5 Preschool Activities for Summer

Hello, summer! It’s time to play in the sun, go for a swim, and eat popsicles. If you ask my kids, that’s their daily summer to-do list. But, being the mom that I am, I’m going to sneak some learning in there somewhere. This week we’re featuring 5 Preschool Activities for Summer that were in last week’s Good Tips Tuesday Linkup.

5 Preschool Activities for Summer

Ocean Playdough Surprise Game | Pre-K Pages 
Flower Art for Toddlers | Mama’s Happy Hive 
5 Little Ducks on the Pond | Life over C’s 
7 Ways to Build Fine Motor Skills | Midwest Modern Mom
Summer Ice-Cream Activities Placemats | In All You Do 

Good Tips Tuesday LinkUp Party

Good Tips Tuesday 1/6 | Golden Reflections Blog

We want this to be a resource for you to find Good Tips for your life, home, kids and everything in between! So what kinds of posts are you able to link up now? Check out this awesome list!

  • Recipes & Cooking Tips
  • Homemaking Tips
  • Parenting Tips
  • Kids crafts & Activity Tips

Your hosts each week are:

Golden Reflections Blog

Simply Sherryl

A Bird And A Bean

Happy Brown House

A Diligent Heart

The Gracious Wife

Learning 2 Walk

Good Tips Tuesday

Now let’s get to today’s Good Tips Tuesday party!

  • Link up your recipe/cooking, homemaking, parenting, and kids craft/activity tips below (4 per person please)
  • Please link directly to your post, not to your main blog page. All links that do not follow this will be deleted.
  • Visit other posts in the party, comment, tweet, pin and let them know you came from GTTuesday!
  • We will feature 4 posts each week, picked via random.org. We will each be picking our favorite post from the week and pinning all of the featured posts and favorite posts to the GTTuesday Pinterest Board!

Follow Heather @ Golden Reflections Blog’s board Good Tips Tuesday #GTTuesday on Pinterest.

Disclosures:

We can’t wait to see all the amazing posts you will be linking up this week!

Blessings,

Heather, Sherryl, Erin, Sara, Marlene, Michelle, & Alecia

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6 Tips for Correcting Pencil Grip

Learning the proper pencil grip can be a little tricky for kids–and it’s so important for handwriting! If they learn how to grip the pencil incorrectly and are allowed to continue without correction, it is a hard habit to break. Thankfully, there are methods to correcting pencil grip in kids. It will take some work and reminders, but it can be done. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for correcting proper pencil grip.

6 Tips for Correcting Pencil Grip with helpful how-to videos

Fine Motor Play

Before kids even pick up a pencil they should be immersed in fine motor play. Babies start working on the fine motor skills needed for writing when they start picking up small snacks off their highchair. There are lots of basic play activities for developing fine motor skills that can be set up easily with things around the house. See my Developing Fine Motor Skills Series if you need ideas.

Use Smaller Writing Tools

Try giving your child a golf pencil, broken crayon/chalk, or crayon rocks for a twist on the traditional. The smaller size of these items naturally requires children to use the correct pencil grip because there is less surface area.

The Sock Method

It may look silly, but the sock trick is really easy. Just take an old sock and cut two holes. Have your child put the sock on their hand, putting their thumb and index finger through the holes. The rest of the hand can curl up together and take a nap inside.

The Pom Pom Method

Place a pom pom or another small item in between the last two fingers and your child’s palm. This will force your child to keep those extra fingers under and out of the way while they hold their pencil.

The “OK” Method

Tell your child to make the OK sign with their fingers. Tell them to open the circle a little and place the pencil in between their fingers. Then, tell them to curl their other fingers under.

The Pinch & Flip Method

Tell your child to lay the pencil in front of them with the point of the pencil pointing away from them. Tell them to pick up their pencil with their thumb and index finger–this is the pinch part. Then, have them gently push the pencil so it flips around and rests properly. Easy!

