Thursday, June 21, 2012

Backyard Adventures

Recently we went on a little camping trip. We didn't have to pack, worry about animals eating our food, and we didn't even sleep in the tent. Real campers reading this might be thinking how can this be any fun! But, for our family it was just right. We never left our backyard but were able to introduce our "new friends" (this is how my daughter lovingly referred to her foster brothers and sister when they arrived 3 1/2 months ago) to something we love to do...CAMP! 

Our camping themed afternoon began after naps with the pitching of the tent. The kids piled in the tent and read books with Kyle while I attempted to get a fire going in the fire pit. Surprisingly, I did it after the first try! While the fire burned the kids decorated foam visors to wear on their "camping trip." The kids then cooked their own supper by roasting hot dogs. We brought out the ice activities we started the day before (mentioned in the previous post) for some after dinner entertainment and ended our camping trip with some marshmallow roasting! The kids had a blast and no one burned themselves in the fire so I would say our first "camping trip" was successful! Maybe someday we will pitch the tent and sleep in it. I'm not sure I am ready to leave the backyard just yet though! 

Foam visor activity! 

Here we are roasting some hot dogs.This activity reminded Ava of a  Franklin story. Franklin had a sleepover and roasted hot dogs with his friend, Bear. We made sure to read the book before bed! We would have gotten more pictures of the marshmallow roasting, but at this point the babies were running around outside too and I was one nervous mama! 

The kids were bound and determined to finish finding all the plastic sea creatures in the ice block! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Icy Activity!

Two of our oldest foster children need constant activity. The best days are the super planned out days where there is not much time to wonder what we should do next! We enrolled Ava, Lamar, and Mia in a summer morning day camp. When they get home it's lunch, stories, and naps. When they wake up we have snack and a planned activity. An activity might be a visit to a park, play dough, painting, swimming....anything fun and organized so everyone is busy! Recently I put a Pinterest idea (from the blog  to use and it was a hit. I needed to share it! I froze small water creatures in large blocks of ice and the kids used tools, water, and brushes to excavate the creatures! 

I actually made these ice blocks 2 months ago, but hemmed and hawed over what the kids would use to dig for the creatures. My husband was much braver than me and suggested that the kids use screwdrivers and wrenches. We kept the babies away as the pounding of the ice happened! I think the kids thought it was pretty cool to be using some real tools! The blocks of ice are super easy to make, but did take a while because you have to freeze the toys in stages. Otherwise, they sink to the bottom. 

The kids worked hard on this activity for an hour. They were so excited each time they retrieved a creature from the ice! They still haven't finished, so we just put them back in the freezer for another day!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our Giant Board Game!

My bigger kids are getting to the age where they want to play board games. Games teach so many important skills such as turn taking, following directions, being a good sport, counting, color recognition....the list goes on!   I just wish there was more time during the day to sit with my bigger kiddos and play board games. When Kyle is at work, the idea of board games and two toddlers running around doesn't seem to mix. It never fails one of the babies runs off with game piece and wants in on the action. The scene usually ends with frustrated kids and upset babies. Board games in this house require two adults. One to play the games with our three oldest and one to entertain the two youngest. Recently, I came up with a solution that has allowed the kids to play a board game and has allowed me to work with them on important skills board games offer without interference from the little ones!

Together, the kids and I created a life size game board in the driveway. In this game, the babies can't walk away with the pieces because the kids are the pieces! To create the game I drew a path of squares in the driveway. The kids helped me brainstorm different actions they would have to act out if they landed on a particular square. They came up with some great ideas such as hop, act like a monkey, turn around, and stand like a tree. I added some things such as say the ABCs and count to 10.  Stored away from my student teaching days, I had a large dice I made from two sponges glued together that I covered in yellow felt. The babies did like running for the dice when it was rolled, but it was easy enough to sneak away when it was time to roll again. They also had fun imitating the others acting out the different animals and actions written on the squares.

The game board.  
Our giant dice.
Ava turning around since she landed on the  "turn around " square. Dominic is most likely eating a rock (another reason we can't have small game pieces out when he is around!)

"Mommy, I'm a tree!" 

The game was a hit and has been played several times. Even the neighbors came over one afternoon for a couple of rounds! The best part is, when it rains the game will wash away and we can dream up a new game for the driveway!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Milk Carton Birdhouse

Recently, Ava was in the mood to make a project. An empty milk carton was the inspiration for our afternoon activity. We decided to make a birdhouse. We rinsed the carton and cut a hole in it for a door. We found some glue, tongue depressors, and foam stickers. We then set out for a nature walk (which really just meant a walk around the house since everyone else was still in the house napping.) Ava carefully selected leaves, sticks, and flowers to decorate the house. The pictures below show the steps she took to create her own birdhouse! 
Backyard nature walk findings

We sided the house with tongue depressors.

Ava chose to cover the roof with leaves and sticks.

Her completed project! Now we just need to find the perfect place to hang it and wait for a feathered friend to move in!