Monday, October 30, 2017

Trips: Pumpkin Picking


We returned to Creamy Acres Farm for Pumpkin Picking this October 2017.  The farm has the typical activities of a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch and a corn maze for their Fall Fest but also includes many other fun activities for those who purchase access to the Field of Fun. 

On the tractor ride to the pumpkin patch you are driven by the cows, silo, Nights of Terrors fields for Zombie Paintball and cornfields. 

Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch 
The corn maze had a super hero theme with individuals like Batman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman. At the exit of the maze, all the children received a prize!

After picking out your pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, you can visit the goats or get back onto the tractor to go to the Field of Fun or return to the Store and parking lot area.

The activities at the Field of Fun included a Cow Train, Tire Mountain, Spooky Straw Maze, Corn Pit, Pumpkin Painting, Face Painting, Bouncy Ball Fun, Pedal Karts, and other games. 

Spooky Straw Maze 
My son said he liked the Cow Train the best while my daughter did not want to leave the Corn Pit.

Corn Pit
Everything at the Field of Fun is an enclosed area, which definitely provides a sense of safety because as a parent you know your little one isn't going to keep running the entire length of the farm fields.
Pedal Karts, Cow Train and Pumpkin Painting
One of the things added this year was the Pumpkin Painting which both our children enjoyed.  All individuals who paid for the tractor ride to the pumpkin patch and the Field of Fun received a free small pumpkin.  My son painted a green and yellow kitty cat. My daughter had a face painted on her pumpkin, but she ultimately painted the entire pumpkin yellow.  

The day was beautiful and all the employees are very helpful.  We can't wait till next year!


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Friday, October 27, 2017

Crafts: Black Cat


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October 27 is National Black Cat Day.  Black cats have gotten a bad wrap over the course of history as bringing bad luck or being familiars of witches but they are really just like any other cat.  

My family has owned several almost totally black cats over the years as well as many other tabby cats.  We never felt the black cats brought any more prosperity or negative luck to our homes as the traditions and myths surrounding them differ from culture to culture. 

Misty with Buffy the Mouse. 

One of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe stories is The Black Cat.  If you get the chance to visit the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA, you can see the basement that might have been the inspiration for the famous tale.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site Basement 

False chimney place in the basement resembles that in the story The Black Cat.

Since black cats are so often associated with Halloween thanks to numerous movies, books, and television shows, my children created their own black cats to decorate our front door for the holiday. These black cats could be created for any cat lesson and be changed to any color you or your children wish.
Materials 

Steps 

1. Gather all the materials. Depending on the age of your children, you can pre-cut the ears, nose, eyes, tail, whiskers, and feet or they can do that during the actual craft time.

2. Color or paint the two paper plates the color of your cats.


3. Start attaching all the pieces of the paper plates.  


4. Attach the two paper plates together.  Attach the tale, ears, and feet onto the back with tape. 


5. Display completed project. 

Resources 

I heart Crafty things' Paper Plate Cat Craft
Danielle's Place's Cat and Kitten Craft for Kids
Crafts by Amanda's Paper Plate Black Cat 

Not to leave out the other cats that we have owned here are their photographs. Do you have any pet cats? Please share in the comments.  
Mac - brother to Rumple and Skimble

Rumple - brother to Mac and Skimble

Skimble - sister to Mac and Rumple

Clarke 



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mathematics: Preschool Playground


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Is math necessary? Only if you want to be able to buy, sell, cook, navigate, plan for the future, leave a tip, live frugally, handle home repair, calculate material yardage, know how much carpet you need or whether the couch will fit along the wall, play a board game, take a trip, or do almost anything else. In short, the answer is YES! Whether you need to teach first grade math or high school trigonometry, SchoolhouseTeachers.com has math courses for you. They even have courses to help you teach math such as Finally Conquer Fractions, Hands-On Math Help with Cuisenaire Rods, and How to Teach Elementary Math. Bring some fun into math—for you and your student!

Both my four year old and two year old know their numbers from 1 to 20 and even beyond that to some extant.  My four year old will even sit at the table and 'do math' by creating his own addition worksheets.  Just the other night my two year old daughter surprised me by counting to 20 with only one or two corrections.

As my two littles know their shapes, I decided we would work on lessons from Preschool Playground: Numbers, Patterns, and Cognitive Skills this week in addition to some other activities that we will be doing for the fall.  This way he would practice on his writing skills and my daughter could join in for some fun crafts I added to the lessons.

