Fall Week 2

Fall Week 2: September 10-14

fall week 2 heading

At Real. Meaningful. Family. my goal is to provide information based on research for parents and caregivers, and to create regular opportunity for you to have special together time with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers learn from the environment and daily interactions. We are in no way seeking to create a school-like setting for your young child. Research has clearly indicated that academic learning (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) for these young children is not developmentally appropriate, learning for this age is in the every day details. The activities below have been created as a time to set aside specifically for parents and care givers to have a fun interaction with their children. I would recommend you first prioritize time to read, snuggle, dance, sing, move, rhyme, play, and then add these activities in as you can. Don’t stress… keep it simple, and just be together!
“The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow. But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” -Erik Erikson

Art

Apple Stamp

When we think of art, especially painting, it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of finger painting or painting with a brush. There’s no problem with those, but it’s important to think outside of the box every now and then. This activity is a version of stamping. It is stamping with interesting parts of an apple. To get going, cut an apple across the width of the middle (from side to side not top to bottom). You should be able to see the seeds forming a star shape. Set out various colors to dip the apple. If you have an older child (3 or 4ish), let them try to figure out what to do with some help and verbal direction from you. With younger kids you’ll need to be a little more hands on to hold on to the apple, dip it into paint, and use as a stamp on construction paper. Encourage your child to change colors if they want and demonstrate or help them wipe the apple on a wet cloth when they are ready for a new color. Talk about what happens when the colors mix, what shapes do they see as they are stamping, how does the inside of the apple look different than the outside?

Stuff to Have

-1 or 2 Apples (could add pears too)

-Non-toxic finger paint or other children’s paint

-Construction paper

Developing Skills

Color recognition, fine motor, sensory, early science

Fine Motor

Bean ScoopIMG_0551

Pour 1 or 2 bags of dry beans into a large container. Provide spoons, bowls, cups, tongs, or anything else your child would enjoy digging through beans.

*Variation: Provide a separate bowl to scoop beans into with the utensils. Or for older children provide a muffin tin or ice tray to sort beans by shape and color.

*Variation: Add a problem solving element by putting small toys or objects in the bean container for children to find.

Stuff to Have

-1 or 2 bags of dry beans

-Large open container

-Cups, bowls, spoons, strainers, etc. (Be creative and change it up each time you do this!)

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory

Problem Solving

Flashlight Find

Here is a fun little twist on hide and seek or other activities that we have like Find the Star. It’s up to us to add the problem solving element by asking where objects are (preferably familiar objects to make it more interesting for your child). To do this activity, darken a room that is familiar to your child and has familiar objects in it. Sit down somewhere comfortable and let your child use the flashlight to find various objects. Older children will love having you name some of their favorite toys or special objects and using the flashlight to find them. While younger children might not grasp the concept of finding things with the flashlight you can demonstrate and begin that problem solving concept. If they are only interested in playing with the flashlight that is fine too- they are still always learning and building new concepts. Just take care to help them avoid looking directly at the light.

Stuff to Have

-1 Flashlight

-Darkened, familiar room

Developing Skills

Problem Solving, follow through

Early Science & Math

Pumpkin Patch Match

Math and science concepts in these early ages consist of things like color recognition, sorting, and matching. So this activity is one that will capitalize on all of these depending on your child’s age. Prep your paper pumpkins in various shapes and sizes and in different colors. For a really young child you could lay out for instance, 2 green pumpkins and 1 red pumpkin and ask which pumpkins match. Or you could do it by size and lay out 2 big pumpkins and 1 small pumpkin and ask which ones match. The older your child is the more pumpkins you could put out to either match, or sort by color or size. You be the judge of what will be fun for your child. That’s the key word here too… this is not a test, it is not school, nor is it something to teach your young child. This is supposed to be a fun game to do together and enjoy time with one another! Keep it fun, talk about colors, and size, and be encouraging.

