ABC Herbarium

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This is last of the 5 days series Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s – Natural Materials – hosted by Something 2 Offer.

I chose making a herbarium as my theme as we often pick up leaves and flowers and make craft with them or preserve them in various ways.

Our recent herbarium was intended for practicing letters of the alphabet. It can be complicated to practice writing words and  sentences. And, as a great gift idea – birthday or anniversary  wishes.

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Materials needed:

Almost dry leaves or fresh fallen leaves
Scotch tape
Scissors
Cereal box
Marker
Color contact paper (green here)
Transparent contact paper (optional)

Process:

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Contact paper and leaves ABC’s
1. Cut out squares or rectangles out of the cereal boxes and stick the leaves on them with the scotch tape.
2. Draw letters on contact paper and cut them out.
3. Stick the letters on the leaves. These will make pretty ABC cards. You can use clear contact paper to preserve them for longer period of time.

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Leaf ABC’s
1. Draw your letters on leaves with a marker.
2. Cut the letters out and cut out squares from cereal box.
3. Stick the letters to the cardboard with scotch tape.

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Writing on leaves
1. Secure leaves to cardboard as mentioned above.
2. Write with a marker on top.
To preserve, use transparent contact paper.

Voilà, you just upcycled and recycled your cereal boxes and natural materials!

Please visit the landing page for Natural Materials to get more  ideas!
Thank you for following us!

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ABC Cards Games For Tots

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Today is the second day of Fun Ways of Playing with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer.

Today we are sharing about storebrought items that we can utilise and my category is tots!

I will introduce a few games that can be played with tots with ABC cards. They are simple and engaging and help developing fine and gross motor skills and language. These games are also great when emphasising a minority or a second/ third language.

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Note: go very slow with tots. Use not more than 1 or 2 cards at a time.
Avoid baby language – tots need to hear to say words clearly. You can emphasize your articulation and repeat your requests and letters several times.

“Pick Up the Card”

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Place a card on the floor and ask your tot to pick it up. E.g. “Pick up R for me please!” Praise and repeat!

“Give Me the Card”

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Ask your tot to give the card to you: ” Please give me R!” Praise and repeat.

“Where Is the Card?”
Show the letter card to your tot and then hide it behind your back and ask: “Where is R?” Look around with your tot, flash the end of the card from behind your back – encourage him to look for it.
Note: tots might be reluctant to give the card back to you. Give them time to play with the card, don’t push it.

“Swat the Card”
Using a sweater or a soft stick, ask the tot to swat the card: “Swat R!” Encourage and praise.

These are very simple games that any tot at any stage would like. Once they are able to repeat them, encourage them to say the letter with you!

Please stop by the Landing Page for Storebought Ideas to see what other bloggers shared!

ABC Mobile

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Summer is almost over and in many countries children are starting going back to school. For us school starts on September 1st so we are spending the rest of the summer enjoying various activities.

I am happy to participate in 5 days series called Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer. In this series for the next 5 days we will introduce various ways to plays with ABC’s, each day for a different age group.

For the first day, I am introducing an ABC mobile I made for infants, in a category of Homemade Ideas. At the end of my post I will suggest easier ways of making this mobile.
Mobile toys are one of the first interactive toys babies may see. There are so many on the market: with or without music; wind up ones and battery operated ones; ones that move and once that don’t. You can also make your own mobiles and it is super easy.

For this ABC’s mobile I used the following materials:
Upcycle fabric (mine is leftovers from the fabric I used to make a dress for my daughter; you can use an old pillow case, sheet or dress)
Scissors
Craft ribbon
Double sided tape
Isolation tape
Wire hanger
Threads
Needles
Sewing machine
Old teddy bear (or pillow) for stuffing

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Method:
1. To make the base for the mobile:
– You can use an old hanger made from thinnest wire. Bend it into a circle, triangle or square.
– To secure and make it look better, tape over with an isolation tape. Mine is of a pretty red color! Set it aside.

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2. To make the letters:
– Decide on the size and trace the letter on a piece of folded fabric so you have 2 sides which you need to stitch together.
– Stitch the sides by hand or using sewing machine, leaving space to put the stuffing through.
– Stuff it and stitch the opening. Repeat with the rest of the letters

Easier version: use felt or thick carton to cut out your letters. In the case with carton you can use sticky craft paper to decorate over.
– Using craft ribbon, cut out stripes. In my case to make it thicker, I used double sided tape and folded the ribbon into 3 and secured it. Then stitched by hand to the letters.