On Monday, my four year old practiced writing his number one while my daughter played with the Sesame Street pictures I cut out for our second activity.

Worksheets from Preschool Playground

I wrote the number one numerically as "1" and as "one" on the paper along with the name of the character.  I used old wrapping paper for the pictures of the characters which meant that there was an uneven number available.  Surprisingly neither my son nor my daughter were upset that their pictures were different.


We counted out 1 Elmo, 1 Cookie Monster, 1 Big Bird, and so on as we worked.  I then let them draw or color on the paper as they saw fit.

The next day we completed a counting exercise using some Dollar Store erasers and plastic mice.  I created the counting board for a bow activity and we have used it several times for counting Thomas Trains, cars, and milk caps.


My daughter helped count out the smaller numbers. My son did some simple addition and subtraction to figure out how many erasers or mice we need to take from the lower numbers for the numbers in the second row.


This counting activity can be done again with fake leaves, acorns, turkey-shaped erasers, Christmas themed erasers, bows, snowflakes, foam hearts, etc.

On Wednesday, my son and I worked on practicing writing the number two while my daughter drew happy, sad, and angry faces on pumpkins.


Preschool Playground has many ideas including suggestions for using chalk, noodles, pretzels, yarn, shaving cream to learn numbers as well as a variety of worksheets that teach the writing of the numbers, reading clocks and calendars, and positional words.

Even if you are not teaching a preschooler, there are many math lessons at SchoolhouseTeachers.com for you and your child.  If you are teaching an elementary student, they could take Fraction Workshop or Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math. For older students, they also offer such courses as Geometry and Statistics.




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Birthday Party: Swords and Wizardry Light


For our teen's 15th birthday, we held a Swords and Wizardry Light-themed party.

Here is the link to my Pinterest Board: Party Ideas: Dungeons and Dragons Birthday.

Food 


Azer's Chili

I made a slow cooker freezer meal of Texas Chili for this dish.

Roc Nachos (Chicken Nachos)

For these I used the following ingredients and cooked on high for 3 to 4 hours.  After about 4 hours, I shredded the chicken and put out the nachos.

  • 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about 1/2 cup of frozen corn (you can add more or less depending on your taste)
  • 2 cans of drained black beans
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes (one drained)
  • 2 TBSP of taco seasoning 
  • dash of salt & pepper for taste
  • dash of garlic power 


Treant's Broccoli Alfredo Pasta 

I cooked the broccoli on the stove top separately and then added it to the slow cooker with the sauce. I kept the pasta separate so it would not get too mushy.



Dragon Eggs 



Hard boiled eggs dyed different colors.







Bullywug's Jello

I used blue jello and put in gummy frogs and candy eyes (which melted during the setting process). I decorated the top with the frogs and eyes (and the eyes melted again). I would recommend saving the candy eyes for cookies or cupcakes. If our local candy store had gummy eyes, I would have used them instead.
We purchased our gummy frogs from Carole's Candy Corner.











Elemental Cupcakes, Brownies, & Cookies 

I made red and blue cupcakes to represent fire and water, baked brownies for earth, and sugar cookies for air.



Drinks 

I labeled the different drinks with Mana, Health, Potion of Strength and Fire Resistance to continue to theme. 


Role Playing 

Prior to the birthday party, my husband and I created over a dozen player characters from which our guests could choose to partake in the adventure. We used Wizardawn to help us generate ideas for names and characters as well as Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names by Malcolm Bowers.

My husband ran the actual adventure while I kept everything else running smoothly and entertained the adults and children who were not participating. My husband wrote about Rustam Riverhooper's Birthday Celebration on his own blog.

Party Favors

We picked up the two types of dice the children would need during the Swords and Wizardry Light game: six-sided and twenty-sided.


Decorations

We used a variety of items to decorate the house for our teen's birthday party from Dollar Store and Spirit Halloween costume items to actual Dungeons and Dragons miniatures.







Halloween Decorations

We used scene setters in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. I decorated the table in the kitchen to look like a treasure room with beads hanging from the chandelier and coins and beads scattered on the table.

Scattered throughout the house were rubber and plastic mice, plastic bats hanging at the door, and bones and skulls. We also made a pole axe and trident as well as stained glass windows to help create the effect.

The littles helped decorate by coloring in different people such as a magic-user, druid, fighter, and halfling.
The party was a success with my stepson and his friends.  They had a great time with the adventure and got to use their imagination to solve the problems my husband set forth for them in the story.





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Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Club: Pitchin' A Fit! by Israel and Brook Wayne



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Pitchin’ a Fit! Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting by Israel and Brook Wayne is an enlightening read. Unfortunately, stress is apart of everyday life and it seems to be multiplied when you are a parent. Being a parent of two under the age of five and one teenager makes my own household seem even more stressful. 

I approached the Wayne’s book, Pitchin’ a Fit!, with great anticipation because I know I lose my patience and tend to let life and parenting stress me out too much.  A lot of the book spoke to me. It was easy to connect with such statements as:

“Just why do little stressors have to all gang up on me together…?” [1]

“We like to safeguard our lives and avoid stress at all costs.” [2]  

“Very often, anger is a defense mechanism that we utilize, not only to protect our physical well-being, but also our emotional and/or spiritual well-being.” [3]

Personally, I find that I often let things build up and then I lose my patience.  There is an entire chapter: “But I’m Not Patient!” that discusses the idea that most see patience as sliding scale.  We say, “I’m losing my patience” but it isn’t really something we lose. Brooke Wayne addresses that idea the “Patience isn’t Passive.”  Too often we think of it as something to be lost but we must make an active choice to walk with those who might anger us with love and encouragement.  “Patience…opens the door of a relationship” while anger slams it shut. [4]

This book provides a Christian perspective on how to handle “angry and stressed-out parenting.” It is recommended to: “ask God to forgive you and change your heart” and “believe that God can and will change you.” Pitchin’ A Fit! contains numerous biblical quotes and references to provide the reader with insight so one can “memorize it, and apply it.” [5]

I would recommend this book to Christian parents – even those who are not overcoming anger and who are not stressed out.  It reminds us not to enter a “default mode” of criticizing our children but to look for positive ways to discipline children and bring them closer to God.




[1] Israel and Brook Wayne, Pitchin’ A Fit!: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting, (Green Forest, AR, New Leaf Press, 2016), 14.
[2] Wayne, Pitchin’ A Fit!, 15.
[3] Wayne, Pitchin’ A Fit!, 44.
[4] Wayne, Pitchin’ A Fit!, 114.
[5] Wayne, Pitchin’ A Fit!, 52.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Language Arts

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We have been fortunate enough that our four year old started learning his letters before he turned two. It was most noticeable when he would read the letters off our t-shirts. Our daughter, who is about 2 ½ years old, still struggles to get all her letters correct.  So I felt doing the ABC: What Will I Be? Lessons from SchoolhouseTeachers.com would be fantastic for both of them.  He could work on his writing skills and the more advanced activities and she could join in on the fun.

I would like to highlight “B is for Baker.” I did some of the activities and added my own as well. 

I started by writing the letter “B” and the word “Baker” on our small white board.  We then talked about what bakers do and what items they bake.  My son immediately connected it to Daniel Tiger’s Baker Aker.



After this I introduced the B writing page that is part of the “B is for Baker” pack for my son and the birthday cake coloring page for my daughter. In typical fashion, my daughter grabbed the “B” writing paper and started coloring on it causing my son to get upset.  This provided a perfect opportunity for us to talk about mistakes and forgiveness.
 
Some of the materials provided in the lesson.







After all was settled down, my son continued with tracing the lowercase letter “b” with me saying “down” and “around” to help him trace following the arrows. My daughter colored the cake for my father-in-law’s birthday.

Mixing ingredients. 
We then continued making birthday pictures and talking about other “B” words.  Later on my son and I baked some cookies together using the recipe provided for shortbread.  We read the recipe together and mixed the ingredients.  My only recommendation would be trying out a new recipe before baking with a little one or using one you have used more than once.




A family trip to the library resulted in bringing home a book about baking.  There are several listed in the “B is for Baker” lesson but my littles have started reading Scooby-Doo books. So, we found Scooby-Doo! Snack Snatcher which was about a baking contest.

There are also activities for play dough and math for “B is for Baker.” Each lesson has several activities for a week's worth of projects and introduces your child to 26 different professions in the process. 

Each class offered at SchoolhouseTeachers.com provides a clear and straightforward approach to the subject of Language Arts. Classes include those that introduce pre-reading skills and/or focus upon African American Literature, grammar, and creative writing. Visit now to see what classes are available for your child. 

Resources 


Harvest Special 2017