Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homemade Learning Games

I work with kids on reading skills about 3 times a week. So, I'm constantly on the lookout for ways to make learning fun. I would just die if I thought the kids I worked with dreaded the time they spent with me. 

Some of the games I play with those elementary aged children, I will adapt to play with Annette. She begs for me to play games with her daily, so I try to figure out some that aren't frustrating or boring to a 3 year old. I wish I was good enough to play a learning game with her everyday, but that's just not how it goes. There are parts of me that want her to be that early reader, but a bigger part of me that want her to 'want' to read. Meaning, I don't want to push the issue. I just want to make reading look fun and desirable. It seems we are doing good in that department : ) 

Trying to capitalize on her current interest in learning some words, I decided to play some of the word games I've been playing with the kids I tutor.

I am a huge promoter of making your own games (instead of just buying them) for a few reasons. I know that if we make it together, she is going to be more interested in it and will learn lots of skills just in the creation stage. I can also tailor the game to her exact learning level because I have a pretty good grasp of what words she does and does not recognize yet. And it's cheap.

Charlie has his own side activity going on here. Water play.  You can see that I forgot to put the towel down under his cups at first. 

How we made and played:

I got two pieces of scrap book paper. It works perfectly for this activity because one side is white while the other has a pattern. I'll use a different pattern for future games, so I'll be able to sort the cards back into place if they get mixed up. Or if I find one under the table a few days from now and need to remember which pile it goes into.

I folded them up to create lines for cutting.

Unfolded them. 

Annette cut one sheet into cards, and I cut the other one. She has gotten pretty good at cutting on lines.

Then, we talked about words we know. I said "You know the word MOM" and she agreed, so we wrote that word on two different cards. (So they would be a 'match' for when we play memory)
Then, we wrote other words she knows. Mostly our family names. (mom, dad, charlie, granny, etc.)
Then, I added the word 'see' and 'go', because I wanted to throw in a couple of words that she has seen a lot in books, but doesn't really recognize out of context yet. 
We are working in her ZPD for all you teachers ;)

The first game we played with the word cards was Memory.

We lined them up.

She knows how to play this game already. From Nonnie's iPad and from other store bought memory games.

It's all going well, until I make the first match with the word DAD. She says she wants the Dad match to be hers. This is her pouting. I could have let her have it, but I felt like teaching her that she must play 'fair' or people won't want to play with her. I knew she really wanted to keep playing, so I told her that we couldn't continue playing the game until she stopped pouting. In a couple of minutes, and after seeing me move on to washing the dishes, she decided she could handle letting me have the DAD match.... if she could have it next time. oh my.

Now, we are happily playing again. Matching words and having fun.

We also played  a version of 'slap jack' with the cards. I put all the cards into one pile. I told her to slap the word 'go' when she sees it. I flipped the cards over one at a time and she slapped the word 'go' when it came up. She loved this, of course. I mean, who doesn't love slap jack??
We also played Old Maid with these cards by adding the letter I to a fresh new matching card. Since the I doesn't have a match, we call it the 'stinky ole I'.  If you end up with the stinky ole I at the end of Old Maid, you lose.

You could also put shapes or numbers, or even environmental print on the cards. Hey, I just thought of that. I might have to work on making some EP ones this week. Oh, how fun it is to teach and play with kids!

Ta-ta for now :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Farm Wedding

One of my best friends, Erin, from elementary school got married last weekend. I got caught up in our spring break activities this week and didn't post about it until now.

Erin's sister, Elizabeth, got married at their same family farm just this past November, so the gorgeous outdoor setting may look familiar from this past blog post.

Erin and I have so many hilarious memories together. They are actually probably not that funny to many other people, but to me, they make my 'happy memory bucket' overflow.

This is the same Erin that my family went on a beach trip with last summer, creating more Setzler/Cramblett history.

Here are some pics I snapped with my iPhone from the wedding weekend. I brought my real camera along expecting to take lots of pretty pictures all weekend, but I had so much fun chatting it up with the other bridesmaids and then chasing my children around, I never even took one 'real' picture. I'll add that to my list of regrets.

