Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - It Only Took Me 17 Years

17 years ago, I started training for my first marathon.  I was 21 then.  To make a very long story short, despite being just 3 training weeks away from the race, I was unable to participate in it.  Ever since then, finishing a marathon has always been in the back of my mind, but far behind the more important callings of life, those that require my time and attention, leaving little time to train and even less energy/ability to do so.

However, thanks to a very supportive husband, and 5 incredibly helpful children, the marathon dream has been resurrected!  I will have the opportunity to run in my first marathon on Sunday!  This week's 7 quick takes are all related to preparing for the race.....
/ 1. /
No more lonely roads....Training out in the middle of nowhere hasn't been easy.  The long, dusty roads (especially during the cold, winter months) offer little visual distraction and even less inspiration, as there are very few trees, no water, and the monochromatic grey-brown landscape can quickly become monotonous.  I'm really looking forward to seeing *people!!* instead of cattle and *architecture* instead of tumbleweeds!
/ 2. /
I get to make the trip with this guy:
Whenever we have an opportunity to get away (which isn't often), we have a blast together.  What a treasure it is to be married to your best friend! Running isn't exactly Steve's cup of tea, but after all of the tractor shows and farm expos I've been to, I think he can handle this one!
/ 3. /
My niece Elisabeth sent me this fantastic piece of artwork:
Her dad, who is an artist, sketched the running shoe and she colored it for me.  Isn't it great??  I'm taking it with me...

/ 4. /
Last night I added a few "extras" to my running gear, symbolic of those that I will be holding close over the miles of the race.
Runners love to show their spirit and support for the causes they they are running for through their apparel.  I decided to add a little symbolism to my own gear:  pink compression sleeves show support for my mother-in-law and my friend, Anna, who are fighting the war against breast cancer. The American flags on my shirt sleeves are for our men and women in uniform who have served, and continue to serve, our country so bravely (including my dad who is a Vietnam vet and a recipient of the Purple Heart).  Blue and yellow ribbons in honor of the Boston tragedy will be pinned to my bib, and the flowers on my hydration pack are for my best girl, Green Jeans, who, for many, many reasons,  I will carry with me along the course.

/ 5. /
Putting together a 4 hour playlist for the race has been way too much fun. We've been jammin' out every day to everything from 80's punk to old school country.  Typically, I like to run without music, because in a house filled with boys, silence is golden.  But, I'm gonna need a few beats to help keep me going on Sunday!  The boys have made their suggestions, one insisting on classic rock and another even offered classical suggestions (nothin' like a little Bach to pound the pavement!).  This is one of our new family favorites:
Philip Phillips, "Gone, Gone, Gone"
/ 6. /
A friend of mind from my younger years is an 8-time marathon runner and has been so kind as to offer me a tremendous amount of help and coaching over the past few weeks.  Next to to taking ice-baths after long runs (yep, those are fun!), the best tip she has given me yet is one to help my mental focus on long runs.  She suggested that I pray for my children at the mile of their age, and for my husband at the mile of our anniversary year.  I can't tell you how quickly this made the 20 mile training run pass.  And, it gave me a sense that they were all right there with me, which was truly encouraging!  

/ 7. /
Food.  Food.  Food.  I hope this doesn't sound gluttonous, but I can't wait to eat (and drink beer)
after the race.  My husband had better guard his plate - and his brew!! 

See you on Monday!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Classical Composers Part II - Listener Appreciation (Includes Free Printables!)

Welcome to Part II of this series on how to make classical music a part of your classroom! While Part I showcased a way to create a budget friendly visual aid of composers for your room, Part II is focused on the methods that I use to introduce classical composers and their works to my own children.  I welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comment section below!!

Many art and music programs in schools across the country are being cut due to budget constraints.  This is a tragedy and fills me with great sadness, because vocal and instrumental music were undoubtedly the highlight of my school years, and I know first-hand the fruits that the arts can bear in children's lives.

While I am thankful that the boys are able to take violin and piano lessons, and our oldest participates in orchestra, I believe that their appreciation for music can expand within the classroom as well.  Lord knows we spend plenty of time listening to everything from classic rock to country during moments of leisure - my kids love to play d.j. in their free time!  It's only fair that we also expose them to other genres of music, particularly those of the great classical composers.

