Monday, March 22, 2010

A Few of my Favorite Things...


1. Playdates.

My kids love having friends over to play. We are an instant play group and have tons of toys and dress up clothes, so if you haven't already or haven't lately, bring your kids over.

We especially like it when our friends bring over their bounce house! I never thought I would say this but I love this thing. Our friends let us borrow it for a week and the kids jumped for over two hours a day while we kicked back on the porch. It literally takes a minute to inflate and you are in business. We had great naps those days too.



2. Dinner club.

For over a year now, I've been part of a dinner club with three friends who are also neighbors.

We all bought matching pyrex casserole dishes (the ones with the plastic lids) and each cook once every two weeks for all four families for dinner. In return you get three meals back. So for example, I cooked last Wednesday and now will get diner delivered tonight (Monday) and Wednesday, then next Monday, and then on Wednesday it will be my turn to cook again.

It is a big timesaver and nice not to have to worry about what's for dinner and cleaning up after cooking a couple times a week.

3. The learning box preschool.

I am loving this program. They send you a box each month filled with activities and arts and crafts designed for children 3 to 5, plus a curriculum guide for the parent and lots of posters to support the theme and letters/colors/shapes of the month.
I discovered this jewel from Michelle, a fellow triplet mommy plus one (16 months younger just like Holden), blogger & Internet friend. Her kids are about a year and a half older, so I check in on her blog regularly to see what our life is going to be like. She has tried lots of home preschool programs and gracious shared her experience and wrote reviews .

I finally got around to ordering and we just started at the beginning of this month. The theme for the first two weeks was Wild Weather.

Instead of having a structured time for all the activities I do two or three in the morning after breakfast and then intersperse the other activities through out the day. There is so much stuff included, it is awesome. We typically have left over things to do for the weekend.

Each day at breakfast I bring out a little box that they decorated, inside has an answer to the question of the day. We sing the song...

'It's time for the learning box,
It's time for the learning box,
Let's gather round and all sit down,
It's time for the learning box'
Then we discuss the question of the day. Since the theme was weather it was something like 'What can you do on a snowy day?'.

The kids get excited thinking of answers and we have some semblance of a real conversation. The kit includes the question to put in the box, but to make it a little more fun I will make a snowman or something related to the answer and put it in the box. After our discussion, the kids take turns opening it up and seeing what is inside.

Then we look at the calendar and sing the date song, then we look at our weather cards and outside and mark whatever kind of day we were having (sunny day, rainy day etc.) on our weather graph.

At the end of our weather weeks we learned about rainbows and how they appear in the sky when the sunlight is 'bent' off of raindrops.
The food fun activity was making jello in all the colors of the rainbow together. Then the kids put a scoop of each color in a clear plastic cup and topped it with cool whip. Other days we made sunny fruit (an orange slice in the middle surrounded by a pineapple ring cut in eight pieces to make the sun rays), orange umbrellas (half of an orange slice with a pretzel stick for the umbrella post) and pigs in a blanket (the kids made their own dinner by wrapping the sliced hot dogs in their 'blankets' of crescent rolls and then we baked them). The kids always eat better when it is something they helped make.

One of the field trip ideas this month is to take them to the weather station and meet the meteorologist.

Next theme...silly stories. We are having so much fun.


9 comments:

mrs.anketell said...

Cool post! I am also trying to do a "dinner club" idea with a few of my mommy friends, but it's been hard to coordinate. Love the curriculum box idea! Is this something that any mom can order for her children at home?? Or, is it for homeschooling? How much does each box cost? Thanks for the information and i just adore your blog:)

mrs.anketell said...

oh yeah, what is that dish that you have pictured?? looks yummy:)

Gram said...

It was wonderful to catch up on what is happening in the Freas household. I'll be home to have fun with the silly stories. Hugs to everyone!

Jennifer said...

yes, mrs anketell. anyone can order these kits. each additonal kit is less expensive so it is a better deal for several kids.

but we love it. my kids are also in preschool, but i like having fun learning activities for home too. it just gives us something to do. and i like the idea of introducing the letters and new concepts in a low key way.

The dish is one of my easy favorites.

Orzo pasta cooked in chicken broth with saffron added, after cooking add fresh lemon juice, a bit of olive oil and chopped italian parsley (the flat leaf kind).

I top with grilled chicken and veggies. You can bake them too, but if you do, briefly sear each side of the chicken in a frying pan before baking to get that nice golden brown and drizzle some olive oil on the veggies.

Jennifer said...

Gram -

we miss you! look forward to doing art projects with you when you return.

mrs.anketell said...

oh, that recipe sounds yummy, and easy! thanks for jotting it down, im going to try tomorrow night. Yes, I am always looking for fun activities, too, for my (almost) 3 yr. old. I have another on the way (due July 8th) and i like crafty things to do on the weekends, esp. when it's raining. Plus, these activities can be shared with my son's friends, when they come over for a playdate! Now, all we need is the bouncy house..:)

GrammaG said...

I have to say I have enjoyed using the learning box ideas. I also have a greater appreciation for early childhood education teachers. The children are eager to complete the activities and are so proud of themselves. Yesterday we used scissors for the first time.....Evan and Will were very patient and so proud of themselves when they successfully cut the pages for their booklet.

GrammaG said...

I have to say I have enjoyed using the learning box ideas. I also have a greater appreciation for early childhood education teachers. The children are eager to complete the activities and are so proud of themselves. Yesterday we used scissors for the first time.....Evan and Will were very patient and so proud of themselves when they successfully cut the pages for their booklet.

mrs.anketell said...

tried that recipe you gave me here, for a dinner for four (plus three kids!) and it was yummy and super easy to make!! thank you!!