The Candy Turkey

There are tons of ways you can deal with the insane amount of candy your child is likely to come home with during the month of October. Even if you don’t trick-or-treat, there are school functions, birthday parties, and fall festivities, all of which seem gung-ho on watching kids get a sugar buzz. Some families “sell” their candy to the dentist. Some send it to the military troops overseas. Some parents let their kids do a one-hour binge, eating as much as they can before the timer runs out, then tossing the rest in the trash.

We have a candy turkey.

TurkeyThe Candy Turkey is a sneaky dude. He loves Halloween candy, and only lets the girls eat one piece a day… but he’s hidden it somewhere in the house and makes them figure out a clue (written on the back of each one of his feathers) in order to get it. But he only does this until Thanksgiving, when he makes a mad dash out of the house before we eat him for dinner. :)

If you’re looking for a fun way to ration out that Halloween candy, provide practice for your child’s deductive skills, and teach them how to be thankful, this is a great way to do it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper – I use a mix of solid cardstock and patterned scrapbook paper
  • Glue
  • Permanent marker
  • Ink pen

IMG_2669

Here’s how to make your candy turkey:

  1. Cut out your pieces
    You’ll need one feather for each day leading up to (and including) Thanksgiving, a body, beak, eyes, and the wattle – that’s the dangly thing hanging from the turkey’s beak. :)
  2. IMG_2680Make your cheat sheet
    I always plan out all my hiding places in advance so that I don’t repeat any during the month, and I write them down on a “cheat sheet.” This also makes it easier for the Candy Turkey to know where he’s supposed to hide the candy each day.
  3. IMG_2677Write out your clues
    Number the back of each feather, and write the clue you want on the back below the number. It’s up to you how tricky you want the clues to be! I recommend keeping your words near the top of the feather, since you’ll need to glue at the bottom.
  4. IMG_2684Assemble the face
    Glue the eyes (don’t forget to draw the pupils!), beak, and wattle to the front of your turkey.
  5. IMG_2681Glue on the feathers
    Turn your turkey over. Beginning with the highest numbered feathers (in this case 21-27), glue them around the back of the turkey so that the written clues are on the back. These are the clues you’ll be pulling off last, so you’ll want them closest to his body.
  6. IMG_2685Layer your feathers
    Keep using the highest numbers first – around the back of your turkey so that when you are finished the lowest numbers (clues 1, 2, etc.) will be the top layer.

IMG_2686

And here he is!

IMG_2687

Each day, pull off the number that corresponds to the current date (November 1st, pull off feather 1, etc.). Read the clue on the back and send your kiddo(s) off on a candy hunt!

When our girls find their candy we use the opportunity to say a little prayer of thanks to God for something related to where the candy was hidden. Under the pillow? Thank you, God, for a warm bed to sleep in at night. In the bathtub? Thank you, God, for the clean water in our home. In the carseat? Thank you, God, for keeping us safe as we ride in the car.

And there you go – an educational and fun way to spread out that sugar – and practice thankfulness too! :)

Order Up!

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

So you and your preschooler have been singing about the months of the year and the days of the week (if not, you can find those videos here and here). Now it’s time for your child to put that knowledge into action!

Your calendar kit most likely came with months of the year cards and days of the week cards that you’ve been using as part of your display and daily “Today is ____” activity. If not, you can easily make what you need by either writing the months and days on index cards, or printing them and cutting them apart so each month and day are on their own card.

For this activity you and your preschooler are going to work together to put the months of the year or days of the week in order. And don’t worry – no reading is required (at least, not on your child’s part). Her job is to tell you what comes next, and place the cards in the right order on the table or floor. Once all the cards are in order, read them together.

FullSizeRenderExample dialog:
“You are so good at singing the months of the year! Let’s take all the cards that have the months of the year on them and see if we can put them all in the right order. So what comes first when we say the months of the year? Yes, January! Here’s the card that says ‘January,’ let’s put that here. What comes after January? February, yes! You can put the February card right below the January card. (Keep going until you complete all the months/days). Now that we did all the months, let’s say them all one more time to check our work. (Say/sing the months/days together while pointing to each word). Wahoo! You did it! I’m so impressed that you figured it out!”

Since your child is more frequently exposed to the days of the week, it may be a little easier to introduce this activity with those instead of the months. And if your preschooler is becoming really adapt at recognizing the days of the week written on the cards, they might be ready to do this on their own sooner than you think – just be prepared to gently guide them to the correct answers whenever they get stuck. :)

Match the Number

31dayslarge2

This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

This is a fun game to play once you are nearing the end of the month and your calendar is full of number dates.