                             rehearsal                                                                             luncheon
My sweet parents and sisters watched Annette and Charlie back in Little Rock while Isaac and I went to the rehearsal dinner. They kept them overnight and then brought them up with them on their way to the wedding. Which allowed Isaac and me a night to ourselves. So nice.

Here we are at the rehearsal dinner... where I told our heartbreaking basketball team split story ; )

The big day.....

 Erin was the most relaxed bride I have ever been around! She looked AMAZING.
Her dress, the flowers, the setting.... it was all perfect.
The below picture was taken in the cute memory-filled little farm house right before the ceremony began. Glad to have another fond memory to add to that place.

 Here we are at the reception at the Red Apple Inn.
My kids were a handful.

Charlie had to change TWO different times throughout the reception. He ended up in a t-shirt and shorts because I had only packed a couple of things for him. What a boy.  I love that my sis, Lauren, took a picture of this. Now, I'll forever remember that I need to pack three outfits appropriate for a wedding, Just In Case.

Charlie surprisingly didn't like dancing on the dance floor. He had a mild case of stage fright I believe. Annette thoroughly enjoyed it. She would only dance with me, though. Which is so not like her. Not even her Daddy or even aunt Lauren could pry her away from me. I have to say, I kind of loved it, because typically I am like her third or fourth choice. No joke.

The kids were super tired, so we took them back to our room. We put Annette on a pallet on the floor, Charlie in a portable crib. Turned out the lights and sang to them. Guess who fell asleep first. Me. Hee hee :)

On Sunday, we woke up and had a crazy good breakfast. I had the breakfast quessadillas and I HIGHLY recommend getting them if you ever find yourself at the cute Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs. 

We walked around and enjoyed the nice weather and the beautiful views around us. What a nice getaway.

Charlie had fun playing with Uncle Anthony, who played 'rough' with him.
Annette loved staying at the Inn. I guess it's the first hotel type experience she can remember. She kept saying, "Daddy bought us this room for just our family to stay in. No one else is coming in here except us." It was a bit selfish and exclusive sounding, but I think mostly she was excited to have some special family time in a cool new place.

And, then, it was time to pack up and head home. 

Love making these type of memories with friends and family.

The Smith's wish Erin and Erik the very, very best!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Break: Wonder Place and Bunny Craft

We've been spring breakin' it this week and when my job of mothering/babysitting/entertaining two toddlers starts around 7:15am and getting them to both nap is about a 50/50 chance, my day can look real long. So, we have made plans each day to keep things interesting.

I had some free passes to the Wonder Place, so that was my game plan for yesterday. My two are at the perfect ages for that place.

Charlie will break out into silly dances and the splits lately. Yes, the actual 'middle' splits. It's hard to keep a straight face with him around. 

New fishing poles at the water table. He spent a LOT of his time here. 

Annette playing vet. And looking guilty. No idea why, which is scary but not uncommon.

Bunny Craft

We have been working on this bunny craft in the afternoons. We cut 2 paper towel rolls into several smaller pieces. I got this idea from Pinterest and then this blog which is filled with other cute ideas that we may be trying out soon. 

I cut the tubes with my big scissors and cut a pair of lengthy ears for each 'bunny'. I tried Elmer's glue for attaching ears at first. After they kept falling out, I got out my handy glue gun. Of course, I had to do that part too, but Annette painted each one all by herself while I cut and glued the thin cardboard pieces together. Not sure I would do this project with a 3 year old again, since I ended up doing the majority of the crafting.  Oh, hind sight. 

 I put paper under her painting spot so the paint wouldn't get ALL over the place while she turned the wet cylinders. Pretty effective. One day, maybe one day, I'll have a new nice table that isn't from Savers, and we might do messy crafts in a different place. But, until I have room for a craft table and a craft table, we will be getting crafty right on the eating table.  I could put an oilcloth tablecloth down for craft time. I might do that next time if I think of it. However, I usually just get an idea in my head to make something and get started in like the next 40 seconds or so. Pulling out materials as we go along and making messes as we go. Sounds ridiculous to some, I'm sure. 

We let them dry.

And then, yesterday, we glued on eyes, cotton tails, pom poms for noses, and some little whiskers.

We used elmer's glue for the eyes and noses, which worked well. Although, I did have to lay them like this to keep the noses from rolling off. 
Then, we (or I should say "I" because Annette had a hard time cutting the felt) cut out some felt triangles. She helped me glue them on to make bows and bow ties. And even some earrings per her request.

We took them out to hop around with them. Thanks to Charlie, a few of them are noseless now.

 Twas fun.

The End 

Happy Friday Everybunny ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Break 2012: Day 3

We expected the rain to come yesterday, so we planned SB '12 day three at an indoor playground. It has a gym attached to it, so the kiddos got to be wild and free. They threw balls, played with dolls, tattled, played pretend, see-sawed and colored, ate pizza, and played some more. The running around and expending all that energy finally paid off for me at naptime. My inconsistent nappers both napped for almost 2 hours yesterday. I felt like a new mom.

Mary Kathryn brought pizza, toys, and markers for the kids to play with. Perfect play date.

Charlie is drawn to the babies. Always :)

Noah could dribble really well. I was impressed. He's going to be such a catch some day ; )

Aren't they precious?!? 

 It's been nice this week... intentionally creating fun memorable days to share with other families. 
The rest of the week, we will just be hanging out with each other: nette, chas, and me.
Not to worry though. I've come up with some fun for the next couple of days, too ; )

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break 2010: Homespun Carnival

Day 2 of our fun filled Spring Break 2012!

We had some friends over to our house yesterday to play some carnival type games. Glad we planned this for yesterday and not today, because this rain may have dampened our fun.  
Thankfully, it was the perfect day for an outdoor homespun carnival.

The clothespin drop. They were funny with this one. I modeled how to play. (Three chances to drop the clothespin from your nose into the jar.) They bent lower and lower and lower as they tried. Too cute. A couple of them thought they were supposed to actually pinch their nose with it... ouch.

The Squirt the Ball off the golf tee game was pretty fun. However, some of their little hands weren't quite strong enough to squeeze the squirter hard enough. Most of them figured it out though. The wind helped a few of them earn some tickets ; )

By the end of the turns, they had scooted up way past the marked line.  Rules Shmules.

They earned a ticket for each ball they knocked off the tee. 

The entire roll of tickets cost 1 buck at the dollar tree. 

Toss the ball into the flower pot. Fancy, I know.
The kiddos earned 1 ticket if it landed in the first pot, 2 for the second pot, and so on.
They really liked winning the tickets at each game. Although several of them lost theirs as we rotated around the yard and carport. Next go round, I might give them each a ticket holder pouch/bag or ask everyone to wear something with a pocket.

We were quite the carnival..... or circus, maybe :)

Knocking the cups over with a ball was a fun one. Although Charlie kept running up to them and knocking them over. Oh, two year olds : )

They traded their tickets for prizes at the end of all the games. I bought 4 party favor bags from the dollar store to keep things cheap. 

We also played 'prize walk' where the kids walked around a chalk-drawn circle. Forgot to take a picture of it. When the iphone music stopped, I rolled the dice and called out a number. Whoever was standing on that number got to pick out a prize. Easy Peasy.

I  had a few other games in mind... ring toss, balancing a grape on a spoon, and fishing with a net in our plastic kiddie pool,  but, we had plenty of fun playing the games we did get to.

After the games, we headed inside for corn dogs, popcorn, and nachos. Carnival food for sure! But without the carnival price.

Popsicles and cotton candy on the patio for dessert.

Amy read the kids a book to settle them down. Then, they took home a balloon and we called it a day. Or a morning at least. 

And that's it!

I'll post about today's fun tomorrow. And as of now, both kids have been sleeping for an hour. 
Hope everyone else is enjoying their spring break '12!