Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trick or Treating with long-term care residents

My husband works about an hour away from home, so it's not often that the boys get to see daddy's workplace.  His office was hosting a Halloween party in which employees were encouraged to bring their families.  He works in long-term care, and the residents of the facility would be passing out the candy.

We decided that not only was this a good opportunity for the boys to see where dad works, but also to spend some time with the elderly.  They had fun snacks, decorations and activities planned in the dining area, and not only did the boys have fun, but you could really see the residents' faces light up as they watched the kids running around and talking to them!

Elliott is very observant and quizzical, so I wondered if he might ask any questions, but both boys were on their best behavior, used their manners, and engaged willingly with the residents.  It was a great night!

For privacy reasons, we did not take pictures of the boys interacting with the residents, so we didn't get very many pictures of the action, but here's a shot that daddy took of our little Batman and Robin!

Oh, and we recently added a new member to our family.  Bailey is now 10 weeks old, and looks like an innocent little puppy here, but don't be deceived.  She's growing so fast, and she has already mastered the art of knocking over the kitchen trash can!

Be sure to check out where other families are going!

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Pumpkin Time

Where did the time go?  With November fast approaching, it feels like autumn is going to be over too soon.  I love autumn, and I've been trying to include fun little activities here and there to engage the boys in the excitement of the season.  The crisp, cool weather.  The changing leaves.  Pumpkins.  What's not to love?

P is for Pumpkin
I don't use a lot of worksheets, but this one came from the stack that I use for my Pre-Writing Notebook.
P is for Pumpkin and Purple
I find it interesting that he will not color the picture "in the lines" but he colored his own pumpkin fairly well...these were done on the same day.
drawing his own pumpkin

Pumpkin Spelling
I recently found the game UpWords at goodwill for $1. I bought it for exactly these types of familiarize Iron Man with "spelling" and letter sounds and add some variety to use of magnetic letters.  I took out one of each letter and alphabetized them to make it easier for him (then realized I needed to add another P)  I wrote the word pumpkin on a pumpkin cutout and let him spell the word out.  He also got a little practice matching upper to lower case with this activity.

I'm looking forward to using the letter tiles to add variety to our word building exercises.

Pumpkin Math
I found these cute little decorative pumpkins and this silicone pumpkin tray at the Dollar Tree.  Hulk just liked placing the pumpkins in the tray and pouring them between the Halloween bowls that we found on clearance at Wal-Mart a few years ago.

Iron Man spent some time counting and creating patterns.

The next day Iron Man wanted to play a game with dice.  I needed something quick and on the spur of the moment, so we just took turns rolling a die and adding the pumpkins to the "vine".  (Which was the broken necklace I removed the green beads from for our Autumn sensory tub.)  We only had 20 pumpkins so we were able to play a few rounds and get some simple counting in and practice recognizing the numbers 1-6 on a dice.

Number Sequencing
I've been working on reinforcing the numbers 11-20 before we officially move on, so we did a couple of counting and ordering activities.

I chose the 11-20 number sequencing activity from the Pumpkins unit at 2 Teaching Mommies, and the same activity from the Spiders unit as well.  Instead of gluing them onto the provided pages, I decided to laminate them for Hulk to use in the future.

Our Pumpkin Patch Hunt activity was inspired by this post at Little Family Fun.  I decided not to draw faces, but I wrote the numbers 1-20 individually on pumpkins and the boys had to find them all.  Then Iron Man had to count how many they each had, determine who had the most, then put the pumpkins in order.
Iron Man tried to jump from 1-20!

Book Time
I like to rotate books, and here are some of our current themed books...mostly pumpkin books, and a few about Bats, since Iron Man has taken a recent interest in bats.
The Pumpkin Plant That Almost Ate Our School by Fred Williamson (we reviewed here)
Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucill
From Seed to Pumpkin (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Stage 1) by Wendy Pfeffer
Big Brown Bat by Rick Chrustowski
The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Magic School Bus - Going Batty by Joanna Cole  

Some other pumpkin related activities we've enjoyed...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pumpkin Plant That Amost Ate Our School - a review

The Pumpkin Plant That Almost Ate Our School
Author:  Fred Williamson
Illustrator:  Chris Congleton
Calligraphy:  Lloyd King, Rachel Petersen

We don't really read "Halloween" books in our house, so at first glance, I would normally pass on this book.  It looks scary, and that's something we try to avoid.  However, I have been looking to expand our personal autumn themed book collection, so after reading the description about a teacher who wanted the gardener to plant a pumpkin for her students, and how the vine started growing like crazy, I decided to give it a try.

I'm glad I did.  The book is not about Halloween at all; it is a cute poem about a pumpkin vine that simply grows out of control.  The illustrations are full of bright colors, are childish and fun, and the "scary" pumpkin is in the storyteller's imagination only; when the pumpkin finally makes an appearance, it's a fun surprise!

Before we read the book, Iron Man saw it laying out, so when I gave him a laminated pumpkin to draw faces on, this is what he came up with.  He told me he was trying to make a scary pumpkin face like the book.  Having pre-read the book, I knew it wasn't going to be scary for him, so I wasn't concerned.
(I made laminated pumpkins for the boys after reading this post at Little Family Fun.)

I think the age recommendation of 4-8 is appropriate, as both of my boys were engaged in the book.  Iron Man really enjoyed the story line, and I later heard him talking about the size of pumpkins and pumpkins seeds with daddy.  I think Hulk liked the general flow of the poem...he was trying to "read" along with me.