Take some sticky notes and write calendar numbers on them with a marker (25, 6, 31, 12, etc.). Hand your preschooler a numbered sticky note and have them stick it on the matching calendar number, saying the number together as it is placed. So easy! :)

FullSizeRender-1

Example dialog:
“Wowee! We have so many numbers on our calendar now! Let’s play a number matching game. Here’s a sticky note with the number 16 on it. Can you tell me this number? Great, it is 16! Now, see if you can find the number 16 on the calendar. Yes, there it is! Put the number 16 sticky note on the number 16 on the calendar. What is that number again? 16! Yes! You are a ROCK STAR!”

IMG_2480There are so many sticky notes out there in various shapes and colors, you could really have a lot of fun with this one! And if your child is learning to write their numbers, you could turn the game around and have her copy 2-3 numbers onto sticky notes for you to match. Kids love it when we don’t know how to do things they can do! :D

More Fun with Patterns

31dayslarge2

This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

Since patterns are such an important math skill, I wanted to bring you a few other fun ways that you can practice them with your preschooler to extend the practice you are already doing on your calendar!

    • Pattern Jewelry
      This is a pretty common way to practice patterns with younger children. You can use beads, cereal, or pasta for your pattern material, and string or pipe cleaners to string your pattern onto. It’s a fun way for your preschooler to practice their fine motor skills too, and they also get to show off their fabulous patterns all day!
    • IMG_2356Lego Patterns
      Work with your preschooler to copy patterns with Lego Duplo bricks. I am in love with these really awesome free printables – I’m planning to laminate them and store them in our Duplo basket so Julia can practice her patterns anytime she likes!
    • IMG_2478 IMG_2475Yummy Patterns
      Food-related items definitely get a child’s interest! You could use candy, cereal, different cheese cubes, or even small pieces of fruit. A great way to incorporate patterns into snack time!
    • FullSizeRenderCut-and-Paste Patterns
      Julia is IN LOVE with glue. These free printables (found here) put her right in her happy place. There are many other worksheets like this online, too… just Google “free cut and paste pattern worksheets” and print away!
  • Pattern Box
    Kids love giant cardboard boxes, why not turn one into a pattern-filled playspace? We used die-cut butterflies, dollar store stickers, feathers, and foam letter stickers. You could draw boxes and have your preschooler color them in with a pattern, use dot markers, or glue pom-poms to the box. The best part is when your child climbs in and you hear them reading off patterns on their own!
  • IMG_2361Kinesthetic Patterns
    Jump! Sit! Jump! Sit! I think that these are so fun to do with your child – and if you think about it, it’s a great way to squeeze in a little exercise for us parents, too! ;)

Check out my pattern board on Pinterest for these and other great pattern ideas!

Pattern Power!

31dayslarge2

 This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

Teaching patterns using the calendar is by far (in my opinion) the easiest concept to teach your preschooler. It’s visual, predictable, self-checkable, and your child can get in on every part of it – from designing the pattern unit at the beginning of the month to choosing fun images that will repeat throughout the month.

There are many fun ways you can choose to implement your pattern. Our patterns use number cards with different holiday/seasonal images on them that we found at a local teacher supply store, but you could use anything from post-it tabs to actual objects somewhere nearby as seen here.

FullSizeRender

I recommend starting out with a basic AB pattern, meaning that you will alternate from one image or object to the next. For example, in our October calendar we alternated between pumpkins and leaves. In this pattern the pumpkins would be “A” and the leaves would be “B,” resulting in an AB pattern.

FullSizeRender-3If you are using date images like the example above, you’ll want to work with your preschooler to figure out the next image in the pattern by starting with the first image and touching each image, saying the pattern as you go. If you are using separate objects you can do it any time during your calendar routine.

Example dialog:
“You’re right – today’s date is going to need the number 22. Now let’s go back and check the pattern to see if it’s going to be a pumpkin or a leaf. I’m going to put my finger on the number 1 and you say the pattern with me: pumpkin, leaf, pumpkin, leaf…. (continue on until you get to the last image already on the calendar). So the last picture is a pumpkin, that means today will be a… leaf! Yes! Great job – you’ve got Pattern Powers!”

Next month we will move onto turkeys and leaves with an AAB pattern like this:

FullSizeRender-1And in December we will switch to an ABB pattern with snowmen and snowflakes:

FullSizeRender-2Later we will move onto ABC patterns, but I wanted to get a few months in with simple AB patterns first.

Have fun! :)

4:00am

It’s 4:00am.

