Friday, May 28, 2010

Flowers and Plants

This week we learned all about Flowers and Plants.

We made flowers as shown in this tutorial on Family, Flower Pins and clips . Then we put a green pipecleaner through the gap of the center and petals and through the back and twisted. See the ones on the right?

I made the girls small (4" by 8") sketchbooks, and we went outside and drew flowers from our yard and the bouquets from my hospital visit. I asked the girls questions about each flower (what shape are the petals? How many rows of petals are there? What shape is the center? what color is it?) to guide their drawing.

We also played flower shop. We used the felt flowers from the previous day, and our cash register. We role played how to buy something.
I also made up a price list so we could review pennies, dimes, and quarters, and do some simple math as we rang each other up.

Yesterday we made these Flower garlands as seen on frugal family fun blog. Sophia (5 years) was able to do most of the steps for making the flowers, I did most of Natalie's.

We also learned the parts of flowers and plants, and put these white daisies in food coloring water to see if the stems work.
One day later- Voila! The stems suck up the water into the flower. The blue worked best, all of the dyes with yellow (green, yellow, orange) turned out just yellow. Weird. We did 20 drops of food coloring, I'd suggest more.
We also planted wheat in pantyhose, added dirt, stuck in a cup. They're known as grassheads. Homemade chia pets is what I think of. This way day one, from tuesday. They've already started growing grass up about 1/2 inch. So they're quick.
And another planting experiment, we put beans in ziplocs with wet paper towels. When the bean breaks open and starts to grow, hopefully we'll see roots and stem and the original seed.

For more flower ideas, check out this Flower Garden Party from Make and Takes
Some good music for flowers and plants: Oats and Beans and Barley by Raffi, and the LDS children's songbook spring songs. We sing "Once there was a little seed" instead of Snowman too.
For books- It's Pumpkintime! by Zoe Hall, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, and Little Seed by Eric Carle. For our book time we looked at Plants and Flowers and Seeds in our "Millenium Family Encyclopedia" by DK publishing.
What's your favorite flower activity?

Summer Fun School

This week has been the start of a new dynamic in our family. Yes we have a new baby, but also, I'm determined to take it slow this summer. Ok, not slow, but slower than before I had the baby. I kind of hated the dynamic between the kids and I- so much of what I wanted to do was centered around the computer, and preschool and other errands kept us away from home more than I like. I just never seemed to have time to sit and play with them- so many other things were more pressing.
Well, it's summertime here. Preschool is done, dance is finished, and I am not supposed to go places with this baby.

So while I was recovering with John's Mom entertaining the kids 24/7, I made a list of topics and summer activities to go along with them. Then I made this board:

I took a huge cornflakes box, cut off the top and bottom, and used spray adhesive to glue the front/back together.

Then added a scrapbook page in summer theme, and the lettering.

The papers each have a topic and a list of suggested activities. I'm trying to do activities that require little prep time and money, and focus on the process, not just the end result. I'll attempt to post every Friday or Saturday with a recap of what we did this week.
Our topics are:
Flowers and Plants
Dancing and Musical Instruments
Maps and Directions
Families and Bodies
Building and Bridges
Ocean Animals
Farm Animals
Dragons, Unicorns, Mermaids and Princesses
5 Senses
Bubbles and Science Experiments
I'm excited to do activities I've seen on the internet. And I'm excited to play. Lots of playing this summer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leo's First Portrait Session

For the last week I've been gazing into his eyes, snuggling and cuddling, feeling his soft baby breath and watching his eyes flicker as he dreams.

Having two other children has taught me babies don't stay this sweet and cuddly and docile forever. In fact, he'll be bigger tomorrow, and in a few days, I'll be back to running this household and being distracted with life.

So today, I took some photos. Because being one week old only happens once.

I love this shot. It showcases the chubby cheeks so well.

John's favorite
On the quilt my Mom made for my birthday this year.
My favorite

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Leo Russell Daley- He's Here!

Leo was born this morning at 11:39 am via c-section.
8 lbs 9 oz, 20 inches long, 14 inch head circumference.
I was a little scared going into the surgery, because it is a surgery, but once the spinal kicked in, I felt a lot better. No matter how a baby comes into the world, c-section or vaginal, there is nothing like hearing a baby's first cry, and meeting a brand new spirit. He cried for the first 30 minutes, calmed down once he got his thumb, and then really calmed down once he nursed.
This evening John went home to have dinner and get the girls and I had a few moments alone with Leo. He was a little fussy, then I started talking, and he calmed down. He knew my voice. I almost cried.
I was staring into those big blue eyes, and thinking about what it must feel like to be seeing the world for the first time, the alarm of being in a big cold world, I would be crying too. But then to hear the voice that's been a companion for the last 8 months? Comfort. Familiarity. That's the bizzare part of "meeting" a brand new baby. You've already met, you've been hanging out together, sharing experiences already.

Natalie's first comment "Oh he's so cute!....I wanted a baby sister though." (Regardless of the fact that we've talked about a baby brother for 5 months)

Sophia likes him too "Ohhh...he looks like a baby doll."

John's Mom, Linda, is in town taking care of the girls while I'm recovering.
He looks so big to me...until he's next to an adult, then he looks so tiny!

Relaxing in my spa suite...ugh I mean hospital room. But really? Room service for meals? flat screen tv? No children? A spa pretty much, regardless of that little bitty recovery business I have to go through.

Welcome to the world little Leo. We love you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

H.O.G.S. Night: Honoring Our Graduating Seniors

Last night was the yearly Honoring our Graduating Seniors (H.O.G.S. ) activity night for the youth. This used to be a Young Women's activity, but this year we only had 2 graduating Young Women and one graduating Young Man, so we combined and spread the love. In years past the activity has centered around talking about the Seniors or doing games revolving around them. But with our low numbers of Seniors, I was stumped and couldn't think of an activity to fill the whole night around them.

After pondering the theme of graduation, and the diverse personalities of our Seniors, I came up with a School days theme. I'll be honest, I was thinking of Billy Madison and the kids passing through all the grades to graduate. Not exactly a good start for a gospel related activity, but it morphed into the theme of H.O.G.S. Academy.

The youth and leaders came out from opening exercises and were given name tags and a report card to fill out.

(I used Learning Curve and Penmanship Print fonts from to make the handouts, printed 4 report cards to a page and 3 sets of nametages to a page).

The youth were given instructions to go around to each subject station, do the assignment, and then they'd recieve a sticker or grade for the corresponding reward. No assingment done, no reward. This was the Mia Maids' suggestion during a planning meeting, and it forced the kids to go around to all the stations.

The subject stations were each a table with a huge butcher paper sign and an activity.

Preschool: Bubbles and Sidewalk chalk. Other variations include: fingerpainting, block or lego towers to build or a cut and glue activity.

Art: Playdough and crayons and paper for self portraits, and the souveneir HOGS t-shirts for the youth to write messages to the graduating seniors. You could also do some kind of art history activity, make the youth draw pictures of each other, or a cartoon, or do some kind of ceramics or jewelry to take home.

Social Studies: A youth leader brought in "Scrambled States of America Game" to play. We also considered a U.S. map puzzle, or geography quiz questions, or presidents or history trivia.

Physical Education: The kids played "Over under" with soccer balls. We also discussed classic relay races like three legged races or sack races, or kickball.

Recess: Double Dutch. This was technically part of P.E., but it seems to fit into the Recess category better. This was a huge hit with our youth, as they competed to do it for a long time. As you can see from the bottom photo, at one point 10 youth and a bishopric member were trying to do it at the same time.

Science: Paper Airplane races. I got a book out from the library about paper airplanes and the kids competed with a chalk line runway. One kid said- "how is this science?" Guess it wasn't as obvious as I thought it was. Other ideas include- making gak or doing some kind of simple science experiment, or identifying leaves/trees.

