Friday, July 31, 2009

The Fruits of our Labor

These are the amazing blueberry muffins we made after we went blueberry picking. They are the best muffins I have ever had. The streusel topping is the perfect touch and the fresh picked, organically grown blueberries made the muffins ridiculously good. Click here for the recipe.

Picnic Table Talk

picnic button

This week ABC & 123's Picnic Table Talk is all about being active. My husband and I work hard to provide opportunities for our children to get exercise and live healthy lives. Here are some of the activities that keep them active:


slipping and sliding,
and swimming.

For more ideas about keeping your kids active, read the other posts at ABC & 123!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Berry, Two Berry, Pick me a Blueberry

The state of Maine supplies 99% of the blueberries consumed in the United States so we could not study Maine without a little blueberry fun.

We began by reading Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. C and R love this book and there are so many topics for discussion. Here are a few things we discussed*:
- How was Little Sal's mother getting ready for winter?
- How was Little Bear's mother getting ready for winter?
- What sound did the berries make when they were dropped into Little Sal's pail?
- Why didn't they make the same sound in mother's pail?
- Why did Little Sal and Little Bear get lost?
- What made Little Sal's mother turn around? Little Bear's mother?
- I wonder what Little Bear and his mother did when they got home. What did Little Sal and her mother do?

We also read Jamberry by Bruce Degen and discussed the different types of berries in the book. C and R compared and contrasted blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries.

Blueberry picking is available locally and because we have had a very rainy summer, the blueberry picking is better than usual. Before we went blueberry picking, we talked about how blueberries grow and the fact that blueberries is one crop that is native to the United States. This experience was wonderful because C and R took turns pretending to be Little Sal and Little Bear. I was amazed at how many details they remembered from the book. The owner of the property where we picked the blueberries assured C and R that there are no bears on the property!

R was very happy when she heard that it was acceptable to eat the berries as she picked them!

What did we do with the blueberries?
- counted them
- compared the size and color of our blueberries
- measured them
- froze some to save for the winter (just like Little Sal and her mother)
- and made a Half Raw Half Cooked Blueberry Pie

Ingredients: 4 cups blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
one baked 9 inch pie shell

Wash/drain blueberries. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add water and mix. Heat while stirring and add 2 cups of the blueberries. Cook over medium-high heat until thick and transparent (this only takes a few minutes). The mixture gets very glossy and the blueberries will pop. Cool slightly. Pour a small amount into the bottom of the baked pie shell. Add remaining 2 cups of blueberries to the cooked mixture in the pan. Pour mixture into pie shell and garnish with a few fresh berries on top. Cool completely and serve with whipped cream or ice cream! Yum!

*Discussion topics came from Peak With Books by Marjorie R.Nelsen and Jan Nelsen-Parish

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

United Tweets of America

I have found another book to add to the fun of our fifty states project. United Tweets of America by Hudson Talbott is a colorful book that features every state bird in a way that also teaches interesting state trivia.

The states are listed in alphabetical order and in the upper corner of each page there is an outline map of the state. The state bird is prominently featured along with a few facts about the state.

I love the way the illustrations depict each state. We are currently learning about the state of Maine and the illustration for the page depicts ocean waves on a rocky shore with a lighthouse and pine trees (Maine is nicknamed The Pine Tree State). The state bird is the Black-Capped Chickadee and a few of the birds are shown preparing for the harsh Maine winter.

At the end of the book, there is a pageant of the birds that is really funny and also highlights acceptance, cooperation, and diversity.

If you are looking for a good book to help your children learn about United States history and geography while appreciating wildlife, this is it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Preserve Jr. Toothbrush Winners

The following winners were chosen by to receive Preserve Jr. toothbrushes:

Heidi from The Kundin Family blog said: The turtle one is sooo cute! Anything that makes brushing more fun for the kids (and environmentally friendly for Mommmy!) is a great thing!

Valerie from Frugal Family Fun blog said: Emily would love a tiger tooth brush! What a great giveaway!!


Marina from Energizer Bunny's Mommy Reports said: St Lucia Parrot please ;>

Thank you for entering my giveaway!

The Erie Canal

We just returned from a trip to upstate New York where we were thrilled to visit my sister (Auntie Karen) and brother-in-law (Uncle Mark). While there, we read and sang about the Erie Canal, and even fed the Erie Canal ducks.

