What Is The Weather?

To help my preschooler start learning about the weather we have made a weather wheel and are using it daily as we observe the weather. We have put our weather wheel next to a large window, and try to remember to change it each day or whenever the weather has a visible change.  Autumn seems like a good time for this because in many places the change in season will manifest precipitation in a variety of ways and temperatures vary more throughout the day. It is also a great time to learn about the four seasons.

Click below for a pdf of the weather wheel we colored:


We also chat about how the weather affects our decisions.  I asked questions like, “Should  we go to the playground when there is a lot of rain falling from the clouds?”, and I get answers like, “Yes, we can jump in muddy puddles!” (Nora likes Peppa Pig.)

We have also been reading books about the weather.  I really like the books by Elena Temporin and Anna Milbourne titled Sunny Day, Windy Day, and Snowy Day.

Some songs about weather that I think are fun are:

If All The Raindrops Were Lemon Drops and Gumdrops

If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops, oh what a rain that would be

I’d be standing outside with my mouth open wide..Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah

Oh what a rain that would be

Oh, Rainbow (to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree”)

Oh, rainbow, oh, rainbow,
How lovely are your colours.
Oh, rainbow, oh, rainbow,
How lovely are your colours.
Purple, red and orange, too,
Yellow, green and blue so true.
Oh, rainbow, oh, rainbow,
How lovely are your colours

Thunder and Lightning (to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”)

When a storm begins in the clouds

Its glow is oh so brightening.
Watch for the electric spark–
Flash! goes the lightning!

When a storm begins in the clouds,
It truly is a wonder.
You hear a rumble loud in the sky–
Clap! goes the thunder!

Lightning bolts are heating the air,
Over clouds and under.
When the air expands enough–
Clap! goes the thunder.


Thanksgiving Craft Roundup

Thanksgiving is upon us, and although most adults enjoy waiting around to eat, eating, watching football, eating more, and chit-chatting..it can be a potentially tedious affair for young ones with nothing to do before or after the big meal.  With a simple google search I have found some fun ideas for crafts and learning activities to help the kids stay busy and enjoy their turkey day.

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The glittery pinecones are fun name-card place holders, as are the pinecone-turkeys ☺

Another idea that caught my eye was to use fabric markers to trace the children’s hands and draw a turkey face on the thumb to create a table-cloth for the kid’s table with each child’s name and age next to their turkey.  You could also do this with fabric napkins, pot-holders, aprons, t-shirts or onsies. Using permanent markers and fabric markers can be potentially messy, depending on the age of a child, and it does help to soak the item in vinegar and wash it alone the first time so that it won’t bleed onto other fabric.

I also love these Thanksgiving and Autumn themed learning activities which I have found at the fabulous resource of the teachers corner on Lakeshore Learning’s website.  They have many lesson plans and activities for all ages. My favorites are the Pilgrim Patterns activity and the Thanksgiving phonics activity, because they are just right for Nora’s age, and we  plan to do these.  I love their free craft tutorials and lessons plans.

You can copy this address into your browser to see these and other great activities:







HAPPY THANKSGIVING!….gobble..gobble..

Thanksgiving Turkey Pinata

When I was growing up, we used to meet up with my mother’s entire family and all of our cousins on her side at my aunt’s home for Thanksgiving. As youngsters, what we looked forward to the most was our annual kid-tradition of making and breaking a turkey pinata. Even with very little preparation, a turkey pinata can easily be whipped up by using a brown paper grocery bag (or several bags layered for strength) as the body, then stapling it shut with the candy inside and making the turkey head and feathers out of construction paper.  Some years my siblings and I would make a paper-mache turkey body for our pinata, which is an easy, fun, but messy option. I have continued this tradition with youth groups at church, and teens enjoy it too. Here is a photo of those good old turkey pinata days in the 80s.

Of course it is wisest NOT to use a real baseball bat, but instead a nerf bat or soft/plastic option. This activity could be dangerous in a small space, so proceed with caution.

Autumn Art

Although many people are bundling up for a white winter by now, it has finally become semi-colorful around here as far as Autumn goes in Pasadena, CA.  A change of season seems like a great time to learn more about weather and the four seasons.  It’s all about weather and changing seasons for us this week with library books, crafts, and music. Here are two simple craft ideas for Fall that utilize cutting, glueing, painting and budding design skills.

1. Leaf Mosaic: Direct your child to cut out strips of paper in the colors that you want to use. (My three year old was better able to do this by cutting along lines drawn onto the construction paper as a guide.) Then they can snip off pieces of the strip in different shapes and at different angles for the pieces of the mosaic and glue them to the leaf form. You can print off one or both of the leaf forms below, or just draw your own.

leaf1     leaf2

2. Paint over leaf outlines or just paint free-form leaves in Autumn colors.

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DIY: Parent and Me Music Class

Music Classes have become all the rage with the latest generation of parents.  Living in Brooklyn it seemed like everyone had their kids in structured music classes and going to arts and crafts classes. This is a fantastic craze, but also completely possible to do on your own.  I participated in a DIY mommy and me music class with a fun group of moms and babes in Brooklyn, and now I am glad to be continuing this great activity here in Pasadena with Pre-K and K/1 aged children.  So here are a few tips to get one going:

1. You need music!  You need to download and/or learn age-appropriate songs both instrumental and with lyrics, and some finger/hand action songs are good for toddlers and young children. Some of our favorites are by Raffi, songs from Music Together, and different instrumental tracks from a variety of world music to do movement to. Banging out rhythms seems to be a really beneficial part of using drumsticks or noise-makers, so be sure to share that important activity.

2. Props.  Props are so fun for the kids. They love using finger puppets, banging sticks, rattling noisemakers, swaying with scarfs, parachutes, and whatever else you can think of to go along with the music. Much of this could be purchased from a learning resource store or bought on Amazon.  It is really not necessary to buy these things though, as there are plenty of household items that would easily substitute for any of these things, such as pots and spoons, blocks, dried beans or rice inside a sealed container to shake, scarfs or fabric fragments, a sheet, and many other things. There are YouTube videos of children’s music classes you can browse to gather inspiration.

3. People for your class.  Gather members for your co-op class from play-groups, friends, neighbors, relatives, people from your church, or even strike out on your own and start up a group on meetup.com. Babies enjoy doing this right along with older kids, and I actually think a mixed age group is best.

4. Regular time and local.  This can be done in any space large enough to move about such as a large living room, yard, gymnasium or anyplace that works for your group.  Sending an evite or requesting an RSVP may be helpful in keeping the momentum going.

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Lastly, don’t wait for a large group or class to get going!  Start doing this at home with your tots and be enthusiastic, not forceful.  This could be a fun activity for one of those rainy or snowy indoor days ahead.

Nature Walk

This week Nora has been reading a book that she got from the library about a family that takes a nature walk.  She wanted to go on a nature walk too and the Huntington Gardens seemed like a fun substitue for an actual stroll in nature. We looked at many different plants, flowers, and trees.  We inspected seed pods that had fallen onto the walkway and chatted about why they fall down and why they are filled with seeds. Our chat from last week about pumpkin seeds seemed to help her understand that seeds become plants. What she enjoyed most of all was running about with her map, pretending to read it, and pointing to the path that she thinks we need to follow in order to continue on our “adventure to the big mountain” as she put it. Nora loved the waterfall and the different fountains. Later, like a girl after my own heart she was just dying to get to the gift shop, where we picked up a calendar showcasing botanical etchings of seeds. When we go again next month, we will head out early, so that the girls have plenty of energy and patience. Of course, we were not allowed to take anything out of the gardens, but if we were walking in the actual woods or mountains it would be great to have a clean, empty egg carton to collect seed pods, rocks and other things to talk about.

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This place is the hidden paradise of Los Angeles County. I love gardens of any kind, and seeing this astonishing variety of rare and exotic plants, flowers and trees all landscaped to mimic an authentic context was heavenly. I could have stayed there all day..and the next. In fact, you really need to come here several times to enjoy the gardens, the library and the art collection. They were begun by Henry E. Huntington in 1919, a lover of natural beauty, research and art.

Pen Pals

Nora recently received a small package from one of her playmates back in NY with a birthday greeting and small gift.  This made her feel so special and as a result she wrote pretend letters all that morning. Yesterday she received a handmade Halloween card from her Aunt and when I handed her the envelope she hugged me and said, “Open it! Let’s open it!” She likes me to deliver her mail personally to her cardboard castle by knocking on the door, then she puts her arm out the window to take the letter and says, “Thank you mail lady!”

Although we live in the era of instant messaging, skype and email, I have realized that there is still a lot that little ones can learn from good ol’ snail mail.  It is an intriguing process for children to see the mail delivered and then retrieve it from the mail box themselves. If there is something for them in the mail it makes them feel important and included.  They also enjoy preparing their own mail to send.  Writing a simple question in a letter and then waiting for a response by mail can demonstrated the concept of written correspondence. Being capable of relaying the events of a day in chronological order and with some detail is an important skill. We can chat about the basic form of a letter and the appropriate things to write in a birthday or thank you card. Nora then puts her colored picture or letter into the envelope herself, seals it herself and writes her name in the corner by tracing over my writing. Next, she needs to put on the stamp and take it to the mailbox, which is the part she seems the most delighted with. Doing this makes her feel capable and builds confidence.  And of course, the grandparent, cousin or friend who gets the mail is just as delighted to be her pen pal.

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