Friday, February 28, 2014

Teaching Kids about Teeth and Dental Health

Both kids recently went to the dentist for their regular check-ups.  Our dentist always gives them a report card showing how they scored on taking care of their teeth as well as a reminder of how they scored at their last visit.  Both kids are doing well.  Of course, they also get a goody bag with stickers, a small toy, a new toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste.  They actually love going to the dentist because of the goodies they get (plus they get to watch cartoons while they are sitting in the dentist chair!).


I talked to Rachel some more about taking care of her teeth and let her make a tooth puppet.  I found this tooth template in her Bob Jones Kindergarten curriculum but you could easily draw your own giant tooth.  Just make sure it can be cut into two pieces.


Rachel glued the two pieces of the tooth to a paper bag to make her puppet.  She glued the top part of the tooth to the bottom of the bag and the bottom part of the tooth was glued to the inside of the natural fold in the bag.  Now she can put her hand inside the paper bag and 


She even decided to color his tongue.


I showed her a cross section of a tooth and we talked about the different parts of a tooth.  She decided to add some pulp, nerves, and blood vessels to her tooth puppet.


Since Nicholas was sitting at the table with us anyway, I reviewed the parts of a tooth with him as well and let him fill in the names on a picture of a tooth.


Last year we made a model of a mouth so that I could use it to teach Rachel how to brush her teeth.  It was a simple idea I got one day while looking at a styrofoam egg carton.  It was a white carton and the outside of the egg cups just starting looking like a row of teeth to me.  So we got some cardboard and made a model mouth to play with.  You can see more about how we made it HERE at Kids Activities Blog.


We reviewed proper brushing techniques and Nicholas even built several tools that a dentist might have out of LEGOs! 


It is important to teach good dental habits at an early age but it is also important to find a few creative hands-on ways for kids to get excited about taking care of their teeth.

Alphabet Puzzle

We recently went to a homeschool garage sale.  The family was moving and had lots of curriculum that they had used and no longer needed.  

The cool thing was that the mom was just giving it all away for free!  She had four or five tables filled with books, craft supplies, and activities.  I picked up several items and each of the kids did as well.  

Rachel got this alphabet puzzle.  Each letter of the alphabet has a 3-part puzzle that includes the letter, a picture, and the name of the picture.  It is really too easy for her so she completed it very quickly.


But she had fun doing it and asked me to take a picture of her with her completed work.  We'll use it a few more times and then pass it along to another homeschool family to enjoy.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dallas Stars Win...with a Taco Goal!

We don't get to go out for many date nights these days.  When you factor the cost of dinner, entertainment, and childcare it is just too expensive to justify doing very often.

But every now and then one of Stuart's co-workers offers him two tickets to a Dallas Stars hockey game.  She is a season ticket holder and if she can't go she just gives the tickets away.  Stuart called me late this afternoon to let me know that he just got these two free tickets to tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.  How could we resist?  

But the game wouldn't end until about 10:00 and its in Dallas but our usual childcare facility closes at 10:00 and it isn't very close to where the game is played.  So I quickly called our two options for babysitters.  One was going to the game herself and the other wouldn't be available until about 7:00 which is much too late to try to bother going to the game then.

So we figured out a way to make it all work.  The kids would start the evening at the childcare facility then when the babysitter was available at 7:00 she would pick the kids up and bring them back to the house.  She was fine to stay with them as late as we needed her to.  Whew!  It was a scramble to get all of this in place and still get out the door to make it to Dallas in time for the game but it all worked out.

My first attempt at a "selfie" as we looked for our seats in the arena.


When the Stars score a goal in the 3rd period everyone wins a coupon for a free taco at Taco Bueno.  Yay!  They scored a "taco goal" and with less than a minute to go in the game.  I don't know why I get so excited about taco goals because Taco Bueno doesn't even have the greatest tacos but it sure is fun seeing all the excitement at the game about it.


The Stars won 4 to 1 which only made our date night even better.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Two for Tea

Rachel loves having tea parties.  I try to make time to have them with her regularly but sometimes I just have other things to do.  Today she wanted to have a little tea party but I had to work on some school planning for the afternoon.  She tried to get Nicholas to join her but he thought that was too "girly"...until I let them have a few pieces of chocolate at their party.  Suddenly he was up for a tea party!


But don't tell him I put this picture on the blog of him having a tea party with his little sister. :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Opening Weekend for Narnia

Nicholas just finished four shows for opening weekend of Narnia (adapted from the book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis) at the Actors Conservatory Theatre (aka "The ACT").  The show runs for 2 weekends and each weekend has four shows: Friday 7:00, Saturday 2:00 and 7:00, and Sunday 2:00.  Friday's opening night was a sell out and the rest of the shows either sold out or had only single seats still available.  

Cast call is two hours before the show.  Nicholas starts with putting on his owl costume.  There are many layers to this costume and it is thick and bulky (but oh, so cute!)

Owl costume for Narnia


Once he is in full costume, he gets in line for makeup.  This is the only part of theater that he dislikes.  There are so many kids needing detailed makeup for this show that there are actually two stations he has to goes to.  


First, everyone gets eye liner to make their eyes "pop".


Next he sits for his special owl makeup.  He will sit with the same makeup person each time.  However, she said that there are lots of options to try different looks so they might experiment a little for the first few shows to see what looks best on him.


But even if this lady isn't there, his basic makeup design is drawn out so that someone else could easily create the same look.


And here is the little owl all ready to go.


I spent most of my time during the show down in the Greenroom helping the kids with their costumes, makeup, and making sure their heard the call to line up to go on stage for their scene.  I had to take a picture of this to show Stuart that I even did some sewing (after the costuming lady tied the starting knot for me and then told me how to tie it off once I finished the repair)!


The kids are having so much fun in their costumes!  This time Nicholas had brown and yellow eyes instead of just brown like he had on opening night.  He said it looks even cooler this way.


This show has the largest cast ever in the history of this theater.  There are 105 kids plus 4 adults!  They all get ready for the show in the Greenroom and this is where they hang out until it is time for them to head upstairs for their part on stage.  Typically they bring personal items and activities in a small bag that they just leave along the wall when they aren't using them.  But with 105 kids, there would be bags everywhere.  I love the creative way that the theater came up with to get the bags up off the floor and keep things more organized.  Check out these orange storage bins!


They attached some 2x4 pieces of lumber horizontally to the wall then screwed in 105 orange Home Depot buckets into the lumber to secure them to the wall.  Cheap and effective storage bins that were put up rather quickly.  I love this idea and can see this working at home in the garage or a kid's room.


Rachel used her tablet to take some pictures of kids in their costumes.  For the last play, she had a big crush on one of the older boys.  This time she doesn't seem so enamored with him anymore.  But she was looking at this guy in the wolf costume a lot. 


I even saw her trying to take pictures of him with her tablet!


Since this particular theater is a small community theater, parents volunteer their time to make props, sets, and costumes.  Here is my pick for the most creative costume.  She is a hedgehog in a basic brown felt costume with hundreds of brown plastic coffee stirrers hot glued to her back side.  Isn't that just such a creative way to create this look!


Just before the kids go on stage, they do warm ups.  They do a few movements to get their blood pumping and they do some singing exercises and they may go through a few parts of their songs.  Here is a quick video of them singing one of their big chorus songs, "Cair Paravel".  Cair Paravel is the fictional castle where the Kings and Queens of Narnia rule.  If you are reading this post on email you will have to click through to watch the videos.



When warm ups are done, everyone says the Actors Prayer.  I love this part!




Curtain coins are given to the cast and crew for doing a good job during the performances.  We had a little Valentine's Day party after rehearsal one night and one of the dads who was building the sleigh said something about wishing he could take a break to go get some cookies so Rachel brought him a little plate of treats to enjoy while he worked.  He told her he would give her a curtain coin later and she has been asking me about it ever since.  She was so excited to finally get it!  She can use it to buy a treat at the concession stand.


The ACT puts on some amazing productions but it is also a great experience for the kids.  Nicholas is more comfortable speaking in front of a group and he is learning so many wonderful aspects of theater.  Plus we've all made some wonderful friends during the two shows Nicholas has performed in.  There is a lot of work involved to make it all happen though - both for the actors as well as the parent volunteers making all the props and costumes.  But it is so worth it!

The next performance will be Flat Stanley and it will actually be a travelling show with performances at local public schools.  Because of the need for a small cast, it will be a tough audition and only open to kids age 10 and over.  Nicholas will still be 9 so he can't audition but he is looking forward to May when he gets to audition for their summer show, The Hobbit!

The Actors Conservatory Theater is located at 1720 S. Edmonds Lane in Lewisville, TX.  For more information, please check out their website at www.getintotheact.org.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Narnia Rehearsals

While Nicholas is on stage rehearsing for his role in Narnia, Rachel and I are busy working on making set pieces and props for the show.  I have been spending all of my time making winter trees for the background.  They are made out of giant pieces of styrofoam.  We use a projector to shine the tree image on the foam and we trace the outline on the foam.  Then the trees are cut out with a hot foam cutter.  There are lots of little nooks and crannies in these trees so all of this takes a while.  Then the trees are painted green and white to look like snow covered trees in the forest. 

Rachel has begged to help but it really isn't a job for a 5 year old.  So she just sits beside me and plays on her tablet or takes pictures of everything.  She sat for many hours watching me make trees and here is her view of some of them:


When we weren't working on set or prop pieces, we sat in the theater to watch the rehearsals.  That is always fun!


There are some amazing songs in this production. "Deep Magic" is the most impressive on stage but the words to "Days Danced By" really touch my heart as I see how much my children have grown up in what seems like a short period of time.  Nicholas finally agreed to let me get this video of him singing part of it.


I can't wait to see it all come together this weekend for opening night!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fostering a Love of Learning

I love that we homeschool because it allows us to turn everyday occurrences into an educational lesson and helps to foster a love of learning in our children.

For example, Nicholas has had a splinter in his foot for quite a while.  Stuart, the master splinter remover, has tried to get it out but it is just too far below the skin.  So we've been having Nicholas soak his foot in warm soapy water.

And success!  It finally came out.  But instead of just throwing it away, Nicholas wanted to study the splinter up close under a microscope.  Fortunately we have two microscopes so that was easy to do!


I not only love that we can adjust our schedule to have a science lesson before breakfast instead of just shooing my child out the door to go to school but I treasure the fact that Nicholas sought out this knowledge on his own.  My children are enjoying learning.  They are developing a curiosity and a quest for knowledge that we are able to foster and grow in our homeschool environment.

We follow textbooks and curriculum but we can adjust what we study and adjust our schedule to fit our children's learning levels and learning styles instead of forcing their learning to fit a pre-set schedule and lesson plan determined by a school board who has never met them.  We don't have to teach to the lowest scoring child in the classroom or worry about focusing our teaching on what some irrelevant state test is going to measure them on.  We can skip areas that they already know and are bored with or we can spend more time delving deeper into areas that most interest them or that we feel they need more time studying.  We can let their learning soar.

Creating this love of learning is one of our primary goals in our homeschool.  Yes, the basics like math, reading, and scientific principles are important and are certainly being taught in our home.  But we want our children to grow up with a love of learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  As they get older, we want them to continue to seek out knowledge that they soak up from books that they love to read, from expert mentors that they study and follow, and real life experiences that they seek out on their own.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pet Lizard (for a day)

We were working on a science experiment outside today when the kids discovered a lizard.  Well, of course that meant that they had to capture it and call it their pet, at least for a day.

We still had a box outside that we had left for a baby bunny we were concerned about so the kids set it up as the lizard's home.  Yes, they knew it could leave at any time but they figured he would surely want to return each day to such luxurious accommodations.


