ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fourth of July Crafts and Activities

Wow! The 4th of July is really sneaking up on us quickly and it's about time we share some fun patriotic themed crafts and activities. If you have some of your own to share please feel free to add your links in the comments.

Start your search for great star and firework themed crafts in last year's round up of Patriotic Goodies!
Last year ABC & 123 also hosted a Picnic Table Talk blog hop where you shared your great ideas for teaching children about freedom and inpendence. To reference this great list, you will find the links here.

I, List Maker Katie, shared about our family's easy to adapt Independence Day tradition of creating a patriotic parade. The same post includes several fun craft ideas such as pipe cleaner fireworks and starry night visors.

Roots and Wings Co. put togehter an amazing wind chime for Flag Day that would also be perfect for the 4th of July.

Lucky little Molly at Life of a Modern Mom models some adorable handmade red, white, and blue flip flops!

Our friend, Mama King, shares instructions for putting together festive ribbon crowns for the patriotic princess in your life.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Show & Tell #14

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

It's time for Show & Tell! Here are three great activities from last week:

Two Little Seeds showed off the lovely watercolours they made with pipettes. It was neat to see how the colors mixed.
The Activity Mom shares a fun Toy Story Grid Game, perfect for all the little Woody and Buzz fans out there! She even provides a download so you can play at home too.
Aren't these beautiful pictures from Tonya's Art and Nature post? She shares the activities that they did during a program in their area and offer tips, so you can benefit even if you don't live in the Monterey Penisula area.

Thanks for sharing with us ladies! We can't wait to see what each of you have been up to now. We're looking forward to visiting you and hope you link up!

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Please remember these rules:

  • Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.
  • Direct link to your post, not your home page.
  • Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.
  • If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!
  • Lastly, please try to visit and comment at least three links. Spread the comment love and make some one's day☺

Monday, June 28, 2010

Play To Learn: Logical Thinking

Welcome to our Play To Learn feature where we’ll be looking at games to help your children work on their logical thinking and reasoning skills. There are tons of ways to do this, but here are just a few ideas to get you started!

Logic Links:

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Have you tried Logic Links Puzzles yet? I promise they aren’t paying me for an endorsement, we just love this game! Its great for building logical reasoning skills and I add them to our workboxes for fun!

Each card contains a puzzle that tells which disks they'll need along with clues as to how to place the colored disks. I mostly use it for 2nd grade right now since my Kindergartner can’t read the cards quite yet. I have given them to him though, just made sure there was a “Work with Mom” sticker on that box!


Dollar Puzzles from Michael’s:

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I found these inexpensive shape puzzles and they were a great addition to our workboxes! They are harder than they look and turned out to be a great problem solving game!


Creative Color Cube Activity Cards


These cards are great for logical thinking skills, the set comes with 32 activity cards that begin with easier tasks of making shapes and patterns and progress to building shape towers (some with hidden cubes) and even simple computations.


Tangram Puzzles:


Tangrams are puzzles consisting of seven simple geometric shapes that can be rearranged into innumerable figures. The puzzle has simple rules: recreate the target figure using all seven pieces without any overlap. Click here to read about the theory behind Tangrams and a fun online game example!

I found these Tangram cards and blocks at Lakeshore Learning they also have the blocks by Learning Resources. This set includes cards with each shape outlined for beginners and then cards without the shape outlines for more of a challenge!

Pattern Blocks:

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 Pattern Blocks are similar to the Tangrams, but include more pieces in each puzzle allowing you to make really great patterns and pictures. I found these free Pattern Block Printable at Prekinders.  I found my cards and Wooden Pattern Blocks Here!



I featured this on my Fine Motor Skills Pt. 2 post, but it’s also great for Logical Thinking too! Rules are simple, each player gets a color. The goal is to get as many of your pieces on the board by the end and they can only touch on their corners. For single players, it’s still a challenge to get all the pieces on the board!



Jenga is such a fun game, it takes skill to build the tower and even more to remove the pieces without it falling down! Great for logical thinking!


Mystery Pattern Blocks:


This is a fun game from Lakeshore Learning, it comes with pattern cards and a mystery box. The wooden pattern pieces go in the box and you have to stick your hand in and “FEEL” to find the right piece to complete the pattern.


Foam Shapes Puzzles:


I got this fun idea from Walking by the Way. I grabbed a tub of foam shapes from Michael’s (or any hobby store) and then made a grid on construction paper. I glued 2 different shapes in the top row of the grid, then gave my daughter the appropriate shapes she needed to replicate my design.




I found this set at a local used curriculum sale and am so happy I did! It came with a bunch of pattern cards, beads and shoelaces. You just pull out a card a shoestring and a hand full of beads and copy the pattern they’ve done on the card.

Those are just some of many ideas to help boost Logical thinking skills! If you have more ideas to share, or would like to be included in future “Play To Learn” posts, please email me at homeschoolerconfessions {at} gmail {dot} com, we’d love to hear from you!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Making Art at Home with Pink and Green Mama

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Recently one of our favorite go to bloggers MaryLea from Pink and Green Mama did a great three part series on her favorite art supplies. What makes them a must read is that she's broken it up into age ranges. In each she shares several, and we mean A LOT of interesting and unique ideas to use each one. You will definitely want to stop over and read each post in full by this former elementary art teacher!
She provides level headed encouragement in My Favorite Art Supplies for Toddlers and reminds us that,"I focus on materials and the sensory experience of creating and exploring with that medium," and that it's not about what you end up with. You'll want to check out all the interesting sensory boxes she shares in this one along with ideas for playdoh and food coloring among other art supplies.
In My Favorite Art Supplies for Preschoolers we really appreciated all the tips, like why you need to buy quality watercolor paper. Her ideas for things to work on with your 3-5 year old are also right on. In My Favorite Art Supplies for School Aged Children she shares tips on how to use a common supply most of us have, like Sharpies! We also liked how she used paint to make backyard gazing balls and several of her mod podge with kids projects.

This is only a very small sample of the ideas and tips she shares, thank you MaryLea for putting together such a great resource! Check it out!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preschool Games and Activities

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Thanks to Whimsical Ways who has submitted several wonderful posts with games and activities appropriate for preschoolers:

Use color swatches and familar objects to play this color game.

These i spy bottles are an appropriate activity for teaching letter recognition and more.

Whimsical Ways has put together a cute edition of Color BINGO.

Practicing number recognition is easy and fun with this preschool game.

Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abounds featured some activities made for her toddlers using gift wrap.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little Cooks with Books ~ Eggs

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When my oldest daughter, Samantha,  first became interested in cooking, one of the first things I taught her how to make was scrambled eggs.  They are inexpensive, healthy, versatile, and easy and quick to prepare.  The perfect dish for a young chef, and one that she will probably make a lot in her lifetime.

Since that first cooking lesson, Samantha has become a talented scrambler of eggs.  She has learned how to add veggies and/or cheese.  She has also used them to make a scrambled egg sandwich and a breakfast burrito.

Here are the basic steps I showed her during our scrambled egg lesson:
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  
  2. While the pan is heating, whisk the eggs with milk and salt.  Use 1 teaspoon of milk for each egg.  Salt to taste.  This is the perfect opportunity to show your child how to whisk. The perfect whisk ~ use a whisk to beat the eggs in a tilted motion for about two minutes.  The eggs should look "frothy".
  3. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan.
  4. Add the eggs.
  5.  When the eggs start to set, use a spatula to push the eggs into the center of the pan. Continue this motion to cook all of the eggs.  
  6. Use the spatula to break up any large pieces.   
  7. Flip the eggs.  Allow them to cook for 15-30 more seconds.  
  8. Scoop eggs onto plate.  Season with salt and/or pepper. 
 Gracen, my picky eater, does not partake in eggs.  However, she has been enjoying the practice of cracking them.  She is now the designated egg cracker in our house.  Here is the technique I taught her:
  1.  Hold the egg and lightly tap it on the edge of the bowl.  You don't want the egg to crack completely.  Instead, you just want to make a dent in the eggshell.
  2. Use your two thumbs to dig into the dent and pull apart the two sides of the shell.  
  3. Allow the egg to slide into the bowl.  
This is not an easy skill.  In fact, I don't always get it right and have been known to have to fish out small specks of shell.  However, Gracen loves practicing and is getting better at it each time she tries.

For a fun "egg" related book, I chose  Eloise Breaks Some Eggs (Ready-to-Read. Level 1).  Both girls love the movie "Eloise", so I thought they might enjoy this book in which Eloise's Nanny tries to teach her to cook.  It is the perfect read for Gracen because she can read it all by herself, and it is a little silly.  Samantha was not too into it.  She thought it was too "young".  Wes enjoyed Eloise's quirky sense of humor. 

Another appropriate book selection for a scrambled egg lesson is Scrambled Eggs Super.  It is a tall tale about a boy named Peter T. Hooper who is tired of his mom's scrambled hen eggs.  His food boredom leads him to tell his friend, Liz, about how he went on a journey to collect many different types of eggs.  He explains that he used the eggs (and some other creative ingredients) to create "Scrambled eggs Super-Dee-Dooper-Dee-Booper, Special deluxe a-la-Peter T. Hooper".   This is a super fun book told in the classic over-the-top Dr. Seuss style.

See you in two weeks with another Little Cooks with Books activity!

Keep Cookin',

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Show and Tell #13

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Last week I made a mistake when working on the Show & Tell post. We often work on posts several days before they go live and create placeholders in our dashboard so we can see what we've got planned. Normally this works out great.

