Exploring The Letter E : Elmo, Elephants, and Eggs

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At the beginning of our letter exploration, we start by looking at the letter and tracing this letter with our fingers. During this time, I make the sound that that particular letter makes and LC repeats it back to me.We use an alphabet placemat for this portion. We then sing the ABC song, putting emphasis on the letter we will be learning about. Since the school year is back in full swing, I’m not with LC all day anymore. Ugh! We now take about 5 to 7 days to get through each letter. You may find that that time frame is either too long, or too short, for your own little one, but it works for us.




The idea behind OUR letter units is to provide opportunities for hands on learning that allow LC to learn each of her letters, the sounds they make, and to make real world connections with these letters, while also touching on other concepts and subject areas. For example, when we were working on the letter A, we learned that the word “apple” starts with A. Rather than just leaving it at that, we took that opportunity to learn more about apples. How they grow, what colors they come in, the different ways we can use them, and so on. There is an opportunity to learn something new every single day and we fully plan on taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are our activity and projects ideas all about the letter E ! Check out our previous post: ” Exploring The Letter D : Dogs, Ducks, and Dinosaurs ” .

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This week, we dove into the world of eggs! We learned all about the different ways that eggs are used, which animals produce eggs, and how much LC is not a fan of eating them!

Here are the egg activities we did this week:

Order Up! – This was a cooking activity we did together. Well, tried to do. LC is not a fan of eggs lately and even with us making them together, she REFUSED to try them. Activity failed! However, if your child is a fan of eggs, this would be a really cool activity for you all to try. We prepared our eggs in different ways, scrabbled, fried, and hard boiled, to see which one we liked better. You know our results, so hopefully yours will go better than ours !

Egg Hunt – We set up an egg hunt in our home. Much like what you do for Easter, we walked around the house with a basket hunting for eggs. We love to find activities that keep LC moving and this one was great! Rather then candy, we decided to just have stickers inside the eggs. We wanted an activity that …

Egg Basket Counting Activity

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I love when we find projects that can be used over and over again! We’ll make a mask and LC plays with it for a few days and then it’s done. This project has been hanging on our refrigerator all week and she continues to interact with it!

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Step 1: Take your white piece of construction paper. Using a black marker, draw 5 eggs and a title for the page. As you can see, we also wrote capital and lowercase Es around the paper as well. Let your little one color this page and remember to use this opportunity to review the text on the page, pointing out the Es.

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Step 2: Now that you have beautiful colored eggs, you’ll want to cut these out for the next portion of this activity. To make our eggs more durable for future use, we glued them to pieces of thin cardboard ( leftover cracker box 🙂 ).

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Step 3: Take your brown piece of paper and fold it in half. Draw an outline of what shape you want your next to be in. Cut this next out and staple the sides of your nest together, making a little pocket. Take your nest and glue it to your piece of green paper.

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We added some text to our paper and stuck it to our refrigerator for LC to use. She love this sheet! She counts the eggs as she is putting them in the basket, say the E letter sound, and ” E for Eggs “. This is a great way for her to review on her own, improve her math skills and fine motor skills as well!

Coloring Eggs

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Who says you can only color eggs at Easter ?!

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Using our colorful cups, we filled them up with water and mixed in some food dye. I had boiled eggs that morning for our project, which gave us plenty of time for them to cool down. However, LC insisted to hold them with a towel because she saw me doing that earlier in the morning. She colored each egg with a white crayon and CAREFULLY placed them in the different colors of water. If you’ve ever read any of our other posts involving water before, you’ll know that LC loves to splash! We had a good talk before this project that splashing WAS NOT HAPPENING this time. Thankfully for us, she listened, but was definitely tempted! We let our eggs hang out in the water for about 5 minutes. You could certainly go longer, but with an impatient 2 year old, 5 minutes was perfect!

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Our egg unit was very informative and LC had a lot of fun! I think her favorite part was dyeing the eggs. She would get so excited to see the eggs come out of the colored water and see her drawings on them. This project was incredibly easy to put together and I would recommend trying it with your little ones! If you have a few eggs in the house, a white crayon, and some food dye, it’s definitely worth a try. Not to mention, you can have a great snack afterwards! LC practically ran from us when we tried to get her to taste the hard boiled egg, so good luck !

Our video selection for this portion of our unit:

Three Cheers For Eggs

Chickens Aren’t The Only Ones

One In A Million 

 

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Like most two year olds, Lyanna LOVES Elmo! I thought it would be fun for her to include him in our letter E unit. We obviously had no problem keeping her engaged in this busy bag activity. Busy bags are something new for us. If you are unfamiliar with them, busy bags are Montessori-inspired educational games for toddlers or preschoolers. They are simple games that children can play by themselves or with an adult. For our Elmo portion of our letter E unit, we created a very simple busy bag game. Here are the supplies you will need to create your own Elmo Busy Bag:

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This busy bag is incredibly easy to put together! Using the supplies listed above, you can create this bag in less than 10 minutes. Cut out the following items from your felt sheets:

Red Felt: Cut out an oval.

White Felt: Cut out two circles.

Orange Felt: Cut out one circle, about the same size as the two white circles.

Black Felt: Cut out a crescent moon and two smaller circles.

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I told you! Super easy 🙂 . To store your busy bag items, use a small Ziploc bag or box. During this portion of our letter unit, we read all of our Elmo books and watched a few Elmo videos. Rather than “learning” about Elmo like how we have been for our topics, we thought LC would just enjoy something fun! While playing with these items on her own, she was stating and pointing out the shapes she recognized. Proud moment!




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Elmer The Elephant was one of my favorite books when I worked with preschoolers. The images are captivating and the message of the story is so on point with children just starting to go to school. If this book isn’t in your library, it should be! During this portion of our letter unit, we read Elmer The Elephant and also explored the world of elephants in general. …… Here are a few activities and projects we did to learn about and explore elephants:

Jungle Sensory Bin – Green rice and jungle figurines. Just these two items kept LC engaged for almost an hour! Eventually we added a shovel and a few cups, but seriously, this is one of the easiest sensory bins we’ve put together!

Elephant Dance – Obviously we’ve spent a good amount of our time this week imitating the sound an elephant makes, but we’ve also been learning about more of their habits and movements. This was a fun activity for us to do together. It was a time to be silly and move our bodies! You can find the link for this song and dance below in our video section.

Elmer The Elephant

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Of course we had to do a project involving Elmer! This project is easy to put together and it provides another opportunity to incorporate text into your toddler’s activities. We drew our elephant sheet ourselves, but it that isn’t your thing, click here to get an elephant printable. For this project, you will need:

Elephant Sheet

Glue Stick

Different colored paper squares

We pre-cut all of our paper squares and presented LC with this pile of colors and a glue stick. All we did was read the text on the paper, show her that we could “color” Elmer with the squares, and LC pointed out and traced each letter E. We let her explore the colors ( and the glue stick, which found it’s way into her hair! Oh well, bath night anyways 🙂 ) and where she wanted to place them on her paper. While she was working, we also talked about the things she remembered from Elmer’s story and what other things we’ve learned about elephants and the letter E.

Our video resources for this portion of our unit:

Elephant Dance

Elmer The Elephant 

Elephants- My Elephant Friend 

Born In The Wild

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That concludes our unit on the letter E! This unit was a big challenging to get through now that my days are spent in a classroom. We have evenings to work on our letter unit now and I actually like that. Yes, it’s a shorter amount of time and there are a million other things to do once we all get home, but this gives us something to do TOGETHER. It’s now a time that we all look forward to at the end of the day. We get to cuddle, talk, and just be with each other after our long days. We hope that our letter E unit has been helpful for you and has given you some great ideas to try with your own little one. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so that our latest posts get sent to you directly! Keep an eye out for our upcoming post: ” Exploring The Letter F: Fish, Flowers, and Frogs ”

Brittany XOXO

We will be opening our Etsy shop for COFLH very soon! We’ve been hard at working making supplies for sensory activities and educational units for kids. Keep an eye out for our grand opening announcement! Here is a link to our inspirational Etsy shop, LC Designs. Here, you can find handmade items that are meant to inspire, motivate, and inspire. Click the image below 🙂

LC Designs




Exploring The Letter D : Dogs, Ducks, and Dinosaurs

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At the beginning of our letter exploration, we start by looking at the letter and tracing this letter with our fingers. During this time, I make the sound that that particular letter makes and LC repeats it back to me. At two years old, this is adorable to hear! We use an alphabet placemat for this portion. We then sing the ABC song, putting emphasis on the letter we will be learning about. Since the school year is quickly approaching and I’m not with LC all day anymore, we usually take about 2 to 3 days to get through each letter. You may find that that time frame is either too long, or too short, for your own little one, but it works for us.

The idea behind OUR letter units is to provide opportunities for hands on learning that allows LC to learn each of her letters, the sounds they make, and to make real world connections with these letters, while also touching on other concepts and subject areas. For example, when we were working on the letter A, we learned that the word “apple” starts with A. Rather than just leaving it at that, we took that opportunity to learn more about apples. How they grow, what colors they come in, the different ways we can use them, and so on. There is an opportunity to learn something new every single day and we fully plan on taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are our activity and projects ideas all about the letter D ! Check out our previous post: ” Exploring The Letter C : Cats, Crayons, and Colors “




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Dogs are a subject that we know all about in our house. We have four furry family members and LC loves helping us out with them. When she was a baby, the dogs would lay around her rocker, “protect” her, and help us take care of her. Athena, our only female dog, would become alert whenever LC would cry and she would whine at us until we got the baby in our arms. She could have been concerned, or she could have just been trying to get us to make the new smelly thing be quiet! Now that she is older, LC enjoys helping us care for her furry brothers and sister.

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Lyanna helps us with almost every aspect of their care. When she can’t participate, like when we brush the dog’s teeth, she’ll sit next to them and tell them that it’s all okay and that they are being good. Adorable! We’re trying to teach her to be a good care giver, but also that being a pet owner takes a lot of work and dedication. In her eyes, and ours, the dogs aren’t just pets. They are family and you take care of your family. For our exploration of the letter D, we wanted to touch on dogs because it was a subject that she is already familiar with and interested in.

This week, we have been learning everything that goes in to taking care of our dogs. During our research, we learned why it’s important to brush their fur, care for their teeth, good foods and bad foods, and all of their other basic needs. We have done A TON of activities that allow us to review the letter D, but also to review the information we learned about dogs. Here is a quick run down of a few activities we’ve done:

Doggie Coloring Sheets – By doing a quick search on Google, you can easily find coloring sheets of dogs. This is an easy activity to put together that has several benefits and allows you to touch on so much! While LC was coloring, we talked about the colors she was using, we counted the dogs, we pointed out their features, we attempted to write the letter D, we recalled the information we learned about dogs, and so on. She thinks that she is just coloring and talking to Mommy. In reality, she is learning to recall and discuss information, which is also improving her memory, and she is also improving her fine motor skills by holding and using a crayon. During this time, we are also going over other concepts like numbers, letters, and colors.

“What Our Dogs Need” Scavenger Hunt – After learning about all of the items a dog owner needs in order to properly care for their pet, we made a list to use for a scavenger hunt! We ran around the house and found all of our items. Dog bones, dog food, brushes, other toys, dog cages, treats, and so on. This activity is great for familiarizing children with text, following instructions, becoming more aware of their surroundings, and being active!

Constructing a D with Dog Toys

Caring For Our Dogs – LC has already been a great helper with our dogs, but this week, we made sure to focus on why these tasks are important. We talked about why we let the dogs outside, how much to feed them and why they each eat separate bowls, and how nice, but necessary, it is for them to be brushed.

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Our dogs know the drill. When LC gets in her highchair, they circle her and just wait for the food to drop! We’ve always told her not to feed the dogs, but we know how tempting it is for her. We’ve been talking about how certain foods can really upset a dog’s stomach and why we shouldn’t give them our food. I have a feeling that she’ll still be sneaking them chicken nuggets 🙂 .

Here is a list of the videos and books we’ve been using this week:

Cute Dogs and Adorable Babies

Teaching Kids To Greet Dogs

Understanding Your Dog

 

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We have also spent this week learning all about dinosaurs. Last week, I heard meows ALL DAY from the little one. This week, it’s ROAR! This child loved our dinosaur unit! We have been reading book after book, all about dinos. We’ve been reading one book in particular, ” That’s Not My Dinosaur “, over and over and over again. If you’ve never seen any of the Usborne Touchy Feely books by Finoa Watt, you’re missing out! LC loves these books and they are pretty durable, to an extent!

For this portion of our letter D unit, we’ve been reading books, watching videos, doing all sorts of projects and activities:

Coloring Dinosaurs – Coloring sheets

Dinosaur Train – Using our dino letters, we lined them up in alphabetical order, talked about the letters we are familiar with, the colors we saw, counted our dino friends, and grouped them based on their coloring.

Dinosaur Trail – We dipped our little dinosaurs’ feet into some colorful paint and creating their ” tracks ” on paper. We wrote the letter D onto the paper and had LC making dino tracks on the outline of this letter. Together, we counted the footprints we saw, talked about all of the colors, and traced our footprint D with our messy paint fingers!

Dino Dig – Another sensory bin project! We are big fans of sensory bins and if you have a little one, you should be too! Sensory play is so very important to a child’s development. Here is a fabulous post about sensory play from Amanda Morgan at Not Just Cute.

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For this sensory bin you will need:

A bin or large container

Dinosaur Figures

Sand

Rocks ( optional )

Brushes

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As you may have noticed, we used our dinosaur alphabet for almost every activity for this portion of our letter unit. We love these little guys! They are such a great manipulative for a ton of different activities. We’ve painted with them, played matching games, coloring sorting activities, and so on. We purchased ours from Walmart and they are made by Spark. You can find them here from Walmart’s website. I would highly recommend checking out this brand’s entire line of educational items. They are a great alternative to expensive learning tools and we love our Spark items!

Our video selections for this unit:

Dinosaur Facts and Fun Dinosaur Videos

I’m A Dinosaur 

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Any project involving chocolate is approved by us! This activity wasn’t planned at first, but during a trip to Michael’s, the dinosaur mold caught LC’s eyes. And then the colorful bags of candy melts ….. When I asked her if she’d like to make some dino chocolate for our letter work on D, her answer was obvious by her huge smile and enthusiastic squeal! We have recently started doing more and more cooking projects with Lyanna and I thought this would be an easy one for us to do together. Projects in the kitchen can be very beneficial for children as it provides an opportunity for them to refine their math skills and learn the importance of following directions. Cooking is another form of art, so creating in the kitchen allows kids to explore their talents and be hands on. This is also a great way for families to spend time together! Here are the supplies you will need and the simple steps to take to make your own chocolate dinos:

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We bought all of our supplies from Michael’s, but you can also find them on Amazon or by clicking the links below.

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Step 1: If this is your first time using your candy mold, be sure to wash it before use. Pour your bag of candy melts into a glass bowl.

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Step 2: Put 2-3 cups of water into a pot and bring to a slight boil. Place your glass bowl on top of your pot and let your chocolate begin to melt. Stir every minute or so to make sure all of your candy is melting. Once your candy is melted, remove your bowl by using kitchen towels, or oven mitts, and place on potholder.

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Step 3: Using or a spoon, or a piping bag, fill your mold with your melted candy. Shake your mold to make sure all of the candy is filling each detail in the mold. Place the mold in your freezer and let them sit for about 2 hours.

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Step 4: Once solid, pop out your candy and let them sit on a piece of parchment or wax paper to get to room temperature. ENJOY !

These are pretty big pieces of pure sugar, so I would recommend just sharing small pieces with one another. These would actually be great as cake or cupcake decorations!

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For the last portion of our letter D unit, we focused on ducks. We’ve learned an awful lot about these cute squeaky guys this week. Creating duck projects and activities is so easy. There are a million things you can do with this subject. We actually had to trim our list to keep us from spending 2 weeks on this letter! We’ve learned all about their homes, their families, habits, food preferences, and so much more! Here are a few of the activities we completed this week all about ducks and the letter D:

Button Sensory Play – We took a piece of colorful paper, drew a large letter D with a black marker, and lined this letter with our large and colorful buttons. To view this project, click here to see our full explanation and pictures from our ” Exploring The Letter B: Bugs, Buttons, and Bunnies ” unit.

Coloring Ducks – Coloring sheets

Duck Sorting – Using our large collection of rubber ducks, we sorted our ducks by their coloring and size. We also took our ducks and made the letter D with them, counted them, and used them as visuals while we sang ” Five Little Ducks “.

Bath Time Review – During LC’s bath time, she usually has a few ducks in their with her. We took this time to talk about the things we had learned about ducks. These ” review sessions ” are great for helping to improve memory by having children recall information. Discussing what you have learned is also a great way to cement this new knowledge. We also reviewed what the letter D sounds like and what other D items we had learned about.

Counting With Ducks – This counting game was so much fun! Anything involving water gets and keeps LC’s attention. We created this duck game as a fun way to use our ducks, improve our counting skills, incorporate text, and get some hands on sensory play time in.