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3. Assembling the mobile:
– Using double sided tape, stick a piece of it to the other end of the craft ribbon you just stitched to the letter.
– Fold the ribbon over the mobile, securing the edge with tape on it so it is tightly wrapped around the circle. Secure all the letters.
– Using a larger piece of craft ribbon, repeat the same process with double sided tape in order to make a “handle” which you will use to hang the mobile (see the very first picture at the beginning of the post for reference.)

I would suggest not to put more than 3-4 letters at a time. You can change them weekly and hang above the baby’s crib during his awake time. While talking to the baby you can also name the letters to him.

One great thing about the letters I made, once child is older they can be given to.him to play with – simply detach and cut off the ribbon.

Some ideas for stuffing: to make it much safer and completely allergy-free, use pieces of fabric for stuffing.
To ensure better sensory experience once the child is able to  hold the toy, you can add some beans inside with the stuffing.
Supervision is required, especially if you stuff beans inside.

Please visit our Landing Page for Homemade Ideas to read more posts from other participating blogs!

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Salt Painting Techniques

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This year I am taking time to collaborate with more projects that are in tune with my blog’s themes.

This month I am participating in two series. One of them is Painting Challenge: Fun Painting Techniques organized by Messy Little Monster.

I chose to work with Salt Painting Techniques. It is a very fun way of painting and it offers a unique sensory experience.

Supplies needed:

Construction paper
Brushes
Water paints
Liquid glue (we made a homemade glue)
Stick glue
Salt
Colourful chalk

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CWOV

Preparation:

Since we will need colourful salt one way to dye it is to rub pieces of chalk against it. This way your salt will be dry and keep longer. The salt we used has been kept in an airtight jar for over 2 years!

Technique 1:

It is done with stick glue and salt. You can read more about it in one of my previous posts.

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Technique 2:

Using liquid glue, make splashes on the paper. Generously apply Colored salt. Fold the paper into half, wait few seconds gently pressing on the surface. Now open for the result!

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Technique 3:

Apply liquid glue on the paper. Sprinkle white salt over. Now, take the water paints and drip over the salt. The paint will spread on the salt and glue creating

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Please check all previous posts on painting techniques!

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Twilight Sparkle Dough

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Welcome back to 12 Months of Sensory Dough! This month we are all about Sparkle Dough!

My girls are obsessed with My Little Pony show. We even had a theme birthday party for miss T last year

When I was thinking what kind of sparkle dough to make, the name of the character Twilight Sparkle kept popping in my head. So I decided making a Twilight Sparkle Dough would be a great invitation for my girls to play.

Ingredients:

Any kind of cloud dough
Ours was with 4 cuos of white flour
And almost 1 cup of sunflower oil
Purple and pink food dyes
Glitter
A basin
Spoons
Cutters
My Little Pony figurines
Duplo cupcake pieces

We first made the dough and I let the girls mix it first with spoons and then with hands. Twilight Sparkle is mainly purple with some pink highlights. So we mixed in glitter, then purple dye, then pink dye. The dough had bits of both colors.

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I let the girls play with it and the ponies. But the forgot all about those and just explored the soft yet grainy texture of the dough and looked at the glitter shining in the light.

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Cloud dough is quite messy so we took the play to the balcony and finally they had it all over them, so baths were in order!

They had tons of fun!

Please join check out other blogs that participated in this month!

Calming Glitter Slime | Lemon Lime Adventures
Constellation Dough | It’s A Long Story
Sparkly Mermaid Slime | Study at Home Mama
Twilight Sparkle Playdough | Squiggles and Bubbles
Music Inspired Moon Sparkle Dough| Witty Hoots
Rocks and Pebbles Outdoor Sparkle Dough| Peakle Pie
Sparkly Shamrock Dough | Preschool Powol Packets
Sparkle Salt Dough | Preschool Inspirations
Taste Safe Strawberry Lemonade Sparkle Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Twilight Sparkle Dough | Creative World of Varya
Midnight Sparkle Dough | Wildflower Ramblings
Star Wars Dough | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Glitter Oobleck | Still Playing School
Sparkle Dough | the Pleasantest Thing
Metallic Sparkle Crayon Play Dough | Sugar Aunts
Sparkling Ocean Play Dough | Stir the Wonder
Shimmery Dough | In The Playroom
Sparkle Dough Eruptions | Little Bins for Little Hands
DIY Taste Safe Glitter and Rainbow Playdough | Powerful Mothering
Stress Busting Sparkle Dough | Raising Lifelong Learners

Follow Dayna | Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Sensory | Dough Recipes on Pinterest.

