Zoo Bingo

Last weekend we met up with my parents at the Phoenix Zoo.  We all had a blast!  Since the trip, the girls and I have played our zoo bingo game.  When the girls were younger, I made a simple bingo board of some Zoo Bingoof the animals at our zoo.  Since then I expanded the board to include 16 squares.

Click here for Zoo Bingo Boards

To play, I just print out an extra board that I cut into pieces and then draw the squares out of a bag so we know which ones to mark.  I also used a scrapbooking punch to make a bunch of bingo dots.

Of course, it’s great to make your own game special to your local zoo.  I used pictures from our zoo’s website as well as their Facebook page.

Rocks Rock

We’ve been doing a rock unit since Tucson has been hosting it’s annual Gem and Mineral show. The girls have also been super into rocks since their niece, who they love and look up to, is a rock hound. We sorted rocks, took fieldtrips to explore, played rock games, did rock crafts, and did rock science experiments.
Enjoying the rock exhibit at one of our local museums (Flandrau Planetarium actually)

Enjoying the rock exhibit at one of our local museums (Flandrau Planetarium actually)

Rock Sorting

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We spent a lot of time looking at rocks, describing them, feeling the different textures, sorting them.  Sometimes the girls grouped them by size or color.

Looking for rocks?  You can just use some colorful ones from your own yard.  You can also purchase rock kits or starter collections.  We had picked up a few special ones from rock shops in the past and then also enjoyed the ones from when we went gem sluicing.

Monster Rocks

Originally the plan was to make pet P1020256rocks but the girls had other plans.  First we painted the rocks then decorated them with all kinds of goodies–googly eyes, feathers, sequins, glitter glue, gems, pipe cleaners.  (We have a plastic bin where we keep all those fun things so that when doing a project like this we can just pull it and go to town).

This project was a big hit.  The girls loved their rocks so much they showed them off to their friends who came to play who insisted on making their own rocks.  So we started another round of monster rock making!

I spy

P1000784This is a great game to play with real rock collections to learn how colorful and diverse rocks can be.  We visited a few at some of our local museums to look at their collections.

 

 

Fieldtrips

Get ouP1020133tside and explore some rocks!  Check your local area to see where you can do some good exploring.  Living in the desert it seems that we have rocks everywhere.  We had a blast exploring a local cave (Colossal Cave for my Arizona friends).  Now for a moment of mommy bragging–the cave tour had lots of stairs, was dark, and required good listening for a long time.  I was worried since I was alone with the girls but they were awesome!

Gem Sluicing

P1020122Very similar to panning for gold, this is so much fun!  We were able to do this on our cave adventure.  But really you could do this at home–just use a screen or sifter and a running hose, stream, bin of water.  There are sluice bags you can purchase with gems, sand, and other rocks or you can make your own by hiding gems or your special rocks into sand and dirt.

Geodes

What’s a rock unit without cracking P1020251open geodes?  Check your local rock shop to find some.  Gift shops for science related attractions also tend to have them or you can order some online if need be.  My niece took me to my first real rock shop and I have to say it was quite an experience.  I had no idea how interesting they could be.

 

Rock Mosaics

P1020255We made these using air-dry clay (from Crayola purchased at Michaels) for our base.  Then the girls pressed small rocks into it to make a design.  Once the clay was dry we covered them in a sealant so that their creations could find a home outside.  Just be sure to cover the entire thing, top and bottom, in a heavy duty sealant.

 

Rock Hunt

P1020029Of course we went hunting for rocks outside, just to look at as well as some to use for our crafts.  We also hunted for rocks around our house.  The girls were surprised to see that rocks were used around the house from the granite in the countertops to their pencil tips.

Homemade Sensory Table

We recently made a sensory table for the girls to use.  Well, when I say “we” I really mean that I draw up a plan and then Ed did the actual building.  Sensory tables are a great place for your little ones to explore with their senses (hence the name) and for messy projects but they can be pretty expensive.  This design was relatively cheap, under $20, and didn’t take too long to make.  A huge thank you to my friend Kendra for the inspiration.

And here’s a picture of the girls enjoying their finished sensory table.  They were exploring volume using measuring cups, jars, and bottles with the rice and beads in the bins.

Another great part about this design is that it can easily be adapted to meet different size needs. You can build it to whatever size bin you purchase. You can also easily add more compartments, creating a square or a row of stations.

Supplies: 2″x2″ baluster (cheaper to buy in 8 ft segments), 1 1/2″ wood screws, lag bolts (heavy gauge screws with a hexagonal head for a ratchet/wrench), plastic bins, drill, sandpaper, spray paint

 

Measure according to the bins and cut the baluster wood to shape.  When measuring, just look at the sides, don’t include the lip of the bins since you want it smaller so that it hangs from the lip.

