Story time & book finds

For the first four years of both the boys’ lives, story time at the library was a constant. A branch of our library has an awesome story time and we never missed a week. So I was not surprised at all when the boys and I ventured into the library last week and it was packed out for story time with our favorite librarian who still remembers both boys (and their names). At first, J said he didn’t want to join in on story time and just wanted to pick out books. However, as we were picking books, he got a little chair and scooted closer to the circle and sat there smiling. Then when they were done and started the craft he immediately said “I want to do the craft, too!” So craft he did:

J loved it! And we got a stack of new books to read including:

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Driveway painting activity

As the boys are getting older they are playing more on their own, creating their own games and adventures. We don’t do summer activities quite as much as we used to, but when we do I look for ones that the boys are able to do a majority of the steps, as they get bored quickly if it takes awhile to set-up. They also tend to like ones that involve either painting or cooking. A chalk paint activity fits into the create and paint category.

The boys started out by scooping the cornstarch and water into muffin cups and then adding food coloring to each:

Then they mixed up the colors (green was a favorite, ha!):

Then they started painting:

J created this sweet cross:

And when they got bored I dumped everything out and they painted with that:

And then they were done and off to ride bikes after we cleaned up! An activity that was more time doing than setting up was perfect for a summer morning!

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Prepping for summer

I know it’s not even May yet, but with the end of the school year barreling toward us, I’m already sketching out a plan for the boys to avoid the “summer slump”. Otherwise known as the “I’m bored!” portion of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with them being bored, in fact there’s great learning and creativity that can result from boredom. However, I also have a plan of some ideas to help stretch those summer days. 

The first thing I already have in my mind is our library’s summer reading program. The boys love reading anyway, this just gives them a fun way to record their reading and will include a weekly library trip. Even if they are beyond story time (insert my crying face here), they still love searching for books. I have the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, Audubon, on the Wings of the World, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and The Wolf Wilder for A. And for J we are working through BOB books, Narwhal and Jellyfish, and the Ordinary People Change the World series. 

Second up is journaling. We are taking several trips this summer, and the boys have a few day camps and swim lessons lined up, and A mentioned wanting to take something to write in for our trips. I thought, what a cool idea for both boys. An unlined journal allows them space to draw pictures, write stories, or include any stickers or momentos. Especially for A, who right now wants to be a writer, chronicling different events helps him think of story ideas for later on.

Rainy/way too hot afternoon activity. We watched Planet Earth II this Spring and immediately upon finishing it, A said, “so there was a Planet Earth I? We need to watch that!” This show captures the boys’ attention almost more than Pokémon and Octonauts. Almost.

Play on your own items. In general, if the boys get to the point they are too loud, fighting too much, or in general bugging each other, I employ the Mom standard “go play on your own”. For A this typically means reading a book. For J, it’s pulling out all of his craft supplies to create, color, and make cards. A new set of easel paper, stamps like these, and more glue sticks are definitely on my list to buy before summer begins.

Snack math time. I don’t even know how A remembers all these things, but he mentioned needing division and multiplication flash cards to work on his skills (his words). Every summer since A started kindergarten, we would do math snack time in the mornings, where the boys would have a snack and I’d go through math flash cards with A. This year J will join in with word family tiles.

Board games. Both collaborative board games like our current favorite, Dinosaur Escape and competitive, like Clue, Jr.:

I like having both collaborative and competitive on hand, because it’s nice to play sometimes without the five year old meltdown when J loses. And now that I’ve got a summer list for the boys started, I’m going to go finish my nightly, end of the semester grading! 

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Bluebonnets with J

While A and B were in Birmingham this weekend, J and I worked on a canvas to go in our completed study. J was so excited to help with this! Especially because it was a massive canvas. Much cooler than  small-ish canvas, he told me.

We started by building the grass for the background. Lots of different colors of green…

Then we started creating bluebonnets by dotting on sections of the grass with our fingers using different shades of blue:  And this was our completed bluebonnets before J went to bed:  I went back after he went to bed and added a bit more dimension to the bluebonnets and the picture, and then hung it when it was nearly dry to surprise J in the morning:

This was such a fun and dramatic looking finish to the project! In addition it was fairly cost effective since you are mainly using a shade of green and blue and then adding white to it.

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Lego coaster

For Christmas A had several Lego sets on his list. However, I have not seen him actually put together a Lego set on his own in about a year. He likes the idea of the set, but then he just ends up playing with his box of random Legos and making his own creations. After doing some searching I got an idea and we got him these items instead of a set:

I have to say I was a little nervous that he would be upset because J got a Lego set and he got the items above instead. However, he LOVED it. And after seeing this:

Lego coaster

And his finished creation:

Lego coasterWhich was inspired by the Lego ideas book, I knew we’d picked the right present. Excited to see what he builds next!

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Completed canvas project

Completed CanvasWhile A was at basketball camp in July, J and I began working on a canvas project for my office wall. I’m constantly on the look-out for art and prints to liven up my office (not that the concrete blocks are nice…reminds me of my house when we lived overseas. HA!). I decided it would be fun to take on a project with J to make a dual canvas. Here is a little more about what we did…

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