Friday, December 31, 2010

Outdoor Play Space

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit DisorderHaving an active boy, I can appreciate the need for creative outdoor play spaces.

Last summer I read the book Last Child in the Woods and it challenged me to think more outdoorsy. (is that a word?)

If you'd like ideas on how to make your backyard more interesting, go here and here.

When I watched this video, I was so inspired.

Thanks for the tip, Sherry!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread House Accordion Book

How cute is this? There's even a youtube video on how to make the Gingerbread House Accordion Book.

HT: Crafty Crow

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hands on Nativity

Being on staff with FamilyLife, I must promote their products!  :)

What God Wants for Christmas is an excellent resource for families of all ages.  If you buy from FamilyLife, they have a package deal.  Unfortunately, you can't swing by the FamilyLife building to buy it.  It will have to be shipped to your house.

Another resource a friend sent to me tonight is this super cute homemade nativity.


Paper Candy Canes

This morning we're making paper candy canes.  They're simple (supplies on hand), fun and maybe a bit addicting without the calories!

Bonus: talk about the legend of the Candy Cane.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scholastic Warehouse Book Fair, Dec. 9-21

Scholastic is having a large (and I mean big) warehouse book sale in Maumelle beginning next week. If you sign up in advance, you can get some significant coupons--I got something like $20 off a purchase of $50 when I went two years ago. Thousands of books are 50-80% off, and there are also some $2 or less. We also found software and some other great stocking stuffers.

Math practice: "mad minutes"

When I was in elementary school, we typically started out math with a "mad minute": a sheet of simple addition (or subtraction, or multiplication) problems, attempting to finish as many as we could in one minute.

I've been trying to replicate this for my son, and though I've found some mad minutes on the web, I've found it much easier with the large wipe-off placemats--addition and multiplication--at Mardel right now for $.99, available in their educational bargains section (they also have handwriting practice). It's a daily workbox at our house.

For my first grader, I give him two minutes rather than one to complete as many as he can of the 50 problems; he doesn't have to do them in order. (That's for the addition facts of 1-5; he gets three minutes for the facts of 5-10). Once I found what his average and his "best" were, I give him small rewards for completing 25 problems or more accurately, for example. Often, my little competitor wants to try again to best his record!

The wipe-off placemat makes it a little more convenient, not to mention green--and more fun for him. And his fluency in basic problems is certainly improving!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fieldtrip to Barnhill Orchards

One day at the farmers market I asked Bob Barnhill about his pecans. The conversation was complete with tractors and helmets; I knew my son would love to see the operation. Mr. Barnhill graciously invited us for a field trip. Well, to be more accurate - I invited myself. And kept calling him to remind him to let me know when he was going to make his trees shake.

The mechanism on the back of the tractor could have a fancy name. I'll call it the tree shaker.
The kids cheered when the trees shook and pecans fell.

Once picked up (the old fashioned way) the pecans are sorted into sizes with this machine.

And cracked in this machine. The nuts still need a bit of elbow grease after being cracked.

We also saw one of the Barnhill gardens.

And brought home some of the sweetest broccoli I've ever my entire life!

Thanks for showing us around Mr. Barnhill!

Toys that Build the Mind

Blokus Classics GameIf you're looking for Christmas ideas that build the mind rather than numbing it, look here.

Zillio Games M02 Mini MountainThe Pioneer Woman had a review on Zillo Mini Mountain and it looks super wonderful albeit pricey (ages 4-94).

Simple Mom wrote an excellent post on gift giving to children that is worth the read, esp. the comments from other readers.

We've enjoyed playing Sequence - the states and capitals version - and it's helped sharpen my geography facts.

What toys do you own that build the mind?