Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle!

Eric Carle is one of my FAVORITE children's authors/illustrators. We don't own enough of his books, but we read the ones we have with regularity. When I went through the books from my childhood at my Dad's house recently, I found an old copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with my name written in my mom's handwriting on the inside. I was thrilled! Growing up in a large family means we shared a lot of things, books included, so finding something that was clearly mine was a treat. I remember loving it as a kid! My kids had the board book version, gifted to my oldest when he was an infant along with an adorable Hungry Caterpillar sleeper and hat. We have now been reading the larger paperback version, and loving it anew. We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear to my son so many times when he was 1-2 years old that I still have it memorized. We have checked others out of the library periodically. I am now thinking we need to hit the library and used book store to see what new favorites we can find!

To celebrate his birthday, though, I think we will be doing a craft or two. Maybe we'll make collages, as that is his favorite technique. Or maybe we'll do some of the fun things The Crafty Crow has compiled! We already did the Very Hungry Caterpillar muffin tin, or I would be tempted to do that for lunch (or course I don't have the foods on hand, either, so it would be tricky).

Oh, and for those of you who want to start planning ahead, Read for the Record's book selection this year is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Read for the record is October 8, so start thinking about what you want to do, get your copy of the book, and make sure to read it to the kids you love!

p.s. It is also my grandmother's 90th birthday today...Happy Birthday, Grandma! (she doesn't read the blog, just wanted to acknowledge it!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Copy Cat

muffin tin MondayToday's Muffin Tin Monday theme was Copy Cat. The idea was to make a copy of a favorite Muffin Tin Monday meal someone else had made and posted. There are soooooo many good meals out there, how can one keep it to just one?!?! So I didn't. I took pieces of many different meals and made tins full of "creatures." It took me FOREVER to put this together, but the kids loved it.
muffin tin Monday

The upper left corner is a strawberry mouse, copied from Her Cup Overfloweth's Hickory Dickory Dock Muffin Tin
The upper right corner is worms in dirt, copied from Learning Together's pond life themed tin
The lower left corner is a peanut butter bread teddy bear and bunny copied from This Little Project's Teddie Bear Picnic (not a muffin tin, but fun none-the-less).
The lower right corner is a ladybug apple, copied from Her Cup Overfloweth, and another tin, but I can't remember where I saw it!
We also had pretzel sticks/peanut butter/goldfish crackers for fishing, again copied from Her Cup Overfloweth, among others.

Though I barely scratched the surface for tins when I was looking, there are a few of other tins I found that I want to copy, too.
A Bit of This and a Bit of That has a great Three Pigs tin,
Giggles Galore has an awesome Beach Themed tin, and
I'd like to to try all of Learning Together's Pond Life themed tin (the worms in dirt were fun!)

I'm going to keep looking, too, because those "no theme" days sneak up on me!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gibbs Museum

field trip

The Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakota Life is a hidden gem. We went there on a field trip with a local Homeschool group a couple weeks ago. I had never been before. It is nestled in the middle of the city. Really, on the edge of the city, but sandwiched between the big city and the suburbs. It is FANTASTIC! They have recreated a sod house, brought in an old school house, and have the original farmhouse. All of these are furnished with items from the time, some of them original to the Gibbs family. For our field trip, they had a guide at the school, the sod house, and 3 inside the main house. There was also one outside to teach us about making ice cream (YUM!) which we later got to sample.

We have just been reading the Little House books, and this farm was from about the same era. It was great for Kiddo and Kutey to get to see some of the things that we had been reading about! Understanding just how small a sod house really is, witnessing exactly how much work it would have been to make ice cream, seeing all the tools they used in the kitchen and for housework. It was the perfect accompaniment to the books, and a fun activity in general. The only thing that I thought could have been improved was the amount they told us about the Gibbs family. That personalizes it so much, but it was sparse. And at least one of the guides didn't know much about the family. Maybe she was new, but she couldn't answer questions and there were things I found out later (from the plaques around the estate) that she had all but contradicted in her comments.

It was a great field trip, Kiddo and Kutey loved it, and I hear there are plans for another one in the fall involving butter churning...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Breakfast

It's already Muffin Tin Monday again! This week there was no theme, so I decided to go with breakfast food.
muffin tin MondayMy kids love breakfast foods, but they don't like them for breakfast. They prefer their oatmeal. I once tried to give Kutey a caramel roll for breakfast, and she asked where her oatmeal was. She wouldn't eat until I made oatmeal. So we tend to have things like pancakes and scrambled eggs for lunch or dinner. Put it in a muffin tin, all the better. You'll also notice that I set the table with place mats and cloth napkins in napkin rings. The eggs were hot when I put them in the tins, so the bottoms were hot, so I needed the place mats. I thought the kids would get a kick out of the napkins--they usually use washcloths. Apparently this was not a napkin meal, though, because Kiddo never even took the napkin ring off of his! Oh well. It still looked nice.

Here is Kutey's:
muffin tin Monday
Top: veggie sausage bites, strawberries
Middle: mini pancakes, blueberry yogurt (she desperately wanted blueberries, but they were far too expensive, so we settled on yogurt).
Bottom: scrambled eggs, banana discs
The cup out of the tin is the maple syrup for dipping the pancakes (and eggs, and strawberries, and bananas, and whatever else they could find!)
Here is Kiddo's:
muffin tin Monday

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This spring, Kiddo got it in his head that we should have a garden. Actually, I think it started last fall when we read Pumpkin Jack and he decided he wanted to grow pumpkins. We have a garden, but it has not been tended since Kiddo was born. You can imagine the state it is in. I have tried to pull the grasses out once a summer, but I haven't been thorough. So having a garden seemed like a big undertaking. And Kiddo had big plans, as usual! Living in the north as we do, the season is quite short and planting seeds out of doors requires one to be quite attentive and get them in at the first possible moment. I don't plan ahead well, so we didn't hit that. I also didn't have the forethought to plant them inside first (well, I did have the thought, I just didn't have the action). So it seemed our garden was not to be this year.

But then I started clearing the garden out. It took many hours, on multiple days, but it is beginning to look like a habitable space again! And Kiddo has gotten excited about it again. He spent this afternoon out weeding with me, pulling more than one cartload of grass down the hill in the back yard to the compost pile. I bought several tomato plants, 3 pepper plants, and 2 zucchini plants. I also bought sunflower seeds, at Kutey's request. Apparently she doesn't care about the vegetables (though she loves to eat all of them), but wants to make sure we have flowers.

We are about ready to put the plants in the garden. Then the gardening lessons will really get to take off. Kiddo still wants to start plants from seed, so we'll be planning next years garden with plenty of time to get things started!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Giving workboxes more thought

Now that the idea of workboxes has been on the scene for a while, I have been reading more about how people are implementing the idea. Where have I been reading? Well, here, here, here, and here, to name a few. All implemented differently, all really seem to enjoy it. None of them are "just like me!" Not that I expect anyone is! Just makes me realize how much more flexible the "system" is. I have said would would never implement it as I understood it from the snippets I have pieced together. I still won't buy the book. I don't like the idea THAT much. I see it more as a starting point, and idea. Something for me to build on!

As I have been struggling lately to feel like we are even getting in the most basic things I would like (we are very relaxed homeschoolers, but I still feel like we need to cover reading and math on a daily basis), I have been thinking more and more about how workboxes might help me. I am not the most organized person, which is a big part of the reason that things don't get done. If I had to fill workboxes, at least all the pieces would be in place! I spend a great deal of time finding all sorts of great ideas (the internet is great for that!), downloading pieces for things, and we never get to them. If I had to fill workboxes, we might get to them. Kiddo responds well to a list of things to complete, and works through things quickly, so I don't see workboxes encroaching on his "free" time. Instead I see them more as accountability for me. I won't do 12 a day. I am only envisioning putting in reading, math, and unit study items. Reading is 2 boxes (actually reading plus explode the code pages), Math is 2 boxes (a worksheet plus a math activity), and unit study is one box. That is only 5. I might do 6, and throw in something I think we should do, a science experiment, a game, a recipe, something else fun. That would probably always go in the last box, since it would probably be the most open-ended of the items. I also think I would do them in the same order each day. Again, I don't see these as being for Kiddo's needs as much as for my own accountability. Kiddo is very flexible and will work through whatever I ask him to. He often asks me for specific things and I am not ready to give them to him. Sometimes they are quick to prep, other times we never get to them. At any rate, I have been thinking more about it. And you just might see some "workboxes" pop up around here soon!

Why Kutey's reading list won't last long

Here is what I read to Kutey in one sitting today:

Curious George Rides a Bike by H.A. Rey
The Berenstain Bears and the Green-eyed Monster by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Walt Disney's Cinderella (yeah, she is a princess girl)
Spot goes to the Beach by Eric Hill
A Perfect Picnic (Sesame Street)
It's Check-up Time Elmo
Red or Blue, I like You! (Sesame Street)
The Flower Princesses By Elizabeth Anders
Toy Story 2
Just the Way you are (Sesame Street)
What Makes you Happy? (Care Bears)

Yes, a lot of them are the kind of books you pick up for a dollar at Target. I haven't even pulled out the books I intend to read to her, though, so these are just the books she can easily pull off of her shelf--a fruit crate on the floor that is passing as a bookshelf because our actual shelves are too full.

If she can sit through all of that (and she did, easily), I can't imagine how quickly she'll want to go through the other books once I pull them out! Did I mention she loves to be read to?