Use 1 1/2 inch wood screws to connect the pieces.  We made one large rectangle and then inserted the middle piece.  And use a miter box at a 45 degree angle for all four corners.

Choose the height for the table (we went with about 18″ plus the 2″ of the frame) and then cut the leg pieces also from the baluster.  Attach the legs with lag bolts (really what you want are large bolts that have a hex head so you can use a wrench or ratchet on it.  You will need to drill out the holes first so that you don’t split the wood.  Ed used a larger drill bit so that you can sink the bolts so that they are flush with the wood and don’t stick up.  (The center prong will create a guide hole for the hole you drill for the bolt.)

Sand it so that the wood is even and the corners rounded to make it safer/softer.  You can puddy in the gaps but on ours they were so small it wasn’t worth the effort.  Then paint it.

Drop in the buckets.  For the bins, try to get as flat a bottom as possible.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with our table.  Above, they are having water play with water beads.  They are beads used in floral displays that puff up with the water and are squishy.  They come in all kinds of colors, are fun to tough, and can squish into all kinds of bottles, etc.

Just to show how much money you are saving, here are some similar sensory table designs…

I’m Special Dolls

This was a great way to connect our themes of “I am Special” and Our Bodies.  We got the silhouettes from Michaels craft store.  The girls described themselves to me.  I wrote their words on the people and then they colored them.  I found it interesting to see how the girls thought of themselves, although it was a little difficult to explain adjectives.  This is something I think will be fun to do again in the future every so often to see how their descriptions change and even how their drawings change.

How did Mia describe herself? Smart; strong; brave; beautiful; little; nice; smart; loves, collections, flipping dolphins, seals, and Disneyland; funny; giggles; really strong person.

What did Zoe say about herself? God made me; smart; pretty; funny; beautiful; clever; lovey; good at making things; serious; loves to play with toys.

I also picked up a boy packet for our preschool co-op group.  When my friend Kendra (an awesome mama) led the group, she had the kids draw self-portraits on them as part of our self-awareness activities.

 

I am Special (and Different from my Sister)

Last week before we went on vacation we spent time talking about how each of us are special.  Every child is special and different, but with identical twins it can be harder to find those differences but even more important.  As part of our self-awareness focus, I really wanted to highlight what each girl likes and how they are different so here are some of the activities we did .  And while I chose this focus because of the girls being twins, really I think the activities are things everyone can do, especially amongst siblings or friends.

We actually kicked off our differences day with the Creation Sculpture from our “God Made Everything” focus.  This was a nice segue from God making everything to God making us and making us each different.  We looked at how our sculptures were different just like how people are.

My Name is…

Part of what makes us special is our name so we decorated these wooden letters I picked up at Michaels.  We then hung their names up on the door of their room to mark their special place.  The girls loved painting their letters, which was a lot like the crosses we made at Easter time.

A great trick we used to help the girls learn to spell their names–besides giving them very short names 🙂 –was to use placemats with their names on them.  Each meal when we put out the placemats, we would point to each letter and spell out their name.  If I forgot, the girls were quick to remind me.  They learned to spell their names very quickly and early on.  While there are lots of personalized placemats out there, you can easily make your own.

Favorite Things–Rank Order

Zoe’s pyramid of favorite things. She chose art as her favorite.

And this is Mia’s pyramid. She chose swimming as her favorite.

This activity came from the additional resources provided by  The Complete Daily Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Pat Phipps.  This book really is great if you are doing activities with your preschoolers at home.  You can find the worksheets here. We colored the pictures and then cut out the cards to put them in order and glue them on the pyramid.

Rank order activities are hard, even adults have trouble with them.  In order to make it easier I would put just two cards out and have Mia or Zoe choose between those two.  I asked “What would you pick if you could only do one thing?”  Their answer went to the top of the line.  Then we compared the card not chosen and a new one.  If the new card was picked, we then put it up against the card before it.  Eventually we were able to get the cards in order of preference and then glued them onto the pyramid.

It was so much fun to see what order the girls put the activities in and what they prefer.  I found the differences in their pyramid fascinating and it gave us a lot to talk about as a family.

Venn Diagram

Alright, this was clearly the teacher in me coming out to have the girls make a venn diagram about themselves.  But it really was fun and interesting.

I just took a large sheet of construction paper and divided it into thirds–one column for Zoe, one of Mia, and the middle one of both Zoe and Mia.  Then we talked about different things to see what they had in common and what was different.  I’ll be honest, it was hard to find the differences.  The girls like a lot of the same things and also are typical three-year-olds who like whatever answer they would hear.  So one would answer and the other would say “Me too.”  But we eventually found things that are different and the same.

I think it would be interesting to do this again later down the road to see how they have changed and grown.

 

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