Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Do

Ella's hair is finally getting long enough to put accessories in.  She loves for me to fix her hair, though she never keeps anything in it for very long.  Tonight, we played around with a new silly hair do!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Simple Color Matching Game

Ella is still working on her colors, so I made this super quick, super simple game for her.  With markers, I colored the tips of several clothespins (4 blue, 4 red, 4 green).  Then, I handed Ella three sheets of foam paper (one in each of the colors).  Ella clipped the clothespins to the correctly colored foam sheet.  This game is kept on a low shelf in our living room and Ella helps herself to it on a regular basis.

I love simple activities like this.  For a little more advanced color matching/clothespin game, you can try this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ella!

Tomorrow, my sweet baby Ella will turn two years old!  We celebrated today because Daddy and Uncle Todd had the day off.

Ella started the day with presents, which her sister so generously offered to help her open.

Then, she had a little dress-up fun.

And a pony ride.

Next, we went to Toys-R-Us.  They give kids a birthday hat, sticker and balloon on (or near) their birthday.

After lunch, we headed to Chuck E. Cheese.  Ella enjoyed many rides...

and several games...

and she helped her Daddy win his games too!

We finished Ella's celebration with cupcakes!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I is for Inventory

There's been a few times recently that I have started making dinner, thinking I had an ingredient in the pantry, just to find out that I had already used it.  There's also been times that I thought we needed something, bought it, came home and found out that I already had it.  Last week, for the first time, I made myself a pantry inventory sheet that I can add to, or take away from as we buy or use an item. I am hoping this will help me to avoid the above mentioned scenerios in the future.  I have seen this idea on several homemaking blogs.  It is a simple system as long as I remember to update it.

This week, the girls are working on the letter Ii.  In addition to academics, we also strive to teach our children life skills, so our first activity this week was to take inventory! 

Lessons learned with this activity:
Homemaking Skills: Be aware of what you have.
Math Skills: guesstimating, tallying, counting by 5's, graphing, comparing greater than and less than

We started the lesson by sitting down and talking about the reasons why you would want to take an inventory of an item.  We talked about the benefits of knowing what we have so that we can use that item or if it isn't in use, we can get rid of it. We talked about knowing if we have a real need for something then we will know to purchase it.  Knowing what we have or don't have to work with will also be beneficial when the girls get older and we start talking about budgeting!

Next, I brought out a laundry basket filled with some of the girls' toys.  We talked about how many items they thought were in the basket (guesstimating). 

Next, I gave Arin a sheet of paper which was labeled with four sections: books, cars, dolls, stuffed animals.  This was Arin's first introduction to tally marks, so before I let her loose with the activity, I taught her the concept.  Then, one-by-one, she pulled out a toy and made a tally mark in the correct section.  I did remind her a few times that once she had four marks, the fifth would cross over the first four.  She seemed to grasp the concept quickly, though I am not sure at her young age that she pulled the whole inventory idea together!

Since we are working on counting by fives, I had her practice that a little with the tally marks that made groups of fives.

Now, the inventory process was complete, but I decided to have her take this a few steps further.  We took the information that she had gathered and put it into graph form.  Arin counted up the tally marks and colored the correct number of squares in each section of the graph.  This was review work for her, since she's been graphing in her math book for a few weeks now, but I thought it was good for her to see the process of going from real objects to a graph.  On the first section, she thought she'd make a pattern with the colors (she did this on her own), but she quickly grew tired of that idea and colored the next three sections one color each.
Once Arin had finished coloring her graph, we took the information and turned it into the last activity which was reading the graph.  I made Arin a worksheet with two items per line and then gave her circles with the greater than >, less than <, and equal to = signs on them.  Arin had to decide which sign went where and then glue it in place.  She had worked on greater than and less than one other time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Help! (camera question)

Notice how I have not been blogging much lately?  It's because I have been having camera woes.  I am not very camera savvy, so I am hoping that someone who reads my blog can point me in the right direction. Three and a half years ago, we purchased a new, not reburbished, Nikon D40x.  It has had its quirks along the way, but mostly it has worked well for what I use it for, which is basically point and shoot.  A week and a half ago, we were working on our Goodnight Gorilla project.  When I first started taking pictures, I noticed nothing unusual.  Then, I snapped a picture and it came out like this.

It surprised me to say the least.  I tried turning the camera off, taking out the battery and the memory card, putting them back in and turning it back on again.  I got a couple more white pictures.  Then, I started getting pictures like this, that were really dark.  Again, I thought that was odd, but figured the flash bulb must have burnt out.  Not so!  The flash still works.

So now, it is random.  I will get a picture like this.

The next may look like this.

The next may look normal, like this. 

But, right after that, I may get one that looks like this (the lighting looks different, though I haven't changed anything)

There really is no pattern to it.  I have changed lens and have had the same problem, so I am guessing it is a body issue.  The ISO is on Auto, but does this seem like a sensor needs to be cleaned?  Can I clean it myself?  Do I need to take the camera to a camera shop or is it an easy fix that I can do?  Is there still hope for my camera? Thanks!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Arin has long loved her foam letters.  When she was little, we used them in games like this and this (yes, the second link is of Ella, but I did the same game with Arin when she was little).  We actually haven't used the letters in a while, so when I pulled them out this afternoon, Arin was thrilled!  She started sounding out consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) words a few months ago but has been doing it with more enthusiasm in the past couple of weeks. She's really getting good at it, even taking the initiative to try to sound out longer words on signs and in books.  I wanted to see if she could also do it in reverse, meaning instead of looking at the word and sounding it out to read it, could I tell her a word and her spell it?  Today was her first spelling test and she passed (mostly)!  Some words she sounded out in her head correctly, but put the letters down in reverse order, like this word (jam).  I had to remind her that the next sound came after the letter she just put down.

Otherwise, she seemed to really enjoy this activity.  She still does not love to write, so this was a good way to make sure she was understanding the skills, while still keeping it fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

H is for Handprints

Today we started Hh week.  When Arin was little, I made her a handprint colors books and I have been wanting to do the same for Ella, so we worked on that today.  You can see Arin's book here.  I already have to redo some of Ella's handprints, because the red one looks like she has six fingers! We will also be adding more colors when she is a little more cooperative.

I also had Arin make handprints which we turned into a "counting by fives" sequence game.  Surprisingly, she liked this more than I thought she would.  Once, she had all the numbers in order (with a little assistance), I had her practice saying the numbers as she was looking at them.  She can count to 100, but she does not recognize all of the numbers,  so when she got stuck, she was able to count the fingers and know the next number (for instance, if she got stuck on 25, she could count the fingers on the next hand and know the next number was 30).  We only sequenced up to 60, because we will soon be working more in depth with telling time.

After she was done with that, Ella wanted to play a game as well, so I gave her the handprint pages that we  had completed and I gave her Arin's handprints.  She matched the handprints to the color pages.

And if you get tired of using your hands to play this game, you can go the less tradional route and use your feet!