Learning about death when a pet dies

Recently we lost one of our cats, Bart. When we got married, we had five cats and a turtle and now we are left with just two cats. There have been some sad times in our family. Each pet death comes with a whole host of emotions, and when there are kids involved, it becomes especially painful to try and answer their questions while processing our own sadness.

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Learning about death

But the death of a pet, especially when the pet dies at home, can be such a powerful “teachable moment”. Everyone needs to learn about death. We do not try and hide the pet from the kids, but we have given them the opportunity to see him, say goodbye to him. For this time around, it was much harder for dad, so I tried to step in and answer as many questions as I could for the kids.

So many questions about what it means to be alive and what it means to be dead. We have been able to bury pets in the back yard, which I think really helps our kids to connect with what it means to return to the earth and to what cemeteries for people are all about.
I also talked to cremation because that is our choice for this cat since the ground is solid frozen still.

I spoke to both kids about the sadness that Daddy was feeling.  Connor asked if he could draw Daddy some pictures, and while some of the pictures were clearly about making Daddy feel better.

Learning about death

There were also a few that were Connor thinking about what was happening to the cat. Both kids continue to ask lots of questions about the pets we have lost.  There are lots of pictures of them around and we will visit the spot in our backyard where Bart will be buried this summer.

Learning about death

Some books I keep tucked away on the grown ups bookshelves for learning about death…

learning about deathWhen  Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families)
by Laurie Krasny Brown (Author), Marc Brown (Illustrator)

learning about death 2Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
by Bryan Mellonie (Author), Robert Ingpen (Author)

learning about deathThe Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
by Leo Buscaglia (Author)


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Playing games and learning together

While I was driving home, I was racking my brain to try and think of something that the kids and I could do before dinner. I wanted to do something in which both kids could be learning, but I wasn’t up for a big craft project or messy activity.  It turns out that Connor and Amelia had already picked out a great game for us to play with when I got home.

Way back when I posted about the Ready for Kindergarten workshops we attended when Connor was about 3 or so.  We attended about 6 sessions offered through our local school aimed at both Connor and Amelia’s age group. As part of the program they provide you with a HUGE binder of different activities, milestones and strategies.  Included is a basic game board with all kinds on add-ons to do different matching games using Velcro attachments.

Learning

So many possibilities and so many different ways to play that fit both kids learning needs.  Amelia would match the colors she is learning while Connor told her the names of the colors.  Amelia set up the board while Connor matched the confusing b d p q g shapes he is learning.  They both worked on 2D and 3D shapes. It was quick and easy, they both had fun and both were learning!

We could easily make the board bigger.  Currently, ours has just 12 spaces for matching (2 rows of 6).  I was thinking that we could make a larger board with some additional squares and the card matching is endless!

Putting poster board and velcro on the shopping list!

Check out to see if there is a Ready for Kindergarten program in your area!

31 days 2014


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Learning with acorns

AcornsAcorns just say fall! Who hasn’t been conked on the head by a falling one at this time of year? While we don’t have any oak trees in our yard, Grandma Ellie’s lawn is covered with them and we headed over to gather a big bag.  The gathering of acorns is just as much fun as an egg hunt. The kids had a blast and we helped clean off grandma’s yard!
Once we got them all home, we did a variety of activities including the uppercase and lowercase letter matching.

Acorn Upper Case Lower Case Letter Matching-page-0We worked on numbers and counting too. Amelia just counted them over and over again as she dumped them out and put them back in a bowl. Connor and I have been working on counting past 10 and grouping into groups of ten to see how the numbers look. It is one thing to count by rote; it is a whole other thing to understand how our number system works.
I had created a chart for Connor to visualize counting out the numbers in columns of 10. I left enough space to both place counting items as well as space to practice writing out his numbers.

acorns

Downloaded it here: Counting Worksheets

I hope to try and do some crafting with them soon. I have seen some adorable crafts with googly eyes, but Amelia still insists on tearing off every googly eye she finds on one of our crafts.I have found a few other cool acorns activities too! We can’t wait to try these too.

FREE Roll and Color – Fall Edition from Blessed Beyond a Doubt

Acorn Fine Motor Fall Sensory Activities Science And Math Play from Little Bins

Glitter Acorns from Feels Like Home

In the meantime, they look lovely just in a pretty wooden bowl.

Acorns

31 days 2014


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Lower Case Letters (and a free printable!)

One of the areas that we needed to work on with Connor when he entered kindergarten was learning to identify all of his lower case letters.  Despite, thinking that we had this covered, this was an area that he needed some reinforcement with.

lower case letters

I found the following resources so very helpful (and fun too) and we came up with a few activities of our own!

Wildflower Ramblings published these awesome Alphabet Lego Cards: http://wildflowerramblings.com/homeschooling/alphabet-lego-cards-lowercase/

Life Over C’s created adorable printable cars for sorting and matching:
http://lifeovercs.com/free-alphabet-sorting-activity/#.U8lnJ1Y6HwI

Of course there are a bazillion more on Pinterest!

