Sunday, June 30, 2013

Science Sunday: Painting With Fizzing Scented Ice

Another post inspired by Growing a Jeweled Rose
I think after today's post we will give the whole baking soda/vinegar thing a rest and move on to the human body.
But today we had fun playing with fizzing ice paint.
 First we filled ice trays halfway with baking soda.
Important note: Results would have been better if I diluted the baking powder in water first. Our ingredients didn't freeze as an even mixture and we had reduced fizzing once we added the vinegar at the end.
 Then added drops of washable tempera paint
Filled with water and mixed with toothpick.
Added spices to turn this into a sensory activity as well.
We used cinnamon, vanilla extract, zhaatar, and oregano.
 Cover with foil , stick popsicle sticks in, and freeze for a at least 4 hours

 Our pretty shapes

Smelling their scented flowers
 The girls swirled their ice pops all around the water table and them squirted with vinegar to watch their paint fizz. 
 Fizzing paint
Squirting vinegar onto the residual baking soda left in ice trays.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Phonics & Language: Children's Hebrew Media

‎יוטיוב לילדים‎
Photo Source

We are always looking for more ways to incorporate Hebrew into our daily lives and have searched the internet many times coming up short. Until we realized, duh, we should be searching in Hebrew.

So we got hebrew letter stickers to put on our keyboard from Ebay for like a buck and switched our computer's language to Hebrew and tada so many more hits!!

Currently out favorite find is יוטוב לילדים ( youtube for children). Here is the link:
Its an App we downloaded and our kids can  now watch shows like Dennis the Menace in Hebrew.
Beware there are tons of ads.

Another favorite of ours is
It is a website with an extensive list of free downloadable Hebrew stories for kids.
If the link comes up in gibberish, you need to change the encoding of your browser by clicking on Tools, then Encoding, then Hebrew. That's how it works for Google, not sure about other browsers.

Lastly check out
It's an App that comes with 2 free Hebrew books for kids and then its $10.00 a month for unlimited access to their Hebrew children's books library. That's a little steep for my blood, but we are enjoying our 2 free stories for now.

I would greatly appreciate other suggestions as to where I can find more Hebrew media for my kids.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdays: Re-framing Complaining

Let me start this post about quitting to complain with some good old fashion complaining. 

For so many of us reading blogs and scrolling through Facebook and other social media sites leads us down the road of gawking at other people's beautiful self portraits, beautiful children, beautiful vacations, beautiful homes, etc... It makes it so easy for us to feel anything but  "less than". When I blog I post pictures of my crafts, my projects, my  ideas, etc so others can be inspired as I have been from other bloggers. What I don't post are the tantrums, the messes, the fighting, the crying (mine and the childrens') that occurs during or between these events.  I have thought about taking pictures of our craziness and sharing it with you all, but it doesn't feel right to expose my family at our most vulnerable times to the mass public. 

But in case anyone who reads my blog has been disillusioned about our life, here is a little glimpse into what really goes on "behind the scenes". 

This morning, I was awakened by the sounds of children giggling and playing so beautifully in their bedroom. This sounded so wonderful, I thought "Yes! I can lie in bed a few more minutes". Their giggling soon turned into screaming and crying when my 2 year old dropped a chair on her sister who was lying on the ground and gave her a busted lip and bleeding gums. Said child then refused ice or any form of help and just continued to scream. 

On to  morning bath time (because I was too tired to bathe them the night before)- one child gets out of bath first causing other child to cry for 15 minutes that she wanted to get out of bath first.
All the while, I am trying to get them dressed, fed, and put in one of the many loads of laundry because "someone" crawled into my bed in the middle of night and peed all over my sheets.

Now it's time to leave for first day of camp, child runs around house like a wild turkey refusing to use the potty and put on shoes.

Flash forward to after camp when one child bites another child because "she pushed a button on my iPAD" or when little sister decided she wanted to throw all the blueberries on the floor and when mommy said NO,  she had a hysterical tantrum yelling that she REALLY NEEDS to throw all the blueberries on the floor and STEP ON THEM!

I imagine many of you have had similar crazy in your homes as well. If not, please write a book and I will read it!!!

