Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mail from...Home? (Iowa)

You would think that teaching about the place you are from would be an easy piece of cake.  I found out last week that that is definitely wrong.

In 6 years my kids have been to Iowa more than a dozen times.  They love it winter their when they get to stay in a cabin with all their cousins.  They love summer there because it means fresh sweet corn and swimming.  I wanted to try to stay away from teaching them generic stereo-typical things about my home state, but in the end, it's what they already knew and we decided instead to just dig a little deeper.

For some reason, learning about the Iowa state bird is a vivid memory from my childhood.
I guess my boys are turning out like me after all...
The rest of our lesson focused on farming and what crops/livestock are so important in Iowa.  My parents were not farmers, but we were always surrounded by the neat rows of corn and soybeans and that's what my kids see when we go there.  I found a great interactive video/game that teaches about corn specifically.  Check it out here:

And then we made barn and grain bin spinning wheels to show what types of items you might see and use in both.  The printables for that plus other activities are here:

And even though we didn't use it this time, I was very excited to come across the Iowa DNR website, which has a great resource page for teaching all kinds of science and nature related topics...

A lot of times I think Iowa gets a bum wrap as just another one of those flat midwestern states.  I always joke that anyone who has driven through Nebraska would never call Iowa flat.  It's beautiful with rolling hills and green, green, green.  I loved growing up there and I love taking my boys back there.  It was fun helping them understand a little more deeply the things which they've already seen!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Little Library Love

Can I share with you one of the cutest books my kids have found at the library recently?

Boy and Bot

It's a super simple story of two friends playing and watching out for each other, and in this instance, the simplicity makes it very touching.  The illustrations are equally unassuming, but draw you in.  My boys LOVE looking for all the hidden robots and think it's so funny how the road between Boy and Bot's home  is connected.    

Be warned, though.  It's impossible to read this book without automatically switching on your best robot accent as you flip through the pages.

Do you have a favorite recent library find?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Is Coming!

Somebody we know who lives far away is about to get a very unexpected Easter Surprise!

Thanks to Jo at Jo, My Gosh! 
for the great idea of  sending an Easter Egg Hunt through the mail.

Ours included all kinds of candy, pencils, small toys, and
12 egg-filled messages about Easter.

If any one is interested in the 12 religious-themed messages and symbolic treasures we used,
 let me know.  I'd be happy to share!

We can't wait to find out our friends in North Carolina have received their surprise!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Has My Tablecloth Gone?

What do you use to protect your crafting and activity areas? 

A few years back I attempted to make my own re-usable shopping bags out of vinyl tablecloths.  That project failed miserably and I was left with more intact cloths than I'd ever need for picnicking. That's the day vinyl tablecloths became my go-to crafting area cover-up.

There should be a cute picture, here, huh?  
That's the problem, my tablecloth is missing...

You have, of course, seen our table protectors before.  They've made appearances in picture we take for this blog.  Here are a few examples to refresh your memory...

Our old pink striped tablecloth
Our current fishy table cloth
I love that they cover the entire space (unlike place mats we've tried in the past) and are waterproof so paint spills and globs of glue don't leak through to the table.  When we're done I simply pull it up from the corners, take it outside for a good shake, and toss it in a drawer for use on another day.  

Sure, they get paint all over them, but that's the point, isn't it?  On the cloth and not on my table.  One extra nice thing is never having to scrape play dough off my table; throw out a vinyl table cloth and clean up is a breeze!  Every now and then I throw it in the wash for a little scrubbing power, but I just don't stress about keeping it too clean.  

Unfortunately, today my kids and I are driving each other a little crazy.  I have a fun painting project for them to do, but our fishy tablecloth has gone MIA.  I remember it hanging on the front porch railing for drying after it's last wash, and now I have absolutely no idea where it has ended up.  I have a small suspicion another adult in our house may have thrown it away, but as soon as I openly accuse him I know it'll show up in that really clever spot I decided to put it.  

I guess the painting will have to wait.  Maybe I'll try to entertain the kids with some baking.  And head out to Ross or TJ Max (they have super cute ones for $2-$3)  to replenish my vinyl tablecloth supply first thing tomorrow morning! (Watch for pictures next week of the new cloth and our painting project)

What do you use to keep your tables clean?


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