I’m quietly awoken by the sound of the bathroom light being flicked off. The not-so-silent shuffle of shoes on the carpet. A carry-on being set down on the floor. A gentle kiss on my forehead.

Jay is heading off to the airport.

Half-asleep, I pull myself up onto my knees and wrap my arms around his neck. I tell him I love him… to stay safe… to call me – even though I know he’ll be two time zones away and that he’s not likely to get more than five minutes away from work. Then I fall back into my pillow and pretend to be asleep again so that he won’t feel guilty for waking me.

He says goodbye, softly, then I hear his feet on the stairs, his keys leaving the metal tray on our aqua table, and the front door opens and closes. Locks. An engine, acorns crushed under tires, then silence.

I open my eyes and begin to pray.

Lord, thank you for my husband.

Thank you for this man who loves to sleep in, yet wakes at 3:30am on a Sunday morning to catch a 4:30am flight. Thank you for blessing my life with a man who believes in hard work. Who believes that me being a stay-at-home-mom is the best thing for our family right now. Who takes flight after flight and endures the hassles that go along with such a job – layovers… redeyes… missed connections… then turns around and does it again and again. Thank you for a man who visits new and sometimes exciting cities and countries and comes home and tells me he wants to take me there… that he wished I could have been there with him. 

That he missed me.

That he’s happy to be home.

Be with him, Lord. Protect him from harm. From temptation. From failure. 

Be with me, Lord. Protect me from jealousy. From suspicion. From failure.

Develop a sense of understanding in us both while he’s away and when he returns. Help me to realize that he’s working hard for our family, and that he’s going to be tired and very likely stressed about the next big project at work. Help him to realize that I’ve been working hard for our family, and that I’m going to be tired and very likely stressed about the never ending list of projects around the house.

But mostly, God, help us to remember that You are in control. You have blessed us beyond measure – all we have is because of You and all we have is Yours. Thank you.

In your name I pray,
Amen.

And then, once my brain begins to settle again, I drift off to sleep. When I wake, he will be gone and it will be days until I see him again. The girls and I will carry on with our day-to-day, and we will say a nightly prayer for his safe return.

Over the next few days he and I will most certainly have difficulty connecting. I’ll fall asleep at night before he returns to his hotel room, and he’ll be in meetings when I’m in the pickup line with time to talk. He’ll get wrapped up in his work and forget to text, and I’ll get jealous of his jet-setting adventures… which, of course, is how they appear to me since I’m at home every day. There’s a good chance we will both become frustrated at the lack of understanding between us – it’s happened before. Probably more so on my side of things than his.

It’s not easy to say goodbye so often, especially at odd hours of the night. It’s not easy to go days without talking more than a few minutes at a time. It’s not easy to go to family events and activities without him. It’s not easy knowing that many of my friends’ husbands are home by 6:30pm for dinner. That they can help with bedtime. That they have predictable (and local) schedules.

It’s not easy feeling like a single mom when I know I’m not.

It’s really hard not wishing things were different.

But that 4:00am departure – that’s when I reflect on how much I absolutely love my husband. How grateful I am for him. How blessed I feel to care for him while I’m home… even if he isn’t here with me.

This is the life God has given to us, and I have all that I need – even if it isn’t all that I want. Praying for Jay and our relationship right when he leaves us is what helps me keep all that in perspective while he’s gone. It makes it just a little easier.

I love you, baby. <3

Time to Talk Patterns!

31dayslarge2This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

A strong understanding of patterns is an incredible asset to your child’s future academic development. Patterns can be seen across nearly all subject areas in school – including Science, English, and Math – and the early ability to recognize, extend, and predict patterns will give your child an advantage as they journey through their school years.

FullSizeRenderAt your preschooler’s age, you should focus on patterns that are comprised of shapes, sizes, or colors set in simple repetition: dog-cat-dog-cat, big-big-little-big-big-little, blue-red-green-blue-red-green. As your child grows they will learn that patterns can also be made up of numbers (10, 20, 30, 40…), and may begin to recognize that patterns can be found everywhere: nature, poetry, and even human behavior.