Ok, so now the question is how do we manage to stay sane and the parents we always imagined we would be amidst all this crazy. So I don't have THE answer, but I do have a suggestion:
Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don't have

This cheesy quote above pretty much sums up what I have been thinking about lately and has helped me get through alot of these tough moments.

I can have the same amount of crazy happen on two different days and come out of one day feeling like a total failure as a parent and on the other day feeling so proud for how I handled things. When I analyze what factors affected my reactions to each day, it all came down  to perspective.

The thought process on the miserable days would go something like this:
  1. My house is a mess!!
  2. I can't get any quiet time!!
  3. Why are there so many dishes in the sink?!
  4. My children are nuts!!

Contrast to the thought process on my better days:
  1. I am lucky to even have a home full of stuff and can afford to own all these luxuries!!
  2. My children can be loud because they are healthy!!
  3. There are dishes because we have the means to eat 3+ meals a day!!
  4. I have children!!

I still have more miserable days than I would like to admit, but re-framing has been really helpful in decreasing the frequency and intensity of the bad days. 

If we can re-frame some of the negative thoughts that run through our minds and make us so angry, maybe we can see that many of the things we complain about are actually privileges. 

Wild Card Wednesday: DIY Light Table and Magna Tiles

Our kids love playing with the light table at our local children's museum so we tried to replicate it at home.
To make our low budget light table you will need a clear storage bin with cover. We used  the Rubbermaid 41qt storage bin with cover (about $13.00 at Target):
I then lined it with black paper to keep the light reflected in the box, although my husband just told me that white paper would have been a better choice. 
 Place any LED light  in the box. These were the ones we had used for our Winter Onederland Party.
I lined the cover with parchment paper so the light wouldn't be too bright for the girls' eyes.
 Here is the light table all ready to go.
Our Magna Tiles look pretty cool on the light box. 

By the way, Magna Tiles are AWESOME, but rather pricey. $120 on Amazon for a set of 100 pieces. I still can't get over how much we spent on this toy, but the possibilities are endless and it will easily grow with my kids for many years to come.
Great for little ones- it's a very low frustration toy. The pieces hold together well, unlike blocks and come apart easily, unlike Legos.
As kids grow, their imaginations can take them anywhere with this open ended toy.

I also played around with putting my black light in the storage bin:

The results were equally fun. The green MagnaTiles glowed the best. We made different configurations with glow sticks (don't crack them) and just for fun we put our highlighter water on the table. 
 Next time I might follow the suggestion found here to cover the table with contact paper and have kids stick glow sticks and other fluorescent items onto the contact paper for some sticky fun.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Torah Tuesday: Parshat Pinchas and Taking Action

Photo Source

This week's parasha discusses the daughters of Tzelafchad whose father passes away with no male heir. They petition Moshe that they be granted the portion of the land belonging to their father. Moshe appeals to G‑d who accepts their claim and incorporates it into the Torah's laws of inheritance. Considering the time period this is pretty revolutionary for women's rights. 

This parasha was a perfect transition into discussing the fact that the daughters of Tzelafchad didn't just complain about their problem, rather they took action. They marched over to the leader of their  people to have their appeal heard.

We used this story to discuss the importance of taking action when we see problems both at home and in the world in general. 
There has been alot of complaining around here. Some from me, the overly pregnant and sweaty mama and some from my kids who have become pretty kvetchy recently. So we talked about how important it is to do something when we are unhappy, either talking it out or taking an action to help us out of our jams.

Since both my kids will be starting camp in the next few days, we also talked about bullying and inappropriate touching and the importance of taking action by saying "Stop!" and then going to their leader, i.e. counselor/Morah to help them just like the daughters of Tzelafchad went to their leader.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Math Monday: Shaving Cream Sensory Fun with Numbers

If you are looking for a fun filled sensory activity to help work on letter, shape, or number formation, shaving cream is definitely the way to go. 
So much more fun than sand and much easier to clean up.
Exploring with shaving cream all the way up their arms.
This morning we used shaving cream on a cookie sheet to do some individualized math instruction.

