Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Summer Garden


My garden is looking a little over-grown at the moment. We’ve had lots of rain during the month of June and the plants loved it. In this mess of green I have beans, some herbs, a couple of cucumbers and lots of tomatoes.


My two other beds are full of tomato plants, green peppers and jalapeno plants.  In about a week I should be able to pick a couple of tomatoes. Then I’m sure all the rest of the plants will come to fruit at the same time and I’ll be inundated with tomatoes. I need to get my tomato plan in order. Will I make most of them into sauce? juice? paste? salsa? 

31eLgNVck5L._SL500_AA300_Last year my two girlfriends and I went in together and purchased this food strainer for making applesauce.  It made the job go so much faster! I’m thinking that I can use tomatoes with this too. I need to pull it out, read the directions  and figure out what to do before I’m swamped with tomatoes. Last year I got so overwhelmed that I just threw them whole in the freezer to deal with at a later date.


My girls love to help with the garden. 


(Looking for bugs while mom is working in the garden)

They are learning so much about plants, bugs, and veggies by helping me with our garden.


(catching bugs and putting them in a bug-viewer)

I love that gardening gets us outside. It allows us to observe and work with the things God created.


And that reminded me to have my older kids do a summer nature study page--to give them time to sit and observe the sights of summer.



Garden Fun Project for Kids
Garden Theme Activities for Kids
Garden Theme Activities for Kids 2
May Garden Update

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Learning with an iPad


I will admit that I like technology. I’m a digital scrapbooker, a digital photographer and a blogger. I had seen how others were using the iPad for educational purposes and I put one on my mental wish list. I didn’t expect to get one though. I was very surprised when my husband came home and handed me one for our 15th anniversary (which isn’t until August—lol) Through a bunch of cool circumstances he was able to get one for me! This has worked out perfectly as a summer learning tool for my children. The newness and the different format is making them excited about practicing math facts, geography, and reading (I’m hoping this will be a big motivator for a specific child of mine).


My 4yr. old and almost 3yr. old have found ways to use it too. One of the first things I did was to download all our Songs for Saplings songs and our Seeds Family Worship songs that we use for Bible/school. It drove me nuts to try to find a cd player or play the songs off of my computer. Because of that, half of the time we would forget to sing our songs. Now I just bring the iPad into the room and the girls and I can sing together.

Of course we had to add some fun apps. In the pictures above my girls are playing Toca ‘s Tea Party. They love this game. We also have Toca ‘s Hair Salon and Doctor too.

KiboomuAnother game they played was Preschool Sing & Learn by Kiboomu. They enjoyed the songs, coloring, and the puzzles.

iPad Resource Lists:

There are so many resources to use with the iPad that it can be overwhelming. When checking out what to get or put on my wish list I went to the following sites:

1. For a great listing of education iPad apps, check out Carisa’s list:

2. For a listing of some of the best children’s books available on the iPad check out the post from Imagination Soup.

3. For general app information and news about new apps, check out Moms with Apps.

Do you have any other educational app lists to check out or  iPad apps I should def. put on my to-get list?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Letter M

Things have been a little quiet here on my blog this week. I’m participating in a local service event with my church that is so exciting and exhausting at the same time. So much is going on this week that I’m not sure words will be adequate to share all that I’m experiencing. This year there are 362 participants under 18yrs., and over 250 adults serving our community. We’re doing a week-long blitz! This is my 5th year participating and it is so awesome to see our youth working together to impact our city. So right now blogging is on the back-burner for a couple of weeks while I get caught up.


I do however have a post up at Totally Tots today: Letter M is for Moon.  There are a couple of free printables plus some fun activities to go along with the book Goodnight Moon.

And while you’re checking this out, you might check out the craft archives and see what things we’ve done in the past.

This was a fun project we did after reading the book My Heart is Like a Zoo. Click the link for complete directions.

I hope you are having a great summer!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Printable Father’s Day Card


Here’s a last minute Father’s Day card inspired by our recent ice cream unit.


