Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Operation Christmas Cookies

This post may contain affiliate links.

Last week we took a break from our regular learning time activities and schedule.  Operation Christmas Cookies commenced!  The kiddos spent the week researching, planning, preparing, baking, and decorating hundreds of cookies.  It was quite the project!

Cookies are prepared for:
1.  Our Grandparent Christmas Party  
2.  Christmas Cookie Deliveries to Neighbors
3.  Christmas Cookie Deliveries to Community Helpers.

SO MUCH LEARNING takes place as we do this!  If you've ever wondered what one can learn from the process of selecting a recipe, reading through it, finding ingredients, baking, decorating, arranging, and serving, I've made a fabulous list, broken down by subject.  I'm sure I've missed some.

1. Letter Identification & Sounds
2. Reading Skills
3. Reading Comprehension
4. Vocabulary Words
5. Grammar-Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs

1.  Number Identification
2.  Counting
3.  Addition
4.  Subtraction
5.  Multiplication
6.  Sequencing/Ordinal Numbers
7.  Fractions
8.  Measurements
9.  Telling Time
10.  Spacial Reasoning
11.  Greater Than/Less Than

1.  How Temperature Changes Objects
2.  Solids vs. Liquids
3.  Solutions & Mixtures

1.  Nutrition
2.  Heat Safety
3.  Personal Hygiene (Germs)

1.  Traditions
2.  Christmas
3.  Community Helpers
4.  My City
5.  Grace & Courtesy

1.  Shapes
2.  Colors
3.  Lines
4.  Texture
5.  Form
6.  Value

Practical Life
1.  Washing
2.  Spreading
3.  Cutting
4.  Unwrapping
5.  Spooning Liquids & Solids
6.  Opening  & Closing Containers
7.  Scooping
8.  Transferring Liquids & Solids

1.  Smell
2.  Taste
3.  Sight
4.  Sound
5.  Touch

For those looking for speech and occupational therapy activities, baking is the ultimate task, requiring muscle coordination & strength, fine motor skills, sensory integration etc.  I could go on and on.  Over the course of the week, we reviewed so many lessons and skills.  This doesn't even take into consideration the research and preparing that went into this task.

Each older kiddo was asked to come up with six different kinds of cookies they wanted to include in our Operation Christmas Cookies.  I chose six because I knew how many cookies we would need, but also to encourage them to try new things. Each kiddo spent no less than 30 minutes on Pinterest looking for cookies they may enjoy. (Pinterest is such a good visual tool to help kiddos learn planning skills.)  Bulldozer had the extra task of making sure cookies would be safe for him with his food allergies.  Sunshine chose two kinds of cookies that she could eat from four choices I gave her.  I've included links to as many recipes as I can, below.  I hope you enjoy!  You'll also see some fun pictures of the kiddos working throughout the week.  It didn't occur to me to take pictures the first two days we baked, which is why there are less pictures of each kiddo, after Dinomite.
Dinomite's Cookie List
1.  Chocolate Crinkles
2.  Chocolate Chip Cookies
3.  Sugar Cookies (recipe origin unknown)
4.  Snickerdoodles
5.  Cinnamon Roll Cookies from Sprinkle Some Sugar
6.  Candy Bar Pretzel Bites from The Gunny Sack
Bulldozer's Cookie List
1.  Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe created by a friend. Check post comments for recipe.)
2.  Gingerbread Cookies
3.  Easy No Bake Snowman Cookies from inspired by familia
4.  Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
5.  Chocolate Blossom Cookies from Meal Plan Girls
6.  No Bake Cookie Dough Truffles
Princess' Cookie List
1.  Italian Cookies
2.  Peanut Blossoms
3.  Stained Glass Cookie Ornaments from The Comfort of Cooking
4.  Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
5.  Oreo Pretzel Christmas Cookie Dough Bark
6.  Cherry Chocolate Kisses from The Curvy Carrot
Sunshine's Cookie List
1.  Candy Cane Cookies (recipe origin unknown)
2.  Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (Use chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Omit 1/4 cup flour and use cocoa instead.)

To accommodate food allergies, coconut spread and/or oil was used instead of margarine or butter.  Water was used in place of milk.  Ener-G Egg Replacer was used in place of eggs.  Nut free, soy free, dairy free chocolate chips were purchased for the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Over the course of the week, we made 75% of our cookies.  We're saving the rest for the week of Christmas, so we'll have plenty to snack on and finish our community helper deliveries.
For those who want further details about our neighborhood deliveries:
When Jason and I were first married, a woman in our church congregation spoke about a family tradition they had.  Each year at Christmas, their family makes and delivers cookies to ALL of their neighbors.  This encourages the kiddos to not only become involved in the kitchen, but to show Christlike love and service to others, even those, they may not otherwise socialize with.  She shared experiences about how this has affected their family's relationship in the neighborhood for good, and how her kiddos have learned to love and serve others.  The very next year, Jason and I started this tradition with Dinomite.  Neighbors who have lived on our street for several years, open their door with big smiles and thank yous.  Those who haven't lived here long, are always so surprised that a neighbor would randomly give them homemade cookies and personally wish them a Merry Christmas.  The process of getting all four kiddos out to deliver cookies is always quite the task. This year it they had a very hard time resisting the urge to look in people's windows and ringing the doorbells several times.  It's all a learning process!

For those who want further details about our community deliveries:
Last year, Princess REALLY struggled with PTSD episodes and anxiety at Christmas.  At times she was afraid to leave the house.  To help her, we decided to make and deliver cookies to as many community members as we could, to reassure her just how many people love her and are working to keep her safe in our city.  (It was a great way to keep her hands busy at home, doing something she enjoys, and a great way to get her out of the house for deliveries.)  The kiddos begged to continue this tradition this year.  Our list of community members includes:

1.  Fire Fighters
2.  Police Officers
3.  Paramedics
4.  Pediatrician's Office
5.  Pharmacy
6.  Allergist's Office
7.  Dentist's Office
8.  Library
9.  Post Office or Mail Carrier
10.  Sanitation Workers
11.  Construction Workers
12.  Sheriff's Department
13.  Car Repair Shop (We've spent a lot of time there this year.)
14.  Local Craft Store (The workers know me by name, share my blog with others, and always tease that I know the store better than they do.)

Christmas is such a magical time of year!  I love how it's a constant reminder of just how much learning can take place outside of our classroom walls.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Art Appreciation Activities and Printables for Kids (KLP Linky)

This post may contain affiliate links.

It's not a secret that art is my least favorite subject to teach.  In elementary school, I was great at it myself, winning awards etc.  But as I became older, I just had no interest in it.  As an adult, I can think of nothing more boring than going to an art museum.  My husband on the other hand loves art.  In college, he worked at an art museum.  He even makes it a point to make sure that we have original works of art in our home.  This is definitely an area where we balance each other out.  However, now that he's back to work full time, I'm finding I need some help to keep the kiddos interested in art.  As always, I look to other fabulous bloggers to help me out. Here's what I found!

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #Playful Preschool from The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Art Around the World in 30 Days from The Art Curator for Kids*

*This blog has endless ideas about teaching art to your kiddos!  Please take a look at all of the fabulous ideas and printables.

Kandinsky for Kids Process Art from Left Brain Craft Brain

Art Study:  Frida Kahlo from Pinay Homeschooler

O'Keeffe's Autumn Leaves from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist study:  Henry Matisse from Pinay Homeschooler

Aboriginal Arts from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist & Art Study:  Piet Mondrian from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist Study: Vincent Van Gogh from Pinay Homeschooler

Artist study (Free Picture Cards) from Pinay Homeschooler

Art Education-Elements of Art-Colour Theory from Making Montessori Ours

Free Art Appreciation Printables from Montessori Nature

Artist Nomenclature Cards from The World Around Me: All About Me

American Artists from An All American Summer Unit:  The United States of America

Works of Michelangelo from Superhero Week

Norman Rockwell from The United States of America

Art Museum Sorting from Valentine's Day in Paris

Who's Who in Black History from Black History Month Unit

Artists and Artwork from North America from North America Unit w/ Free Printables

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party!

co-host Montessori Nature

From now on I will be sharing feature posts on facebook and Pinterest only, in hopes that they will receive more traffic.

Here's how this works!

1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!

Kids Learning Printables Every Star Is Different

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Carol of the Bell Unit w/ Free Printables

 This post may contain affiliate links.

This week our unit study was inspired by the Christmas song, "Carol of the Bells."  So of course, we're learning all about bells.  The kiddos are having an absolute blast.  Here's what we're up to!

Carol of the Bells Rhyming Words
This activity was tricky to create.  Bulldozer is not reading at the level of Princess and Dinomite, and quite honestly, unless he's reading a BOB book, he's not been able to generalize his knowledge of words.  The object of this activity is to find the rhyming pairs.  Princess and Dinomite are able to complete this activity by just reading the words and matching them up. However, Bulldozer is still in need of a control, even after doing the activity together a few times.  I've provided cards with rhyming phrases to help him know which words go together. If he looks at the control, he can find his matches.  He may not be able to read the words, but he can definitely tell that they're similar.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Phonogram Bell Memory
We've been working on phonograms for quite some time, in a variety of ways. I thought it time to see just how much has sunk in.  Each one of the "bells" (Hershey Kisses), have a phonogram written on the bottom of them.  The kiddos play memory until they can find all the matches.  As we're playing we review the sounds made by each phonogram.  When they find match, they must also tell me the sound, in order to keep it.  At the end of the game, each kiddo gets a Hershey Kiss to eat.

Source: Inspiration for this activity came from I Can Teach My Child.

Cursive Sandpaper Letters
We've been working on our cursive letter recognition for a while now.  I thought it time we start the process of learning how to write our letters.  Dinomite has already been working on this, but for Bulldozer and Princess the process is much slower.  I just love sandpaper letters. One wouldn't think they'd make much of a difference, but they really do!

Skip Counting by 3s
The kiddos have been working on skip counting for a while now too, but it hasn't seemed to sink in.  This week I'm trying a different route.  I am so glad I did.  I don't think the kiddos have ever been more excited about skip counting. They're doing so well with it.

For this activity in particular the kiddos count by 3s using The Hundred Chart.  As they count to each third number, they stamp it using the bell stamp provided.  When they're finished, they notice the pattern and compare it to the control provided (under the blank chart).  I worried this would be too difficult, but even Bulldozer thought it was super easy!

Source: The free printables for this activity can be found at The Pinay Homeschooler.  I just LOVE them!

Multiplication with Bells
To help the kiddos understand why learning how to skip count is so important, we started introducing our multiplication tables this week.  We did some last year, but not to a huge extent.  The kiddos already know how to count by 2s, so I included those, but half of the cards are for the 3s time tables.
So far it's going very well.  Dinomite was able to generalize the skill from the previous activity, and even asked to use his Hundred Chart to help himself count the strands of bells.  Bulldozer did well with it too.  I'm anxious to see how Princess does with it tomorrow.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Telling Time
It's only proper to have a time telling activity in a unit about bells.  Princess and Bulldozer have been working on their time telling skills a lot lately in their workbooks. I wanted to see how it transferred over. So far so good!  I love it when the kiddos become excited as they complete an activity, because it's easier than they thought it would be.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Parts of a Bell
There's so much to learn about bells!  It's amazing.  In this activity the kiddos will learn the different parts of a bell and label them.  There is a copy of this same printable, with all the answers written in underneath if the kiddos need help.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.

Bells Around the World
There are some amazing bells around the world!  In this activity, the kiddos will match up the picture and description cards, and then identify the continent and country where the bell is located, using the map provided.  Dinomite couldn't get enough of this activity. He found every single country and even some cities on our world map.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Carol of the Bells Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Jingle Bells Bottle
The kiddos can't get enough of this activity!  Bulldozer is especially obsessed with it.  I can understand why too.  There's water, bells, a magnet...  Who could want more!

Source: This activity comes from Lalymom.  Click on the link for more details!

Visual Arts:
Jingle Bell Sticks
This craft has the kiddos super excited, however it's going to take a little time before they feel confident at doing it all by themselves.  The final product is worth it though.

Source:  I found this craft idea at Rockabye Butterfly.

Jingle Bell Painting
The kiddos are super excited about this activity, though no one has done it yet.  In the past we've done it with marbles, but bells add a special jingle.

Source:  More information about this beautiful activity can be find at Happily Ever Mom.

The kiddos continue practicing the piano, they're also enjoying the bells!

Jingle Bells
This week the kiddos are learning to play Jingle Bells using the bells.  They're even learning how to play it following the color dots with more than one person participating in playing the bells!

Sensorial/Practical Life:
Stringing Bells
The kiddos will practice stringing the strand of bells provided.

Our other practical life/sensorial activities happen to be Sunshine's tot activities this week.
For more details about them, click HERE.

For those interested in the free printables, click on the link below.

Next week we'll be doing our annual Nutcracker Unit. Stay tuned for some new activities and printables!
Comments and questions are always welcome!