After they’ve been shown the correct grip, gentle reminders are appropriate. It may require you to do some “hand-over-hand” instruction (where you physically help them get their pencil grip correct), but with time, they will start to get the hang of it. If your child is having a hard time at the beginning of holding a pencil and writing, I would suggest taking a step back and working on some fine motor skills activities to strengthen their finger muscles and playfully practice pencil holding techniques. Many fine motor skills activities naturally encourage the proper tripod grip. I’ve written about this often, so see my recommended Fine Motor Skills Resource list below.

Recommended Resources for Developing Fine motor Skills

What are Fine Motor Skills and why develop them?
Developing Fine Motor Skills Series (10 posts with recommended activities & fine motor skills)
The Ultimate Guide to Fine Motor Skills
100 Household Items for Fine Motor Skills
10 Ways to Boost the Power of Playdough

5 Delicious Bread Recipes

Bread. Delicious Bread, how I love thee. Over the past few years I’ve gotten more adventurous in my bread making skills. I’ve tried making my own tortillas, soup bread bowls, and cinnamon rolls. Each time, I had yummy results. Making your own bread is a great way to control the ingredients in your food and eliminate some of those crazy preservatives you can’t pronounce. Not to mention, it makes your house smell amazing! Here are 5 Delicious Bread Recipes that were shared in last week’s Good Tips Tuesday linkup.

5 Delicious Bread Recipes

5 Delicious Bread Recipes

Homemade Flour Tortillas | The Gracious Wife 
Banana Bread That Your Toddler Can Make | My Bored Toddler 
Bread Vada |Treat & Trick 
Honey Challah Bread | Winnish
Blueberry Muffin Bread | Best of Long Island & Central Florida

Good Tips Tuesday LinkUp Party

Good Tips Tuesday 1/6 | Golden Reflections Blog

We want this to be a resource for you to find Good Tips for your life, home, kids and everything in between! So what kinds of posts are you able to link up now? Check out this awesome list!

  • Recipes & Cooking Tips
  • Homemaking Tips
  • Parenting Tips
  • Kids crafts & Activity Tips

Your hosts each week are:

Golden Reflections Blog

Simply Sherryl

A Bird And A Bean

Happy Brown House

A Diligent Heart

The Gracious Wife

Learning 2 Walk

Good Tips Tuesday

Now let’s get to today’s Good Tips Tuesday party!

  • Link up your recipe/cooking, homemaking, parenting, and kids craft/activity tips below (4 per person please)
  • Please link directly to your post, not to your main blog page. All links that do not follow this will be deleted.
  • Visit other posts in the party, comment, tweet, pin and let them know you came from GTTuesday!
  • We will feature 4 posts each week, picked via random.org. We will each be picking our favorite post from the week and pinning all of the featured posts and favorite posts to the GTTuesday Pinterest Board!

Follow Heather @ Golden Reflections Blog’s board Good Tips Tuesday #GTTuesday on Pinterest.

Disclosures:

We can’t wait to see all the amazing posts you will be linking up this week!

Blessings,

Heather, Sherryl, Erin, Sara, Marlene, Michelle, & Alecia

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Brain Chase: Summer Learning Adventure for Kids

Homeschool Mom Confession: By the time we hit summer, I’m feeling done with anything that looks like learning…and so is my school-age son. Chances are, your kids feel that way, too. The problem is I know the importance of kids exercising their brain over the summer to prevent summer learning loss–I am a certified teacher, after all. The summer sun makes kids’ brains turn to mush and then they look at their teacher (or in our case, mom) with the deer in the headlights look when you ask them to write their name on their math paper. You know, because they forgot how to hold a pencil and all during their reign of chaos in the sprinkler.

That’s why this year, I’m doing something different to prevent summer learning loss. And, because a homeschool mom needs a break from teaching, I’m not even coming up with the assignments! I’m pretty sure it’s the greatest plan yet. I’m letting the smart people at Brain Chase take the lead while I sit back, sip on lemonade, and plan out next year’s homeschool curriculum. The sneaky part? He won’t even know he’s learning. Adventure! Global Treasure Hunt! Online Learning! Oh, and let’s not forget the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship! (I’m putting these boys to work early on earning their way to college. Ahem.)

