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Friday, May 28, 2010

FREE Dinosaur Flashcards!

Happy Friday!

I though I would share some of the flashcards that I have made for the girls! This particular batch is dinosaurs (and a few other prehistoric animals). They are nothing special - just images from various sources on the web with the name of the dinosaur added on the bottom. I have been making a second set of cards to attach to the back with various facts about each dinosaur, but that's mighty slow going, so these will have to do for now!

A few points of interest:

- You don't have to have the text! I left the files in a format that is editable so you can take the text off if it suits your purpose better.

- There are a LOT of files. Well, only 11, but that could be seen as a lot. I had to do it this way to save my pitifully slow computer from crashing.

- I'm sometimes lazy (see, I even used "I'm instead of "I am", which saves me only one character if you include spaces! But...then I wrote this loooong explanation of how I was being lazy, so does it still apply...hmmm...?). As a result, I haven't converted the photos from their original format. This is not only due to laziness, but also because I didn't want to muck up the formatting. Soooo...if you really love dinosaurs and you want some free flashcards as a symbol of that love, you'll have to download Open Office here. It is also free and WAY better than Word, in my opinion.

As an aside, we found an AWESOME book this week - DK's my first animal lift-the-flap beard book. Of course, I love everything ever published by DK, I think but for us at this very moment in time, this one is a winner. Little L was totally excited to lift every flap and Little V was mesmerized by all of the real life pictures. She, at 3 months, even smiled and "talked" every time I lifted a flap! You should really check it out!


Oh yeah...back to what I was saying - Dino Cards! Download them here!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homemade Deoderant vs. Deoderant Crystal

So, recently I've been growing more and more concern with the ingredients in ladies anti-perspiration. If you're interested in why, this is a good place to start. The best solution, I though, would be to make my own homemade deodorant (that, by the way, is my default solution for everything, "I'll just make my own!"). For homemade deodorant:


What You Need:


5tsp cocoa butter (you can instead use 2 cocoa and 3 shea butter)
3 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
Old deodorant container

What You Do:

1) Melt coacoa butter in microwave at 20 second intervals.

2) Stir in baking soda and corstarch.

3) Pour into old deoderant container.

4) Leave to set in fridge.

Notes:

- This was a risky project. If it hadn't worked, I would have ended up smelling like a sweaty chocolate factory...eeewww...

- Even though all of these ingredients are edible, I wouldn't suggest tasting this mixture. Curiousity killed the cat...or at least my taste buds. 

- Take it from me, use the old deodorant container. You could just pour it into a small tub (which is what I did in the begging because I was too lazy to wash a deodorant container) but then you will be chipping away at your deodorant in order to get a piece to use each morning. Eventually, you will break down and re-melt it and put it into the deodorant container anyway, so you might as well start there!
Now, after using my homemade deodorant with much success for a couple of weeks, we chanced upon a mini deodorant crystal at the Dollarama (good find, Hubby!!). It claims to be free of all of the scary ingredients I am trying to avoid, so I though I would pick it up and give it a try. Much to my surprise, it too works like a charm!

So, here is my comparison of the two:

Odor Fighting Power 
Both have been tested in many conditions, including a Salsa class in which I dance in a non-air conditioned room with two babies strapped to me.
Homemade - 7/10 - Lasts about 12 hours before you would want to replenish
Crystal - 9.5/10 - Lasts 24+ hours and in extreme conditions (to my surprise). I was out salsa dancing and then playing in the 39 Celsius heat, where a black shirt and was still okay!

Scent
Homemade - Smells like cocoa butter. This, for me, is a plus. I like deodorant with some sort of scent. It somehow makes me fell like even if I was smelly, it would hide it a bit...
Crystal - Completely unscented. For those who are sensitive to scents, this would be a plus.

Ingredients
Homemade - I know what goes into it and I can use all 100% natural food-grade ingredients. I feel 100% safe wearing it. 
Crystal - Even though it says that it doesn't have anything sketchy in it, I have trouble believing it. Because the ingredients on bath and beauty products do not have to be listed, I'll never know for sure...

