Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sticker Book

I've always loved stickers, so when I saw this book I couldn't resist. We've been working in it for over a year now and it's become one of our most consistently fun and relaxing things to do together.
There may be better sticker books out there...this one does have some flaws...but it dawned on me today that for the $5-$10 investment we sure have gotten a lot of mileage out of it. Here are what the pages look like:
And here is a break down of the many pros, and the few cons:
1) We do a little bit every day, and with so many pages it has lasted a long time
2) There are so many topics covered--alphabet pages, colors, tons of animals, food, clothing, vehicles--and they can lead to as much or as little discussion as we feel like. Either way it's good exposure.
3) Good practice matching the shape of each sticker to the right silhouette
4) Good practice peeling off the sticker and lining it up to its silhouette (fine motor skills)
5) It's could be used at different age levels. We use it mainly for the motor skills and topics (and it's just plain fun!), but if he were older the alphabet and clock pages would have meant more and he could be using the numbers to match up the pictures instead of the silhouettes. An older child could probably do it all by themselves, come to think of it, but the bonding time has been one of my favorite parts!

1) The stickers aren't super sticky, which is better than being too sticky, but it means that the sticker in the column next to the inside fold of the book need tape to stay in place. This actually just gives me something to do while he's getting the next sticker and makes it feel more like a corporate effort :-)
2) Hmm...that's about it! I guess to make it a real list I could add that the insect page grosses me out...but with two boys I guess I'd better get used to it. My son didn't seem to have any problem with it ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review--Bo and Eddie

Bo and Eddie, by Olivier Dunrea, are two board books we picked up at the library a couple weeks ago. I found out later that they're Dutch translations of the English books BooBoo and Peedie from the Gossie and Friends series. I love the illustrations. So simple, so bright, and so much charming character!
As far as the text goes, I'm a bit torn. They're very simple and repetitious, which is great for preschoolers. My son loves them, and I think I love them too...but only in Dutch. I was able to see the English text of one of them on Amazon and I wasn't very impressed. There's a rhythm in the Dutch version that makes it almost poetic, and I didn't sense that in the English. Also, "Bo" is cuter than "BooBoo", "gansje" is cuter than "gossling", and there's just something about "Bo is een gansje. Een klein bluaw gaansje..." that makes me smile :-) I wish I could find a way for you to hear how it sounds.

As for the story lines...
Eddie forgets things. He forgets to come in when it rains and he forgets to eat sometimes (too busy balancing grain on his bill, apparently :-) He loves his red cap, but one day he forgets where he put it and goes searching for it.

Bo loves to eat. He goes around eating things and saying they were yummy. Then he eats a bubble and...well, you can read it for yourself :-)

And here's testament to the fact that they're popular around here! They're so easy to draw and my son was so into them that we now have our fridge covered with Bo and Eddie. Final verdict: we'll be looking for more when we go to the library next week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tall, Painted Ice Cream Cone

So after lots of rainbows (including a pastel one) we decided to try our hand at something else. This is one we like to do on the chalkboard sometimes, and it translated great into the marker outline/tempera paint format!
It was fun to make something so tall (two pieces of paper taped together), and it was a great way to introduce how tints (pastels) are made. He sure enjoyed all the mixing! And this one he painted in all by himself.

On the culinary side...the green is pear flavored, the yellow scoops are lemon and banana, the peach is peach and when I asked him what came after the blueberry scoop he informed me that they were pinkberry and purpleberry (of course!)

I don't have a book for this one...you really don't need one to get excited about ice cream ;-) But I've found lots of other fun art projects with ice cream--here's the one that made me think about ice cream being in pastels. And here's a crayon and water color version of the tall ice cream cone that I found and tried last year.

And in closing...Romans 10:12 says "The Lord is rich to all who call upon Him." Someone once helped me appreciate the word "rich" by using ice cream as an example. You don't just take a little lick of ice cream and walk away. You enjoy the richness by continuing to eat it! Every taste is so good and satisfying! Calling on the Lord's name is like eating ice cream.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big, Painted Rainbow

Big, painted rainbows have been one of our favorite projects recently. It started as an impromptu way to dive into our brand new bottles of tempera paint. We had so much fun with it that we've done it 3 or 4 more times in the past few weeks!
We started by taping four sheets of regular paper together to make a nice big canvas. Since rainbows have been popular around here for a while (thanks to the book, What Makes a Rainbow?) I decided to make a simple outline with black marker and let him paint it in. I gave him one color at a time and washed the brush in between colors. Mixing the orange and purple was one of his favorite parts (green never comes out right, so we bought a bottle of green.)

I've heard a lot about art projects at this age being more about the process than the product, but we had fun working on this together and having it come out with clean, bright colors. He wanted me to do some of the painting, and I was impressed with how he carefully copied how he saw me use the brush.
After the rainbow was done, we mixed some white and blue to make the sky and started learning about tints (i.e. pastels). After this one we made one with a "mint sky" as he calls it :-)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review -- Henry the Explorer

I found Henry the Explorer, by Mark Taylor, while browsing around at Amazon. It only had 6 reviews but they were all 5-star and the illustrations and story line seemed right up our alley. It's one of a series that was written in the 1960's and then went out of print. They're in the process of being released again (in a very nice hard cover format) and two of the four are now available.

So it came in the mail a couple weeks ago (via my mom--thanks, Mom :-) and after the first couple readings my son and I were both hooked. It's a simple story of a boy who reads a book about explorers one night while in bed during a blizzard. He gets inspired to go out the next day with his dog, Laird Angus McAngus (we love saying that name) and go exploring. Basically, reading + outdoors + (mild) adventure = a great book!

Oh, and the flags...
He, of course, has to begin by making flags to claim all the things he discovers. This sparked some book inspired exploring of our own! We decided to go with green for our flags, and my little guy did a great job of following the pencil lines to make his E's. The next day we taped them to wooden skewers, packed them in a bag and...
He spent the whole morning going around the house claiming things (the heater was a particularly worthy find as you can see.)

We also spent time looking for a mountain to sit on and eat lunch, just like Henry. We even ate our real lunch on the top of the mountain (i.e. a blanket in the middle of the living room.) I love the view in the picture above as he sits on his mountain with Laird Angus McAngus and his sack of flags.

After going into the woods and discovering a cave (with bears, no less), he comes out to find that it's night. The colors and composition in this picture are so simple, yet it's done so skillfully that you feel like your standing right there about to walk out into that big, wintry world...it's breathtaking!

And here they are finding they're way back home. Isn't the night sky beautiful?

Here's another review I just found that conveys even more. We're definitely looking forward to getting the other three books in the this series!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekend Mission

A big thank you to Hannah for jump starting me into blogging again. I never gave it up intentionally...life with a newborn just started to kick in ;-)

A number of weeks ago Hannah challenged her readers with a weekend mission: go out on a walk in your neighborhood to take a breather and a closer look. I had a wonderful hour doing just that, and here are 5 photos from my walk.
This was a great one for taking a closer look. This is a row of houses behind a canal that we often walk by on the way to our neighborhood train station. I had my camera out looking for my first shot and after pointing it at this scene I noticed that some of the green leaves appeared to be...flying? If you zoom in you see there is a whole flock of bright green parrots hanging out in this backyard. Such a fun surprise :-)

They recently finished remodeling our train station. I really enjoyed the clean, open feeling as I walked up this way. There's something about a finished construction site that feels so freeing and fresh. Maybe it's just that you don't have to walk or ride your bike on narrow, boarded over, muddy paths anymore...or maybe it's the sense of a need recognized, a plan made, hard, dirty work being carried out for months, and a cleaned up new space to be used and enjoyed by so many.

Here are the stairs that lead up and back down to the other side of the track. And the ubiquitous row of bicycles that reminds me how much I enjoy living in this country where fresh air and exercise are just a bike key away!

What I like most about this spot is the three levels--high rise apartment; low, single-story elementary school; woodsy/marshy foreground. It pretty much sums up the whole neighborhood here! I also really like the double row of elevator windows that goes up through the middle of the picture, catching the early evening sunlight on one side. I love early evening sunlight.

And here's evidence that I didn't take this walk entirely alone. But since he was sleeping, it didn't feel much different than if I had been walking "alone" two months earlier ;-) And as far as taking a closer look, this sure is a sweet one :-)