Monday, October 8, 2018

Human Body Preschool Lesson

I love autumn! I love the colorful leaves and crisp air; I love the pumpkins on porches (and in my bread!) It's also refreshing to get a second "new year" feeling so many months after January first. After all, school is starting, including my third (THIRD?) round of mom-preschool with SourPatch. We keep doubling in numbers; we've gone from two kids to four kids to seven kids. Feeling daunted but determined, I did my first week of preschool at our home last week, and I feel like it was a success.

So we've done an alphabet theme and a literature theme preschool; now we have a "all-sorts-of-topics-under-the-sun" preschool, coupled with a letter and number of the week. Deep breath. Fortunately, my topic for Tuesday was the human body, and boy howdy, I have a passion for it. The human body is incredible; now to just show these children how incredible! 

To try to tap into the "imagination mode", we based out preschool on the "Inside Your Outside" book, a doctor-Seussish journey through the human body. Therefore, I passed out tickets and required the kids to climb through our magical "machine" before we began.





Once through our "machine," we followed along in the book and started with our brain. After reading about the left and right sides of our brain, worked on some fine motor skills with our letter and number of the week. We practiced writing the letter "C" and number "4" to exercise our left brain, then colored a picture to exercise our right brain. I love the letters of all sizes that the Measured Mom puts on her blog (for free!) There are lots of great coloring pages such as this free download from education.com. The number four page I accessed through SourPatch's participation in Waterford's upstart program (which we love.)


Brain duly covered, we moved on to the skeleton. Our boys are transfixed by this Dem Bones book, and the preschool loved this semi-dancing video to go along with it. We also sang Hinges after discussing joints.


Since another mother is covering the Five Senses in an upcoming lesson, we moved on to the muscles. An active, large-motor activity here seemed like a must. Ergo, I made a giant, active animal dice (die, but that sounds weird, right?) and let each child have a turn rolling it. All of the kids then used their muscles to imitate the animal; they crawled like crabs, waddled like penguins, flew like birds, hopped like kangaroos... you get the picture.


For the heart section, I pulled out my stethoscope (helps to be a nurse here...) and let them listen to their own hearts beating. One or two weren't terribly impressed, but most got a magical look on their face. They were listening to their very own hearts pumping their blood. I'm glad they caught the wonder of it. The heart is incredible, after all. I also tried to get them to take a quick listen to their lungs while they were at it.

We read through the digestion/urinary part and then were about to wrap up with my grand sticker finale, when I noticed the liver was overlooked. Though I tried to let it go,  I couldn't; the liver is so fascinating and important. However, after finding some really informational videos clearly aimed at adults... I showed them this very, very obnoxious liver video for children. Still not sure if I made the right choice, but they were attentive...

So, to wrap up, I bought (what I consider) to be an extremely cool sticker set of organs in the body from Oriental Trading Company (on a free shipping day, naturally). I knew it might be a lot for preschoolers; I'd toyed with the idea of adding stickers as we talked about each part but quickly abandoned it as preschool kept rolling.Yes, the kids were excited for the stickers. I put up a completed sticker chart for them to copy and then tried to talk them from head-to-toe on how to assemble it. I'd say a third of them ignored me and went right to placing stickers everywhere and anywhere on the torso, a third sort-of-followed along, getting organs in roughly the right spot. The last third were meticulous; it was adorable to watch them carefully, carefully put each sticker in just the right spot.


Probably the most popular body activity we did was this one inspired from this blog's All About Me snack idea: body pizzas. Using a cookie cutter, I punched people shapes out of tortillas to represent skin. Next, I spooned sauce onto each of their "crusts" for them to spread out while we discussed what our blood does. Shredded cheese represented bones followed by pepperoni as muscles. The kids really seemed to enjoying making (and eating!) them.




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Footboard/Headboard Bench

It's garage sale time of year again! And that means it's a perfect time to find just the right bed to repurpose into a designer bench. I lucked out last fall when a neighbor put a twin size bed out on the curb with a "free" sign attached. I ran home, grabbed the truck, and nabbed it. (I brought home the entire bed hoping that I would be able to use the slats in the construction, but they were too short, so I had to purchase additional boards at the hardware store.) I have to admit that the headboard/footboard sat on our back porch for several months--the holidays and cold weather slowed me down a bit--but when the spring weather brought warmer days, I finally got to it.

There are a lot of great online sites with step by step instructions for how to benchify your bed, but I used this one from Addicted2Decorating. The directions were clear and easy to follow.

The only thing that I did differently was to use narrower boards for the seat. I chose to do that because I thought it would look better, but I realized the first time I sat on it that I had made a mistake. I had forgotten that narrower would also mean less sturdy, and the boards sagged when anyone sat on them. So I ended up gluing and screwing a brace under the seat for added strength. You can see it between the seat boards and the front apron:


It was a fun and relatively easy project, one that I would love to do again--perhaps with a larger bed. This bench is love-seat size. The problem is. . . . where will I put all these benches?





Friday, April 20, 2018

DIY Tulip Wreath

Apparently I'm into wreaths? I remember each holiday in my childhood, mom would lug a giant rubbermaid box of decorations out of the garage, and we'd bedeck the house. In hindsight, I suspect our decorations were probably a mix of garish-and-cheap next to expensive-and-broken items: White ghosts (stuffed with plastic grocery bags) hanging from the trees out front for Halloween, real pumpkins stabbed with wooden feathers to resemble turkeys at Thanksgiving, or intricate little Christmas nutcrackers with delicate hats, hands, or heads that were super-glued back on after careless children broke them.

Sorry we broke all your stuff, mom (and continue to break; who killed off another wise man from your nativity set last Christmas? It wasn't me this time.) That's not the point, though; the point is that I remember loving the process of decorating our house. However, I'm four years a mother, and I don't really have much of a stash of seasonal decor myself to spread the joy to my children. The one thing I'm slowly accumulating is a small supply of wreaths.

Perhaps it's because my first DIY autumn wreath was (is) so awesome. I really liked how it turned out, and the process was a fun experiment.


Then the Christmas edition came around the next year:


However, pine cones don't really say "spring," do they? I did the unthinkable a bought an Easter wreath on sale at Smith's, but Easter came and went so quickly.  I eyed my barren door last week and knew it was time for something happy, springy, and floral. Thus, to my Pinterest board I went, and I pulled up this lovely tulip wreath tutorial from The How-To Mom. "Laurel," you say, "your wreath doesn't look as great as hers." I know, I know. It's either a product of skill or a Michael's vs. Dollar Tree effect. I do love her two-toned effect, but the dollar store only had pink and pink-with-a-little-bit-of-white varieties. Not much contrast, I'm afraid. Nonetheless, I am super pleased with how it turned out.


I bought the tulip stems and ribbon from Dollar Tree. Fact: I can't remember how many bunches I bought (not enough the first time; I had to go back for more.) My best guess is 12 bunches with 4 or 5 tulips a bunch. I used one spool of 3 inch x 3 yard green burlap ribbon. It... almost reached. I knew it was going to be close, and had I overlapped it slightly less, I think I could have made it seamlessly around. The very last section (where I put the loop to hang it) has a loop of brown burlap that I hope is hidden by the flowers.😊

Since the Dollar Tree only had 9 inch foam wreath forms, I opted for a Walmart one for around $4. I chose the 12 inch (though the original tutorial uses a 14 inch.) All around, that clocks in the price of this beauty at roughly $17 before tax. 

I love the simplicity of this tutorial. After clipping off the individual stems with pliers and securing my ribbon to the foam with hot glue, I wrapped. Just wrapped. No more gluing until securing the ribbon at the very end, no floral wire, pushpins, or eye screws... I loved making this wreath.




I tried to follow the pictures and suggestions from the original tutorial. It looked like she grouped 3 or 4 stems per wrap-around of ribbon, pushing the leaves towards the top so they won't get pinned under the ribbon. The end of the ring is tricky, but I found I could trim the stems slightly shorter and tuck the last flowers into the first loop of ribbon. I used hot glue to secure the end of the ribbon and glued on a loop for hanging.


Voila: spring.