Ease of Use
Homemade - In the used deodorant container, the homemade is very easy to apply. You can put it in your purse and take it anywhere and use it just like regular deodorant.
Crystal - Has to be wet with warm water to apply, therefore making it hard to use anywhere but your bathroom.

My Personal Preference:
Based on this criteria, I can say that I am more comfortable wearing the homemade deodorant because I know what's in it and I like the smell. The crystal, however, lasts a lot longer. I would be most likely to carry the homemade in my purse for regular application and use the crystal when I know I will be out for a really long time or doing strenuous activity. 

So, no more poison deodorant for us! Yippee!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tot School Week One and Goals

To School Week One Overview: Little L - 16m, Little V - 3m

Well, our first "official" week of Tot School was at least a semi-success. We do a lot of learning on a regular basis, even by mistake, but this week we were somewhat intentional about it (we have been other weeks in the past as well). The biggest accomplishment was our farm totbook, most of which was downloaded here at 1+1+1=1. I also added some extras that weren't in their download pack.

I did put together the actual book but I'm not sure how much I like it. The size is a bit large, so I think I might make it a bit smaller in size by having it fold in on itself or something to that effect. I would like our books to be super-portable to we can take them along to our play dates. In the meantime, here's a preview of some of the components.

"On the Farm" printable book, tractor size sequencing, animal numbers, farm puzzle, animal match, heads and tails match.

Who's My Mommy Match cards, farm animal flash cards, vegetable flash cards, farm ending sounds worksheet.

There is more in the totbook, but I will do a dedicated post just for that when we're all done making it.

Here are some action shots of our farm week for Little L:

One of the tot book printables from 1+1+1=1 - the heads and tails match. In using this with Little L, I simply showed her one half and gave her two options for matching the other half.


Tractor size sequencing - another printable from 1+1+1=1. For this activity I took two tractors and asked which one was bigger or smaller. We did this several times and then we put them in order.


We love our DK flash cards! There happen to be a lot of farm animals and objects throughout the card sets that we have (including a whole farm set) to we just sorted through and picked them all out for farm week.


Little L loves board puzzles and is starting to get really good at getting the pieces into the holes on her own.


In the world of my little girl, everything has the potential to be a hat - here is the proof!


We also practiced some motor skills, including going up and down stairs and putting a necklace on and taking it off (and putting on Mommy and taking it off).


Some of our other activities included lots of books, a very sucessful potty day with two stickers on her potty chart (we aim for one a day), a nice nature walk where we learned about different types of flowers, writing practice on the magnadoodle, name recognition practice, playing of musical instruments, coloring animals that will go in a minibook for our lap book, and much more.

As for Little V:

We had lots of sisterly love...


...including some flashcard fun. every time I show a flashcard to little L she says, "Show?" and wants to show it to her baby sister. How sweet!

Mommy also showed Little V cards, including farm animals and vegetables.



We read books, including Henry Horse, on in a set of four "Noisy Carry-Along" books. This was another fabulous Dollar Store find for us.

This week, Little V also began working on the ancient art of teddy bear wrestling.

We also did lots of singing and dancing, worked on our colours, practised body parts, and so on...

One of my very favourite times this week was listening to traditional music from around the world. Little V was excited to show her appreciation by "singing" through all of it. Little L, because we've all been going to Salsa Babies classes, wanted to "Cha Chach" to all of it. Have you ever tried doing the Cha Cha to traditional Chinese music?? Picture that for a moment, if you will.

Anywho...because we didn't get done everything I wanted to get done, I have decided to extend our farm unit into next week. Because it will perhaps make me accountable, I will make a record here and now of the things I intend to do with the girls next week.

