Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parts of Speech Activity

I am teaching Emerson all about the different parts of speech. We're starting with:

Nouns ~ person, place or thing words
Verbs ~ action or doing words
Adjectives ~ describing words

I bought these 3 brightly colored metal containers at Michael's on sale for $3.00 each.
I labeled each bin with a different part of speech.

Then I took 3x5" index cards and wrote down lots of words for her to sort in the bins. I picked words that she could read and I felt confident she would be able to sort. You'll want to create cards that are at your own child's level.
Emerson enjoyed the game and it quickly became very easy for her. Sometimes it's good to break away from basic worksheets. You can then use your bins for other learning activities!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Vacation

It's Summer! Now that Emerson is completing Kindergarten, Summer has the same feeling as it did for me when I was a child and school let out for 2 fun filled months!

This is a favorite photo of my kids because they're so happy and happy together! It pretty much sums up how I'd love for my Summer to go. I'm dreaming of lots of swimming, days at the theme parks, popsicles and lazy weekend afternoons...'s the reality of my Summer {ha ha}. Ryan is in his self-imposed uniform of every four-year-old boy (Spiderman costume), both acting silly and being little monkeys! Oh well, sometimes reality is better!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Chocolate Muffins Made with Pumpkin

I have a great recipe for guilt-free chocolate muffins! It's only 3 ingredients (yippee!!). The canned pumpkin replaces all of the oil and eggs. So yummy and you'll never even taste the pumpkin!

Here's the recipe:

1 16oz can of pumpkin puree (don't confuse this with pumpkin pie filling)
1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix (I just get the generic at Aldi's)
1/2 cup of water

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix all three ingredients well. Your mix will not be the same consistency as a regular cake batter; it will be much thicker. Just do your best to blend it as well as you can. If you need to, you can add a little more water.

Spray a muffin pan with PAM. Fill each cup 3/4. Should make around 15-18 muffins depending on how full you fill each cup. Bake for 16 min. or until springy to the touch.

I never frost these like cupcakes and I don't use paper liners. I always use a fork to remove them from the pan to keep them intact. 

You can also use a spice cake mix and your home will smell amazing as they bake!

click on the image to download


Thursday, May 17, 2012

20 Things to do if You're Stuck in a Rut

From time to time, I feel like all I do is work at home and work at work. It is so hard to break out of my normal routine and step outside all of my many "to do's" and just relax. So I put together this list of 20 things you can do if you're stuck in a rut or bored with the same old same old. You may look at the list and think you would never do these things, but that's the point, try stuff you wouldn't normally do.

1. Learn a new skill - try checking out YouTube for things like, how to refinish furniture, make your own curtains, cut hair, give yourself a great manicure, make fresh salsa, knit a scarf. I took an online photography course and loved it!

2. Read a Book - well, I love to read but it's a great way to get immersed in something other than the
day to day of your own life. Maybe join an online book club. If you only read fiction, try a biography, etc.

3. Sign up for a 5K - you don't have to run it, just walk it. Enlist a friend or just do it on your own. Nothing better than the feeling of crossing the finish line!

4. Cook for Yourself - pick your favorite meal you order out and try to replicate it. You can find a million variations online for any recipe. Experiment and master one great meal as your signature dish or dessert. Set the table really nicely and enjoy!

5. Drive a Different Way to Work - give yourself a few extra minutes and take the scenic route. Try to make your morning drive relaxing by stopping for your favorite coffee, play your favorite songs and go the long way around!

6. Organize Something - if you avoid your kitchen "junk" drawer because it's so jam packed with clutter, commit to cleaning it out. Get some dividers, etc and make it look pretty and clean. We all function better when we're organized and neat.

7. Rearrange Your Furniture - if you can't really move any furniture, buy new throw pillows, pictures, tablecloth, etc. Sometimes we don't even realize how dated something is until we make a purposeful change.

8. Add Something Healthy - add one healthy habit to your routine. Do you take a multi-vitamin, drink water, eat fruit, eat veggies? It always feels good to treat yourself well. You don't need to go on a massive health kick, just start small.

9. Analyze What's Bugging You - think about something that's driving you crazy and make a list of ways to solve it. For example, maybe your mornings are crazy. If you write down what is slowing your mornings down, you are more able to see the solution and fix it.