Special Guest Thursday: Show vs. Tell: Getting the Creative Juices Flowing for My Writing Students {Felicia Capers}

On January 27th we celebrated Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I posted a review of the book Enough of Frankie Already! Today I am happy to introduce the author of this book – Felicia Capers – an aspiring writer and a teacher, who shares her tips and ideas on how to inspire creativity in students.

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felicia

As a creative writing teacher, it is often very challenging to keep my students motivated; to keep them interested in something more than music and pop culture. When I walk into class some days, you should see the looks on some of the faces. Because often when youngsters hear writing, they hear nothing else; added to the fact that children in the U.S. are being taught all subjects, including writing, as it would appear on standardized tests. There is no opportunity for expression and creative freedom in this type of teaching of writing. By the time my students see Ms. Felicia at the end of a long Thursday my students are exhausted from being taught THE TEST all day, and don’t wish to be bothered.

This challenhe requires much creativity from me. During one of my first lessons each semester I introduce this awesome ice breaker  to illustrate the power of words and the power of description when writing creatively. I use this lesson with students in grades 3-7. Feel free to adapt this lesson plan beyond the classroom and even into your own home. This is not only a creative writing lesson plan, but also teaches young people how to properly channel emotions. There are many powerful lessons at play:

  • the art of expression
  • using actions to express emotions
  • using words to depict actions

Show Vs. Tell Exercise

My students are instructed to pick a card, any card, from a stack. In the stack, I have written approximately 20 different emotions or actions on each card. ( angry, sad, annoyed, hungry, scared, sleepy, etc.)

One at a time, students pick a card and are asked to perform the action or emotion on the card with just one rule. Students are not allowed to speak but only to perform or “show” the action listed on the card.

Next I instruct the spectators, just like charades, that they are to attempt to guess which action or emotion thier classmate is depicting. Whomever guesses correctly gets to act next, but first must write down for me, five things they saw or heard that made them guess correctly.

For example, I say, “Don’t tell me she is illustrating hunger, write down what you saw her do to show you she was hungry.” I guide my students in writing what they saw  their classmate do that showed hunger: he winced his eyes, he held his stomach, he walked around the classroom slowly with his hand covering his forehead.

I force the guessing student to use only descriptive language to explain what he saw and relay this to the entire class in how they should treat writing. Use descriptive language to explain and describe characters, situations, and settings.

Often my students begin to show me and say: Ms. Felicia, she did this or that. They’d then repeat the actions of their classmate that we’d all just seen. I quickly stop them and say “no, describe to me why you guessed your classmate was angry. What did her eyes look like? How did she wave her arms in the air to show she was upset? Write it down.” I’d say, “Write it down!”

By participating in this exercise, my students understand that creative writing is not creative if one neglects to express the actions and emotions evoked by the subject. They learn that experiences cannot be depicted by merely naming them but by describing  the emotions they evoke. Make students realize that they can’t simply say their character is hungry or angry or annoyed, but by thier description of their character’s eyes, demeanor, actions and body language, any reader will  already know.

 

IMG_47579658794055Felicia Capers is the author of Enough of Frankie Already! an anti -bullying book for young readers. Felicia is also a creative writing teacher. To learn more about Felicia and upcoming projects, visit her on the web at frankiethebully.com. Contact Felicia directly for more information on this topic and other writing topics at feliciakidsauthor@gmail.com.

 

Special Guest Thursday: Making Clothes For Your Toys {Trilingual Children}

This Thursday is the last one of Special Guest Thursday series and I have a very special guest over – Galina from Raising a Trilingual Child. Galina is originally from Russia, just as I am, and she is also raising a multilingual family. We are both members of MKB. The tutorial below is a gift from Galina for the birth of our third baby and I am more than happy to share it with my readers!
photo portraitGalina is a mother of two charming kids, whom she is raising trilingual in Italian, Russian and English. She loves helping other parents whose children have stepped or about to step on the the road of bilingualism or multilingualism.  Visit her blog Raising a Trilingual Child and connect with her on Facebook — Google+ — Twitter —  Pinterest
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Making clothes for toys

It’s been a very unusual summer in Italy where we live. It started to rain in June and it still rains a lot in July.  Hardly  ideal summer weather, if you have two kids to take care of, as any outdoor activities are off the list.
One day I was running out of ideas – we did everything we could and  my two kids were getting bored.  Then my eyes fell on a pair of old pants that I was about to toss away.
I had a light bulb moment: Let’s make clothes for our toy animals! Out the pair of old pants!
The kids love the idea.
We started with design for our models:  the grey cat, the white cat and the Big Boy (our bear)

 

Children design toys clothes

The grey cat was the first to get measured  – step 1.
We measured  how big its hug is. This is the distance from an end of one paw to another, when the spreads his cat’s arms wide open to give us a hug.
We measured how big its heart is. This is the circumference measured just below the armpits.
We measured how well he eats. This is the circumference of the widest part around the waist.
We measured how long his legs are. This is the distance from his waist ( it is very hard to find one in toys 🙂 ) to the bottom of his paws.
Next step – step 2 – is to make a sewing pattern. We drew the tops and the bottom of the cat’s outfit using the provided above measurements and added about 1 cm (which is approximately ½ inch ) for seam allowances.
Step 3. Then the kids cut the sewing pattern out.

make-cut sewing patterns

Step 4. We fixed the sewing patterns onto the fabric with safety pins. There should be two layers of fabric underneath.
IMPORTANT: Use safety pins instead of regular ones to make sure kids do not hurt themselves!
Step 5. Cut the fabric following the pattern. And this is normally the time, when I ask myself : Are you sure you did not mess up some measurements or the pattern placement? This time I put the worries aside, as we have more pants to destroy if needed, and I let my older child to take the scissors and cut the fabric!
Step 6. Remove the safety pins, separate the parts.

Fix sewing pattern onto fabric cut

Step 7. Place fabric details with face side to each other and fix with safety pins.

place_fabric_face_side_each_other

Step 8. Sew the parts together with a needle (or use a sewing machine, which I do not have)  – the seams of sleeves and bottom. This step I did all by myself, as my kids are still small; however, I think it is great to allow your older children to help you.

 

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Step 9. And finally the excitement of trying out the outfit ! Guess what? Our grey cat loved it! It said : “ Meow!” which means “Thank you!”

Trying out outfit

Step 10. Repeat the steps to have more fun and make your kids and their toys are happy 🙂
With love from mama Galia!

Special Guest Thursday: Learning New Words Through Drawing {Multilingual Parenting}

Today I have a very special guest – Rita Rosenback from Multilingual Parenting!  Rita is a fellow blogger from Multicultural Kid Blogs Community I am also a part of. She is also a specialist in bilingual matters and I am very glad she agreed to share her wisdom with us!

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Children (and adults for that matter) learn better when they are having fun – this applies to any subject and for language learning this is particularly true. As a parent you are trying to come up with ways to engage your kids to learn, and especially if you are the minority language parent, you are constantly looking for ways to increase the language exposure time and to make sure that your child acquires an as extensive and varied vocabulary as possible.

One excellent way of learning new words is to draw a picture story together with your kid. – Before you say anything along the lines of “I can’t draw!” or “I wouldn’t know what to draw!” let me tell you that everyone can draw and your child will be delighted with anything you come up with. If you are really struggling with the start, cut our some pictures from a magazine or comic and build on those to make a combined storyboard and drawing. Also, don’t worry, your child’s imagination will lead the way in choosing what to add to your masterpiece!

Ask your child to choose a character who will be at the centre of your story, then place this animal, person, plant, car of whatever was chosen in the middle of the paper. Start expanding on your story by asking questions about your character. If you have a certain vocabulary topic in mind, steer the story towards it by making the questions lead the way. Let’s say you want to introduce different vegetables and fruits, make your character grow, eat, buy or sell them in your story. Or maybe your character could be a fruit looking for new friends! To make the words even more memorable you could have some of the fruits and vegetables ready as a snack for the day.