The boys often listen to a variety of classical composers during the school day as they work (read about the benefits here), but I also have a more formal and specific method of "training" my little students' ears to recognize and appreciate specific artist's compositions. (Please keep in mind that this is a simple, introductory format, not intended to thoroughly cover all composers or periods of music.  It is only meant to be a platform from which the students may "grow" into greater music appreciation.) The method is simple, yet rewarding:

Select a list of your favorite composers (our list below is just one example), from any or all of the classical music periods. Note: Classical is a period itself, but the term also used in a general sense to describe the genres of music listed below. 

Introduce the artist by reading a brief biography of him.  We typically learn about one per composer per week. If you can, offer the children a visual aid.  Many can be found online, in books or you can view ours here.

Choose one or two pieces that the child might associate with the composer, and listen to them in their entirety or simply choose shorter excerpts that are most popular.  You may wish to create a playlist of the songs so that they are easily accessible, or check your local library for audio resources. You Tube also offers recordings and/or performances of many composers' works.  
Older students may be challenged to take notes on the artist and his compositions (view our printable worksheet here).  While the music is playing, the students may write descriptives of the piece which might include its tempo, whether it's a fugue or minuet etc., prominent instruments, the mood of the music etc.  Those notes can then be compiled and bound into a notebook with a cover page to be saved and kept in the student's records.
Creating a timeline is optional, but fun.  Kids can make a large one to hang up in the classroom, or a small one to keep with their notes.  Students may wish to cut out pictures of the composers that they are studying and add them to the timeline for visual interest. Label the timeline with the following musical period dates (you may also include 21st century if you are including modern composers in your study):
Baroque (1600 - 1750)
Classical (1735 - 1825)
Romantic (1815 - 1835)
20th Century (1850-1950)

With the introduction of each new composer and their chosen works, the children will be more likely to gain familiarity with the music the more often they hear it.  Play the songs each day, and ask the children if they can name the piece, the composer and the period in which it was written.

For additional study you might want to consider:
Learning about the various instruments in the orchestra, studying the evolution of certain instruments throughout the various periods of music (i.e. harpsichord to piano), and discussing how history and culture influence music styles.

Supporting Resources:
Internet: Musically SpeakingClassical NetClassics for Kids
Books:  10 Fantastic Recommendations (Many of which we own and enjoy.)
Audio:  Classical Kids Series (perfect for young students) and Music Masters Series (May be purchased individually.)
Video: The Composers' Specials Though I'm not a fan of videos, this one comes highly recommended by elementary music educators.)

(all composers are linked to Classics for Kids)
Antonio Vivaldi:
* Excerpts from the Four Seasons (Concertos #1-4)

Johann Sebastian Bach:
* Brandenburg Concerto
* Mass in B Minor

George Frederick Handel:
* Messiah
* Water Music

Joseph Haydn:
*  Emperor's Hymn
*  "Surprise" from the London Symphony

Ludwig van Beethoven: (since he is the children's favorite composer, we are listening to more of his compositions!)
* 5th Symphony
* 9th Symphony
* Moonlight Sonata
* Fur Elise

Frederick Chopin:
*  Fantasie Impromptu
*  Polonaise in A Major

Johannes Brahms:
*  Hungarian Dance #5
*  Lullaby

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
*  Swan Lake
*  1812 Overture
*  Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Classical Composers & Willie Nelson Part I

"Hey Ben, this looks really good, but mom forgot to put up a picture of Willie Nelson.  
I mean, he's important too."
Ever since I was little, I have loved music.  Years of participating in vocal and instrumental music classes from middle school through college has fueled a life-long joy for all types of music (except or saggy pants rap - 'sup wit dat?? What??? Honestly....), particularly classical, bluegrass and jazz.  