We had two Show & Tell posts in our Edit Posts and I wasn't looking at the post date when I added the the ladies who were supposed to be featured last Tuesday in today's place holder post. I apologize to the readers who expected to see their ideas in last week's post. To make up for it, we've included them in today's along with three more who linked up last Tuesday. Kelly at Little Wonders' Days came up with a great solution for her son's tendancy to want to do something with the bits and pieces he finds. We love that his invention's box will encourage and nuture his creativity.
Kami at Nuturing the Tender Years created a hands-on shape sorting activity out of inexpensive supplies you can find at most craft stores.

Once again, our apologies ladies! Now on to the participants from last week!

Love and Lollipops created these great Matchbox Fridge Magnets and shares the how to on her blog.

Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns shares an activity she used to check for comprehension and it's based on our own Teach Mama's activity!Little Learners made this sweet craft based on her daughter's favorite summertime fruit. We think it's great when you let your child's interests lead your activities.

Now it's your turn, please hop on and link up below! We'll feature three more participants, picked at random, and feature them next week. You never know when it could be you!

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Please remember these rules:

  • Post an "Ah Ha Moment," favorite lesson, experiment, learning game, field trip, whatever you're currently working on, or your child's fridge worthy artwork, handmade gifts or anything holiday related.
  • Direct link to your post, not your home page.
  • Include a link back to us or our link button in your post.
  • If you come back and your link is missing, double check to make sure you've followed the directions!
  • Lastly, please try to visit and comment at least three links. Spread the comment love and make some one's day☺

Monday, June 21, 2010

Teach Mama: Making Connections During Read Alouds

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.

Summer's here for most of us, and school's out! But that doesn't mean that learning needs to take a back seat. It just means that parents need to really work hard to sneak in a little bit of learning when they're able, and read-alouds can be the perfect time.

Many important reading comprehension strategies can be taught to children even before children can read--they just take some solid modeling by parents and teachers during read alouds. Connecting, activating schema, questioning, predicting, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, or synthesizing, can all be taught in casual, relaxed--but meaningful--ways during the short span of a read aloud.

Here are a few ways parents can model for their children the reading comprehension strategy of making connections:
  • Making Connections: Making connections is usually one of the first reading comprehension strategies that children do naturally when reading a text, since most young ones looove to talk about themselves.
When your daughter shouts, Mommy! I have the same pink tutu as Zoe! while reading a Sesame Street book, she's making a connection. Your son is making a connection when he says, Hey! There's a clown fish like Nemo! during your trip to the aquarium. When Arthur's Family Vacation gets your kiddos reminiscing about your own family's crazy beach trip, they're all making connections.

Connecting allows readers to relate directly to the characters, events, or ideas in a text. When readers are able to draw a connection to a text, they're more likely to remember what they're reading, appreciate what they're reading, and be more invested in what they're reading. Connections can be personal (self-to-text), they can be between two texts (text-to-text), or they can be between the text and some other world event (text-to-world).

During read alouds, parents or teachers can model connection-making by saying something like:
  • I remember feeling the same way when I lost my favorite lovie. . .
  • Oh, Lilly is so excited about her purse, she just can't stop talking about it. When you got your new shoes, you felt the same way! Remember, you wanted to tell everyone how happy you were. . .
  • It's sometimes difficult to try new things. Michael in this book is just like Taylor in the book we read yesterday. . .
  • It looks like the people in this story are really struggling with litterbugs. We just worked hard to pick up the litter we found in our park. . .
  • Remember how the girl in The Gardner sent letters to her family while she was away, the little boy in this book. . .
Connections are pretty easy to make, no matter the text. And modeling this strategy doesn't have to be a huge, time-consuming endeavor. If one or two connections are made during one read aloud, that's great. Our hope is that when emerging readers--and even toddlers or preschoolers--hear the adults in their lives making natural connections as they read, that the little ones, too, will make connections when they are the ones decoding the text.

And when readers make connections, they're drawing themselves closer to the text which will ultimately help them to better understand what they read. Very simply, we're hoping that our little ones will pick up on the habits of strong readers early on, and then they will naturally use these strategies on their own when they're able. Pretty awesome, right?

Next up: Making Predictions During Read-Alouds

You can find more on this topic and others over at teach mama, where Amy shares the ways she sneaks a little bit of learning into her children's every day. . . or as often as she can with a 6, 4, and 3 year old. Or join her--and many other ABC & 123 friends--at we teach where they're chatting up a storm, sharing ideas, and learning a little themselves.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrating Summer

Welcome! New to ABC and 123? Please check out our FAQ in the sidebar.
Here Comes the Sun!
Mama Jenn has fun in the sun with three different sunshine crafts!
Adventures in Mommydom features some great scientific experiments using the sun.

Whimsical Ways submitted a post about creating and playing with smelly sand.

These Beach Bear cupcakes are a yummy addition to a summer celebration.

A mini sand table is an appropriate activity for a summer day.

Help your children plan for their summer fun with this Summer To-Do List tip from Life of a Modern Mom.