Tuesday, July 7, 2015

15 Fun Ways to Work on Letters and Sight Words

My daughter finished Kindergarten this Spring and her teacher advised us to work on sight words every day this summer so she doesn't forget everything.  We prefer to spend our time outdoors playing in the sunshine, so this seems a little daunting.  However, I know it's important, especially since we will be moving to a new school next Fall, so I made a list of all the fun ways we have worked on letters in the past.  I hope this will help you this summer too! 

  1. Egg Hunt for Letters and Sight Words - Write words or letters on small pieces of paper and leave place them in eggs for a fun hunt!

  2. Make Letters with this Easy Home-made Play-Dough
  3. Write letters to friends or family or create a Pen-Pal
  4. Matching Game - Write letters on several different sheets of paper.  Use Play-Dough to create shapes and then ask your child to match each shape to the correct letter.  Such as matching "Star" to "S".  Have your child physically place each shape on the correct letter.
  5. ABC Activity Using Dot Markers 
  6. Rock Letters
  7. Hunting in sand for letters
  8. Using glue and Christmas sprinkles for fun sensory letters and words
  9. Letters with Home-Made Puff Paint
  10. Play Bingo, either by making your own, or buy this cheap one from Amazon!
  11. Play Scrabble Junior - It's a lot more fun than than we thought it would be!
  12. Do "Homework".  Make letters on a page and have them circle each letter as you say it (This works especially well if kids have an older sibling and you can tell them they are doing "homework")

  13. Cut out objects from a magazine and spread them on the table.  Tell your child to pick out every object that start with "s", and so on.
  14. Letter Tree - Make a large tree and make sight words on "leaves".  Have your child glue the sight words to the tree and let them hang it in their room so they can see it often.

For more ideas on engaging your children and keeping them busy, please consider buying my book, co-written by an amazing Kindergarten Teacher! We give you lots of fun ideas on ways to work on fine motor skills, reading, math, science, and lots more.   The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The 10 things my kids say all day (every day)

Well, it's 4th of July week and I'm guessing that most of you are off enjoying fireworks, BBQ, and sunshine.  In honor of that, I will keep my post short this week, since you have far more important things to do.

I thought it would be fun to do a round up of the most common phrases I hear all day...I suspect they are similar to what you hear in your own house.  Do me a favor, and tell me what are some things your kids say to you all day long too!

1.  Please Mom, can I have just one more chance?
2.  Please Mom, can't you wipe me just this once?  I'll do it next time, I promise! 
3.  Mom, can you find me the bug jar?  I found another roly-poly!
4.  Mommy, I'm hungry!  Can I have something to eat?
5.  Please Mom, I PROMISE I won't do it again!
6.  But Mom, he/she started it!
7.  But Mom, why????
8.  Can I play a game on your phone?
9.  Just one more minute?
10.  Mom, do I really have to take a rest today?
So, Happy 4th of July!  I hope you have some wonderful family time!  

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Super Yummy Stuffed Zucchini

As you might have read, after 10 years of struggling in the kitchen, I have finally turned things around!  And here is one of my husband's favorites!

Stuffed Zucchini
2 or 3 Large Zucchini
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
4 slices Turkey Bacon (or regular, your choice)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Set oven to 400
2.  Cut zucchini in half and scoop out zucchini flesh.  I have tried this several ways.  I tried using a melon-baller.  I tried using a spoon.  The best and fastest way is to use a steak knife and carefully cut out the flesh.  Every other way is just too slow for me.
3.  Cook the bacon (I prefer microwave)
4.  Chop the flesh and place the shells into a 9x13 Pyrex, sprayed with Pam
5.  Melt the butter and add the zucchini.  Cook for 3-5 minutes and add onions.
6.  Continue cooking for another few minutes, until tender.
7.  Meanwhile, cut up the bacon and tomato
8.  Add the bacon and tomato to the pan and cook for 1 minute
9.  Pour all ingredients in a bowl, along with bread crumbs, cheese, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a little extra zing (we like things spicy)
10.  Fill zucchini shells and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Tip: You can prepare this early in the day and cover with foil until you are ready to cook.  I paired this with pork tenderloin and it was a great meal!

Totally unrelated to cooking, but here is my book!  It is written by both a Mom (me) and a Teacher, and we give lots of ideas on ways to stimulate your child's brain with easy, fun activities, which also free you up to do things you need to do, like cooking!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Terrible Twos? It Could be Gut Bacteria!

People never used to believe me when I told them that my son cried all the time, but he really did.  And I mean, All. The. Time.  One time he wanted to play with one of my shoes.  I politely took it away and he began throwing a fit.  And he proceeded to throw a fit for 65 minutes.  I know because I counted the minutes.  He followed me around the house, crying for an entire 65 minutes.  

Several months later we went on a trip and we didn't have access to a refrigerator and in an attempt to save money, I ordered water instead of milk for the kids for several meals.  All of a sudden, I noticed a different kid.  He didn't cry all the time.  He suddenly had normal, non-runny poops, and it began to occur to me that he might be lactose intolerant.  My husband thought I was crazy, but when I brought it up with my doctor, he immediately recommended we get him tested and voila!  We suddenly had to worry about Lactaid pills, butter-filled desserts, and pizza nights, but the great news was that life was so much better for our entire family!  My heart broke for him when I realized how uncomfortable he must have been those first two years of his life.  Along with taking away milk products, we started a daily Probiotic treatment and the combination made all the difference.

While lactose intolerance is pretty rare in kids, general stomach discomfort isn't.  Some new research just came out from Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science, that the microbiome of a toddler's gut may affect his temperament and behavior, particularly in boys.  The study carefully points out that there is a communication between bacteria in the gut and the brain, but also urges parents not to change diets just yet since they are continuing their research on the subject.  However, based on my experience, if your toddler is going through anything like the "Terrible Two's", I suggest that you strongly consider starting Probiotics.  It might make all the difference.  

Here is our favorite Probiotic Brand:

I hope you will consider checking out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  I give lots of ideas on keeping your toddlers and preschoolers entertained and engaged, so that you can have a stronger bond and even get some work done around the house!

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