Monday, June 23, 2014

First Day of Gymnastics

The boys started gymnastics today!!!

And despite the regret for signing them up for classes starting at 8:45am and sitting in I95 traffic until 11pm…oh, and not being a morning person AT ALL… we not only got there, but we got there on time!

Owen did great at the Mommy & Me class.

A little clingy at first, but warmed up fast.  I had wanted to put him in the older class with Oliver, but they insisted I keep him in his age-range, more because he needs to learn how to follow the class than based on what his skill level would be.  I get it, but he will be 3 in October and he is a very big boy who knows how to jump and somersault already, and there are kids in his class just turning 2…I just hope he is not held up.  Today went great, but he's only gonna get better and better…. not that I'm bragging, but… kid is amazing!

When Owen's class was over it was Oliver's turn to go in for "big kid" class.  We had already discussed how he would be going in by himself, but when the time came he seemed a little nervous.  He did well though, and went it with the instructors without me having to insist, and within minutes he was warmed up and having a blast!

It was harder to get pictures of Oliver because I wasn't in the room with him.  It was so amazing though, to watch him do his excited-arm-flap-happy-dance from afar and know he was comfortable and confident on his own.

They had so much fun.  Proud Momma over here :)

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Exploring Trees

Oliver loves to watch YouTube on the iPad.

To make myself feel better about allowing him to watch it, I asked him what he wanted to learn about.  I'm trying to make better use of the site, and impress on him that it can be a tool... not just a source of Thomas the Train clips and videos.

He said trees.

We found THIS VIDEO.  A few minutes in, I asked him if he was still interested.  He was.  He watched the whole thing.  *shocked*  I don't know what he retained from it... it was a lot for a four year old (I admit it was even a lot for me at 27 years old)… but he watched all 7 minutes 22 second of it.

More than a few weeks later, he said he was still interested in learning more about trees, and so I introduced him to the children's science section at our library.

These are the books he selected to checkout:
The Big Tree - Hiscock, Bruce
Crinkleroots Guide to Knowing the Trees - Amosky, Jim
The Secret Life of Trees - Chevallier, Chiara
Take a Tree Walk - Kirkland, Jane
Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids - Gibbons, Gail
Tree - Bumie, David
Trees - Julivert, Angels
Trees - Howse, Jennifer
Trees, Leaves, and Bark - Bums, Diane L.
What's Inside Trees? - Kosek, Jane Kelly

He wasn't as interested as he was when we took out a bunch of worm books.  We only read a few of them, but he is definitely interested in the real-life examination of trees.

"Tree Walk" at West Rock Ridge State Park:

Oliver discerned which end was the bottom of an uprooted tree by identifying the roots, and explaining their role.

The boys felt the rough bark at the bottom of the tree...

…and the younger, newer bark near the top.

They observed the difference in barks of various types of trees,

and counted rings to see how old the tree was.

The boys have a collection of bark pieces from a few different kinds of trees and leaves/pines (always collected from the ground and never pulled from a tree).

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Benefits of Sand Play -AND- Our Backyard Sandpit

The boys love sand.  LOVE. Sand.

Their favorite playground has a HUGE sand play area.  They spend the whole time in there.

Last year's sandbox was fun.  But not nearly large enough.  The kids insisted on filling the box with trucks, and then moving the sand all around the yard.

So this year, we upgrade.

Why encourage sand play?

Well first of all, it makes them happy.  They're so cute and pleasant when they're happy.  Also, as they play they are engaging in motor skill development, critical thinking, creative expression, social interaction and cooperation… math…science….art…. you name it.

THIS ARTICLE by Sandra Crosser, Ph.D. on, wonderfully outlines the benefits kids are getting while they dig, scoop, pour and build. 

The shape of the gravel patio we added to the yard left an unused area perfect for a sandpit.

I love these spaces I found on Pinterest.

I especially love where natural elements (wood, plants, water) are incorporated.

Our sandpit takes shape as follows:

1- Take a rake to the area.  2- Lay down some weed blocker.  3- Fill with sand.  4- Enjoy.


We're not done yet.  But we are all loving how the space is coming along.

Considering adding some plants or flowers, a water wall, kitchen.  Maybe one of these

I think we need a bigger space.  Thanks, Pinterest.

The kids are certainly keeping busy.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Fart Putty

The boys received Noise Putty (or "Fart Putty") in their Easter baskets from their aunt and uncle.  The stuff is HILARIOUS!

Unfortunately, only one of them worked.  The other had a strange consistency that was not letting it produce any of the anticipated noises.  Bummer.

We found more at the Dollar Tree and oddly enough, of the two we bought, one didn't work.  So now we have four jars of Fart Putty- 1 red, 1 green, and 2 yellows.  Guess which two didn't work.  Neither of the yellows (bought in different states) are any good.  Probably just coincidence, but makes you wonder about the dyes.

I found a recipe for homemade fart putty online.  It called for borax, white glue, and water.  Simple.

Our first attempt did not work.  I only had washing soda and Elmer's School Glue (which I had read wouldn't work, but that Elmer's All Purpose Glue would).  But we tried anyway.

I told Oliver it would be our experiment.  He said, "Ok, we can try it and see and if it doesn't work then put the right stuff on your list."

Like I said- a bust.  All we ended up with was a milky type liquid.  The washing soda gave it a very slippery feel.  They had fun anyway- pouring, stirring and adding color.

So a few days later we had the right ingredients:

Dissolve 1 tsp Borax into 1 cup water.
Combine 4oz All Purpose White Glue with 1/2 c water.  Add color as desired.
Pour the Borax mixture into the glue mixture, stirring immediately.

The liquid very quickly begins to stiffen.  I was under the impression it would become more solid, but it never did.  It created a non-Newtonian fluid which would become semi-solid the more (faster) you manipulated it, but the second you stop it "melts" away.  

It was amazing to watch the boys play with the concoction.  They are usually very hesitant with goopy stuff.  I was so proud, especially of Oliver who tends to be more sensitive to textures and stimulation.

Oliver observed that his hand looked like a bat's wing.

It never became as solid as I thought it would, but I was still able to make it "fart".

With this version of putty we were better able to see what was making the sound than we could with the store bought ones (although those one were easier for the kids).  Bubbles formed more easily as I pushed down on the putty, and I explained to the boys that what they heard was air (gas) being forced out and vibrating against the putty to make a sound.


We made such a mess! 

But it was actually much easier to clean than I would have thought.  I could pick up the spills! I found that funnier than it probably was.

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