Big K goes to school with Little K and comes home inspired by the classrooms Job Chart.
This would excite him because Big K loves a clean house.
He suggested making a job chart for all of us, so we can have a clean up time at the end of the day.
Made sense to me. Even though we are happy messes, everywhere I look, there’s something for me to catch up on.
If we don’t pick up our messes, toys get stepped on, misused, broken and we can’t play with them anymore.
I know that the kids respond well to visual charts, we used one for potty training that had pictures of each potty step. Pull down pants, crawl up on toilet, point down, etc.
So I enlist the children’s help in coming up with cleaning chores that were easy to accomplish for 3-6 year olds. With my help they come up with these 6 categories:
1. Boss / Helper,
2. Dishes / Utensils,
3. Laundry / Throwing Laundry down the stairs, adding soap, emptying lint trap, transferring wet clothes to the dryer, pressing the start buttons or folding hand towels,
4. Floor / picking up toys and putting them away,
5. Couch / putting away all cushions, pillows and blankets.
6. Table / washing down the meal table and sweeping up underneath it.
The kids draw pictures that represent each category.
We write our names on clothes pins and print out a picture of each person, taping the face to the name.
We will rotate jobs, working everyday to pick up after ourselves.
Good reasons to have a job chart:
1. To learn responsibility for our things.
2. To contribute to the workings of the home.
3. Learn to work as a team and help one another.
4. Learn practical life skills.
5. To teach our children the value of a clean home.
I’ll let you know how it goes after piloting the chart for a week.
It has been a very warm and early spring, not sure if more like a lion or lamb, maybe more like a hybrid of them both combined. The seasons are a little out of whack here in the North East of America this year. The unseasonal sun is helping buds pop early. Our forsythia, usually the first of the flowers to bloom, is rioting a month ahead of schedule. The last two nights, there has been a danger of frost. My concern is that the beautiful sunshiny branches of the flowering bush will loose their yellow if the air gets too cold.
We have a long path of forsythia lining one edge of our property. If you sneak underneath the branches, you enter the forsythia fort, a great hideout in any season, but especially magical in the spring. We go out and enjoy the beauty before the flowers pass.
We hide in the fort with paper and sharpies, drawing the branches and buds. Big K and the boys usually take shears to the inside of the fort about twice a year, so it’s nice and spacious.
…and make forsythia crowns. We snip long and short, full and bare branches with a long pair of shears. Friend H makes a bouquet to take home to mommy.
On the way to PreK this morning, Friend A introduces a great game to us, where we shout FORsythia every time we see the bright yellow bowing branches.
We go to a teddy bear story time with our little stuffed animals. This story time is hosted by our local CFCE, Coordinated Family and Community Engagement program. The CFCE program is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care.
We read 2 books: Teddy Bears’ Picnic by Jimmy Kennedy and Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
Then we get up and move. We launch our teddies in the air with a rainbow parachute.
To end the story time, we munch on teddy grahams and sip on juice boxes as we work on a teddy bear mask craft.
This is a great way to continue to positively support the kids’ stuffed animal play.
Playing with little Beanie Baby Stuffed animals has been a favorite game here for about a month.
At first I am irritated because of the manic loudness and agressiveness of the play. The boys struggle with turn taking. They have the stuffed animals at the lunch table and accidentally knock over food with them, they constantly crash them into things, throw them across the house and car, and they yell in very high pitch voices when they pretend the animal is talking.
They are so engrossed in the play that they cannot hear me when I try to communicate with them about the mundane business of the day: meals, getting out the door, reminding them to use the bathroom, correcting behavior.
Instead of banning it, I try to understand it.
Friend A has a very special stuffy named Ducky. When he’s sad or sleeping, Ducky is a great comfort to him.
Little K cuddles with a little white stuffed cat named Blancita at sleepy time.
We used the animals to help Little J feel protected from bad guys at night.
I notice that the boys sometimes talk out, act out social challenges through their stuffed animal play…”I’m sad, I need to be saved, I’m being bad right now.” They name them, eat with them, hold them in the car, while they watch TV and they sleep with them. We even take them outside in the sandbox, afterwards washing them in with a load of laundry.
There are some boundaries that we have established: Sometimes we regroup to talk about noise and energy levels. I bring to their attention ANY time they communicate or negotiate successfully using the stuffed animals. We also use them during calm times.
My favorite little story:
Friend A doesn’t like me to cuddle him too much, but he’ll let me give his stuffed animal a kiss on the nose, and then he’ll receive the kiss from the stuffed animal.
We love these books about Lily and her blue kangaroo.
Little K’s first swim lesson was a dud. Not knowing what to expect, the lesson began and went too fast for him. He got frustrated and wouldn’t get back in the pool with the teacher. After a week of chatting about “good guy” swim teachers, about plans to be a diver someday and after visiting the pool during family free swim, he was ready to try again.
Little K hesitates for a second, then does really well with the teacher and in the water…big smile on his little gremliny face the whole time.
