Empowering Girls through Creative Play – #LEGOFriendsCGC

Empowering Girls through Creative Play #LEGOFriendsCGC #sponWe have been Lego fans for years.  I grew up with them myself and was excited when my kids took an interest in them as I have long thought that Legos are a fabulous way to encourage creativity and allow kids to express themselves in a positive manner. When LEGO® Friends came out in 2012, my daughters were instantly in love with them and have been begging for them ever since. If you’re not familiar with the new sets, “LEGO® Friends is a collection of building sets that blend the iconic LEGO construction experience with stories, settings and themes designed to meet children’s desire for creativity and a highly-detailed, character-based world.” They’re very popular with my two older girls and the little one is well on her way to being a big fan, too.

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Squirt Gun Art ~ Guest Post from create-play-homeschool, another Iowa Blog

Hi everyone! I’m Amy from create-play-homeschool. I’m so excited Michelle asked me to be here today!

I’m a lucky mom to four curtain climbers and a handy husband.

Create-Play-Homeschool

 We are avid diy’ers, gardeners, crafters, and interest led homeschoolers. We are currently in the process of renovating our 150 year old farmhouse. We also love to concoct science experiments and play in the dirt all day.

Today I want to share an art project with you. My son is sandwiched between his three sisters and things get pretty girly around here. Sometimes I have to think outside the box on ways to include some more boyish things into our life. Not to mention tame my curtain climbers! This idea for Squirt Gun Art project seems like the perfect way to occupy all 4 kiddos and keep them off the curtains for about 5 minutes. ;-)

To make your own Squirt Gun Art, run and find those squirt guns!

squirt gun art

squirt gun art

For this project, you’re also going to need something to paint on. I grabbed artist canvases but you can use a white sheet, a piece of poster board, or whatever you can find.  You’ll also need pack of squirt guns (mine came from dollar tree), and some washable tempera paint – the runnier the better.

squirt gun art

Take the plug out of your squirt gun. You want about a half paint, half water consistency. If it’s too thick the paint won’t squirt through the gun.

Pour the paint directly into the hole on the top of the squirt gun. Put your water in them and shake them up. I test them and make sure they’re ready. My kids get mighty impatient if something doesn’t work right.

 

squirt gun art

You should be ready to go grab some kiddos! 

squirt gun art

squirt gun art
squirt gun art

Success! All three kids were running back and forth from the house for more water. 

squirt gun artThe finished projects!! Aren’t the fabulous??

I’m thinking a game of paintball only with squirt guns might be a fun activity to try with these guys too! 

It was great to be here – I hope you enjoy the Squirt Gun Art project! For more fun projects, head over to Create-Play-Homeschool!

Thanks for reading and thank you Michelle for having me!

Chalkboard Flower Pots with @LullabyPaints #sponsored

chalkboard flower pots A while back, Lullaby Paints sent me a chalkboard kit to try out!

DSC_0001The kit came with a large pouch of chalkboard paint, chalk, a tray, tape, and a brush. I was really excited to try out the Lullaby Paints because they are free of harmful VOCs, glycols, and other toxic chemicals. I knew it would be good paint for a project with my kiddos, but I had a hard time deciding what to do with it. I finally saw a picture of super cute chalkboard flower pots and realized I found my project!

Making your own chalkboard flower pots is really easy.

chalkboard flower pots

Gather supplies – this was easy for me since the kit came with just about everything I needed. I simply added little flower pots and flowers and we were ready to go.

chalkboard flower potsSince my kids were painting the pots, we tried to make the process as mess-free as possible, and used the blue tape to tape around the edge of the flower pot.

DSC_0063 DSC_0061 DSC_0044 chalkboard flower pots

The kids got busy painting! I enjoyed watching the concentrated looks on their faces. They can really get into a project and I enjoyed knowing that they weren’t breathing in any harmful chemicals as they painted.

lullaby chalkboard paint

chalkboard flower pots

After the kids covered the flower pots with Lullaby Paint, and we took off the tape, I had a bit of cleanup to do to make the pots a tad prettier. I just rolled the brush around the top to add a little more paint and smooth the lines.

lullaby paints chalkboard flower pots

I love the end result! Aren’t they cute!? The kids had a great time making these. I think they would also make great little herb pots for the kitchen too. I might be making some more… 

Lullaby Paints

Lullaby Paints are widely regarded as the safest paint in the industry and are “recognized by consumer advocacy groups and leading environmental organizations, used by hospitals and maternity facilities, lauded by magazines, designers and bloggers and, most of all, enjoyed by moms as pregnancy safe paints.” Conventional paints often contain chemicals such as Formaldehyde (carcinogen); Benzene (carcinogen); Trimethlybenzene (neurotoxicant); Toluene (neurotoxicant); and Xylene (neurotoxicant) –> Lullaby Paints have none of these! 

We try hard to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals at my house and using this paint is another piece of the puzzle. We’re getting ready to build our forever house and making it as safe as possible is a big goal of mine. I’m glad companies are jumping on board to make safer products. 

Lullaby’s paints come in a variety of colors, they send out free color chips, and ship their paint directly to your home! You can also get 3 pouches of paint for only $9.95 – perfect for sampling the paint or to try out a fun project with your kiddos.  Thank you, Lullaby Paints for sending me your VOC-free Chalkboard Paint to try out! We had a lot of fun making these Chalkboard Flower Pots.