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For this activity, you will need:

A large bucket or container

Water

Blue Liquid Watercolor ( or food dye )

Rubber Ducks ( 6 )

Dice

Paper

Crayons or Markers

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We started with an empty bucket and a blank chart to keep track and review our numbers. First, LC and I read over our chart and she was quick to point out the letter D where ever saw it. Proud moment! Next, we rolled our die. We counted the dots on our die. Whatever number we got, we would put that many ducks in their ” pond “. This was LC’s favorite part! We counted each duck to make sure that we put the correct number in and then we wrote this number on our paper. We also drew the dots beside the number to represent what we saw on the die. Yet another opportunity for her to practice counting!

This was a great activity and we will surely do a different version again, especially on hot days! If you don’t have a large container or bin to do this project in, you could just draw a small pond outside using sidewalk chalk, or you could even do this game in the tub during bath time! I’d leave out the blue dye and stick to just bubbles 🙂

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Our video selections:

Five Little Ducks

Coloring Ducks 

Duck Facts For Children 

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This concludes our letter D unit! School is back in full swing next week and I’m not looking forward to it one bit. We’ve had so much fun this summer and I’m really happy about how well LC has taken to our letter explorations. We hope that you have enjoyed our letter D unit and that our ideas have inspired you! Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog so that all of our latest posts get sent to you directly! Keep an eye out for our next letter exploration unit: ” Exploring The Letter E: Elmo, Elephants, and Eggs ”

Brittany XOXO

Need Some Inspiration? Check out our Etsy shop, LC DESIGNS, through the link below for handmade inspirational items. Canvas pieces, magnets, and more!

LC Designs

 

Cooking For Toddlers: Yummy Zucchini Muffins

Cooking For Toddlers

Like any other parents, we are always watching what our little ones eats. We obsess over how much sugar is too much, is she drinking too much milk, has she had enough vegetables, or if holding out on certain foods will make her go crazy when she can get them on her own?!?!? This all goes out the window, of course,  when the grandparents are around 🙂 . We all want the best for our kids and try to make healthy decisions that work for our families. I know this blog is supposed to be all about arts and crafts with educational connections for kids and not foods, but I’m a mother first and foremost. Which means that paint, markers, and glue aren’t the only things I think about. I feel that cooking with your children can provide them with the same opportunities to be hands on, get creative, and explore. Cooking is just another form of art and it can incorporate tons of different concepts. Children who are involved in the kitchen are improving their math skills, gaining an understanding of the importance of following directions, learning real life skills, and so much more.

When Lyanna was about 6 months old, I started making all of her baby food. Cleaning, chopping, pureeing, freezing, and so on. I loved every second of it! I loved trying new foods with her, the whole cooking process, and most importantly, knowing EXACTLY what was in the foods she was eating. If you are considering making your baby’s food, I would highly recommend it. It’s more cost effective than store bought baby food and it’s very simple to do. You don’t need any special accessories. If you have a blender and a few ice trays, you’re all set ! Through Pinterest and other blogs, I found a million foods ideas and suggestions. You can do it!




LC is older now and I’m not have to puree all of her foods, but we still make quite a bit from scratch. One of her favorites is muffins. Blueberry muffins, strawberry muffins, apple cinnamon muffins, and her favorite, zucchini muffins. She loves muffins! Now that she’s on this independence kick lately, she loves helping me in the kitchen. We turn the oven light on for her, and she’ll sit and watch. Just waiting for her food to be ready! Since the new school year is quickly approaching, we’ve been stocking up on our homemade food items and preparing for the busy schedules again. When you’ve have a crazy day and you don’t want to cook, having healthy, homemade meals waiting in the freezer for you is the best feeling! This week, we made a batch of our zucchini muffins together and we thought we’d share our recipe with you! These usually don’t last too long in our house and if you make them yourself, you’ll see why :).

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Cupcake Tin

Paper Liners

Grater

Peeler ( optional )

3 eggs

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

2 tsp of cinnamon

2 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tsp of salt

3 cups of flour

2 zucchinis

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Step 1: Preheat your over to 350* and add your liners to your cupcake tin. Add 3 eggs, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of oil to a mixing bowl. Mix until fully blended together ( See picture below ).

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Step 2: Add 2 tsp of cinnamon, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt to your bowl. Mix well.

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Step 3: Add 3 cups of flour to this mix and stir well.

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Step 4: After adding in your flour, you will get a tough dough. Step 4 is just a reminder to not add anything! You want a batter, so you’ll be tempted to add more oil, but don’t! The next step will take care of that 🙂

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Step 5: Cut off the stub from your zucchini and peel. Peeling is really optional. Some people like to leave the skin on, but for our muffins, we peel them.

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Step 6: Grate your zucchini right into your bowl. Mix well. The water from your zucchini will now make your thick dough into a batter.

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Step 7: Portion your batter into your liners and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. We sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of our muffins before putting them in to bake. You should try it !

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Step 8: Let your muffins cool for about 15 – 20 minutes. Now you have delicious homemade zucchini muffins!

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These muffins are fairly simple to put together and if you’re cooking with your kids, they can help with almost every step! Being in the kitchen with your children is a great way to get some family time in during the week when your schedules are a bit more hectic. LC loves helping in the kitchen now, especially when it has to do with her food. She eats these zucchini muffins all the time and would eat them for every meal if we let her. It usually doesn’t take us too long to get through our batch of muffins! We hope that you have enjoyed our post and that you will make these delicious and healthy muffins with your family. Enjoy !

 

Exploring The Letter C : Cats, Crayons, and Colors

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At the beginning of our letter exploration, we start by looking at the letter and tracing this letter with our fingers. During this time, I make the sound that that particular letter makes and LC repeats it back to me.We use an alphabet placemat for this portion. We then sing the ABC song, putting emphasis on the letter we will be learning about. Since the school year is quickly approaching and I’m not with LC all day anymore, we usually take about 2 to 3 days to get through each letter. You may find that that time frame is either too long, or too short, for your own little one, but it works for us.

The idea behind OUR letter units is to provide opportunities for hands on learning that allows LC to learn each of her letters, the sounds they make, and to make real world connections with these letters, while also touching on other concepts and subject areas. For example, when we were working on the letter A, we learned that the word “apple” starts with A. Rather than just leaving it at that, we took that opportunity to learn more about apples. How they grow, what colors they come in, the different ways we can use them, and so on. There is an opportunity to learn something new every single day and we fully plan on taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are our activity and projects ideas all about the letter C ! Check out our previous letter post: ” All About The Letter B: Bugs, Buttons, and Bunnies “.

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C is for Crayons! Rather than just learning ABOUT crayons, we’ve also been learning how to properly hold them, care for them, and WHERE it’s okay to use them. Not on the walls, the dogs, our clothing, the floor, or on Mommy! We decided to have crayons AND colors in this unit because we knew that they would go together perfectly, but were still able to stand alone and be discussed on their own. During a recent trip to Barnes and Nobles, we saw an adorable book called ” The Day The Crayons Quit “. I would highly recommend this book for any library! This is such a cute book and it incorporated elements that allowed us to use it for our crayon discussions AND our colors.




From this book, we got the idea to use all of our old and used crayons to create some beautiful new ones! We created heart shaped crayons that allowed us to use several colors at one time. This project is actually very simple and almost fail proof! The best part… while they bake, your house will special like Michael’s Arts and Crafts! You can find the supplies and details about this project below.

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Speaking of Michael’s, that is where we found our flexible heart shaped mold. Check out the cake decorating section. They have a ton of options if hearts aren’t your thing. We found a very cute dinosaur mold that we plan to use for our next letter unit.

 

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Step 1: Remove the paper wrappers from the crayons you plan to use. I found it helpful to take a knife and run it down the crayon CAREFULLY ! Now would be the time to preheat your oven to 250*.

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Step 2: Once your crayons have been stripped of their paper, it’s now time to fill up your molds! You can use your knife to shave the crayons or you can just break them into small pieces. As you can see from the pictures, I tried to keep like colors together.

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Step 3: Place your mold in your oven. If you shaved your crayons, let them “bake” for about 15 minutes. If you just broke up your crayons into small pieces, go for 20 – 25 minutes.

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Step 4: Once they are fully melted, let them cool for at least 45 minutes. BE VERY CAREFUL when taking these out of the oven.

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Step 5: Your beautiful heart crayons are all ready to go! Slowly pull them out of the mold and get to coloring !

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As you can see, LC loved these! These were incredibly easy to make and they made her happy all day. Now we just have to remind her that we don’t break our crayons on purpose, but only for THIS project! These crayons would also be a great item to give as a party favor for a children’s party! I think I’ll save that idea for the next party my company does!

