Archive for the preschool Category

Planting Maters Tutorial

Planting Maters Tutorial


I am the kind of person who likes to come up with original ideas. It could be the competitor in me, or the artist. I am not exactly sure which side it comes from. Either way it has always been important to me, as far back as I can remember. When it came to hosting my #DisneySide party I have to admit I was a bit stumped, and Pinterest didn’t really have much to offer beyond sugary snacks. In my expierence other than cake, cookies, or cupcakes the kids don’t care what snacks are there, they will eat it or won’t. No, for kids it is all about the activities, so I needed to have some good ones.


After watching Cars two nights in a row the week of the party I finally had an idea. It was the line in the movie when Mater meets Lightning for the first time. Mater says his name, “Mater. Like Ta-mater, with out the “ta.” That was when I knew what I wanted to do with the kids. Plant to-maters, or tow-maters. How ever you would like to spell it. A play on words is fun, and cute, but the 3-5 age range won’t really pick up on that. To make it more Mater-like, I wanted the pots to look like Mater. Tada! Today’s craf-tiviy was born.


Planting “Maters”

You will need;

  • Seed starter pots
  • White paper
  • Tomato seeds
  • Glue of choice
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Dirt
  • Water
  • Children willing to help


You could easily use any cup you wanted for the purpose of this activity, but I chose the seed start pots because they are already brown like Mater, and they can go straight into the ground the way they are.


The first step is to make your pots look like mini Maters. Start by cutting your white paper to look like Mater’s windshield. After you have cut out your windshields cut small rectangles for his two front teeth.


Then glue on googly eyes. I chose to use white glue because it is less toxic than other choices, but it will also dissolve with too much water. Just something to keep in mind, because they might fall off from too much watering. Also Mater’s eyes are actually green, so you could skip the glue and let your little crafters draw in his eyes, with crayons or markers.


Next attach your “eyes” to the top of the pots.


Glue on his two front “teeth.”


Honestly everything up to this point could easily be done by even the smallest crafters. Being that I did this as an activity for a party, I chose to make them in advance. Waiting for glue to dry can be hard, so I wanted to skip that step. When we do this again in the future I will have my kids do 100% of the work. I will make a template of the windshield from cardboard for them to trace.


Now onto the dirty part. Dirt being the key word.


Fill those pots with dirt!




Fill them all the way to the brim, because the soil will settle as you water it.


Now it is time to add seeds! I chose to use cherry tomatoes because they can grow easily in a pot, and I wasn’t sure what all of our guests would do with them. I wanted everyone to have a chance to watch their “Maters” grow.



Once the seeds are in place it’s time to WATER! These kids loved watering their new plants.


Lot’s of helpers.



Then find a sunny windowsill for Mater to sunbathe in and watch your tomatoes grow.


It almost looks like Mater sprouted hair!


What is your favorite activity to do with/or have kids do, at a party? What are your children’s favorite party activities?

Letter of the Week – F

The Gemini Mama Letter F


After a long week together, or was it two? I made the decision that we do not get along with the letter F. Why?


Well I told you in my letter E update that I did a poor job in some of my book selections. I requested and selected books for letter’s E and F at the same time. I should have made adjustments after E went the way that it did, but I did not. I am glad that nothing is, or has to be set in stone. It really makes me feel better.


The week wasn’t a complete failure. We had some successes, and pin pointed some areas to work on.



Writing capital F was easy for K1, but lowercase is right up there with lower case E. They are both a struggle for her. This caused me to take a step back, and add in more dot to dots this week, and we will come back to writing letters later. I mean she has her whole life to learn that. I have to admit I really wanted to push her to write her own name, because (shun me now) I have seen that other kids her age can. That is totally unfair of me. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Totally true, and children develop differently, at different times. Yes I am sure that she could learn to write her name today, if I sat down and did that with her, but maybe she isn’t ready? The “Letter of the week” is about her, and only a guide for me. So I will let her do more of the guiding.


Onto the books. I am still using as a guide, and here is a link to the suggested “F” curriculum.


The Firebird (affiliate link)- this book was the biggest surprise of the week. Early in the week I breezed through it, and the pages looked too wordy for my kids. Because of that I skipped over this book all week long, until there was nothing left to read. Remember I was jaded in my book selection for two weeks also. My children ask me to read them a “book they never heard before” so I grab this one. They were so sucked into the story! Maybe it was the gold on the pages, or the story itself, but classic. It was a good book, not as many “F” words in it as I expected, but for a story book it was great.


The Foot Book – I started the week with this book. Lot’s of “F” words in it. We played the game where they jump up each time they hear a particular word. I chose “feet.” K1 loves when we do this with books that we have already read once, but she doesn’t quite have the concept down yet. She needs pauses and reminders “what word was that?” Still fun for her.


Down on the Funny Farm and Rainbow Fish were also good choices that my kids enjoyed.


The last of the “good” books is Flamingo (Heinemann Read and Learn) (affiliate link). This book was a great choice to teach a young child about flamingos. It was exactly what I was hoping for.


If you choose to teach your children about the flamingo during “F” week, you could also teach them the ASL sign to go with it. Side note, I thought about including a video for you of this sign, but not being a member of the deaf community I might be the wrong candidate. Also the sign that I have learned for flamingo is different than what I could find on the ASL sites online. They show “pink bird,” what I learned looks like a flamingo and to me is more tactile for children. It could be a dialect difference, not sure. Put your index and second finger down and curl the rest into a fist. Bend the index finger at the knuckle and tap the second finger on the open palm of your other hand. Flamingo.




The Fish book from Sesame Street wasn’t too bad. It had lots of great information, but not my first choice. That opinion could be clouded because I don’t love Sesame Street in general.


All the other books were poor choices for my almost 4 year old daughters age group. That book Forest is about a deer. Yeah that got me too. I wanted a book to teach about the forest. The books on fractions were cute, but we very focused on percents and decimals too, which was too much. They had everything mixed together. It was not in sections, where I could skip what we weren’t ready for.


Strangely the Fire Truck book didn’t even hold my kids attention. They love fire trucks, so this was a surprise. I was hunting for a book that talked about the job of a firefighter, and wasn’t finding anything. This book is about building a firetruck, but was too detailed for us. Maybe next year.


Have you been doing a letter of the week program? What did letter “F” look like for you?




Leprechaun Trap

Our leprechaun traps are a quite simple, yet hopefully effective design. Leprechaun Traps

This was very easy to do with a two year old and a three year old.

The Gemini Mama Leprechaun Trap


Step 1 – K1 and I painted the boxes green on the outside while K2 took a longer nap.



Step 2 – Let the outside of the boxes dry



Step 3 – We decided to paint the insides gold, in hopes that it was help to attract the leprechaun.



Step 4 – When you find painting boring seek the out of doors, and let mommy finish for you.



Step 5 – When step 4 is not enough boredom cure, find inspiration in your sisters excitement for painting.



Step 6 – STICKERS! Apply lots of stickers all over the box to create a disguise for your trap.



Be sure to enjoy yourself.

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In the last photo he was playing with this one shamrock. It entertained him for a good  minutes. No interruption from me. You and Mr Shamrock have a great time.



“No mom, I’m not done yet.”


Never. As long as there are still stickers, she will not be done.



K1 still stickering, K2 still playing with Mr. Shamrock.


End Result;



K2’s trap





K1’s trap



Both traps were made with lot’s of love, and the kiddos had fun. I think next year we will add glitter and such. Maybe K1 will even come up with her own trap design. Too soon?


They are really excited to catch a leprechaun. Let’s hope one finds us. (Although if they make only a small mess that would be okay too.)


Will a leprechaun be visiting your house tonight/tomorrow? What tricks do you have planned? (Seeking inspiration look here or here)

Letter of the Week E


Ah, letter “E.” This week in letter e, we were practicing the short vowel sound. So Egg, not Easter.


I was proud of my planning ahead because as you will see I did a great job again of including mammals, and animals, but also geography. However it was also somewhat a fail.


Above are the read a loud books that we used this week.


Eggday was by far the favorite of the three. The kids wanted to hear it a few times, and it captivated both children. K1 who’s 3 1/2 and K2, who’s 2. It was also fun to read.


