Monthly Archives: April 2014

Children’s Activity Table

Before I was a mother, I was a preschool teacher.  Those years of teaching and learning from the children in my classroom, undoubtedly impacted the way I mother my own children.

When my kiddos were pre-k/kindergarten age I started doing Activity Tables with them.

Activity Table

The purpose of the Activity Table is to give the kiddos the opportunity to follow their own natural curiousity.   When I set up an Activity Table, I choose a theme, gather a variety of supplies, and set it all up on the kitchen table.  The kiddos job is to have fun!  No end product in mind, no time limit, no specific instructions… just them exploring and creating on their own.  I’m always near by to help but I don’t interfere.

This is the first Activity Table I did with my children-

Activity Table: art mediums

The theme behind this activity was “art mediums”.  They were given a stack of papers in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  I set out watercolor paints, tempera paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, chalk pastels, charcoal pencils, and brushes in all different sizes.  They had such a good time!  I left the supplies out for the better part of the day and let them come and go as they wished.

Activity Table: art mediums

The second Activity Table we did was a Science theme.  I went to the Dollar Store and stocked up on all kinds of ingredients.  I put out cornstarch, oil, colored water with eyedroppers, shaving cream, salt, vinegar, bar soap, baking soda, sugar, and cornmeal.  The purpose of this table was to let them mix, dissolve, measure, and observe any chemical reactions that happen along the way.

Activity Table: Science

This project was messy!  No getting around the mess.  But they had a great time trying different combinations of mixtures.  I made sure I had plenty of paper towels and rags on hand to deal with any accidents.  I also made sure they were wearing play clothes.

Activity Table: Science

They most recent Activity Table we did was 3D art.  For the last three months I had been saving egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, soapboxes, half & half cartons, oatmeal canisters… anything that had an interesting shape.

Activity Table: 3D art

The purpose of this table was to use the supplies to construct something.  The boys really got into this project!

I tried to set out anything I thought they might need for assembling their 3D art.  We had white glue, a low-temp glue gun, a variety of colored and patterned tape, pipe cleaners, hole punches, Sharpies, stapler, twine, colorful poms, googly eyes, buttons, and paint.  I even set up a few cans of spray paint on a work table outside so they could spray paint the plastic containers.

Activity Table: 3D Art

G wanted to make binoculars

Activity Table: 3D Art

As always I let the children come up with their own ideas.  I made sure I was around to help with any cutting or carving but for the most part I let them do everything themselves.

These are the little egg carton turtles that Miss E made.

Activity Table: 3D Art

These are the robots that the boys made out of Miss P’s old Puff containers.  Aren’t they fun?!

Activity Table: 3D Art

This is G’s soapbox robot.

Activity Table: 3D Art

Miss E really wanted to make animals!  This is her egg carton caterpillar.

Activity Table: 3D Art

J even managed to make a few robots that had moving parts; arms or feet that could be moved back and forth.

Activity Table: 3D Art

The Activity Tables are work, and they are messy, but I don’t mind because the payoff is worth it.  Watching them happily create something on their own it totally worth the work!

If you’re interested in doing and Activity Table with your own kiddos here are some tips I learned over the years-

- Cheap plastic tablecloths are your best friend!  They are water proof and disposable.  When you’re cleaning up you can just leave any bits of paper and trash on the tablecloth, wad it all up and throw it away!

- be sure to set up near a sink, and always have paper towels and rags on hand.

-set up different “stations” at the table.  Make one end of the table a “painting station”, have designated spot for glue, and a spot for cutting and taping.  This will help keep the chaos at bay.

-if the table starts to get too messy, take a few minutes to clear away the trash and reset the stations.  Too much mess and clutter can hinder creativity.

-take a deep breath and relax!  There will be moments when you want to loose your cool, especially if your like me and have a hard time letting mess just happen :)   Messiness, clutter, and a bit of chaos is just part of the experience, and you have to learn to let go and not be too controlling.

-give the process some time.  When the kids first sit down they will be keyed-up and excited.  That initial excited frenzy will pass and that’s when the creative magic starts to happen.  Don’t give up before it gets good!

If you enjoy doing projects with your kiddos and are looking for new and fun projects to do with them, The Artful Parent is one of my favorite blogs!  Jean Van’t Hul is a never ending wealth of knowledge and creativity!  I also love her Pinterest Boards.

 

Now go out and have some fun with your kids!  And thanks for stopping by!  ~April

Days go by

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m developing the bad habit of doing once-a-month posts.  I will have to remedy that.

But for now here are some of the highlights from the month of April-

Baseball season started!  Justin is coaching both of the boys and it’s been a great experience for all of them.   G is playing for the first time this year.  I had to stifle a laugh when Justin announced at the beginning of their first game, “All right boys, we have too many players so someone is going to have to sit on the bench this inning.  Any volunteers?”  Over half the boys hands shot up and waved frantically to which Justin responded, “You guys!  Sitting on the bench is a bad thing!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe winter wheat on the back of the property was chopped and left to dry in the sun.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMiss E lost a tooth!  When she was 2 she fell and damaged her front teeth.  One just got chipped but the other tooth turned grey.  At her last dentist appointment our dentist decided it was time to pull it out.  She was very brave and the Tooth Fairy rewarded her handsomely.

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The boys had their annual Speech Meet at school.  They get all dressed up and preform poems for all their families.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey work hard memorizing their poems and learning good public speaking skills.  Of course we all get a kick out of seeing each child stand up and preform.  Their little personalities have a way of shinning through!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMr. G is always a little nervous

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This guy right here is getting pretty handy in the kitchen!  He wanted to make lemon cookies for his Grandpa and Grammy and he did it all with very little help from me.

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The first day of Spring break we headed to the library and maxed out all of our library cards.  Smartest thing I’ve ever done!  Those books kept them quietly occupied many afternoons during their vacation.  We also have a habit of stopping at Sonic afterward for tater tots and half price slushies.  Really, life doesn’t get much better than that!

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I also ordered 3 Ed Emberley drawing books which helped keep away the “boredom blues”.  They’ve gotten so good at following the step-by-step instructions and they’ve made the most darling pictures lately.

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We spent Easter weekend at the beach.  It was lovely…

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My thought for the month:  I wish we Christians would spend less time being outraged, offended and argumentative, and more time being His hands and feet.  Defending our faith to the faithless is a waste of time, and it tricks us into thinking we are doing His work.  He doesn’t need my outrage.  He needs my obedience.

 

March

This is the part where I cram an entire month into one post~

March… you were good to us.

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Rainy days where we all crowded into the kitchen and made soup together

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Doctor E. tended to many a sick bunny

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J got his first baseball related injury

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I got my very own raised beds for my cutting garden!!  There will lots and lots of flowers this summer…

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Daddy had lots of good help (well dressed help I might add)

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Babies are gross… in an adorable way

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We went to San Fransisco for a field trip to the Exploratorium OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATheir motto is “touch everything!”  and we did!

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It was a gorgeous day in the city.  We ate a late lunch with our good friends and enjoyed the sun

 

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Miss E. turned 5!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe celebrated with crafts, and brownie Sundaes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…fancy finger nails

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…and watching Frozen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI turned 36 and managed to drag my birthday celebrations out for a full week.  My mother-in-law gave me this darling tray.

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Big Sis turned Miss P’s crib into a tent much to her delight

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Yup Miss P is pretty infatuated with her big Sis

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And now it’s April!  Time for spring