Head over to Lullaby Paints and see what they have to offer!  Please connect with Lullaby Paints at their website, on facebook, twitter, and pinterest!

Schooling Update ~ Reflections on the Year

I recently connected with a couple of Canadian homesteading and homeschooling bloggers and we decided to link up to our end of the year reflections on how schooling went this last year. I love connecting with other people and learning from them. And since I really enjoy other cultures and people from different countries, it’s even more fun for me to connect with Cheryl and Savannah.

Cheryl writes at On the Old Path about her homesteading and homeschooling adventures with 6 children and many chickens, and tells about her son, a brain cancer survivor. She also shares fun tutorials and delicious looking recipes, like this pectin-free strawberry jam.

Savannah writes about her family’s adventures at Ramblings of a Christian Mom while homeschooling her 4 children and homemaking in Eastern Ontario, leaning on Jesus along the way. Savannah also has some fabulous recipes and fun tutorials, like this chunky crochet baby blanket.

But this post is really about our school year. So here goes!

anna

Anna is 9 and will be in 4th grade next year. She went to public school for the first time this past year. I was both excited and apprehensive, but she loved it and excelled. She was quite nervous initially, but made great friends and had a fun time. Her handwriting improved as did her repetition of basic math facts. She has been reading since she was 5 and continues to love reading. I was pleased to learn that I prepared her quite well for public school. Homeschooling’s a scary thing sometimes, but she did not struggle at school and was chosen to attend College for Kids this summer, a two week summer school for bright kids.

There were many things I liked about her year at school and a few things I didn’t like that much. For instance, I didn’t really enjoy packing her lunch every day. Luckily, she’s surprisingly not picky at all about her lunch and it turned out that I was able give her many leftovers that she ate! Without griping! It turned out to be a great way to use up leftovers… And having to be home by 3 pm when she got out of school was quite challenging for me. Many of our homeschooling activities are in the afternoon and it definitely complicated my day to have to worry about getting back to town in time. That was hard and some of our fun homeschooling activities, like a park day in the Quad Cities, just didn’t happen that often. Overall, though, I am pleased with her year. She brought home some really wonderful art projects and a great class book that her teacher had them put together. And most importantly, she likes it and is excited to go back to 4th grade.

Anna continues to play piano, and she added Girl Scouts and Tae Kwan Do to her list of activities this year and has been playing ball this spring.

benBen is 7 and finished 1st grade. He is usually a cheerful and loving child, interested in nature, riding his bike, and making weapons and duck tape creations. My approach to homeschooling so far for the younger children has been pretty hands off, bordering on unschooling. I let them explore, take them out into nature often, and read books. Anna learned to read on her own when she was 5 and I kept thinking Ben would learn too, in his own time. Around Christmas it became obvious to me that he wasn’t learning like she did and I started to get a little concerned. We stared working through Explode the Code books and the Spelling Workout: Level A from Modern Curriculum Press. Ben also worked quite a lot on Reading Eggs for something different. I shared more about our First Grade Curriculum in this post, if you’re curious.

Basically, since Christmas, we have been working on reading. It’s slow going with him and frustrating for me. He learns so differently than Anna did and I really have to work hard to remain patient as he is frustrated with all the words that break the rules. I can’t blame him for that, but it’s been hard on both of us. We are continuing to work with him this summer and we’re taking a new approach – just having him memorize words. I didn’t do that much with him, see disclosure above about me being bad about drilling basic facts. I often think reading will click for him when he’s ready and I need to stop pushing him. And then I think I have to do more. Help him figure it out. I don’t know what the right answer is. For the time being, he is working with his supervisory teacher a bit, and I am trying really, really, really hard to be patient and not lose my temper. It’s tough.

Ben played flag football and started taking Tae Kwan Do lessons this past fall, and is currently playing ball. He’s really quite good at sports. And I’m thinking about starting him on piano in the fall.

coraCora is 5 1/2 and finished up pre-school. She’s also been working through Reading Eggs and she worked through a few get ready for Kindergarten books from Kumon last year. She’s knows all of her letters and numbers and is really close to reading. She’s a master egg cracker and loves to help me bake bread. And she’s the only kid who will willingly clean the toilet! She really wants to go to public school kindergarten this fall and we are thinking of sending her.

Cora is playing ball this spring and really wants to take Tae Kwan Do with Anna and Ben in the fall! And sometimes, Anna tries to teach her how to play the piano.

saraAnd last but not least, here is Sara. Sara is quite the stinker at 3 years old. She’s often found hiding in the bathroom playing Angry Birds on the ipad! But she also love puzzles and building and reading books. Her favorite books right now are Alona Frankel’s Once Upon a Potty and I Want My Mother. It was a huge year for her. Sara potty trained all on her own and she weaned right before her third birthday. She’s also sleeping half the night in her own bed in her own room. Huge accomplishments this year! She’s definitely a mama’s girl, but she has been warming up to her dad quite a lot and she now loves her babysitter and hanging out with grandma too!

And that was our homeschooling year. Pop over to read about Savannah’s year with her 4 kids and Cheryl’s year with her 6 kids, if you are interested in seeing what other families were up to as well!

I hope you also had a good school year with your children!