The Empty Pot was very slow, and not nearly as fun to read. I had to go back through the book a second time and do a lot of reading between the lines for my 3 year old to fully understand the concept of the story. I also had a very hard time keeping her attention during the story (probably why I had to go through it so much). I would say that this is a good book that contained a great lesson, just not for our age group. (or maybe just not this week)


 The Elves and the Shoemaker I didn’t actually read. Daddy did at bedtime on Friday. He said that the kids enjoyed it and that he made it more fun while reading it. He asked them questions to keep them engaged, and acted out parts. He can be silly like that.



I also checked out these books to teach about elephants, emperor penguins, Mt Everest, and Ecuador.


I selected these myself, and I pretty much sucked. I knew from the looks of it that the Ecuador book was inappropriate, and I thought that I would be able to extract information to “teach” with. No, don’t do that.


I do recommend using Ella’s bath and National Geographic’s Great Migrations Elephants books. As well as the book on Mountains Surviving Mt Everest. While some of the information in these books was a little over my 3 1/2 year old’s head most of it was not. Oh and Ella’s Bath was fun for the whole family, it’s a pop up book.


To go with learning about elephants, we did an elephant craft also.



Naturally I continued to include writing, and working on the sound the letter makes. I really think that now we are ready to start sounding out words with the letters we have already learned. I am going to try that next week, I will let you know how that goes.



Each week while we work on learning to write a new letter, I refresh the old letters with her. Her favorite letter to write is still A, so she has to be prompted to write others. I am also noticing that she is understanding the mechanics of how letters are formed much more quickly than she was 5 weeks ago. I think that I might try to teach her to write more letters at a time. I’d like her to be able to write her own name. There is no rule that says I can’t do more at time so I will, I just don’t want to do so much that she doesn’t retain it.


Side note, I am reading for daddy to be done with his training an home on a regular routine. It has effected all areas of our daily life. I am not complaining, this is a change for the better, but it also explains why they past few letters have taken two weeks each.


Any how moving on and looking forward to F is for fish!


What are you working on this week? What activities did you do for the letter E?

Handmade Valentines

And a tradition continues. Handmade Valentines for daddy. (I linked the last two years for those interested) We even made enough Valentines to send some snail mail love!


This may have been the easiest Valentine we have made daddy yet. I’m gonna give all the credit for making this easier to the table. Hah, but no, seriously. It makes a world of difference.

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Also noteworthy, I let K1 use scissors. That’s a big deal for me. I have been telling myself that I have not let her use the scissors that I bought specifically for her (note that they are purple) because of K2 always being too close. I decided that maybe that was a lie, and maybe I just, I dunno, envision her cutting her hair. Not that I am peticularly attached to her hair, it’s just, well, that’s what little girls do. You know, once they are comfortable with scissors. Cut all the things! “Mommy look at my new hair cut!”


The cards say “Love you to pieces, daddy!” Then you fill in the heart with “pieces.”



The hardest part of this whole craft was cutting all those squares, and waiting for glue to dry.



Yes both children got to use glue.



Provided to them on fancy Hot Wheels plates, left over from K2’s birthday party.



This went more smoothly than I actually expected. K2 did better than I imagined.



Having three containers of squares really helped out. No one was fighting over which one they wanted.



I thought that the tissue paper squares would be cute, but it turns out that the kids preferred the scrapbook paper squares.



Also I went overboard cutting squares and will have enough for next years Valentines too.



Stickers complete every Valentine in this house.



Thanks Grandma for the new stickers!



This guy. You should have seen the outtakes.


Do you hand make your Valentines, or are they store bought?


Easy Elephant Craft



This is one of the fastest and easiest crafts of all time. That is if you exclude the drying time.


Easy Elephant Hand-print Craft

Supplies needed

  • Paper for each participating child
  • Paint
  • Markers (crayons, or colored pencils would work too)
  • Love and patience


Ultra easy steps


Place a small amount of paint on a surface. I like to use paper plates, but have been known to use the lid to tupperware also. Just be sure it is larger than the hand you will be imprinting.


