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Thursday, January 29, 2015

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Library Letters & Kindness Challenge!

Our library letters had two parts: one anonymous set of notes and one hand-delivered!

This is the last time I plan to post about the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge!  If this is the first you've heard about it, be sure to check out our Kindness Quotes Printable and the Kindness Tree!

Inspired by #7 on this list of 100 Acts of Kindness for Kids, we decided to leave notes in our library books AND write notes for our librarians.  We don't know the librarians very well and we definitely don't know who will get our books after we're done with them, so this was a chance for our kiddos to safely be kind to strangers.

It also ended up being serious fine motor exercise!

At first they were a little anxious about the idea, but as soon as we started everyone was very excited!  Since most of our kids don't write, I cut out hearts and wrote a brief note on them.  Our preschoolers decorated with stickers and markers.  My older daughter wrote her own note.

Everyone had fun "hiding" the notes in our library books and returning them to the library.  We also had a lot of fun handing the librarians their own personal Valentine.  Super fun.  Super kind.  Lots of happy feelings!

Are you joining in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge?  There's still time!  It's totally worth the effort!  By far, my favorite part is when one of my kids wants to complain or argue and I say, "This is an opportunity for you to be kind."  And the best part: they always rise to the occasion!  Every time!  It has been wonderful to watch them analyze their behavior and fix it on the spot.  If you haven't committed to the challenge, I would encourage you to join or even just mark a week or month to work on kindness.  You will notice a change in the "atmosphere" when you start to focus on kindness, and it is a wonderful change!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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LEGO or Mega Blok Groundhog Day Graphing

Use this graphing activity with LEGOS or Mega Bloks to add a little math fun into your Groundhog Day learning celebrations!

We kicked off our Groundhog Day Festivities this week with a fun (and healthy!) Groundhog Day Snack and this little math challenge!  The kids will be "interviewing" everyone who comes over (or that they call on the phone) to find out if they think the groundhog will see his shadow on Monday.  Once they find out each person's prediction, they mark it on the predictions graph!

We made our predictions graph with Mega Bloks.  I love this Valentines Graph and knew we wanted to make the graph with little bricks, and I am so happy with how it turned out!

You can make one too!  It's super easy, and you can use LEGOS, Mega Bloks, or any other building bricks!

Use a big piece for a background.  Secure the labels (title, "yes," and "no") with little bricks.  Make "tracks" for each bar on the bar graph by using pieces that are the same width as your bricks and long enough for 5-10 bricks to be placed on it.  Arrange the pieces as pictured below (just don't add any bricks...we already had six predictions when I took this picture!):

Then let your kiddos get to work!  My kids have had a ton of fun interviewing each other and everyone who visits.  They've even called their grandparents to see what they think, and they are super excited to find out if the groundhog actually sees his shadown on Monday!

This would also work great with a class--each kiddo could place their own prediction in the right column!

Are you celebrating Groundhog Day?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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Healthy Groundhog Day Treat!

We have been on a healthy food (and low sugar) journey for the last year, so I am very happy to bring you my healthy low-sugar Groundhog Day snack!

This snack is just as much fun as the more common chocolate-pudding-and-graham-cracker treats, but has far less sugar and (depending on what brand you purchase!) includes loads of good things like whole grains, probiotics, and more!

Here's the easy how-to:

1- Mix pineapple and plain/vanilla flavored yogurt with green food coloring to make the hill of grass.

2- Cut the groundhog out of a tortilla.  Pipe the features on with black frosting (yep, there's the sugar...it's not a lot though!).  You can pipe yogurt on for white teeth.

3- If needed, use a toothpick to support the groundhog in his hill!

What kind of Groundhog Day plans do you have?  I'd love to see!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

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Exploding Hearts Valentines Preschool Science Experiment

I know, I know...another exploding hearts Valentines science experiment?!!

Well...yes!  Valentines is coming up and my preschoolers love fire, explosions, heat, eruptions, and anything else related to those reactions!  Click here or here  or here to see some of our other "exploding" and erupting experiments!

And our exploding hearts go along perfectly with The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond:

{Amazon affiliate links below}

So, read the story, grab some hearts, and let's head to our kitchen laboratory!

To make your own exploding hearts, you'll need these

Simple Supplies:

* marshmallow hearts

* microwave safe dishes

* microwave

Easy How To:

1- Set your marshmallow heart on a plate.  Give it lots of room!  You can make your own hearts by pinching and cutting normal marshmallows or buy these from Amazon {Heart Shaped Marshmallows} or at a grocery store!

2- Put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, and watch it expand!

What's going on?

Marshmallows are simply packages of sugar and water surrounding air bubbles.  The microwaves make the water and air expand while the sugar holds it all together...until it gets too hot and the sugar cooks!

Talking about cooking the sugar in the marshmallows made my kiddos want to cook it on purpose!  So we tried cooking them in a frying pan (not so successful!) and we tried...

roasting the heart marshmallows!!

Personally, I like my marshmallows gently toasted, but my kiddos thought this was pretty awesome!

This post is part of the Poppins Book Nook!

The theme this month is To The Laboratory!  For more fun "lab" ideas, be sure to check out the other Poppins Book Nook Hosts:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~ Simple Living Mama

Also, be sure to pop on over to Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for an AWESOME giveaway!!

