D is for Diamonds

D is for Diamonds

As I got back into blogging full force, I have immediately started taking part in many exciting projects.

Today I would like to introduce to you another project I am taking part in: A-Z of Busy Bags hosted by Teach Me Mommy – a fellow KBN blogger.

My letter is D and I thought it would be fun to introduce Diamonds. I am not talking about stones, of course. I am talking about a diamond shape which is often is confused with a square or a rectangle.

In my mind diamond shape always associated with how we perceive the world in our childhood: diamond does look somewhat like a square but it is not. It is shifted, moved, almost disfigured. But it is nevertheless beautiful and creative.

So, I created a series of simple printables to put in a busy bag to use a diamonds matching tool. There is one printout in color, the copy of the same printable in black and white (for coloring), and several designs made out of diamonds that also teach and help practice numbers 5 through 10.

Click on the image below to be taken to the page to download the Diamonds Matching Printable!

Diamonds matching

These printouts are suitable for children from 1+ to 8 years old. They are a great addition to any math lesson, or a simple practice at home.

I do recommend printing out several copies of the diamonds in color. And I encourage you to let your child color the shapes, as well as the designs.

If you laminate the sheets, you can use them for a very long time. However, if the lamination option is not available, you can glue the sheets to some stiff paper, such as cardboard and cover over with clear contact paper – this will preserve the sheets for a long time.

What this matching activities promotes: language development (and you can use it for practicing a minority language in your household!); hand-eye coordination; fine motor skills; counting; creativity.

a-z busy bags

Follow us in the next couple of weeks to see what other bloggers have come up with! And don’t forget to stop by my blog around March 21st to see what I have come up for the letter U!

ABC Cookies For All Seasons

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This is the 3rd post in Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s – Seasonal ABC’s – hosted by Something 2 Offer.

The following activity is very hands-on, easy and… Tasty! The children don’t only practice their language skills but also work on fine motor skills, hand – eye coordination, focus; develop their creativity and gain sensory experience (texture and taste).

You can find the recipe for Sugar Cookies here.

The idea is very simple: make the dough, roll it, let the children make letters out of the dough, bake them and eat them!

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Be prepared for the letters to be absolutely imperfect and more over when the cookies are baking, the expand all sorts of ways! But it is still fun!

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You can choose to decorate the cookies with simple icing for special occasions, like, Christmas, Ayyam-i-Ha and other holidays.

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Please stop by the Sensory ABC’s landing page for more ideas!

Chalk Fun Again and Kids Co-Op

It’s the time for the weekly Kids Co-Op and I am back with a “blast from the past”- Chalk Fun!

Both my daughters enjoy playing with chalk, though miss A is more interested in chewing on it!

We don’t really have a place outside for play with chalk but we do that on roof and the best time is after it rained.

Here are some pictures of miss T using her sidewalk chalk to draw the rainbow:

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Ayyam-i-Ha Game

We had a lovely Ayyam-i-Ha celebration with our friends. It happened on the last day of this Festival and it also happened to be our friend daughter’s birthday. We had some absolutely delicious food and our hosts prepared a great game for children to play. 

I would like to share with the instructions of this game, originally created by Anisa Skuce-Newell, an art major and a mom of a 5 year old, our dearest friend.  Anisa is one of program directors at  the Eaglearts Academy Summer Arts Camp.

Things you need for this game:

A CD with some Baha’i children music

Few purses (depending on how many children participate)

Few sets of cards of people from different countries (Anisa had special card sets but you can make your own!). Variation: cut out little people out of the paper.

A glass table, light table or just a big sheet of paper

A round tray

Markers

A treasure box with few bottles filled with various beans, seeds and pasta (all uncooked)

Few tea candles

Instructions:

Prepare: place a CD with children’s music somewhere in the house, purses , cards and the treasure box in other places.

Age group: 3+ years old

Start by asking the children if they know what special day is today (you can make your own story or choose a story from a Baha’i book). Tell them a brief story about a Man who came many years ago to bring about Unity on Earth – Baha’u’llah. Tell the children their first task is to go to {a place} to find a CD. When they come back, play a song for them to dance with (e.g. Red Grammer‘s “Teaching Peace”).

Tell the children their next task is to find purses.

Once the purses are found, tell the children now they need to go to {a place} and each find a set of cards for themselves. When they come back, talk about Unity in Diversity and how we have many different countries and people around the world.

Invite the children to the glass/light table or toward the sheet of paper. Bring out the big round tray, place it on the table. Show the children the picture of the globe (or the actual globe) and ask them if they know what it is. Ask them what shape it is and what shape the tray is.