- Rubber duck size sequencing
- Farm shape sorter
- Cotton ball sheep
- Baa baa black sheep painting
- Rooster painting
- Tot book animal colouring (we've done some of this but will finish)
- Heads and tails match (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm counting cards ((we did this last week but will continue)
- Animal match cards (find the friend, memory)
- Who's my Mommy cards
- Farm maze (a very simple maze that I printed and laminated. We follwe the path with our finger)
- Farm shadow match (laminated worksheet, we make the matches with our finger)
- Farm ending consonant worksheet (laminated worksheet - we point to the correct letter)
- Tractor sequencing (we did this last week but will continue)
- Vegetable flash cards (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm animal flash cards (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm board puzzle (we did this last week but will continue)
- Youtube farm videos (because we are unfortunately unlikely to make it to a farm this week...maybe though...)
- Farm songs multiple languages (Oh, Youtube, don;t let me down!)
- Chinese animal cards (Little L was born in China, so we try to keep up her Chinese)
- Chinese fruit and veg cards
- Farm animal sound match (I will play the actual animal sound Little L will match it to a photo
- Online farm games

I would also like to make sure we get in some of their other stuff (letter, rhythm and pitch practice, dot cards, etc.). I am seriously considering implementing some kind of workbox style system not because Little L needs it, but because I do to keep myself on track!

So...into week to of our farm study we go!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Garbage Turned ABC I Spy Game - Tutorial

I remember (and my Mommy likes to remind me) how, when I was a tot myself, I use to try to hoard every piece of garbage I could find - used popsicle sticks from the ground outside, old Smartie boxes, etc. My plan, it seems, was to keep it so that later I could make a "cwaft" (translation: craft) with it. Gradually that habit faded, but I am here to report a strange phenomenon...as soon as I had children, it returned!! I now find myself collecting garbage and keeping it in an old box for later. I tell my husband that I plan to make things for the girls with this garbage. He probably thinks I'm nuts and has nightmares about us ending up on "Hoarders". You see, though, I really do have plans for each and every thing I keep!

So when we ate our mini chocolate Easter bunnies, I saw potential in the package. I started getting visions. Here is my idea come to life. This, however is only version 1.0. Look for a much better updated version soon!



What You Need:

- An old chocolate Easter Bunny (or Santa, or Cupid, or...) box with a clear plastic window
- Beads (and rice when you're making crummy version 1.0)
- Alphabet confetti
- Glue gun and glue


What You Do:

1) Painstakingly sort though your alphabet confetti until you find letters A-Z. My confetti also had numbers, so I added a 1-9 as well.
I bought my alphabet letters at Dollarama for $1. I have, however, seen similar packages at dollar stores in the U.S.A. for 2/$1.

2) Pour one tube of beads and some rice (or 2 tubes of beads and no rice if you want it to look shiny and pretty like it will in version 2.0) into the box and add in your sorted out letters and/or numbers.
I didn't buy enough beads, thinking that one tube would suit my purpose - I was wrong. I used rice for filler until I can make a better version.


3) Glue the top back together.

4) At this point you could cover the cardboard with a paper or fabric of your choice, which I will likely do in version 2.0 but, for now, the bunny adds character...right?

5) Shake to find each letter of the alphabet!

Pretty simple but, hey, it's fun!


And the moral of this story? Everything has potential!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

$1 Learning Games - Tutorial

Okay, I've got one for you...What do you do when you see some really cool, funky, kiddy placemats at the Dollarama? Why, make them into a learning game, of course!



What You Need:

2 of the same plastic placemats (2/$1 at Dollarama)
Scissors

This is the style of placemat you're looking for - something with individual sections.

Really, that's all you need to make a game!


What You Do:

1) Cut out the individual sections of your dollar store placemats.


If you don't have a toddler who likes to flail things about (making corners a serious blinding hazard) that could be the end. However, in our house, we move on to step 2...

2) Round off the edges of each section!


This is also a good time to make all of the cards a uniform size. On these particular mats, the end pictures are a tad smaller than the rest. Take one of those, round off it's corners first, and then sit it on top of the others as a template while you cut.

We stop here but if you want to use this as an upside-down flip-the-tile style classic memory game, you won't be able to - you can see the graphic through the back. So, if you have older children and want to use them in this way, or if you just want your cards to be cool and pretty, please proceed to step three...

3) Use one of the cards as a template to cut out enough pieces of felt to cover the back of each card.


In this house, we don't discriminate based on geometrical shape, so feel free to choose circles for your game!