Do you have blog post that fits the To The Laboratory! theme?  If so, link it up here!  We'd love to check it out!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Friday, January 23, 2015


Secret Valentines Service and Kindness Tree!

Our Secret Valentines Service project has officially begun AND we are super excited to be celebrating our acts of kindness with a Kindness Tree!

Let's start at the beginning.  Toddler Approved and Coffee Cups & Crayons are inviting everyone to take the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge, where you perform 100 acts of kindness before Valentine's Day.  When I heard about this challenge I knew it was something that I wanted to focus on during the next three weeks.  When we spend time focusing on kindness, the entire atmosphere in our homes and schools changes.  It is a beautiful thing, and I am already excited about it!

Maybe your kiddos don't have this problem, but when I encourage our little team to clean up, I often hear things like, "But I didn't make this mess."  or "Jenny isn't cleaning!"  I want my children to feel so blessed and to know what a rich life they have that they are happy and (dare I say...even) eager to help each other out with little things like cleaning.  They love to help each other with big things.  They do.  They love each other.  But they need some extra motivation to help with the little things.

So one morning I spent about fifteen minutes cutting out little hearts...

and another twenty minutes building a construction-paper tree.

Then I gathered I team for "school time."  We marked the calendar and said the pledge, and then I told them about our Special Project.

They were already curious about the tree and the hearts, so when I started explaining the Kindness Tree they paid perfect attention.

I told them that we had 100 HEARTS to put on the Kindness Tree.  The only way to get a heart was to do something kind!  This week, we're going to especially work on Secret Valentine's Service, where you do something kind for someone without telling them!  After you do your kind deed, you can tape a heart onto the Kindness Tree!  

What kind of Secret Valentines Service can you do?  We talked about putting away someone's jacket or shoes when they were forgotten on the floor, putting up someone's nap mat or blanket, doing the dishes by yourself (or without being asked!), drawing a picture for someone, making sure the toilet paper was stocked in the bathroom, clearing the table after a meal, pulling out plates or spoons for a meal, turning the "white noise" off after everyone wakes up, and throwing trash away that's left on the floor or counter.

While we were talking, my 4-year old jumped up, grabbed his sister's sandals, and ran and put them away.  He came back grinning.  He got to put the first heart on:

At this point everyone was very excited.  They all jumped up and ran to see what kinds of things they could find to do!

Within 10 minutes, our Kindness Tree had eight hearts on it!

The kids are still excited!  We're planning a Kindness Celebration for when we get all 100 acts of kindness done...I'm actually hoping we get there before Valentine's!  

The hearts are sitting in a lovely basket on a prominent shelf as a reminder.  Of course, the tree is a fantastic reminder too!  This week we are working on secret Valentine service, but they can get a heart for anything kind.  As Kristina has said, "No act is too small!"

I also have a mini-poster full of quotes about kindness from Dr. Martin Luther King jr. displayed in our kitchen so my daughter who reads (and who may actually benefit the most) sees it every time we eat.  

I would LOVE to have you join us in this little adventure!  It is the perfect way to celebrate the Valentine's season and teach a meaningful and useful virtue.  

I simply cut our hearts out of construction paper, but if you'd rather print them you can click here to get a set of printable Secret Valentines Service Hearts!

Also, be sure you visit Toddler Approved and join their email list.  Kristina will send you an email every day with kindness ideas and challenges!  You will love it!

Sooooo.... are you in?!!  We are!!  Next week I'll be sharing one more fun way we're spreading kindness!  I can't wait!!

I may share at any of these parties!

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Thursday, January 22, 2015


Valentines Science: Fizzy Exploding Hearts

If you haven't tried these fizzy exploding hearts, grab your kiddos and get ready for a new favorite activity!


We first fell in love with this type of small-scale "explosion" a couple years ago when we used the same concept to make Fizzing Shamrocks.  We adapted it ever so slightly this year to make these fizzy hearts!

You can make your own fizzy exploding hearts too!  It takes virtually no set up, just gather these supplies, your children, and get started!

Simple Supplies:

* paper
* glue
* baking soda
* vinegar
* cups
* food coloring
* pipettes

(The pipettes are optional, but they are the best tool we've used...and they make a great fine motor exercise!  We've also used straws and spoons.)

Easy How To:

1- Pour the vinegar into cups and let your kiddos add food coloring.  We chose red and blue this year.

2- Squirt the glue onto your paper in heart shapes!

3- Dump baking soda on the hearts.  Some baking soda will stick to the hearts.  Pour the "extra" baking soda off onto another paper to use again.

4- Use the pipettes to squirt colored vinegar onto your baking soda hearts!  Enjoy the fizzy explosions!

Kids of all ages love this science activity!  While you're making your colorful explosions, you can talk about color mixing and reactions.  You can ask your young kiddos what they think will happen (Can you make a hypothesis?) and whether they were right or not.  Older children can also talk about and experiment with different glues and different acids and bases!

And if you enjoy fizzy science, be sure to check out some of our other popular fizzing classics: Sparkly Explosion, Love Potions, Fizzing Dinosaur Eggs, and Fizzy Snow Dough!

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I may share at any of these parties!

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