Invite the children to trace the tray on the table/sheet of paper.

Ask the children if they know any countries of the world. Suggest them to draw circles inside the big circle to indicate different countries.

Once they are done, ask them to go to {a place} and by helping each other bring the treasure box. Explain that cooperation in bringing this big box will make it easier for everyone to carry it.

Open the box and bring out the jars with different beans and paste. Ask the children to fill the “countries” with them.

When the children are done with that task, ask them to bring out their purses, take out the picture cards and place them around the globe they drew, so it looks like all of them are holding hands together.

If you are using the glass table, lighten few tea candles and put them under the table. If you are using light table, lighten it. If you are using a sheet of paper – place the candle around the display.

Tell the children we will turn off the light and see how beautiful our world is! We sang together “Joy to the world” from Family Learning House CD. It is also a good chance to introduce the quotation: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole world” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 288.)

After the game we had a yummy cake to celebrate the festival and Ahdi’s birthday!

This game can be used for any Baha’i holiday. And of course can be adapted to a non-religious holiday as well since it talks about Unity, Unity in Diversity and Peace in the World!

How did you spend your Ayyam-i-Ha? What activities did you do with your children?

Egg carton flower

One last project we did in 2012 was Egg Carton Flower. We got the inspiration from Glittering Muffins’ Egg Carton Christmas Tree Ornament.

At first I was determined to make a Christmas tree. But Christmas was over and it didn’t really make sense to make the actual activity. I still really wanted to make something with egg cartons as they’ve been waiting to be used for a long time!

So first I cut them up into separate pieces and asked my daughter to paint them any colours she felt like using. We talked about painting them inside and outside. She insisted on doing the activity by herself as she loves painting . When she was done, I realised she only painted them inside. When I asked her why, she told me she would like to use them that.

That’s when I got the idea to make sort of a flower out of the cartons. I nipped the pieces to make petals, grabbed a straw, paper plate and some playdough. My daughter arranged the playdough on the plate, making a base for the flower. We then stuck the straw in the middle, made holes in the egg carton pieces and put them on the straw. Voila!


Creative Tuesday: Self-initiated craft

I have to apologize for skipping a Tuesday – my older daughter got pretty sick last week with something so simple as cold sores. But since it was her first time and it seems her immune system wasn’t so strong, she ran very high fevers and it affected her whole mouth, eating and sleeping habits. She is thankfully almost recovered now (9 days later) and she is back to her cheerful, spirited and creative self! Thanks again to all the family and friends (both online and offline) for prayers, thoughts and speedy recovery wishes. And a special thank you to our friend, “GRavan”, who took time from her 4 children and came down with her daughter to bring us lunch and make craft for miss T! 

Self-initiated craft

There comes a time when we need the children to engage themselves with some activities. And when we do, we need all the things necessary for them. Self-initiated craft is something that children can do on their own, safely and without much supervision or directions. It is usually some spontaneous craft activity and it helps children to practice creativity and engage their imagination.

Here’s what moms say about self-initiated craft:

Becky of Kid World Citizen: “I think my kids are most creative when they are bored- if that makes sense. When I tell them they need to find something to do or else I will find them some housework, all of a sudden they are creating an elaborate zoo, circus, dog show, animal rescue etc saying they are too busy for housework.”

Annabelle of The Piri-Piri Lexicon: “My daughter comes up with the best activities (even at barely 3) when I tell her I am busy and she needs to occupy herself.”

Jill of Mom’s Gone Global: “I leave fun craft materials on the kitchen table, or another easily visible location to gently inspire my kids to create little pieces of artwork. I have found that if I organize and set up a specific craft project, they lose interest quickly. On the other hand, if craft time is self-initiated, they are more likely to spend lots of time working on it. My 6 year-old cannot walk past a roll of craft tape and a few sheets of construction paper without turning it into some elaborate invention.

MaryAnne of Mama Smiles: “Allow for plenty of unstructured time.

Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “I have an area with papers, and art supplies for the kids to use at any time. I also have a basket with secret craft ingredients like glitter glue set, buttons, foam stickers, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, popsicle sticks that my kids can use when they want to create something fancy.

Alyson of World Travel Family : “My two boys are very different, one goes to the craft cupboard and starts making extraordinary creations all by himself, the other isn’t interested.

Danielle  of 52 Brand New : “Don’t put all the art materials on a high shelf… They should be able to use them often (paint is my only exception!).

Cathy of  Nurture Store: “Let them use the materials their way. Don’t ‘fix’ things – let them go wrong, find alternatives, get bored, and come up with their own ideas.

