Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Patriotic Sun Catchers

We love to hang seasonal sun catchers on our kitchen door. These Fourth of July sun catchers were easy and fun to make.

Materials and adult preparation:
  • clear contact paper cut into nine inch squares
  • 1" x 9" strips of red, white, and blue construction paper. Use a star craft punch to punch little stars from the strips.
  • 4 1/2" stars cut from red, white, and blue paper
  • Red, white, and blue glitter


  • Remove the back from the contact paper and place on table sticky side up.
  • Place the strips of construction paper around the edges of the contact paper to create a border.
  • Place a large star in the center of the contact paper. Use the small stars and glitter to decorate the sun catcher.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Patriotic Star Mobile

Julia is in the Fourth of July spirit after creating these sparkling stars hanging from a red, white, and blue spiral. The picture does not do the mobile justice, it is much prettier in real life.

I prepared for this craft by cutting several stars from red, white, and blue construction paper. I gave Julia a small lid full of white glue and a cotton swab. She spread glue on a star and sprinkled it with glitter. She repeated this process multiple times, adding different colors to her star. She glittered several stars, each with their own unique design.

She then painted both sides of a paper plate. When the paint dried, we cut them into a spiral. I used white thread and tape to attach each star to the spiral. Her mobile now hangs from her ceiling fan's pull chain.

A sticky lint brush is a fun and effective tool for removing glitter from the table (and chairs and floor and clothes and skin and just about everywhere else).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shape Graph

I made this shape graph by dividing a sheet of butcher paper into a six by six grid. I cut a circle, rectangle, triangle, diamond, oval, and square from black construction paper and glued each shape to the bottom of the graph. I also cut five of each shape from black poster board. The die is a one inch wooden cube. I used a black paint pen to draw a shape on each side of the cube.

To play the game we lay out the graph and place the shapes below each column. The kids take turns rolling the die, identifying the shape, and placing that shape on the appropriate column.
After each turn I ask a question such as: Which column has the most? Which has the least? Are there more squares or circles? How many more triangles do we need to fill the column?

The first shape to fill its column is the winner!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Julia's Reading

I try to have a simple reading lesson with Julia several times a week. To begin, Julia chooses three or four books from her book box. These are books that she has already read with me. Some of her favorites have been read several times and are quite familiar to her. Rereading familiar books allows Julia to practice reading fluently. Because these books are usually rather easy for her she builds confidence right from the start of her lesson.

After she reads each book I usually praise a specific strategy that she has used effectively. For example, I might turn to a page and tell her, "Wow, you noticed that what you said didn't make sense, so you went back and read that line again. You know that what you read always has to make sense!" About once a week I'll go through her box and remove any books that are too easy or not interesting to Julia.

We spend a few minutes on word work. In this picture she is changing the first letter or letters of words to make new words. I started this by showing her the word 'make' and saying, "This says 'make'. I can change the 'm' to 'f' and make the word 'fake'. When I put the 'm' back I made 'make' again. Now you try. Can you change 'make' to 'fake'? Now make 'take'. How about 'shake'?" Julia moves the letters to make the requested words. Then I'll make words for her to read.

Finally, Julia gets some new books. I choose books that I know will provide some challenges but are within her grasp. I always begin by introducing the book to her, making sure I discuss any unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts. Julia then reads the book to me.

We really enjoy this time together. We discuss the stories, laugh at the silly parts, and learn from the non-fiction books together. My purpose of these lessons is not only for Julia to develop reading skills but more importantly to develop a love of reading. This is a natural extension of the wonderful experiences we have had exploring books together since she was a newborn. Now Julia is the one reading to me!

I have lots of leveled books that I purchased when I was a classroom teacher. Books for beginning readers can also be found at:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fancy Nancy Day 4

We're still having fun with the Fancy Nancy books! In Fancy Nancy Poison Ivy Expert, Nancy gains some personal experience with poison ivy. Children can relate to the mistakes Nancy makes and the consequences she must face. Best of all, Nancy is surrounded by caring family and friends who support her through her disappointments.

Nancy and her best friend Bree used some rope, a basket, and pulleys to send messages to each other. Julia has been enjoying the pulley system her daddy made for her.

Nancy wrote about her new knowledge of poison ivy in her journal. We turned ordinary journals into...

extraordinary journals! We covered plain composition books with pretty scrapbook paper and sequins. Of course, you need to use a plumed pencil to write in such a posh journal! The journals and pencils are the newest addition to our writing station.

Lauren immediately made marks in her journal, grabbed a chair, and read her story to me! I am thrilled to see my two year old show such confidence that she is a reader and writer!

Listening to my girls read their stories was definitely a happy mommy moment!

We also checked out poison-ivy.org to see pictures of poison ivy and poison ivy rashes. We've been looking for poison ivy at a local nature trail but haven't found any.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fancy Nancy Day 3

Fancy Nancy Bonjour, Butterfly inspired our activities for day 3 of our Fancy Nancy adventure.

At her grandparents' anniversary party Nancy enjoyed the delicious tiny hot dogs. Julia and Lauren helped make their own pigs in a blanket with frilly toothpicks.

We also made lemonade and sipped it through straws with fancy butterfly toppers.

Nancy pretended the hotel bathroom was a beauty spa. We had our own spa, complete with manicures.

The girls made fancy butterfly necklaces. The butterfly is cut from sparkly fun foam. The girls glued on sequins and laced the butterfly on a string with some pony beads.

One thing I appreciate about the Fancy Nancy books is Nancy's fancy vocabulary. Julia has added a few words to her vocabulary. I love to hear her describe something as posh or spectacular!

Next up: Fancy Nancy Poison Ivy Expert

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy

For our second Fancy Nancy adventure we explored Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy.

Using a few accessories the girls turned their puppies into posh puppies. I followed this tutorial to to make little doggy tutus. I also made tutus for the girls but they refuse to wear them. :( At least the dogs appreciate them!

For snack we made puppy chow (AKA Chex Muddy Buddies).

The girls made fancy dog collars. I attached velcro to the ends of a piece of satin ribbon. The girls glued sequins to the ribbon.

Little Barker is looking posh!

Next up: Fancy Nancy Bonjour Butterfly

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fancy Nancy Day 1

I plan to have a lot of fun with my kiddos this summer! The girls and I had such a fun time with our Mrs. Wishy Washy day that I decided to hold several book themed days. So, here we are beginning our summer with Fancy Nancy week!

Summary (from the book jacket): Meet Nancy, who believes that more is ALWAYS better when it comes to being fancy. From the top of her tiara down to her sparkly studded shoes, Nancy is determined to teach her family a thing or two about being fancy. How Nancy transforms her parents and little sister for one enchanted evening makes for a story that is funny and warm- with or without the frills.

All the Fancy Nancy books are a huge hit in our home. Don't let the fluff fool you, these books have substance. Children can relate to the mistakes Nancy makes and the disappointments she faces. I appreciate that at the heart of each of these stories is a loving, accepting family.

Julia, Lauren, and our friend Mary Ann got together for some Fancy Nancy fun! We began our festivities by gathering on the couch to read the book.

Then the girls helped each other dress in fancy ensembles.

Don't they look exquisite?!

Nancy loves to write her name with a pen with a plume. The girls had fun writing their names on fancy paper with plumed pencils. To make these pencils I taped a feather to the end of a pencil, wrapped the tape with ribbon, and secured the ribbon with a small piece of tape.

Nancy gave her family lessons on the difference between plain and fancy. We sorted plain and fancy items.

Nancy had disastrous results when she tried carrying her ice cream tray like a fancy waiter. My girls had fun carrying a tray of pretend ice cream across the room.

Although Nancy says there is no fancy or better way to say "I love you" we still found a way to make fancy "I love you" signs.

Feathers, lace, and sequins turned our plain signs into fancy signs.

The girls enjoyed eating sandwiches and fruit with frilly toothpicks while sipping apple juice from china teacups. Pinkies up, of course!

We couldn't celebrate Fancy Nancy without parfaits for dessert!

On our book theme days, we have a great time reading and experiencing fun books. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with book related activities on a shoestring budget! We have activities planned for each of the Fancy Nancy books. Next up: Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy