Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online (playaway.com or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Toddler Letter Activities

I am always working on letters with my toddler (almost 3 years old).  The general learning pattern so far has been 1.) identify letters and the phonetic sounds 2.) learn beginning sounds of words 3.) learn to sound out words and 4.) learn ending sounds of words.  Sounding out the ends of words is still very challenging.  Even though he is learning to sound out words, we still go back and focus on specific letters to encourage mastery.  It is very motivating for him to work on things that stretch his learning as well as things that he has mastered.  And of course, the number one learning activity for letters is READING out loud together!  We read everyday and visit the library every week.  Here are some shelf work ideas involving LETTERS.

How are you teaching letters and early reading to your little ones?

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Homeschool Field Trip to Nature Museum

My toddler (almost 3 years old) attends a Montessori school three days a week.  On our days at home, I enjoy the opportunity to take “field trips” around the city.  And, let’s be honest, mommy needs to get out of the house.  Yesterday we took a trip to our city’s Nature Museum.  As a Montessori parent, I’m a strong advocate of hands-on learning.  I think we all remember and learn better using different types of media and senses (aka sensorial learning and Montessori sensorial bins).  At the Museum, which is designed for young kids’ play, we saw an opossum and chicken up close.  A worker brought the animals out of their holding areas and talked to the kids about them.  When I later asked Boaz what he liked at the Museum he remembered and was able to talk about the opossum and chicken at dinner which proved to me that the hands-on type of interaction was memorable and best promoted learning.  The snakes, frogs, bugs, and other animals in their cages were not as memorable, although I’m sure he learned something from them.  To underscore how kids learn using hands-on experiences, Boaz still talks about a science fair that we attended in New York during the summer.  He often recalls seeing the homemade rockets and talks about how they flew in the air.  Time to make our own!

Do you take homeschool or weekend field trips with your kids?  How do those trips promote learning?

Pictures from our trip to the Nature Museum.  Boaz LOVED watching the chicken and met a friendly opossum.

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Life in a City or Suburbs?

Over the last two weeks we have transitioned from our tiny apartment in New York City to our large(r) house in the suburbs of North Carolina.  I miss NYC but I’m also glad to be back in NC.  Throughout our three-month visit in NYC, I’ve thought long and hard about what I like about both places.  Here’s what I learned:

What I love about NYC:

1.) Everything in walking distance – life at your fingertips 

2.) Amazing variety of people, languages and cultures

3.) Energy and entertainment – This City TRULY does not sleep – dinosaur bones, singers in subways, Lion King, Rangers game, Yankees game, Penn Station at 1 am!

What I love about the suburbs (and our “big” house):

1.) Rooms and backyards – extra space is great with a toddler and opening the back door to go out and play is VERY convenient

2.) Open windows = clean air and quiet, nature sounds

3.) Big kitchen – I enjoy cooking in (though not cleaning) my big kitchen – Love our counters for cookies and crafts.

Do you live in a city, suburb, or something in between?  What do you like about where you live?

If you could go anywhere for 3 months (or more), where would you go?

YouTube video – a peak at NYC

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Exploring History with Kids and Toddlers

As we begin the new school year I wonder: When is the right time to start teaching my toddler about history?  I did not expect to introduce my toddler, now 2 1/2 years old, to history so soon but we stumbled upon this theme because it was of interest to us (my husband and I).  I recall history being a boring topic for me as a child but I was pleasantly surprised that my toddler was interested in the historical places we visited last week.  Admittedly, everything is an adventure to a toddler but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning.  Learning for them is like breathing.  They just inhale the world around them.  And I love seeing things through my toddlers eyes – all new again.  During our explorations, B was completed captivated by a 30 minute movie on the history of NY City at the Historical Society and played for hours on the Intrepid.  I’m not sure he understood what the 9/11 Memorial was but he took it all in.  I think hands-on exploration is one of the best ways to learn, don’t you?

Are you teaching history to your children?  If so, how?  Movies?  Field trips?  Books?

Below you will find pictures of our trips to the following places:

1.) USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier, docked off the Hudson River and museum.

2.) Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial

We also visited:

3.) New York Historical Society 

Other Resources about history for kids:

Fun Books about History for Kids from The Measured Mom

Apples4theTeacher on Social Studies

Other favorites?

 

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Montessori Finds on Etsy

We are enjoying our Montessori toys found on Etsy!  All the handmade toys from Essential Montessori look amazing!  I bought the tic tac toe board with apples for B.  He’s having fun just feeling them.  We’ll eventually play the game but for now we just sort and place them.  I can’t wait for a baby shower so that I can get the mobile and baby gift set!

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B has also enjoyed his Wormy Apple from The Elephant Playthings.  This was a great introduction to lacing.  B figured it out right away and has been very engrossed with the activity all day.  The wood is very pretty and smooth.  The apple is just the right size for B’s hands.  The wooden sewing “needle” and string are durable and well attached.  Nice purchase mom!  Thanks you’re awesome!  (The only praise I will get.)

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