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Monday, August 31, 2009

Germination of Beans

The experiment with germination of seeds works great every time. Everybody does it and everybody loves it, adults and children alike. Even if you have done it before it is still worth doing it with your little ones. There is something magical about seeing the beginning of life.
There is tons of material about it. But I was using
Handbook of Nature Study as an inspiration. There is a number of links there that you will find useful for this project. It is a wonderful blog for people who want to bring their little ones(and themselves as well) closer to nature. Take a look at it!
I also saw this experiment at
The Wonder Years. I liked the idea of planting the seeds right next to the wall inside a clear glass jar so children could observe the development of the root system. Excellent!
Thank you both for sharing!
This is what Pumpkin and I have done with this experiment during the past week.
First of all, we found a glass container from our favorite strawberry jam and filled it up with organic soil that we had left from planting our herb garden. Then, we dropped 3 beans next to the wall so we could see how they germinate later on and poured a little of water. In the beginning we closed the jar with a lid to keep it moist all the time(we tend to forget to water our plants) and after the beans germinated and the sprouts started shooting up we left the jar open.
This is how it looked.

I also decided that it would be good experience for Pumpkin to start writing a journal. Yes, the very first journal! The advantages of it are numerous but my main reason was to let her practice writing. If your child is too small to write just let him/her draw pictures to document the experiment.
Pumpkin's journal was made out of red construction paper and simple filler paper. We made it by stapling it. I wrote the title of our experiment on the cover.

The very first page was our vocabulary, a list of words that we were using for our science experiment.

After that Pumpkin was writing down her observations day by day accompanied by a picture.

It was such a wonderful experience for both of us! And our beans are still growing tall and strong. I am thinking about transporting them outside.

Have fun germinating! ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Air Painting

Today I decided to incorporate science with art which was a lot of fun for my Pumpkin.

The topic was air. We talked about why we need air and what element of it we need for breathing. I asked if we can touch air, if we can see it and later on explained that it's not a solid object.

We mentioned that air can move which creates wind. I asked my daughter to put her hand in front of her mouth and blow on it to feel the air. Then, I encouraged Pumpkin to take a piece of paper, blow on it and make a prediction of what is about to happen. Paper moves because air make it move.

As part of the discussion we made an experiment.

To make it you'll need:

  • a piece of construction paper

  • tempera paint

  • a drinking straw

What to do:

  • take a piece of paper and put some paint on it( I used primary colors to show how they mix and make new ones)

  • give your child a straw and ask to blow on the paint through it

The air flow will move the paints around , mixing them and creating interesting shapes.

That's how it came out.

I did not add water to the paint. If you add some it will be more runny and splatter easier.

Give it a try. I assure your kids will love it!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 Things I Absolutly Need Before I Go To Bed

It has been a while since we had Mommy's Corner. We need to keep our sanity, right? And this is the place to go.

The time when kids are tucked into beds and fast asleep sometimes is the only time we parents have to ourselves. We do have kids but we shouldn't forget that we have our own interests, hobbies, personalities. Having children does not mean that we have to give up on all that. Yes, I agree that we change because now we have different priorities and responsibilities as parents. But don't you think that having some time to ourselves when we can actually do things we enjoy as individuals not as moms and dads is a part of being better parents? Don't you think that by being better educated, more sociable and more knowledgeable about things around us we can be more interesting to our children and we can share more experiences with them? By exposing ourselves to a lot of different things we can do our job of raising kids better. As simple as that!

The time when I actually can get in touch with the rest of me is usually when my Pumpkin goes to sleep. I value every second of it. It is not spent in the same manner every day but on most occasions this is how it looks. I made a list of my favorite things.

  1. Green tea. Summer or winter, hot or cold I just have to have it. It relaxes me, makes me to unwind after the tiring day in the Kiddieland.

  2. Chocolate!!! Oh, yeah! I know it is bad in the amounts I consume it. And yes, I do know it is nighttime. I'll work it out the next morning. ;)

  3. Computer. Do I need to comment on this one?

  4. MSN home page. Gotta stay well-informed about what's going on in the world. A lot of catching up to do! I do get sucked into reading celebrity gossips on Wonderwall. I ask myself "why?" every time as well. don't have an answer for this one yet.

  5. Blogger. This is the time I get to make new posts and give out some blogger love. I do enjoy reading a looooooooooong list of blogs. I do apologize that I read a lot more posts than I can comment on.

  6. Social networking sites. Just for fun.

  7. The Daily Show with John Stewart and The Colbert Report on I get most of the news from those two. They are more informative than some of the news channels plus the humour and attitude.

  8. Shower. When you are a mom, sometimes showers feel like luxury. The crazy thing about it is that sometimes I am not sure if it's a late night shower or a very early morning one. It's like a mini spa getaway at the end of the day.

  9. Skin care routine. Mommy needs to stay O.K.-looking.

  10. This one really had to be #1. I don't go to bed without a hug and a kiss and "Mommy, I love you so much" from my little Pumpkin! No matter how challenging it might get being a good parent from time to time but at the end of every day I know that this is a very special gift to be one.

What things do you indulge in after you put your little ones into bed?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Science Experiment for Little Ones: Fruit Floats, Fruit Sinks

It is truly amazing what a difference a visual material or experiment can do! It is true what an old saying says:"A picture is worth a thousand words". You can explain to your little one one concept over and over again and he/she will not get it. Demonstrate it to them once - BINGO!
Today Pumpkin and I were making an experiment with fruit floats.
This is an easy one which is great. We don't want to scare our kids off with complicated things in the beginning of their scientific journey. Every child knows what fruits are or at least saw most of them for sure. We made some observations and wrote them down afterwards.
For this experiment we will need:
  • a number of different fruits(anything you have on hand; we had a banana, a plum, a grapefruit, a mandarin, an apple, a pear, a grape)
  • 1 big container with water(for dunking the fruits)
  • 1 sheet of paper/notebook to write down your observations
  • a pen/pencil
  • colored pencils/crayons
What to do:

Get your chart ready. It should consist of two columns:" floats" and "sinks".

Get your water container ready.

Put the fruits in front of your child and let him/her pick one at a time. Ask him/her what he/she thinks will happen to the fruit: will it sink or float? Then, ask the child to put the fruit in the container with water.
Wait a second and ask again what he/she sees now. Make a note of your observation in the chart by drawing a picture of a sinking/floating fruit to the corresponding column. You might get surprised yourself which fruits float and which fruits sink.

My Pumpkin had so much fun! She asked me after we finished if I could give her some more fruits because she wanted to do some more experiments. Way to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smart Pumpkin Patch's Guide to a Decent Playdate

Playdates are fun.

Playdates are laughter.

Playdates are excitement.

Playdates are tears, broken toys, spilled milk, worst tantrums ever and parents with attitude...

This is my short guide(short, because you can really write a novel about all kinds of playdates, fun, drama and how to avoid the latter and maximize the former) to having decent(smile here) playdates.

If You Are a Parent Hosting the Playdate

  1. Let your child pick playmates...sort of. Limit the choice to the kids you approve. You need to know the parents, their phone numbers, address maybe some medical insurance information just in case. You never know when you are dealing with children, especially if they are young. What if a child gets sick or hurt and needs medical attention? Also, you need to know what kind of family the child is from to avoid negative influences. I know it doesn't sound right but we need to look out for our own kids first. You know how fast they pick up all bad habits. I'd rather spend time on learning something new than correcting mistakes of others. It is almost impossible to avoid them completely but I try to avoid most of them. If my daughter hasn't known about spitting I don't want her to start doing it now.
  2. When inviting playmates take into consideration the size of your play area. I would not recommend to invite more than 1 when they are toddlers because they need a lot of attention, and more than 2 (of any age) if you have a small place. In my opinion, one friend is all your child needs. You invite 2 - one child might get left out in the gaming process; invite more than that - make sure that you are not the only one supervising the play. It might get out of control faster than you know it.
  3. Contact the parents of the invited child/children and get the information about allergies(important!), favorite snacks, toys and things to do. Save yourself some trouble. No need to fight finicky eaters and deal with "but-i-do-not-like-this-one" stuff.
  4. Make sure your play area is safe for the age of the kids you are inviting. No sharp corners, open electric outlets, small items that might cause choking.
  5. Think about the kind of activity you are going to provide for the children in advance. Get all the supplies ready for that. It might be a themed playdate or just a number of random games you know the children enjoy playing. Have a rainy day back-up plan and some extra activities the kids could do if they would get bored or done with the things you planned faster than expected.
  6. Let the parents know about your plans. Tell them if they need to bring some things with them: bathing suit, change of clothes, the clothes that the kids can get dirty in without any regrets(yep, no party dresses for a painting playdate).
  7. Find out about the disciplinary methods the parents of the invited kids use. Is it a time-out, no TV for 3 days, no desert? It would help tremendously if the parents of the invited children and you were on the same page about it.
  8. Have a talk with your child about being a good host, keeping your guests happy and entertained and SHARING.
  9. Be precise about drop-off and pick-up time.