When speaking about the character use a lot of adjectives describing what it looks like: tiny, happy, surprised, yellow, round, soft and so on. Also make the verbs, the words for the action, more interesting by replacing the common ones with new ones: for example leap, bounce, skip, canter for jump; or stroll, step, march, stride for walk or go. If your child is a bit older you can use a dictionary to look up synonyms together.

After you have done this a few times you will have many lovely picture stories which you could put together as your very own picture book. Wishing you many creative moments with your little ones!

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The illustration is from Rita’s book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” with the subtitle “Navigating the Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration.” (picture © Rita Rosenback 2014)

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Rita Rosenback is the author of “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” and she blogs at www.multilingualparenting.com where you can find tips and advice on raising your children to speak the family languages. She also visits schools and community groups to give speeches and lead workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. Rita was born in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland and now lives in Derby, England. She is the mother of two adult daughters who speak Swedish, Punjabi, Finnish and English.
You can connect to Rita and follow her over these social networks –
TwitterLinkedInFacebookPinterestGoogle+

Cooking Series: Homemade Pizza

For the next couple of weeks I am taking a step away from Creative Tuesdays and instead posting for Cooking series. In fact, since the next 2 posts are directly related to creativity and creative thinking, I decided just to go ahead and post them on Tuesdays anyway.
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So, today I will share how we made homemade pizzas in my ESL class. We used my grandma’s recipe for the yeast dough which I prepared in advance since there wasn’t that much time to sit and wait around for the dough to rise!
Let me say something first: children ALL love getting their hands “dirty” with food items. They may not necessarily even eat what they make but making things, well, food of course, with their own hands is a world of experience to young children, as well as older ones. Though it is always easier to engage younger ones in food making process as they are still exploring and are curious about how things work. Making pizza is a very very simple activity you can offer you children which is full of sensory, smell, taste and visual experiences. Also, it helps with language development, creativity, fine motor skills development – you name it! And of course, then pride and satisfaction of making this small pizza and the happy faces and sparkly eyes – I would make pizzas in every class if I could just to see those faces!
How to set up this activity:
1. Work space should be cleared and clean and covered with a waterproof sheet. Some might want to use disposable sheets, I use a regular one which I can wash and reuse easily.
2. Prepare pizza toppings in advance if you are making pizzas with more than 2-3 children: you won’t have time to cut everything up and younger kids will get bored watching you cut stuff! Here are the toppings I prepared for my students: sausages, corn from a can, sliced and cooked mushrooms, chopped up tomatoes and green peppers, grated cheese, portions of tomato paste, some olive oil to brush the pizza base with.
3. MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN WASH THEIR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Yep, I am really really mentioning this!
4. Demonstration: first of all, go slow. Show children how to flatten the pieces of dough for pizza base. Give them time to experiment. Ask them if they want your assistance – most of them probably will. But if they are anything like my toddler and 5 year old, they might just say “no” no matter how hard it is for them or how weird their pizza base looks like! Help them brush the dough with oil and then with tomato paste.
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5. Make sure each child has his/her own plate with toppings he/she likes. And I would also make sure the toppings don’t touch each other on the plate as most of the children really wanted.
6. Give them time to set their toppings.
7. Allow them to watch how pizza is being baked if you have a chance (e.g. through the glass window of your oven). Children kept asking me every 2 minutes if pizzas were ready.
8. Important – have fun!
How do you like your pizza?

Creative Tuesday: Simple Sun Craft

Welcome to Creative Tuesdays!
Here’s another very simple craft: Make a sun!
sun
We made this craft when we were learning letter S and the word the Sun. It is so simple and the children had fun making it.
What you will need:
A piece of paper
A plate or a circle template
Colorful contact paper strips
Colors (crayons, markers, pencils)
The steps are simple:
Together with your child trace the plate/circle on the paper.
Now color it the circle and draw a face on it.
Stick the strips of contact paper around for the rays.
Your sun is ready!
You can also use this to review color yellow, orange, black and draw a rainbow and clouds around for more fun!