Kiddo listened to Curious George (it is new, I just bought it at the thrift shop for a quarter), then wandered off to build a LEGO car. He was listening, though, because he corrected me regularly when I misread a book (they have them memorized. That is how often they are read!)

I think we better plan to hit the library more regularly...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Numbers!

It's Muffin Tin Monday again! (Though Honestly, we had lunch in a muffin tin nearly every day last week...). muffin tin MondayThis week's theme is Numbers. I made a game for the kids. I put out 11 different foods. I made cards for both Kutey and Kiddo. Kutey's had the numbers 1 to 10 on them, a wild card, and a "Mommy's choice" card. Kiddo's had math problems. All of the problems were 12 minus something. For each number or problem, they picked a food and put the correct number of that item into a space in their tin. I helped Kutey with hers, but Kiddo did his all on his own. They decided not to use all 11 foods I put out--Kiddo says he doesn't like raisins or craisins, Kutey wouldn't eat them then, either!--but they did all the cards, they just doubled up on a couple of foods. I also stuck in one "wild card," that allowed them to choose the number. I also stacked the deck, so that "Mommy's Choice" was the last card, and was a treat.

This was a very fun muffin tin to do. The kids thought it was great to play a game to get lunch. I might have to do it again, though, because Kutey has such an awful cold today that she couldn't fully enjoy it!

Here is Kiddo's:
muffin tin Monday

And Kutey's:
muffin tin Monday

Kutey's Summer Reading

Kutey is anxious (at 3) to learn to read. I'm not going to stop her, but I am not going to do any formal instruction yet, either! We'll be doing a lot of read aloud time, however. Here are some of the books I am planning to read to her. Some of them I have never seen, so they may be quickly eliminated. Some of them are her favorites, that are read repeatedly. Some of them are books I hope to build units around, and Kiddo will join in on those (he'll be listening to them all anyway! He can't stay away when books are being read.....)

Robert McClosky books:
  • Make Way for Ducklings
  • One Morning in Maine
  • Lentil
  • Blueberries for Sal
Dan Freeman books:
  • Dandelion
  • Corduroy
  • A Pocket for Corduroy
  • Bearymore
Jan Brett books:
  • The Umbrella
  • Town Mouse Country Mouse
  • Berloz the Bear
Dr. Seuss Books:
  • The Lorax
  • Oh the Places You'll Go
Ezra Jack Keats:
  • Goggles
  • Whistle for Willie
  • The Snowy Day
Where the Wild Things are By Maurice Sendak
The Little Lost Robin by Elizabeth Baguley
The Little Engine that could by Watty Piper
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Copy me Copy Cub by Richard Edwards
Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
First Poems of Childhood
Dora's Backpack
Where is Boots
Curious George books
Clifford books

That oughta get us through a week or so.

Kiddo's summer reading list

I have probably over committed Kiddo this summer. I have been signing him up for every reading program in sight, though he has been very excited to sign up! We took a little break in our reading, and that proved to be not the best idea. Enter the reading programs. This is the list I am hoping to have him read. We may not get through all of the series books, and I am sure there will be others added!

Series of books (hoping to find one that Kiddo LOVES!):
Littles First Readers by John Peterson
High-Rise Private Eyes Series by Cynthia Rylant
Mr. Putty and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant

Individual books (there will be more, this is just what we have on hand right now!):
Whose Mouse are You? By Robert Kraus
Who Took the Farmer's Hat? By Joan Nodset
The Berenstain Bears Home Sweet Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Biscuit Visits the Big City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Biscuit Finds a Friend by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Biscuit and the Little Pup by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
The Happy Egg by Ruth Krauss

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Go here! The tiniest you will ever see baby robins!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday--Letters of the Alphabet

It's Muffin Tin Monday again! This weeks theme was Letters of the Alphabet. I was kinda stumped. Short of doing a food for every letter--is there a food that starts with X?--or coming up with creative descriptions for foods, I wasn't sure what to do. Then I got it in my head to write a little story that would include the foods I wanted to put in the muffin tins, but also included main words for every letter of the alphabet. In order. So here it is!

PhotobucketHere is the story. I had Kiddo read the whole thing and get out the foods as he came to them. He LOVED it. It was his idea to use the pickles as alligators!

An Alligator Bit into a Big Chunk of Cheese. Diving in for more he Exclaimed, “Fish are my Favorite Food!” Grapes Gave Him glee In Joyful Jumps. Keeping a Keen eye on his Lovely Lunch, his Muffin tin Monday Meal, he Nabbed a Nummy Octet Of Perfect Pepperoni. Quite Ravenous still he Relished Some Strawberries Slowly. “These are Terrific!” he Uttered. Various Vittles had been Wolfed down When at once he spotted the X that marked the Yogurt, YUM! ZZZZZZZZZZZZ, he snored, at last. All that food had made the alligator sleepy.

muffin tin Monday
muffin tin Monday