If You Are a Parent of a Child Who Got Invited to a Playdate

  1. Make sure you know the family that invited your child well. Get their contact information written down. Leave the number they can reach you at any time.
  2. Ask if they need help. If yes, be helpful by cleaning some things up after the kids to keep the play area hazard-free. I mean it. If not - be very punctual about drop-off and pick-up time. People have things to do besides baby-sitting your child while you are enjoying your kid-free time so much that you forgot that you are 30 minutes late already. Either way the hosting parents will be glad that you are concerned.
  3. Bring some necessities from home. For little kids - diapers, baby wipes, favorite toy to cuddle in case of a tantrum, a snack. For older children - a snack will do. It is usually not specified but the hosting family will appreciate that.
  4. Do not bring a lot of toys! The child will forget about them and you'll be stuck with a tired and whiny kid afterwards. If it's absolutely unavoidable, let him/her choose one toy they'll be willing to share.
  5. Refresh your child's memory about behaving and manners, explain that different households have different rules which he/she needs to follow over at that house.
  6. Dress your child in comfortable clothes. Have a spare set just in case( for little kids).
  7. Do not forget to thank the hosting family for having your child over when picking him/her up ON TIME.

If You Are a Child Who Got a Playdate Invitation

  1. Say "hi" to the friend who invited you and his/her parents.
  2. Do not get upset when your Mom/Dad leaves. There is no reason for that. You are going to have a lot of fun and they'll be back to pick you up sooner than you know it.
  3. Every house has a different set of rules. Obey to the rules of the house you are playing at.
  4. No hitting. No spitting. No name-calling. No food throwing. And absolutely no tantrums! You came to have fun with your friend not to spend all your playdate in time-out.
  5. If there is anything or anybody bothering you, let the hosting parent know. Do not be afraid to admit if you are feeling sick.
  6. If you need help using the bathroom, let the hosting parent know.
  7. When you are ready to leave be polite and thank the host for the wonderful time that you had even if it was just O.K.
  8. If you really, REALLY enjoyed it, there is no reason to get all bent out of shape because parent came to pick you up. Just think about how much your Mommy missed you. And you'll probably be back unless you did all of the #4 .
  9. Say "goodbye" to the people who showed you such a good time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Butterfly Blogger Award

I am super excited! Sometimes things are working out for you. This is definitely my week. I got One Lovely Blog Award a couple of days back and now I got this wonderful spirit-lifting-stylish-looking-wanna-go-out-there-and-blog-even-better Butterfly Blogger Award. And I got it(what makes it even more special) from Tammy at One Pink Fish, a certified teacher(yay! I got a recognition by a professional), excellent mother of two boys and lovely wife to her beloved husband. I discovered her blog recently and read it constantly ever since. And by the way, did I tell you that she has her classroom blog? Buggie Bungalow is a great place to get answers for your questions from somebody who is a pro, somebody we can trust. As a mom of a future kindergartner I found a lot of reassurance and guidance there. Both of the blogs are filled with Tammy's everlasting bubbly personality. It is informative, fun, and pink,of course. I recommend it to everybody!
No is the time to pass it on. Awwww... I enjoyed the my short-lived moment of fame enough. The drum beat, please... And the Butterfly Blogger Award goes to...Amy at
The Wonder Years. She is a Montessori educator and a mom to a preschooler and a toddler. Her blog is amazing! It is full of great scientific experiences, crafts, and other interesting things based on Montessori approach to education. She has numerous links that are like a treasure chest for any Montessori educator. It's worth checking out! I stopped by once and became an instant follower. Thanks Amy for a wonderful blog. And enjoy your award. Here!

Almost forgot! I am sure you know already the rules of receiving and passing on the awards. but I just remind you anyway.
  1. Post an award on your blog wall linking it to the person who awarded you with it.
  2. Pass it on to the blogs you enjoy reading.
  3. Don't forget to contact the recipient(s) about it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Introduction of 3-D Shapes to Young Children

Three-dimensional shapes are everywhere. Our world is three-dimensional and young children realize it and start seeing the difference. I think your child might be ready to learn about 3-D shapes between 3,5 and 5 years of age.