My sister (the awesome elementary school librarian) borrowed the Erie Canal book from the library before we arrived! Isn't she wonderful?

In case you are wondering, we are still studying Maine. This trip just brought us back to learning about NY for a few days.

Monday, July 27, 2009


My giveaway ends at 10:00 AM so hurry up and enter to win. Click here to read the details!

Tot school - upstate NY style!

Tot School
R is 40 months old
Tot school was on the road again this past week. We were fortunate to spend some time with family in upstate NY, and there were plenty of learning opportunities.
Every one of the Wikki Stix bracelets on my wrist was placed there by R. She twisted them so carefully during our flight to upstate NY. I made the braided bracelet on her wrist. This occupied her for just about the entire flight. (Look at the veins in my hands; phlebotemists LOVE me!)

R fed a lot of fish at a fish hatchery. She loved the way the fish jumped to get the food and splashed her every time.

R and big brother C had a lot of fun testing this earthquake simulator in a science museum. Obviously, you cannot hear them, but they are saying, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" and laughing at the vibration!

This is just a small section of the pretend grocery store in a children's museum that we visited. R was very serious about her "shopping" and scolded me when I touched her cart.

The museum also had a wonderful butterfly garden, and R loved it! Here she is with a butterfly on her arm.

R is still talking about the treasures she found in Auntie Karen and Uncle Mark's yard. I wish I could look at the world through the eyes of a three year old. Everything is a treasure in her eyes!

Auntie Karen brought us to a Fancy Nancy party at the local bookstore where R listened to the book, enjoyed fancy cookies and punch, and made this fancy bracelet!

R completed an entire book of Kumon Easy Mazes over the course of this trip. This was one of the activities she enjoyed when we were awake earlier than everyone else.

Phew! We had a great time, and now we are exhausted!

Don't forget to check out the other Tot School posts here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My very first giveaway!

Are you familiar with Preserve products? Preserve makes everyday products that are functional, stylish, and earth friendly!

There are SO many reasons to buy their products and here are just a few of those reasons:
1. I LOVE them (isn't that enough?),
2. the products are made from 100% recycled materials,
3. they are made in the USA,
4. Preserve products are BPA free, and
5. the products can be recycled when you are done with them!

Preserve products are made from #5 polypropylene plastic collected from individuals via the Gimme 5 program and from companies like Stonyfield Farm®. They sort, clean, test, and recycle the plastic and turn it into new Preserve products.

Preserve makes plates, tumblers, cutting boards, cutlery, toothbrushes, razors, and more! Click here to view all of the Preserve products.

I would never steer you in the wrong direction; I love these products! I own or have owned Preserve tumblers, a colander, cutting boards, and toothbrushes. Preserve products are used in my house every day.

I am so fond of these products that I want you to try one of them! Preserve has provided me with three Preserve Jr. toothbrushes to give away! Do you want one for your child? Of course you do! The Preserve Jr. toothbrush is designed for children ages 2 to 8 and features an ergonomic handle, soft bristles, a handle made from 100% recycled plastic, and it is recyclable when mailed back in the Preserve postage-paid label!

How can you win one?
Click here to visit the Preserve website and then come back and let me know which Preserve Jr. toothbrush you would prefer for your child. I have one of each animal toothbrush so there will be three winners!

The giveaway begins today and ends on Tuesday, July 28th at 10:00 AM. You can earn additional entries by following my blog, subscribing to my blog via email, or blogging about this giveaway! Just be sure to leave me a comment letting me know and don't forget to tell me which toothbrush your little one would love to have!

Y is for yellow yarn

Saturday, July 25, 2009

David Wiesner books

We borrowed Tuesday and The Three Pigs, both by David Wiesner, from the library last week and we have been reading them over and over and over again! If you have not read them, stop what you are doing and run to your library right now! They are THAT GOOD!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Money Toes

Don't you love it...
when your camera is handy....
and you actually capture those moments.....
that can only be explained with photographs?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open ended art - yellow paint

While C was painting, he commented that the lumps of yellow paint looked like macaroni and cheese!
R did all of her painting for this project with a brush; I cannot believe she didn't finger paint! She loves to get messy with paint!
It is funny how different R and C are. She is content to just paint a little, while he insists upon covering every inch of his canvas.
My husband thinks it is strange that I keep all of our empty cereal boxes, but they provide a great canvas for open ended art!