Last week I was in one of those let's just change things around in here a little bit moods (which typically happens about every other week, or whenever a Pottery Barn catalog arrives in the mail).  We spend a lot of time in the classroom, and it seems to me that "freshening things up" helps keep our minds and hearts fresh with motivation to the end of the school year.  I always start with rearranging because it is a cheap way to make rooms in the house feel new. However, even after I had muscled things around a bit, the room still needed something different.  And, by different I mean cheap yet snazzy.
Since we typically spend the last month of school diving deeper into the arts in some fashion, I thought that creating a picture wall by the piano of a few famous classical composers might add a little visual interest to our classical music ear training lessons (more about that coming your way in part 2).
Creating the wall was very easy and the best part was that 
it only cost around $10.00!!  
Here it is, step-by-step: 
1. Google images of your list of favorite composers and copy the images onto a word processing document.
2.  Add the composer's name to the image along with his date of birth/death.  
3.  After printing the image onto white card stock, slip the pictures into 8 1/2" x 11" document frames (I found mine at Wal-Mart for $1.98!)  
4.  Then, after taking a few careful measurements, hang the pictures in pairs on the wall by order of the composer's birth date.  
Easy peasy!  I like the simple, clean look of the arrangement, and it makes a nice focal point next to the piano. This project is so affordable, you could study a variety of genres of music and create a wall for each genre.  I would like to have a collection of famous American composers, jazz artists and, by popular request, country greats, which of course will include Willie Nelson. {Smile.}
If children grow up listening classical music, they will truly develop a great appreciation for it, and as they get older, and it will seem less "boring" and more inspiring to them. Our littlest one, Charlie, loves to sit and color while listening to my playlist of favorite classical pieces.  Bach is is favorite (he lets us know this when he sings along to the music!)
Part II of this post will include my simple method for ear training, a list of pieces that every child will benefit from knowing/recognizing, a printable activity page for older students to fill in with notes on various composers, and ideas for encouraging and fostering an appreciation for classical music in your students.  Stay tuned!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If You Puke on Me I'll Still Love You & Theme Thursday

This post is coming to you in two parts.
Part I : Barf Bug Epiphany
Part II:  Theme Thursday "Boys" - Linking up with Clan Donaldson
Part I: Barf Bug Epiphany
With the ushering in of Spring, I was hoping that the flu bug might have skeedaddled for a few months, but since there was snow on the ground this morning, it looks like it might be hanging around for a while.  I should have known.  We're usually pretty lucky when it comes to dodging sickness, but unfortunately last week we got hit, and the tummy bug has cycled through everyone in the family except for me (knock on wood).

Last week, Charlie, woke up holding his tummy expressing in the most pitiful toddler  cry, "Owee, Mommy."  After cleaning up remnants of breakfast and setting the other boys up with their school work, all of my attention was focused on wee Charlie.  Just as I was heading down the hall, I could hear him cry out to me again, so I came running, hoping to scoop him up off of the carpet before any damage could be done.  As I bent down to pick him up - you got it - he puked all over...all over me.  

Reactions from the brothers went from, "Oh, no Charlie, are you okay?" to "That's disgusting!" Benedict, our oldest, in the most tactful way gave me the damage report:  
"Mom, it's in your hair, and on your sleeve." Pause 
"It's running down your pant leg now."  Pause
"I think it's going to get on your shoe, Mom."  Pause
Thank you for that play-by-play, son.  

After I got Charlie clean and settled, the boys gathered around to see if I was okay (so sweet).  When I told them it wasn't a big deal, that each one of them has puked on me at one time or another, they absolutely couldn't believe it.  The pre-teen was horrified (Whaaat?? I've barfed on my mother??), the 5 year old thought it was hilarious (awesome!!).  

Given the variety of reactions, I thought an explanation might be necessary.  I explained to them that a mother loves her children so deeply that when they are sick or suffering, she will do anything for them.  She longs to take away their hurts and can no longer think of herself (despite being puked on), but only the love for and care of her precious child.  

I am not kidding when I say that at that very moment, my boys thought I was the queen of the universe.  The looks of love and admiration in their eyes far surpassed the ones I see when buy them donuts, or cancel school.  It was as if their little hearts knew how much I really do love them. All because of a little puke. I  know, I'm as surprised as you are.

Warm Fuzzies?? Grossed Out?? New Topic??...

Part II: Theme Thursday with Clan Donaldson

Linking up with Clan Donaldson's "Theme Thursday" this week kind of relates to part 1, but not really.  The link up has nothing to do with puke (hallelujah), but everything to do with boys (love), and when I heard that "boys" was the theme for this week's photo challenge, I was giddy with delight!!

I am crazy about my boys!! They are amazing!! Typically, when I go anywhere with all of them (which is everywhere all of the time), people who approach me for a little "chat" are usually seeking answers to questions such as do you know how babies are made, how do you feel about overpopulation, are you done having kids or what?? And  (my favorite) oh, so you don't work??....
*refrain from eye roll*
*acid reflux engaged*

Most of the time, I can find a calm spot in my soul from which to engage in a charitable conversation, going on and on about the beauty of family life and the privileges of motherhood and other times, I find that I've left the virtue button on isle 9 with the tantrums. People, please, don't make me take you to school! (If anyone happens to find An Idiot's Guide to Tactful Conversation or How to Talk to the Mama of a Big Family for Dummies, in pocket version, please message me. Pronto.)

So, on to the pics....
Over the years I have taken thous-zands of pics of my mini-men.  How to choose???????????????

