Monday, April 30, 2012

Black & White Sensory Bin

We bought some beanbag chairs recently and I took some of the filling out to make them a little more comfy. Instance lightbulb moment: beanbag filling would be a great sensory bin filler. I didn't have an idea in mind to begin with but  just stared at it hoping ideas would flow. I think it would make great snow and first thought snowmen (have some really cute ones pinned) but winter is OVER in my book. Then I thought Arctic since we just moved to Anchorage, but I don't have enough goodies yet. Trying to find things around the house I decided to go with a black and white theme.Here is the finished product:

What is included:

Measuring cups and spoons
Black Poms (very large to small)
PVC pipe cut to make a tunnel
Police Car & wooden train engine
Animals: lamb, zebra, dalmation dog, cow, orca
White knobbily sensory  ball
Dupblo Blocks
Googly Eyes
BeanBag Filler

"B" actually played with it successfully without putting any in his month (SHOCKING)! He doesn't "play" very much---something that concerns me greatly. I was more than elated to see him playing with the sensory bin for over 20mins and having a hot fit when I put it away finally. 
Big Brother had to get in on the action.
I am so proud of his scooping abilities.
Black Snowman---it works (sort of)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Will Make Miracles

I ran across the most amazing book at the library the other day, I Will Make Miracles by Susie Morgenstern. It is one of those treasures that stick with you about a boy that believes when he grows up he will do so much more than be a pilot but in fact make miracles. The illustrates are just as captivating. Some are more realistic representations but others are just brush strokes and colors to set the mood.

Brush strokes to represent fighting in the world
Life is more, much more than seems
Love not only locking up bad guys but turning them into wise old sages
Strokes to represent earthquakes, floods, and fire
Stretch days longer so everyone can grow stronger ((LOVE))
To change the world you need to first read and write
Pretty amazing, right? Get the book and read all the amazing miracles I didn't include. The art and message of this book just lended itself to a little art lesson of our own. I asked "A" to think of a miracle he would like to make and then do an art representation of it. I really wanted him to use the broad brush strokes but he didn't want to. He wanted to so something with space so I suggested shooting stars. Then he reminded me it had to rhyme. Typical boy he had to add the skeletons to the mix (but he got inspiration from the book-you have to read it to see where). I did one too of course...
"B's" first watercolor experience. Why, Yes that is red paint on his forehead and hair ;o)
Mine: This saying was inspired by "A" asking that we add respect all living things to our new house rules.

One more little art project "A" did with highlighters he found on a three-panel paper. I think he secretly was trying to make a LONG piece of art after watching the movie Romona and Beezus (which I loved but could be because I adore John Corbett). Romona and her dad (Corbett) make a scroll of her town that wraps around the school room. Ours is definitely not that LONG but maybe we will have to do the scroll idea soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tasting the Rainbow

A few weeks ago I was observing a 2nd grade classroom during a nutrition lesson. At the end of the lesson on fruits and veggies all the students did a vegetable tasting of all the colors of the rainbow. I was shocked to discover that NONE of the students complained and everyone tried all of the different veggies. There wasn't an, "Ewww Yuck" even murmured. Well if these 2nd graders could do it, so could my son! Today as I was getting my fruits and veggies prepped for juicing (more on that below) I made him a rainbow of produce for him to have a little tasting of.
Not pictured but in the green was also a spinach leaf
Half way done
Some tasting rules: 1) You need to try a bite of everything. 2) If you don't like it set it aside and try something else 3) If you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all. 4) If you don't like it commit to try it again another day. 5) If you don't like what you tried for that color find another fruit or veggie within the same color band. 6) Make it fun!
"A's" breakfast creation this morning
Benefits of tasting the whole rainbow: 1) We should have a minimum of 5 fruits and veggies a day, but you can never have too many! 2) Fruits with the same color tend to have the same vitamins and minerals. For example, carrots and cantaloupes both have Vitamin A which help your eye sight. If you only eat the same color of fruits and veggies you are missing out on some vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.3) Studies have shown people could cure high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, some autoimmune diseases and even stop cancer growth by eating a plant-based diet.

With all of these health benefits and more I have been making a conscious effort to eat a nearly vegan lifestyle. What does that mean? Well, I am choosing to eat a mostly vegan diet except I am allowing myself two dinners a week to eat meat and cheese if I want to. To take it one step further I am choosing to only drink fruit and veggie juice during the day and then have a healthy meal with my family for dinner. Before people start leaving me comments I just want to say that I am over 100lbs over weight, have medical problems, and did some research. Two of my most favorite documentaries are Forks over Knives and Fat,Sick, and Nearly Dead both currently on Netflix streaming. My family has a very high history of colon cancer and heart problems. I need to make a change to be a positive example to my children and live to be over 70 (a rarity in my family). I am in no way judging or being on a soapbox. I love meat and cheese! I have just decided to make this lifestyle change for me.
What is on my menu today (grapes, strawberries, clementines, spinach, kale, pineapple, cantaloupe, kiwi, cucumber, apples, carrots, and cabbage). I would definitely say I have the whole rainbow represented.
No matter what your diet consists of I would encourage you to do a veggie and fruit tasting for you and your children. Commit to trying a fruit or veggie you have never had before. I just tried kale for the first time. Not a huge fan but can add it to my fruit juice and it doesn't bother me. Prepare your produce in different ways. What is the worst that can happen? You may actually like it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Encouraging the Writer Within

My five-year-old LOVES to write stories. Always has! Even at a young age he would dictate his made-up tales. Once he hit Kindergarten he started to write for himself. His love of drawing has given him dreams of being a author and illustrator. In school he would write daily during Writer's Workshop, but I have pulled him out of school early due to the move. In the craziness, I have been slow to supplement his education at home-mainly because we don't have any of our belongings. Yesterday his Draw & Write Journal from Lakeshore Learning arrived (only $3.50) and he was so excited to get writing again. However, when he sat down to write he had writer's block-he had been out of practice. Here are some things I did to help encourage his writer within...

After "A" doodled in his books we talked about what stories may be needed to be told. Here are some of the pages:
Aren't these just begging to have stories written about them? I know I want to know more about the haunted mine and the incredible flying machine-don't you?
All writers should also create a heart map. "A" made on the backside of the title page right in his Draw & Write Journal. Some choose to section of the map into different coordinates and add color, but he didn't want that. Ideas to put in your heart map: people who you hold close in your heart, dreams & desires, special memories, secrets, passions you have, etc. Some of the things in his heart map include memories of going on a cruise and the state fair, his family, a cross of God, dreaming of becoming a scientist, an easel for art, things-that-go (a passion of his), and more. 
I also picked up a Spelling Reference Guide at his old school before we moved. His old school district used these for grades K-2nd. You could certainly make one of your own though. You put high frequency words in order like a dictionary. In the back they also have sections like Days of the Week, People, Places, Months, Colors, and Numbers. In each section there are lines for you to add words. For example, in the People section you would write the name of siblings and/or pets, in Places you would write your city and state or a favorite vacation spot, As you can see on the D page I added dinosaur for him. At this age I want to encourage him to phonetically sound out his words but also use a dictionary. It is about balance!
By the time we were done with the heart map he had ideas flying. He chose to write about a secret location he found with his dad at our new place (a secret on his heart map). He quietly wrote for about 30 mins about gold and treasure chests and more. This is probably the longest story he has written entirely himself (and that includes stories he has written in school). I am excited for some writing time set aside each day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Moose Encounter

We have been noticing some lovely moose scat by our front door at our new home. It appears they have been chewing on the empty bushes by the front window. I do know they have been starving due to the record snow fall this year. I had commented how awesome it would be to see an actual moose in our front window and today we got the opportunity.

One large moose sauntered up and started trying to find food on your bushes. I ran and locked the dogs upstairs, pulled the blinds and plastered our faces up against the glass to watch. Even the baby was enthralled. As I watched him attempt to find food the humanitarian in me wanted to rustle up food, but I knew I couldn't. I just had to watch nature be as it should.
Then to our surprise we realized our friendly neighbor was a Momma. Up came her baby a few moments later. I was beyond elated! He was so cute. The baby got right up against the glass. I have never been so close to a wild animal before. Nothing but a few inches separating us! This is one of the reasons I wanted to move the boys up they could have experiences just like this...
Two babies looking at each other
Almost the same size
And because we couldn't resist "A" kissed a moose's bum ;o)