Here is a list of some of our videos we watched during our discussions about crayons:

The Days The Crayons Quit

Crayola Crayon Factory: Showing How Crayons Are Made

 

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Our little one has known her colors for a while now, but practice never hurts. She may have mastered her colors, but that knowledge can be used to help her learn something new. We decided to use this “colors” portion of our letter exploration as an opportunity to work with text and to improve her fine motor skills.

We’ve been finger-painting, painting with different objects, coloring with markers and crayons in coloring books, and coloring the whole driveway with chalk! During all of these activities, we’ve also been paying attention to how we are holding our writing utensils. To expose LC to text, I created a large coloring sheet that features the names of the colors we’ve been working with. You can view this activity, that features both colors AND crayons, below:

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If you have little ones, I would highly recommend purchasing a large paper pad! We do projects with this type of paper all the time and it’s great for activities that we do on her easel. We’ve used it for painting projects, large coloring projects, and I recently drew a quick race track for LC to use with her toy cars. This size of paper can be expensive, so check out Walmart’s selection, or look for sales at Michael’s. I bought this paper pad just for LC’s projects from Michael’s at the beginning of the summer. It was steal for $6!

Using my Fiskar’s stencils, I wrote out the different color names and also drew 2 large Cs in the center of the paper. For this activity, we went outside and set ourselves up on LC’s easel. Together, we went over each color name and she colored each name with it’s matching crayon color.

For each color name, I read the name to her, guided by my finger, and underlined the word with it’s matching crayon color. We then spelled out the name. LC can identify all of her letters, but we’re trying to show her how letters come together to spell out words. For the first few names, I colored in one letter and handed the crayon over to her so she could repeat my steps. After about 3 names, she decided that SHE was going to be doing all of the coloring and teaching. Whatever works ! Plus, this showed me that she was engaged in what we were doing and that she wants to be involved.

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This activity can be done with your children for any purpose. You can easily find coloring pages on line that you like and tape them together for your own version of this activity. Whether it’s to keep them busy, teach them about colors, or to just explore the alphabet, this set up can be changed to fit your needs. We put our new heart crayons to use on the last portion of this activity. LC used them to color in her large Cs, and then to cover the rest of this paper, and herself, with cool color combinations !

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Look at that face !

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Our little OCD child LOVES sorting! She used to line up our bottles of sprinkles based on their color. Her row of sprinkles would be perfectly lined up and if you moved one out of place, she would quickly put it back the way she had it. My husband is actually the same way about certain items. He’ll line things up and get them just the way he wants them. If you move something, even just the slightest bit, he’ll notice and fix it!

LC received some pretty cool color sorting tubes for her birthday and plays with them almost every single day. She’ll open a tube, dump everything out, identify what the items are, and return them back to her tube. Since we are exploring colors this week, we’ve been using these tubes as a visual aide and manipulative quiet a bit.

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One way we use these color tubes is to dump all of the contents out of them in one large pile. LC will go through her pile and place them all back in the tubes they should be in, based on their color. Sorting activities like this are very beneficial for early learners. By sorting, children begin to see that some things are alike and some things are different. Sorting activities are the beginning of developing math skills and getting this practice is important for numerical concepts and grouping numbers and sets later on in their academic careers. Since LC is a lot like her Daddy in this respect, I’m really hoping this means she got his math skills!

Sorting activities come in various sizes, colors, and shapes….literally! You can create your own sorting activities just from the items laying around in your home. Colored socks, different pastas, buttons, different sized toys, and so on.

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Here are some sorting sets to try:

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C is for Cat! I’ve been hearing MEOW for DAYS. We have done so much research into cats and I feel like we’ve learned everything there is to know about them. Since we’re a dog family, and pretty sure my husband may be allergic to them, we don’t have a cat. We occasionally see stray cats around our neighborhood and always make a point to visit the ones at our PetSmart. LC’s grandparents have a cat, but we rarely seem him thanks to our dogs.

This week, we’ve been exploring the world of cats in various ways. We’ve watched plenty of cat videos as there is an endless amount of them on the internet. We’ve also read books, done coloring sheets, and created our own cats out of paper towel rolls. To view the steps and details about our ” Colorful Cats ” project, scroll down 🙂

Here are some videos we found interesting during our research into cats:

Funny Animal Videos ( This was a constant request from LC )

How To Draw A Kitten 

Amazing Facts and Information About Cats

Our book suggestions:

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This project is so simple to put together and you should have all of the materials in your home already. Our cute and colorful cats have been around for a few days now and LC has been incorporating them into her play time. I’ve heard meows FOR DAYS!

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Step 1: Cut your paper towel roll in half and color the outside using crayons or markers.

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Step 2: Take your note card and color two small sections. These will be your cats’ tails. After coloring, cut these sections off of your note card.

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Step 3: Take each colored strip and wrap them around your finger. This will give your cats curly tails 🙂

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Step 4: Using the rest of your note card, punch out 4 circles. These will be the eyes for your cats, so you can also add a little black dot to the center of each circle. Next, draw two small triangles that will serve as noses for your cats and color them in. After coloring, cut them out.

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Step 5: Now we transform our paper towel rolls into more cat-like figures! On one end of your roll, fold ( or push ) down one side. Now fold down the other piece on this side. This will create two ears and a space to place your cat’s features.

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Step 6: Glue on your eyes, nose, and tail to your cat’s body. We added a cute little mouth to give our cats some personality!

During this activity, you will be incorporating all 3 of the topics for unit. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity! LC and I talked about the colors she was using, how she should be holding her crayon, and the things she learned about cats. Again, lots of MEOWS…

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And that concludes our letter C unit! If you are using these posts as a guide for your own letter exploration, remember that while we explore different concepts and items, we don’t forget about the main purpose of our unit. THE LETTER ! Whether we were painting or talking about cats, or even breaking up our crayons, we were always incorporating the letter C into what we were doing. We hope our letter unit has inspired you and given you some great ideas for your own unit. Have fun!

Brittany XOXO

Be sure to subscribe to our blog so that all of our new postings can be sent to you directly! Check out our next letter unit ” Exploring The Letter D: Dog, Ducks, and Dinosaurs

Exploring The Letter B : Bugs, Buttons, and Bunnies

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At the beginning of our letter exploration, we start by looking at the letter and tracing it with our fingers. During this time, I make the sound that that particular letter makes and LC repeats it back to me.We use an alphabet placemat for this portion. We then sing the ABC song, putting emphasis on the letter we will be learning about. Since the school year is quickly approaching and I’m not with LC all day anymore, we usually take about 2 to 3 days to get through each letter. You may find that that time frame is either too long, or too short, for your own little one, but it works for us.

The idea behind OUR letter units is to provide opportunities for hands on learning that allows LC to learn each of her letters, the sounds they make, and to make real world connections with these letters, while also touching on other concepts and subject areas. For example, when we were working on the letter A, we learned that the word “apple” starts with A. Rather than just leaving it at that, we took that opportunity to learn more about apples. How they grow, what colors they come in, the different ways we can use them, and so on. There is an opportunity to learn something new every single day and we fully plan on taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are our activity and projects ideas all about the letter B ! For our unit on the letter A, click HERE.

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B for Bugs! We recently did a whole unit all about bugs ! For 2 weeks, LC and I worked on bug projects, read bug books, learned about the variety of bugs in our own backyard, went on a few bug hunts, and watched videos all about bugs. We based our unit all around the book ” Some Bugs ” and you can find our activities and project ideas by clicking here. We created some pretty cute little critters that were very easy to put together.

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” Some Bugs: Educational Connections, Activities, and Project Ideas “

 

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Since we have been working with Lyanna on how to use zippers, turn door knobs, and, yes, how to use buttons, we thought this would be a great item to explore during our ” B week “. She has been trying so hard to figure out buttons, we thought we would just use buttons in a different way and give her fingers a rest. Large, colorful buttons are a great manipulative for little kids and they can be used for so many different things. They can be counted, sorted, used in craft projects, used as game pieces, used in sensory boxes, and so on.




Surprisingly, we had a difficult time finding videos about buttons aimed at kids. That’s a joke. I wasn’t surprised at all. I was, however, surprised at how a 5 minute video about how they make buttons had captured LC’s attention. So much so that we watched this video 4 times in a row. You can find this incredibly interesting video here. Thanks Discovery Chanel ! LC also forced us to watch ” A Tale of Thread ” and ” How It’s Made: Industrial Tools “. The girl has some random interests.

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Sensory projects have been my favorite things to do with LC this summer. They are so easy to put together and you can use a wide variety of materials. Sensory projects allow children to build and refine their senses by engaging with materials that they can see, touch, hear, smell, and sometimes, even taste! For this activity, you only need 3 items!