Rebekah Patel of The Golden Gleam : “Don’t overschedule kids with adult directed activities. Unstructured play.  Have open ended play and art materials.

Terri of Creative Family Fun:”Let them be bored.”

Mia of Pragmatic Mom:”Do not read rules/instructions but just try to figure it out.”

After thinking a lot and reading what other blogger moms have to say about self-initiated craft I highlighted the following points for myself:

– No self-initiated craft is really possible without first introducing the child to craft and materials in general.

– Self-initiated craft is just a part of the whole creativity development and daily activities. Leaving children to themselves the whole day will help them to use their imagination, but the whole process of discovering the world and utilizing the creativity and talents will significantly slow down.

– Decide what craft material is appropriate to be used without any or much supervision. Consider the age group. Make this craft easily available to your child.

– It is always the best to have a specially designated craft area in the house. It doesn’t have to be the whole room or a corner. A regular dining table will do – you just have to teach the child where the craft is allowed to be used on his own or together.

– Let the children enjoy independence and allow them to use their imagination, however always remember that doing craft and activities together brings you close together with your child and helps the child overcome a lot in this hard process of growing up physically, spiritually and emotionally!

Little Hairdresser

I always look for new ways to entertain my 4 year-old when we are out. Whenever we go grocery shopping to one of the biggest shopping malls here we often stop by Starbucks for a snack.

My daughter has a special condition called Alopecia Areata. In her case it is a partial hair loss. She’s had it since last October when she was struck by gastro-enteritis and was so sick plus overdosed with antibiotics that it seems her body went into a shock and the immune system attacked the hair folicles causing bad hair loss. She’s been recovery slowly but steadily and she is taking it rather well, considering her age. She’s always been fascinated by hair and she even has 2 cute wigs which we style – she looks like a dolls wearing them!

Recently she’s been into creating hair styles for her dolls. And I’ve been getting her cute hair clips which she can either put in her own hair or on her dolls’ hair. Once we were in Starbucks and I had just bought her a set of new clips. She asked to hold them and then she suddenly came up with an idea to style my hair. And… it’s been going on practically every day! I love it and she loves it. Whenever we are out where we have to sit down for a while, I let her style my hair. I don’t really worry about people staring or talking about it – she is concentrated, calm and most important – creative. She feels happy doing it and I am happy she is engaged.

Here’s one of her first designs. I must add the designs do mess and tangle my hair but since it is a healthy way of entertainment with no screens or constant supervision – I am fine with that little sacrifice! When we are out, I proudly wear the clips she puts on my hair!

Remember: creativity is a product of imagination and play! Let your children create and develop their imagination!

Home made paint fun!

I’ve been meaning to try this for a long time. I’ve been over to a few blogs and finally chose this recipe. It came out a bit bubbly, but was fun for  2+ years olds in my daycare! They weren’t at it for a long time but thoroughly enjoyed and one of them even tried to eat it and when was told it wasn’t edible due to soap in it, he tried to attack my couch!

   

Don’t you just love it when the little ones enjoy creative fun? My 4 years old was engaged with it much later for over 40 minutes!

Paper bag with cupcake liner flower

We loved making the paper bag with cupcake liner flowers! It is simple and it is a great gift for Mother’s Day.

Note: estimate all measurements according to how big you want your bag and your flowers.

You will need:

1. A rectangular piece of construction paper as big as you want your bag to be. Other thick paper would also do. Best to use colorful paper.

2. Two cupcake liners

3. Six circles, 4 pink and 2 white

4. Six petal shaped green pieces of paper

4. Gift wrapping ribbon

5. Glue

6. Double-sided tape

How to do it:

1. First, fold your construction paper into half. Put the double-sided tape o each side, stick the ends of the ribbon at the top and then glue the sides together.

2. In the middle of the paper bag, at the top, stick the first cupcake liner, bu applying the glue in the middle of it and leaving the ends free. Then stick the 2nd liner on top of the first. Prop the ends up and shape them a little as you wish.

3. Fold circles into half. First, apply glue on one half of the pink circle and stick to the bag, leave the other half free. Do the same with the second pink circle and stick it very close to the first one. Now apply glue to the white circle, both sides, and stick it to the pink circles, to the halves that you left without gluing together. Repeat it for the other circles. Place circles at the opposite sides of the bag. Here you can let your imagination run free: choose your own color combinations and where you’d like to position the flowers!

4. Apply glue to the leaf-shaped pieces of paper and stick them under each flower – you get your “stem”.

5. Your bag is ready!

See the picture on how the bag should look like!

Enjoy the fun of making this bag and thank you for reading my blog!