I wanted to pick out something that captured the best of brotherhood, and remembered a time
last summer when all of the boys were running around barefoot outside. Delighting in their innocence,  I started thinking about how I have tickled and kissed all 50 of their toes, and all 10 of their feet, and knew I needed to capture my memory in a pic.  I threw down a quilt, squished them together and snapped the camera as quickly as possible hoping to catch something remotely good....
{Original image, cropped} 
Of course, none of the shots turned out posed and picture perfect.
But, all of the teasing and wiggling gave the photos life.
 Here is the same photo softened, exposure heightened with a touch of sepia.
 Original footsie photo with color saturation increased.
Footsie photo softened with an antique overlay.
I think there's room for more!!  Don't you??
{No, unfortunately, that's not an announcement.}


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faith in Humanity: 5 Favorites (Moxie Wife Link Up)

All this week my thoughts have been drifting back and forth between the daily duties of motherhood and the devastation that took place in Boston on Monday.  News of the event sent a flood of emotions deep into my core.  The gamut of emotions from inexpressible sorrow to fiery anger has left me on my knees at the foot of the cross, where the One who Himself endured and understands the horror of pain that erupts from the viciousness of evil can console me.  I beg Him to conquer this evil, to bring light to the darkness, knowing all the while that it has to be done through us, through the warriors, through the loving ones, through the helpers, and we will need an unfathomable amount of grace and strength to be the good, the change we all wish to see in the world.

No marathon is ever really about running - no race in life ever is.  Running is about people and the everlasting beauty and strength of the human spirit.  How profound was the demonstration of that spirit after the bombing as bystanders and runners alike, united in their desire to help others, immediately sought out the needy, the weak, the injured, the devastated offering everything they had, donating blood, tears and compassion to friends and strangers.

Witnessing the pure sacrificial love of humanity during the events on Monday strengthens my belief that there is good in the world, and that we must hold each other up in that good.  
Here are my 5 Favorites (thank you, Halle, from Moxie Wife) this week - all of them reflections of the beautiful fruits, the well-springs of hope that are rising, and will continue to rise from the ashes of Boston....
/ 1. /
This print was posted on the blog Another Mother Runner {Steph Lawson's Etsy Store}.  I am more inspired now than ever to run the Oklahoma City Marathon on Sunday, April 28th.
/ 2. /
The helpers, the beautiful, beautiful helpers.  Be one for someone today.
/ 3. /
I sobbed when I saw Martin's photo on Facebook, longing to reach out and hold my own 8 year old son, George, who also made his First Holy Communion on Sunday.  This was the message attached to the photo:
Picture of Martin who recently celebrated his First Communion. May he rest in peace in the arms of our Heavenly Father. Join us in praying for the repose of the soul of 8 year old Martin Richard. Keep his family in your prayers.
/ 4. /
Thank you, Pope Francis.  You are here, now, for a reason. We need you.  Lead us.
/ 5. /

Monday, April 15, 2013

Memories for George of Your First Holy Communion

From the Eucharist comes the strength to live the Christian 
life and the zeal to share that life with others.
~Blessed Pope John Paul II
Dear George,

Today was an extraordinary day.  A day that I have thought about countless times and looked forward to since the day you were born.  The very moment I held you into my arms, gazed into your eyes and felt your breath on my cheek, I embraced not just your soft, fragile body, but your pure and glorious soul as well.  In that moment, I was keenly aware that you had just come from God, and that you were beginning your journey back to Him.  A journey on which, for a precious amount of time, I would get to be your guide.  What an unfathomable privelege for your father and me!!

The journey towards the Father, thus far, has been rich and fruitful, filled with wonderful experiences of God in truth, goodness and beauty.  But, today was particularly monumental, because to receive your first Holy Communion is to receive not only a gift of Love, but a gift of Life!  It is true, as St. Ireneaeus has said, "The glory of God is man fully alive."  Today, in the reception of our Lord, your soul is more fully alive than ever!!  

As you continue to grow into becoming the young man that God intends for you to be, I can only pray that your heart will be stretched with the desire to know Him, to love Him and to serve him with the graces that you receive each time you are able to partake in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  The mysteries of the Eucharist are often times very difficult to fathom, but for what we cannot understand as children, or as adults, we can entrust to the Lord in faith, and recieve with humility.

I am not sure what you will remember about this blessed day on our journey together, but if I could help you to treasure just one thing about this milestone in your spiritual life it is this: Jesus longs to be close to you, to share in a profound and life-giving love with you.  He reaches out to you, calling to your heart in many ways, but the greatest way is through Holy Communion.  I pray that you will have the courage and the wisdom to meet him with the joyful expectation to be loved by Him and to love Him more deeply each day in return every time you  are blessed to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist.

