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Let’s Go Camping… Mini-Theme

3 Oct

Can you go camping… without actually camping?  We did…

One among many plans to be displaced around here in September was the long-awaited Navigators’ campout for the kids, which had been scheduled for the Friday after Labor Day.  The counties were still under a state of emergency then, and backyards were swamplands, so we couldn’t go.  But I had planned some camping activities for the week, to help my kids prepare for sleeping outside and cooking over a fire, and we had already started our camping theme before the storm hit.

Our book basket included Maisy Goes Camping, The Bear Scouts, Bears in the Night, Just Me and My Dad, Franklin in the Dark, What’s Under the Bed, Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, The Chizzywink and the Alamagoozlum, and The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night.  These picture books were great for GoGoGirl and helped give her a starting point for talking about being scared in the dark on a campout, especially Franklin and What’s Under the Bed.  KarateKid liked the humor in Bear Scouts and Me and My Dad.  We read and sang The Fox Went Out several times each morning and listened to different versions of the song.

For science that week, we studied nocturnal animals, read from several of our nature books about them, and sketched a bat from the specimen my sister carefully preserved for us.

Before reading our books on nocturnal animals, I asked the kids to tell me what they knew about nocturnal animals.  As I expected, KarateKid had a good grasp on the concept, and GoGoGirl really didn’t.  At one point in our discussion, I turned to her and asked, “Do you know any other nocturnal animals?”  She told me, “Dinosaurs!”  I paused.  After a moment to decide how to handle this response, I went with a gentle, “Honey, dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore.”

GoGoGirl, hands on hips: “You have GOT to be kidding me!”  There’s a pause, and the look of gears turning in her head.  Then, with indignation: “WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?!” as if I’ve spoken some shocking revelation about cute and cuddly dinos who were alive just last week!  Moments like that are why I adore being home with them and being in on the nitty gritty of learning that dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore – split my sides laughing and loving her.

Other resources we used included a Camp Out! playlist I put together on Spotify, which included lots of fun camping songs and several versions of The Fox Went Out.  We also used several pieces of the Camping Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations (especially the counting cards and 3-part cards) and some from 2 Teaching Mommies (they loved the roll-and-graph).


The kids also spent a lot of time this week playing with their dollhouse tent and several dolls, and using the playsilks to make a camping scene.  I love the brown “woods” fabric we have – it is silky and lovely, and was 50 cents at a garage sale about two summers before I even had kids.


The kids each made a construction paper and marker picture using collage and drawing techniques.  I cut several triangles and rectangles for GoGoGirl and helped showed her how they could be glued down to look like a tent – from there, I let their imaginations go!


These pictures were mostly inspired by Maisy Goes Camping, as GoGoGirl tried to imagine how many of her friends or animals could fit in that tent. POP! Out came Maisy!


We also made campfire handprint paintings – the kids loved this!  Start by painting the pinkie side of your hand brown, then stamp it on the paper twice, making an X shape to be the logs.  Next, paint the palm of your hand in reds, oranges, and yellows and stamp it down above the X to be the flames.


Naturally, we had special camping food too. We ate marshmallows and mini s’mores, pork and beans, and one delightful camping-themed Muffin Tin Meal!


I made roll-up sandwiches with whole wheat wraps, turkey, cheese, and carrots – when cut into sections, the kids think these make great logs! We also had little smokies on teeny weeny roasting forks, and goldfish crackers that we’d just caught in the stream. Washed it all down with bug juice, of course!


So, the kids got a week full of camping experiences, even if we never made it into that tent.

I’ll be sharing this post with stART, Read.Explore.Learn, What My Child is Reading, and Muffin Tin Monday.  Check out the links to find more creative activities!

Shibley Smiles Muffin Tin Monday at

An Emergency at 123 Dollhouse Lane

18 Apr

Dollhouse Lane Fire 01

GoGoGirl and KarateKid have been happily playing with dolls and dollhouses for the last hour, and they’re still deeply involved.  This morning’s plot revolves around a kitchen fire at Dora’s house that has raged out of control.  You can tell by the blank expressions on the faces in the crowd of onlookers that this is a bad one!

