Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic Ring Bean Bag Toss

In honor of the Olympics we are going to do a mini sports camp this week. Our first activity was an Olympic Ring Bean Bag toss, sort of inspired by this post from Makes and Takes. But instead of pipe cleaners, I simply traced around a bowl in each of the five colors to make the Olympic rings. I added numbers also so they could practice their numbers and colors at the same time. Using our mini bean bags, the boys would just stand a few feet away and try to toss them into the rings.

You could do this activity many different ways. You could call out a number or color they are supposed to hit, or you could have them call one out before they throw it. Or they can just try to get one bean bag in each ring some time during their turn. We ended up doing the activity all of these ways, and the boys just kept wanting to play over and over.

For one game Andrew (2.5 years old)
declared he was going to throw at five,
and he got all 6 of his bean bags
to at least touch the five ring.

Mandarin Mondays: The Toilet in Pursuit of Free Life (The Chinglish Files)

This sticker is on our toilet for some reason. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mini Science "Camp"

This week instead of music we learned a little about science. We ended up doing quite a few different experiments and science activities. I'll probably post more about how we did each one later, but until I find time many of the experiments can be found at I Can Teach My Child.

The first day we made Oobleck. The boys had lots of fun playing with this weird substance and Aaron learned how to say Non-Newtonian liquid. But the funny kid said, "it really should follow the (Newton's) rules though." :) We also read Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Suess, which has nothing to do with science but was fun.

The second day we made lots of bubbles! We made more bubble fluid together and made bubble snake blowers and then headed outside to blow a bunch of bubbles. We learned that soap bubbles are formed because the hydophillic phospholipids in the soap form a film that wants to have the least surface area possible. That's why when the bubbles are individual they are always a sphere, but when they combine, they make other shapes. We then headed back inside to add food coloring to some of our bubbles and do bubble painting. This was Aaron's (our four-year-old's) favorite day.

On day three the boys went out with daddy to find bugs and plant materiel. They brought some "specimens" back home in jars and "cataloged" (drew) them. Then they were released. Andrew has been trying to find more "specimens" in the house since then and is very proud when he locates one.

The fourth day we did quite a few short experiments. We made it rain in a jar, which showed the different states of matter and a temperature reaction. Then we blew up balloons using vinegar and baking soda, which demonstrated a chemical reaction. The boys got to experiment with squirting green vinegar on baking soda and watching it fizz too. And then we took a piece of something like celery and stuck it in too different colors of water. The boys thought it was cool how the colors had climbed up the stalk hours later.

The last day we made a hover craft out of an old DVD, bottle top, and a balloon. The boys had lots of fun pushing it around as it hovered just off of the floor (like a puck on an air hockey table). Then we made a marshmallow slingshot and shot homemade marshmallows across the room. This illustrated Newton's third law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). Aaron was glad that something finally followed Newton's rules, Andrew was very happy to eat marshmallows, and this was a good note to end the science camp on. :)

Summer Fun School Program

Besides doing mini learning camps with themes each week for the boys, we also came up with a summer fun school program. The grandparents have been sending treat and fun money, so we thought this would be a good way to have a grandparent sponsored reward system.  We made a simple chart for each boy that has certain things (different learning activities and some simple chores) they can do each day to earn points. If they get enough by the end of the day they can earn a daily prize (a special sucker or small ice cream cone). Then if they do the tasks enough times in a week they "unlock" a special outing. The boys (Aaron, our four-year-old, especially) are highly motivated by this system and have been working hard to beat all of their daily and weekly challenges. They are both learning a lot of things really quickly by doing them each day, and having a ton of fun in the process. This will also us to make sure to plan and then actually do a lot of fun things together with our boys this summer.

After completing the first week successfully, they got to go to a nearby play place for a couple of  hours with daddy. They had a blast. Aaron's favorites were definitely the air gun and zip line. Andrew's favorite was the ball pit.

