Thursday, December 28, 2017

Learning about the Alphabet: A is for Alligator

Text: Learning about the Letter A: A is for Alligator; photo of an alligator; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

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Over the course of twenty-six posts, I will introduce my own simple lessons for the letters of the alphabet.  I will provide enough ideas and suggestions for a week's worth of activities.  

For the letter A, we focused upon alligators.  We colored pictures, read books, and completed crafts to help us learn about these amazing animals.

Alligators are a type of animal that belong to the class of reptiles (which includes snakes, lizards, turtles, and the tuatara) and belong to the order of Crocodilians (along with crocodiles, caimans, and gharials).  Depending on the age of your child, you can create a flow chart to show them how they are connected to other animals.

Alligators have short, wide snouts while crocodiles have slender, pointy snouts.  The other major difference is when an alligator's mouth is closed its fourth lower tooth is usually hidden, while a crocodile's fourth lower tooth is visible when its mouth is closed.  You can have your child make an alligator mouth with their hands.

Alligator Skull (fourth lower tooth hidden)

Crocodile Skull (fourth lower teeth visible)

An alligator's body is covered in scales made of keratin (the same protein that makes up our own fingernails and hair). So every time you are touching your finger nails, you are feeling what an alligator (or any reptile) feels like - smooth and dry (not slimy at all!).

Like other reptiles, alligators are cold-blooded.  They must regulate their own body temperature by either basking in the sun to warm up or moving into the cool waters to cool down.

An alligator's eyes and nostrils are located on the top of its head allowing them to sit with just those poking out of the water so they can keep the rest of their body hidden from predators or prey.  Look at different pictures of alligators and other animals to compare where their eyes are ears are located.  You can talk about the differences with your child.  For example, a rabbit's eyes are located on the side of its head letting it see almost all the way around them to keep away from predators.

Crocodilians make a variety of sounds from soft hissing to loud bellows.  Baby crocodilians will make a high pitched noise from inside the egg to let their mom (who stays with the nest) know they are ready to hatch. Using its egg tooth (a hard spot of the tip of its snout) the crocodilian will break free from the egg.  The mother will assist the hatching crocodilians by removing nesting material and then continuing to protect her young for several years.  Talk about the following questions with your child: How does a baby human let his or her parents know it needs help?  How long do humans stay with their families? How long do other reptiles stay with their mothers? In almost all cases, reptiles lay their eggs and leave them; there are some exceptions like the python.

Alligators will prey on most any animal such as insects, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, and other reptiles. If your child is older, you can talk about food chains (an example could be plant material - insects - amphibians - raccoon - alligator).



Alligator and Crocodile Vocabulary 

Coloring Sheets

Super Coloring Alligator Pages 
This site features realistic and cartoon alligators for your little ones to color.

Mom Junction's Top 25 Free Printable Alligator Coloring Pages
There is a variety of coloring pages and some activity suggestions to go along with each page.

Alligator Projects 

A is for Alligator

Alligator Craft 


Featured Shape

Have your child work on drawing a triangle this week.  If you take a look at the snout of an alligator, it closely resembles a triangle.

You can build a triangle with craft sticks, cut out scraps of construction paper in triangle shapes, look for signs around town shaped like a triangle, and examine the musical instrument. 


My Pinterest Lessons - Letters Board

If you complete any of the crafts, please let me know in the comments. I would love to see them.  

Clay Play 

I purchased a tray from the Dollar Store and gathered together various materials that my children could use with the Play Doh. They created a home and food for the tiny alligator and lizard toys provided with no prompting.

The items I included this time were: a roller and cutter from a Play Doh kit, straws, buttons, plastic lids, rocks, plastic rock, toy alligators, and Play Doh.

Other A Topics 

Fun Handprint Art's Apple Counting Activity for Johnny Appleseed Day (September 26) 
This is a fun way to count apples involving paint or stamp pads.

123 Homeschool for Me's Apple Seed Counting Activity and From ABCS to ACTS's Printable Apple Seed Counting Activity  
A great activity to practice counting and if your children love dice like mine do, then this is perfect for them.


Play and Learn with Dana's Letter A Airplane Craft 

This is a great craft to introduce the lowercase letter a.

Homeschool Preschool's Printable Airplane Activities 
This packet has lots of fun letter A and airplane activities for your toddlers.


Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's American Alligator page 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Crafts: C is for Construction

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We had previously completed a lesson from that focused upon Construction and as we make our way through the alphabet, I wanted to create a C is for Construction craft with my two littles.

The idea was to provide them with construction related images to glue onto the letter C such as a hard hat, a hammer, a ruler, and bricks.  In the true spirit of creation, my children designed their very own original C pictures. Even though they weren't really want I had in mind, the finished products are fantastic.



1. Gather all materials. If you children are proficient with scissors, they can cut out the letter C and other materials needed for their pictures.

2.  Glue the letter C onto the construction paper.

3. Allow your child to glue on the construction related images.  I simply drew a few items (a hard hat, a hammer, a ruler) and then cut out many rectangles for bricks for them to use.  If you wish, they can draw the images or you can print out pictures on the computer.

4. Display the artwork. 

my son's picture 

Using construction paper in our crafts (both those that are construction-themed and those that are not) is one of our favorite ways to create art. We have made giraffes and Endermen in the past.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Busy/Quiet Boxes - Funny Felt Faces

Text: Busy/Quiet Boxes - Funny Felt Faces

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After discovering the idea of busy or quiet boxes online, I scoured Pinterest for ideas that I could put into action in order to promote my toddler's imagination and quiet activities.

If you are unfamiliar with busy or quiet boxes, they are quite simple and can be implemented in a number of ways. A box can be created for each day of the week (or just the weekdays), bags can be created for each separate activity so you can pick and choose when to share certain activities, or bags can be created that can be taken out to restaurants and shopping trips.

This activity was based upon the idea of creating faces out of pre-cut felt.

I decided to create two skin tones (for now) as well several hair styles, eye colors and shapes, noses, and facial hair. I used green felt left from my Christmas Tree Activity for the background and sewed plastic canvas inside to provide some shape and stability.

In the future, I would like to create additional hair styles in different colors and additional mouths to show different emotions.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Crafts: D is for Door

Text: Crafts D is for Door; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

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crafts with the letter D

My daughter is working on learning the letters of the alphabet so we have been completing a number of letter-themed crafts.  To go along with a holiday lesson, I created this door craft for her and her brother to complete.



1. Gather all materials.

2. If your child is proficient with scissors, they can cut out all the pieces themselves.  If not, cut out the letter D and a door.

3. Glue the letter D onto a piece of construction paper.

4.  Glue on the door.  Be sure to only glue a stripe onto the paper to create a hinge so the door can be opened and closed. Glue on the doorknob.  We recycled buttons for our door knobs.

5.  If you wish to decorate the craft for Christmas, add a wreath and other holiday decor.

6.  For a winter time D is for Door craft, add snowflake sequins.

If you create this craft with your child, I would love to see it.  You can share it on my Facebook page or tag it on Instagram with #momquesttoteach.  Thank you. 

Looking for more crafts from A Mom's Quest to Teach: 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Minecraft - A Journey Through Tutorials and Let's Plays

Minecraft building

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Do your children like Minecraft? Do you like Minecraft? Even though the game has been out for 8 years, it is still a very popular game. My stepson first introduced it to me in 2012 when he wanted it for the Xbox 360. Let me show you the journey I took on YouTube as I looked for tutorials on the game. Often as parents, we do not understand how our children can go from watching an approved Disney YouTube video to a music video with inappropriate language. The Internet, including YouTube, is a rabbit hole where one thing leads to the next. It is not all bad but depending on what you think is right for your family, you will need to monitor your children's views online.

Minecraft pyramidI started watching Minecraft tutorials on YouTube as I started playing the game myself. I found The Black Belt Panda and Paul Soares Jr (PSJ). While watching PSJ, I found my way to Complete the Monument (CTM) maps, Vechs and Zisteau. From there to Vintagebeef and the Mindcrack Server. I spent a number of years watching most of the members of the Mindcrack Server. During that time I have watched a variety of games played by the YouTubers I had started following and found several new games that I also enjoyed (like Slime Rancher). I have also found many other Let's Players to watch via their association with those the Mindcrack Server as well as found some new games for our family to enjoy. Since I watched a lot of these men and women on YouTube, I was also able to monitor to a degree which channels our teen was watching to help decide on appropriateness of material (language, subject matter, etc).

Minecraft castle

Minecraft is a great game because it allows people to use their imagination. You can build fantasy based buildings or replicate real world places.

You can work out geometry problems or learn coding as you create a mod for the program. You can meet people from around the world as you play on servers and practice your language skills. There are also many different official and unofficial books to read and to use when teaching your children. Schools also use Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom for many of the reasons I have already mentioned.

So if your children enjoy computer or console games and this is the one they play a lot, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Everything should be done in moderation but at least with this game it is allowing for imagination and creativity to be fostered.

Please Note: Some of the YouTube channels discussed in my blog are not appropriate for all age levels. We have allowed our teenager to watch some of these playlists and channels but not all of them. Please view any videos before or with your child. Also just because someone is family-friendly does not mean that all the games on their channel may necessarily family-friendly or align with your views.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Crafts: S is for Sheep

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After working in the Children's Zoo at our local zoo, I have grown to love sheep and goats.  I had the privilege of helping to look after them for several autumn months one year.  As we are learning about farms and farm animals, I thought creating a sheep craft would be a perfect complement to our lessons.



1.  Gather all materials. If your children are older, they can draw or trace a large letter S as the body for the sheep. Help them cut out your shapes if they are semi-proficient or proficient with scissors.

2. Glue the letter S onto the green (for grass) or brown (for dirt) construction paper.

3. Glue on the head, ears, and eyes.

4.  Draw on your sheep's face.

5. Pull apart of the cotton balls till it stretches a bit and then glue onto the letter S for the wool.

6.  After drying, display proudly in your home.


Science Kids' Animal Facts Page about Sheep 
Sheep (Farm Animals) by Heather C. Hudak 

See more crafts from A Mom's Quest to Teach: 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book Club: What's the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile?

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In the book What’s the difference between alligator and crocodile? by Lisa Bullard with illustrations by Bandelin-Dacey, children can learn some of the key differences between the two reptiles. 

Bullard's book provides great illustrations with an easy-to-read text sharing many facts.  It is well-organized and provides examples for each reptile on each pair of pages.  There is also a section for fun facts and a glossary at the end of the book to further your knowledge.


Free Alligator and Crocodile Vocabulary Worksheet for your children to color – words include the following:



Share sounds with your children of baby alligators and crocodiles, as well as the noises that adults make

Share the following images of an alligator and crocodile skull with your children to review the physical differences of their snouts.  In the first two photographs, you can see the difference in shape and size.  The alligator's snout is wider and rounder while the crocodile's is narrower and more pointed. In the second two photographs, you can notice the bottom tooth sticking up on the crocodile's jaw.  This tooth is visible when their mouths are closed.

alligator skull
Replica Alligator Skull

crocodile skull
Replica Crocodile Skull

alligator skull
Replica Alligator Skull

crocodile skull
Replica Crocodile Skull 

Clay Play

Gather together materials to play with homemade or Play Doh.


These are two of the alligator themed crafts we have made at our home. 

Alligator Craft

Alligator at Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina