Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Healthy Snack: Energy Balls

I first was introduced to these delicious and filling snacks by a friend, and over time I've modified them just a bit. My boys, well, Henrik is a picky eater so when he ate the snack and loved them I started making them weekly.

Here's What You'll Need:

Creamy Peanut Butter 
Milled Flax Seed
Wheat Germ
Coconut Oil
Mini Chocolate Chips
Coconut shavings, sweetened

Follow These Simple Steps:

Mix all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Seriously, it's that easy. Okay, how much of everything? It depends on how much you want to make and how big you make the balls. Not helpful? Well, to make about 30 balls (which lasts my family a week) I use about 4-5 Cups of Oats as my base line. I then add the Flax Seed (about 2 Cups) and Wheat Germ (about 2 cups). I mix them all together by hand and get a feel for the color, you want it to be a nice nutty brown. 

Take about 2 Table Spoons of Coconut oil and melt it. Once it's melted, add it to the Oats, Flax and Wheat Germ. 

Add Peanut Butter to the mix. I usually do about 2 Cups of Peanut Butter for 30 balls. 

Add Honey to the mix. I probably add about 1/4 cup of honey for 30 balls. Sticky is good in this case. 

Add coconut shavings for texture. I used about 1/4 cup.

Add chocolate chips, about 1/2 a bag. 

Mix it all together, start with a non-stick spoon, but eventually you'll have to use your hands to get the stubborn stuff at the bottom. 

Start making some balls. Make sure to pack them tight! And try to keep them bite size, like maybe two bites per ball. 

Put in the fridge for about an hour to let them set. After that, the are done! I don't keep mine in the fridge, but you could.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Healthy Ice Cream Pops

I'm not going to lie, after I made the Juice Pops I figured I could make "ice cream" pops too. It's been in the 90s for weeks and I'm just tired of it! I figured that this mix could cool us down as an after dinner (or after noon) snack.

Here's What You Need:

(I used 4 and made about 30 pops)

Plain Yogurt- 1 Container

Honey- 3-4 Table Spoons
(But do it to taste)

Mixed Berries
(We put in about 3 kid hand fulls of each berry)

Plastic or Paper Cups

Craft Sticks
(We used skewers because that's what we had, but I'd use something more sturdy next time)

Plastic Wrap

Then, Follow These Simple Steps! 

Peel bananas, add fruit. I let Henrik cut the tops off the strawberries, he loved it! Once peeled and washed, add them to the blender. Add yogurt and honey(though you may have to bled everything individually. My blender is pretty small so I mixed the yogurt and bananas and then put them in a mixing bowl while I blended the berries)

Pour contents into the cups. See how it filled up a 9x13 pan! Good thing we had a Healthy Snack Play Date to go to!

Cover cups with plastic wrap and place the sticks into the cups. The wrap will hold the sticks still during the freezing process. 

Place pops in freezer for 5+ hours, remove plastic wrap, then Enjoy!
 Remember, each freezer is different and could take longer. 

Healthy Juice Pops

A friend of mine invited us to a Healthy Snack Party because she was tired of giving her daughter something that comes from a wrapper whenever it was snack time (and man, so was I) so a bunch of moms were to gather and each bring an new snack to the play date. Because Theo and Eric were taking a nap, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to break up playing cars and planes and give Henrik and me some bonding time. We had a blast!

For a few days, Henrik had been asking me if we could make Juice Pops, he watched Special Agent Oso and Oso helped a boy make Juice Pops for his sick sister. Henrik remembered the three simple steps and had been bugging me about how simple it was. So, my friend and Oso gave me the perfect activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Here's what you'll need:

Orange Juice
(we used not from concentrate, no sugar or water added, high pulp juice)
(we chose to use raspberries and blue berries)
(not baby carrots)
Small plastic or paper cups
A blender
*You could always add other veggies to the mix, whatever your kids like, (or won't eat)

Then, follow these simple steps:

Add the fruit to the blender, add as much as you want. I probably used about 1/2 Cup of each kind of berry and 2 carrots, chopped

Add your juice! I used 2 Cups of Orange Juice and made about 9 pops

Pour the juice into the plastic cups and place sliced carrots into the mix (as the stick). Freeze the pops.

Drink some of the juice, it's delicious! 

After 3-4 hours in the freezer, your pops should be ready! Don't worry if they take longer, each freezer is different, Enjoy!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

School Is Back In Session! About Me and My Family

It has been a long time since I've done my preschool program with my boys, life just got in the way, but, nonetheless, I started back up this week! It felt really good to get back into the swing of things!

This week our theme was "About Me and My Family" so we could reintegrate our family from our six month time away. I always include books (that we pick out at the library together), movies (almost always educational but sometimes "fun"), songs, crafts, activities, foods, letter of the week, number of the week, vocabulary words, shape of the week, color of the week, baby signs, developmental and physical milestones for each kid and physical activity. All of these things go along with our theme, letter, shape or color for the week.

Check out what we did!

Family Tree Activity

I cut out the shape of the tree, printed pictures of our family and wrote out the names of each of the people. I asked the boys to put the pictures up on the tree. After they did that, I asked them to tell me the names of all of the people up there. Then, I had Henrik try and find the names of the people on the pieces of paper. He was able to at least get the first letter of their names and from there we could look for the names with the correct letters. Some of them he knew how to spell! Theo liked to put the names on the faces of the family members.

Vocabulary Words & Baby Signs

In the family tree photos, you can see the vocab/sight words that I used this week. I also counted the names of our family members as vocabulary words. We also did the baby signs for "brother, friend, mom and dad". I always choose words that are relevant to the theme and words that we can use in conversations.

Self Portraits
Another craft we did was to draw self portraits! This is an activity that we'll do all the time, just so I can get adorable pictures that my kids draw of themselves. Henrik is pretty good at drawing people when I ask him to, though he doesn't often like to draw people. Because Theo was with us, I suggested things like, "I have a head, it's round, like a circle, do you have a head shaped like a circle?" and then Theo asked, "circle?" and drew one.

Chalk Play
It's been 90+ degrees here for the last three weeks and we've been outdoors a lot. Recently my boys fell in love with chalk so I decided to take advantage of it by having Henrik draw, or trace the letter and number of the week. I made sure to make the arrows for the letters how I want him to write them. He's not huge on starting at the top like a lot of writing programs suggest, but he is at least learning how to properly form the letters even if he does start at the bottom. This week we studied the letter B and the numbers 0 and 1. Because I'm not 100% sure if Henrik is a visual, oral or written learner (he's not tactile like his brother) I made sure to put a dot above the number 1 and nothing above the 0 and had him count and notice the difference in the two numbers.  This would be a pretty simple and fun activity to do on any day.

Pinewood Derby Cars
Last weekend we had a garage sale, we told Henrik that if he sold some of his old toys at the sale that he could have the money to use to buy something new. After the sale, we combined his money from the sale and the money that he earned from doing chores and I took him to the store. It was a really fun experience. I realize that he's kind of young when it comes to totally grasping the idea of how much a dollar or a quarter is worth, but regardless, we talked about how much money he had and what he could spend it on. I made it clear that he couldn't buy something that was a high number than what he had in his bank. So, when we got to the toy aisle, I asked him what toy he wanted, he was so careful and even said, "It's such a hard decision to pick just one" and that's when I told him that we had to look at prices. For example, if he picked this package, he'd get five cars for six dollars or he could pick one car for six dollars. I also showed him that he could combine different cars to equal the amount of money he had. He didn't totally get it, but nonetheless, he was so excited that he could pick out a car that he could build! Long story short, he picked out a pinewood derby car, and since it was family week, I jumped on the opportunity for him to have some quality time with his dad doing something that he loved! 

Letter Dots
I've been looking for some fun ways to integrate letters into our daily and weekly activities, after scouring Pinterest and the Internet, I came across Confessions Of A Homeschooler, another blogger Mom. She's got an amazing site with a TON of free printable materials. I came across these wonderful sheets and thought my boys would love doing them. It was especially fun because our shape this week was a circle, so we counted all of the circles in the Bs and then dotted them with our paint blotters. This is a great activity for so many reasons, letter recognition, fine motor skills, counting, abstract letter recognition, and the list goes on. 

Color Your Family!
While on Pinterest one day I came across this cool site where you can upload a photo and turn it into a pencil sketch, you can probably do this on some of your own apps on your computer, but I went with easy :). Anyway, I took photos of my boys with their grandparents and had them color the photos so we could send them (along with a letter) to their grandparents. 

Pen Pals
Because we live far away from family and we were talking about family this week I wanted the boys to start writing letters to their grandparents. After explaining how letters work and giving examples like, "Dear ______" and then we talk about what's new with us and ask questions about the person we're writing too, I told the boys to start telling me things that they wanted to ask or tell their grandparents. It was pretty cute to sit back and listen to the things that were important to them. I wrote it all down exactly like they said it and then had Henrik write his own name to sign the letter. It was fun. On Monday, I'll have the boys take them to the post office so that they can deliver their own letter. 

Who Is Taller?
My sons are obsessed with tape measures so I thought that another fun way to get to know our family better would be by tracing our bodies with chalk and then measure them to see who was the tallest and shortest in our family. We even measured the dog! The boys thought it was fun because we were measuring along and Henrik could guess that he'd be shorter than me and Theo was shorter than him, but what none of us expected was that I measured taller than Eric (Eric must have over traced). 

Favorite Foods
Each night this week we had some one's favorite food. On Eric's night, we had pizza, but since none of us like the same kind of pizza, I decided that we'd each make our own personal pizza. It was really fun to have the boys get involved in the food process, usually I just kick them out of the kitchen when I'm making dinner, but instead, messes and giggles were welcome and I think this could be a weekly thing in our house. 


Letter Tracing and Writing
Each day I tried to do an activity where I could get the boys writing or tracing letters, I found a site
where you can print off several different free printables, I particularly like the ones that teach the kids how to trace. I let Henrik use a highlighter so that he can see the different arrows and how to make the shapes. After he traced the letters that are on these particular sheet, there is a space for him to write his own letters. He was so proud when he actually made a row of Bs! 

All About....
I thought it would be fun to have the boys answer questions about themselves and us in an interview. I figured that I could keep these forever and each year I'd ask them the same questions and see how they varied. It was adorable when I asked Theo the questions, I had to modify it a bit, for example, I knew he wouldn't know which holiday was his favorite, but I could ask him his favorite color and show. There weren't too many answers that surprised me about my boys, but it was hilarious when I asked Henrik to answer questions about me and Eric. I learned that according to Henrik, Eric's favorite thing to do is "put food on the table and work with the other workers" and according to Henrik, I'm the "best driver in the world". Because they obviously couldn't write in their own answers, I had them write their names on the interviews. 

I Can See A Rainbow!
The color this week was red. When Theo turned one, I bought him sensory blocks for his birthday and I'm finally getting to use them! The boys loved looking through the colored water and placing the other primary colored blocks on top of it to make other colors. Henrik thought it was awesome, and actually, when I picked him up from school last week he was playing with the color lenses and actually figuring out how to make green, orange and purple. It's stuff like that that makes you feel like you're doing it right. Theo loved to look through them and playing with the ones that had beads in it more than the ones made with water. Either way, they both loved this activity and I haven't put the blocks away yet! You can find these water blocks here and the sound blocks here.

Numbers, Letters and Pictures
Another thing that I found at Confessions of a Homeschooler were these awesome printables. I need to get mine laminated so that I can use them without worry that they will be destroyed, but Henrik and I sat here for about a half hour as we played with this activity. 

Playing House

Just because I have two boys doesn't mean I can't play house! While Hank was at school one day I decided to make the Family them more relevant to Theo. I made it simple by doing a few different activities with him without him even knowing we were playing school! Theo loves babies, so when we were sitting in our play kitchen I talked to Theo about how to do things in simple steps. We pretended that his baby was crying so he needed to find the milk and fill up a bottle, just like a mommy or daddy would. 


When he got bored with that activity we moved on to some color recognition, for the longest time Theo has been saying that every color is "geen" but today, I got him to finally recognize some new colors! I tricked him into saying the colors about a million times by having him do something he loves! He practiced his cutting, or slicing while I repeated the names of the veggies and their colors as he did it. 

One of the last things we did this week sort of happened by accident, Theo found my eye make up and started to put it on, though he missed his eyes. Just before he found it, we were reading a book called, Do You Have A Tail? It's a book about several animals that have different features and it asks the child if they have those features. Some they do, some they don't. Either way, it probably gave Theo some ideas....

The boys were no longer boys, they turned into CATS! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Play-Doh Fun

My boys LOVE Play-Doh, I think they could make tire tracks and Dino footprints all day if I let them. In the last few days our 18.5 month old has been asking  to play more and more with Play-Doh. Most of the time he's pretty good about not eating it and not throwing it, but there are days I can't keep him from doing either one of those things. It can be torture! 

Anyway, two days in a row he's proved that he can follow directions if he wants to. So, I stead of making tracks, I decided to see how he was at some fine motor skills. I showed Theo how to roll the Doh like a snake or into a ball and he mimicked. 

I showed him how to cut and he cut!

With a lot of care actually, odd for this child. We practiced making shapes with our rolled Doh (like circles and lines) and he even made a T for Theo! We did a lot of color practice too. For a tactile learner like Theo, learning the colors has proven to be difficult. But when we pull out the Doh, he actually does a pretty good job as he touches and examines each color.

And of course I couldn't keep the cars away forever, but instead of Hot Wheels, I got out construction vehicles and had him tell me which kind of vehicle it was and asked him to use the Doh like the vehicle would. Here he is using a forklift. He liked this one the best because he could squish it while he placed it on properly.

Play-Doh is one of those toys you can do anything with, and the fun lasts all day (at least in our house). I've just discovered that for a kid that has to be hands on all the time, this activity is a great one.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Easy Nap Time Activities for Older Kids

We've been here just over a week and I just haven't had the time to get lesson plans up and running, but, that doesn't mean that we stop learning! Henrik has decided that he's a once or twice a week napper these days. That means 1. He's exhausted by bedtime at 7:30 and 2. I've got to do something with this big boy while his brother sleeps. We've done a few activities like puzzles (Thornado likes to take apart puzzles as we do them) and painting a car bank for his allowance (it wasn't washable paint so Thornado wasn't allowed near it), but I decided that even though the playroom/school room wasn't up and running didn't mean I couldn't have fun learning with Hanky!

So, we did a few simple things that anyone can do and you can do it without finding the craft box!

White Board Fun

There's something really fun about white boards so when one of the first things I came across while I was unpacking boxes was our white board, I got really excited. My boys LOVE to use them. It's like they can be the teacher, boss or "at work" when they use it. Plus, I don't let them use markers often so maybe that's part of the thrill. This one actually belongs in the play/school room in our house so it was perfect that we used it. I started with simple things, like asking Henrik to make different shapes and to just draw different things. I then asked him to write his name. He has a little trouble with the letters at the end, but he's coming along! One of the things I learned through Handwriting Without Tears was that children should start at the top and move towards the bottom when they write. I don't always write like that, and neither does Henrik. But we have another App that does it too, Letter School, so I try to have him mock that style. Both of these tools suggest that connecting dots is the best way to have children focus on the part of the letter that is tricky for them. It worked with Henrik too.

I noticed that with him, he will start to write a letter and think that it is that letter even in it's abstract form. It's funny to me because he knows all of the upper case letters and almost all of the lower case letters but he still things an S has about five curves. We'll get there. The best part about this activity was that Henrik was able to see his progress and focus on how to make all of the letters fit. He realized that he made his I too large and he erased it on his own so that the K had room. Little things like that make me really proud. And he was proud too when he wrote his own name! 

 Alphabet Parking Lot

I've seen a lot of versions of this on Pinterest but this is the one I created. Henrik loves cars. He loves to park them, and he's always looking for a parking lot on floor rugs that have roads on them. I'm not sure why he has this obsession with parking, but I figured I'd take advantage of it.

I found some construction paper and made parking lots with each of the letters of the Alphabet. On one side I wrote lower case letters and on the other side I made upper case letters. I made sure that the letters wouldn't be across from one another so he'd have to try to find the match. Since I wanted to work on the lower case letters, I asked him to find each of the letters and park a car there. We then tried to find a car that matched (little b had a red car so big B had a red car) to place in the corresponding parking spot. We did this activity for a long time. Henrik moved each of the sheets around making roads that they cars could go on and we sang the Alphabet Song as we drove from lot to lot.

Reading IS Fun!

Henrik has had an interest in reading for the past few weeks. And actually, he often picks out a sign or a word from somewhere and says, "Mom, I've got to read this word before we can keep going" so we sit and try to sound out the words that he finds. He's getting pretty good at his letter sounds too. We use a few tools for that. We've actually done Zoo-phonics and watch The Letter Factory and both of those are great tools for coming up with the letter sounds in a fun and sing-song way. 

I love this toy. It's the Melissa and Doug See And Spell Board. Henrik loves it because he knows what word he's trying to spell before he starts. The letters are puzzle like so if he grabs the wrong letter he can quickly figure it out because the letter won't fit. Once the puzzle is full, we sound out each letter until he can piece it together to get the word we're trying to spell. I wish you could see his face when he sounds out the word! He's so excited!