Click here to visit my friend Shannon's blog and see the open ended art created by other children this week!

What do I do with this?

We have had this toy for a while. I have no idea what it is called or where it came from. We have used it to sort colors and arrange the wooden blocks by size, but I can't help but think that I am missing some great learning opportunity with this toy. So, if you owned this toy, what would you do with it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Books and Movies

We have been reading Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg a lot lately; the book is fabulous. C and R were both so excited to find out that there was a movie about the book. I had never seen the movie, but didn't think anything of suggesting it to Grandma for their sleepover at her house. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to their expectations. It was scary (although now C and R both say they were not the least bit scared - Grandma said it was scary); the book is not scary at all! Also, C was very upset that the movie is so different from the book. He is still talking about that days later.

This got me thinking about Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The book is definitely one of our favorites and it comes off the bookshelf at least once a week. We are anxiously awaiting the movie based on the book. I just hope it is good. No, I want it to be great. I want the book to come alive. Is that too much to ask?

What movies based on books do you love or hate?

Monday, July 20, 2009

It worked!

C and R don't nap regularly, and I don't expect them too. I read a lot of blogs, however, in which there is mention of rest time. I started asking the bloggers about their rest time and realized that it is something badly needed in my own house.

C and R are usually awake by 7:00 every morning, and after lunch they start to fall apart. The fighting and whining intensifies and I find myself getting angry and YELLING (shhh, don't tell) too often.

A few days ago, I told them we would have rest time after lunch. I explained that it was not a punishment but just time for them to enjoy alone in their rooms with books, toys, puzzles, or whatever. The only rule is that they have to spend the time alone and they have to be fairly quiet. On the first day, they went kicking and screaming and I was not optimistic. Rest time only lasted fifteen minutes.

Day two they asked if they would be having rest time again and then went willingly. I was ecstatic, but then they started to complain after only five minutes. I was almost ready to throw in the towel on rest time! When they realized I was not succumbing to the whining, however, they stopped and stayed in their rooms. The house was so peaceful, and they got the down time that they really need.

There was hardly any whining on day three and the entire hour of rest time passed uneventfully. It is now part of our routine.

We have only made it through three days, but each day is a bit easier. I'm sure there will be days that are difficult when no one wants to rest, or when we have to miss rest time but at least we have a plan to keep the grouchies to a minimum and keep Mommy sane! Rest time is working, and there is a lot less crying and yelling going on.

If you want to read a great post about rest time, click here and visit Teach Mama. Look around while you are there; she has a great blog with fantastic ideas for teaching your children and the most wonderful parenting tips and tricks! I want to implement all of her quick tricks in my house!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tot school

Tot School
R is 40 months old
I know there are people who read my blog that are not quite sure what "Tot School" entails. In our house, Tot School is time to focus on helping R develop different skills and learn while having fun! I include the button above because Tot school is hosted by the blog 1+1+1=1. There are many bloggers that share their tot school experiences there so it is a great place to find new ideas. The tots are between the ages of one and four.

Here are some of our Tot School highlights from the week:
I found this game (Bed Bugs) in a consignment shop and bought it only because using the tongs to pick up the little plastic bed bugs is great for developing hand muscles. If you put batteries in it, the bed shakes and the game is more challenging but it's really, really loud so we play without batteries.
We use this Melissa and Doug toy to work on counting, colors, shapes, and number recognition (the numbers 1-5 are painted on the front of the toy).

Dress up is one of R's favorite activities. She is especially fond of using play silks as capes, skirts, blankets or whatever else she is in the mood for. We have a few colors and hope Santa will bring a few more this year! I would also love to know how your child uses play silks.

Scissors are always left at reach so that R and C can work on scissor skills when they feel the desire to cut! R loves to cut straws and C loves to cut out the Spider Man comic strip. If your child has trouble cutting paper, let him or her cut straws or play dough - it's easier for little fingers to cut. I will be writing a post about how we use those cut straws but one thing you can do with the cut straws is to lace them on string and create jewelry!

Melissa and Doug makes some of our favorite toys; these lacing beads are played with often and they are great for developing fine motor skills.

Meet "Mudda", R's Maine lobster. If you want to make your own lobster, click here for directions.
R had fun playing with her brothers at the beach.

She loves to be in the water. I'm hoping for many more nice beach days this summer!

Have a great week!
Click here to find out what other Tot School tots learned this week.