Tot-Time Tuesday- Scavenger Hunts

fall scavenger hunt

Last week, we took advantage of the great fall weather and made an effort to get outside every day. One day, we went on a nature walk and brought a scavenger hunt along with us.  Scavenger hunts are fun, inexpensive, and easily modified for all ages. They are an excellent activity in the practice of observing and the skill of noticing goodness.  There are many great scavenger hunts already created and easy to find online. I printed this one from “The Bird Feed NYC” and placed it on clipboards- one for each child.  I liked that this hunt uses both words and pictures of items that are easily found in our backyard.

Fall Scavenger Hunt

As soon as we were out the door, my girls excitedly began to find and check items off their chart. My son bounced along, happy to be outside. He was glad to have his own clipboard and his own marker. Never underestimate your youngest children and include them in as many activities as possible.  With a little assistance and some modeling, my son quickly got the idea of looking for an item and crossing it off the chart. Using the marker was a big incentive too. Due to some past unfortunate incidents, say a mural on a white window sill, we have kept the markers out of his reach and out of his artistic fingers. He was thrilled to have it back in his hand.

Fall Scavenger HuntScavenger HuntFall Scavenger Hunt

We searched and explored for about 20 minutes. It was just enough time to keep everyone’s attention and interest.  We ended up finding 19 out of the 20 items. No matter where we looked, we could not find any animal tracks.  It really did not matter if we found one or all the items, it was so nice being outside with the kids and spending time together.

   “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

 [Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842]”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Fall Scavenger Hunt Fall Scavenger Hunt

Fall Leaf

Check out The Bird Feed NYC’s website and other scavenger hunts here.

Tot-Time Tuesday-Autumn Mixed Collage

Tot-Time Tuesday- Autumn Mixed Collage

The first day of autumn was last week but the warm weather continues to linger in parts of New England. I am ready for autumn to make its full, glorious appearance and stay for good. Rainbow leaves, over-sized, comfy-sweaters, UGGs, fresh apples, and bright-orange pumpkins are some of my favorite things and I cannot wait to be reunited with them.

Last Wednesday, to get us in the right mood for fall, I read It’s Harvest Time by Amy Beveridge. It is a short, early reader that highlights all of God’s blessings in the season of autumn. I love these little, inexpensive Happy Day books (Tyndale House Publishers.) They incorporate faith, family, and values in interesting stories with brightly colored pictures.

It's Harvest Time

 After the book, I modified an idea I found in our Boz’s MOPPETS curriculum. I provided my son with a red paper plate and a variety of fall colored materials. The materials included pieces of orange curling ribbon, yarn, pipe cleaners, twine, sparkly leaves, and pumpkins (that I had purchased on clearance at the end of last season.)

fall collage

I put some Mod-Podge in a cup, gave my son a paint brush and demonstrated how to paint with the glue, then stick the item to the plate. I think that he enjoyed painting with the glue more than placing the items. When my girls were his age, they would have enjoyed placing the items (A LOT of items) on the plate over the gluing part. The differences in my children amaze me and makes me smile!

 Fall Collage

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the final product. BUT we will be doing this project again with real items we find outside. I am hoping for brilliant red maple leaves, yellow birch leaves, artistic designs of sassafras leaves, and brown acorns. We just need fall weather to come and stick around. It shouldn’t be too long now. Mark Twain was very correct when he said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait five minutes.”

A Visit To Hawaii From Home-Tot-Time Tuesday

Aloha Summer

Today was our first official day of homeschool and part of me really wanted to write about our first great day of school. BUT another part of me felt obligated to pay homage to the “Summer of Fun” and close out our summer with a respectful farewell.

In the beginning of the summer, I wrote an article called My Summer Plan that MOPS International published on their leaders blog. In my article, I declared that this summer would be a time for me to lighten up, be more carefree, notice goodness around me, and go on new adventures. After I wrote that article, the girls and I created a Summer Bucket List and we started making plans to have some serious FUN.  We wrote down whatever their hearts desired- big or small- it did not matter. This was a dreaming list.  When the list was complete, we posted it on the fridge and looked to see what we wanted to do first. Most of the activities were easily achievable–icecream, the beach, stay at a hotel- those were things we normally do in the summer. But there was one item on the list that I knew would involve some creative thinking. Item- GO TO HAWAII!!!Summer Bucket List

This was my youngest daughter’s contribution to the list. I knew we could never afford the planes tickets, the hotel stay, or find the time for a real trip to Hawaii; but I did not want to stifle her enthusiasm to add her thoughts to our bucket list. If we could not get to Hawaii, I would bring Hawaii to us.