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Step 1: Using a permanent marker, draw a capital B. Be sure to give your page a title. It’s important to give a title because it presents text to children. Even though they may not be able to read it, the more they see text and certain words, the more they will become familiar with these words. This also presents them with an opportunity to “spy” all of the letter B’s. If you are working on your letters, you should take full advantage of every chance for them to identify the letter they are working on.

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Step 2: As I have stated before, I love for kids to explore their materials. To be free to play with things how they wish and explore. However, there are times when they need some instruction, or at the least, an explanation. For this sensory project, LC and I went over her sheet first. She traced the large B with her fingers and I read the title to her. We counted all of the B’s on the page and then I showed her what she could do with her buttons. I showed her that she could line the large B with the buttons and create new, colorful lines.

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This project bought me so much quiet time! We talked in the beginning about the letter B, traced the B, talked about the colors of the buttons, counted the buttons, and so on. After awhile, LC wanted to me to leave her alone and let her engage by herself. She played with this activity for 30 straight minutes, by herself. I was able to sit back and think about all of the wonderful ways she was learning and growing, all while in the comfort of a silent home!

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If you don’t have at least one ” Pete The Cat ” books in your library, you are so missing out. These cute books are fabulous ! The stories are always funny and the illustrations are amazing. We used ” Pete The Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons ” for this portion of our letter unit. There are a ton of project ideas you can get from this book, but since we were learning about buttons…. this is the activity we decided on. We have added this one to our ” Busy Bags ” so that we can revisit this sensory activity over and over again.

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You can do this project with either a recycled piece of artwork from a previous project or you can start fresh and have them create a new one. You could even cut out the t-shirts and THEN have them decorate each. For us, we decided to use a piece of art that LC had created during our ” Letter A ” unit. As for the thin piece of cardboard, we just used one side of an old box of crackers 🙂 . RECYCLE AND RE-PURPOSE !

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Step 1: Using your marker, drawer a shirt outline on your thin piece of cardboard. Once you have it just right, go ahead and cut this out. You don’t have to have all of your t-shirts for this project exactly the same size, but we want to save these pieces for a busy bag for later on. In order for the pieces to fit in our bags, we need them to be a certain size. Be sure to safe your template for future projects!

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Step 2: Take your t-shirt template and create four outlines on your recycled piece of artwork. If you want to make more than 4 shirts for this sensory activity, go for it ! We just wanted to keep the 4 theme going from Pete The Cat. Four buttons, four shirts.

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Step 3: Cut out your t-shirts and it’s time to play !

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We are fortunate enough to see “bunnies” almost every day. They run through our yard, eat my flowers, and are occasionally chased by our dogs. The day we started our B unit, we actually had a close encounter with one while we were outside. It intrigued LC and prompted a long conversation and exploration. See what happens when you play outside? Learning opportunities find you! We first looked through our library to find our books that featured bunnies. When looking through books during a letter exploration, I like to stop and have LC find the letter throughout a page. This help reinforce our letter of week and keeps in engaged in what we are doing.

Of course, I had to give into technology and find a few videos all about bunnies. These are our top 4:

14 Funny Bunny Videos

20 Fun Facts About Rabbits 

Rabbits: Animals For Children

Little Bunny Foo Foo ( Of Course ! )

To learn more about bunnies, we took a trip to the library and checked out some really cute books all about what they eat, how to care for a bunny pet, and where they live on their own. Here are a few links to the books we found helpful for this portion of our letter unit and some that we just loved in general:

 

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This project takes a small amount of prep work by steady hands, especially when it comes time for cutting out the center of the paper plate, but it’s adorable ! LC loves our mask projects and plays with them until they either fall apart, or one of our furry children gets a hold of them.

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Step 1: Take your black piece of paper and cut out 3 strips. Cut these 3 strips in half, giving you 6. These will be the bunnies’ whiskers. Wrap each strip around your finger to get it to curl. Place these aside for later assembly.

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Step 2: Take your white piece of paper and fold it in half. Draw an outline of a bunnies’ ear. Cut out this shape, but save your left over paper to make your next step a little easier !

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Step 3: In order to make sure that the pink portion of your bunnies’ ear fits into the white portion, use the scrap white paper as your guide. Fold your pink paper in half and then lay your white leftover piece on top of it. Now you can see just how big, or small, you should make your pink portion. Draw your outline and cut them out.

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Step 4: Glue your two pieces of the ears together. This is my example for you all. LC’s did NOT look this perfect 🙂 .

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Step 5: Cut the center portion out of your paper plate. This part can be a little tricky since you don’t want to cut your border. I used an exacto knife to get me started, made a cut big enough to get the scissors in, and TA-DA !

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Step 6: Glue on your ears and whiskers first. It’s just easier that way!

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Step 7: Now comes the very messy, but fun, portion of the project. Glue on your cotton balls. TIP FOR LITTLE ONES: Put some paint in a small disposable cup, or even on another paper plate, and have them use a paint brush to apply their glue. The helps control just how much glue is getting everywhere. Trust me !

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That concludes our ” Exploring The Letter B ” unit. We hope that you have been inspired and that we gave you some great ideas for your own exploration. Our B unit was so much fun ! We’ve learned so much about bunnies and bugs, and way more about buttons then I ever cared to know. If you are doing a letter unit at home, remember to take advantage of every opportunity to explore your letters. At the grocery store, post office, during one of your several visits to Target in a week, or even just in your home. All of those boxes in your pantry have great text for your children to look over and you can use those items to play I SPY THE LETTER. We feel that our discussions, activities, projects, and research during our letter exploration is really helping to cement LC’s knowledge of the alphabet. Have fun !

Brittany XOXO

Next: ” Exploring The Letter C: Cats, Crayons, and Colors ” 

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Exploring The Letter A : Apples and Alligators

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At the beginning of a letter exploration, we start by looking at the letter and tracing this letter with our fingers. During this time, I sound out what that particular letter sound is and LC repeats it back to me. We use an alphabet placemat for this portion. We then sing the ABC song, putting emphasis on the letter we will be learning about. Since the school year is almost back in full swing and I’m not with LC all day anymore, we usually take about 3 to 4 days to get through each letter. You may find that this time frame is either too long, or too short, for your own little one, but it works for us.

The idea behind OUR letter unit is to provide opportunities for hands on learning that allow LC to learn each of her letters, the sounds they make, and to make real world connections with these letters, while also touching on other concepts and subject areas. For example, when we were working on the letter A, we learned that the word “apple” starts with A. Rather than just leaving it at that, we took that opportunity to learn more about apples. How they grow and are harvested, what colors they come in, the different ways we can use them, and so on. There is an opportunity to learn something new every single day and we fully plan on taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are our activity and projects ideas all about the letter A!

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This activity is great for children of all ages, as there are different tasks available for different levels of abilities. In our case, we obviously didn’t let the little one cut up the apples. However, she did get to wash them, put the cut up pieces in a pot, add the cinnamon, press the buttons on the blender, and enjoy some yummy applesauce at the end. To learn more about apples, we watched ” Planting an Apple Tree ” by Harry Kindergarten. It’s a children’s video all about planting and harvesting apples. It’s a very cute video and you’ll be humming the song for days!

After a quick trip to the library, LC and I read several books all about apples. I have added links for you to these books below. I would highly recommend ” Apples, Apples Everywhere “. It was definitely our favorite ! We also stopped off at the grocery store to pick up our supplies for making our own applesauce. Here are the items you will need and the steps to take to make your homemade applesauce:

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You’ll notice that there is the option for using ice cube trays for this activity, but this is only if you want to freeze portions of your applesauce for later. When LC was a baby, I made all of her baby food, so we have these awesome ice trays on hand. If you decide that you would like to save some sauce for later, just pour your applesauce into each cube. Place the tray in your freezer and wait about 12 hours. After letting them freeze, you can pop out your applesauce cubes from the trays, put them in Ziploc bags, and return them to the freezer for when you are ready to enjoy later on. They should be good for about 3 months. Be sure to label the bags with the date of when you made them 🙂

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Step 1: You should ALWAYS wash your produce well, especially if you are going to be eating the skin. We never peel our apples. A good portion of the nutrients from an apple is FROM the skin. After you wash your apples, cut away the core and then cut up your pieces of apples into small cubes. You’re going to be pureeing them, but smaller pieces help that process go a little faster.

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Step 2: Place all of your apple cubes into a pot and add just enough water to make them float. Cook them on medium to high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

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Step 3: Remove your apples from the water and place them in your blender. Don’t dump your water out just yet! Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your blender and a small amount of your reserved cooking water. You want to add just a small amount of water ( 1 tbsp – ish ) to your blender because it helps move things around in the blender. Or so I believe 🙂 . If you add too much water, your applesauce will turn into apple juice. I guess it’s not that bad, but that’s not what we’re going for here. Puree away!

