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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day

One of the things I miss the most about my kids attending public school, is the looks on their faces when they'd file out carrying a gift they'd made in class just for me.

So, since Mother's Day is this Sunday, I decided to lay out the art supplies, give some general guidelines, ask the older ones to monitor and help the younger ones, print out a few overly gushy poems that I'll probably cry over when I'm old enough to have grandkids, and let them loose!

What they created made me cry...and not because of the GIANT mess they made with the glitter!

The Handprint Poem is a classic, and you can find variations of it all over the internet. Here are a few that I love:

This is the hand
You used to hold
When I was only
(fill in an age) years old.
I miss you when we're not together
I'm growing up so fast
See how big I've gotten
Since you saw me last?
As I grow, I'll change a lot,
The years will fly right by.
You'll wonder how I grew so quick -
When and where and why?
So save this print in a safe place
And take it out each year.
The memories will come back of me,
When I was small and dear.
My dirty little fingerprints
I've left on every wall,
And on the drawers and table tops,
I've really marked them all.
But here is one that won't rub off,
I'm giving it to you,
Because I'm thankful for a (mother, father, brother, sister) just like you!
Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.
But everyday I'm growing,
I'll be grown up someday,
And all these tiny handprints
Will simply fade away.
So here's a final handprint
Just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.
This is to remind you
When I have grown so tall,
That once I was quite little
And my hands were very small

This is my hand.
My hand will do
A thousand loving things for you
And you will remember
When I am tall...
That once my hand
Was just this small.
I give my hand
to you this day!
Remember me now,
as I grow and play!

Here my handprints are done
For everyone to view
I had so much fun
Doing this for you.
So look upon this handprint plaque
Hanging on your wall,
And memories will come back
Of me when I was small.

There are always so many of my fingerprints to see,
On the furniture and walls from sticky, grubby me,
But if you stop and think a while,
You'll see I'm growing fast,
Those little handprints will disappear,
You can't bring back the past.
So here's a small reminder,
To keep not throw away,
Of how those tiny hands once looked,
To make you smile one day.

Ten tiny fingers, that always want to play,
That never stop exploring that wonder of today,
Ten tiny fingers, that from the very start,
Will reach out for tomorrow yet always hold your heart.

These little hands can wave hello
Or put smudges on the wall.
They can fold in prayer,
Throw a kiss or
Reach up when I say, "so tall."
They will clasp your hand for an Autumn stroll.
Or shape a dinosaur from clay.
But most of all, they will stay with you
When I'm grown and far away.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

National Public Gardens Day

National Public Gardens Day is a national day of celebration to raise awareness of America’s public gardens and their important role in promoting environmental stewardship and awareness, plant and water conservation, and education in communities nationwide. 

This year is the third annual nationwide celebration, and it is happening this Friday, May 6, 2011! 

Better Homes and Gardens is offering FREE ADMISSION vouchers to participating botanical gardens around the country. Each voucher is good for two free admissions, and you are free to print as many as you need! For example, a family of 4, print the coupon twice; family of 3, print the coupon twice; family of two print coupon once.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Colorful Eggshells

What is this time of year without a few colorful eggshells? My kids always thrill at seeing their creations (to the point of wanting to keep special eggs under pillows…), and they are always heartbroken when the best part of the egg (its colorful wrapper) is thrown out.

This year we decided to turn those eggshells into artwork! I found coloring pages of things each of the kids were interested in (color by numbers make it more educational), had them cut and mount onto black construction paper, and set them loose. 

If you have a budding artist, you could give them a white piece of chalk and have them draw a picture directly onto the black construction paper. The darker the background, the more dramatic the final result.

Mosaic Eggshell Butterfly

 Mosaic Eggshell Turtle

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Homeschool Book Award

I just ran across the newly launched National Homeschool Book Award site, and HAD to share. The site offers a wonderful chance for kids to not only find amazing new books, but also gives them an opportunity to celebrate authors who write books that appeal to homeschoolers, and gives home schooled kids a voice.
The award program was created by a group of literature-loving homeschool moms, and they have just announced the four finalists for this year's award.

Being a part of the National Homeschool Book Award is free and simple! All you have to do is read the four books and pick your favorite in October when the voting polls open. The winner will be  announced in November. 
In the meantime, the National Homeschool Book Award blog will post information about the books and their authors, activities and more!
You can also catch them on facebook!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sprouting a Kitchen Garden.

Our kitchen windowsill becomes a makeshift greenhouse every spring as the kids and I attempt to grow various fruits and vegetables to see what happens. We have had lots of successes, and more than a few failures, but we always have fun! Here is what you will need to start your own:

Various vegetable and fruit (seeds and cuttings or whole pieces)—Drinking glasses, recycled glass jars, plastic sandwich bags, or small plant containers—Paper towels—Toothpicks—Potting soil

Sprouting beans
Lima beans are probably my favorites because they sprout very fast and grow rapidly. In order to watch them sprout, (which is always a lot of fun) wet a paper towel and slip it into a plastic sandwich baggie. Slip one lima bean in between the side of the baggie and the paper towel and close. Hang somewhere out of direct sunlight, or the bean will get too hot and cook. Check the paper towel daily and water if it appears to be drying out. In about a week, you’ll see it start to sprout!

Carrots or Parsnips
In order to get these veggies to grow into a beautiful plant, you need to cut off the top (about ½ an inch) and place the flat side down into a shallow bowl. Pour enough water to almost cover and place in a dark area for a few days until it sprouts. Move the plant into the light. Replant into larger pots with potting soil when it becomes large enough.

White or Sweet Potato
Potatoes are always fun to plant because their roots are just as interesting to watch as their leaves. Put three toothpicks into the center of your potato (medium sized works well) and hang on the opening of a drinking glass. Make sure you fill the glass with enough water so that it covers the bottom of the potato. Add fresh water each day and you should see sprouts in about a week.

Orange or Apple Seeds and Peach Pits
These kinds of seeds can be tricky to sprout and it has always been hit or miss with us, but with a little experimenting, we have found that the trick to it is to keep things consistently moist. To plant, rinse and pat dry. Fill a container with potting soil and bury seeds or pit about ½ inch into the soil. Pour in enough water to dampen the soil—be careful not to soak it.

The trick to get them to sprout is to put the entire pot into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Place the pot in a dark place until you see sprouts. Once the plant sprouts, water and place in a sunny spot. Water when dry and enjoy!  

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This week, we have been tackling probability. I have always enjoyed this area of math, so I was excited to jump right in. We have done the boring textbook lessons with the dice, spinners, and marbles, but I wanted to spice things up—what happens if you toss a coin TEN MILLION TIMES! Unfortunately for my kids, I don’t have the patience or time to find out, so to the internet we ran and—what do you know? It took a while, but we got an answer!

We were also curious about spinning a spinner a million times. My fingers aren’t strong enough to flick a teeny arrow around a circle that many times, but the computer never complains!

Why stop at spinners and coins? Pulling stuff out of sacks is always fun too and Santa’s the guy to turn to if you want a huge sack and an unlimited amount of stuff to take out of it!

After all of this fun, we decided to play Chase Me. (I lost every time!) A printable version can be found here: Tortoise and the Hare.

To round out the lesson, we strolled on over to a site offering amazing probability games for kids. We went to a fair, caught some fish, had fun with a parrot, figured out fractions at a circus, pulled things out of a bag, made predictions with cards, practiced the basics, and took a cool quiz.

Once we had our fill of the computer, we decided to find some games we could play together. Cross the Bridge is a printable game you can laminate and never get tired of playing! MathWire.com also has a bunch of great printable probability games you can laminate and enjoy with your kids! 

The probability of learning is highly likely as you and your children play each of these fun math games!

Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Use Books to Encourage Late Talking Toddlers

For toddlers that take their time talking, there is no better way for parents to help than by spending a lot of time reading with them. Books introduce new vocabulary to children and can effectively emphasize word meanings. An example of this type of book is I See, by Helen Oxenbury. This board book shows a drawing on the left page, with a caption identifying the object, and then a toddler interacting with the object on the facing page.

Neil Ricklen also has a wonderful line of board books, which label the everyday activities of specific family members and baby. His titles include Daddy and Me, Mommy and Me, and Grandma and Me.
Another great way to involve your toddler with the story, and emphasize new words, is to get him or her to actively participate by acting out the meanings. A good story to choose would be “Jump or Jiggle” by Evelyn Beyer, which is found on page 16 in the book Poems for the Very Young, by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham.

Children can listen to the poem, and then on the second reading, parents demonstrate how each animal moves. Children benefit from the fun of the movement, the enjoyment of listening to the rhyming language, and as a result, they make connections to new words and their meanings.

Another way to approach language development is to offer your toddler a selection of books that all focus on one specific topic or theme. For instance, perhaps you are planning a trip to the zoo next month. Some books you may want to begin exploring before the trip could include all baby animals. Whose Baby am I, by John Butler introduces children to baby animals and asks, “Whose baby am I?” The book gives the answer, with clear illustrations and vocabulary naming the type of animal of both the baby and its parent.

Another book that would fit the theme of baby animals is The Chick and the Duckling, by Mirra Ginsburg. This is a wonderful story about a chick who attempts everything a duckling does and succeeds, until the duckling decides to go for a swim. This book uses the refrain, “Me too” that parents can use to encourage speech by asking toddlers to join in.

With its reliance on the rhythm, rhyme, and the patterns in language, parents of children with a language delay should not overlook poetry. It sets the stage for continued enjoyment of exploring new books and shows children that the tone and feeling of words contribute to its meaning. Through poetic verses, children learn that words connote as well as denote. Poetry also stimulates children to think about the language itself, not just the message that is conveyed. Linguists call this ability to focus on the forms of language as metalinguistic awareness and suggest that it may be critically important in both reading and writing in later stages.

When exploring poetry books, it is important to note that there are differences in purpose and style. As we have seen with picture storybooks, certain poetry books are also useful in encouraging children to repeat fun refrains repeated throughout the story while others allow children to respond physically to the words being read aloud.

Some poetry books center on the sound of language. Several great titles to introduce to your toddler are Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Lois Ehlert, and Grandfather’s Lovesong, by Reeve Lindbergh.

Poetry books can also focus on the patterns within language. The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper is a classic that has been delighting children for over fifty years. Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag is another great example of use of refrain. Like The Little Engine that Could, who repeats “I think I can,” the little old man and the little old woman in Millions of Cats must contend with

Hundreds of cats
Thousands of cats
Millions and billions and trillions of cats

In order to find the one cat that is their own.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, by Mary Ann Hoberman is another great example of patterning of language. As each new event of character is added, all of the earlier ones are repeated. Repetition is a wonderful way to get reluctant talkers to begin trying new words.

Poetry can also focus on the appearance of the language as it is written. Rebus writing is a visual game played with language. It is a combination of words and pictures put together in sentence form. The Secret Birthday Message, by Eric Carle is a rebus book that pairs shapes with words in the form of a secret letter that invites children to match the shapes in order to find the surprise at the end.

Another visual game authors play with language is to print the word in a way that signifies its meaning. In the book So Say the Little Monkeys, by Nancy Van Laan the words curve around and mirror the actions of the monkeys.

Poetry books can also focus on the meanings of words or phrases. A Little Pigeon Toad and A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, by Fred Gwynne are books more suited for second or third graders who can appreciate the idioms and homophones used throughout. However, toddlers would be able to enjoy A Scale Full of Fish and Other Turnabouts, by Naomi Bossom. This book is a collection of language turnabouts with the examples facing each other. For instance, we read “race for a train,” and are shown passengers hurrying alongside a train; opposite it, we see three runners and read, “train for a race.” 

While selecting and sharing great literature is wonderful for encouraging reluctant talkers to speak, go the extra step and try a few oral activities with your toddler. Don’t worry if nothing happens at first; the more you both practice the better the results!

  • Try to dramatize a story by playing a role from one of your child’s favorite stories. Improvise by creating your own plot or narrate parts of the story and encourage your toddler to act out what comes next. Simple props make play-acting even more exciting.
  • Try using masks and puppets. Children who are reluctant to speak are sometimes more verbal if they are allowed to use masks and puppets because it becomes less about them and more about the character.
  • Create a felt board and encourage your toddler to retell a story using simple felt cutouts.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the time you and your toddler spend together reading and let the words come when they are ready!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10 Free eBooks and eAudio Book Sites!

Everyone loves a good book and when it's FREE, it's even better! All of the following sites offer free access to eBooks or eAudio Books that can be downloaded, read or listened to on your computer. You can find fiction, nonfiction, classics, and many technical and computer books from these sites.

  1. Project GutenbergProject Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today.
  2. getfreebooks.comGetfreeebooks.com is a free ebooks site where you can download free books totally free.
  3. Ebooks On Us: Ebook Downloads & Free audiobooks Everyday ...Forever!
  4. Audio Book TreasuryAudio Book Treasury provides quick, easy and convenient access to classic audio books.
  5. FreeClassicAudioBooks.com: Digital narration for the 21st century. 
  6. Books Should be FreeFree Audio Books from the public domain.
  7. Free Tech BooksFree Online Computer Science and Programming Books, Textbooks, and Lecture Notes.
  8. Free-eBooksDiscover great fiction, from romance to mystery, or non-fiction, from business information to self-improvement. 
  9. ManyBooks.netThere are more than 29,000 eBooks available here and they're all free! 
  10. LibriVox: LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creative Recycled Paper and Cardbord Construction!

Children LOVE to play with cardboard and it is a cheap, indespensable material for construction projects. It stimulates and challenges the imagination of both children and adults alike!

Commonplace objects such as milk and egg cartons, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, apple crate dividers, and assorted sizes of boxes offer unlimited possibilities for creative art projects.

In preparation for a construction activity, adults should collect items such as:
  • assorted cardboard boxes,
  • cartons,
  • corrigated cardboard,
  • paper cups and plates of all sizes,
  • paper bags,
  • yarn,
  • string,
  • buttons,
  • feathers,
  • cloth,
  • tissue paper,
  • scraps of construction paper,
  • wrapping paper,
  • paste,
  • glue,
  • tape,
  • crayons,
  • colored markers,
  • paint,
  • brushes,
  • scissors,
  • stapler,
  • staples

Most topics that interest children can be adapted to cardboard construction projects. Buildings, houses, cities, cars, and entire neighborhoods can be created using cardboard. Creations can only be limited by the imagination!

In order to help children create successful projects, adults could have the cardboard materials spread out and available for children to explore on their own. A fun way of sneaking in a little learning is to encourage children to stack materials or combine them in different ways.

Talk about (and demonstrate) ways of fastening boxes together, covering them with paint or paper, and adding other parts or features, and then set the children loose on an adventure!

A few ideas to get you started!

Paper Bags:
Large paper shopping bags with handles can be turned into an instant costume simply by cutting the bottom of the bag off. Place the bag over the child, using the handles as shoulder straps. Children can decorate their costume with scrap materials.

Collect several medium-sized appliance boxes that are large enough to hold one or two children. Share a story about vehicles—a train, a car, a dump truck, etc. Provide children with smocks, paintbrushes, and tempera paint and set them loose to create their very own transportation. For trains, attach boxes to one another with twine.

Allow the shapes of the cardboard to suggest ideas for a project. For instance, an oatmeal container could transform into the body of an elephant; a milk carton could turn into a skyscraper.

Paper Tubes:
Paper tubes are probably the most versatile type of cardboard out there. Children can make everything from puppets to binoculars with them. Make music shakers by taping a circle of cardstock or heavy paper to one end, filling with a handful of rice, and securing the open end with another cardstock circle.

Egg Cartons:
What CAN’T you do with an egg carton? Provide children with tape, glue, string, feathers, buttons, markers, crayons, and paint, and the sky is the limit! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Missing Home School Posts?

Facebook recently made a few changes and because of them, some of you aren’t getting our posts in your News Feed anymore.
If you aren't getting status updates from Home School in your news feed, here is what you can do to fix it!
  • Look at the top of your facebook page and click on Most Recent.
  • Click the down arrow next to the Most Recent and click Edit Options.

  • A box will pop up prompting you to choose All of your friends and pages.

That's it! Once you select All of your friends and pages, you will start seeing all of the Home School updates!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Navajo Fried Bread

This was a real treat for my kids. They were fascinated by the fact that it, "tastes just like bread!" The recipe is SUPER simple (which is a bonus for us adults), not too messy, and what kids don't enjoy rolling and shaping bread dough?

Let's start with the recipe.

  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups self rising flour (or 2 cups regular flour plus 1 tsp. baking soda)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Butter for frying


    • Mix together salt, flour, oil, and water. (Sunglasses are optional!)
    • Knead and shape into several small rounds of dough.
    • Press or use a rolling pin to form flat discs.
    • Fry in butter on medium heat until golden brown on both sides.

    • Serve with butter, honey, sour cream, jelly, cheese, or sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

    Motor Skills Involved: Mixing, Pouring, Measuring, Rolling, Kneading

    Sensory Experiences: Smelling, Feeling, Tasting, Seeing, Hearing

    Related Concepts/Developmental Areas:
         Science: melting butter, browning bread, addition of water to dough. 
         Language: discussion of American Indian heritage. 
         Social Skills: learning safe cooking procedures.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Black History Month--Famous Inventors

    February is Black History Month and we invite you to celebrate with us by exploring our favorite African American Inventors!! 

    Thursday, January 27, 2011


    We have a new area to add to our blog and facebook group!!

    A FORUM! 

    Homeschoolers Book Club (hosted by Weebly) houses our new forum. We can utilize the forum area to chat about our favorite books and to encourage our homeschoolers to engage in weekly book club challenges.

    It's a great way to get our kids excited about reading and sharing what they love--and loathe--about some really great literature. Books selected for discussion will be age appropriate for that forum.

    But why let the kids have all the fun?? There is also an adult area for parents or older siblings 18+ that would love the opportunity to join in!

    Moderating opportunities ARE available. I am looking for adults who are invested in reading, organizing, and participating in group book discussions. If you would be interested in applying, let me know a.s.a.p. by posting in the NEWS SECTION of the forum!

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Tips for Success in your Home School Art Program

    Successful experiences in art require organization and thoughtful planning. With a few simple tricks, you can banish stress and ensure your child will have a great experience.

    Dry erase boards are a wonderful addition to a home school classroom and are useful art tools. Ours are well used and can become stained after repeated use. In order to restore the boards back to white, I clean them once a month with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. These workhorses can even remove stubborn permanent marker stains.

    One of the biggest challenges I have with art supplies is trying to keep the scissors together. A cheap and easy solution to this is to make a scissor holder. Using a gallon milk container, punch holes in the sides and place scissors in the holes with the points to the inside. Styrofoam egg cartons flipped upside-down also make great scissor holders. Carefully cut slits into each mound and place scissors with points to the inside.

    When we buy certain types of art supplies, we buy in bulk—and that can spell disaster when trying to organize later. I have found that, when using pipe cleaners, things can go from organized to chaos in a snap. A simple solution is to reuse old metal popcorn tins (popular around the holidays.) Fill the inside with paper towel tubes stacked vertically inside. Sort your pipe cleaners by color in the tubes. You will save time finding the right colors and be able to see when you are running low. You can also use the tubes to store slips of colored paper, posters, and older artwork.

    Markers are expensive so when they dry out, I try my best to save them. Try this tip before heading to the garbage pail the next time you find a marker that seems like it is at the end of its life,. Pour ½ inch of nail polish remover into a paper cup and let the tip soak for 30 seconds. Let dry for at least 30 minutes before using. The acetone in the remover restores moisture without diluting the color and draws the ink down to the tip.

    My kids are always on the hunt for paper. In order to keep their creativity from being put on hold while we hunt for it, (and to ease the cost of buying new packs of paper), we have created a two-box system and load them with scrap paper. One is for recycled white paper and the other is for recycled construction paper. Whenever we do a school project and produce scraps, they are placed into one of the boxes for use later.

    We make a lot of homemade clay and if it is not properly stored, it will dry out and be useless. Airtight coffee containers and plastic food containers keep the clay moist and always ready for use.

    I have made countless paint containers from things like muffin tins and Styrofoam egg containers, but my favorite containers come from yogurt cups. These work well both inside and out because they are sturdy and not easily tipped over. The yogurt cups with lids are ideal because when the artwork is finished, you can snap on the lid and store for later.

    Cotton-ball painting is more fun (and neater) when you clip spring-type clothespins to the cotton balls. Children can use the clothespins like handles. Clothespin painting can also be done with a wadded up paper towels, small sponge pieces, and even fabric. 

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    10 Homemade Paint Recipes

    Making homemade paints can be fun and easy and doesn't have to cost a fortune. Here are my top 10 favorite FRUGAL paint recipes!

    • Puffy Paint: I have two recipes for this one. 
    Recipe One: 
    food coloring

    Mix equal amounts of flour, salt, and water in a bowl. Add a small amount of food color to the mixture and pour into small plastic squeeze bottles. Squeeze onto heavy cardboard or paper to make designs. Mixture will harden into puffy shapes.

    Recipe Two: Submitted by Cindy Tait
    shaving cream
    food coloring

    Mix equal amounts of shaving cream and glue. Add a small amount of food color and continue as above.

    • Cornstarch Paint
    Submitted by Tamara Hatton
    1 tbs. cold water
    2 tbs. cornstarch
    1 cup boiling water
    food coloring

    Combine cold water and cornstarch. Stir until smooth. Add boiling water and stir again until smooth. Add food coloring until paint is desired color. Let cool. Store in a covered container. If it dries, add water to thin it.

    • Shiny Paint
    white glue
    food coloring
    dish detergent

    Pour glue into small cups. Mix your choice of food coloring into each. Use to paint on wood, paper, or  cardboard as you would with any other paint. Paint will dry shiny as if glazed. 

    paint pine cones, driftwood, rocks, or glass!
    Try painting with sponge brushes for a smooth finish. To help paint adhere to shiny, smooth surfaces, add a few drops of dish detergent. 

    • Watercolors
    1 tbs. white vinegar
    1 1/2 tbs. baking soda
    1 tbs cornstarch
    1/2 tsp glycerin
    food coloring

    Mix vinegar and baking soda in small bowl and allow foaming. After foaming stops, add cornstarch and glycerin. Stir well (up to a couple of minutes). Portion the mixture into a paint palette, muffin tin, or similar container and add food coloring. Make the colors dark--as drying will lighten them. Allow watercolors to dry in a warm place for several hours or overnight. Makes one set of watercolors.

    • Scratch and Sniff Paint
    several packs (assorted flavors) of Kool Aid brand instant drink mix

    Open each package and empty into a bowl. Add in enough water to dilute (the more water you add, the lighter the color will be) and paint as usual. Allow the paint to dry and scratch to smell.

    • Face Paint
    1 tsp cornstarch
    1/2 tsp water
    1/2 tsp cold cream
    2 drops food coloring

    Mix ingredients well. Then use different food coloring to make different colors.

    • Salt Paint
    1/8 cup liquid starch
    1/8 cup water
    food coloring

    Mix together and apply to paper with a brush. Keep stirring mixture. Paint will crystallize as it dries.

    • Water Paint

    This is a fun one to use outside on a hot day. All you need are an assortment of brushes and cement. Paint with the water on the ground and, depending on how hot it is outside, have fun watching it dry! 

    Freeze water into ice cubes and use on dark colored paper. 
    Tint the water using food coloring and dip bits of string in each color to paint.

    • Powdered Milk Paint
    1/2 cup powdered milk
    1/2 cup water
    food coloring

    Mix ingredients together and apply to paper with a brush. Store in a tightly sealed container.

    • Marker Paint
    Submitted by Jill Bridges
    heavy paper
    assorted markers
    cotton swabs

    Rub a dime sized circle of color from the marker on a sheet of heavy paper. Cover with a circle of glue and rub with a cotton swab to pick up the color from the marker. Paint as usual, using the cotton swab. 

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Good Toys for Young Children

    In light of recent safety recalls by toy manufacturers, parents and early childhood program staff have voiced concerns about the safety of the toys enjoyed by young children. NAEYC offers the following information on selecting the safest and most appropriate toys for young children.
    Safe toys for young children are:
    • well-made (with no sharp parts or splinters and do not pinch)
    • painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint
    • shatter-proof
    • easily cleaned
    Electric toys should be "UL Approved." Be sure to check the label, which should indicate that the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child’s throat and cause suffocation.
    It is important to remember that typical wear and tear can result in a once safe toy becoming hazardous. Adults should check toys frequently to make sure they are in good repair. For a list of toys that have been recalled by manufacturers, visit the Toy Hazard Recalls page of the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
    For information on lead poisoning, you can obtain a free brochure from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    Good Toys & Activities for Young Children
    In addition to being safe, toys for young children need to match their stages of development and emerging abilities. Many safe and appropriate play materials are free items typically found at home. Cardboard boxes, plastic bowls and lids, collections of plastic bottle caps, and other “treasures” can be used in more than one way by children of different ages. As you read the following lists of suggested toys for children of different ages, keep in mind that each child develops at an individual pace. Items on one list—as long as they are safe—can be good choices for children who are younger and older than the suggested age range.
    Toys for Young Infants—Birth through 6 Months
    Babies like to look at people—following them with their eyes. Typically, they prefer faces and bright colors. Babies can reach, be fascinated with what their hands and feet can do, lift their heads, turn their heads toward sounds, put things in their mouths, and much more!
    Good toys for young infants:
    • Things they can reach for, hold, suck on, shake, make noise with—rattles, large rings, squeeze toys, teething toys, soft dolls, textured balls, and vinyl and board books
    • Things to listen to—books with nursery rhymes and poems, and recordings of lullabies and simple songs
    • Things to look at—pictures of faces hung so baby can see them and unbreakable mirrors
    Toys for Older Infants—7 to 12 Months
    Older babies are movers—typically they go from rolling over and sitting, to scooting, bouncing, creeping, pulling themselves up, and standing. They understand their own names and other common words, can identify body parts, find hidden objects, and put things in and out of containers.
    Good toys for older infants:
    • Things to play pretend with—baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles with wheels, and water toys
    • Things to drop and take out—plastic bowls, large beads, balls, and nesting toys
    • Things to build with—large soft blocks and wooden cubes
    • Things to use their large muscles with—large balls, push and pull toys, and low, soft things to crawl over
    Toys for 1-year-olds
    One-year-olds are on the go! Typically they can walk steadily and even climb stairs. They enjoy stories, say their first words, and can play next to other children (but not yet with!). They like to experiment—but need adults to keep them safe.
    Good toys for 1-year-olds:
    • Board books with simple illustrations or photographs of real objects
    • Recordings with songs, rhymes, simple stories, and pictures
    • Things to create with—wide non-toxic, washable markers, crayons, and large paper
    • Things to pretend with—toy phones, dolls and doll beds, baby carriages and strollers, dress-up accessories (scarves, purses), puppets, stuffed toys, plastic animals, and plastic and wood “realistic” vehicles
    • Things to build with—cardboard and wood blocks (can be smaller than those used by infants—2 to 4 inches)
    • Things for using their large and small muscles—puzzles, large pegboards, toys with parts that do things (dials, switches, knobs, lids), and large and small balls
    Toys for 2-year-olds (Toddlers)
    Toddlers are rapidly learning language and have some sense of danger. Nevertheless they do a lot of physical “testing”: jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play. They have good control of their hands and fingers and like to do things with small objects.
    Good toys for 2-year-olds:
    • Things for solving problems—wood puzzles (with 4 to 12 pieces), blocks that snap together, objects to sort (by size, shape, color, smell), and things with hooks,
      buttons, buckles, and snaps
    • Things for pretending and building—blocks, smaller (and sturdy) transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (kitchen sets, chairs, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys
    • Things to create with—large non-toxic, washable crayons and markers, large paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, toddler-sized scissors with blunt tips, chalkboard and large chalk, and rhythm instruments
    • Picture books with more details than books for younger children
    • CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
    • Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing, ride-on equipment (but probably not tricycles until children are 3), tunnels, low climbers with soft material underneath, and pounding and hammering toys
    Toys for 3- to 6-year-olds (Preschool and Kindergarteners)
    Preschoolers and kindergartners have longer attention spans than toddlers. Typically they talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. They like to experiment with things and with  their still-emerging physical skills. They like to play with friends—and don’t like to lose! They can take turns—and sharing one toy by two or more children is often possible  for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.
    Good toys for 3- to 6-year-olds:
    • Things for solving problems—puzzles (with 12 to 20+ pieces), blocks that snap together, collections and other smaller objects to sort by length, width, height,  shape, color, smell, quantity, and other features—collections of plastic bottle caps, plastic bowls and lids, keys, shells, counting bears, small colored blocks
    • Things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (“apartment” sets, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and simple puppet theaters, and sand and water play toys
    • Things to create with—large and small crayons and markers, large and small paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large and small paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, preschooler-sized scissors, chalkboard and large and small chalk, modeling clay and playdough, modeling tools, paste, paper and cloth  scraps for collage, and instruments—rhythm instruments and keyboards, xylophones, maracas, and tambourines
    • Picture books with even more words and more detailed pictures than toddler books
    • CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
    • Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing/catching, ride-on equipment including tricycles, tunnels, taller  climbers with soft material underneath, wagons and wheelbarrows, plastic bats and balls, plastic bowling pins, targets and things to throw at them, and a  workbench with a vise, hammer, nails, and saw
    • If a child has access to a computer: programs that are interactive (the child can do something) and that children can understand (the software uses graphics and  spoken instruction, not just print), children can control the software’s pace and path, and children have opportunities to explore a variety of concepts on several  levels


    For More Information
    The following resources with information about safe, appropriate toys for young children are available through NAEYC:
    The brochure Think Toy Safety is available on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.