Learning and Growing Together

…teaching our children through creativity and play

Teaching your preschooler their home address September 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlleen @ 7:46 pm

One of my goals for this (pre) school year is to teach my 4 year old her home address, my cell phone number and how to use 911.  I hope and pray that she doesn’t have to use these skills for a LONG, LONG time but I figured it was better for her to be prepared should an emergency situation arise.  Plus it’s also just good practice for memorization, number and word recognition.

What I came up with below is a combination of info I found from other sites and my own ideas.  If you’ve found others that work please feel free to share with me!


Music has a way of sticking with you.  I’m always shocked when lyrics from a song come flying back into my brain to a song I hadn’t heard in years.  So, find a simple song, preferably one your child already knows the melody to (e.g. twinkle, twinkle little star, you are my sunshine, etc) and set the numbers and street name to the melody.  It just so happens at our local library’s story time last week they sang the 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Indians song and it stuck in my head for a couple of days, since I was also thinking about our address they both came together nicely.  It only took about a day and a half of singing it out loud and now my 4 year old daughter can sing most of it.  My 2 year old son just sings bits and pieces but he’s trying!

Address Activity Board

A whiteboard, a coloring page and a tracer page….what a great combo!  I saw this awesome pumpkin whiteboard craft from No Time For Flashcards and made it for my daughter.  She had fun making silly faces, but since we were working on our address today it made me think of how I could use the whiteboard idea to help her learn our home address.  So, here’s what I did and the supplies you’ll need to make on yourself.


Bright colored paper/card stock
Photo paper
Laminating paper (or sheet protector)
Dry erase pens or markers

1.)  Firs,t using a bright-colored sheet of paper I wrote out our address in dashed characters so it looked like the tracer pages she’s become accustomed to writing on. (I placed a sheet of lined paper behind the sheet I was writing on to help make sure my characters were all about the same size and evenly spaced.)

2.) Next, I went outside and took a picture of our home (I couldn’t find one on our computer) and transformed it into a sketch using an app on my iPad (you could also just change it to black and white or leave it colored.)  I wanted it to look like a coloring page so she would be encouraged to color (not an activity she likes to do very much.)

3.) Lastly, I glued the print out of the sketch onto the paper where I wrote our address and laminated the whole thing.

The result is a whiteboard on which she can not only trace the address but also a photo of our home so she makes the connection that the numbers and words mean our home.  As an added bonus she is encouraged to color and trace which helps improve her fine motor skills and word recognition.  I must say, I am very happy I put this all together! :)

FYI, if you don’t have a laminator you could use a sheet protector, just test out your markers/dry erase pens to make sure they wipe off.  We used both dry erase markers and regular color washable markers and they both wipe off very easily.

Here’s a picture of her using her new address whiteboard. (Most of our address is covered by ** symbols for privacy, but I think I left enough so you get the idea :)


Drawing for Family Portrait with Lindsey Jost Photography August 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlleen @ 11:47 am

My neighbor, friend and fabulous photographer is sponsoring a giveaway for a family portrait. She does really beautiful work. Follow the link to check out details on how to register for the drawing.



Tot Packs – A fun way to learn! August 2, 2011

Filed under: Tot Packs — marlleen @ 12:06 pm

My sister-in-law introduced me to this great blog, 1+1+1=1 and I was immediately hooked!  The author has such amazing, easy and FREE tools for teaching little ones at home.  I now make this my go-to site for lessons and fun activities!  There is a LOT of information so the first thing we’ve gotten into have been the tot packs  My kids LOVE them!  Here’s the skinny:

What is a tot pack?

It is a file folder cut in half (width wise) and then folded on both sides to create a little book.  It is then filled with various, free printable templates that you just need to trim, laminate and place inside your book.  Serves as a fun way of teaching toddlers and preschoolers basic concepts like shapes, counting, colors, matching, etc.

How much will it cost me?

The templates on 1+1+1=1 are free.  You’ll need a printer to print the templates you want at home.  A laminating machine is not necessary, but nice to have since the lamination protects your cut-outs from little hands eager to tear and squish (I found this out pretty quickly!)  I picked up my laminator for under $30 on Amazon.com.  You’ll also need some file folders, double-sided tape, white card stock and a stapler.  Most items you probably already have at home, so the cost should be pretty low.  I purchased the laminator, laminator sheets, a pack of white card stock, and a pack of colored file folders for approximately $48.  I’m estimating each book/pack costs me about $2, pretty GREAT I say!  Also figure the laminator is a one time purchase and the card stock I always use for a variety of print at home activities.

Why do I (my kids) need these?

For one thing, they’re fun!  They are a teaching tool, but the kids think of them more as toys and love to pull out the cards and play with them, little do they know they are learning too!
Secondly, I like the 15 minutes or so break I can sometimes get when they sit down to “play” with them.  Of course, I do sit and interact with them too most times, but sometimes it’s nice to let them play on their own so I can decompress. :)
Next they are so portable!  I haven’t had a reason to take them any where yet but I thought what a neat little book to take to the dr office so they can play while we wait or on long car rides.  Instant entertainment!

We LOVE our tot books and I’ve even designed my own that I’m going to post for printing later.  I think one of my favorite things about these little books is that the possibilities are endless!  You can design your own using basic software (I used Power Point) based on your children’s interests.  The one I designed for my daughter is all about butterflies, which she’s been into lately.

If you decide to make some for your kid/s I’d love to hear about it!!

Below are some pics of the tot books in action!  There’s a link at the bottom of the page that will take you the templates on 1+1+1=1 website.

Playing with the Cars tot pack

Curious George, Cars & Thomas the Train tot packs

He loves his Cars!


Under the Sea – A Repositionable Ocean Scene July 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlleen @ 12:23 pm

Yesterday my kids were completely enthralled by the PBS Nature show, Oceans in Glass. Seriously, a two and three year old sat with their eyes glued to this documentary style show.  I thought for sure they’d lose interest when the animals were off the screen and the scientists were describing the mechanics of the aquarium, but oh no, they loved every minute of it!  So what did we do today????  Make our own ocean, of course!!!

What I love about this project is that it takes great ideas from other sites and pulls them together.  I also love that it’s a project that can keep growing.  As your child learns a new fish/animal you can draw (or print a template) of said animal for he/she to paint/color and then add to the scene!  You can keep building their vocabulary by introducing new sea creatures at your own pace.
Vocabulary:  ocean, sea, habitat, anemone, octopus, jellyfish, starfish, endangered, translucent, kelp, shark, whale, tuna
Math skills: Make multiple of the same fish and have them count them.  Take one away, add one and have them practice addition, subtraction.
Physical fitness:  Have your child hold their sea creature and move how it would move.  Put on some fun music in the background to encourage them to keep up the movement for at least a few minutes.
Geography:  Look at a globe/map and name the different oceans.
Supplies needed:
Poster board
Painting tools (brushes, sponges, cotton balls, etc)
Paper plates
Coffee filters
Crepe paper/construction paper
Adhesive back Velcro squares
1.)  Ocean – (paints, poster board, painting tools)  I mixed a few different colors to get two different shades of blue.  Just experiment with this and see what you come up with, just needs to look blue!  Typically we paint with brushes so I changed things up a bit and gave them cotton balls, scrunched up paper towels and lemon stretch covers. The girls and I made the ocean in no time and then left it to dry.

2.)  Starfish – (paper plates, card stock, paint, scissors, glue)  We made our starfish following these directions.  I did not use beads (as the directions call for) because they’re still too much of a choking hazard for my 2 year old so we just used paint.  We glued the painted starfish onto a solid sheet of card stock and then waited for them to dry.  After they dried I carefully cut them out.
3.)  Jellyfish – After nap and a little quiet/reading time we made our jellyfish out of paper plates.  We used these directions for an octopus, but called them jellyfish.  We didn’t use the template but glued on eyes and drew in smiles.  We glued on the tentacles which I cut out of strips of crepe paper.   Then we waited for those to dry.  (See how we practiced patience with all the waiting for glue to dry!?!? :)
4.)  Fish (coffee filters, markers, scissors, construction paper, glue)  We used this nifty coffee filter craft to make our fish.  Once dried I glued them to construction paper (you could also use card stock) to make them a little sturdier.
5.)  FINALLY, I had the girls help apply Velcro strips to the back of each creature and then we stuck them on our ocean.  I made sure to apply even pressure upon the initial placement so the piece of velcro that would stay on the poster board was very well stuck.   The kids had a ball with their very own ocean and they can’t wait to make a shark and a whale to add to our scene!!
I taped up our scene to one side of our kitchen island but this would look nice in your child’s bedroom or playroom too!

Anemone for you and me!

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlleen @ 11:42 am
Tags: , , , ,

We’ve been building an ocean scene all week, starting with our ocean that we painted on poster board and then adding various sea creatures. Today among a few other animals we made anemones. Here’s how we made these cute little guys….

Vocabulary words: anemone, tentacles, habitat, coral, sea floor, carnivores
Math skills: make multiple then count, add and subtract
Physical activity: show a video of how an anemone swims (we watched this one on YouTube) and then have the kids try to imitate; we did this to the “under the sea” song from The Little Mermaid.


Toilet paper roll (1 per anemone)
Thick yarn (you could use a thinner type but it will take longer, (I’m all for speediness when working with kids. :)

1.) First, I had the children practice wrapping the yarn around the toilet paper roll which gave us a good approximation for the length we needed. I had each child cut the yarn using their safety scissors.

2.). Next, I applied glue to the entire surface of about 3/4 of the roll. I attached one end of the yarn near the bottom and then had each child start to wrap it around slowly, helping as they went along.

3.). After we’d wrapped about 3/4 of the roll I trimmed off any remaining length of yarn and glued it down.

4.). I then added glue to the rest of the roll and attached a new section of yarn. This yarn piece I placed vertically, making loops that stuck out over the end of the roll edge. (see picture below.)

5. To make sure the arms/tentacles would stay secure I took another short piece of yarn and wrapped it around the vertical section a couple of times and then tied it off.

6.). Last I had each child cut through all the loops, creating the anemone’s tentacles. You want them to be uneven so don’t worry about getting the same length on each one.

You could add a face if you’d like. I decided to keep them simple, no faces. We can always add them later if the kids want to.

Here they are added to our “sea floor.” :)



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