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Step 4: If you are planning on saving your applesauce, or have made a large portion that you can’t, or shouldn’t, eat all at once, freeze it! Pour your leftovers into an ice cube tray and place the tray in the freezer for about 12 hours. Once completely frozen, you can pop out your cubes and place them in Ziploc bags for up to 3 months. Be sure to label the date that these applesauce cubes were made.

And now you have delicious, homemade applesauce!

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We reserved one apple from our grocery store trip for this project. It’s a super simple painting project and your kids will love it! You will need the following items to complete this activity:

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We use paper plates to put our paint on for projects like this. It’s not the most eco-friendly solution, but it does provide for quick clean up. I’ll work on that!

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Step 1: Push your forks into the apples. Just like that, you have apple stamps ready for some hands on, messy fun! TIP: Crayola has AMAZING washable paint. We bought our set on sale at Toys R Us and it was definitely a great purchase. No stains on her skin OR her clothing.

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Step 2: Hand it over to your little ones. It’s their time to shine!

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As you can see, LC had lots of fun! During our activity, we talked about the pattern our apple made, what shapes we saw, what colors we were using, and what new colors we were creating. She was working on her fine motor skills as well and didn’t even know it! This is definitely a project we will revisit and maybe explore using other items as a paintbrush or stamp. You could use old cooking tools, like a spatula or a masher, and other items to experiment with the textures and patterns they create!

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I said that I didn’t want to just do color worksheets with LC as we worked our way through the alphabet. Rather than completely ignoring that resource, I found some great ways to change it up. The other A item that we learned about while exploring the letter A was Alligators. They first thing we did was hop on over to YouTube and find some really cool videos all about these adorable guys. Here are a few our favorite videos:

All Thing Animals TV: Alligators

National Park Animals For Kids: Alligators

We created our own little alligator using different shapes of paper and glue. Below, you will find the supply list and the steps you need to take to create your own gator!

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Step 1: As you may notice, our paper is white in our instructional pictures. I’m recommending that you use blue paper because we learned that the white background made our alligator’s teeth disappear. Trust me, use blue paper! On your blue piece of paper, draw a large capital A and add a title at the top.

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Step 2: Take your green piece of paper and cut out a bunch of squares. These squares don’t need to be perfect. Just do the best you can! No need to measure, this is suppose to be an easy project! Using your white paper, cut out several triangles for your alligator’s teeth.

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Step 3: Give your little one a glue stick and let them go! While I’m all about letting children express themselves during art time, there is a time and place for giving direction. If I would have just let LC ” express herself ” during this activity, there would have been glue all in her hair and the dogs would have eaten plenty of paper that day. I first added the googly eyes to help her see that we were creating our own alligator. I then told her that the green paper was suppose to be his body and so on.

This project gave us so many opportunities to cover a variety of subject areas. We talked about the shapes we saw ( the squares and triangles ), we counted our alligator’s teeth, we pointed out all of the A’s, we worked on our fine motor skills with holding and using the glue, AND we talked about some of the facts we learned from our readings and videos. Okay, maybe doing the traditional projects isn’t so bad after all.

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WHEW! We all put so much effort and time into this unit, but I truly think it’s all worth it. We have been so fortunate with LC. She likes to learn and explore, and more importantly, she puts up with us and our crazy tasks for her. No wonder the child enjoys playing by herself sometimes. We hope that our unit covering the letter A has helped give you some ideas and direction for your own unit. I’m looking forward to getting back in the classroom in a few weeks and trying some of these activities with the new kindergartners!

Check out our next post ” Exploring The Letter B: Bugs, Buttons, and Bunnies “.

Brittany XOXO




Some Bugs: Educational Connections and Activities

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This summer has been a hot one! Even with the heat, we try to spend a good amount of time outside playing. Our mornings are usually reserved for outside play. We take a walk every morning after breakfast and stay out until about nap time. Our time outside has really given us fresh air, but has also exposed us to TONS OF BUGS ! Our home backs up to a very wooded area, so we get all kinds of critters. I’m not the biggest fan of bugs, especially ones that sting, or fly, or that are alive. I HATE WASPS more than anything, but I don’t want to pass that fear on to LC. I try to not let her see me freak out and just stay calm on the outside, while I’m screaming in my head.

Since we want her to enjoy nature and the world around her, we thought it would be wise to get her exposed to bugs and approach them with calm and respectful attitudes. We recently purchased ” Some Bugs ” by Angela Diterlizzi. This book is really cute and I think it has helped LC get a little more familiar and comfortable with the bugs we encounter. Since the opportunity presented itself with LC’s love for this book, I thought we’d take some time during these last few weeks of summer to learn more about bugs and relate this subject to the other concepts and skills we’ve been working on. Here is our unit all about bugs, based around the book ” Some Bugs “.

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” Some Bugs ” is a tool for opening up a discussion, or unit, about bugs. The text goes something like this:  Some bugs sting. Some bugs bite. Some bugs stink, and some bugs fight. The illustrations are beautiful and there is a lot to take in on each page. As always, we start a new book by taking a picture walk. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it is the first step you should take before a read- aloud session. You look at and discuss the front cover, flip through the book and only view the pictures. You can ask questions about what is seen in the illustrations, what they think will happen, what characters they see, and so on. For more information about picture walks, click here.

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After our picture walk, we then start back at the beginning and read the book together. I like to ask LC questions as we are going through the book to keep her engaged, but to also help build her comprehension skills. She is only two, but we’re trying to set a great foundation now for being a strong reader down the road. We think our hard work is already paying off. She loves reading with us and will even sit by herself and “read” to her dogs or her stuffed animals. Children are little recorders and reflect to others how they are treated and what they see and hear. She’ll ask her stuffed animals they same questions we ask her and point out the same things we show her!

Example questions to ask as you read: What kind of bug do you think that is? / What is he doing? / I wonder if this bug stings. What do you think ? / I think I see a lady bug on this page. Can you find the lady bug ? / And so on…

The last page of this book has been very helpful for our bug unit. This page features a chart of all of the bugs discussed in the book, along with their names. We have been using this information to look them up, learn more about them, and even watch some videos.

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Here are a few links to the videos we used during our unit:

Bugs and Insects for kindergarten and preschoolers

All About Bugs

National Geographic – The World’s Biggest and Baddest Bugs

Butterfly – My Animals Friends

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We’re all about simple projects around here. With a two year old who’s still learning how to hold crayons, use glue, and still not fully ready for scissors, we like easy projects! We made these very cute butterflies after we had gone on a bug hunt and found several caterpillars. We talked all about the life-cycle, what foods they eat, and watched plenty of videos all about butterflies. We even slipped in a reading or two of ” The Hungry Little Caterpillar “. Here is what you will need to make your own simple butterflies and the steps you’ll need to take. Have fun !

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Step 1: Fold your piece of paper in half. Draw a ” B ” to create your outline of your butterfly. Cut along this line to create your little critter. Unfold and you are ready to color.

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Step 2: Color away ! During this step, we talked about what colors we had seen on the butterflies from our bug hunt and the videos we’ve watched. Rather than just coloring in silence, I wanted this time to also be an opportunity for LC to think about what we’ve seen, talked about, and watched. She has an amazing memory and I think it’s because we have always done these exercises with her. Seriously, the child remembers who gave her each of her toys.

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Step 3: Using your crayons, add some color to a jumbo popsicle stick and glue on a pair of googly eyes to the stick. Cut your pipe cleaner to size, form into a V and add them to the back side of your popsicle stick. We found that taping them to the stick worked best, especially when a two year old is throwing it in the air to try and make it fly! We added a cute little smile to give him some personality! Final step: just glue your popsicle stick body onto your butterfly wings.

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Another easy and versatile project idea! During our ladybug construction, we were able to talk about ladybugs and the things we’ve learned about them. However, the spots for the ladybug allowed us to make this an opportunity to practice our counting skills! For this project idea, you will need the following:

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Step 1: Using your red crayon, or marker, color your plate. The paper plates that we used have raised edges, so we just colored the inside portion and cut off these raised areas.

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Step 2: Cut a rectangular strip of paper out of your black paper, as well as 10 circles and a large half circle. The rectangular strip will be the line that goes down the center of the ladybug, the circles will be her spots, and the half circle will be her head. You could also use this step to do a quick review on shapes !

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Step 3: Take all of your pieces of black paper you’ve cut out and assemble your ladybug. Add her googly eyes, some eyelashes, and a smile. You’re all done!

This cute little bug gave us a perfect opportunity to practice counting to 10. One of my goals this summer has been to get LC to count to 10 all by herself and work on her ability to start counting objects as well. We first counted all of our black spots that we had to use. While we were putting the spots in just the right places, we kept counting how many we already had in place on our bug. Lyanna loves her newest paper friend and continues to practice her counting with it. This project is definitely one to do when learning about bugs, but it can also be beneficial when working on counting in general.