Stuff to Have

Paper pumpkins, various sizes and colors (I free hand my pumpkins and cut out)

Developing Skills

Early math, color recognition, fine motor, sorting, matching

Cooking & Baking

Apple Pie Pockets

Cooking and baking is just a fun way to incorporate fine motor, science, math, sensory… it basically packs in most areas of development in one activity! As you go through this baking process try to get your child involved in as much as you can. Have them scoop and dump the sugar and cinnamon into the apples, help them cut the dough, they can run their finger around the dough with water, fold it, and crimp the edges with a little help from you! You can ask questions about what they think is going on, describe what you are doing when they really can’t help (ie. cutting apples and using the hot oven), help them taste the cinnamon and sugar, turn the oven light on so they can watch the change, and continue the discussion when you finally get to eat your treat! Doing all of this, and making it their cooking activity will make it so fun and special for them, all the while they are learning so much!

To get started with this treat… preheat your oven to 400. Then roll out your pie crust and your child can get involved (with your help) cutting out the tops and bottoms of the pockets. I assist my child with a butter knife- nothing sharp and we cut 3×3 squares. You could cut any shape you want though, circles, squares, rectangles, or using an apple cookie cutter to make an apple shaped pocket would be so cute! Using cookie cutters might actually be easier for your child as they can just set it and press down to cut, rather than cutting straight lines with a knife.

Now, combine the apple chunks, sugar, and cinnamon together. Spoon about a tablespoon of the apple chunk mixture onto one half of the dough square and run a finger wet with water around the edge of the square. Fold over from corner to corner (your final product will be a triangle shaped pocket if you chose to cut out the square shapes) and crimp the edges of the dough to make sure it stays closed.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Stuff to have

Pie crust (refrigerated, frozen, or homemade)

2 Apples, cut into small chunks (approx. 1/2″)

1/4c sugar

1/2t cinnamon


Happy Playing!

 

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Fine Motor: Bean Scoop

FINE MOTOR

Today we did our Fine Motor activity, bean scoop. I love this fine motor activity because there are so many ways to tweak it and make it new each time we do it. That is one reason why you will see this activity popping up quite a bit throughout the Fall months. No reason to reinvent the wheel each week!

Check out the link below to see how we did it, as well as different ideas to change it up in the weeks to come and how to make it fun for different ages.

Bean Scoop

And if you haven’t seen this week’s plan you can check it out here!

Happy Playing!

Fall Week 13

Fall Week 13: November 26-30

At Real. Meaningful. Family. my goal is to provide information based on research for parents and caregivers, and to create regular opportunity for you to have special together time with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers learn from the environment and daily interactions. We are in no way seeking to create a school-like setting for your young child. Research has clearly indicated that academic learning (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) for these young children is not developmentally appropriate, learning for this age is in the every day details. The activities below have been created as a time to set aside specifically for parents and care givers to have a fun interaction with their children. I would recommend you first prioritize time to read, snuggle, dance, sing, move, rhyme, play, and then add these activities in as you can. Don’t stress… keep it simple, and just be together!
“The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow. But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” -Erik Erikson

Art

Free

I don’t have a planned art activity this week. Catch up on something you missed or pick something that is your child’s favorite!

Fine Motor

Pipe Cleaner Colander

img_1001Pull out your kitchen colander and some pipe cleaners. Let your child poke the pipe cleaners through the holes of the colander giving them a great fine motor workout!

Stuff to Have

Colander

Pipe cleaners

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Problem Solving

IMG_0657Fall Puzzle

I find it fun to include activities that for the most part fall within the season we are in. We don’t have a fall puzzle, so I decided it should be easy enough to make one. If you don’t want to make a puzzle, no problem. Just do some of the puzzles that you have together. To make our puzzle I freehanded 4 different colored and different shaped pumpkins (you could also do leaves or apples if you want to keep it in the fall theme). I cut out the 1st 4 pumpkins and traced each of them on the same color paper. So, my result was 2 of each color of matching pumpkin. Then, I glued one of each color onto a sheet of paper, and the other 4 pumpkins are left to match up for the puzzle. Whether you are doing your own puzzle or this fall puzzle be interactive and encouraging. If your child becomes frustrated give them some hints- this isn’t a test!

