February 28, 2013

Teaching Toddlers Shapes, Letters and Numbers

My favorite piece of parenting is watching my daughter learn.  It gives me such joy to see her understand something for the first time!  I’ve always heard that toddlers learn so fast, but I’ve never really witnessed it until Sweet Pea came along… and it is truly amazing!

Several months ago, Sweet Pea started learning her shapes.  We started simple with a circle, square, triangle, star and heart.  When she was in the mood, I’d grab her flash cards and we would go through a few of them.  But I wanted to challenge her a bit more… and give her an opportunity to follow simple directions.

Using Microsoft Word, I created these simple worksheets for her.  The concept is simple, create a table with 6 columns and 5 rows – increase your font to about 72 and type in whatever you are trying to learn or reinforce.  For the basic shapes, you will use the Insert and Symbol function and search for the square, etc.  I also created worksheets to reinforce her alphabet and number knowledge.

For starters, let me disclose that my daughter loves this kind-of thing.  Guess she has her mama’s nerdy streak – LOL!  Your child might hate it and that is okay.  At the end of the day, whatever method works for you and your kid – go for it!

Now, this example is of us reinforcing her knowledge of numbers. I gave Sweet Pea the worksheet and asked her to color all the number 1's pink.  She had to find her pink crayon and then she had to find all of her number 1's.  After she colored the last number, she had to count how many she found. In all of 5 minutes, we practiced our numbers, colors, following direction and counting.

I then told her to COLOR CRAZY… and color crazy she did!

For shapes, we had to upgrade Sweet Pea’s from the basic to the advanced (diamonds, trapezoids, pentagons, hexagons….  To create these, you will need to use Word's Insert and Shape feature and then "draw" them in your squares. Only draw each shape once... much easier to just copy and paste it into other squares!!

Learning + Fun = WIN

February 06, 2013

Valentine Day S'mores

A few weeks ago, I had a strange urge to make heart-shaped s'mores... so I hit the web, researching home-made graham crackers. My goal was to find a recipe that used the ingredients that I already had at home. I found this recipe from Annie's Eats

My crackers were actually crack-a-lackin {yes, yes I did just say that}... they were more like a cracker-cookie. This is mainly because I rolled my dough out a little too thick. However, they tasted truly fantastic and I liked the softer cracker-cookie - it made the s'more just slightly less messy.

Cut my heart out.

Too thick.
After you have followed the recipe for home-made graham crackers, then you need to assemble and bake your s'more. While baking a s'more indoors isn't nearly as fun as a campfire, it does get the job done.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: Lay a graham cracker face down and place your marshmallows on top. Indoor s'more making might be the only reason for those strange flat marshmallows!!

Step 3: Bake for 3-5 minutes - until your marshmallow gets a little puffy and brown.

Step 4: Place your chocolate on the marshmallow and top with another graham cracker.


Step 5: Squish it together and let the warm marshmallow melt the chocolate - MY marshmallow wasn't quite done {because I got impatient}, so I popped it in the microwave for 5 seconds.  That did the trick!

S'more Amore!!!!

These graham cracker-cookies are also great dipped in chocolate and decorated! The hubs LOVED these with a tall glass of milk. 

Happy Valentine's Day!