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This was a great activity for us as we love being outside, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be out FINDING the creatures I usually try and get away from! Again, I sucked it up so that Lyanna could experience some hands on learning and go exploring. We were recently given an “observer” by a teacher friend of mine and we put it to use for this activity! ” Some Bugs ” ends by asking you to ” kneel down close, look very hard, and find some bugs in your backyard ” . So that’s exactly what we did.

LC’s face would light up when we would encounter a bug. There was no more fear! She was ready to catch them, look at them in her observer, ask me questions, and then set them free. Every little friend we caught, we would talk about what it was and we would would talk about what we had learned about that particular bug from our readings and videos. If you are currently learning about bugs, this is definitely an activity I would recommend trying out. If the season is correct, you need to be outside in order to truly get a hands on learning experience and to explore these creepy creatures.

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First, let me say that WE LOVED THIS ACTIVITY ! It was silly, fun, and it got LC moving! It’s pretty simple, but as always, I tried to complicate it. At first, I wrote down on note cards the different movements we would make. For example, ” Fly like a butterfly “. All LC cared about at first was holding the cards, flipping through the cards, and laying the cards out on the floor. This wasn’t what was suppose to be happening here. You’re suppose to be moving around and having fun. So I ditched the cards and I just did the movements with her. Sadly, this is why we don’t have any pictures of us doing this activity. You’ll just have to imagine me dancing around like a fool 🙂 .

For this activity, you just put on some great music ( LC is currently digging “China Cat ) and did bug movements together. Here is the list of the actions we did:

Flutter like a butterfly

Hop like a grasshopper

Buzz around like a bee

Fly like a wasp

Hide like a stick bug

Curl up in to a ball like a rollie pollie

Crawl like an ant

Nap time came easily after this activity ! We had so much fun during our Bug Unit and we definitely learned a lot about our neighboring creatures. While I still HATE wasps, I think that I am even a bit more calm about the other critters we come across each day. This unit is great for educating your children about bugs, but it can also help teach them to respect the world around them. It’s in our nature to squish spiders that are in our homes, but it’s important to learn that we share this environment with them. Insects play such a huge whole in our ecosystem and while they can be a nuisance, I think we all need to have a little more respect for these guys.

We hope that you have enjoyed our Bug Unit and that it gave you some inspiration to go out and explore the world right outside your door. We highly recommend purchasing ” Some Bugs ” and reading it with your family.  It was such a great tool for this unit and it presented another opportunity for Lyanna to see the importance of books and work on her comprehension skills. It was also another opportunity to do hands on learning activities and projects that were fun and educational at the same time.

Happy Crafting ! XOXO




The Life of a Lice Picker: Expert Advice On The Best, Most Time Efficient, No Fail Way To Check For Head Lice

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Oh summer. How quickly you came and went! Okay, I still have a few weeks left before school is back in session, but it still makes me sad! I’ve gotten so use to all of this free time. HAHAHAHAHA. Right, with a 2 year old with me all day, there really is NO FREE TIME. However, that’s the part I think I’m going to miss the most. During the school year, I get almost 2 1/2 hours a day with my little one and that makes my heart ache just thinking about returning to those days. We’ve had from sun up to sun down together. Playing. Learning. Reading. Walks together. Projects together. Ugh. I’m going to stop before I get all emotional again.

Anyways, this time of year is ALWAYS busy session for Helping Hands Lice Removal. I’ve been a technician for HHLR for almost 7 years now and the end of the summer/ beginning of the school has always been our busiest time. Kids are coming home from summer camp and a good amount of them are coming home with head lice. Sleep away camps are infamous for head lice. These camps are great for teaching children about independence, building relationships, making memories, and so on, but it’s also a great place to catch and pass head lice. Most camps will do head checks upon arrival, but lice and their nits can be missed during these checks. Then there is school! Kids are getting back in to the classroom, which is ALWAYS a great place for head lice to spread. Lice love the inviting library areas with comfy chairs or bean bags that teachers set up for their students.

Picture this: Your daughter comes home from summer camp with lice. She isn’t itchy and you don’t think twice about lice since she had a check upon entering camp. Next week, she returns to school. She hugs her friends that she hasn’t seen for awhile and maybe takes a few pictures with them where their heads are touching. A few more weeks go by where she is always around these friends at school and has even had a few sleepovers with them. Then, you get a call from the school nurse saying that your daughter … has HEAD LICE. Oh, and all of her friends have it as well.

Okay, the point of that story was just to show you how quickly lice can enter your home and spread to other people. This is why it is SO important to do head checks for lice. I always recommend to my clients that they check their children’s hair ONCE A WEEK and especially after they return from camp or a sleepover. Visually going through your child’s hair once a week can be very time consuming and straining on your eyes and back. Not to mention your kids are going to dread this and fight you. They’ll complain so much, you’ll stop doing head checks and then you are right back where you started. Smacked by head lice! Lucky for you, I thought I would share how we do head checks. Our way is very time efficient and more reliable than visually looking for lice and their nits in a head of hair. Since I’m exposed to head lice almost every single day, this is the method I use for checking myself. It’s not an option for me to visually check my self and I would never trust my husband to do it either.

Be sure to check out my other post ” The Life of a Lice Picker: Expert Advice on Treatments, Cleaning, and Prevention ” where you will find more information than you’ll want to know about head lice !

First, you will need 2 items: A lice comb and any type conditioner.

I recommend investing in ” The Terminator ” lice comb. Yes, it’s a bit expensive for a lice comb, but it’s expensive for a reason. IT IS THE BEST COMB. We use it for treatments and I have my own for doing my head checks. I’ve only ever seen it sold in a drug store once, so I’d check Ulta or order it through Amazon :). You’ll be glad to have it when that scary letter comes home with your child that lice has been reported in their class.

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The hair needs to be wet. For me, I always check my hair as soon as I get out of the shower. For my clients, I wet their hair with a spray bottle. If you are checking your own child’s hair, just have them take a shower or bath first. Wet hair makes it difficult for bugs to maneuver through the hair. It slows them down and that’s what you want when you are trying to find them. Also, it is so much easier to get a lice comb through a head of hair when it is wet. I treat and check people every day, trust me when I say this !

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Using your regular brush or comb, brush out any tangles that may be in the hair. For longer hair, be sure to be brushing the hair back and out of the face.

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Add a same amount of conditioner to the hair. Apply it throughout the hair, but be sure to focus a good amount on the end. This will help prevent the hair from tangling up during the next step.

How much conditioner you add depends on the thickness of your hair. For example, if the hair is thin, start by adding about a dime size amount. For thicker hair, start by adding a quarter size amount. If you add too much, don’t worry. You always have the option of having your children jump back in to the shower after the head check to rinse it out. I only state to add small amounts of conditioner at to prevent another shower. The idea of adding conditioner is because it helps make the lice comb glide through the hair. It can’t do that if it gets caught on tangles.




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Using your lice comb, start combing through the hair.

There is a technique to coming through the hair and the more you do this, the better you’ll be at it. Start by combing straight back through the hair. You’ll want to start at the front hair line, directly in the center.

Comb straight back, as far as you can go, pushing the lice comb in to the scalp. DO NOT PUSH TOO HARD. You aren’t trying to hurt your child, or yourself, but you are trying to make sure that no little bugs go undetected. The idea here is to comb just as you would with a regular brush, but this comb will pull out any bugs in this little section.

Don’t worry about going all the way down the scalp to the nape of the neck, we’ll get to that section in a minute. After each stroke, take a quick look at your comb. If your child has head lice, there will be a bug stuck in the comb.

Don’t waste your time looking for nits. If you find something that you believe is a nit, there has to be a bug in the hair somewhere. That nit didn’t just show up, a louse had to lay it on the hair shaft. Very rarely do I ever see someone that just has nits in the hair and when I do, it’s because they have already been treated and the bugs have been combed out or have fallen off because they were dead.

You’ll continue combing like this, slowing moving over each stroke closer to the ear. Kind of like how you mow the lawn. You mow a straight line, then the next line is overlapping that previous line. Once you have completed that side, you will start again from the center and continue to the other ear.

I’m working on getting pictures for these steps, but surprisingly no client wants their picture taken and put online for the world to see 😉

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Once your have combed this portion of the scalp, you will now be combing the bottom portion. For longer hair, you can have your child flip their head over. You repeat the same technique you have previously done to the top portion of the scalp and hair.

