Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crystallized Snow Flake Pipe Cleaner

You will need:
Pipe cleaners
Boiling water
Borax ( found in detergent aisle)

To make the snowflake:
1.Cut 2 pipe cleaners in half 
2. Twist three of your strips to make your snowflake
3. Cut another pipe cleaner into fourths and twist those pieces on the edges of your snowflake.

1. Measure out how much water you need to fill your jar.
2. Then bring that amount of water to a boil 
3.Mix  1/3 cup Borax for every 2 cups of water
4. Submerge your snowflake into the mixture and let sit overnight.

And Tada!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

K5 Online Reading and Math Program

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I'm really excited to try out this program with my kids and will share my thoughts with you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Red Light Green Light: Our frustration level speedometer

Just had one of those "Aha" moments where you feel like you're just getting everything right. Unfortunately it came after I got everything wrong.

I was doing a Hebrew reading activity with my 4.5 year old when she got totally frustrated and threw a major tantrum. Now I know many of you are going to"tsk-tsk" me for doing such an activity with my preschooler, but let's just put that aside for a minute.

Her lack of frustration control and inability to handle being wrong EVER really worries me and we continue to try different strategies to deal with this, but after the above fiasco occurred I did none of those productive things.

I yelled and said everything I should NOT have said. Of course this helped no one and her tantrum escalated.

Once I took some deep breaths, I walked into her room to console her with my tail between my legs and just held her until she relaxed.

Then the light bulb went off in my head.
I told her that we cannot continue this way and when she is starting to feel frustrated she has to let me know in a calm way.
Hence our red light/green light strategy:
We decided to leave out  red, yellow, and green construction papers on the table while we do our school work.
We start with green on the table. Once she starts feeling frustrated, she puts out the yellow sheet. At that point she will ask for help or choose to pull out the red sheet to stop the activity completely.

It's the yellow zone that we so needed. It's the zone where she can take a step back and evaluate her feelings and the situation at large. Leading to a state where her feelings can be validated and she can end an activity calmly. Otherwise we are back to tantrum land where both of us are in a heated red zone and nobody's feelings are acknowledged.

We put our plan into action with a similar reading activity and it worked beautifully! She owned the activity, she owned her feelings, and our lesson went smoothly.

What started out as a terrible mom moment turned into an awesome teaching moment for us all.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Math Monday: Sensory Play with Rice and Numbers

I bought two sets of these super cute magnetic wooden 
numbers for less than $1.00 on Amazon

I then buried them in a plastic shoe bin filled with rice:

The girls had a great time digging through the rice finding numbers 
to match to their identical counterpart on the table. 

My 4 year old said that next time it would be better if we had groups of items 
set out on the table and she would find the number that matched how many were in each group.

I then set out a bunch of different measuring cups and spoons on a sheet on the floor. 
We explored how many scoops of the various cups it would take to fill one whole cup with rice.

Sunday Science: Butterfly Life Cycle

The best way to learn about an insect's life cycle is to watch it first hand. 
A really easy and amazing insect to care for is a butterfly. 
We used the kit by Insect Lore and love it:
You receive a net habitat and a cup of caterpillars with food. Once the caterpillars form their chrysalis you transfer them to the net.

Our butterfly emerging from it's chrysalis

 Butterflies grazing on juicy oranges

 Butterflies mating!!! We did not expect to see this.

 Butterfly laying over 70 eggs.
 The instructions said to let the butterflies go within a week and we should not have to worry about eggs. These eggs appeared 5 days after the butterflies emerged.

If you look closely, there is a tiny and very hungry caterpillar on top of this leaf.
We let most of the eggs out in a field in upstate NY and kept a few at home on a bed of wet paper towels and leaves.

And of course we had to introduce him to the famous hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle (in Hebrew). 

There are tons of other activities that can be down alongside "The Very Hungry Caterpillar":

The Very Hungry Caterpillar activities and crafts
Photo Source
Tot School Tuesday - Very Hungry Caterpillar
Photo Source
Photo Source

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rosh Hashana and Foregiving

Forgive and Forget Forgive and Forget
Recently I noticed that my girls are having a hard time "letting go." They will stay angry a little longer than usual and continue to be upset even after all the apologies and talking it through has happened.