Last week was our last full week of “fun” before homeschool started and we started the transition into our “fall schedule”.  My parents had come for a visit. It was a Books on Hawaiiperfect time to “take a trip” to somewhere tropical. To prepare for  our trip, I borrowed books on Hawaii from the library.

Our favorite was Froggy Goes To Hawaii  by Jonathan London. I think we read it three or four times and laughed at the same places every reading.

On the day of the big event, I gave everyone their boarding tickets and we patiently waited for the time to board the airplane. Froggy got a boarding ticket too!

Play Boarding Tickets  Froggy Goes to Hawaii

I had the kids help me make Coconut Playdough. (I found the recipe at The Moon and Back Blog.)  I wanted a strong coconut smell so we added a lot of flaked coconut (almost a whole bag) to counter the smell of vinegar. This playdough recipe has good texture and the oil leaves your hands feeling soft. Coconuts seemed to be the favorite thing to make.

Coconut Playdough     Coconut Playdough  I   Coconut Playdough

As the kids were creating with playdough, I prepared dinner.  The menu consisted of ham, grilled pineapple, grilled potatoes & onions, mango salsa, and POI.  Poi is a Hawaiian word for the primary Polynesian staple food made from the underground plant stem or corm of the taro plant (known in Hawaiian as kalo). It is a traditional part of Native Hawaiian cuisine and is produced by mashing the cooked corm (baked or steamed) until it is a highly viscous fluid. 1  I wanted a traditional dish at dinner and the recipe to make Poi seemed like it would not be too hard to make. I questioned myself during the recipe- it seemed too simple. Peel, chop, steam, mash, add water. It was suppose to turn a purple color (which I was excited about) but it ended up a gray color (which I was not so excited about.) It did not have a bad taste (like a sticky, gooey potato) but no one had a second helping. I was happy that we all tried something new.

Making Poi

The flight to Hawaii was delayed (a.k.a dinner was not ready) until 5:30 PM. At that time, we all boarded the “plane” and found our appropriate seats. After two rounds of “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” (Merv Griffen) we had arrived in beautiful Hawaii.

Flight to Hawaii  Flight to HawaiiFroggy Goes to Hawaii

There were paper-leis to be made, palm trees to be decorated, and Hawaii coloring sheets to be colored. The weather was perfect and my husband found a great album of Hawaiian songs on Rapsody to add to the great atmosphere.

Paper Leis Decorating Palm Trees Craft Ideas- Hawaii Party

We ate and ate and laughed and laughed until the mosquitoes corralled us into the house. We closed out the night with a creative dessert that my parents provided. I was touched when I found out that they went to five stores trying to find gluten-free treats and palm trees to keep with the theme and a creative look .Hawaiian Night

What a wonderful way to close out our summer! I think I told my daughter at last ten times what a great idea she had to think to put it on our list! And she beamed every time I told her. The family all agreed that a “trip” to Hawaii needs to be a annual event at our house and a regular item on our Summer Bucket List. A Fond Adieu and Aloha to the  Summer of Fun 2015! Thank you for helping me rediscover fun and helping me notice all the good things right in front of me.  Next stop,  a”Fall for Fun.”

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PS The next day, we played Coconut Bowling (bowling was also on our Bucket List) Highly recommend this game. Highly recommend doing it outside. Coconuts are hard!

Coconut Bowling   Coconut Bowling

If you have serious competitors in your house, here is a Printable Score Card to use.

 

 

 

 

Tot-Time Tuesday- Traveling Time- Screen Free Ideas

Tot-Time Tuesday Traveling

We went on a short family trip over the weekend.  I knew that we would be spending a bit of time in the van- about 3 hours each way. Although the kids would have been thrilled to watch movies the whole time, I wanted at least one way of the trip to be completely screen-free. With a little research and a few Pinterest searches, I came up with some ideas.

Here is what we did…

Tot-Time Tuesday- TravelingTimes

We started our trip off with a quick trip to Wendy’s (no fast food judgments-LOL.) My son found a creative (and disgusting) way to entertain himself. I also had plenty of other healthy snacks on hand. Granola bars, dried fruit, pretzels, almonds, and Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks. The fruit snacks were a hit. I rarely buy them so they were a treat for the kids to eat.

tot time tuesdy dressup tot time tuesday dressup 2

The Kid’s Meals came with a toy (King Julien’s crown) which provided about 5 minutes of entertainment.  And since we like to “Move it, Move it”….