Social Skills: When I made this category, I was thinking of the phrase "Plays well with others." My first thought was having the kids write down pick up lines/date ideas on a paper and compete to see who can do the most. Sarah took on the task of running the station, and had them role play date asking and pick up lines, and then gave them a huge list of date ideas. It was perfect- it's like the youth want to look into each other's eyes and profess they want to take them out, but it's not like they just can in a normal circumstance. So we gave them a way.

Sorry for the bad angle of the pictures, if I took pics where I could see their faces, they would just be silhouettes with the sun behind them.
Religion (no picture): Leslie made up scripture mastery matching cards. One set with the theme or memorable phrase of the scripture, one set with the reference. The youth had to find 5 matches. So they basically looked up 5 scriptures. Other ideas include general conference jeapordy, trivia about the prophets and apostles or questions from seminary book. Or make them recite articles of Faith.
We have a few youth attend that are not members, so this activity was good because it was acessible to them.
Last but not least, the kids got to enter the Cafeteria and get their ice cream sundaes. The Seniors got to go first- of course- they rule the school, right? If you wanted to go totally healthy or do more of a meal, there's all kinds of cafeteria themed things you could serve- apples and milk, mashed potatoes and chicken patties, all on styrofoam trays. Or you could have cookies/goldfish in little paper bags.

They also received this diploma at the end of the line (a mini one, 1/4 page) :

It was a great activity, we got a heartfelt thanks from one of the Seniors, which was reward enough in my book. The young men and young women all participated and interacted with each other, one one of the major goals for me for combined activities. There wasn't much standing around on the sidelines, there were so many things to do, if one thing was boring there were other stations or activities to attend.

Cricut Contact Paper T-Shirt Stenciling

For H.O.G.S. night (see above post), I made t-shirts for the graduating Seniors. I used my computer to design, cut it out on the cricut to make a stencil then painted on the t-shirts. This tutorial has been recreated all over the interwebs about 20 million times, so I'll be brief. If you want more details or options, google it and you can read about it all day long.
Here's the instructions:
Cricut (or an exacto knife)
Make the Cut! software
Contact paper, freezer paper or adhesive vinyl
Fabric Medium (find it in the Acrylic paint aisle)
Acrylic Paint
Large pieces of cardboard
Here's a pic of the fabric medium. This turns acrylic paint into fabric paint, so it fades less and wears longer. Costs about 2 bucks for a little bottle like this. Acrylic paint aisle in Michaels/JoAnn's. You mix one part medium to 2 parts paint. And voila! Fabric paint.
First I made a cardboard t-shirt form out of an old smooth cardboard box. Don't throw away your cereal boxes- they're the perfect size for kids shirts and onesies! This box was from a huge picture frame.
After the shirt is nice and tight, make the stencil.
Here's a close up of the stencil. I used Make the Cut software. I stuck the contact paper, with the backing still on, onto the mat. After it was cut, I peeled off the stencil off, making sure to keep the middle parts of the O's. You can also use freezer paper, which is in the foil/plastic wrap aisle of walmart. Instead of sticking it to your shirt, you use an iron to iron it on.
Some tips on design- use bolder letters over skinnier ones. If using contact paper, once it's off the backing it can shift a lot. So leave a large area around the design for stability and room for painting error. In the picture below, I should have left another 2 inches around the design, but I was trying to fit it all on one mat. Would have been better to have a large area around.
Don't use wax paper, the wax on both sides of the wax paper makes a huge mess.
Mix up the medium and paint, then paint it. I used cheapy dollar store kid paint brushes, but foam works too. Best to make sure the kiddos are well occupied at this point. Nothing to ruin your day like black permaneant fingerprints on a white t-shirt.
Let it dry, 24 hours. Place a cloth on top, then iron on high for 30 seconds to heat set the medium.
My finished front:
One of the backs:
And here at HOGS night, is the Art table with the t-shirts, and fabric markers for the youth to write messages to their graduating seniors.
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