Paint Clean-Paint Messy: One Day, Two Very Different Painting Experiences

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Painting is an all senses on deck experience for my youngest son and lately he’s been asking to do it more and more often. Sometimes I’m up for the hose ’em down when they’re done style of backyard body painting, but other (most) times I’d rather not. Research suggests that the sensory simulation of finger painting is very beneficial for the brain development of little ones. So, finding time for that kind of immersive creation is important. There’s also strong  empirical evidence that my kids have no business finger painting while I’m trying to make breakfast at 8am. There’s a time for everything.

Clean “Painting”:
Paper towel or paper
Brush
Small amount of water in a cup (to minimize spillage)
This “painting” in quotes because…well there’s no paint. I was actually shocked at how content he was with this super clean painting substitute. Thinking about adding a paint brush to my arsenal of purse items as another tool for keeping the kids occupied at restaurants. “Why yes, I would like water and a paper towel.”

Messy Painting:
Non-toxic Paint
Brushes
Rolls of paper
Something on which to put mass quantities of paint. We used a baking pan.
This is Painting with a capital P because it is an all in experience. There’s no painting smock in the world that can handle the mess that ensues when I get my two boys outside for mural finger/face/body painting. After they’ve had a good time smearing with their hands I take the paper off of the wall and put it on the ground so their feet can have a turn. Then I get out the hose and towels.

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“Hands On” Learning Tip

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The boys will take this morning’s homeschool lesson with them all day-on their hands. Simply writing or drawing on your kiddo can be a handy way to help them remember a new concept. Plus, it’s super versatile!

After discussing Maxwell’s sight word of the day “and” I wrote it on his hand and told him every time he found and showed me the word I’d give him a high five on his and hand.

For little brother, he got his shape of the day-triangle.

Other ideas for “hands on” learning:
1. Left vs right
2. Letter of the day
3. Number of the day
4. Color
5. Shape
6. Sight word
7. Vocabulary

Classroom in the Kitchen: Making Edible Legs

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We’ve been learning all about the body; our most recent topic has been muscles and bones. It’s hard for kids to understand that there are things inside of them since they can’t see it.  So, with the help of some simple ingredients we explored the most basic elements of the legs-bones, muscles, fat, and blood- in our kitchen, and ended the lesson with a tasty snack!

Materials:
Premade pizza dough (skin)
Marinara (blood)
Mozzarella cheese stick (bone)
Shredded cheddar cheese (fat)

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Objective: (for 3-5 year olds)
Child will be able to identify skin, fat, bone, and blood.
Child will be able to briefly explain the function of:
Skin-helps us feel
Blood-sends oxygen and nutrients around our body
Bone-helps us stand up and makes blood
Muscles-helps us move

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

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“Grow Your Own” Graphing Activity: Our Spooky Skeleton Graph

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A $1 grow your own skeleton, our October Body Unit, some chart paper, and a couple of makers made for a weeks worth of morning math and science learning. Oh, and a magical end of week skeleton surprise.

Graphing of one kind or another is a common fixture of the circle time routine in many preschool classrooms. Our three person classroom had been graphing the weather, but a wild little brother put an end to that by ripping down as many posters as he could before I could stop him. Instead of mourning our lost weather chart I took the opportunity to explore the other ways I could integrate math and scienc.

Materials:
A “grow your own” toy– You know, the things you put in water and they grow. We used a skeleton, but you could just as easily use an animal, person, or whatever. Wish We’d Bought One of These Bigger Ones
A large bowl of water in a place the kids can’t easily get to and mess with in between measurements
Chart paper
Markers

Objective:
Child will be able identify and name basic body parts (head, neck, ribs, arms, legs, skull, hips, legs, feet)
Child will be able to recognize and record change over time
Child will compare objects by size
Child will be able to make logical predictions

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

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Monster Eggs: Seasonal Fine Motor Activity

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We’ve been learning all about our body this October. These silly little monster egg faces were a great way to bring the fun of Halloween together with our months theme. Plus, peeling the eggs was an accidentally awesome fine motor skill for the boys. We may have lost half of the eggs in the process, but they really worked those tiny finger muscles.

If you can make hard boiled eggs you can make these monster eggs.
Just hard boil some eggs, lightly tap eggs to create cracks all over, and then soak in dyed water for at least a couple of hours. Peel and voila, you’ve got monster/dragon/dinosaur eggs.

If you’ve got some Mr. Potato head pieces you can then make the little faces too!

The Mud-Don’t-Scare-Me Mom Tribe

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My youngest son is 21 months old and is able to find a mud puddle in a dry park the same way I’m able to find a Starbucks in a new mall. Today was no exception, but instead of throwing my day into chaos, the mudpocolyps was managed with humor, a garden hose and the help of two great ladies.

Since moving nine months ago I’ve been trying to find like-minded moms of children the same general age and temperament of my boys. This proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated, but after joining countless area mom groups and trolling the neighborhood parks I am finally beginning to feel like I’m finding my niche. I’ve been meeting up with a couple of moms regularly for a few months now and today it was clear that we are all part of the same tribe- the mud-don’t-scare-me tribe. Finding your Mom Tribe is kind of a big deal-especially when your children are covered in mud at a park.

So, when my curly headed cutie began to splash in the mud with the joy and thoroughness of a hippopotamus at a safari day spa, these ladies didn’t cast me an “I can not believe she’s letting him do that” look.  Instead, they laughed along with me. Then when my 3 year old became so engrossed in play with their children that he had a potty accident I felt no fear of judgement when I sighed and said to him, “alright, take off your pants and join your brother if you want.”

This moment was the toddler exemplification of the phrase “in for a penny, in for a pound.”

While I was overseeing this bacchanal of mud, one of the moms found a garden hose and the other mom found the spicket. It is this kind of practical, judgement free, and resourceful problem solving that defines members of the mud-don’t-scare-me tribe.

Within 10 minutes both boys where hosed down and I was more than ready to fasten them securely in our mud puddle free car. While I was driving my half naked boys home I was grateful that instead of crying from the stress of the seemingly impossible task of managing them I was laughing at the memory of their gleefully mud-spattered faces and counting my lucky stars that there are other moms out there who aren’t afraid of a little mud.

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Hear ye, hear ye: Unexpected Learning during Mommy’s Audiology Test

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After attempting to pacify my boys with a Chick-fil-A breakfast for 30 minutes prior to seeing doctor and with a lollipop for the 10 minute examination I was competently out of tricks and bribes. Thus my shudder of trepidation when I was told I would need to go back to Audiology for several hearing tests. A place that requires absolute silence and my little thing one and thing two do not mix. As I wheeled my giant double stroller back to the testing area I was fully prepared to be told that I would need to reschedule my hearing screenings. I was, therfore, pleasantly surprised when I met the infinitely understanding audiologist who not only helped problem solve hope to keep my boys happy while she conducted my test, but also turned the test into a learning experience for my 3 year old son. The boys “helped” her as they watched me through the observation window. She explained the test and how it checked mommy’s hearing.

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I made sure to get her name and sent an email of thanks and recognition to the clinic administrator before I even left the parking lot. Feeling grateful this morning 🙂