Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Vacation "World Explorer" Activity Kit

I found this awesome kit to "make and decorate crafts from around the world" at the Goodwill thrift store today for a mere $3.25. It was new, sealed, totally unused. It's called the Summer Vacation brand "World Explorer" Activity Kit (ISBN 1585539783).
It has a guidebook with little lessons about each country. Then it gives instructions and supplies to make a craft from each country. It has:
USA & Canada: Make a Dream Catcher
Mexico: Make a Pinata
Chile: Make a Rainstick
Japan: Make Origami
China: Make a Chinese Lantern
Kenya: Make an African Mask
Morocco: Make Castanets
Italy: Make a Carnival Mask
France: Make a Stained Glass Window
Australia: Make a Propeller Boomerang
Continents: Make a Jigsaw Puzzle of the World
The jigsaw puzzle looks cool. It has the oceans in blue and then all of the continents outlined in white. You get to label it and paint and marker on it to decorate it as you please.
Then it also includes a World Explorer "Passport" book. This is pretty cool, too. It has maps and worksheets for each country with questions to answer from the lessons. When the child has made the craft and completed the worksheet and map for each country, they get to put a sticker that pictures the craft they made onto the passport. Then there's a travel journal in the back of it where they can write about a trip they've taken and also write about what they'd like to see in one of the places they've learned about. It seems like it will be a lot of fun! I got this with Haylee in mind, as she loves crafts. It says it's for ages 7+ targeted at 3rd grade. I figured I'd just pull it out as we study one of the listed countries. Very cool!
They had another one targeted at First Grade for the same price. Had things like decorating letters of the alphabet. It was the same price, so I might go back and pick it up for Holden, just for fun.
Have I mentioned how much I love shopping at thrift stores? My favorite is the Goodwill Outlet Center where you pay for everything by the pound. Pretty much everything is 59 cents/lb., except clothes are $1.29/lb., and books are 25 cents each.

Reviewing Shapes with Resist Art / Our Ladybug Story

It's been a while since we worked on learning shapes last year, and Holden has forgotten a couple of them, or gets them backwards sometimes. So on some scrap cardstock, I used a white crayon to draw some shapes and fun pictures. He couldn't see what I'd drawn, and I asked him to stamp all over the paper with Do-a-Dot markers. Then I took a damp paper towel and swiped over it to reveal the images! He had fun identifying the shapes in this way. It was good practice and held his attention. I could see his anticipation building as he stamped all over the paper and waited for me to swipe it with the paper towel! Here's a sampling of what we did.
For his Abeka craft, he got to glue Baby Moses in the basket and finger paint the cattails. He likes fingerpaint! He also made Dexter Donkey and Ellie Elephant for his letter crafts (we're on letter F for Freddy Fish this week, but we were behind on his letter crafts and had to catch up! LOL).
Over the last couple of weeks, Haylee has anxiously watched the transformation of the larvae in her Ladybug Land into beautiful young pink ladybugs. As luck would have it, they emerged on Saturday...the day hurricane Irene dropped 10 inches of rain at our house. Luckily, you can keep them for up to a week before releasing them into the wild. If you don't release them, they sadly only live for a couple of weeks.
The weather is now beautiful, so this morning, Haylee invited her little girlfriends over to watch her release her ladybugs. There were 13 in all.
We put a stick inside the habitat so they would crawl onto it, and then we removed the stick and held it up to our holly bushes to allow the ladybugs to crawl off. Unfortunately, however, we didn't realize until after we'd released 5 in this way that there were tiny spiderwebs all over the bushes! We didn't see it until one ladybug got caught and eaten! We tried to find as many as we could and knock down the webs, but it was no use. Haylee was very upset.
So then we found one flowering Black-Eyed Susan and released the remaining 8 onto there. They seemed to like it very much and have happily made it their new home!
May you live long, beautiful ladybugs! We hope to visit you often!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Neat Alphabet Worksheets for Preschoolers

I've been finding lots of cool resources to help Holden learn his letters, both upper and lower case. We're working on both simultaneously, which is not the approach I used with either Hayden or Haylee. It seems to be working well with Holden so far.
In the process of looking for some activities that work on both cases, I found these super cool FREE printable worksheets. I've been having Holden find and mark the correct letter of the week using a Do-A-Dot marker. At the bottom of the worksheet, it says to print the letters in the boxes. We're not writing yet, so instead, I gave him a set of capital letter stamps I found in the Dollar Spot at Target and letting him stamp the correct letter in each box. He loves that!
Here's one he completed recently. He really enjoyed this activity, and I could really see his little brain working as he hunted for the right letters. I was impressed that he did it right all by himself!
I also got lucky and scored a brand new, unopened Grasshopper Preschool Prep Kit - Getting Our Hands Ready for $5! This retails for $30, so that was quite a score. I found it on Craigslist for $10 and offered her $5, and she went for it. I so love my negotiating skills! LOL. Anyway, I ran out and picked it up on Friday before Hurricane Irene made its appearance. We survived an earthquake and a hurricane, all in the same week. Sheesh! We've had a chance to try out most of the activities in the kit, which really are cute and useful. I must say, though, that I would never pay $30 for its contents...$5 was more appropriate! Feeding the froggy was really cute, and he loves stamping the bugs in the weird lightweight dough that feels like air. I laid out the crayons and coloring sheet for him, but he hasn't tried that one yet. He's never been big on coloring. He seems to only enjoy the Crayola Slick Stix. But I'll keeping coaxing him to try out those mini crayons in the kit so he can practice his pencil grip.