Still Playing School: February 2013

Green Eggs Sensory Play

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , , 1 Comment
Are you looking for ideas to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday? Have your kids always loved the book Green Eggs and Ham? We've got the perfect sensory play recipe for Read Across America Day!

Kids will love to play with this sensory slime recipe for Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss!

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Toilet Paper Roll Leprechaun

We love creating holiday crafts with recycled paper rolls! Last week we had friends over for dinner so we were in the mood for St. Patrick's Day crafting.  The kids made paper towel roll leprechauns that are perfect for small world play or even to decorate for the holiday.

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E's Makeover

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment

The Princess Party manicure and pedicure was a big hit, so we decided to return to Erica for a haircut for E. I have been trimming her bangs myself since she was 5 months old and last spring I took a few inches off the length.  This was her first professional haircut!  Her hair was getting tangled on a regular basis, she was arguing with me about combing it, putting it in pigtails or ponytails, and washing it.  It was time!

Together, E and I checked out Pinterest looking for little girls' bob styles.  I wanted to go short while she will still allow it.  We settled on shoulder length for now (or as I referred to it: Snow White) but we may go shorter for summer.  I promised her we could still use headbands and clips!  We kept the bangs because to me they just define a little girl.

Erica was wonderful at keeping my non-cooperative girl entertained while she worked.

After she was done, E had a chance to style Cowie's hair with the salon's toys which she loved.

Like I mentioned before, The Pink Polish is completely kid and family friendly.  I appreciate being relaxed with the kids while I'm there.

Lastly, Erica added a washable, PINK chalk streak that totally made E's day!

I was not compensated nor did I receive a discount for this review.  The opinions are my own.  E and I are both thrilled with the results. 
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The Importance and Purpose of Infant Texture Play

Baby D is 11 weeks old today, which is the perfect age to engage in texture play time.

Luckily for him, he has an older sister who enjoys searching around the house for things to touch him.  We discussed stroking him gently in safe places such as his arms, legs, and occasionally his cheeks.  I also asked her to only do this when Momma or Daddy says it's allowed.

The sense of touch is the first sense to develop in the womb.  Interestingly, it will also be the last sense to diminish in our old age.

Because of this, it is the primary way that babies learn and socialize.  Kisses, hugs, and cuddles are all sensory ways that babies bond with their families, driven primarily by touch, but also incorporating smell, sight, and sound. (And with eventual open mouthed baby kisses even taste!)

Touch helps babies learn about the environment around them as well as who they are as an individual in space and time.

Giving D different textures to explore will also encourage him to start reaching for and grasping objects which is the next physical milestone on the horizon.

I am laying him down for tummy time on varying textures.  We've tried blankets in a variety of materials, different carpets and rugs, and some of E's interesting dress up clothes!  We also sandwich him between two fabrics to let him practice kicking.

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A Heart Hunt

E is very disappointed with me this Valentine's Day.  I decided not to decorate just to take one thing off of my plate.  Of course, this is the perfect age for her to enjoy the holidays.  We still went all out for Christmas before D was born only to have to try to find time to take it all down after his arrival.  There are still Christmas lights on the deck because the pack n play is blocking the door.  I haven't found time to care.

To make her feel better about our house's lack of decor, we went on a heart hunt yesterday.  We walked to the library and took pictures of all the hearts we found there and along the way.

And, of course, at least I decorate my kids!

Next year will be better, E.  Promise.
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Emerging Writing

E came downstairs this morning with a note she had written for my parents who live on the other side of the state.

I had her "read" me what she had written so I could underwrite.

This was an exciting development for many reasons:

- It was completely independent and self motivated work.

- E has internalized and been inspired by a lot of modeled reading and writing behavior.  My parents regularly write to her and send her packages in the mail.  She sees me writing notes and lists often.  She helps me write on her projects, adding meaningful text to birthday cards and helping me determine the initial sounds of words as I write them for her.

- I could pinpoint her stage of independent writing.  She is creating scribbles moving from left to write horizontally across the page.  Her "signature" shows some mock letters in her name.  (Sometimes her independent E has more than three lines to it.)

- She saw my enthusiasm over this note.  I underwrote, took a picture, and showed her how I am emailing it to her grandparents.  (You can see where I started to rip the note out of her notebook to mail it, but she protested.)  She then went on to write more letters for a good portion of an hour, dictating out loud who she was writing to and what she was saying to them.  I wish I had recorded this because it was priceless! She was "writing" too fast for me to keep up with her ideas.  When she saw me blogging about this, she decided to get her play laptop and camera so she could "take pictures on the 'puter and write" there, too.

E's age: 3 years, 1 month
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Valentine's Day Literacy

Valentine's Day is a lovely time for emerging readers and writers to practice their skills! When addressing, signing, and delivering cards children are beginning to recognize some of the most important printed words: names!

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Cake Mix Sensory Bin

We loved this sensory bin idea from Growing A Jeweled Rose: A Cake Mix Sensory Bin!

We picked strawberry for Valentine's Day. My girl loved it because it's PINK!

We added heart sprinkles for extra fun.

D was sad because he can't play yet.

Our kitchen smelled delicious!
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Lesson Plans

I'm experimenting with a new way to lesson plan for our home school preschool.

(click to enlarge photo)

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Weekend Cooking

Baby D has silent reflux.  I'll write more about this at some point, but I'm telling you because on some days?  I have no time for anything except trying to soothe him.  He likes to MOVE and bounce and rock and be patted very firmly.  On his bad days, we don't stop moving.  It makes most other daily tasks very tricky.

Last weekend I decided to make a bunch of recipes I had pinned on Pinterest so that we had some healthy options for lunches during the week without having to think or prep or cook.  This worked out so well that I'm planning to do the same thing again this weekend.

I made up a quinoa fruit salad that my husband took to work all week for his lunch.  I would also grab this for a quick breakfast.  I didn't have a recipe, because I make it differently every time, but it was quinoa, sliced banana, apple, a can of mandarin oranges (undrained), a can of peaches (drained and chunked), and some maraschino cherries plus a splash of the juice.

My husband's favorite was the mayo free chicken salad (made with Greek yogurt instead).  I ate it on sandwich rounds, but he ate it with a fork and raved about it!

He said the edamame, corn, and red pepper salad was also amazing, but sadly it was overshadowed by the chicken salad.

Lastly, I made a sweet potato soup that a friend had brought us for dinner when D was born.  I ate it all and thought about it for days, so I wanted to make it again this past weekend.   It was gone again by Tuesday.  My friend said that it freezes well, but I don't think I'll ever have enough left over to do so.


Sweet Potato Soup (from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 ½ cups peeled, cubed red-skinned sweet potatoes (1 ½ - 2 lbs.)
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups red onion
⅔ cup finely chopped celery
¾ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
6 cups chicken stock
⅔ cups fresh orange juice
Kosher salt

Arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 F. In a large, heavy skillet, set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar, then spread sweet potatoes cubes in a single layer on a baking pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir and roast until tender when pierced with a knife and browned around the edges (for about 15 minutes more). Remove and set aside.

In a large, heavy pot set over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, celery, and fresh ginger, and saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add roasted sweet potatoes and saute for 2 minutes more. Add chicken stock, orange juice, salt, and a generous pinch of  pepper. Bring mixture almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, for about 20 minutes or longer.

Puree the soup in batches. (I used my blender.) The soup will be quite thick; if it seems too thick, you can thin it with more chicken stock and OJ or water.

This weekend I'm making corn and butternut squash chowder, vegetable quinoa soup, slow cooker winter vegetable stew, and more chicken salad at my husband's request.

What are you cooking this weekend?
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