Stuff to Have

8 pumpkins (4 different shapes/sizes, 4 different colors)

1 Piece construction paper

Glue

Developing Skills

Problem solving, follow through

Early Science & Math

IMG_0599Sort Leaves

You can either collect fall leaves while on a nature walk or you can purchase craft fall leaves. Allow your child to sort through the leaves making piles by size, shape, and color. The younger the child is the less we are interested in them doing it “right.” For all ages let them explore the textures and the colors.

Stuff to Have

Fall leaves collected from nature or fall craft leaves

Developing Skills

Colors, size, shape, problem solving

Cooking & Baking

Poppyseed Tea Cakes

This is a recipe from my own family archives. Something that we made each year as Christmastime rolled around. This is an old recipe, and sadly I do not know where it originated from.

Mix together ingredients in a large bowl. Grease and flour either 4 small loaf pans or 6 baby loaf pans and pour the mixture evenly into pans, about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes and pour icing over while still in the pans. Let loaves stand for 5 minutes and remove from the pans.

Stuff to Have

For the cakes:

3 c. Flour

1 1/2 t. Salt

1 1/2 t. Baking powder

2 1/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 T. poppyseed

3 Eggs

1 1/2 c. Milk

1 1/8 c. Oil

1 1/2 t. Vanilla

1 1/2 t. Butter flavor

1 1/2t. Almond flavor

For the Icing:

1/4 c. Orange juice

3/4 c. Sugar

1/2 t. Vanilla

1/2 t. Butter flavor

1/2 t. Almond flavor

Developing Skills

Fine motor, early science, early math, communication


Happy playing!

Thankfulness Questions

Here is a fun activity to do as we prepare for Thanksgiving! Grab a pencil and ask your child these questions. I am certain you will come away with some special and adorable answers!

For toddlers and preschoolers, “thankfulness” is a pretty abstract concept. But asking questions like this gets their wheels turning, thinking about the things that they have. They also may start to process things that are more special or that they like more than other things. Really, the ability to pick out things that we are happy to have or like the most is the beginning of the ability to be thankful.

While the questions are written with the word thankful, try changing the wording to something like “What do you like having that is ____?” “What is your favorite thing about ____?” “What are you excited that you have that is ____?” Be creative and find ways to word the questions that fits with your child’s development and knowledge!

Have Fun! Check in on our Facebook page and let us know any of the super cute answers that you get!

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The Thanksgiving Shuffle

I think my love for Thanksgiving really began in college. I just loved getting to go home and relax from school having the excited feeling that this was the kick off to the Holiday season. Now that I am a parent I still feel that way, and I probably love it even more! I know it can be a busy time, especially for young families (and older families too!). The reason I point out young families specifically is that it seems like parents with young children haven’t set up their own traditions or special times together. Some might even feel like it is silly to set aside time just for their family when their children aren’t old enough to remember or appreciate what is happening. I encourage you though, even if your children are young, to not let your family get lost in the shuffle of larger Thanksgiving gatherings. Believe me, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends that are family! Heritage and family connections are so important, and should be cherished if you have them! But spending special time with just your family, even if your children are still babies, is so important. Yep, they might not remember it, but when you look at it from a standpoint of building a relationship with your spouse and child you will never regret spending special time with just your family.

It isn’t a hard and fast rule for us, but we have made Thanksgiving a holiday that we stay home, for the most part. Even if we do need to go to a family gathering, we still find a day or evening to just have our Thanksgiving together. I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of planning and persistence, but it is totally worth it! We make our own meal, we use our special dishes, we have our own yummy treats… my kids are young but they do notice!

So, with all of that said, there is no specific plan for this week. I figure you will have plenty of cooking and baking activities of your own that your child can join in on. Tonight I am starting my mashed potatoes that I’m thinking I can put my kids to work on the mashing part. They will love that! So, get creative with the things you have to do and try to spend time with your child at the same time! If you have some time for extra activities you can do some of your favorites from the fall activity plans or catch up on some Thanksgiving activities that you maybe didn’t have time for last week!