The things I didn't like as a parent:
--The calligraphy is pretty, but I am inclined to think that beginning readers might have difficulty with it.
--There was a blank page in the middle of the book, where in other page spreads there was an illustration.  Even my 4 year old almost blurted out about it, but I don't think he wanted to interrupt the reading.
--There were a few punctuation issues that stood out to me.  While I know my grammar is far from perfect, I think my concern comes again from the fact that it might be confusing for beginning readers.

Overall, we enjoyed the book, and have read it a couple of times since receiving it.  It is one that will go into our fall rotation as a read-aloud for the preschool/early years.

**I was provided with a complimentary copy of The Pumpkin Plant That Almost Ate Our School by Fred Williamson as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team in exchange for my honest review.  Visit the Dorrance Bookstore to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bob Evans Farm Festival

There are not a lot of activities that are family-friendly around us, especially for families with small children, but one thing we can find in our area, particularly in the fall, is a plethora of festivals.

The Bob Evans Farm Festival is an annual event in Rio Grande, OH.  We haven't been in several years, so when my husband's mom and sister wanted to go, we decided to cross the river and have an afternoon of fun!  Our Saturday was pretty busy (my husband and his dad finished the new walls in our kitchen, we went to a pumpkin patch, and my sister-in-law and I went to see REBA in concert!!), so we went Sunday after church.

Emory was in love with the horsies!

The boys each picked out a toy from one of the booths.  There are a lot of neat vendors to enjoy. Emory chose an airplane to go with his new fascination for airplanes.

 Elliott chose a pop gun, thanks to his aunt's encouragement.

The boys enjoyed peeking into the cabins!  These have great educational value for slightly older kids.  Mine just liked looking for fun at this age.

The day started out crisp, cool and windy.  It actually warmed up more than we expected, so the boys were able to remove their sweaters.  Luckily there was a nice breeze, which actually meant we stayed pretty comfortable most of the afternoon.  They're taking a little break here!

There were numerous children's activities, though we didn't get around to all of them.  The boys liked the "tractor ride" (which was pulled by a tractor), and I was actually shocked that Emory didn't cry when it was time to get off!

There was a hay bale maze...Elliott's coming off the exit slide.

We sent the boys with their older cousins to climb the hay bales.  I have to say, Emory was just too cute running after the big boys!

He may be little, but he's ALL BOY!!

Elliott's almost to the top!

Emory did a happy dance, proclaiming "Up High!" as he reached the top.

Time to hop down.

Emory got "stuck" between the hay bales, and camped out for awhile on his way down.

It was a fun afternoon out with the family.  There were so many great craft booths, I really wished we'd had more time to explore them, but when there are kids in tow, it's always more exciting to let them explore and have fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Punkin' Patch

All the boys have talked about this weekend have been pumpkins, carving pumpkins, and as Emory says, the Punkin' Patch!  One of my husband's coworkers told him about a nearby farm that also had a pumpkin patch, and we knew the boys would love it, so we took a little drive to find it.  Our area doesn't offer much in the way of family-friendly entertainment, so this was a great little find!

 X marks the spot!!

 Emory found his pumpkin

Elliott found the first pumpkin he thought he wanted.

I think the ride was the best part.

Singing a song!

Making up new versions of favorite songs.

Elliott is very undecided about how to carve his pumpkin, but I will be sure to share the finished product!

Check out what other families are doing!
Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Sensory Tub

Last month I made an Autumn themed sensory tub; my first experience creating one.  I enjoyed the hunt of finding things around the house and the kids enjoyed the experience.  So I decided to go ahead and do a Halloween themed one...I had the stuff set out for it, but reading a new blog post on 2 Teaching Mommies "Boo!  It's a Sensory Bin!!!" finally inspired me put it together.

**When it comes to Halloween, we let the kids enjoy the "fun" aspects, but we keep it simple**

This Halloween tub at Counting Coconuts was the first one I came across online, and I think it is very cute...I did borrow the idea of the googly eyes (I have a whole stash of those) and I knew my boys would like the creepy crawlies so I bought a bag of "Creatures" from the Halloween section the last time I was at The Dollar Tree--so I only spent $1 out of pocket for this sensory tub.  Otherwise, I tried to find things I already had that would appeal to the boys.

--1 bag of black beans (this appears to be fairly common in Halloween tubs)
--green pony beads
--chenille stems
--the "creatures" from The Dollar Tree
--two googly eyes
--2 small buckets (leftover from a Target $1 Spot purchase a few years ago)
--large black beads (I used brown ones from a broken necklace in the autumn tub, and Hulk really enjoyed them, so I cut apart the black necklace since I never wear it)
--foam words "Trick or Treat" and a foam bat from a Halloween craft kit we would have never made anyway
--green and orange pompoms
--orange scoop from pumpkin carving kit (also used last month)
--green toddler spoon
--green "tweezers" from a bug catching kit
--black scrapbook embellishment paper with holes to push the beans through
--buttons, decorative sequins and BOO stickers from a Halloween scrapbook embellishment kit (Target $1 Spot, but never got used)

It was rainy/stormy day today, so it made for a perfect surprise since we couldn't enjoy any time outdoors.

Iron Man liked beading the chenille stems and Hulk liked removing the beads.

Hulk enjoyed scooping, pouring and dumping.

Iron Man enjoyed finding and spelling out the words (yes, it took him a second to realize "treat" was backwards) and he loved the bat for some *Batman* reason.

Personally, I liked the "look" of the Autumn sensory tub better, but I think the boys enjoyed the play factor of this one more.