All My Love,


P.S.  Here are a few highlights to help you remember your special day!! 
Benedict and Andrew helped you get dressed and shared their words of wisdom with you, including, "Be sure to give thanks after you receive communion" and "Remember, sip, don't gulp."  What would you do without big brothers??
When you and Dillon are grown up, I hope that you will remember this day, and this photo, and spur each other on to the higher callings of the Christian life! You two may look like future politicians, but beneath those snazzy striped ties are big hearts, ready to be warriors for truth!
Remember our friend, Joel?? He took this photo of our family, and when we look at it, we can remember to pray for him as he enters the seminary this fall.  Glory to God!!
All I can say is that this pic is real, honest, funny and true.  Jesus is all of those things.  Remember that.  No one understands the "realness" of life better than our Lord.  You can trust Him with everything.
Do you see Henry in the background?? In two years he will be preparing for his first communion, and will look to you and your older brothers to be an example to him of virtue and holiness.  Your mission begins now!!
Grandma and Grandpa Splichal, Granny and Grandpa Husband and Great Granny Wehkamp came for your celebratory lunch after mass.
  We had a big feast, and you got to sit at the head of the table! The celebration continued with cake, ice cream, stories and memories of grandparents' first communions, then the opening of gifts.
You did not want me to order a special cake from Dillons for you.  You wanted me to make one, and although I was nervous about taking on the task, I knew that it would make you very happy if I said yes.  You chose this design, and helped me with some of the decorating, always ready to "advise." We made a great team! {*Cake instructions below*}
Opening the gifts was a great joy for you.  
I really admired the way that you took your time, slowly reading every card, studying each gift and showing loving appreciation to everyone who brought you a treasure.
You didn't know that Sara and Johannes and your cousins had sent you a gift all the way from Switzerland!  It was the first thing you packed in your backpack for the trip to Denver.  We are going to have many great talks about the stories that you read!
Your Godfather, Mr. Heap, sent you a copy of Jesus of Nazareth with a bookmark from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.  He also included a very special letter, one which you will read again and again with your own father, inspiring hours of "man talk."
Your father and I couldn't wait to give you your gift.  We had so much fun picking it out, and knew that you would love it very much.
The story of St. George is one of your favorites.  His example of courage and sacrifice is a model for all boys and all men, an example that you take very seriously.  I believe that your name is a gift from the Lord, and that with the prayers of your Grandpa George and the example of St. George, you too will be able to conquer all of the big dragons in life.
Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, St. George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit.  Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ.  I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.  ~ Amen

* For the cake, I simply used two box cake mixes, subbing melted butter for the oil, milk for the water and adding one extra egg.  Those simple changes make the cake more moist and also add density which makes the cake easier to handle and frost.  Divide the mix between one large loaf pan (for the center of the chalice) one 9" round cake pan (divided to make the top and bottom of chalice) and one small round cake pan (for the Eucharist). 

I frosted the cake using this recipe, but used half butter, half shortening.  For tinting the frosting, the gel tints are easier to blend and control than the liquid food coloring, just choose your favorite colors and use a very little bit at a time when mixing. The chalice frosting was piped on, and white fondant (purchase at Wal-Mart or any major craft store) was used to cover the eucharist.  A little hot glue secured the leaves and wheat to the silver cake board  (also purchased at Wal-Mart).  It really was a surprisingly easy cake to make - you can do it!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flashback Friday ~ Hands On Learning With Beans, Rice and Construction Trucks

I woke up early this morning with the goal of writing a thoughtful blog while the house was still in a state of slumber. Two minutes after parking it at the computer, I hear footsteps.  No, no, no, go back to bed, pleeeeease!  Henry peeks his head around the corner, "Can I sit on your lap Mom?  Will you make me waffles, Mom?  Can I tell you a story, Mom?....." {Sigh.} He snuggles up, morning breath, rooster tail hair, fuzzy jammies.  I wrap my arms around him and say, "Sure."

Since I am going to go and make waffles, and listen to a great story now, I've come up with an alternative blogging plan for you...

In place of something new and fresh and thoughtful, I'm recycling.  Vintage blog today, from the homeschool files, inspired by Henry (of course).  But, you don't have to be a homeschooler to enjoy it, you just have to be a mom, dad or grandparent who likes to spend time with their kids/grandkids.
Have a great weekend, everyone!!
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

If you are a fellow homeschooler with a varitety of ages/grades in your home, you know that it can be a challenge at times to keep everyone either focused on their subjects or occupied (little ones) with something both creative and entertaining.  

Teaching a household of boys has motivated me to learn more about the Montesorri Methods of educating, because boys in particular seem to thrive in a hands-on learning enviornment.  There are so many great ideas for teaching that can be found online, through various blogs and especially on Pinterest. One idea I found suggested the use of beans and rice as a type of indoor substitution for a sandpile. I thought this was a great suggestion, and that it could easily be incorporated into our classroom.
So, last winter, when the weather was too cold to be outdoors, I took a cue from Henry and his love for construction trucks, and came up with a simple lesson to teach: 
the difference between left and right and the recognition of the two
* the relationship between up, down, top, bottom as an introduction to opposites
* number identification and counting

Now that the temperatures are heating up outdoors, we've brought out the activity again for those afternoons when the heat is unbearable.  Another bonus to this activity is that Henry can set it up and put it away on his own. Yay! 

Here is an example of the concepts I used to teach (the lessons were VERY short, because four-year old boys just want to play!)
* I used an old baking tray (you can see it is well-seasoned!) to help contain the beans and rice, but you could use a dry erase board, or any other platform of choice. A roll of butcher paper taped to the floor would also work well.
*I wrote on the tray with a dry erase marker, but it still took a little effort to get the marks scrubbed off, so be aware of that before you get started.
*Large bag of beans, rice or other small dry food works well, and can be reused. We swept up the beans when we were finished and stored them in a plastic bag.
*We used Henry's set of mini-construction trucks, purchased at Tractor Supply.

(Hint: Be sure to talk a little bit about the activity BEFORE you dump the beans onto the tray, otherwise you might lose your teaching moment!)
1.  Have your child place their left hand on the "L", right hand on the "R."  Then, aks them to place a vehicle on the "L" and drive it over to the "R."  You can repeat this several times, moving vehicles back and forth until they begin the recognize the difference between left and right.

2.  Now, it's time to break out the beans!  Dump a pile on the Left side of the tree and ask your child to move all of the beans from the Left side of the tray to the Right side.  Henry selected the bulldozer for this task.
3.  We used the same method for the up/top, down/bottom tray. Point to the top, point to the bottom, park the construction equipment at the top, then at the bottom etc.  Now, use the beans, moving them to the distinct areas of the tray.
4.  The methods are basically the same for the numbered quadrants, except I had Henry place one load of beans from the dump truck on the 1, two piles on the 2, etc.  Of course, you can teach any numbers that you like. This was his favorite lesson of the three.
For further enrichment, you could pair the activity with a related picture book. Here are a few that we like:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Five Favorites ~ Linking Up With Moxie Wife

Hallie over at Moxie Wife writes one lovely, sassy, funny, honest blog, which has earned a cherished spot on my weekly read.  Every Wednesday, she hosts a "Five Favorites" link up, and today, I thought I would join the club and share my five faves with ya'll.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.  Before you faint from sticker shock, let me just say that when we moved to the dry, windy, dusty farm my skin sort of freaked out.  And, I was pregnant, so freaky skin made me a tad bit emotional.  I bought some of this stuff and it totally turned the beat around! Yes, it's pricey, but one container (I use it 2-3 times per week) lasts for an entire year!  I purchase it online through and always use a coupon code.

The Civil Wars singing Michael Jackson's hit, "Billie Jean."  When my husband plays this on a Saturday afternoon, it makes me forget about scrubbing dust bunnies and boogers off the walls.  I'm just like, "So, ya wanna do some Margaritas and chill, baby?" Thankfully, he always says yes. 
Running Humor.  My sweet friend, Susan, sent this to me yesterday.  Boy, does she know my heart!
Nuun electrolyte drink tablets.  I've never been a big fan of Gatorade, which is chocked full of unecessary sugar, toxic preservatives and food colorings (mmmmm!), but I need an electrolye replacer while marathon training, and have become a huge fan of Nuun.  It tastes awesome, it's conveniently portable and it's natural. If your kids play sports and think Gatorade is the holy grail of refreshments, you might want to consider Nuun as an alternative.
Charlie's photo session with my friend Brooke.  I know it's a splurge, but being the mother of 5 boys, I think I have a right to demand at least one picture of my baby that doesn't have another brother's limb in it.  Having someone else snap the camera is really the only way to accomplish that.  Oh, those lovin' eyes!!....