Music and Traveling

We had some great music to listen to in the van. Yes, we are that family! We sing loudly and “dance” in our seats. Recently, my son has started to demand “MUCK” “MUCK” (translation “music, music”) from his car seat and we are happy to oblige with a “please” and “thank you.”

Our top music album choice this weekend was TOBYMAC’s ***THIS IS NOT A TEST*** This album was just released August 7th. It is a great collection of soulful dance and pop music. With family friendly and uplifting lyrics, it is hard not to move or be in a good mood listening to it.

Check it out! http://tobymac.com/

Coloring on a Car Trip

I was surprised at how long coloring occupied my little guy. Before the trip, I printed out free coloring pages of some of my son’s favorite things- tractors and monster trucks. I put them all on a clip board and handed him one crayon at a time. I was afraid to give him more than one as the whole crayon box would have been poured out. This was also a great time to practice and reinforce color recognition. “Oh, you want a GREEN crayon.” “Sure, here is a GREEN crayon.” It is amazing how much learning is done naturally.

bingo

For my older girls, I found some fun car bingo sheets. We are still working on reading skills, so I loved the one from Stuck On You. This BINGO sheet had pictures AND words. It was simple and clean looking.  (link below)

http://www.stuckonyou.com.au/ourblog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cartripbingo.pdf

For older kids try: http://www.free-puzzles.net/travel-games-for-kids/printable-games/scavenger-hunt/scavenger-hunt.pdf

Gold Balls and Pipe Cleaners

We did not get to use this in the car but we used it in the hotel. I found this idea online and modified it for my family. I purchased practice golf balls and had a bunch of pipe cleaners. The kids stuck the pipe cleaners through the holes (fine-motor skills) and created “creatures.”  Or try to lace one pipe cleaner through all the holes. I tried but couldn’t do it.  Even my husband got in on the fun. 🙂

pipe cleaners pipe cleaners and golfballs

I was prepared with other ideas but we did not have a chance to use them. I came across some cute and great resources on Dating Diva’s site . http://www.thedatingdivas.com/tara/the-road-trip-date

Their Road Trip FINAL QUESTIONNAIRE  was great but the questions were geared for a husband and wife trip. I came up with my own questionnaire that could be used with the whole family. (See PDF below.) It’s going to be a great way to get the family talking on our next road trip. Something to look forward to on our next adventure!

Road Trip Family Questionnaire
Click below for PDF

Road Trip Family Questionnaire

Tot-Time Tuesday ~Straws and Pasta~

Pasta and Straws

I am always searching for ideas that are easy and that keep my two-year old entertained for longer than one whole minute. I found this idea on Pinterest from Laughing Kids Learn. The author calls this activity “Pasta Threading.”  It is great for the development of little one’s fine motor skills.

Fine motor skills generally refer to use of the small muscles like fingers, hands, and wrists. Development in fine motor skills help with tasks such as stacking blocks, zipping zippers, turning book pages, holding a pencil, handwriting, and using scissors. As a child develops, they gain more motor control and can perform more sophisticated motor tasks. As a parent and teacher, it is important to provide opportunities for your little ones to practice these skills.

I had everything in the house that was needed for this activity.

  • Playdough  (Store bought! It would have been nice for homemade playdough but that is a project for another time. )
  • Straws
  • Rigatoni Pasta (Penne and Ziti would work great too!)

1.) I made a ball of playdough. 2.) I stuck straws in the playdough. 3.) My son placed the pasta on the straws. It was a easy as 1-2-3.  This activity kept him entertained for enough time that I could unload and load the dishwasher AND prepare dinner in the crock pot. After a while, he just wanted to play with the playdough and that was fine because playdough is another great activity for developing fine motor skills.

Pasta and Straws

TIP: When we do this activity again, I am going to have a larger area of play-dough available, more straws, different widths of straws, and different types of pasta. If I get really ambitious, I might use different colored pasta too! I think having some different options would have kept my son engaged for a longer period of time. (Maybe wishful thinking?)  And we could work on some other skills like color recognition, compare and contrast, sorting and attributes.

Pasta and Straws

You can find the original idea here:

 http://laughingkidslearn.com/2014/03/pasta-threading-activity-for-toddlers.html/