Now, so things you could do with these cards:

1) Play a beginner visual discrimination game - Choose a card. Lay out two more cards (one being the match) and ask your little one to find the matching card. As they master this level, work up to three or more cards for them to choose from.

2) Play the classic tile flipping memory match. You can start with only four cards for we ones and work up the size of your grid from there.

3) Talk about the colours on the different cards.

4) Talk about the animals on the different cards.

5) Use them for following instructions ("Billy, bring me the blue card with the green frog, please.").

6) Use four placemats and use them for a go fish style game.

What else? It's your turn! Give me some great, creative ideas on how these cards could be used!


Now, for the mandatory baby-showing of the day. After a wonderful visit today with our six awesome cousins and an Auntie we love very much:


Little L concentrating very hard on drawing with her sidewalk chalk. She is sporting a hat that is perched precariously on her head because it no longer actually fits...

Little V ready for a day out on the town!

Don't forget to leave a comment and tell me, how would you use these cards? If you can give me a really cool idea, and you don't have a good dollar store in your area, I might even be incline to mail one lucky person a set!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Headband Tutorial...and "Rawps"


As promised, tonight I will be posting a tutorial for the flower headband I made last night (in case anyone is wondering, it fits best on the head of Little V, the smallest of the heads).

I really wanted to make this a nice, fancy tutorial where I go into Photoshop and put the text right on the photos (...ooohhh...aaaahhh...).Unfortunately, Photoshop would never even think of working on my machine and hubby's is all the way downstairs! I will put up my extremely cruddy photos for the time being and if anyone is really that interested, I might take better photos when I make the next one for Little L and if you're really interested, I'll even take the time to go all the way downstairs to add instructional text.

Now, on with the show!


What You Need:

1 nylon knee high (I suppose you could use a recycled one, but that thought makes me go, "Eeeewwww")
Scissors
Needle
Thread matching nylon color (or kinda matching, if your a little short on thread colours, like me)
Artificial flower
Glue gun and glue sticks
Hair clip (the name of the type eludes me at the moment - fill me in if you know)


What You Do:

1) Cut the toe and the top band (what is that called?) off of a the knee-high.

2) Cut the nylon in half vertically and the band in half horizontally so that you are left with this (plus one more "half band" which somehow didn't make it into the photo):


3) Sew the open side of the half band and the half nylon together by hand (if your a crazy sewing machine deprived freak, like me) of with a sewing machine. Turn each piece inside out. You will have something that looks like this:


4) Loop the small band around the large band and sew the ends of the small band together.

5) Sew the ends of the large band together resulting in this:

5) Snip a blossom off a bouquet of artificial flowers and glue to the hair clip (I added a leaf too). Then, clip the clip to the small band.



6) Find the only model in your house that is not asleep and snap away! (Doesn't "Sweater Bear" look dashing?)


So, there you have it - my very first tutorial. Yes, I've read it over, yes I realise that it doesn't make perfect sense, and yes, I'm posting it anyway! If you have questions, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to clarify.

Now, a couple of my favorite shots from today because I can't resist. This is also how I ensure that my blog has at least on regular reader - my Mom!


Little L after discovering that throwing her ball onto the slide would result in it rolling back.

Little L off in the corner of of the yard "discovering" while yelling back to us "Rawp! Rawp!"

Little V resting after a long hard day of Salsa dancing and playing.

Goodnight, all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tot Links and a Preview...

It's only Tuesday and already I feel like I've had such a productive week! The girls and I have been working on a farm theme this week including a heads and tails matching game, tractor sequencing, beginner maze where a little lost chick finds it's family, lots of great farm books, a lap book, and lots lots more! It so wonderful to see Little L trying to teach her baby sister everything she knows!

I've also managed to make a flower headband for whichever baby it happens to fit (they were both sleeping when I made it and I hadn't pre-measured heads). Tomorrow, once I find the cord that allows me to upload my pictures, I will put up a tutorial.

Here's a preview of what you can expect this week...