I put out Lego blocks for my 2 year old to count targeting counting in order and pairing each object with only one number name.

Being able to understand that the last number said is the sum of the objects, is a later developing skill so my 4 year old did that.

I then made a connect the dot figure of the numeral for my 4 year to connect to help her with number formation. 
Super simple and super cheap.
Easy and fun to erase and start again.

For 30 more fun activities with shaving cream, check out Play Create Explore!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Science Sunday: Surprise Color Concoction

Today's post is inspired by Juggling with Kids.

1. When kids aren't looking, put out a tray of spoons with a "magic powder" on them.
2. To make magic powder drop some food coloring on each spoon and then cover with baking soda.
3. Fill some clear plastic cups filled with some vinegar.
4. Tell kids to mix magic powder into their magic solution and watch what happens:

Target concepts:
1. Acid/base reaction
2. color mixing

Friday, June 21, 2013

Phonics Friday: Sound awareness & Working Memory

Here is a great exercise that targets reading, spelling, sound awareness and working memory. It is slightly confusing to explain, so lets try a practice round:

1. You tell your child to put the letters B A T in the air.
2. Child has to write that word in the air with his finger and try to read it while holding on to the visual imagery of the letters in the air 
3. After child reads first word, tell child to erase the B and put in an R and ask "now what does that say?".
4. You keep working this way making only one change at a time.
5. You can target only first, middle, and last sounds or for a more advanced child mix it up.

Here is a short example with a model of how to correct errors as they occur:

I wasn't able to film the continuous of the chain of changes that should follow because little sister decided to hit big sis in the face which cut this exercise short. Hopefully the chaining of changes will be clearer in the video below.

To make this task target spelling, you do the same thing, but instead of giving the letters, you give the child a word to spell.
1. Tell child "spell BAT in the air"
2. Now tell child "spell RAT"--child has to physically erase the /B/ from the air and put in the /R/


The challenge is holding onto the letters in their memory long enough to then manipulate the letters to either spell or read words. This is what working memory is all about.
The length and sounds used in your exercise will vary based on the reading level your child is on.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Computers as Teachers??

Thoughtful Thursdays will consist of my musings and ramblings about life, kids, education, etc. I had all these  ideas running threw my head to share with you today, but being that I am 37 weeks pregnant and it is after midnight and I just finished prepping for Shabbat meals, I will take the easy way out. 
I will share with you someone else's thoughts on children and education, Sugata Mitra. Sugata Mitra is  is best known for his "Hole in the Wall" experiment, and widely cited in works on literacy and education.  He is also the winner of the TED Prize in 2013.
Photo SourceHere is his interesting piece on how the educational system as we know it today is completely outdated in our fast paced technological era:

Here is a link to his TED video explaining his Hole in the Wall Project. He demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, could be taught by computers very easily without any formal training.

 I would love to know your thoughts.
Is our to be obsolete in our future?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wild Card Wednesday: Popping good time

So if you haven't noticed, I'm trying to blog daily following a specific theme per day. So far we've got Science Sunday, Math Monday, Torah Tuesday and today is Wild Card Wednesday, where I will blog about random things that might repeat a theme or not--its WILD! Stay Tuned for what Thursday and Friday's themes will bring.

Fun with Pop Rocks inspired by Growing a Jeweled Rose:
We made a popping volcano and popping paint.

We started with some home made playdough. Seems like most recipes asked for cream of tartar, not something I had on hand. So I  followed this recipe: 
1/4 cup salt 
1 cup flour 
1/2 cup water 

Next we wrapped a cup with tin foil to shape it into a volcano and then carefully covered it with rolled out play dough.
We poured baking soda, red food coloring, and Pop Rocks into the cup and had the girls pour vinegar over it. Hear the popping in action:

We also made glow in the dark popping paint. You will need:
1. Pop Rocks added to fluorescent paint 
3. Black construction paper to paint on 
 Look at that glow!

Watch this video to hear the paint pop:

Bottom line: add Pop Rocks to anything that contains a liquid and good times will ensue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Torah Tuesdays: Parshat Balak and Role Play

Balak was the first Parasha I blogged about a year ago. To see the crafts we created to go along with the Balaam and donkey story click here

File:Foster Bible Pictures 0080-1 An Angel Met Balaam with a Sword.jpg

Super quick parasha synopsis:
 Balak, the king of Moab, asks the prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel.  On the way, Balaam's donkey refuses to go forward because it sees the angel that G-d sends to block their way. Balaam hits the donkey. When Balaam tries to curse the Jewish people, blessings come out instead. 

We skipped the more risque topics that came up in the second part of the parasha. 

 For a great insight into the first portion of the parasha, please read this wonderful piece put out by the Sephardic Institute:

Topics to discuss: 
1. "In the path a man wishes to go, in that path will he be led (b. Mak. 10b)".  Balaam wanted a certain response from Hashem when asking to go with Balak's messengers and kept asking until he got the answer he wanted to hear. How often do our kids do that to us and we do that ourselves?

2. Discuss the fact that the donkey got the message that Hashem's angel was trying to send and Balaam didn't. Why couldn't he see the message as clearly as the donkey, what was clouding his vision?

3. Discuss the blessings given over by Balaam.

We use role playing ALOT when teaching parasha topics. We repeat the scenes several times throughout the week to reinforce the sequence of events and discuss the characters. Here is a short audio clip of how some of the role playing went today:

Excuse some of the freedoms we took with the text. For example to help my 2 year old feel included she was the rooster who woke up Balaam after he slept for the night and received his prophesy from Hashem. This is most definitely not in the Torah.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Math Monday: Mazin' Math

Photo source

Mazes and puzzles are wonderful for teaching kids critical thinking, problem solving, strategy development, etc. All critical skills needed for success in math.

With my four year old, we have been playing with a ton of print out mazes. To decrease paper waste and increase re-usability  I slide the sheets into page protectors and she uses markers to solve her puzzles. Wipe off and re-use.  I love that I can see her brain in action as she goes down one path only to find a dead end and steer back and try another path. Awesome lesson in resilience and trial and error. A quick google search will come up with tons of free mazes.
Here is a pretty comprehensive list of online mazes and puzzles for kids:

A game we love is Rush Hour Jr. "After setting up their game board according to pictures on various challenge cards, players steer their ice cream truck through a jumble of blocking cars, trucks and buses". Highly recommend this game-it's leveled, it's cars, it's travel sized, it's perfection.
Remember these little teasers from old school Sesame Street: 

We have been playing with the concept of " what doesn't belong"  with my two year old. It's another great way to work on critical thinking in addition to categorizing,  describing,  and divergent thinking. We keep it simple with obvious differences, but as she gets used to the concept, we can up the complexity so that there may be many different correct answers.  Like in the video above, the boot is an obvious choice, but you can also say the sneaker since it's the only one with laces.

I'd love to hear from others about brain teasers and other math puzzles their kids enjoy!

Science Sunday: Glow in the Dark Potions and Goop

Credit for this activity goes to Growing a Jeweled Rose:

A black light might just be the best $16 I ever spent. We got ours from here.
We started off by making some glow in the dark water (must have UV light to get the glow going). 
Super simple: 
1. Take a sharp knife and start sawing at a highlighter
2. the casing will easily break open 
3. take out the highlighter ink and soak it in up to 6 cups of water
4. Done 

We started off with a glow in the dark volcano:
 Baking soda in cup and pour vinegar + glow water mixture over it
 Then we made some flubber using our glow water as well:
Here is the recipe we used for flubber:
Borax 1 tsp

Water 1 cup 
Glow water 1/2 cup

Elmers glue 1/2 cup (4 oz container)

1. Add 1 teaspoon of borax to 1 cup of warm water 
2. Add 1/2 cup of glue (4 oz container) to a 1 cup measuring cup and rinse glue container with warm water to remove all of the glue. The total amount of liquid water and glue should total 1 cup. Pour contents into a glass bowl and mix well with a whisk.

4. Pour the Borax solution into the glass bowl of glue mix. 
5. Mix with your hands for a moment, the goo should form almost instantly and pour out the small amount of extra water.

Concepts discussed:
acid/base reaction
Uv light
Describing texture of flubber

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