does not hold water?  Answer: A cupcake!  Hehehe.

Later in the day, we carried the theme into lunch and enjoyed a colorful fruit and veggie rainbow!  We ate red sweet peppers, orange carrots, yellow pineapple, green string beans, blue blueberries, and violet raspberries.  YUMMY!!!!

PLAY-Magic Milk:
This was the highlight that was talked about with everyone that would listen for the next few days.  This in fact might be what made the whole lesson epic.  The experiment is simple, uses common ingredients, and has a great wow factor.  I got the details here.  Pour milk into a plate as full as you dare.  The fattier the milk the better.  Squeeze drops of food coloring into the milk.  

Squeeze drops of dish soap into the mixture.  The colors will move and mix as the fat in the milk is attracted to the soap.  

Lastly, use a cotton swab to further swirl the colors and see if anything new happens.

Of course, one of the most fundamental things we love about colors is creating with them.  Free painting is a fitting activity for today's lesson.  We used the primary colors so that he could experiment with mixing.  I wrote "C is for Color!" on a piece of paper (for our Alphabet Book) and let Little #3 paint whatever he wanted.  

I was surprised that he decided to paint a scene as he usually is a full color on the full page type of artist.  While he didn't mix colors as much as I thought he would, he enjoyed painting.

I actually love painting, coloring, and creating alongside my kids.  I always wait to get started until my kids are well into their own projects though.  If I don't, I find that some kids choose to copy me instead of using their own imagination.  I love to see what they come up with!

PLAY-Colorful Crystals:
After Milk Magic, this was the second talk of the town.  We set-up a crystal growing 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."  Here is what you need...

-Small pan for boiling (optional- you can mix without heating)
-3 home salts/substances (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! 

Make three different solutions by dissolving your salt/substance in water at a low boil or near boil.  1) Mix water and alum.  2) Mix water and baking soda.  3) Mix water and salt.  The crystals grow best with supersaturated mixtures, but we only had two tablespoons of alum.  In order to keep the other variables constant, we used two tablespoons of each substance (I would use more of each next time) and 3/4 cup water, or as close to those as a four-year-old measuring gets. :)  Pour each mixture into a clear cup and make each a different color with food coloring.  Set a pencil over each cup with a string tied to it that hangs down into the water. 

Write a sign that says "Day 1" (we used a small whiteboard) and take a picture.  Talk about what you guess (hypothesize) might happen.  Little #3 guessed that all of them will make crystals, but they will all look different.

Each morning change your sign and take a picture to see how the crystals grow and change.  I will report back on how this turns out, as we decided to watch them for two weeks.  The whole family is involved and interested now!

With that in mind, note the addition to the sign by day two.  It didn't take us long to add that tidbit!  :)  Little #3 is loving being in charge of this experiment, writing the number of the day, and taking the pictures.

Sing a goodbye song.  We'll see you next week!

Coming up we will dive into how we investigate the world using our five senses.  We will start with the sense of taste with "D is for Delicious!"  Oh yeah!

I hope you and your Littles are enjoying your time together with some of these activities.  I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section.  Also, share pictures of your preschool adventures using #lovinlifewithlittles and follow on Instagram.  To get preschool lesson plans, insights, and funny stories sent right to your inbox, please follow by email!

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Seven Steps to a More Patient Child

"Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom..."  You are in the middle of a phone call and it starts.  The incessant name-saying and forceful arm-tugging.  While "Mom" is one of my very favorite names, allowing this conduct is not teaching our children socially acceptable behavior nor is it giving them the opportunity to gain a real virtue...patience.

It is a blessing to possess patience.  With it we can weather storms, delay gratification, and remain calm.  Without it stress is sky-high and opportunities are lost.  Patience may be required over long periods of time and for varying levels of annoyance.  So how can we help our kids gain profound  patience?  We can start with small, daily occurrences, like waiting for Mom or Dad's attention.  Hopefully as our kids practice and master being patient in this situation, their skills will carry over to harder and longer situations.

Here are seven simple steps to teach our kids patience.