Using the calendar to introduce patterns is a great way to not only teach the basic concept of how a pattern works, but also to teach them other pattern-related skills:

  • pattern unit (the part that repeats iteself)
  • predicting patterns (what comes next?)
  • extending patterns (continuing it beyond the next step)
  • recognize patterns in their environment
  • copying patterns
  • identify a hidden or missing part of a pattern
  • creating patterns
  • identifying growing patterns (one block, two blocks, three blocks, etc.)
  • identifying repeating patterns
  • use patterns to solve problems

From my experience in the classroom, identifying and predicting patterns on the calendar was one of my students’ favorite activities. Tomorrow I’ll get into how to teach them with the calendar, but for today here’s a video about patterns that you and your preschooler can watch together. :)

Daily Counter

31dayslarge2

This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

A common component in Calendar Math curriculums in elementary school is a daily counter. A daily counter area on your calendar provides a visual that allows your child to see that as you add more dates to the calendar, the numbers get bigger, or “grow.” The size of numbers (greater than, less than) is important, and can sometimes be a difficult concept for young children to grasp. They know they would rather have 5 cookies than 1, but outside of examples like that they don’t always understand that 5 is greater than 1.

By having a daily counter on your calendar you are using physical objects to represent the number of days that have passed, helping them to build the foundational knowledge that as we count numbers higher, the quantity grows as well.

IMG_2366There are many ways to display a daily counter. The curriculum I used in my classroom had a few variations – post-it notes in a line that grew around the room, straws in pockets, coins, and tally marks. It’s up to you what you want to use, but I recommend something they can relate to, like a toy with many pieces (we are using counting bears this month, Legos next month), small bits of paper that they can tape up themselves, or even letting them make a daily dot on a sheet of paper with a dot marker.

The procedure is super simple: after adding the current date to your calendar, add another object/mark to your daily counter, then count the objects/marks together.

Example dialog:
“So we just put the number 11 up on the calendar today. Let’s add another bear to our line of bears so that we have 11 bears by the calendar, too! Okay, now that we added our new bear, let’s go back and count to be sure we have 11. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11. Yup, we have the right number! You are a super counter!”

When taught as part of a classroom curriculum, this component will usually continue on, day after day, adding a new object every day, even as the calendar rolls over into the new month. Doing it this way would allow you to go beyond the number of days in the month. For now, Julia and I will be stopping at the end of the month and starting over with number 1 the first day of the next month. :)

Identifying Tomorrow & Yesterday

31dayslarge2

This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

If you’ve got any upcoming special dates marked on your calendar, you’ve most likely got a preschooler who is eagerly awaiting the nearest approaching event. These marked events are the perfect opportunity to approach the topic of tomorrow and yesterday. If you are ready to teach the concept of tomorrow, I recommend waiting until the special event is occurring the very next day. If you are about to teach the concept of yesterday, wait until the day after the special event.

Tomorrow Will Be…

Example dialog:
“Now that we know that today is Tuesday, let’s see what tomorrow will be! I see on the calendar that the next day has a birthday card on it, because tomorrow is Daddy’s birthday! I’m super excited to give Daddy his presents tomorrow. Let’s see what day of the week his birthday is on. I’m going to put my finger on tomorrow – it doesn’t have a number because we didn’t do it yet – and move my finger up, up, up until I get to the top. Let’s see what day of the week we are on… I see that this word starts with W, and I know that W makes the sound /w/, so this day must be /w/-/w/-Wednesday. Let’s put the word card on our chart. The sentence says: Tomorrow will be Wednesday. Read that with me now: Tomorrow will be Wednesday. You totally rock!”

FullSizeRender-1

Yesterday Was…

Example dialog:
“Now that we know that today is Tuesday, let’s see what day it was yesterday. Today we put up the number 10, and if I look at the calendar I can see that yesterday we put up the number 9. I remember yesterday Emily didn’t have school, and we went to the pumpkin patch and got ice cream together – it was so much fun! Let’s see what day of the week that was. I’m going to put my finger on the number 9 because we put that up yesterday, and follow my finger up, up, up until I get to the top. I see that this word starts with M, and I know that M makes the sound /m/, so this day must be /m/-/m/-Monday. Let’s put the word card on our chart. The sentence says: Yesterday was Monday. Read that with me now: Yesterday was Monday. What a smarty pants you are!”

You don’t have to introduce these concepts using the same special event. I’ve just begun teaching Julia how to identify what day tomorrow will be, and once I can see that she has a grasp on the skill then I’ll introduce the concept of yesterday. :)

Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday

31dayslarge2

This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

I’ve already talked about using a chart to identify the current day of the week on your calendar, but now that we’ve been doing our calendar for three weeks, it’s time we jumped into the other two sentences on our chart!

Today, tomorrow, and yesterday are important time-related concepts that your child will most likely be expected to have a firm understanding of by the end of Kindergarten. Like many of the other activities I’ve been sharing, the key to developing this understanding is practice, practice, practice. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing an easy dialog that you can do with your preschooler to begin introducing these concepts, but for today here’s a fun video that you can watch together to get things moving!