I love to watch the kids play with their dolls, especially in the morning when the sun spills into the room and makes the wooden floor glow.  The magic of kids’ imaginations is so captivating.

Dollhouse Lane Fire 02

GoGoGirl’s nursery is down a short, eight-foot hallway from my bedroom upstairs, and neither room has a door, so when they’re playing upstairs I can sit on my bed to read or work on the computer and be able to see and hear clearly the dolly drama that unfolds.  The kids quickly forget that they’re being observed and I get to see their unedited play.  I adore these moments!

(If your kids like dolls and action figures too, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a Boysterous action figure.)

Monday’s Movie: Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

20 Sep

For months, Disney dvds and blu-rays have contained trailers for Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue… and it is finally here!  My kids were thrilled to spend the first part of our afternoon watching this movie – even 8-year-old KarateKid, who initially balked because, “It’s for girls!”

The magic, imagination, friendship, and creative tinkering were enough to draw him in.  There was plenty to enjoy.  Of course 3-year-old GoGoGirl loved it too – for all the same reasons.  Both kids sat rapt throughout the entire movie.

You can watch a clip here that shows Tinker Bell (in her pre-Peter Pan days) meeting a human for the very first time.  Lizzy has dreamed of fairies all her life and is delighted to meet and learn from one.  I loved watching Lizzy and Tink work together to create a “scientific” journal of all the kinds of fairies and all the things fairies could do.  What a wonderful opening for my kids… I’m sure they will be making their own Fairy Field Journals in the days ahead!  A great opportunity for lots of creative thinking, drawing – even building fairy houses and gardens like the ones in the movie.

The 77-minute all-new CGI animated movie arrives tomorrow in stores, in our favorite format – the dvd and blu-ray combo pack, which includes a blu-ray for watching at home on the big family screen, and a dvd for watching on the go.

The voice talents are great, the music is fun, and the story – which includes the thrill of discovery, the joy of friendship, a little adventure, and a father who finally believes – is delightful.  Best, of course, is the inspiration that it is giving the kids to create and imagine worlds of their own.

If your kids are also fairy-lovers and would enjoy this movie, here is a craft idea – make a pinwheel – Vidia’s Wind Wheel!  (If you click on the image it will take you to the flickr page where you can view it in larger sizes.)

Vidia Windwheel

I love movies – or books, or games – that get the kids thinking about something new and excited about creating their own worlds.  This movie was delightful because it’s bound to do exactly that.

This movie was provided to us by Click Communications and Walt Disney Home Entertainment for the purpose of this review.  We were not compensated in any other way and the opinions above are our own.


6 Apr

I could sit and watch my kids “play pretend” for hours.

Here they were, enjoying the slightly damp backyard in the afternoon once the rain had stopped and the sun came out:

Double Sliders

They were police hiding out to capture the robbers, passengers on a train, pirates on board a ship on stormy seas, kids on a roller coaster, and Vikings riding dragons through the sky.  All with this same set-up of two slides.  I love that two baby slides (each bought at a yard sale, one was $4 and one was $2, all those years ago when KarateKid was tiny) along with sticks and pine cones for props, can set the stage for such a rich and wonderful world of imagination.  And I love that I can snuggle in a chair in the shade for more than an hour, being grandly entertained by my sweeties.

The Little Chef

28 Dec

A few comments were made about the KarateKid-only post on Christmas… so here are some pictures for GoGoGirl fans!

Both kids have been playing for a good long time this morning in her newly arranged kitchen/table space in the nursery.


You can see that we decided to set the kitchen at an angle to the wall instead of sandwiching it between the two cubby bookshelves.  We like the light from the window and GoGoGirl likes the moving clock hands on the end of the fridge, so we didn’t want those hidden.  This arrangement cuts off a corner of her room which we thought might be a problem, but it turns out that both kids love the cozy little space in the corner!


Here’s the little chef.  The first thing she did this morning was make a muffin tin meal!  “I’m making a muffin tin, Mommy, just like our real muffin tins!”


She set up a baby and poured her, well, a mug of coffee.  I’ve always loved watching kids play with pretend food and seeing what wacky combinations and bizarre food choices they come up with.  This baby doll is the only person in our house who likes coffee.


She just loves her new kitchen!