Button Snowflake Decorations

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Eli is so excited to be living in a place where we will get snow this year. The first week we moved here last August he asked me excitedly if there would be snow when he woke up in the morning. For a four year old, these last three months have been a long wait. We still haven’t seen any snow but the temperatures have been getting low enough that it is at least possible. (I know many of my friends and families in other parts of the country are drowning in it right now.)

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I recently saw this seasonal decoration idea in my Facebook newsfeed. It is so simple and self-explanatory that I didn’t even follow the link at the time and now can’t remember the original source.

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I have a big basket of buttons, and many of them white as I never throw away a shirt without first saving the buttons. I had the kids sort out a couple of little bowls of white ones for this project and I glued popsicle sticks and tongue depressors with the hot glue gun. IMG_3324

I let the kids squeeze their own Elmer’s glue (hand-over-hand for the 20 month old, of course) on the snowflake forms and then place buttons along the lines of glue. IMG_3322

This is an excellent fine motor activity. I let Eli use the smaller popsicle stick snowflakes with tiny buttons while Zoe did the tongue depressor ones with the bowl of larger buttons. Zoe loved squeezing out the glue but the feeling of glue on her hands drove her to distraction. After using a few wipes she was ready to get at it again and did a good job of carefully placing the buttons on without getting her hands coated again.

IMG_3330Now our button snowflakes are floating down over the dollhouse.

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When they were finished Eli and Zoe played together with the rest of my buttons and their garbage truck for the longest time. 🙂

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Homeschooling Preschool- The Bat Unit

We’ve been slowly getting started with our homeschooling journey as we settle into our new lives here in Virginia. Eli is still just preschool-aged and little Zoe is just along for the ride so we haven’t done any purchasing of curriculum or investing in any programs. I’m mostly taking a play-based approach and following the Eli’s lead as to what he is interested in exploring. After a steady diet of all things police and fire-fighter related with Eli giving no indication of moving on anytime soon though, I was in the mood to push for just a little more variety. It being October, it seemed to be a wonderful time to learn about BATS!

bat face painting

Eli had a lot of fun with a little face painting… (Zoe not so much!)

rice sensory bin with bats

Little plastic bats frolicked in the rice bin, until they escaped and are even now being found in odd places around the house. They worked well for counting and making up little addition and subtraction stories.

bat books from the library

We brought home a bunch of bat books from the library to read together. Eli found it interesting that bats come in many different colors and sizes.

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We made a Halloween bat garland out of a couple of empty egg cartons and he really enjoyed mixing colors to match some of the bats we had read about.IMG_1719

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Zoe also got in on the painting, but found it more fun to just paint her work tray.

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Here in Virginia we have encountered a horrible problem of mosquitoes. They especially love my boy and he reacts to the bites so each one swells up to a quarter or half-dollar size. The first couple of days we were here he got 51 bites even with bug spray on! (We have since found Avon’s Skin-So-Soft to be much more effective.)

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Because of this we are quite appreciative of the fact that a bat can consume up to 600 mosquitoes an hour. We purchased a bat house from Amazon.com and are hopeful it will be occupied come Spring.

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It has to be hung at least 15 feet up so as we were scratching our heads over if we were going to need to go out and buy a tall ladder just for this job a group of teenage boys came to our door looking for yard work. I think it was the first time anyone had ever asked them to hang a bat house but they were happy to do it.

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One theme that Eli really grabbed onto during our time studying bats was that of being orphaned. It was a theme of a few of the different storybooks that we read or watched being read on the iPad. We learned that up to one in ten baby bats are not the biological offspring of the mother raising them. Some of the mothers that go off to hunt in the evening never return, usually due to predation, and some babies die during the mother’s absence. Bereft mama bats will then adopt abandoned babies. Since then he has been playing through a lot of scenarios where my husband and I die and he and Zoe have to go live with  another family. (Usually it is Caillou’s Mom and Dad… so he builds rocket ships to take him into cartoon-land.) This isn’t what I envisioned being his take-away when I thought it would be fun to study bats, but it has opened up a great opportunity to discuss foster care and adoption with him. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. After two years of classes and jumping through the required hoops we were in the process of waiting to have a foster child placed with us as part of the foster care system’s adoption program when I became pregnant with Eli. In fact the day I called the social worker to tell her I was pregnant and needed our file to be placed on hold, she said she had been just about to call me because they finally had a little boy to place with us. I often wonder about and pray for that child… who he was and where he ended up.

There is a lot that we didn’t do in our bat study and I’m sure we will hit this topic again when Eli and Zoe are older. I was surprised that he didn’t show much interest in echo-location but he didn’t so we moved along. We’ve also done a lot that hasn’t been bat related. My biggest goal at this point is being accomplished… Eli is really enjoying learning at home.IMG_1742Thanks for reading!

Karen

 

 

The Genesis of a New Obsession?

The other day I decided it was high time I get Eli involved in some painting activities. He has done a little bit of painting at school, but it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him. I picked up some chunky paint brushes and some watercolors in preparation.

I’m not sure how he did it, but he managed to reach way into the fenced off sewing are (a.k.a dining room) and snagged the brushes off of the ironing board where I had placed them when unloading the bag from the store.

I have no idea what happened to the watercolors. Perhaps we have an out-of-season leprechaun problem? I’m sure they will show up eventually as I bought two sets on separate shopping trips. In the meantime Eli was beside himself needing to paint RIGHT NOW!

Luckily, I had a set of acrylic poster paints in the house. I mixed a glob of green and another of blue into small dishes of water. Eli, paper and paint came together in his high chair.

He was entranced! I love the expression of serious focus and concentration he gets on his face while painting. You can tell this is serious work and not some frivolous game to him! We will have to work on the concept that a picture can be “done” while unused paint still remains. Either that or I just have to offer less paint for a while. When he had finished there was a beautiful but very sloshy lake of paint in the middle of his paper.

Another use for the abundance of D.A.R.E. shirts I’ve been blessed with.

The next morning my boy, who normally will sleep at least until 8 a.m. and often until 9:30 if we don’t have anywhere to go in the morning, was up at 5:30! He cut his wake-up nursing session drastically short (which NEVER happens) and grabbed his paint brushes. He made it clear that it was imperative he get started immediately, and no time to waste!

I gave him back the dried painting from the day before and some yellow paint. This time I didn’t thin the paint and I gave him one of my thinner paintbrushes. Once again  he worked away with incredible focus and concentration. (This is the child who could not sit down for more than 30 seconds ever or remain with one activity longer than 2 minutes just 6 months ago!)

 

I’m thrilled Eli loves painting. Fine Art was my major in college. After much dabbling in many different mediums I focused on painting for my senior show. I haven’t done a lot of painting since those days but the love is still there.

Going forward… I need to make an easel for Eli. I would love for him to have the ability to go and begin to paint independently. Of course, there will be a fair amount of supervision and practice of expected behavior leading up to that. You know, small considerations such as using a smock and loaded paintbrushes staying in the painting area!

Our highchair painting extravaganza has left us with a very stained highchair tray. The sun, which does a great job of quickly bleaching out food stains, doesn’t begin to touch these! I rarely use chlorine bleach but perhaps I’ll have to now. Maybe you have a different suggestion?

I also need to lay in a supply of non-toxic paint. I wasn’t completely comfortable with letting him use the acrylic poster paints that are not meant for toddlers. I am learning that in the Waldorf tradition, high quality art materials are used. Cheap children’s materials (think Rose Art brand crayons) can frustrate and turn kids off. Eli is too young now to care if his paint brush sheds a bristle now and then into his work, but I remember as a child being upset by that happening. And just as children tend to take better care of their toys when they have fewer, higher quality toys, the same applies to the judicious use and care of art supplies. Honestly though, at this stage I think the main concern is safety. When Eli reaches the stage of greater intentionality in what he is trying to create the quality will be a greater factor of consideration for me. Right now he seems to be driven more by the joy of the process.

I’m not sure about the expense of using the “good stuff”.  I would like to encourage Eli to be free to create and experiment to his heart’s content and not feel like I have to ration supplies that are too precious. I’m also wary of the attitude that one needs to buy only “approved” materials from Waldorf suppliers. But the jury is still out as I haven’t yet had the time to do my research. I’m sure I’m not the first parent with this concern. I’m off to find out how other families have  provided eco-friendly, non-toxic, good quality art supplies for their budding Rembrandts without breaking the bank. If you have any ideas to share please leave a comment.

Mama’s got some readin’ to do.

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen