Migration Means Moving

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Spring is in the air, and with it all the migrating animals that might be returning to your area. So it’s the perfect time for a little lesson on migration! This lesson kicked off what will be a series of spring-themed recipes from Raddish Kids in the coming weeks.

The lesson plan from Raddish featured the movement of both animals and people. However, I felt that the topic of children migrating, particularly due to conflict, would be upsetting to Travis. So we focused on the animal aspect of migration, beginning with a few suggested videos. If your child is older, consider sharing an online read of Where Will I Live, by Rosemary McCarney. You can ask your child about times your family has moved, and reasons why people might move, or discuss what makes migration different from a vacation.

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After the intro videos, we set off a nature walk in search of a migrating animal! I thought the best we might luck into was a duck or a goose, so we were legitimately thrilled to spot two great blue herons. Wow!

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We also spotted what might have been a snake hole, which was a great opportunity to point out the difference between hibernation versus migration as a winter strategy.

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When we got home, it was time for a research project. This kind of project is new and advanced for Travis as a kindergartner, so I helped him pull up a picture of the great blue heron online, as well as a map of its range. He color-coded the map according to their winter, summer, and year-round habitats. We watched a few final videos about the bird to finish the lesson.

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Older kids can again get more detailed. Consider painting aspects of a particular animal’s migration, or posing bigger questions like how the animal finds its way, and how far it goes.

Vegetable Baked Risotto

Vegetable Risotto

Oven-baked risottos are my favorite way to prepare rice these days. Throw all the ingredients in a pot, cook for about one hour, and forget about it until dinner is served. No stirring required!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup short-grain rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup trimmed green beans
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup drained and rinsed canned great northern beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a casserole dish.
  2. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Stop!

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“Stop” and “go” are important concepts, and there are lots of fun ways to introduce them to your toddler through play. Here’s a movement game with a few props thrown in for extra enjoyment.

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To make STOP and GO signs, I cut shapes with the words on colored construction paper: a red octagon for the former and a green circle for the latter. You can attach these to craft sticks, but I found that wooden kitchen spoons made for sturdier handles that Veronika could hold easily.

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I picked Veronika up and twirled her to the following ditty, holding the green sign:

Round and round and round we go,

Round and round and round we go,

Round and round and round we go.

Round and round and STOP!

Hold up the red sign and stop spinning on the last word of course! After dancing in my arms, the siblings took a turn holding hands and walking in a circle.

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Or sometimes Veronika just twirled herself about, holding the signs and grinning.

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Big brother Travis was a super helper showing her how to freeze at the right moment.

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Chances are your toddler will want to play with the signs even once the ditty fun is done.

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Magazine Ripping with Toddlers

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I find myself running low on craft supplies these days with stores closed due to coronavirus; it’s just not an option to dash out and buy one or two items! Luckily there are so many items around the house that turn into perfect toddler toys. To whit, today Veronika payed with old magazines!

I sat down with her and a few publications I’d already read, and simply showed her how to rip the pages out. She didn’t need to be shown twice!

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If it’s hard for your child to rip out full pages, you can alternatively rip about 20 or so pages ahead of time and give this stack to your child. Or give him or her the option of both: 20 loose sheets plus the rest of the magazine lying nearby.

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As for ripping individual pages into small pieces, I started out by making a tear for her to follow on each page, which she could further rend apart.

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But as she got the hang of it, she was able to rip even without this helpful start.

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I set a little canister next to her, for her to place the ripped pieces of paper into, but she wasn’t terribly interested in doing so.

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She did love looking at the pictures as she ripped the pages, though! When she spotted stars (a favorite), so even ran over to proudly show her brother!

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In sum, an easy way to keep hands busy.

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Kindergarten Home School Week 7: Monday

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Fresh off “vacation” week, I have a confession: I’ve gone rogue. I’m no longer strictly following the suggestions that come home from Travis’s teacher each day. I am so happy to report… wait for it… zero tantrums today and an extremely interested boy. The biggest change is that I broke out a summer K-to-1st workbook early. I’m using each page as a prompt for activities. There’s also now a sticker progress chart that Travis is thrilled about!

9-9.30: Math. The corresponding workbook page involved tracing numbers 1 through 9 and then circling his age. I then used the page’s desert theme as a prompt for… kinetic sand play!

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We put the sand in a bin, but the twist was that I hid various 3-D shapes in the sand. Using clues, Travis had to guess each one before he could dig it out. For example, “I can roll and I have no edges,” was the clue for sphere. “I have 6 sides all made of squares,” helped him guess cube and so on.

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After this little “quiz” I was happy to let the kids keep playing with the sand for a while! Incidentally this was a way to keep my toddler busy, too.

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9.30-10: ELA. The corresponding workbook page involved singing the alphabet and filling in the missing letters. We then read Dragons Love Tacos, an old favorite. Travis drew pictures of the beginning, middle, and end of the story (Little sister was busy, meanwhile, with tissue paper).

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The book made Travis hungry, so good thing it was…

10-10.30: Snack time! He decided he needed salsa just like those dragons, which made for silly happy kiddos.

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10.30-11: Science: We read about the Earth in his children’s encyclopedia, which features a QR link on each page. This particular lesson took us to images of the Earth from the International Space Station.

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We then repeated an old activity, making the layers of Earth from play dough and then slicing into it. The last time we did this, Travis was two years old! Needless to say, he was much more involved in the process this time and loved it.

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It lead to an hour of play dough play after, which left me time for toddler music class with little sister, including homemade guitar strumming.

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11-11.30: Spanish. His Spanish teacher had sent along a video of counting crocodile (cocodrilo) teeth.

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We have a similar shark from a board game, so after watching her demo, we counted our shark’s teeth up to 24 in Spanish. Of course then we played a round of the board game and counted our playing pieces in Spanish as we went!

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11.30-1.30: Lunch/free play/TV show of choice as a reward for an awesome morning! Travis also happily did about 15 minutes on Lexia.

1.30-2: Gym. Travis has disliked the suggestions coming from school. Instead, I challenged him to a Catch and Count. On our first try, we got to 29. Well, now he wanted to get to 100! We never got quite that far, but we did reach 50. He finished with 15 minutes of Star Wars yoga on this sleety cold day.

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2-2.30: STEM/art. To round out the day, I challenged him to make Darth Vader’s face on his Lite Brite. Not bad!

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Finally, at bedtime stories tonight, we dove into the Suggested Reading list from the summer workbook. First up was Amazing Grace. After the story, we discussed main character, themes (a new vocab word!), and more.

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Cantaloupe Papaya Smoothie

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This unexpected flavor combination takes my kids’ two favorite fruits and mashes them together into one perfect smoothie. Use plain soy milk instead of the almond milk if you prefer less sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup papaya chunks
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

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Strumming Fun

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For some musical fun today, I made Veronika the easiest guitar ever: just a piece of corrugated cardboard ripped from a recent delivery box (thanks, Amazon Prime!) and a few plastic spoons.

I showed her how she could scrape the spoon along the cardboard to make “music”, humming a favorite tune all the while.

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It took her a few minutes to figure out which way she needed to orient the spoon (concave side down) in order to produce the right sound, but she looked so proud when she had it correct.

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Big brother Travis pointed out that the sound was a bit like a duck quacking. So this led to lots of silly quacking fun.

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Because I’d left out extra plastic spoons, she alternated between strumming or tapping two spoons together, adding a percussion element to her one-girl band. When it came time for her online toddler sing-along, she could strum her own “ukelele” alongside the teacher.

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I loved how simple this was for her to use, and how busy it kept her!

Tissue Paper Bag

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Tissue paper is one of those fantastic materials for keeping a toddler busy without fancy materials or much supervision. I had a full pack of multicolored tissue paper which was just begging to be played with. I cut squares from the sheets so they were just the right size for Veronika’s little hands, but that was it for set-up!

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I presented her with the tissue paper, along with a brown paper bag and a small empty toy bin. I left it up to her to decide where the tissue paper should go from there! Stuffing it into the bag was good fun…

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…as was piling it into the bin.

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She particularly loved this when we hid a toy underneath. “Where’s meow meow?” she asked of her toy kitty, and then lifted up the sheets of tissue paper with a “peek-a-boo!”. 

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Of course it’s just fine if your toddler wanders off with a few sheets of tissue paper, too.

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I also showed her how she could crumple up the pieces so they were more like balls than squares. This interested her so much that she soon invented her own version: putting a crumpled piece on a spoon and moving it into the bag or bin this way!

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It’s also silly fun to stuff the bag full of paper and let it rain down on your child’s head.

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To be honest, I thought she would play with the whole set-up for longer than she did, but it was good fun while it lasted.

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Slowly, Slowly

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This little finger play is a great way to teach a toddler about the concept of fast and slow. Start off with the chant, and then get more elaborate with your play. The first time through, simply walk your fingers up your child’s arm, from wrist to shoulder, and match the speed of your fingers to the words of each verse. When you get to that quick little mouse, it becomes a tickle game!

Slowly, slowly, very slowly

Creeps the garden snail.

Slowly, slowly, very slowly

Up the wooden rail.

Quickly, quickly, very quickly

Runs the little mouse!

Quickly, quickly, very quickly

To his little house!

I like to use a deep voice for the snail and a high squeaky one for the mouse. Veronika loved it so much she immediately started saying “quickly quickly”, also in a high squeak.

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To help solidify the meaning of these opposite words, we turned it into a game of chase. First my slow snails chased each other very very sloooooowly.

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Then big brother was a scampering mouse running just ahead of her.

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Veronika even tested out running a quick little mouse along her own arms and legs! In sum, a great way to get out some energy while teaching new concepts.

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Yummy Chocolate Play Dough

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Today Veronika opened up her first bake shop…with chocolate play dough that is! This no-cook recipe is super simple, and lends itself perfectly to both sensory and imaginative play.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon cream of tartar. Slowly stir in 1 cup boiling water.

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Turn the dough out and knead until no longer sticky (you may need to add a little more flour).

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Once the dough was ready, I set up shop for Veronika! A few disposable cake pans, cupcake liners, and old birthday candles made perfect props. She was helping make “cupcakes” in no time.

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Inserting candles was lots of fun. I realized we needed more toppings, so colorful pony beads from the craft bin made perfect “sprinkles”. Veronika loved pushing these into the dough and saying “Squish!”.

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She also just loved transferring the pony beads from one cupcake liner to another.

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Rolling pins and other kitchen tools rounded out our play. I showed Veronika how she could roll portions of the dough really flat.

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This was so all so much fun that big brother Travis wanted to get involved. With him, we made it more about imaginative play. He was a “baker” filling my orders for specific types or shapes of cookies.

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Chances are the kids will play this one for a while!

 

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