Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jumping Numbers

I can’t take credit for this activity at all since it came from my PAT (Parents as Teachers educator) but I thought I would share because I thought it was so darn cute and G-man loved it. Plus, it would be very easy to do yourself if you wanted to.
The objective is to recognize the numbers 1-6. This is a new concept to Garrett, but surprisingly, he is very into counting lately, wanting to count everything.  It was perfect timing. She brought a large foam die and Garrett first had to roll it and count the dots to determine the number.
IMG_3418 Once the number was determined, he had to find the page with that number on it, and count those dots to make sure it was the right number.
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Then he had to jump that number inside of the circle (made out of a heavy yarn type).
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We ended the hour with a book about…counting of course! Thanks for a great activity Stacy.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Accountable Kids Review

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a family blog that used a program called Accountable Kids.  I’m always interested in things that other moms have used and recommend and so I studied their website and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did!
I will attempt to give a simple review of the program, but please visit their website at http://www.accountablekids.com/ for a more complete description of the program.

Accountable kids is in my opinion, a wonderful program to teach kids accountability, work ethic, and positive values. It is more than a chore chart; it is a comprehensive 4 step program where children learn exactly what to expect from their day, and are rewarded for their compliance. Being a former teacher, I was initially skeptical of the “rewards”, but soon found out that the rewards were just things that Garrett was already doing (like videos, etc) but now he has to earn that privilege. Goodbye entitlement!

Here are the tools that you get with your order. The AK progress board is the central part of the program. You can order it personalized or you can choose to personalize it yourself.

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The responsibility reminder cards hang on the first knob. For example, here are the responsibilities that I want Garrett to do in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Notice the color coding.

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As you can see, these “chores” are really things that he already does, but now instead of me reminding him to do it, he just has to look at the board and then it’s HIS idea. There are a ton of cards to choose from. Since Garrett is only 3, we are doing a VERY simplified version of the program. The great thing is that the program will grow with him. It’s designed for kids ages 3-14. Obviously, the older he gets the more responsibilities he will have.
Here is how the cards hang on the board…also notice the “tickets” hanging on the center hook.

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When Garrett completes ALL of his morning, afternoon, or evening responsibilities, he will earn a ticket.  You as the parent would decide which activities are ticketed. Generally, they recommend ticketing activities that you wish to limit, such as t.v., computer, etc.  We are doing it a little differently, just because I felt like I needed to modify to make it work for our family. For example, Garrett watches 1 30 minute video every afternoon, and so if he does a good job during quiet time (stays in his room and is quiet) and then picks up his room, he earns a ticket. He then turns in that ticket to watch his video. He knows that if he doesn’t stay quiet or stay in his room, no video. In the morning, he uses that ticket for special time with mommy. It usually ends up being a game that he loves, an art project, etc.

Now onto the part that I really love about the program. We use the 1-2-3 magic system for discipline, which has worked wonderfully with him. I sometimes feel though that time-outs are losing their effectiveness. And when he gets 3-4 in one day (which has happened) it seems like they don’t affect him anymore. You can use the tickets for discipline. Just as easily as he earns them, they can be taken away.

For example, maybe he completed his morning responsibilities and earned a ticket, but shortly thereafter, he hurt his brother or was sassy to me. I would then quietly go over to his board and take away a ticket. Then in an hour when he asks if we can play his favorite game, I ask him to hand me a ticket. He will then notice that he doesn’t have a ticket. Bummer!

This is only step 1 of the program. There are actually 4 steps and there is MUCH more to the program. Like I said, we’re only doing the simplified version.

One thing  really like is that there are “date cards”. You can see them hanging below.

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If he completes all of his responsibilities for the day, he would earn a star on the card. After 10 stars he can cash it in for “date night” with mom, dad, grandma, whomever. It teaches delayed gratification and also strengthens the family by giving him some 1 on 1 time. Examples are going to a movie, going out to dinner, going to the museum, etc.

Overall-I give it a 5 out of 5 rating. It’s a great way to teach your kids accountability while at the same time, strengthening your family. Thank you Accountable Kids!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Long-Awaited Coffee Cake!

I say long-awaited because I promised this recipe to my MOPS table and friends over 2 weeks ago. I must give credit where credit is due-and that is to my mom.  I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed this coffee cake for well…my whole life. It is HER recipe and one that I haven’t seemed to perfect just yet, but I will keep trying. It is so yummy-I think the yumminess is due to how moist it is. Enjoy!

Ingredients for cake:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
3 oz. box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. water

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 c. margarine (see note at end)
1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar

Ingredients for frosting:

1 tbsp. soft margarine
drop vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine cake mix and pudding together. Add eggs, oil, sour cream, vanilla and water.  Mix gently.  Put 1/2 of batter in pan and carefully cover with 1/2 of topping. Repeat with rest of batter and rest of topping.  Bake in angel food cake pan or 9 x 13 greased/floured pan for 30-40 minutes. Drizzle frosting on while still warm.

Note-I can’t seem to get the topping just right, and my mom can’t quite explain it to me :-)  I don’t advise melting the butter or having it too soft because the topping will bake into the cake. The goal is to have the topping “crumbly” when you put it on the cake. I think it has something to do with the amount of margarine and the temperature of it. If anybody figures it out, PLEASE leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What We’ve Been Up To…

Ah…well, I thought I better do a little blogging before I forget how to. I’m so sorry it’s been so long; my camera has been acting up for one (as you will see from the pics) and we’ve just been trying to get out a little more now that the weather is at least a little nicer. Here is a glimpse of the past few weeks.

Trip to the Museum/Aquarium

We are fortunate enough to live in an area that has a wonderful museum and aquarium. They also have a program for 2-4’s once a month called “Toddler Tuesday” that we try to get to. The best part is that after the program you can just visit the aquarium. My 3 year old loves to see all of the fish, lizards, frogs, otters, etc etc!

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Trip to the Waterpark

Again, we have this great indoor waterpark that has $5 Mondays. This past Monday we spent 2 1/2 hours there and this mama was exhausted when we got home. G-man is little timid of the water so I try to get him in it as much as I can. The little guy on the other hand, is a daredevil. So much so that he sat on the edge of the pool and flopped right in. Of course, I then jumped in to save him and have a pancake size black bruise on the backside of my thigh to prove it. Thank God, he is fine.

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Odds and Ends

Here are just a few fun pics. The kids have taken a liking lately to trying on my high heels…I’m definitely thinking they’re going to love these pics when they are say…16 :-)

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One of my oldest friends in the world came by for a visit with her two kiddos Bridget and Will.  Don’t they look cute together?

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When mom is busy, this is what my kids do to entertain themselves…

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And finally, I found these cute mitten playdoh mats at childcareland and they were a big hit. G-man keeps asking for those “mitten things”.

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That’s it for now-MOPS tomorrow, storytime  Friday. Busy busy :-)