DOUGH-ble the Fun!

As you can see, play dough has been a constant component in our home. Today, I would like to share two other simple recipes and activities you can do with your kids.

After learning about the Solar System and memorizing them, I wanted to teach Micah the different things that men use to explore the moon. When I first presented the lesson, I noticed he wanted nothing to do with it. He got bored pretty quickly and wanted to move on. This is very unlikely because he is usually engaged in concepts that are new to him. I thought about how I can make this exciting.

Again, the sensory bin came to life. The next day, I got him involved in making cloud dough for the moon surface. It is really easy and fun to do. As we knead and played with the dough inside the bin, I started introducing the different space objects once again. It sparked his interest and he paid full attention.

IMG_9262As we manipulated these objects around the bin, he quickly learned the names and their functions. This activity kept his attention for over an hour and by the end of the first 15 minutes, he was able to articulate the lesson back to me. I left him alone, busy with his new found interest in space objects for another hour or so while I got things done around the house.

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To reinforce the names of the objects, I created picture cards for each one and had him play a matching game with them the next day. I had him bury all the objects in the “moon sand” and placed all the cards face down. He then had to flip a card, name it, find the object that matched it, and place it on top of the card.

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Once he got the concept, he started playing the game by himself. I think he got it because he created his own rocket with his magnetiles during his afternoon play time. He excitedly showed me his creation and said, “Mama, this is the Saturn V Rocket!” I realized that going an extra mile to make learning more fun for your child goes a long way.

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Creating the dough and making it an exciting concept allowed him to not only enjoy learning but also encouraged him to correlate his knowledge with his imagination.

Cloud Dough Recipe Cloud Dough2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of oil

1. Pour the flour in a bowl.

2. Make a hole in the center of the flour.

3. Pour the oil into the hole.

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4. Mix the oil and flour together with your hands. The nice and smooth texture makes it fun to knead with your hands.

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Another fun activity we did was the volcano eruption and dinosaur sensory bin. We made the volcano with an herbal tea play dough recipe. It was the best smelling volcano I’ve ever seen erupt! As we read and learned about the dinosaurs, I saw a volcano in one of the pages and thought how fun it would be to teach him what a volcano can do.

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We quickly got our ingredients together and made ourselves a volcano. I placed some cloud dough in the sensory bin and used it as the land the dinosaurs played on. I added the volcano on the side and created a hole to represent the crater. I placed baking soda inside the hole and sprinkled a few on the outside to extend the “lava” explosion effect. As I taught him about volcanoes, I poured vinegar into the crater and kaboom! It exploded! I think it caught him off guard but his shock was overruled by amazement. The volcano erupted a couple more times after that before it was time for the dinosaurs to evacuate.

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The three of us were entertained with this experiment, even though we’ve done it multiple times. Some things just never get old! It was fun to see both of them so engaged and entertained by this simple activity. Of course, I couldn’t reuse the tea dough volcano after the eruption but since it was so easy to make, I think we will be having it around again really soon. Micah already wanted to make a new one right after that! It made our kitchen smell really good too!

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Don’t forget to clean up once you are all done. ūüôā

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Tea Dough Recipe

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2 tea bags (the more bags you put, the more vibrant the color)
1 1/2-2 cups of water
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (you can add more if you want it to be softer)

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1. Boil the water and steep the tea bags for about 5-8 minutes.

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2. Remove the tea bags.

3. Add the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil into the pot. (Have you child help you pre-measure the ingredients.)

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4.Cook and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes or until it forms into a ball. You can add a little water or oil if you need to.

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5. Once your ball is in the center of the pot, take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured surface.
(Warning: It can be hot!)

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6. Squeeze out the extra water from the tea bags unto the dough, tear open the bag and knead the tea leaves into the dough to add more texture.

7. Have fun!

I used raspberry tea for my volcano and it smelled really good! I should have added more tea bags but I just used up what I had. I will try with another flavor for our next one and see how that turns out. Don’t forget to share yours with me, too! You can always bust out those cookie cutters and make fun creations! Get your hands kneading and have fun!

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The Reading Habit

Even while I was pregnant with my firstborn Micah, my husband Chris had always expressed how much he wanted our kids to love reading. Not only that, his next goal was to make them understand and comprehend what they are reading. He would read a bible story to our boys while I was still pregnant. We admit and regret that we read more to Micah than Titus while he was in the womb. We kinda figured, Titus was “read to” a lot because he hears all the books when we read to Micah. Back then, we would either read a chapter a book that we go through as a couple or just a bible story to Micah right before bed. We wanted to get into the habit of reading to him every night even while he was growing in the womb. After he was born, we would continue to read to him every day. We practically memorized some of the board books because we’ve repeated it so many times! It was an investment worth making!

