Mother Goose Day is May 1st!

One of the perks of parenting small children is adding a bit of FUN to the mid-week mundane. The easiest way to do that is through celebrations of silly and special days!

This week stumped me a bit, so I searched online for April/May holidays and discovered that May 1st is Mother Goose Day! What a perfect opportunity to celebrate the silly and explore nursery rhymes with both of my girls.

But first, why should we rhyme with our children?

Our older daughter was unexpectedly born 14 weeks early back in 2008, followed by a 135-day NICU stay. Those first six weeks, I sat by her bedside with a large stack of books–since this was pre-smart phone, I didn’t have Facebook and Instagram to keep me company during the long, long days.
One of the first books I read by the light of Addie’s isolette was Reading Magic by Mem Fox. Ms. Fox is an excellent author of children’s books, and she wrote this excellent book for parents about reading aloud.

Chapter 10 is titled The Magic of Language, and it profoundly impacted the way I think about nursery rhymes. (This is AFTER a degree in Elementary Education/Reading and four years in a classroom.) I’d like to share a few quotes with you:

“Songs and rhymes provide comforting rhythms in children’s early lives and also expose kids to gorgeous forms of language. They are a natural extension to the heartbeat of the mother and the rhythmic rocking of a child in loving arms or in a cradle.”

reading aloud to girls in hospital
“Rhymers will be readers: it’s that simple. Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
Read more about adding nursery rhymes into your routine with this great post from Story Time Secrets!
 The girls and I love to play a simple rhyming game in the car. One of them says a word, and then we all take turns shouting out a word that rhymes. Sometimes we talk about spelling patterns (cat, bat, sat, fat), and sometimes, this happens: shoe–true, flew, Gru, boo.

To prepare for our celebration, we went to the library and gathered up a handful of Mother Goose collections.

(Just a reminder that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

My second grader was SO excited to recognize a bunch of rhymes from her Spelling You See curriculum:

Can you think of any other Mother Goose anthologies I missed?

Be sure to check out our Mother Goose Pinterest Board for more ideas:

Mother Goose Day

Happy Earth Day! ASL and Activities

Signing Time: HAPPY

EARTH, as signed by Dr. Bill Vicars from lifeprint.com

EARTH, as signed by Dr. Bill Vicars from lifeprint.com

Signing Time: DAY

Happy Earth Day from Lone Star Signers!

We have been spending a lot of time outdoors this month: taking nature walks around our neighborhood, walking to and from the town library, and exploring the nearby lake. Both girls have been making daily entries in a nature journal (4-year-old draws a picture, 7-year-old draws a picture and writes a paragraph) and watching spring slowly blossom here in the Midwest.

Teaching our Children to Love the Earth from lonestarsigners.com

We are learning about local birds, trees, and flowers that share our space and participating in a Nature Pal Exchange with another family in Minnesota.

The girls and I look forward to our daily walks; we have a great opportunity for real conversation while looking for small changes in our natural environment. We’re also growing sunflowers in indoor pots, so the girls get to take ownership and learn about taking care of living things.

Of course, we’ll be doing a few fun activities to celebrate Earth Day (check out our Pinterest board), but I want my daughters to love the Earth every day!

And now, some of our favorite Earth-related resources (affiliate links, natch…thanks for supporting us!):

RTS-Extraordinary Earth

Explorer's Set 2

Kidnoculars

Happy Earth Day! ASL and Activities

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Leave a comment below:

How are YOU celebrating Earth Day this year?

* Quick casual giveaway ends on 4/22/2016 at midnight (Central time).
Winner will be notified by e-mail.

St. Patrick’s Day Simple Sensory Bin

St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that “sneaks up” on me. We’re not Irish or Catholic, green just doesn’t not work with our pale skin, and I don’t really like being pinched. So…what’s a mama to do? Throw together a simple sensory bin, of course!

We had most of these items on hand already:

  • uncooked noodles
  • green food coloring
  • hand sanitizer
  • large Ziploc bag
  • pretend coins (you could use real coins if you’re in a pinch!)

Over the weekend, we dyed our pasta using this FAST and easy method: Pump some hand sanitizer into the gallon-size bag and add a few drops of food coloring. Dump in your noodles and seal the bag. Shake vigorously until the noodles are evenly colored. Add more liquid if needed to reach desired color. Let dry before playing. (We spread ours out in a 9×13 pan over a paper napkin to catch the extra color.) ** NOTE: my children are well-past the “put everything in the mouth” phase. I’m sure there are edible options for dying pasta. **

St. Patrick's Day Simple Sensory Bin from Lone Star Signers

The noodles dried much quicker than I expected (as opposed to rice, which takes forever!), so the sensory bin was ready for the girls the next morning. I hid most of the coins under the noodles–it didn’t take long for our preschooler to begin pulling them out of the bin for counting. She also loves to use a scoop (or measuring cup) to fill and dump our sensory materials into various jars and containers. This simple bin will keep her happily occupied for the rest of the week!

We’ll probably also watch these ASL videos about St. Patrick’s Day and read a Tomie dePaola book or two. We’ll also re-visit our Rainbow Playdough Invitation activity from last year. 🙂 Simple is the key for me!

What activities are you planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Simple Valentine’s Day Tot Trays

Valentine’s Day is such a fun (and simple) theme for Tot School! The girls and I took a quick trip through Dollar Tree last week, but we already had most of these materials on hand.

(Amazon links included throughout this post for your shopping convenience at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support of Lone Star Signers!)

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersThis simple activity cost less than four dollars and has consumed our three-year-old’s attention for hours at a time. My original intention was to have her sweep the tiny hearts into the outline or place them on the line (as seen here and here), but sometimes children just want to play their own way. Kate loves little gems (similar)–she’ll transfer them between a creamer (found at Goodwill, similar) and an empty glass jar (reused from the kitchen), put them into ice cube trays and muffin tins, and scoop them into small flower pots with a scoop.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Kate’s favorite accessories

Since we have little ones attend signing classes each week, I wanted to find a simple activity for babies. The Educators’ Spin On It suggested cookie cutters in a metal bowl, and the fun sound caught the attention of little ones all over the room! (We bought this pack of cookie cutters a few years ago and use them nearly every week for play dough and sensory play!)

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Our muffin tin gets a lot of use in sorting activities. I bought heart foam stickers (similar) and placed one in each compartment for a simple tot tray. Our IKEA tongs add an extra fine-motor component.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersHere’s a variation from the previous tray: sort two colors into cups using a measuring spoon.
Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

I have a set of clothespins with each letter of the alphabet, so I grabbed three craft sticks and wrote out short words for Kate to practice word-building. An older child could also put the letters in ABC order or follow a simple pattern.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersI made this ABC set last year–it’s such a simple way to practice letter recognition! You could also make a second set (upper or lower case) and play a matching game.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Our package of pony beads is used regularly. I pulled four matching pipe cleaners and left the whole set out for exploration. I thought Kate might sort by colors or make a pattern, but her older sister just wanted to make a bracelet.
Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

No Tot School theme is complete without a handful of books! Here are our favorites for love & friendship: How Do I Love You?, I Love You Through and Through, Time for a Hug, and Hug Time

Favorite Valentine's Day books (LOVE & FRIENDSHIP) from Lone Star Signers

Exploring with paint was another fun activity! I added different amounts of black or white paint to plain red and let the girls create. Both of them LOVE our weekly art time.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

We wrapped up the week with this simple craft that will go with dad to work. (We made the same craft last year, so it will be fun to see how they’ve grown!)

Valentine's Day Tot Trays (11 of 11)You can see more Valentine’s Day activities on my Pinterest board! I always find more ideas than we can conceivably do in a week’s time.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lone Star Signers!

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers