An ABC Egg Hunt

I would say one of the hardest things about being a parent to more than one kid is the need to remember that your third kid needs just as much of your time, energy, attention, and patience as your first one (or second, or third…).  Because there are so many people around to entertain her–her days spent with me, afternoons with brother and sister or friends, bedtime with Em–she isn’t the best at playing independently, but she’ll get there.  Her constant need for attention sometimes has the undesired effect of me just throwing up my hands and saying, “Can’t you just go play!?” instead of encouraging me to dream up some fun activity for the two of us.  I have been working on renewing my teaching credential–a process which has kept the blog low on my totem pole of priorities–so I have been even busier than usual, fielding emails and requesting transcripts during time that I used to spend perusing Pinterest for fun literacy activities like I did for Jax or Em (cue the Mommy guilt).  I could have just as easily spent this morning encouraging Little H to keep herself occupied, but with the recognition that both she and my blog were being grossly neglected, I pulled out an old favorite to meet the ever-increasing needs of my very bright three-year-old.

Alphabet Egg Hunt Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I have come up with many upcycling uses for last week’s plastic Easter eggs that help my kids with various needs–spelling, counting, rhyming.  Little H already knows her letters, upper case and lower case, but I thought this would be a good exercise in letter sounds.  First I wrote all the upper case and lower case letters on egg halves, like so, and spread them all over our front deck.  Hooray for a warm spring day!

Alphabet Letter Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It IMG_6452

Then she and I hung out, matching letters, matching colors, talking and smiling.  Since she does already know her letters, we focused on the sounds they make.  She would find a letter, I’d point out what color it is so she could find the match, then we should brought it to me she’d tell me what sound the letter makes.

Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For a three-year-old, she’s one smart cookie, my H.

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Last kids deserve all the love and enrichment and attention as the first ones.  I’m lucky enough to be home with her, and I need to make every day matter, in big ways or small.

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 It’s good for both of us.

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Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft

One last Christmas craft before the season is over!  Em asked to get crafty on her sick day last week, and here’s what we came up with, thanks as always to Pinterest.  Let’s decorate a Christmas Tree by Letter!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This was fairly simple; it just required a few steps before the girls sat down to the table.  I got a large sheet of white paper and glued two construction paper trees down.  Then I wrote the word Christmas on a separate piece of paper and gave each letter a corresponding button color.  I decided to do two different colors for the two letter “s” so the kids would be sure to understand there wasn’t just one.  You can also use small pom poms instead of buttons–I just think they’re harder to glue on (and I love button crafts!).

Decorate A Christmas Tree By Letter @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I wrote the letters that spell out Christmas (you could do your child’s name or any word of significance) and put a drop of glue on each letter as it came up.  The girls identified the letters and its corresponding color, found the matching buttons and applied them themselves.  Color and letter recognition with a touch of fine motor skills.  They loved it, and worked so nicely together!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The final products were so pretty, and were hung up with our other holiday crafts with care!  Holiday crafting is one of my favorite parts of the season!  This one will certainly help brighten your home–and teach the kids a thing or two–this Christmas!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Number Gnomes!

Last Christmas, I had big plans to make some number gnomes for my kids to help them with their number recognition and basic math, like I had seen on Etsy.  Well, up until a few days ago, those unfinished wooden peg dolls sat in a box for the past twelve months! So one Sunday afternoon, while we watched football, Em and I decided that the wait was over.  Time to make some Number Gnomes!

number gnomes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I’ve painted Rainbow Color Wooden Peg Dolls twice before, so I was confident in my painting skills.  This time, since I wasn’t worried about any babies gumming them, I used acrylic paint on all but the dark blue, which I had overlooked, and colored pencils for the faces.

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em “helped” as much as she could, but on her first gnome she put a big splotch of red paint on his head, so we had to give them all hoods.  After that I let her paint the white peg dolls and cups.  I’m a little too OCD for those shenanigans.

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So after we painted them all a different color…

Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

…we painted numerals on them once they were dry.

Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Meanwhile I let Em finish the white peg dolls, on which I wrote the plus, minus, and multiplication symbols, and an equal sign on one of the cups.  Now I have a whole set of number gnomes and some math gnomes to keep it interesting for the big kids. I am so excited!

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My kids LOVE these, especially Jax! I’ve kept them on the kitchen table and he plays with them first thing in the morning.  Yesterday, he came up with a different idea, to put the answer to the math equation inside the equal cup.  So creative!

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It’s not too late to make a set of Number Gnomes for the holidays as a colorful and fun way to help your favorite school-aged kid learn math!  Add them to our other set of colorful peg dolls, and we’ve really got a miniature world at our fingertips! I’m very happy I made the time to make these for my kids.

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Autumn Button Branch

A perennial favorite!  We love Autumn Button Branches!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H and I have had this craft in mind ever since the leaves fell off the trees and left our branches bare.  I went out and found one that has lots of small branches and nubs, and taped it to a piece of paper.  Card stock works really well, too.

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

You’ll need lots of autumn-colored buttons (reds, oranges, yellows, maybe a green here and there) of different sizes, and some good old Elmer’s glue.  No need to remind you to keep your eye on these little choking hazards; although if your child is as into sorting as Little H is right now, I’m sure he or she wouldn’t waste the opportunity for color play by eating them!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I usually squirt the glue alongside the branches, but have had experience where the buttons fall off later when the glue dries.  This time I took the cap off the glue and applied it very liberally, letting the button sit completely in a gluey puddle.  Much more effective, and Little H had more leeway (and success).

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Outline the branch in beautiful autumn colors and hang it on your wall to keep autumn alive even as the world outside gets more brown and cold!  We hung ours above our November Gratitude Tree.  I love bringing the beauty of fall inside at this time of year!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Oh, how we love playing with buttons!  See more button play ideas here.

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Note To Self: Paint More

Any other parents out there have a love/hate relationship with the easel we all get sucked into buying at some point?  It’s so…unwieldy and such a…how should I say this?…process.  I love how nicely the kids play together when they’re painting (as long as they are in the mood to share) and the colorful photos I can get of them while they are so engrossed are some of my favorites.  But the pain to get it out of the closet, take out all the paints, get water, paper towels and paint brushes handy…hold on, am I seriously complaining about art supplies?  Even as I type this I want to slap myself upside the head and get a grip.  Sure, dealing with kids and paint can be a serious pain, but that’s crazy talk for something that can be so engaging and beautiful.  Note to self: I need a reality check.  This is what I signed up to do all day.  I need to embrace paint more often and just be thankful my commute is from my art supplies to my front porch.

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Sometimes it’s easier to just say, “Put on another show,” or just have them play upstairs in their bedrooms, certainly.  But looking back on our summer and the number of times we made a conscious decision to explore our inner artists (not very many), I think that I need to stop assuming the kids get enough art in school and start devoting a little more effort to getting our hands good and colorful more often.

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Parenting, like art, is definitely a process, and why is that a bad thing? I know that if the only thing this blog provides me is a place to reflect on which choices I make are good ones and which ones maybe not so much, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.  Just like busting out the old easel every now and then.

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After all, with mornings to myself with this girl, what better parenting can I provide than to let her explore her inner artist?  Sometimes books and errands and lunch and naptime just have to wait.

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Duly noted, self.  Time to get our artist on.

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Simply Busy Sensory Play

I love spring, and I love the rain.  I even went running in the rain yesterday afternoon–how refreshing!  But day 3 of rain with kids who are just starting to savor the pleasure of being outdoors everyday is a bit…mind-numbing.  So I pulled out an old favorite for the first time with Little H, just to see how it goes: sensory play with beans and dried peas.  Did she love it!

Simply Busy Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It

As I look back, the last time I did this we did it outside to minimize the mess (which may be wise) but this time we had no choice but to give it a go on the kitchen floor.  I was hoping for ten uninterrupted minutes of work while I sent out emails, so I brought out a cookie sheet, various plastic containers, a spoon and a few miniature CAT vehicles.  I dumped three bags of beans and peas onto the cookie sheet, gave the spoon to Little H and told her to have fun.  No helicoptering, no instruction.  Just explore and investigate and experiment!

Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It-2 Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It-2 Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Like I said, I was hoping for ten minutes; well, she played by herself for ten minutes before big sister joined in and then they played together for 23 more!  I sat at the table and supervised from afar because even though Little H isn’t putting things in her mouth anymore, Em was constantly introducing new kitchenware into the equation to extend the fun.  Some things were good–measuring cups! spatulas! rubber brushes! the bottom of a turkey baster!–others were not so good–No, Em, let’s not use the cheese grater.  So even though this is a delightful simply busy activity (one that keeps your kids quiet and happy for a bit so you can get something accomplished–find more here), you still need to have your Mommy eyes and ears on to make sure no one gets into mischief.

Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It

When they finally looked like they were about to quit, I grabbed them and reminded them it was time to clean up.  While I put away the accessories, they attempted to scoop beans into a plastic container where they will live until the next rainy day.  Then it was a battle over who would sweep, with everyone getting a turn to “help” and Mommy finally finishing the job.

This was an awesome way to keep the kids engaged while I finished some work that couldn’t wait until after lunch.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab an extra bag of pasta, beans, rice, or peas!  They are worth their weight in Busy Children gold!

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Clothespin Literacy Games

Oh, clothespins with letters written on them.  How I have taken advantage of you!  And now with three kids, the benefits of these nifty little letters are that much more impressive–teamwork, literacy, fine motor skills–but most of all, watching the big kids help Little H and all of them having to work together to build words and share (since there is only one clothespin per letter).  I think I’m going to start giving packages of alphabet clothespins and flashcards to friends as baby shower gifts–seriously.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

So without further ado, watch my kids have a blast clipping letters to flashcards, sounding out words and unknowingly working on their phonemic awareness as they go!  If you need some ideas on how to make a set of your own and what to do with them, just click here and check out some of our past clothespin fun!  There is even a set of spring sight words just waiting to be printed out.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My favorite part was watching Little H as these letters that she knows and loves to point out to me literally came together to form words before her eyes.  She was so excited to participate (so thrilled, in fact, she may have broken a clothespin or two).  It’s okay, Little H.  I get overexcited about reading, too.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And even though we have done this a dozen times, Jax and Em never tire of it either.  I think it’s because every time they are more confident about their power to read (to quote Super Why) and they can step into the role of teacher (Jax to Em and Em to Little H).  You can never underestimate the power of confidence, especially in a burgeoning reader.

Clothespin Literacy Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It IMG_9982

And the power of an activity that keeps kids happy, busy, and learning! Everybody wins!

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