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Plastic Eggs For Literacy

The other day Em and I were putting away groceries when she discovered a bag of plastic Easter eggs that I had saved with some preschoolish activities in mind and forgotten.  So I pulled them out and repeated an activity I did with Jax a couple years back that was such a hit, I knew she’d enjoy it.

Easter Egg Literacy Games @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Some potential mishaps to be aware of: lower case y and h look a lot alike when turned upside down.  Probably should have made them different colors to help her notice they are not the same.

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 Also, lower case b, p, q, and g are easily confused–make sure you choose different color eggs for each.  Same for w and m.

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In the end you will have a rainbow of literacy that will be as much a reward for you as for them!  It’s quite an achievement!

For Jax, I put numbers on either side of an egg, so that when I called out a number he could spin it to find the correct number.  Really helps for the confusion of “Is thirty-one 1-3 or 3-1?”

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And another fun thing to do is to put the ending of common words (like -op, -ar, -it, -at) on one side of the egg and a list of letters that form a word on the other side.  These words are all in the same word family and rhyme, which is a fun and important skill to play with.

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Rhyming Eggs @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All this upcycled fun with eggs you would have thrown away anyhow, or can pick up for a quarter the week after Easter!  Enjoy some time with your little ones, learning as you go!

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Compound Word Eggs

I saw this idea on Pinterest way before Easter, and I had big plans to do it ahead of time so that you could read it and plan to save your plastic Easter eggs for just this activity.  However, I never got my act together–in fact, I even forgot to save eggs myself!  Luckily, I saw all the Easter stuff on clearance at Walmart and bought 30 of them for 30 cents a few weeks ago, and I have just been waiting for an opportunity to work this creative homeschool activity into our busy days.  Well it rained all of last week, so I had nothing better to do than to turn lemons into lemonade and whip up a literacy lesson or two with Jax.  Even Em tagged along at the end of this one!

So without further ado, please allow me to introduce Compound Word Eggs.

Compound words, as any good English-teacher-on-hiatus knows, are words made up of two words put together.  Like doghouse.  Dog is a word, house is a word, and if you put them together you get doghouse, a compound word.  This is definitely not an idea that kids need to know in preschool, but since we are familiar with the concept from Word World–episode Sandbox Surprise; I highly recommend it–and know the catchy little song from there that explains how you stick two words together to form a new word, I thought playing with compound words would be a fun way to pass a rainy afternoon.

Luckily my son is as big of a literacy dork as I am.  He was all in.

We sat together while I put the words on each egg using stickers.  I wanted him to be sure he could read each word by himself.  I think at this age it is very important to have the compound word parts be the same color, so he can eliminate incorrect word pair choices by color.  But some words had multiple options for pair partners, so sometimes he mixed it up.

For example, he took the sand from sandbar and the man from snowman and turned it into sandman.  I’m not sure if that’s even a real word, but it gave us a chance to talk about Mr. Sandman and sing that song from the 1950’s (not so much Enter Sandman by Metallica).  Toolbox was easy, but I also created the option to create mailbox and shoebox, so there were some alternatives to the same word.

Anyway, Jax was a huge fan of this game because it was a kind of challenge, and he had to figure out which words sounded right.  His favorite was when he discovered the word baseball.  He used his typical manly face and said, “All right!  BASEBALL!”  And he was wearing his Sox shirt, too.

Now I’m not an expert on literacy; I just know what works for my kids and since they are little reading rockstars, I think perhaps I may be on to something.  But one thing I do know for sure is that kids, especially boys, love to learn by doing–by manipulating things with their hands and fingers, thus imprinting this information deep in the foundation of their brain.

After Jax had solved all his compound word puzzles and Em had woken up from her nap, I still had plenty of eggs left to recycle a great idea I have shared with you before, but it bears repeating since it’s so fun and easy.

All you have to do is write capital letters on one side of a plastic egg, and its corresponding lower case letter on the other side.  Then break them apart and have the kids match them up.  This was difficult for Em because her lower case recognition is pretty inconsistent if the lower case letter doesn’t just look like a mini version of its upper case partner.

But that was fun, too, because Jax got to play the role of teacher–one of his favorites.  I separated all the capitals into one pile and all the lowers into another, and Em would grab an upper case letter and identify it.  Then she would go look for its partner based on color.  If she found one she didn’t know, she’d hand it to Jax and ask him what it was.  This happened quite a bit and he loved being the big shot big brother.  Then they were both proud of themselves when they found a matching pair.

Em was still grumpy from her nap and not at all ready for her close-up.  But although she wasn’t photo-ready, she did have fun.

But when Jax started building two-letter words, she quit.

Whatever, show off.  Enough learning for today, Mom.  Let’s go have a tea party.

Dorky mom, out.

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Alphabet Matching Eggs

I’m recycling this post from last year.  I have another fun idea of teaching reading with plastics eggs, but I don’t have any!  Until I find some, enjoy this very popular post from last spring.
Easter has come and gone and after a wonderful celebration with family and friends, I am left storing my baby chicks and tucking away my Easter books until next year.  But what about those stupid plastic eggs?

As far as I know, you can’t recycle them with your empty milk jugs and diaper boxes.  They’re so cheap that it seems like a pain to store them when I can just buy 50 more for two bucks next year.  I always feel so guilty about things like that, though!  What’s a mom to do when the party’s over and there are a hundred egg halves kicking around underfoot, cluttering and cracking and irritating me to no end?

Well, you turn to one of my favorite blogs with the brightest ideas for all things parenting and fun.  You may remember Modern Parents, Messy Kids from my Easter garland debacle, and the site is full of more beautiful and brilliant ideas like that.  When I went MPMK on Monday, to my delight, I found yet another way to entertain and educate my kids, but this time, with an upcycling twist: 20 Activities for Plastic Easter Eggs!  And considering the fact that I feel like I have three thousand eggs at my disposal, I bet I could get through all twenty, no problem.
Well, here is my favorite idea which led to one wildly successful morning activity with Jax.  Upcycling (reusing my eggs for something even cooler) my plastic eggs into an alphabet game!  If you know Jax, you know that this sounded like heaven to him.
Materials:
plastic eggs
alphabet stickers, upper and lower case
Directions:
Take 26 plastic eggs and break them apart.  Put an upper case letter on the top half, and its corresponding lower case letter on the bottom half.
Break them up, scatter them on the ground, and have your preschooler match them up!

Instant educational fun!

Alphabet Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Things To Consider:
How old is your preschooler?  How confident are they in matching games?  How large is his or her attention span?  Jax loves letters, but doesn’t necessarily have the patience to dig through 52 egg halves for the upper case L.  I was glad I decided to keep my upper and lower case letters the same color, so that if he had a yellow “G,” he could scan the other yellows for the lower case “g.”  If he had to look through all the colors every time, he would have gotten frustrated too quickly.

Alphabet Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It
Also, make sure your egg’s lower case letter is facing up when the egg is connected. That way it’s more clear to your kid that these two letters go together, big and small.

 

As you can see, I didn’t have all the letters of the alphabet (I bought a new package and they miraculously disappeared) so I used what I had and wrote the rest in with Sharpie.  The Sharpie actually wiped off surprisingly easily, so be sure the ink is dry before you let your kids’ grubby little hands get all over them.  Jax erased both the “z” and the “D.”  He would hold the “z” in his hands and bring it close to his face and say, “Z, you’re my favorite.”  He hasn’t let the little “z” out of his sight since this morning.  He even said it goodnight to it before nap.

Here’s to reusing something you would normally throw away in a new way!  Even if you only use these once, it will be worth the ten minutes it took you to create this activity.  I’m going to store them away and have them be a go-to game on a rainy or sick day, or when I’m just out of ideas.  I do love having a little something colorful and cool in my back pocket!

This craft was featured on BlogHer on the Green page!  Exceptionally exciting!
To see where the hops where this craft has been linked, check out my “Links & Hops” tab above!
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Easter Blessings

These little bunnies and I have had a very busy week.  School vacation is a blessed mix of laziness and adventures, sleeping in and staying up late.  What with all the long drives, visitors, evenings with friends and daytime excursions, the blog and its obligations kind of slipped my mind.  But I wouldn’t want to forget to commemorate this Easter and all the fun we had, so here we are again!

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The day before Easter, we drove down to Massachusetts to spend the night with family.  Then we woke up Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris bright and early to play, open Easter baskets, and have some fun before heading over to Grammy’s for dinner.

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My aunts and uncles, my kids’ aunts and uncles, lots of food, handmade name tags, and plastic eggs made for one very festive afternoon!  I love watching my kids connect with extended family, especially mine since we’re so far away.  I grew up with them in my own house, and having my kids love and appreciate them means everything to me.  It’s an extra blessing in my book.

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And in the spirit of Williams family Easters past, there was an epic egg hunt, for all the bunnies, even the big ones!

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After the egg hunt, there was room for one last cupcake and some more cousin fun before we hit the road to get our pup from the kennel.  We all (especially Little H!) made the most of it.

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PicMonkey Collage

One, two, three, four, five times blessed…more than that.  We had so many wonderful reasons to smile that day, and I’m glad I took a minute to reminisce and appreciate it all!

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Easter Blessings

Oh my goodness, Easter was so long ago!  How did I forget to document all the blessings (literal and spiritual) of such a wonderful day?

We spent the night before Easter at Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris’s house, and the kids were beyond thrilled that the Easter bunny was able to find us there!

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I think there was more than one Easter bunny hopping around that morning!

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Once they checked out their loot, the kids were content for quite a while.  That bunny sure knows what they love!

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After a wonderful morning and their first game of Monopoly, we headed over to my hometown where we could celebrate with extended family.  The girls looked just perfect in their matching Easter dresses.  These photos just speak to my heart about family, tradition, and sisterhood.

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Of course we took a few minutes to get some family photos…

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…and the kids explored a little while the grown-ups hid the eggs for the hunt.

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Then we let my three and their big cousins Christian and Erika battle for as many money-filled plastic eggs as they could find, as my sisters, my cousins and I did throughout our childhood!

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Oh, so blessed, so happy to continue wonderful traditions, and so thrilled to spend a sunshiney day with my family!  Grateful for each and every one of these memories.  A really lovely day.

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Somebunny’s Birthday!

My beautiful daughter Emerson turned one on Tuesday, and we celebrated with family on Easter Sunday.  It was an unbelievably special day, and the birthday girl radiated sweetness and charm.  I’m not one to go crazy over a first birthday since she won’t remember any of it, but I found myself getting caught up in the excitement of it all.  Plus, we all know there’s nothing sweeter than a little girl all dressed up for her birthday.
We celebrated, as we always do, at Nana and Papa’s house.  I added some spring decorations of my own to the already beautiful Easter decor, and we ended up with a pretty pastel backdrop to a wonderful day.
I got these pinwheels on Etsy.  They were perfect for my centerpiece and I used them as party favors at Em’s friend party later this week.
I went with the Easter color scheme because the colors and patterns were just right for the day, as were all the little touches and decorations.
 
…all we needed was for the birthday girl to wake up from her nap.
These little leg warmers were Emmy’s birthday present from Mom and Dad.  The best purchase I have made for her yet!  Perfect for springtime.  I love her little toes peeking out of them!
So, the party started without her, but we couldn’t wait for her to join the fun!  It was wonderful for everyone to make the trip and be sure to celebrate two special occasions as a family.
We were so lucky that we had a sunny morning so we could gather outside and watch Jackson and Tommy ride their Power Wheels and mingle as a big extended family.  Everyone gets along so well and we all love these kids so much; it’s always a relaxed, festive atmosphere when we’re all together.
Then, finally!  The princess woke up and if you know me at all, you are not surprised to learn that I took advantage of her sleepy seriousness to have a little photoshoot.  She was just too beautiful to pass up.  And my niece was nice enough to share her bunny ears to complete the look!
Can we talk about how much I love her outfit?  It’s actually a romper, rather than a dress, and it was the third outfit I bought.  I wanted something girlie but that still made her look like the baby she still is.  Sometimes little girl clothes can look so grown up; I wanted to embrace the transition from baby to toddler.  I think it was just right.
I am going to put it away and hopefully Emmy can pull it out when she has a baby girl of her own.
And then, because I can’t leave well enough alone and a girl only turns one once, I bought her an over-the-top headband!  I love having a girl.
Plus, she knew the Royal Wedding was this week.  She needed a fascinator of her own!
I finally decided to share her and brought her out to her adoring fans.
And bribed her brother with an M & M to give her a hug.  How come bribed hugs are never that cute?  Probably because they are so fleeting as his mind is only on how long he has to touch her for it to count.
So much cuteness potential wasted.
Of course I never learn my lesson and then bribed Jax to hug his cousin Tommy.
That didn’t pay off, either.
Then the kids started having meltdowns.  Well, my kids did, anyway.
Which means it was time for some of this:
Can you believe I made this bite-size cheesy deliciousness?  One day I’ll share the recipe with you.  Let’s just say I converted more than one person into a goat-cheese lover.  Mmmmm….
And after lunch came…
…CAKE!
It takes a village to blow out one candle.
She was actually really ladylike about the whole thing.  Daddy had to help the process along or she would have savored every crumb.
Then we opened all her amazing and thoughtful gifts, played a little more…
…and finished off the day with an Easter Egg hunt!
I know a lot of you have Easter traditions about hiding baskets, candy, real eggs, etc.  In my family, we have a very serious hunt for those cheap, plastic eggs, but what makes it so interesting is that they’re always full of  money.  Change, mostly, but valuable cash nonetheless.  It got pretty cutthroat when my cousins and I were about ten.  That five dollar egg was worth being grounded for a few days.
Em didn’t understand it, but she was happy to participate.  And to keep wearing her bunny ears.
And that’s that.  Naptimes called, the guys went off to the driving range and the ladies enjoyed a glass of wine and another cookie.  The rain held off and we were able to share a wonderful, fun-filled day with all our loved ones.  I couldn’t have scripted it better.
Jason and I are loving watching our little girl grow, but I’m glad she still has some baby in her.  Days like this make us count our blessings and sit back to take in all that we have to be grateful for.  Not the least of which is the true meaning of Easter, lost a bit to us on this day of bunnies and pastel eggs, but nonetheless always present in our hearts.
We love you, Em, and hope your second year is as happy as your first!  Thank you for being you.
Our sweet little girl.  Not a baby anymore!
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Hunting

Saturday we met up with our friends to unleash our kids in a pack to experience the thrill of the hunt.
This is our second year attempting to participate in the CCBA’s Easter Egg Hunt in Lebanon, NH.  Last year it didn’t get above thirty degrees and we had to leave early because all Jax did was this:
We couldn’t even stay to find any eggs.  I think he was trying to communicate to us that he had frostbite.  Maybe invest in some mittens for me, Mom!
This year he knew what to expect and was ready for some hunting.
He knows those pastel plastic eggs can hold some pretty exciting loot.  Like bubbles, which are little more than just plain messy because God forbid he let one of us help him.  All he gets are soapy hands out of the business, but he’s determined to do it alone!  I guess this is what it’s like to be two.  Determined and uncoordinated.
On a happy note, he was a sweet boy and got some eggs for his sister.  I love how he says, “Here you go, Em!” when he hands things to her.  And even though you have all realized that Em is her blog nickname, not her full name, that is the nickname he uses for her.  To him, she is “Em.”  It’s really pretty darn cute.  Oh, and yesterday he told me she was his best friend.  Smile.
Em was fairly impressed, although not excited when I took away her Tootsie Rolls.  Tootsie Rolls at an Easter Egg hunt?  Half these kids don’t even have molars!  Come on, CCBA, step it up in the candy department.  And how about a trash can or two?
When the magic was over (after two minutes), we adults were left standing around wondering what to do next.  The playground proved unsuccessful–
–as did pictures with the Easter Bunny.  Poor Em.
I love the one on the left, but the one on the right is great because she’s looking at her brother like, How could you do this to me?
So we headed off to get some lunch with our friends.  Ten adults, five toddlers, two babies, three babies-in-utero.  Quite a lunch!  But the kids were miraculously well-behaved and we could all just kick back and enjoy each other’s company.  As the days warm up and the evenings get longer, I look forward to more days like this!  Minus the scary Easter Bunny.
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