Brain Chase--a summer learning adventure for kids to keep using their brains and avoid the summer learning slump

What is Brain Chase?

  • 5-week online summer learning challenge for 2nd through 8th graders
  • A massive global treasure hunt powered by reading, writing and math
  • A learning adventure to prevent summer brain drain
  • A motivational tool for getting kids to do online academic work during the summer
  • A personalized learning platform
  • A hunt for a golden mechanical treasure
  • A $10,000 scholarship and trophy

It sounds so exciting! (My hubby was watching over my shoulder when I watched the promo video and I think he may have had a vision of himself dressed as Indiana Jones claiming the prize. I hate to tell him we’d fit in more with the Goonies. Moving on.)

Brain Chase--a summer learning adventure for kids

Why use Brain Chase?

  • Startling research shows that kids lose more ground academically over the summer than one might expect.
  • A 2011 RAND study found that by the end of summer, students perform, on average, one to two months behind where they left off in the spring.
  • 94% of parents agree that Brain Chase helped their children stay sharp over the summer. (From a survey of families who participated in the 2014 challenge.)

Simply put, you want your kids to keep using their brains over the summer and start school with confidence that they haven’t regressed. I think we’d all agree about the importance of that, right?

How Brain Chase Works

1. START THE CHASE
At 9 a.m. ET on Monday, June 22, 2015, Brain Chase: The Sunstone of Cortés begins. Adventurers log in to watch the first animated webisode and meet Mae Merriweather, the star of the show. Then they dive into their first week of learning challenges. A proprietary (patent pending) learning management system – the “Dashboard” – tracks each student’s progress as they journey through the 5-week challenge.

2. UNLOCK THE ADVENTURE
Each week the adventurers have four tasks: read for 15 minutes per day, write one journal entry, earn 10,000 points on Khan Academy, and do one bonus challenge. When they’re done, they unlock the next webisode, which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them guess the treasure’s location.

3. FOLLOW THE STORY
Mae Merriweather and her friends from the Grayson Academy of Antiquities are hot on the trail the mysterious Sunstone of Cortés. To find it, they travel to the Himalayas, dive off the coast of Greece, and solve riddles. But there is more to the quest — and treasure — than they realize.

4. FIND THE BURIED TREASURE
The hunt for the Sunstone isn’t just fiction – there is a real golden Sunstone of Cortés and $10,000 buried somewhere on Earth. Every 24 hours, adventurers can log in to enter their guess of the treasure’s location. The first adventurer to guess the location within a two-mile radius travels with his/her family to the treasure site to claim the gold.

Brain Chase Summer Learning Adventure--a global treasure hunt for kids

The 2015 Brain Chase Challenge
The 2015 Brain Chase challenge is to find the Sunstone of Cortés, a mysterious calendar stolen from the Aztec empire by Hernan Cortés in the 1500s. Kids join Mae Merriweather, her brother Max, athletic Sean Drake, and former nemesis Savannah Bryce to find the fictional Sunstone of Cortés… and the real one!

Brain Chase Questions You Might Ask

What is the age range of Brain Chase?
It’s mainly geared toward early readers through 8th graders. The technical rules are age 6-16.

What platforms will kids be able to do their learning on? PC, mobile device?
This will work on the major PC browsers, as well as iPads. This summer it will not yet be available for mobile phones. But it’s hard to do much writing
and math on a mobile phone anyway!

How many participants joined in last year, and is there a cut-off for how many can sign up?
Basically, you want to know how many kids you’ll be competing against. Last summer Brain Chase had 500 participants. They have to limit enrollment due to order the hands-on materials in advance, and so they can’t exceed that number.

How does the reading work – is it online, and how is it tracked? Are the books classics?
Brain Chase uses a reading platform called myON, which has a library of more than 5,000 digital books. Kids can choose what they’d like to read, and myON can measure number of pages read, number of minutes of active reading, etc., to ensure students are completing their tasks.

What if the kids miss a day? Will there be an opportunity to get missing clues?
Students can complete the challenges at any time. If they miss a day, it’s not a problem. They can catch up at the end of the week, or even the following week. The only rule is that they can’t jump forward to a new week before that week begins.

Will the kids be interacting with other kids online?
No! Out of safety for students, they cannot interact with other students directly online through the platform. But they do have an active Facebook page that became a fun destination last summer for families to interact with others and discuss each week’s clues. Here’s a sneak peek at the Brain Chase Adventure Dashboard to see how it works.

Can parents help the kids with the clues?
Obviously, you’re going to make your kids do the reading, math, and writing challenges for themselves. (If you have a young participant it is perfectly acceptable to help them type their online journal entries.) However, BrainChase is so engaging that the whole family will want to work together to figure out the clues and find the hidden treasure–and that’s ok!

Do we get anything special?
Yes! Brain Chase will send your child adventure items to help decode the clues. The 2015 adventure items are pictured below.

Brain Chase Adventure items for the 2015 Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge

Sign up for Brain Chase

So, how much is it to participate in Brain Chase? $199 ($100 per additional child), but Brain Chase is offering my readers 15% off their total purchase. Use Code: BROWNHOUSE15

With the 15% off code, the prices are:

  • $169 for one child
  • $254 for two children
  • $339 for three children

Basically, the price of a week of summer camp, give or take.

I’m so excited that our oldest son will be participating in Brain Chase this year that I want to bring one of you along with us! Enter the giveaway below to win a FREE signup with Brain Chase (Um, hello. That’s quite a prize!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my time in posting this and received a free sign-up to Brain Chase. I only participate in sponsored posts that will be of interest to my readers and are things I would use myself.

5 Flower Craft Ideas for Kids

You know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” These 5 Flower Craft Ideas for kids that were linked up in last week’s Good Tips Tuesday linky party are simply adorable and sure to keep the kids busy creating. Just open up your craft supplies cabinet and let the kids go to town!

5 Flower Craft Ideas

Spring Flower Craft with Pipe Cleaners | Mini Monets and Mommies

Good Tips Tuesday LinkUp Party

Good Tips Tuesday 1/6 | Golden Reflections Blog

We want this to be a resource for you to find Good Tips for your life, home, kids and everything in between! So what kinds of posts are you able to link up now? Check out this awesome list!

  • Recipes & Cooking Tips
  • Homemaking Tips
  • Parenting Tips
  • Kids crafts & Activity Tips

Your hosts each week are:

Golden Reflections Blog

Simply Sherryl

A Bird And A Bean

Happy Brown House

A Diligent Heart

The Gracious Wife

Learning 2 Walk

Good Tips Tuesday

Now let’s get to today’s Good Tips Tuesday party!

  • Link up your recipe/cooking, homemaking, parenting, and kids craft/activity tips below (4 per person please)
  • Please link directly to your post, not to your main blog page. All links that do not follow this will be deleted.
  • Visit other posts in the party, comment, tweet, pin and let them know you came from GTTuesday!
  • We will feature 4 posts each week, picked via random.org. We will each be picking our favorite post from the week and pinning all of the featured posts and favorite posts to the GTTuesday Pinterest Board!

Follow Heather @ Golden Reflections Blog’s board Good Tips Tuesday #GTTuesday on Pinterest.

Disclosures:

We can’t wait to see all the amazing posts you will be linking up this week!

Blessings,

Heather, Sherryl, Erin, Sara, Marlene, Michelle, & Alecia

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5 Stained Glass Crafts for Kids

Making stained glass crafts or mosaic crafts is something we do a lot of at our house. They’re colorful, bright, and make us smile. Stained glass crafts are easy for kids to make with only a few household supplies–we always use sticky contact paper and tissue paper, but it isn’t the only way to make them. Check out these 5 Stained Glass Crafts for Kids that we found in last week’s Good Tips Tuesday link-up and be inspired to craft with your kids.