…. and your done ! I say that this is a fail proof method because it truly is. There is no wrong way to do this. As long as you are thoroughly combing through the hair and you are going over each portion of the scalp, YOU WILL FIND A BUG…. if there is one. Again, I recommend doing this kind of head check once a week or when your children return from a sleepover or camp. If you do these checks once a week, you will already be on top of things if they ever get head lice. You’ll be dealing with a case that has been there for less than a week, which means there will be a small amount of stuff to get out of the hair. Plus you will feel less overwhelmed with the process since you’ve been becoming a pro at using your lice comb and combing through the hair.

Advice From A Professional Lice Picker

Prevention Products: Prevention products are scented hair care products that deter head lice from coming to a head of hair. There are a number of prevention products that come in a variety of scents on the market for you to select from. If you have an Ulta around you, they have a great selection! Remember that using prevention products are not a 100% guarantee that your children won’t get lice. Be sure to talk to your kids about personal space and that you are keeping their hair up when they go to school. If you are trying to decide on which product to purchase, I always recommend getting a spray product. Prevention shampoos and conditioners are great, but I feel that the sprays give you a more potent, longer lasting scent and that is what deters a louse from coming to a head of hair.

Hair Style Choices: Prevention products should be used in conjunction with a great hairstyle that also helps prevent lice. For longer hair, it’s best to keep the hair up in a high ponytail. I allows recommend high buns or top knots when lice season is in full swing.

Sharing Space: If your child will be sharing a cubby or coat rack with their classmates, have them put their jackets and hats IN their backpacks. Even as an adult, I never put my own jacket on a coat rack!

Beware of the Comfy Chair: Most elementary classrooms will have a comfy and inviting library, complete with bean bag chairs or even a small sofa. These items are great for passing head lice around a classroom. Lice prefer to be on your head, but they can and do fall out of the hair. They’ll hang around and wait for the chance to crawl back on to a new head and this is how lice can spread around a classroom.

Weekly Head Checks: As stated above, I always recommend weekly head checks during the school year. You never know when lice is going to strike and you’d rather find it immediately than after a month or two of the case building up in your child’s head. If your children are going to sleepovers, be sure to check them as soon as they get home.

I want to end this post with telling you that lice IS NOT something to freak out about. People get it every single day and it’s more common than you think. There is a stigma surrounding lice and almost everything you hear is false. You didn’t get head lice because your dirty, or because you have blonde hair, or because you stayed at a hotel. If the conditions are right and you have hair, lice will happily make your head their new home.

If you happen to be experiencing head lice or are worried that you MAY have it, the first thing you need to do is CALM DOWN. Pour yourself a glass of wine and just breath. I hope this post has helped you in some way and I hope that our head checking method makes your life a little easier. If you have questions or would like more information, you can visit our previous post about head lice, ” The Life of a Lice Picker: Expert Advice on Treatments, Cleaning, and Prevention “. You can also call our hotline at 1-888-206-8773 to speak with me about your situation

– Brittany

XOXO

Life of a Lice Picker




Top 10 Projects For Teens: Simple Craft Projects Your Teen Will Love And Use

Top 10 Projects For Teens

Do you have a bunch of teenage girls crashing at your house tonight? Did you draw the short straw out of all the parents? Need something to keep them entertained and out of your hair? Lucky for you! We have 10 perfect craft ideas to help you survive the night! With a little prep work, and maybe a quick trip to Michael’s, you can have those girls out of your hair for the night. We’ll keep this short so you can get to work. Below, you will find 7 projects ideas from us and 3 more ideas from other blogs that we LOVE. Enjoy !

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For this project, you will the following items:

Glitter

Clear Glass Beads

Clear E6000 Glue

Magnets

Thick Paper ( We used a small stack of computer paper )

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Step 1: Place a small pile of glitter on your paper. I recommend using paper to place your glitter on because it is the easiest way to transfer the unused glitter back in to it’s container. You could also use a disposable bowl if that would work better for you.

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Step 2: Apply glue to the flat side of a glass bead. Make sure you get a good amount of glue on the entire flat surface, but remember to leave enough room for the glue to spread during the next step.

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Step 3: Gently push your glass bead into the pile of glitter. Remember that the glue will spread, so be sure that you are gentle ! 🙂

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Step 4: Flip your glass bead over to the curved side and let it sit to dry over night. Don’t worry if your glue and glitter runs over. You can trim that off  with scissors once your glue has fully dried. If you notice bare areas where glitter is missing, just sprinkle glitter on to these areas while the glue is still wet.

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Step 5: Once your glue has dried, add a small amount of glue to the glitter side of your bead and then add your magnet. And you’re all done! Let this glue dry for a few hours before using your magnet 🙂

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For this project, you will need the following:

Picture Frames

Scrapbook Paper

Scissors

Pencil

Dry Erase Markers

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Step 1: Measure and cut your scrapbook paper to fit in your frame. TIP: In the picture above, you’ll notice that we used the piece of glass from our frame to make measuring easier. Fits perfectly!

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Step 2: Put your paper in your frame and TA-DA ! Cute message board !



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For this project, you will need the following:

Washi Tape

Sponge Brushes

Jumbo Popsicle Sticks

Mod Podge

Thread

Hammer

Thumbtack

Pot and Water

** This project will take some prep work. Since the sticks must be boiled and then sit for 24 hours in a cup, I would recommend to do these parts ahead of time. **

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Step 1: Place your popsicle sticks in a pot of boiling water. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. Be sure to add several extra sticks to your pot of water. During step 2, many may break or splinter. Add extra to ensure that you will still have enough to do your projects with all participants. Stir every few minutes to make sure they are not sticking together. Once your 30 minutes are up, remove the pot from the pilot and leave the sticks in the water as it cools.

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Step 2: Slowly bend each stick into a coffee cup or regular cup. Take your time with this step as this is where breaking or splintering may happen. Leave in these cups to form for at least 24 hours.

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Step 3:  Once your bracelets are ready to go, tear off small pieces of washi tape to decorate your bracelet. Be sure to leave enough room on the end of bracelet for Step 5, making your holes and adding your thread.

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Step 4: Using a sponge brush, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to your bracelet. This will help your washi tape stay in place. Let dry for about 30 minutes.

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Step 5: Using a hammer and thumbtack, make one small hole on each end of your bracelet. We used a small block of wood to hammer on so we didn’t put holes in any other items 🙂 . Chances are, your wood IS going to crack, but that’s okay. I think it makes it easier to slide your thread in during Step 6.

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Step 6: Thread your thread through your holes and tie a knot at each end. Before making your second knot, make sure you are giving yourself enough room to slide your cuff bracelet on.

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DREAM CATCHERS ! This is such a cool project and there is plenty to do when creating these. For a complete list of supplies and detailed instructions, please visit our Dream Catchers post by clicking on the image above.

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Check out this great post about a super simple painting technique that will give you beautiful textures and colors. The best part is that you only need 3 things for this project: Canvas, Paint, and a Spatula ! To get to the post, just click on the image above 🙂

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Learn how to create these adorable little books for sweet messages by clicking on the image above. This project idea is great if you have lots of scrap fabric laying around and need something to do with it !

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I LOVED DOING THIS PROJECT ! It does take some prep work, so I would recommend planning ahead for this one. It’s definitely worth the work ! For complete instructions and details about how we created our fairy gardens, visit our post about this project by clicking on the link above.

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Through this blog and my art and crafts business, we are always searching for great projects ideas for kids. Recently, I stumbled upon some great blogs with really cool project ideas for older children. Here are three of my favorite:

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This idea comes from ” Anne With An E “. You can go to this blog by clicking here. There aren’t any instructions for this project, but I think it’s pretty self explanatory. Sticks and Paint. Done. I think the most interesting part about this project idea is the coloring and patterns designed on the sticks. If you are going to be doing this project, maybe have the picture of these completed sticks on display for inspiration.

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This great craft idea comes from ” Adventures In All Things Food “. Super simple to make and you only need a few items that you probably already have in your home ! When you get a minute, I suggest surfing this blog for other great food ideas and recipes. It definitely made me hungry and want to make dinner. Click on the image above and it will take you directly to the post about this project idea and to this tasty blog !

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When I find projects like this, I really wish my daughter was a bit older so we could do them together. She’s at the age where she wants to touch everything and I think this project would go south REAL quick! This project idea actually comes from Tulip. Click on the image above and it will take you straight to their page full of different tie dye techniques to try. If you are new to tie dye projects, they also have a great ” basics ” section that will walk you through the process. If you scroll down the page to the very bottom, you will see a link that says ” iLoveToCreate “. This link will take you to their blog where you can get great arts and craft project ideas for all ages. I got so many ideas for my Etsy shop from this site ! Definitely worth a visit.

Happy Crafting !

Brittany XOXO