Click to download

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Favorite Ice Cream Flavors

icecreamsundae At the beginning of our ice cream unit I asked you to tell me what your favorite flavor of ice cream was in our survey. The kids were excited to see the results come in:


Other was the big winner!LOL! Of course with the variety of different flavors of ice cream out there, this was not a big surprise! ;)

If you want to do something similar with your toddlers and preschoolers, I would suggest using a small polling pool and 3-4 different choices.


I’ve got a couple of graph choices for download. Just color the ice cream cone and write the flavor underneath.

If you’ve missed any of our ice cream activities, you can find most of them listed on my ice cream page. Have you done any ice-cream-related activities? I’d love to hear about them if you have.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ice Cream Counting Activity


Here’s a fun way to practice counting and fine motor skills at the same time. We placed a scoop of playdough ice cream in the green bowl. We had a bowl full of “cherries” aka red pom poms.  I would ask my daughter to place ______ cherries on her scoop of ice cream. You could also use a large dice, Educational Cube inserts, or number cards and have those tell your child how many cherries to place on their sundae.

icecreamnumbers (click to go to download page)


I’ll have one or two more ice cream themed posts and then I’m passing the baton on to 2Teaching Mommies who will be adding more printables to this theme. We hope that the combination of our ideas and printables will give you lots of fun options to do with your children over the summer.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Active Baby Ideas


The youngest member of the Spell household is almost 8 months old already! Goodness she’s growing up so fast! It’s exciting to see all the milestones being reached and to see her interested in her surroundings. Even at this young age I try to do some intentional play activities, but many times I draw a blank as what exactly to do. Just when I was needing a jump-start in our baby play time, Timberdoodle asked if I’d check out a component of their Baby Core Curriculum and I was sent the book Active Baby, Healthy Baby by Margaret Sasse for review.

3awithtoy7mo2011 2awithtoy7mo2011

Practicing creeping around a stationary object and reaching for a toy.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book is a reference book of ideas. This made it easy to read and easy to fit into my busy schedule. One thing I learned was how important movement is in the development of pathways in a young child’s brain. I knew movement was important, but this book opened up my eyes to many more movement possibilities. It also explained why and gave clear examples of how to do the activity with my child.


Active Baby, Healthy Brain includes 135 exercises and activities to do with your child that help stimulate brain development in the following areas:

  • balance
  • cross-pattern movement
  • visualization
  • vestibular (inner ear) stimulation
  • laterality
  • fine and gross motor skills
I was very interested in learning more about vestibular activities and cross-pattern movement as I never would have come up with the idea to do those activities with my child on my own.


The other aspect I liked about this book is that it included activities for toddlers too. Each activity is listed on its own page and has clear examples and instructions for implementing the game or exercise. Most of the activities take very little prep and time to do.


In fact, I was able to use activities in this book for  three of my children--- ages 7 months to 4 years old.  I love it when I can use something for more than one kid or when it is useful for a long period of time. The book  is full of ideas for babies through 5.5 years old.

If you are looking for additional items and activities to do with your young children, check out Timberdoodle’s Baby Core Curriculum and Toddler Core Curriculum.  I like that they have chosen products that encourage learning in a child’s natural environment. Except for the toddler workbooks, everything is reusable in these kits. You can request a free homeschool catalog to check out the other goodies Timberdoodle has to offer.

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ice Cream Puzzles and Sorting Mat

We’ve been having a blast with our ice cream unit---so I’m going to be continuing it next week too. Here are a couple more printables that we will be using:


1. We’ll be talking about how we are able to feel hot and cold because we have nerves in our body. We’ll holds some ice cubes. How does it feel? What happens to our fingers if we hold it too long? Can you name some things that are cold?

Next we’ll fill a cup with warm water/tea/hot chocolate. How does the outside of the cup feel? (warm). This will be a nice opportunity to talk about being careful around hot things. Can you name some things that are hot?

After our hot/cold discussion, we’ll sort the pictures included in the download and place them in the appropriate section of the mat.


I’ve got four ice cream mini-puzzles. I’ve included a pocket page for those who might be creating a lapbook or notebook. You can also create a mini-puzzle book with a file folder (see my mini-lapbook instructions on Homeschool Share. Scroll to the middle of the page under Jungle Puzzles.)

All these ice cream ideas will be perfect to do again in July to celebrate National Ice Cream Month (because we need another reason to have to eat ice cream---lol)


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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Messy Ice Cream Sensory Box

One thing I like about summer is that we can do all our messy fun things outside! Another activity we did during our ice cream unit was to create a shaving cream hide and seek sensory box.


I picked up these ice cream themed mini-erasers at the Target Dollar Spot. I can’t resist purchasing mini-erasers. They are so cute.


Then I filled a tub with shaving cream and scattered the mini-erasers in the white fluffy mess. You should have seen the girls’ faces when I said they could search in the box for all the ice cream erasers. They were thrilled!


She found one! (Trust me on this---lol!)


Lots of fluffy, white fun! A wonderful twist on our normal sensory boxes and a fun addition to our toddler and preschool ice cream unit.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pretend Play: Preschool Ice Cream Store

We have been having fun with our toddler and preschool ice cream theme. Whenever we go to the ice cream store, my girls are fascinated with all the colors and flavors of ice cream available. I knew they would have so much fun running their own ice cream shop. With just a little advanced preparation, toddlers and preschoolers can run their own ice cream store right in their own home---or outside, which is where my girls set up their shop.

First make sure to have several “flavors” of ice cream made ahead of time. Our ice cream consisted of 4 scented playdough creations.
I made one batch of vanilla-scented playdough. I used my regular playdough recipe and added some vanilla extract to the water. One batch fits perfectly in a pint container.  The chocolate playdough smells soooo good! I used the chocolate playdough recipe from Pre-Kinders.  Mint was the basic version plus mint extract, and for the strawberry---I forgot to buy the strawberry-flavored Kool-aid---but that’s what I would have used. Doesn’t it look good?
icecreamshopmenuI made a little menu so the girls could take ice cream orders.

icecreamshopmenu2I’ll have a sundae please! :) I printed this on cardstock and laminated. The girls used a dry-erase marker, but a wet-erase or dry-erase crayon would work too.

I picked up a couple of ice cream scoops and bowls from the Dollar Tree.

It’s hard work scooping out ice cream! I love how her little tongue sticks out when concentrating. She was very excited about having a pretend playdough ice cream party!
I filled an empty Hershey’s Cocoa container with pieces of brown string. The girls pretended this was chocolate syrup.
Doesn’t the playdough ice cream look real?
The nice thing is that this kind of ice cream does not melt. And you can use it more than once. I’m sure we’ll be playing ice cream shop many more times this summer!
(click to download the ice-cream shop menu and labels)

  click for more ice-cream ideas

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making Homemade Ice Cream

One summer tradition our family has is making homemade ice cream.  Last summer we had fun making ice cream in a bag and using an ice cream maker. For our first round of ice cream making for this year, my 12yr. old decided to pull out the ice cream maker.

We went ahead and bought lots of different toppings to make ice cream sundaes. This is a big treat as I don’t usually have those items on hand. My 12 yr. old made vanilla ice cream using a basic no-cook recipe.


Each kid got to pick their favorite toppings. I like carmel—and chocolate. Mmmm, so good when mixed together! :) We even found some cute ice-cream bowls from The Dollar Tree.

It sure was hot enough that day, which made eating our homemade treat even more enjoyable.

We’re going to try a new recipe for our next batch. I’ve been looking through the ice cream recipe lists and have a few that look interesting. Do you have a favorite homemade ice-cream recipe?

Here’s a mini-booklet with the directions for making ice cream in a bag. If you’ve never tried this with your kids, you need to! Every kid I’ve seen do this activity for the first time has been in awe of the fact that they made their own ice cream with such simple ingredients!

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