5 Stained Glass Crafts for Kids

Litte Bird Suncatcher | Cutting Tiny Bites
Mosaic Buttons and Beads | Little Fingers Big Art
How to Make a Stained Glass Candle Holder | About Family Crafts
Sticky Paper Bookmark Craft | PreK Pages
Nature Sensory Bag Suncatcher | Hands On As We Grow

Good Tips Tuesday LinkUp Party

Good Tips Tuesday 1/6 | Golden Reflections Blog

We want this to be a resource for you to find Good Tips for your life, home, kids and everything in between! So what kinds of posts are you able to link up now? Check out this awesome list!

  • Recipes & Cooking Tips
  • Homemaking Tips
  • Parenting Tips
  • Kids crafts & Activity Tips

Your hosts each week are:

Golden Reflections Blog

Simply Sherryl

A Bird And A Bean

Happy Brown House

A Diligent Heart

The Gracious Wife

Learning 2 Walk

Good Tips Tuesday

Now let’s get to today’s Good Tips Tuesday party!

  • Link up your recipe/cooking, homemaking, parenting, and kids craft/activity tips below (4 per person please)
  • Please link directly to your post, not to your main blog page. All links that do not follow this will be deleted.
  • Visit other posts in the party, comment, tweet, pin and let them know you came from GTTuesday!
  • We will feature 4 posts each week, picked via random.org. We will each be picking our favorite post from the week and pinning all of the featured posts and favorite posts to the GTTuesday Pinterest Board!

Follow Heather @ Golden Reflections Blog’s board Good Tips Tuesday #GTTuesday on Pinterest.

Disclosures:

We can’t wait to see all the amazing posts you will be linking up this week!

Blessings,

Heather, Sherryl, Erin, Sara, Marlene, Michelle, & Alecia

Kid-Painted Flower Pots

I love to plant flowers and add a little color to our front porch every year. It adds a welcoming curb appeal to our house, but it also lifts my spirits to have beauty around us every day. Taking care of potted plants is a great experience for kids and it helps them have a bit of ownership to their surroundings. One way I add a bit more color to our front porch is letting the kids paint flower pots with bright colors. Plus, it gives me an extra activity to keep them entertained! And, these adorable kid-painted flower pots make great homemade gifts.

Kid Painted Flower Pots are a great way to add a little color to your porch and they make great gifts for loved ones! Perfect for a homemade Mother's Day gift from the kids. Include the kids in planting and taking care of the flowers for a fun family activity.

Materials Needed for Kid-Painted Flower Pots

  • Clay Flower Pots
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Disposable container for paint (paper plate, recycled containers, etc.)
  • Potting Soil
  • Flowers or seeds
  • Newspaper to protect your surface
  • Optional: Clear Craft Sealer Spray or Mod Podge

Making Kid-Painted Flower Pots

Using the newspaper to protect your surface, squirt paint onto a paper plate. Hand the kids a paintbrush and let them go! I love the unique look of each one of our kid-painted flower pots.

Painting flower pots is a fun family activity to make for the front porch or to give as kid-made gifts

When the kids are done painting, let the flower pots dry. If you want to try to preserve these for longer, I suggest spraying the clear craft sealer spray or a painting a layer of Mod Podge on the flower pots. Ours have held up for several years in the summer sun before fading by sealing them.

To finish them off and display them, fill them with potting soil, small plants ready for transfer, or seeds. Don’t forget to water them!

Now, they’re ready for gifts or your porch. These make perfect homemade Mother’s Day gifts from kids and grandparents are sure to love them. We’ve even given these as teacher gifts. Kids are always so proud to give handmade gifts.

flower pots painted by kids

Want more ideas for gardening with kids? Here’s 6 Garden-themed Activities for Kids.

Be sure to follow my Homemade Gifts Pinterest Board, too.

Follow Sara @ Happy Brown House’s board Homemade Gifts on Pinterest.