1.  Name It

  • Telling our kids to "Just be patient!" (even if we say it in a very calm, cool, and collected way) will not do any good if these youngsters do not know what patient means.  The first step in growing patient children is being very clear about what is expected.  The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines patient as "putting up with pains or hardships calmly or without complaint."  For my little guys, we say, "Patience is waiting nicely." 
  • Paint a picture of what waiting nicely looks like, sounds like, and feels like.  For example, waiting nicely looks like keeping your hands still (not pulling on Mommy), it sounds quiet, and it feels calm like deep breathing or gentle waves.  Can you show me patience?

2.  Create a Child Signal

  • Too often we tell our kids what not to do instead of what they SHOULD do.  Let us help make their path clear.  When are the times you would like your children to be patient?  Examples are when you are on the phone, talking to another adult, or conversing with another child.  Tell your child these times or how to recognize when patience is expected.  Make a plan for how you want your child to get your attention during these times.  One friend has her son put his hand on her elbow.  Maybe your child can whisper, "When you're done please."  Pick something that works for both of you.  This is the child signal.

3.  Create a Parent Signal

  • It is much easier for all of us to wait nicely when we know there is an end in sight.  How will your child know there is an end of waiting coming soon?  Create a parent signal.  This is a signal you send to your child that means, "I understand you want my attention.  Please wait patiently for a moment and you will get it."  This signal can also be used at times when your child does not recognize that patience is needed (or forgets his signal. ;)  For my friend with the elbow touch, she places her other hand over his (or taps her elbow if he forgets).  You could flash a thumbs up, touch your nose, or put your hand on your child's shoulder.  Any quiet signal will work. 

4.  Count It Out

  • Some kids can go back to playing while they wait.  Others cannot switch mindsets until you have responded.  This is the kind of child that has a harder time avoiding the arm pull.  These kids are often very energetic and passionate.  Let's not squash that energy in our attempts to socialize our children (or our attempts to prevent ourselves from going crazy!).  So what is your child supposed to do while she waits patiently?  Count it out.  This is where you make it a game.  How long can she wait?  How high can she count in her head?  (My little guy usually gets to at least 100, although he can't count past 30 yet.  ;)  This diverts the little mind and usually produces a smile when all is said and done.

5.  Practice It

  • Like all new behaviors, patience needs to be modeled and practiced.  You be the patient one first.  Hand your child the phone or a book.  Approach them and give the child signal.  Then wait.  If your little one forgets the parent signal, quietly remind them.  Count in your head and model the ideal waiting.  Your child will probably test how long you can go.  They will love being the adult and making you wait.  You can do it!  Hang in there Mama!  ;)  When they are done, be excited about how long you were able to wait patiently.  "Wow!  I waited patiently until the count of 47!"  Switch roles and do it until you are both sure and capable of the ideal.

6.  Make It Work

  • These are steps to help your child wait patiently for you, not to help your child be ignored by  you.  If you want your children to stick with the system, you need to make it work for them.  Be realistic in how long you expect them to wait.  Recognize that older kids should be able to wait longer than younger ones.  When you are ready to respond, give your child your full attention. 

7.  Praise It

  • When your child successfully uses any part of the system, let them know.  Be specific about what you appreciate.  Use phrases like, "That is so great that you remembered to use your signal."  "Thank you so much for your patience.  You waited so quietly." 
  • Also praise patience when you see it in other people.  Point out good examples of patience wherever you see them be it a sibling or cartoon character.
  • Help your kids see the blessings of patience in their own lives and others'.  "I was just talking on the phone with a person who is not feeling well.  Because you were so patient, our conversation went quickly and she can go to sleep and get better sooner.  It was very kind of you to be so patient.  We both appreciate that."  "Did you see how patiently he waited in that line?  If he had not been patient he never would have gotten that treat."  "That was sure nice of your sister to wait patiently for her turn.  Are you glad she waited so you could use that for so long?"  Also tell true stories from your own life of times when you were blessed by patience.  Stories are an excellent teaching tool.

Perhaps the best thing we can do to raise patient children is to be patient parents.  Even if we follow these seven steps, a child's initial reaction will be to do what he has seen.  We can make it easier for our kids to be patient by showing them each day what that looks like.  May we each increase in patience allowing our homes to be filled with peace!

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