We have been sorting and matching Uppercase and Lowercase with Melissa and Doug’s Magnetic Wooden Letters. Connor even put them in alphabetic order as he made pairs!

lower caseAlso spread out  52 post-its on the living room floor with upper and lower case letters for Connor to find and match.  Using post-its kept the papers from flying around and Connor could then easily stick the pairs onto the door after he had found them.

lower case letters Collage lower case lettersThis was definitely a kindergartener only activity.  He needed a few breaks and a certain baby sister would have just created havoc with this activity!

We were also inspired by a worksheet that had in kindergarten.  It was a dot marker activity identifying different lower case letters.  We made our own to include all 52 letters to do a matching activity and since it is fall – we used acorns!  Acorn Upper Case Lower Case Letter Matching-page-0Download a free printable here:  Acorn Upper Case Lower Case Letter Matching

We have been doing all kinds of cool stuff with acorns!

learning lower case letters

At last progress report he can readily identify 25 lower cares letters – we are working on that tricky j!

31 days 2014


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New Sticker Charts

sticker chartSticker charts are nothing new in our family.  I pull them out frequently when things get rough.  I have have used them for increasing positive behavior including morning and bedtime routines and especially potty training.  Connor has been very receptive and not so long ago I tried them again with both kids to try and get out morning time back on track.

Amelia was not quite making the connection.  I do think that mostly she is just too young to really get the concept, but she does love stickers!  And Connor needed some more positive reinforcement in a much more concrete “catch him being good” kind of way. So I tried something different.  In the past I used a grid system that was all inclusive and had categories for each day.  If something didn’t go right, there was a big sad empty space in a square. Connor had also received some sort of reward when it was all filled.  This was very helpful when we did potty training, but I was looking for something different.

sticker chart

This time I used a sheet of four cards, cut them up and let the kids glue together their own charts. I didn’t use any grids, just color coded paper and with the task at the top of each page. Connor gets green, Amelia gets pink!

sticker chart

I then helped the kids hang them up in the room that the activity would be taking place. This way there is immediate reinforcement for good behavior.  Without the grid, there is no pressure to fill every square and we can use some odd shaped stickers!

One challenge we are having is that Amelia really likes to take off the stickers.  She totally gets which ones are hers and which ones are her brothers.  She just likes to steal his!  But then again, sometimes she takes all of hers and puts them on his chart… You never know with that one!  Connor was also uncomfortable at first because there wasn’t a grid and he thus he didn’t know how many he would need to get a present.  He also didn’t seem to hear me when I said I didn’t think we needed to do presents this time!

31 days 2014


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Christmas Science for Kids

I was very excited to receive Carla’s ebook, 25 Christmas Science Projects for Kids from Preschool Powol Packets! Christmas ScienceThere are so many great science activities for kids, all with simple ingredients, directions and some explanation about the science concept you are learning about.

Christmas Science

I pulled out the book and Connor and I went through it, identifying what he most wanted to do and then I picked out a few more using the same ingredients or ones we already had on hand.  His first choice…. Santa Boogers!

Christmas ScienceFirst of all, go ahead and ignore the kitchen renovation going on in the background.  We have been ignoring it successfully for months!

Christmas ScienceSanta Boogers is a slime recipe made with white glue and borax.  I had never made slime before since Connor is my “clean” kid who literally doesn’t like to get his hands dirty.  I wasn’t quite sure how he would fair with this.  One of the many cool things about Santa Boogers is that it transforms before his eyes.  It isn’t goopy or sticky and is super cool to play with.  Both kids loved it!

Next up was different projects with pine cones and icicles!  I think we were able to do about 6 Christmas science projects from the book in one afternoon with plenty left to try when it gets closer to the holidays!

santa 4 santa 3

You can download 25 Christmas Science Projects for Kids or you can also check it out on Kindle!

31 days 2014


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Books and sewing!

books and sewing

After watching Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile performed at the Cape Rep Children Summer Theater while we were on Cape Cod last summer, both Connor and Amelia have been big fans of crocodiles.  Our local librarians have been great in tracking down every last Lyle, Lyle book through inter-library loan.

Lyle booksWe also read an adorable book called My Blue Bunny Bobbit, a sweet tale about making a young girl and her grandmother stuffed animal for a new baby brother coming home, just like her own Blue Bunny Bubbit.

My Blue Bunny BubbitI used to sew and make quilts a lot, you know before kids! Connor while has never expressed much interest in sewing until we read this book.  Given his current obsession with Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile, it seemed perfect to make a stuffed crocodile.  After doing some quick research (aka Pinterest), I decided that using a simple pattern, basically just the outline of an animal sewed around the edges and stuffed, like a pillow.

First we needed the shape of a crocodile!  A quick image search gave us a shape we both like and enlarged it to fit the computer monitor.  Then I placed a pierce of large easel paper over the screen and Connor held it while I traced the outline on the sheet of paper.  I did this after explaining that Connor was never, ever allowed to do this!

Lyle 2

Next I drew in the seam allowance, making adjustments as I went, knowing that the simpler the lines the better.  I pinned the whole sheet to an old pillowcase that I had in my fabric stash.  While I rarely get to sew anymore, I still hold on to that stash!

lyle 3

I cut out the pattern, really keeping the lines simple.  Then I added some embroidery and embellishments, like the buttons, before I turned right sides together, sewed around the edges, turned right side out and stuffed!

Lyle 6

I later found these patterns, of the bunny and elephant from the book, online that are also very simple.

31 days 2014


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