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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Top 5 Pandora Stations for Pre-K

I LOVE music. It can either emphasize my current mood or inspire a new mood altogether. Depending on what my family is doing, we choose one of the following Pandora stations:

1. Toddler Radio: This one is mostly upbeat, with many recognizable children's songs included. I like to use this one when I'm prepping dinner and my son is playing independently. We sing and dance together as the mood strikes us. 

2. The Mozart Effect (Children's Radio): I like to use this station when my son is doing something creative that requires his attention, such as art or Play-Doh.  It's also great for the early morning or late evening, when we need to keep things low-key. 

3. Baby Einstein (Children's) Radio: Okay.  I know it says "baby" in the title, but this one is similar to the Toddler station with a little more classical music. I like to switch between the two to give me a little variety in the songs.

4.  Rockabye Baby! (Children's) Radio:  Once again, ignore the "baby" in the title.  It's nice to be able to listen to the instrumental/slow tempo version of songs by bands like Muse and Aerosmith.  As the title suggests, it's all lullaby instruments in place of the usual guitars and drums.  It's pretty amazing, actually.  It's great for bath/bedtime routines when we are winding down for the day. I find my son humming along with me to some of my favorite songs as we go through our evening.

What are your favorite Pandora stations for your time at home?  I'd love to get some new station ideas from you!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Vocabulary Test Template

Want a quick way to assess your students' vocabulary knowledge?  Well, look no further than this editable Vocabulary test template.

I have used this template for many years, and for different grade levels.  It is just as useful for 4th-Graders as it is for 7th-Graders.

The template includes the following activities:

Write the definition in your own words
Give an example/non-example
Use the word in a sentence

I left the words and definitions in the template for your reference. You will just need to change them.

What kind of vocabulary assessments do you rely on?  I'd love to hear about your go-to resources!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Color Sorting and Fine Motor Activity

While in search of a boredom-buster activity for those cold winter days, I came across a few different ideas on Pinterest that seems to fit together nicely.  

An added benefit is that these activities incorporate the following concepts:
Color sight word recognition
Fine motor skills

First, I wrapped some duct tape around two cardboard tubes (toilet paper rolls). I chose red and blue because it is what I had on hand and it matched some of the pom-poms I was going to use for the sorting activity.

Next, I used an old cool whip container on which to write the color site words.

I cut holes the size of the pom-pom on the top of the lid.

Presto! I had an almost instant sorting and color recognition activity!  Now, my son can just use his fingers to pick up and push the pom-poms into the holes.

To add a little challenge, I decided to use some tweezers to encourage my little one to work on his fine motor skills even more. 

Another variation to this activity is to use the toilet paper rolls previously mentioned. Just place these over top of the labeled holes, like in the picture below. 

You could tape these down so they are more stable, but it really isn't necessary. Now little man can do another sorting activity, with just a tiny adaptation of materials.

As a final added benefit, all the materials fit snugly inside the container!

There you have it! It really only took me about 15 minutes to put together and it came from all the materials I already had on hand. 

How do you beat boredom when you're stuck inside on snowy days? I'd love to hear your tips and ideas!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Veggies Disguised by Chocolate? What?!

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, my mind immediately goes to chocolate.  Well, if I'm being honest, it really doesn't have to be a holiday for me to want chocolate.

If you are like me, you don't want to have to hide in the pantry to eat your sweets just so your kid doesn't see you eating them.  So... plot twist.  What if you could serve this Valentine's Day treat to your kiddo with ZERO guilt?  How?  By adding veggies, of course!

Stay with me here.  I promise it's nothing like chocolate-covered broccoli.  You won't even taste the avocados, but you will be amazed at how smooth and creamy they make the dish!

You'll turn this ...

2-3 Medjool dates
1 ripe banana
2 avocados
1 cup milk (whatever kind you like)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or Agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Into this ...

I used the purée setting on my blender. I stopped several times to push the ingredients down with a rubber spatula.

And finally, after several minutes of blending ...

Voila! A tasty valentine's Day treat!  

Make sure to serve this chilled. I would give it at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, or you may taste a slight avocado aftertaste.

And that's it! How do you hide your veggies in your treats? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!