Thanks to all of the boys grandparents and great grandparents for helping to inspire and provide a lot of fun for our boys!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Family Fridays: 30 Weeks (Pregnancy Update)

Wow. It's the end of July and I'm about 3/4 through this pregnancy already. Not too much going on at this point. I am feeling OK most of the time, just big and tired. :) The last prenatal checkup was fine, and I was glad my blood sugar is fine too. I am still going to gradually decrease my sugar and simple carb intake as I getting closer to the due date, because my first too boys were so big, but at least it seems like this won't be a big deal.

This baby is very active and seems to be quite tall and have big feet. At least that's how it feels when it is doing gymnastics ans kicking me. The boys really like playing games with the baby where the baby will kick their hands. They even invented a new game where they place a ball on my bellybutton and the baby wiggles or kicks it right off my tummy. I think they'll have even more fun together once the baby is on the outside.

Starting to get ready for baby with some sewing projects that I might share more about later. Also we defrosted the freezer, so now I can start to stock it with some things for after the birth.

Linking up to My Pregnancy Journal at My Joy Filled Life.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mini Music Appreciation "Camp"

Since Nate's classes just got out for the summer, this is the first week of our "summer vacation." This year we're planning on doing some different fun and educational activities with the boys. One of the things we're going to try to do is an informal learning "camp" with a different subject each week, as our time allows.

This week we were doing music camp. We talked about one composer and one instrument each weekday. Then we would watch videos that played music by that composer or taught something basic about how to play that instrument.

This was really relaxed and informal. For the composer information and music I mostly used this site. And for information about different instruments I mostly used Wikipedia and Youtube videos. I taught them a little about playing piano and Nate taught the boys a little about the guitar and drums, the instruments we actually know how to play. We also got some little plastic instruments from Walmart so they could play around with different things. All of this was really low key and I didn't actually do a lot, but I was really impressed with how much the boys got into it. They actually learned a lot and had a lot of fun too. Then I read this article and realized maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised that an at home could be great.

It was really neat to see how Aaron could learn some facts about each composer so quickly. At the end of this week he can now tell you the country, music period, and some famous music of Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Chopin. And both boys really got into talking about and "analyzing" the music. They both liked to talk about whether the music was happy or sad, fast or slow, etc. And both had very distinct favorites. Aaron generally seems to like faster music and happy, "bouncy," music in general. He liked all of the parts of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that are Allegro, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacthmusic, Beethoven's Fur Elise, many of Chopin's Etudes, but he also liked Bach's Fugues. Andrew had more of an eclectic taste and said that he liked Beethoven's Fifth symphony even though it was "really scary." Both boys thought Beethoven's Fifth symphony was scary, but Andrew kept asking to listen to it and Aaron started covering his ears. This might just be a case of each trying to irritate their brother though. The finish things off the boys had a final "recital" and "parade."

Family Fridays: Andrew's Paternal Side

Andrew changing Winnie-the-Pooh's diaper
Andrew is already loves talking to and hugging his new sibling in my tummy and has been doing these things for a while now. But this last week or two, more and more of his paternal side is coming out. He loves to "take care" of his stuffed animals. Lately he has changing Winnie-the-Pooh's diapers, feeding Pooh, dressing Pooh in blankets, wiping Pooh's boogers, and hugging and rocking Pooh Bear. I have a feeling he is already training to be a great daddy one day. After all Andrew's daddy is an amazing one, so he has a great teacher.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Frugal Family Fun: Defrosting the Freezer and a Snowball Fight in July

So one of the things I wanted to get done this summer is defrosting the freezer. We hadn't defrosted the freezer completely since we got it a year and a half ago and it really needed to be done. This doesn't really seem like a fun family activity until my brilliant husband thought we shouldn't waste the sink full of soft chunks of ice (we hate to throw anything away) and that we should let the boys have a snowball fight with it. What great free fun we had.

So we all put on hats and gloves and headed outside into the light rain. We had a great snowball fight here in Kunming in the middle of July, where it rarely ever snows even in the winter. However, it does give new meaning to their saying here, "It's winter when it rains."

How to keep cool at 29 weeks pregnant

No idea why the neighbors recently put a toilet in the bushes.
I don't think anyone has used it yet thankfully.

Got to go fast!


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