Nana Camp – Learning about Shapes!

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I take care of my two youngest grandchildren, Nora and Max, while their parents work.  Nora will be 4 in August and Max is 2 1/2.   I decided it might be helpful to have a little structure for a small part of our day together, so last week I started Nana Camp.  So far they have been loving it – just the routines and songs and games make that time in the morning a little special.  For the first week our theme was shapes.  Nora was already pretty confident and Max knew a few but they both had fun with the activities.  I even made up lesson plans (guess who misses teaching a bit?)

Nana Camp ideas

We start each day with a special handshake – I shared all these in a previous post about greetings and celebrations if you are interested!  Then we have a visit from Rosco – again the details of Rosco are explained in a post under the Language Arts section.  Each day Rosco (a large dog puppet) brings an alphabet letter, and the children do something simple with him that begins with the letter – we ate apples for A, bounced a ball for B, played catch the cow for C, etc.  He gives them a big lick and a cut out letter to take home.

Next I brought out my little critter puppet – and named him Shape Monster.

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I cut out felt shapes and put them on the flannel board.  Each day we concentrated on one shape and learned a song about it.

Shape songs

Every day we chanted off the words to the Shape Monster book, this was something I did with my Kindergartners and just adapted for my little ones.

As we said the words “Shape Monster, shape monster, munch!  munch!  munch!  How about a red circle for your lunch?”  I chose one of the kids to come and take the red circle down from the flannelboard and “feed” it to Shape Monster.  This puppet does have a slit in the back of his mouth so he can “swallow.”  Each day Shape Monster ate each of the shapes, and Nora colored the page in the Shape Monster book.  The rest of each day’s activities emphasized one shape.

Shape Monster 1

Shape Monster 2

Shape Monster 3

We only spend about 10-15 minutes doing these things, but then I brought out some other activities during the day.  As you see in my ‘lesson plan’ we had a different shaped snack each day.  I also made a road in each of the shapes that I brought out one at a time because Max loves matchbox cars.

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I cut these out of black foam and used white-out to write the dotted lines.  I made another set out of the stiff kind of gray felt and used a marker for the lines.

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For circles I introduced Bingo markers, can’t believe I hadn’t let the kids play with those before!  They were a staple in Kindergarten.

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As I was scrolling through Pinterest ideas about shapes I came upon the idea of a Tuff Spot.  It came from England – basically a washable tray that you can use for everything from play-dough and shaving cream to sand, rice or paint.  I found a version on Amazon and my husband built a stand for it out of PVC pipe.

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Here the children are cutting play-dough circles.  The shiny surface is a piece of sparkly poster-board I cut to fit because we used this on the 4th of July and I wanted the stars they were cutting to look sparkly!  I also put glitter into the play-dough.  Most of the week we have used this outside but it is really easy to take in or out.  Of course you don’t need a special table for any art activities but it is fun.

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For squares the children put together a square man – I precut the squares but I am trying to find more opportunities to let them cut.  Nora handles scissors pretty well but Max is a novice!  They used a glue stick pretty independently.  I wondered how Max would put his together but he really took his cue from Nora.

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I wanted to emphasize the 3 sides of the triangle so they counted 3 tongue depressors and we glued them together.  Then they used a Sharpie (don’t tell their mom but they didn’t get it on their clothes) to draw shapes and then watercolor painted over them.

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For rectangles I gave each of them a clean sponge and took a tub with a small amount of water in it out onto our driveway.  I showed them how to squeeze it out a bit so when they made a print it was in the shape of a rectangle.  They loved this!

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Another day I drew shapes on the driveway and we played several games running around and stepping on the shapes while we yelled out the names.

Nora is interested in sight words so I put out the words ‘I, see, a” in a pocket chart.  This is one of those $1 pocket charts I bought at Target and again my handy husband made a frame from pvc pipe.  I set the words out to make a sentence by putting a different shape at the end.  I see a circle, etc.  She loved using the pointer to read it.

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I hope you are enjoying summer time and the little people in your life too!

 

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Summer Celebration!

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My grandchildren and I decided we should begin their summer vacation from school with a special celebration.  I decided to create a clue hunt for them, mixed in with some of the fun things we always love to do together in the summer.   One of the first things the kids always do at my house is to check their mailboxes.  I have small plastic mailboxes in their bedrooms at my house, and I try to remember to put notes, candy or small toys inside that they can find when they come over.  (Sometimes I forget!)  Today they found a small bag of M & Ms and this alphabet chart.

Letter chart

When I started to make up the clues for the children to find I had to do some thinking about what they could all do successfully.  I didn’t want to overwhelm them, or make it too easy.  I know Owen – who just finished 1st grade, would be able to read the clues to the girls, but I wanted them to all be able to help solve them.  I started with this alphabet chart because I knew they could all do it, and then use it later to help solve clues.  I asked them to write a number next to each alphabet letter, starting with 1 for A through 26 for Z.  Then we talked about the rules of the clue hunt.

rules

I showed them a set of 6 envelopes – I decided that the order did not matter, so they could take turns choosing an envelope to open.  These contained the clues that led them to different places inside and outside our house.  When they solved the clue and went to that location they found a bag containing a small prize for each of them.

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The bags contained things like small bottles of bubbles, tattoos, bracelets, stickers, whistles, rings; any small toys would work fine.

In order to make our celebration last longer and to include some time to move around and play I told the children they would be choosing a summer activity to do in between solving each clue.

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They took turns choosing these fun activities.

Then they chose the first envelope they wanted to open.  Their job was to do the math problem, then match the answer with an alphabet letter.

Math

The answer to this clue was CAMPER.  They loved going out to our old camper to find the first prize bag!  I asked them to bring the prize bag back to our living room so they would all be together, and then ready to choose a fun activity before the next clue.  They chose to go outside and play bubbles.

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Next Anna opened a clue envelope.

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Puzzle

I printed this clipart picture on a piece of blue card stock, and on the reverse side I printed the clue.  Then I cut the pieces into puzzle shapes.  The children assembled the picture, we taped it together then they flipped it over to read the clue.

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The next clue they solved was simply to write the letters for each number.  This one sent them out to the upper level of Papa’s barn (Top of barn.)

Letter match

I didn’t even need to give them any help with the next clue.  Right away they got the idea of writing down the red letters to find the message.  I loved how the girls read off the letters while Owen wrote them on the bottom.  This sent them out to our Little Free Library in front of our house.

Library

This clue was fun for them to solve.  They wrote the first letter of the name of each animal to get the message.  We have a crawl space under a small part of our house that we use for storage – the kids love to go up there!

Animals

The last clue they solved was a very simple story I wrote about them.  All they had to do was look at the first letter of each row.

First letter of row

 

The hint at the bottom was enough to give them the idea.  I was ready to help if they needed it.

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It was a fun way to start our summer celebration!  Hope your summer is great too!

 

 

 

The Pigeon Party!

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Our family spent another fun evening at Commerce Township Community Library celebrating the Pigeon, and other favorite Mo Willems characters.  If somehow you haven’t met and fallen in love with these books, take some time to look at them.  All of my grandchildren love them, from 15 month old Max to 6 year old Owen; and I know they will keep enjoying them for a long time.

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Here are a few that were on display at the Pigeon Party.  Our favorites are probably Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny, but we haven’t read them all either!

They began the special evening by reading a Mo Willems book and giving the children a chance to try out some special dances:  Piggie Jiggle, Twist and Snout, Air Piggie, Shakin’ Bacon, Happy Hooves, Elephant Slide, The Shy Guy, The Funky Trunky, Jumbo Gumbo, and Rob-Gerald 3000.

After dancing the families were free to explore all the great centers that were set up around the room.

Paper bag puppets

The kids loved making paper bag puppets, they could choose either the Elephant or Piggie.

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elephant puppet

 

Duckling They had fun pretending to be the duckling or the pigeon trying to “eat” a cookie.  The head with an eye was glued onto a spring clothespin and the children counted how many pom poms they could pick up.  Some of the pom poms were decorated to look like chocolate chips – or nuts?

Knufflebunny pics

The illustrations in the book Knufflebunny, and Knufflebunny too are photographs with the characters drawn into the scenes.  For this activity the children chose a large photograph and colored and glued on any characters they liked.  There were lots of background photos to choose from, as well as a whole bunch of characters.

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Bird on head

The children enjoyed trying to walk carrying a paper nest filled with plastic eggs on their heads.  I am not sure which book this is from!  I need to check it out!

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This Mad Lib activity was great for the school aged children who attended.  Even the little ones could make suggestions to fill in the blanks.

Elephant and Piggy

I loved seeing what all my grandchildren drew and wrote in their cartoons.

Let's Draw the Pigeon

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The children had fun making play dough clothes to cover up the Naked Mole Rat!

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There are lots of wonderful ideas for extensions of more Mo Willems books on Pinterest, and also on Mo Willems’ website.  Thanks again Commerce Library!

 

 

 

Hawaiian Luau

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My grandchildren enjoyed another wonderful program at the Commerce Township Community Library.  This time the theme was a Hawaiian Luau!  I never would have thought to include Hula Hoops!  They enjoyed some Hawaiian music and tried out some Hula moves.  They had a chance to try out a few traditional instruments too!

 

Palm trees

The Palm tree bowling was a big hit.  The pins were large soda bottles filled with crumpled blue tissue paper, with laminated palm trees taped on the front.  They used small inflated beach balls to try to knock them down.

 

Lei

They made leis by stringing pre-cut foam flowers alternating with small pieces of pre-cut colored straws.  Great practice making a pattern!

 

Fish

These cute fish were preassembled, but many children could cut the triangle and glue it onto the back independently.  The library program has limited time and lots of fun activities so some projects are often pre-cut.  The children used markers, stickers, bingo markers and glue on jewels to decorate their fish.  They could also cut out shiny scales – just like Rainbow Fish!

 

Beach blanket

 

 

There were large beach towels on the floor to play Beach Blanket Bingo, but my kids chose to stand at the table.  I loved the colored shells they used as markers – I am guessing you could color them by shaking them in a baggie with a bit of food color and alcohol.  They were set out in small buckets – so cute and fun!  The high school helper pulled a picture out of her container.  I liked how this game showed some things that are special about Hawaii – birds, flowers, hula, surfing, etc.  The prize for the game was a candy bar – everybody played until they won!bingo

I found some free clipart online in case anyone wanted to make their own bingo boards.

Limbo

The kids loved using a plastic stylus to scratch designs in these black shapes.  As they drew with them, pretty colors showed up.  There was string if the children wanted to hang these up.

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Of course they loved the special snack of Hawaiian Punch (what else?) and pretzels mixed with colored Goldfish crackers.

 

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They set out a few books based on Hawaii – Owen was anxious to check one out!

It was a great evening.  Just for fun I looked up a few Hawaiian terms that would be fun to use with children.

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Mahalo  Commerce Library!  It was such a fun evening!

 

 

Owen is 6!

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Owen’s birthday comes just 8 days after his twin sisters’ and up until this year they all celebrated with one combined party.  But this year the girls had their hearts set on a Frozen theme, and Owen wanted a Transformer party so his parents decided to rent out the local bounce house for his celebration.  It was a big success!

Transformer decorations are a little hard to come by, so I took a picture of Owen wearing his Transformer jacket – with full face mask, and enlarged it to use as a decoration.

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We made labels for water bottles because all that jumping and climbing makes everyone thirsty!

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There is a lot of free AutoBot clipart online, so it was easy to put these together.

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I found these pictures that would be great stapled onto straws or on sticks to put into cupcakes.

On Owen’s actual birthday we had a small family party and the children each got one of these simple matching games.

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I even found a ready made birthday card to download.

Birthday card

We wanted to be prepared in case there was some down time during the bounce party, so I came up with a simple group game that I called Transformers – Ready to Roll!

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I printed off these pictures of 4 different Transformers.  The children would sit in a circle, each holding one of these pictures.  Then an adult would call out 2 Transformers, including the color in case some children are not as AutoBot savvy as my Grandson.  So they would call out Red Optimus Prime and Yellow Bumblebee.  (Or just use the colors!)  Those children would stand up and run across the circle to sit in a different spot.  The adult would continue calling out colors, but if (s)he calls out Transformers!  Ready to Roll!  all the children get up and run for a different spot.

Here are the pictures I printed, these sheets provide 3 of each color.

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Fruit Basket game 1I was thinking of different ways I could have played this game with my Kindergartners.  As a child I used to play it using different kinds of fruit and the teacher would call out Fruit Basket Tips Over – and we would all get up and run.   It might be fun to print off body parts like eye, ear, nose, hand and tongue – and use it to review 5 senses!

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Or  names of punctuation!  You could play it with any things you want the children to remember!

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Anyway …

Happy Birthday Owen!

I hope you love being 6!

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Frozen Birthday Party!

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Our little Princesses turned 4 years old last week and we celebrated with a Frozen themed birthday party!  They looked lovely in their Elsa dresses!

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This picture of Olaf was on the door to greet our guests.

Games and Activities copy

We had a few activities set up for arriving guests.  I love Dollar Tree!  I found Frozen tattoos there, and some cups with removable inserts that could be colored and decorated.  I made personalized Frozen inserts with each child’s picture.  I found lots of free clipart online – for these I looked up Frozen coloring pages.

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cup iinsert After printing out these personalized pages, I used the insert that came in the cup as a template to cut them to fit inside the cups.

I found some glow in the dark bracelets with glow in the dark beads for each child to make too.

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I ordered 3 inch white pompoms from JoAnn Fabrics for snowballs.  The basket was set out for children to toss the snowballs into an empty container as one of the “arriving time” activities.

 

I found some great fleece Olaf fabric at Walmart and used it to make pillow cases for small travel size pillows as take home gifts for the guests.

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I used the free Frozen clipart to decorate bags to collect all their take home stuff.

 

 

prize bags

This was the first time I tried group games at one of our birthday parties.   I made a very simple Bingo game using clipart of the Frozen characters.   Each child had a small cup of Honeycomb cereal “snowflakes” to cover their pictures.

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I did find a Bingo set from Frozen already done online, but it had more rows.  This set with 3 across and 3 down was just the right size for the age of our players.
I cut apart these cards of the characters to use as calling cards.

Bingo callers

The kids had lots of fun, and everyone was a winner!

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Then we played “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  I found this game on Pinterest!

I printed the die pictures on cardstock and folded it into a cube.  I made enough dice for each family to take one home, but we all shared one at the party.

Olaf dice

I also used cardstock to print and cut out the pieces for Olaf, for each party guest.

Olaf parts These are the same pieces I enlarged to put on the door.  For the game I put each child’s pieces into a ziploc baggie.

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The kids did a great job taking turns rolling the die and adding that part to their snowman.  I put magnets on the back of 2 more sets and plan to repeat this game with 2 children at a time on the magnet board.

Next we went outside for more games.  Luckily it was a beautiful day!

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I used a silicone Gingerbread man pan to make people shaped ice cubes.  I gathered the children and told them that Elsa had cast a terrible spell and frozen all the people of Arendelle.  I asked the children  to help save them.  I put 5 frozen people ice cubes into each dish, labeled with a child’s name.

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The kids lined up on the other end of the driveway until we said, “Get ready, get set, go!”

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Then they ran down, picked up one “person” and ran back to the other end where they put the ice cube into a bowl.  They ran back and forth until all the frozen people were “saved.”

 

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Then we played with the parachute and snowballs.

After that we divided up and had a snowball fight – using the pompoms!

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The kids were loving the ice so much that we used the rest of the ice cubes to “write” on the driveway.

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Or just eating the ice!

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After a great Pizza dinner we enjoyed the Frozen Birthday Cake!

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Happy Birthday my sweet Anna and Lily!  I hope you LOVE being 4!

 

 

Abby Cadabby Party!

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Yesterday we celebrated Nora’s 2nd Birthday with an Abby Cadabby party.  Nora’s mom experimented with fondant and made an adorable cake!   I saw the idea for these party favor bags on Facebook – there was quite a bit of cutting and gluing but Nora loved them.

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We went through our photos and came up with some favorites.  They are glued onto a large 2 cut out of posterboard.

There was a wide range in age among the child – guests at this party, but the games were mostly geared for the birthday girl.  The older cousins were very gracious and participated willingly to make this a fun day for our special 2 year old!

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boats

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balloon copy

We made the paddles from birthday plates with paint stir sticks taped onto the back with duct tape.  They worked great!

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Oscar

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Abby

We taped the numbered pictures of Abby Cadabby all over the yard – making some a little more challenging to find for the older kids.  I had not anticipated a joyful Nora running through the yard “collecting” the pictures that were taped low enough to reach!

Abby checkoff

Numbered Abby pics

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bubbles

parade 

I think Nora’s favorite part of the party was the parade!  She loved marching around the yard, and kept going with various instruments long after the parade quit following her!

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It was a great birthday!

I hope you have so much fun and love being 2 precious Nora!

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