Hopefully, this Friday I will get week 13 up for Fall. That is the last activity plan for Fall and then we will move on to Winter. There are so many fun activities coming up! I am so excited!

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

In the Kitchen: Pilgrim Hats

Here’s part 3 of Catch-up day! Sorry about the over posting, but there were fun Thanksgiving activities this week and I didn’t want to miss out on posting them! Next Monday I’ll post the ‘411’ on the rest of the Fall activity plan, Thanksgiving, and Week 13!

But for now I’ll keep this post quick. It’s pretty self explanatory. These are a fun and super easy In the Kitchen activity to get in the Thanksgiving spirit!

I like activities like this because we can make just a few for my kids to have a snack time, and then we aren’t left with a huge amount of treats. So I had each of my kids make 2, so that requires 2 chocolate striped cookies, 2 peanut butter cups, and peanut butter. You decide how many you need for your family and let that determine your amounts.

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Like I said, it’s pretty easy, but great scooping and smearing opportunities for your child’s fine motor development! Smear the peanut butter on the chocolate side of the cookie.

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Then, stick the peanut butter cup on the peanut butter.

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And there you go, a cute, tasty little Pilgrim hat!

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I said I’d keep it short, so I’ll stop there and I’ll check in on Monday with more info about fall activities and the transition to Winter!

Happy Playing!

Time for Art: Bean Turkey

Can you tell I’m totally playing catch-up? I spent the week visiting my brand new baby nephew and I had amazing intentions of staying on top of our activities and posting new activity blogs… but why do that when I could be doing this…

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So, that is why I am posting this week’s art activity on a Friday! Here is another turkey friend and another craft with a hand tracing… I just can’t pass up doing crafts that involve those sweet, chubby little hands!

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This time around you are going to trace around your child’s hand and use that for the turkey body, no cutting involved this week. Once you have the body traced onto the paper plate you can let your child go to work gluing on the beans. You know all those beans you’ve been doing fine motor work with? Now you can use them for a craft!

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You definitely need to use a paper plate, or some sort of cardboard of that weight. Otherwise the beans will be too heavy and will bend it. I don’t even think card stock would be heavy enough for this. So, if you don’t have a paper plate, you could cut a nice circle or square from a cereal or cracker box. Personally, I like to make sure I have a paper plate, because it makes it look a little nicer, and I like to use this craft along with the Turkey Roll to set around at Thanksgiving time.

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Let’s talk about what’s going on here:

Fine motor: Fine motor, fine motor, fine motor… blah, blah, blah. Are you tired of hearing about fine motor? I hope not because it is such a huge part of your child’s development at this age. These crafts are a great chance to get all of those little muscles moving. But your child will come across a lot of fine motor enhancing tasks throughout their day, so make sure you let them try, maybe even struggle a little bit, to keep their hands and fingers working! I know it’s so much easier to just do it, but that isn’t going to benefit your child in the long run.

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Arts and Crafts: I mentioned something to this effect last week with the Turkey Roll craft, but I’m going to say it again. It is such a great learning experience to see a collection of random materials… a paper plate, hand, beans, and glue… as they transform into something. Not just something, but something they were in charge of making! It opens up such a world of creativity, and the chance to just try, experiment, and learn what comes of it. Let your child explore and experiment with this activity and really give their creativity and imagination a chance!

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Early Science & Math: Nature Walk

I’m pretty sure Fall is completely confusing my kids this year. I like to include at least one nature walk in each month of the transitional months (Spring & Fall) because there is so much change that happens. But this fall I’m pretty sure our first nature walk in September was colder than our last nature walk!

That’s ok, we have enjoyed the extra warmth. We have had plenty to talk about with the changing trees and other foliage. Plus, it’s a nature walk. There is so much to take in and explore even if the typical change isn’t happening. We changed things up this time and combined a trip to a new park with nature. We saw deer tracks, water, lot’s of leaves and trees, and new kinds of birds by changing our location.