With Rosh Hashana just around the corner, I figured this was a perfect time to start a unit on foregiveness and the importance of not holding a grudge.

I will start with some children books that address this topic.

The Association of Jewish Libraries has a value finder. It is a great resource which searches for Jewish books by values/middot.

Here are the search results that came up for forgiveness:

 On the site, you can click the title and see a short summary and age range

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Shaving Cream and Water Beads Sensory Play

I've read tons of blogs talking about water beads and wish I purchased these little guys earlier. If you are not familiar with water beads they come as tiny balls (look at balls in center of picture below) and after sitting in a bowl of water for a few hours they expand to about the size of a marble.

Watching them grow is pretty cool, but their texture is the best part. They have a smooth and gelatinous texture. I got a ridiculously big bag of them from Amazon for around $13.00. They will last us a lifetime.

The water beads are fun to play with just as they are. Throw them into a bucket or water table and have kids run the beads through their hands. Squishing them is fun too.

I filled an aluminum tray with shaving cream and threw some water beads in.
The girls had fun searching through the cream to find the beads and spooning them out into cups. 
This can be turned into a science lesson on dehydration. If you leave the water beads out in the sun they will begin to shrink. When you soak them in water they will grow again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wild Card Wednesday: Homemade Finger paint and Sensory Exploration

Found this recipe for homemade finger paint on Pinterest:
July 22 2010 229

The creator of the recipe did mention that the texture might be lumpy if you add too much cornstarch and advised to thin with water.

My paint did come out lumpy:
So I thinned with water, but still not satisfied, I ran my immersion blender through it. 

Sooo much better:
We had fun doing some plain old finger painting:
 Some arm painting:
 I then put out a piece of aluminum foil and bubble wrap to contrast painting on smooth vs bumpy surfaces.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Torah Tuesday: Forensic Science for Kids and Parashat Shoftim

This week's parasha discusses the importance of crimes being carefully investigated and evidence being closely examined before convicting and punishing a person.

What a perfect time to turn your home into a mini crime scene and use some forensic science to investigate the crime.

Here is a list of activities you can incorporate. 

1. Blood typing: 
2. Who's marker did it
(scroll down to middle of page)
3.White substance:
4. Fingerprints
5. Dna extraction
6. Glow in the dark blood
7. Identify the unknown substance
8. Candy DNA

Math Monday: Preschool Geometry

I've mentioned loving this game before:

It's a set of magnetic shapes and 50 picture cards which targets visual thinking and fine motor skills.

But here it is again with a little change. 
The pictures that come with the set are about the same size as an index card making it a little too challenging for very young kids to work off of.

So to help my little one out, I constructed a few of the pictured items onto a piece of copy paper and then outlined the shapes. So she now has a true to size picture to work on:

I was actually really surprised and excited to see how nicely the girls engaged in cooperative play by helping each other figure out and find the pieces they needed. 

You can recreate this activity even without the Imaginets set. 
You can draw or print out pictures like the one below and have your kids glue on construction paper shapes. 
house math game
Get this template here has a great resource for printable pattern block animals like this one:
Pattern Block Mat

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Science Sunday: Homemade Marble Run

 Using bottles and paper towel rolls I took out of our recycling trash, we were able to construct this makeshift marble run. (Ignore the ugliness that is my wall).

I cut the bottoms off of plastic bottles and cut paper towel rolls in half then taped them to the wall.
Lots of trial and error work needed before we got a successful marble run. 
Kids did need to climb a chair to insert marbles.

For much older kids, you can use this activity to demonstrate a variety of concepts from physics including: 
projectile motion
gravitational force
kinetic energy
potential energy

Here are some other fun ways to make your own marble run:
cut open a pool noodle from Family Fun
Marble Launch


Use a cereal box and toilet paper rolls from This Momma Loves

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Phonics Fridays: Smashing Good Time

I am slowly realizing the different styles in which my girls approach the world around them. When my oldest was two she preferred to talk about and listen to books about things that interest her, while my current 2 year old would much rather get  her whole body involved by touching or jumping or breaking the things that interest her.

So when thinking about introducing her to some letters, I initially presented them in the same way I did for my older daughter. I used books and pictures. That obviously was not for her.

Pounding the letters with a hammer which led to the smashing of some Magna Tiles...totally for her!

So we built Magna-Tile cubes, placed magnetic letters on them and she smashed the structures as I called out the letters.

She then turned the activity in to an exploration of what placements of her magnetic letters would stick the best with the magnets inside the tiles. 

Thoughtful Thursdays: And Baby Makes 5

We are now a family of 5!

I have to say it's not as hard as I anticipated. 
Now let me clarify that statement: it actually is ALOT of work and I'm REALLY tired and the juggling is ENDLESS, but with the right perspective it's manageable.
See my post about re-framing complaining for more information. 

Its been a smoother transition to baby #3 for several reasons:
1. I am not returning to nearly as many hours of work as I was with my other kids
2. My older kids are in camp for a good portion of the day.
and I think the most important reason:
3. I am not resentful of the changes a new baby brings.

I remember with my first child I was resentful that I had to hold and nurse her so much. 
I was angry that I wasn't able to eat a meal  like a civilized human. I often ate cold food with one hand. Or if I had both hands available I worried about spilling food on the little head that peaked out of the baby carrier.
I was frustrated that I couldn't leave my house when I wanted to 
and of course all I wanted to do was SLEEP!

These feelings lessened with my second daughter and now with my son, these feelings although present at times have nearly disappeared.

I still hold and nurse him almost all day
I still eat like a caveman: I just finished eating cold sweet potato  right out of the skin--I practically slurped it out :)
I am still pretty home bound
I still don't sleep

But the difference is I have willingly accepted this new reality. 
The work is hard, but like my mother says, "Be thankful that you can do it!"

Wild Card Wednesday: Ice balls

I originally saw this idea posted on QueenVannaCreations.

I altered the recipe by using Crayola Washable Tempera Paint instead of food coloring. 

You will need:
1. Balloons- any latex kind
2. Washable paint
3. Kitchen faucet
4. Freezer

To do:
1. squeeze a little paint into the balloon
2. stretch neck of balloon over faucet and slowly fill with water
3. Once the size of a grapefruit, turn off water and tie balloon
4 Place balloon in freezer overnight.
5. Once frozen, cut balloon and peel off

What you do with your frozen creations is up to you:
play soccer, bowling, hide little trinkets in them before freezing or just watch them melt in the bath tub like we did:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday Math: Number Fishing

Magnetic number fishing
Photo Source

Tie string to paper clip and use as fishing rod for magnetic numbers.

Use for:
Number recognition
Comparing numbers: greater/less than
Adding, Subtracting, Dividing, Multiplying 

Sunday Science: Brain Hat

We made a brain hat to show our girls that our brain has different parts and different jobs to do. It is the control center for our body.

We found this brain hat template through Scholastic's Human Body- Easy Make and Learn Projects. It is full of manipulatives and models to help kids learn about the human body.

Click on the link below to access a PDF version of the entire workbook:

Here is another great resource with tons of brain and neuroscience activities and lesson plans:

You can also check out the play dough brain we made by clicking on the image below:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Friday Phonics and Language: Alef Bet Flashcards with Vowels

Photo Source

Love this set of Hebrew Letter Flash Cards we got at our local Amazing Savings Store.
You can find a similar item on Amazon.
They are big and come with an easy to turn wheel with Hebrew vowels under each letter.

Note: This set doesn't have the phonetic transliterations on the back of the cards. Made more for a Hebrew speaking teacher to help a child or adult to learn Hebrew.

It seems to make sense to teach the letters with the vowel at the same time. This way the child is already "reading" Hebrew just by joining for example the /b/ sound from the Bet with the /ee/ sound from the chereek underneath it.

The truth is we have not been that systematic with our teaching of Hebrew sounds and would love to hear from others about the order they use to teach Hebrew reading and writing.

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