Three-dimensional( or 3-D) is a solid or hollow shape. A flat surface of a 3-D shape is called a face.

There are tons of 3-D shapes but we are talking about the most basic ones: cube, sphere, cone, cylinder and prism.

Children do their best learning from experience. So let's provide them with opportunities to explore 3-D shapes in everyday life and through play.

  1. The first and easiest would be playing with blocks - the chunky wooden ones. When building together point out different 3-D shapes, name them. Later on ask your child to pass you a cube, a cone, a cylinder, etc. Even though they do not know how and why to classify them according their characteristics yet, they recognize how they look already. That's a step up.

  2. When walking/ driving/ playing point out the objects that have a shape that your child is familiar with already. For example, construction cone, soda cans, soccer ball.

  3. Show a difference between 2-D and 3-D. Cut out a coupon for a cereal box - that's 2-D, it's flat. then, show the same box of cereal from your pantry - that's 3-D. Examples are endless.

  4. Now your child is ready for theory. Find a colorful children's book and read it together putting emphasis on the illustrations and characteristics of 3-D shapes. How many faces does this shape have? What shape are they? Are there faces of a different shape? Is there a point?

  5. To re enforce the theory try building your own 3-D shapes. You'll need toothpicks and modeling clay/play dough. First, make balls out of your clay. They will be connectors for the corners of your 3-D shapes. It should look like. Make a cube, a pyramid, a house(cube+pyramid), prisms.

  6. Instead of clay you can use marshmallows, and instead of toothpicks kabob bamboo sticks.

  7. Next you can talk about nets. A net is a shape that a 3-D shape would make if it were flat. This is a website that lets you print out nets for free:

  8. Try making 3-D shapes out of them first; then, ask your child to guess what shape a net would make if he/she folded it together.

Try it and you'll be surprised how fast your little one learned his/her 3-D shapes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Introduction of Shapes to Young Children

Early years are fundamental in children's lives and our role as parents is to awaken and feed young brains that are like sponges ready to absorb everything we put in front of them. This is when they grasp the very basic concepts that will be become the very first building blocks of their future knowledge. These are the concepts that will allow children to digest and categorize the information about the world around them in the coming years.

Today I would like to talk about introducing shapes.
As early as infant years babies start to notice the difference between the objects. The see it but they do not have the skills to describe it yet. And this is where we parents come to the rescue.
I think it is important to provide our kids with new material, to challenge them as much as we can. You'd be surprised how much they understand and learn! Most of us underestimate the abilities of our children. By 15 months my daughter new all the basic shapes and colors. And I the reason I mentioned underestimating because I kept thinking that she was a baby and didn't introduce her to the concept of shapes earlier. She got it right away! Maybe after a couple of "talks".

Don't be afraid of over educating your kiddo! It's not educating for them really. Everything is like a game to them and you parents, make sure about that!
In the beginning (and by that I mean 6+ months) casually use the names of the shapes in your conversation. No pressure, we are just getting familiar here. Around 1 year you can expect from your child to point the shapes out. There are a lot of books out there. These are just a few I like. Feel free to expand the list.
1.Shapes by Justine Smith (board book)

2.Round Is a Mooncake: A Book Of Shapes by Roseanne Thong and Grace Lin

3.Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban (she has a number of good ones on shapes)

4.Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert (comes in board book too)

5.Color Farm by Lois Ehlert

As we all know, children in the yearly years get most of their knowledge from play and everyday experiences. Provide them with wooden blocks of various shapes and colors ( to kill two birds!). I recently got for my daughter a board game that she really enjoys. It is called Shape Shuffle by The Learning Journey. It teaches kids shapes, colors, sizes and fractions. It does cover a lot! There are cards with the shapes and their names, then there are cards that show how to make new shapes out of existing ones. There are simple cards for beginners that want them to match a shape to a picture and more advanced ones that want kids to determine what shape to use to complete the design. It says on the box 3+, but I think if your child knows the basics before that you can give it a try.

For older children (I'll say 4 to adults) try the ancient Chinese puzzle Tangram. It consists of 7 shapes and your objective is to recreate the design on a card. I saw it at Barns and Noble not too long ago. It is a fun way to spend a family night together.
And one more thing! If you want your children to learn their shapes in no time talk about them constantly. Whatever you do, wherever you are talk shapes. You may be annoyed but very proud at the same time that your toddler is ahead of his/her crew and all of it is thanks to you!