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So, what’s happening during the nature walk?

I like nature walks because it is… multi-sensory? multi-development? multi-dimensional? I’m not sure there is a word that exists to fully describe it, but a nature walk employs almost everything that your child has going on. They can move their bodies, they can run, they can crawl on the ground to discover bugs, grass, and dirt. It’s sensory… they can feel bark on the tree, leaves, grass; they can smell flowers; they can hear wind, the geese flying over head; they can see colors, shapes, changes. They can experiment, they can be creative, they can use their imagination…

It is our job to capitalize on these experiences. The key is being descriptive in our communication with them. Talk about what you see, talk about things that interest your child and connect to their world. Ask them questions, even the little ones that don’t give an answer yet. Talk, experience, and have fun together!

Fall Week 12

Fall Week 12: November 14-18

At Real. Meaningful. Family. my goal is to provide information based on research for parents and caregivers, and to create regular opportunity for you to have special together time with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers learn from the environment and daily interactions. We are in no way seeking to create a school-like setting for your young child. Research has clearly indicated that academic learning (think reading, writing, and arithmetic) for these young children is not developmentally appropriate, learning for this age is in the every day details. The activities below have been created as a time to set aside specifically for parents and care givers to have a fun interaction with their children. I would recommend you first prioritize time to read, snuggle, dance, sing, move, rhyme, play, and then add these activities in as you can. Don’t stress… keep it simple, and just be together!
“The work will wait while you show your child the rainbow. But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” -Erik Erikson

Art

Bean Turkey

img_1519Trace your child’s hand in the middle of the paper plate (it has to be a paper plate or of that thickness, nothing else will hold up the heaviness of the beans) Then, your child can glue beans on to fill in the turkey. If they are overwhelmed by the amount of area to fill in, help them focus in on a finger at a time and then break down the palm into segments. Once done you can draw in a beak, the snood (a.k.a. the red hangy down thing), and some feet. Once done you’ve got a super cute turkey decoration for Thanksgiving!

Stuff to have

1 small paper plate

1/2- 1 cup dry beans

Glue

Developing Skills

Fine motor, art

Fine Motor

Pipe Cleaner Colander

img_1001Pull out your kitchen colander and some pipe cleaners. Let your child poke the pipe cleaners through the holes of the colander giving them a great fine motor workout!

Stuff to Have

Colander

Pipe cleaners

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Problem Solving

Flashlight Find

IMG_0700Darken a room that is familiar to your child and has familiar objects in it. Sit down somewhere comfortable and let your child use the flashlight to find various objects. Older children will love having you name some of their favorite toys or special objects and using the flashlight to find them. While younger children might not grasp the concept of finding things with the flashlight you can demonstrate and begin that problem solving concept. If they are only interested in playing with the flashlight that is fine too- they are still always learning and building new concepts. Just take care to help them avoid looking directly at the light.

Stuff to Have

-1 Flashlight

-Darkened, familiar room

Developing Skills

Problem Solving, follow through

Early Science & Math

img_1111Nature Walk

Since this season is one of constant changes I like to include 2 or 3 nature walks just to take in all the changes. It is such a simple way to talk about change, observe colors, feel different temperatures, and compare what is different from the last nature walk. So, head outside and enjoy the changing weather, trees, flowers, grass, etc. Talk a lot about colors and the changes you see- even with the youngest children. Walks are simple but great opportunities to enhance vocabulary and learning about the environment around us.

Developing Skills

Science (observation), colors, temperatures, large motor

Cooking & Baking

img_1570Pilgrim Hats

Turn the cookie upside down so that the all chocolate side is up. Then use peanut butter to “glue” the wide part of the Reeses to the cookie. And like that you have a tasty & cute treat to get in the Thanksgiving mode!

Stuff to Have

Fudge stripe cookies

Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups

peanut butter

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory


Happy playing!