- An overview of our official week One of "Tot School" - we've been schooling since day one, but somehow blogging about it makes it "official" in my mind...

- A tutorial on the inter-changeable flower headband

- Links to all of our farm materials used this week, including Tot Book, games, and flashcards

- Another recipe or two

But, so I don't leave you with nothing here are a couple of links to online games for the tots. You may think they are too young to be exposed to the computer, but in todays technology driven age, it's never too early! So, without further ado, here are our farm-themed favourites:

www.fun-baby-games-online.com - Watch farm animals pop up and the screen as you or your baby press the space bar.

www.toddlertoddler.com
- Watch a short video of each animal.

www.avenscorner.com - Virtual farm yard where you mouse over the amimals and the make sounds. Good for getting your little one used to using the mouse.

www.peppapig.com - Click on "Play" and then "Happy Mrs. Chicken". click on the screen to make Mrs. Chicken lay eggs and watch them hatch!

www.kneebouncers.com - This was one of Little L.'s favourites from the time she was about 3 months old. She loved bashing away at the keys and watching things happen. Not farm themed, but still a good find.

Monday, May 17, 2010

If Only I Could Remember to Take Photos and Measure...

...I could actually give you a recipe for what I made tonight and show it to you! However, I didn't put new batteries in our camera and I never measure what I'm putting in my food. But, because it was so yummy I'll do my best to share anyways!

Thai Inspired Mahi Mahi (Feeds 4)
(Mahi Mahi could be substituted with any white fish)

Ingredients

4 Fillets

Ground ginger
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Ground turmeric
Cilantro
Red chili's or cayenne (optional)

1/2 Red Pepper
1/2 Yellow Pepper
1/2 Onion
3 Rings on canned pineapple, finely chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped

Olive oil
Soy Sauce
Pineapple juice

Directions

1) Season fish with mix of ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, cilantro, and chili/cayenne. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min.

2) While fish is baking, sauté onions and peppers in a small amount of olive oil with a few dashes of soy sauce (maybe 2 teaspoons), pineapple juice (roughly 1/4c), a mix of garlic powder, ginger, onion powder, and turmeric. When vegetables are soft, add pineapple and cilantro (about 1 teaspoon).

3) Cover baked fish with sauce and serve.


So, it may not be perfect (ya' know, with the lack of accurate measurements and all), but it was yummy and it definitely husband-approved. It was pretty too - maybe next time I'll remember the camera!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jumping Right In!

Today (of course at 2:30 in the morning when I definitely should be sleeping) is the day that I decide to "Jump Right In", so to speak, and stop sitting on the sidelines of Blogland. And why shouldn't I? Our family is interesting and had lots of great things to share with the world, right? Right...? Oh well! Even if we're not, it will make me happy to share our story...so here we go!

Right now, we're a family of four, but that is subject to chance at any time as we are planning a large family and have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. My husband is a teacher and I am the stay at home Mommy of our two beautiful little girls, ages 3 months and 16 months.



While we're waiting for Daddy to come home from work, the girls and I fill our days with homeschooling (yes, I homeschool my babies - more on this later), cooking, and playdates. In my "spare time" I'm an avid crafter. Actually, that's not true. In my head I'm an avid crafter. I have lots of brilliant ideas and wonderful thing that I would love to make but it never seems to happen. I hope to change this very soon.

My plan here is to share with the world my recipes, creative homeschooling ideas, patterns, and love for my family.

So, for anyone who is interested, here is my list of planned learning goals for "Little L" (16 months) for 2010. I'm aware that this may seem a lot for such a little lady, but she is a bright gal and is already partially through some of these goal. I also think it is important to note (mostly to appease the naysayers who think that early education means that you are trying to "force" your child into genius) that we like learning to be fun around here! We only do activities that our children are interested in and for as long as they still think they are fun.

So, with that said, watch this week for our farm unit. We chose a farm theme because we will be ending the week with a cousin's birthday, who happens to live on a horse farm! Included in this unit will be our our first ever "Tot Book" (lapbooking for the wee ones) and lots of other fun and exciting activities!

So please, keep visiting - I promise it will be fun!