I love that my totally girly daughter doesn't get squirmy about catching lizards!  It is good to have a nature-loving big brother.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

The kids got their own Valentine's Day candy. I think they have already dug into it!


I got Stuart a heart box of candy and wrote a giant "I Love You" on the bathroom mirror in lipstick to surprise him this morning.

Of course, Stuart says he loves me more. He wrote a sweet poem for me and gave me this GIANT box of Millionaires candy (my favorite!)


I stumbled upon this little Valentine's Day video the other day. Nicholas was 4 years old.
(If you are reading this by email, you will need to click through to see it on the blog)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Recycled Art Project: Making Valentines Day Cards

We love finding creative ways to reuse or recycle things we might normally just throw away.

Today we made Valentine's Day cards with cardboard toilet paper rolls and plastic water bottles!


Cardboard Toilet Paper Tube Hearts

To make these heart stamps, just bend the cardboard tube into a heart shape and dunk it in some paint.


Then you simply stamp the heart on to your card.  Rachel was so excited to see the heart she had made!



She then went about painting the insides of the hearts and decorating the rest of the card.  Notice how she got so into this that she had a paint brush in each hand!


But preschoolers dance to their own drum so at some point she decided the card would look better if she painted the whole thing blue.  She even said, "cool" as I took the second picture here.


I let her creativity go and next thing I knew all of the hearts were almost unrecognizable.  I asked her, "What happened to the red hearts for Valentine's Day?  Why is the card all green and yellow now?"   

Rachel simply smiled at me and said, "Don't worry.  You just have to trust a TRUE artist.  All the beauty is still there." 


Nicholas got creative and made two-tone hearts!


Water Bottle Flower Stamp

We used the bottom of a water bottle to make some cool flower stamps.  Just dip the bottom of the bottle in some paint.


Then stamp the bottle on the card.


Fill in the rest of the flower with markers or paint.


Once the red flowers were dry, Nicholas decided to make a second stamp of pink paint over them.  I think it turned out really cool looking.


Of course, while Nicholas was making his card, Rachel continued to play with her paint until it looked like this....


I guess it was an hands-on lesson in color blending!

She did make more heart stamped cards.  She wrote in them on her own too.  (She likes to write in all caps!)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

FREE Valentine Activities for Homeschoolers

There are always lots of great homeschool resources to be found on the internet for FREE.  Here are some that I'm using for Valentine's Day.

1. Valentine's Bouquet Bundle from The Old Schoolhouse

This is an great collection of Valentine's Day freebies for kids and adults.  There are 2 great lapbooks from Hands of a Child (I love their lapbooks!), Valentines activities for kids, ebooks on love and marriage, and more!  I haven't even had a chance to go through all of the goodies in this bundle but we'll have fun with some of these today.

2. Valentine Addition Puzzles from Teacher's Notebook

Kids have to figure out the addition problem then find the matching answer in order to fix the "broken heart".


Rachel loves puzzles so she really liked this one!



3. Valentines 10 Frame Match Up from Teacher's Notebook

This one was too easy for Rachel since it was just counting the pictures and matching the number.  However, I used it to talk about counting by fives and then "counting on" from five.



4. Valentine Word Mat from Teacher's Notebook

Rachel is doing great with phonics.  She can sound out words that she hasn't been taught so this was a fun challenge for her.  She was given letters for "Valentine's Day" and had to see how many different words she could come up with.  She made up some silly words but did manage to come up with 18 real words.



5. Valentines Fractions from Teacher's Notebook

Fraction fun for older kids.

6. Valentines Color By Number pages from Frugal Homeschool Family

7. Scripture Valentines Day printables from Not Consumed.

These are cute printables for making your own candy Valentine gifts for friends.  We'll be making these to bring to our Valentine's Day party on Friday!

8. Valentine Fun Pack from Marriage, Motherhood, and Missions

Includes scripture copywork, word search, coloring pages, Valentine's Day cards.