Place hand on paper, and do not wiggle it around. Be sure to guide your smaller little’s, because for some reason sliding your hand around on the paper is just more fun.


If you want a herd, do more hand prints.


Kids in the two and under age range need you to press their hand down for them. Other wise there will be paint everywhere, and you will have no distinguishable hand print to work with (and a bigger mess to clean up).

Elephant craft

Now wait while your hand prints dry. This step was the single hardest part for both of my children. Waiting. All parents know that the under 5 age set have yet to learn patience.


I chose for our hand prints to be done lightly so that they would dry faster. If your children are easily distracted, or more patient than mine then I would go a bit thicker and darker with the hand print.

K1 drawing ears

Once your hand prints are dry it is time to give your elephants a face. We used markers to draw in eyes, ears, tails, and some wrinkles on their legs and trunk.



Your children might want to draw their elephant throwing water or herself. Or they could even add a scene behind their elephants. Tree’s or water, who knows.


I wanted to use googly eyes for our herd, but couldn’t locate them. That might be fun too.



Ta da! You have completed your elephant! This is what our herd looked like.


E is for elephant!


I go this idea from a photo posted on an instagram account I follow. It was so easy I had to share!


Letter of the Week D

Back on track and better than before. Well, minus the part where we did letter D for two weeks instead of one. After our vacation waiting for requested books to arrive at the library took longer than anticipated. (FYI Amazon affiliate links included in this post for books and dvd listed)

As I told you I would in the beginning, we are still using letter of the week as a loose guide. Here is their list for letter D.


For read aloud books we only followed three from her list, but that was all that we really needed (you will see why in a minute).


Danny and the Dinosaur – This book was by far my kids favorite. I mean, they already like dinosaurs, so this was perfect. We read this book several times, and I can see us owning this book in the future. It’s a story about a boy who loves dinosaurs and wishes to play with one, like a pet, and then gets to. It is a cute story.

Duncan the Dancing Duck – Was great for K1 as she still loves everything related to anything dance.
One Duck Stuck: A Mucky Ducky Counting Book – or as my kids called it “The duck mud book.” This book was fun to read, and it was easy to involve the kids in the story. It includes counting, up to the number 10. I had fun asking them what animal or insect they thought would arrive next to help the duck. I also let them tell me what animal or insect was on the page before reading it to them.


Since I am getting better at this, I was included geography and science this week.


For science we learned about doves, dolphins, and dandelions. I wanted to plant dandelion bulbs as an activity for the week, but couldn’t find any. (So when you do this, plan ahead, unlike me.)


These are books not from the list. The books pictured I selected myself, based on availability and what I thought my kids would like.


Last Saturday we went to a tree farm, where they have tropical birds on site. (If you are in San Diego county check out Bonita Creek Nursery.) While we were there we got to see two different types of doves, up close and personal. One pair were even sitting on eggs. This worked out great because the National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America I just got so that I could talk about them verbally. It did include a picture of each bird, but it was rather small, as the books purpose is to provide facts.


National Geographic Readers: Dolphins – As I expected from National Geographic, this book included great photos, and interesting facts. K1 is really grasping everything that I throw at her, so she remembered many details from this book after we read it. Did you know Orca’s are dolphins? I didn’t. Apparently many whales are dolphins.


Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) – This book was full of usefull facts presented with colorful illustrations that are typical of any Cat in the Hat book. What was perfect is that I also checked out Ecology: Life In The Deserts, a DVD about the desert. It contained all the same information the Cat in the Hat book delivered in a different medium. They worked well together, and K1 asked to watch the movie about the deserts more than once, which was a surprise. Just thought I would add that the DVD is short, only about 20-30 minutes.


I was proud of her for being about to tell me facts about the desert without being reminded. PS. Antarctica is the largest desert. I didn’t actually know it was a desert. Good thing I am learning along with her!


We also practiced writing the letter D as well. I find it odd that the curriculum on their site doesn’t include writing at all, but maybe it is obvious.


I have already requested the books for letters E and F. Bring on next week, we are ready!


Have you used letter of the week to teach your children? Are any of these books your kids favorite?





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