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Quiet time (bible reading) can be establish even at his age. ūüôā

As Micah grew older, we noticed he was drawn to books more and more. He would choose to have some quiet reading time on his own after naps and before bed. He would look forward to reading time with Daddy after dinner and bible stories were a must before lights out. A few weeks ago, I noticed Micah “reading” to his little brother in the living room while I was making dinner. I heard him repeat the words on the page pretty accurately and I was totally caught off guard! I thought he was reading! But after a few minutes the words would dwindle down to something else. I realized he wasn’t reading the words but due to countless repetition of certain books that he absolutely loves, Micah has now memorized the words on the page. He was reciting the words (in surprisingly the right order) to Titus. As he turned the page, he continued on. He would even recite it with the tone or voice changes his dad would do while reading that certain paragraph. It made me realize how important it was for us to keep this great thing going. I admit, sometimes I am tempted to just say, we can just read tomorrow.

Micah and Titus reading together

Reading the book The Day The Crayons Quit!

I praise God for my husband’s wisdom and persistence in making sure we were intentional in making reading a priority in our home. More importantly we are delighted to see that he is so enthusiastic about reading God’s Word. He would not go to bed without reading a bible story no matter how sleepy or tired he is. Indeed, he is a great reminder of how we need to improve on our bible reading and the enthusiasm we put into it. If we want our boys to love reading God’s Word, we need to do a better job modeling it to them.

Bible reading before bed.

Bible reading before bed…

Here are some ways to help encourage a love of reading in your child.
1. Encourage and expand their oral language.
Depending on his or her age or level, your child can read a story, have a story read to him/her or even take turns reading and listening. As you read, ask your child questions about the details you just read. Keep them engaged by having the little ones point out the characters being discussed on the particular page.  When you are done, invite them to identify their favorite part is.

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The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

2. 1 to 10 and read them again!
The more exposed they are to different kinds of books, the more their love for reading will grow. ¬†We have enjoyed several authors whose writing styles are completely different yet each of them bring something great to share. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand the content. If you think some words are too “big” for him, explain it! Check out our list of favorite authors whose books are quickly filling up our shelves.

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3. Sing a song and recite a rhyme.
Name that tune to your favorite nursery rhyme! Rhymes and songs are creative ways to encourage memorization, rhyming, and melody. It’s a great way to introduce poetry and other creative writing styles. Sing together on trips, on walks, and even in the shower! Add hand gestures or dance moves or start a rhyming band to enrich the overall experience. My husband loves to make up words to familiar songs and Micah just bursts out laughing!

Sandra Boynton books are so much fun!

A family favorite!

4. Have a book nook and hang out there!
Micah can hang out here for 30-45 mins after he wakes up and just read all the books on the shelf. He would look at the pictures, make up words or recite the ones he has memorized and time just goes by, while I get my chores done. Make the area inviting and fun for your little reader. A couch or bean bag, a rug and a shelf make a great little space for some quiet reading time. Designating a “quiet reading time” encourages them have a special time with their books. You can do solo silent reading or reading aloud together there, too. Reluctant readers may be encouraged to read more in a fun and unique environment.

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The book nook in his room.

5. Be a literacy advocate!
I need to do this more! My dad is an avid reader and so is my brother, but for some reason, I didn’t get that gene. I only read about the things I am interested in. I need to learn to broaden my literacy choices so I can encourage my boys to do the same. If you have an older child, you may want to encourage your child by setting reading goals and when they achieve them, recognize and reward their efforts. Get the other members of your family to read with your kids too!

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

6. Add creative intonations! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Intonation refers to the rising, or falling pitch in a person’s voice as one says words or phrases. Stress the different ways you can read the questions, commands or conversations in the book. ¬†Make different sounds or change your voice or accent as you read aloud. We noticed that Micah would copy our intonations when he reads the books to himself or to his brother. Echo reading is a great way to encourage¬†paired reading as well. (Paired reading can mean alternating sentences while you read aloud together.)

7. Make it a habit! 

The reading habit is one of the best things we can pass on to our children. In an age where everything is digital and kids can easily get sensory overload from media, books have a way of opening their eyes, increasing their imagination, and making them appreciate some down time in those magical pages amidst this fast-paced world. Read on! AND don’t forget to teach your child about the author and illustrator of the book he is reading too.

Titus enjoys reading time too!

Make it a part of your routine!

Our Top 13 Authors & Their Books
1. Kevin Lewis & Daniel Kirk: My Truck Is Stuck-This is the first book Micah memorized.

2. June Sobel: The Goodnight Train– love the rhyme and sounds in this one

3. Alice Schertle: The Little Blue Truck; The Little Blue Truck Leads the Way- Who doesn’t love Blue? The sounds the characters make just adds to the fun.

4. Drew Daywalt: The Day the Crayons Quit– Brings back great moments with Crayola box! My husband and I were laughing while he was reading it to Micah.

5. Sherry Dusky Rinker: Steam Train, Dream Train; Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site- She does a great job teaching the different kinds of trucks and trains

6. Mo Wilhems: Elephant and Piggie Series: These are just hilarious!!! You will just fall in love with these two!

7. Amy Krouse Rosenthal:Little Pea; Exclamation Mark; Spoon; Chopsticks- Simple concepts, great points, fun & entertaining for the whole family!

8. Chris Van Dusen: Circus Ship; Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit; If I Built a House, If I Built a Car (our first one); Camping Trip with Mr. Magee, Down by the Sea with Mr. Magee, and more- I think we have all his books! We love all of them! Illustrations are great and the rhymes are just incredible! His characters are funny & the conversations are witty.

9. Watty Piper: The Little Engine That Could– A great classic and must have on the shelf!

10. Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are– Micah just loves this! Let your imagination lead you to the wild things.

11. Eric Carle: We read through a lot of his books for different stages in their lives. The shorter ones like Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you see?, Head to Toe, etc- we read from 0-12 months. The longer ones like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider are great for 18-24 months and up and perfect for lessons & activities.

12. Sandra Boynton:¬†Dinosaur’s Binket¬†is our favorite. We have a lot of her books too! We read her board books when Micah was 0-12 months. He still enjoys them when we read them to Titus.¬†Who wouldn’t fall in love with her adorable illustrations?

13. . Audrey Wood: Silly Sally: He memorized this book and loves reciting it to his little brother. A fun, silly and entertaining book. I first read this with my 3-6 old students in my classroom and they loved it. I knew it was a must-have for my own kids.

What’s in your shelf?

Productive Playtime = A Wipes Dispenser and Some Squares

Ironically, Micah got some nice, expensive, noisy and colorful toys during Christmas, but he preferred playing with the boxes and the wrapping paper. Can anyone else relate to this?!¬†¬† If¬†you are looking for a productive playtime activity that will last you through a couple of stages in your child’s development, I’ve got one for you.¬† With your empty wipes dispenser you can make a toy that is inexpensive, reusable and educational!

Chris had walked away to grab something from the kitchen and when he walked back, he noticed that Micah was unusually quiet (Micah often talks to himself while playing on his mat).  This is what he saw:

tissue box

YES. ¬†Micah emptying out our tissue box and loving it! ¬†Look at his concentration! ¬†Secretly, I have been waiting for this moment because I remember excitedly going to Joanne’s (a fabric store) after Halloween and picking out shimmery, velvety and fluffy fabrics on sale (thanks to the super moms who make costumes for their kids) to put this project together. I already had an empty wipes dispenser and I just needed a variety of cut out cloth squares to put in it to complete our new toy. Voila! Here it is!

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Micah’s activity box!

After the stunt he pulled with emptying out our tissue box, I realized he was finally ready for this activity. He was going to learn a couple of skills through playing and I was excited to finally get to show him what I have put together. Pulling the various cloths will teach him how to improve his fine motor development. Feeling the various textures, his tactile ‚Äúdiscrimination‚ÄĚ (when a child uses his 5 senses to learn and experience the world around him) will be heightened.¬† By learning to open and close the lid, his little fingers will develop stronger muscles and also improve his eye-hand coordination. Who knew a child could learn so much with this box? Not only is this entertaining, it is also stimulating and productive.

In the beginning, he had a difficult time pulling the squares out so I helped him by sticking a tiny piece out. ¬†His curiosity and excitement grew as he began to pull out the first square, then the second, then the third‚Ķetc. ¬†He was surprised that they were all different. ¬†He felt the different textures and quickly became engaged. ¬†He picked them up, felt them, ate them, stretched some and waved them around. ¬†Interestingly, sometimes, he would even pick up two different squares, one in each hand, and compare them. ¬†He played with the squares for quite some time. ¬†Just when we were getting ready to put the squares away, I popped the lid and he got excited, again!¬† The activity continued toward opening and closing the lid. ¬†Literally, we were both engaged in this activity for almost half an hour ‚Äď his attention was on the box and my attention was on him. It was fascinating for me to watch my son so contented with a box- a used wipes dispenser. ¬†I paused and realized how simple life was for him. He didn’t care about the price, he didn’t care that it wasn’t fancy or even the fact that it was used. He was just enjoying the moment. The purity of his contented heart made me smile. I pray that he will always find joy in the little things life has to offer. I pray that he will be contented with what God provides…even if it’s just a box. I can’t wait to go and get more cloths so I can switch them out and surprise him! I hope your child enjoys this activity as much as mine did! ūüôā Have fun and get shopping!

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This is all you need!

What you will need:

Wipes dispenser

A variety of cloths cut into squares

Steps:

1. Use up the wipes and dry out the dispenser.

*Huggies make cute containers and the little “door”/ lid is easy to open. The rubber opening is also allows their little hands to go through without getting hurt.*

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2. Collect fabric pieces and cut them into squares. If you have old towels or T-shirts, you can use those too. If not, head to a fabric store and cut some out. It’s very inexpensive.

*For younger children (6 months-3 years old), find fabrics with different textures, so not only do they feel different but they also look different.  ex: corduroy, velvet, cotton, silk etc. This makes them excited to see what is coming up next!

*for older children: you can find scraps of different patterned fabrics with different colors.

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3. Choose 4-5 cloth squares. Don’t get over excited and put all of your different fabrics in because you don’t want it to get boring. Instead, rotate your fabrics every once in a while. This keeps the box exciting and mysterious.

4. Put them inside the box.

5. Present it to your child. You can help him/her by pulling a little piece out if his/her little hands can’t reach in yet. Teach them how to pull it out. Let the fun begin!

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Having lots of fun!