We celebrate with ice cream.
My mission with this art group is to provide a mixture of classic and recycled art materials for exploration that can be applied to all age groups.
This month, I set up 3 tables. One with label stickers, circles and rectangles. The second table has mark making tools, Sharpies and oil pastels. The third table has tempera cakes, bowls of water and paint brushes. The idea is for the kids to cycle through the tables, creating a cool pattern or picture with the stickers, adding detail with the mark making tools and filling in the background with water color.
This little guy uses the big stickers. He matches the colors with some smaller round stickers and uses them as eyes. He scribbles over his little faces and them finishes it off with a wash of dark grey.
The MOMS Club in town is having a fundraiser through Original Works. We can put these images on almost anything; mugs, t-shirts, note cards, journals, etc, at a very reasonable price. 33% of the proceeds go to a charity of the MOMS Club’s choice. MOMS can give these trinkets as gifts for Mother’s Day.
I don’t remember why the bin of pipe cleaners are in the kitchen, but the boys find it and start winding pieces together with their little fingers.
Little J is trying to connect pipe cleaners to make a necklace, but it doesn’t fit over his head.
It is a perfect fit for a crown.
Little K creates something and calls it a candy cane. He asks that I attach it to the crown.
Little J and K say the crown is for me so I put it on. They add more dangly and floppy creations to it.
Friend A wants a crown with a volcano on it and one with a dinosaur.
Little J asks for a skateboard on his. We work together to bring their visions to reality.
They are happy with the product, even though they are very abstract.
Little J moves onto making lots of bracelets.
Friend A makes lots of snakes by looping a little head at the end of the pipe cleaner.
He makes one loop really big and says it looks like a ball rolling in grass…so poetic.
Black Pipe Cleaner rounds
topping wild boys messy crowns
ball rolling in grass.
Green smoothies for a PreK celebration of St. Patrick’s Day:
1 1/2 cups of vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups Naked 100% Juice Smoothie Green Machine
1 cup frozen mango chunks
handful of spinach leaves
Throw it all in the blender and blend until the green leaves are liquified.
Pour it into little cups for your little leprechauns to make green mustaches.
This is the first time I have made corned beef. I am cuban and canadian, married to and Irishman.
Corned Beef in the Crock Pot:
12 ounces Guinness
4 pounds corned beef
half head cabbage
1 bag of fingerling potatoes
Put it all in the crock pot on low for 8 hours… it works…especially when served with a buttered side of the cheddar and bacon soda bread.
Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread:
1 package of cooked bacon
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup grated cheddar
4 green onions or scallions, chopped, green part only
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Set oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, granulated sugar, cheddar, chopped bacon and green onions until well blended. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
My boys are grazers. They would eat little meals and snacks all day.
They are currently addicted to chocolate chip kids’ Cliff bars, they call them chocolate bars.
Little J has a nut allergy, so choosing a good energy bar is limiting.
I’d love to make some at home. One thing I know, it must involve chocolate.
I use a Sneaky Chef recipe as the base for this culinary experiment.
The Grab and Go Granola Bars are a cross between granola bar and rice crispy treat.
The secret is in putting oats and seeds through a food processor.
Grab n Go Crispy Granola Bars, nut free version:
2/3 cups rolled oats, ground in a food processor
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, ground in a food processor
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal, we use EnviroKids Organic Koala Crisp cereal
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
I wanted to add some dried cranberries, but the boys “no-ed” that ingredient.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan completely with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.
Combine oats, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, cereal, dry milk, cinnamon and salt.
Mix in canola oil, honey, vanilla extract and chocolate chips.
Mix well, pour into prepared pan, press down with palm of hand.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, lift the giant bar out of the pan, using the foil to help.
Place on a flat surface and while still warm, cut into small bars.
If they last long enough, store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze.
I make them, and everyone likes them, but Little J. Go figure. Back to the drawing board.
The kids have been having a tremendous amount of fun in the sandbox of late, hours of fun, hours.
Last week, there was a mix of melting snow and sand in there, making lots of watery sandy puddles to bury action figures and to dig through.
This week, it’s been 60-70 degrees, so the snow is completely gone and the puddles have evaporated.
To recreate the fun, I find the hose that’s been stored in the shed all winter and connected it to the spigot. The hose does not reach all the way down the hill in backyard to the sandbox so we also dig out the wheelbarrow and use these to fill with water and commute to the sandbox to dump the water. The boys are absorbed in the process of spraying the hose into the wheelbarrow. They take turns spraying and trying to balance the heavy water down the hill without spilling.
They also make a project out of trying to fill the wheelbarrow with shovelfuls and handfuls of sand, making themselves wheelbarrow sand pies.
When the sandbox has enough water and the kids have had enough turns with the hose, we play in the sandy puddles. After hours of this play, the kids have shed layers of soaked clothes and are covered from head to toe in wet sand. They all go in the tub for an early bath. We’ll be doing this again soon.