10. Schedule an Appointment with Yourself - if you're like me, you feel guilty just doing nothing. Everyone needs time to recharge and relax. Even if this time is from 7:00 - 7:20 am on Saturday mornings drinking coffee, claim it.

11. Take an Inventory - on a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. On one side, list all of the major achievements you've accomplished in your life. On the other side, write your future goals. You might be surprised to see all of the things you've already done and you'll realize your future goals are much more realistic.

12. Discover a New Place - I lived in my town for 11 years before I actually walked along the long trail that winds along the large lake in our downtown. It was packed with people enjoying the beautiful weather and view. Now I look forward to my trips there with the Peanuts. What does your town offer you've never experienced?

13. Get a Part Time Job - sounds crazy and exhausting but if you have time and energy, it could be a fresh new experience. A job isn't nearly so stressful when it's purely elective. You'll stay busy, meet new people and get paid! If you can't do that, find a few hours to volunteer. It always feels great to help someone else.

14. Cultivate a Friendship - make an effort to turn a pretty good acquaintance into a really great friend. Schedule a lunch, go for a walk, give them a ring.

15. Finish this Sentence - take a piece of paper and write this down, "I want to be a better..." and fill in the blank. Now figure out how to do it. Do you want to be a better employee, wife, mother, cook, cleaner, singer, artist, teacher? Whatever it is, there are tons of how to books online and demonstrations on YouTube. If you still can't find what you're looking for, model someone who is already successful in your goals.

16. No Matter What, Do the Worst First - taking out the trash in the evening, returning emails at work, creating that big monthly report, exercising? No matter what it is, do the thing you dislike the most first. You'll feel better it's done and the rest of your tasks will be a breeze.

17. Buy a New Outfit - well we all know this will get you out of a rut!

18. Let Someone Else Pick - if you're married, let your husband pick what you're doing the next date night. Maybe it's a movie you would have never agreed to, mini golf, fishing, watching football. If you're not married, tell your friend to pick something to do on a girl's day out.

19. Get Yourself a Theme Song - I have iTunes on my computer and if I'm having a particularly hard day, I'll play U2's Beautiful Day or Michael Buble's Haven't Met You Yet. They both signal to me to shift my mood and snap out of it! Your theme song can be anything at all; just whatever you like.

20. Make Your Home a Haven - write down all of your affordable favorite things. This could include, flavored coffee, fuzzy slippers, scented lotion, milano cookies, a special mug, a pretty eyeglass case, etc. Now pick a few of those things and have them accessible. When you get home from work or put the kids to bed, grab your special slippers, a drink in your favorite mug, etc. and enjoy your creature comforts. They help us relax and regroup and it's important to have the things you enjoy around you.

Hopefully you'll find something you can use in the list to help you next time you find yourself in a rut :)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Going on a Bear Hunt Activity for Kids

I am constantly trying to come up with new ways to keep the Peanuts busy so here is an activity I recently came up with. They love the book, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. It has a lot of repetition and the kids love it. I figured this activity would be a great way to have them problem solve together and also have Emerson practice her reading.

Here's what I did:

I found 2 brand new teddies at a yard sale the other week. I find lots of good stuff, but I don't always give it to my kids right away. I hung onto these and they worked perfectly for this activity.

Here is a picture of the bears I bought for $1.00 each. I was so lucky they had 2!

I wanted to create an actual "Bear Hunt" in our house for the Peanuts to find the hidden bears. This will definitely keep them busy for awhile!  

First, I created a Wanted poster showing a picture of one of the bears and a brief description. 

If you don't use Photoshop, you can just do a simple line drawing or download the generic one I made below:


Finally, I made some clue cards for the kids to take on their hunt to find the teddies. Below is the one I made, but you could just hand write your own on basic notecards. I made the clues sequential. The first clue was, "Where do you take a bath?" then place your next card in that location (the bathtub). The next clue might be, "Where does Daddy keep his keys?" and so on. 

So the Peanuts set off on their Bear Hunt with the poster and first clue in hand. It went great because Emmy practiced her reading with the clues and they found each new clue together. They ended the hunt with 2 new teddies and they loved working together to find them!