Monday, March 19, 2018

Books & Building Letters

Anytime I can teach something through an experience, I do!  It's always worth the effort because the content sticks better & my kids enjoy it so much more.  With this activity, you could honestly build letters with anything, but I particularly like this book & these blocks to stimulate creative critical thinking .... you know, 'cause I'm always about that brain ;-)  I initially made this activity to practice our letters and phonics, which it does very well, but it also has been a really fantastic task to encourage the engineering & creative outlets in their brains; to think outside of the box and have innovative ways to create their letters using the blocks.  To encourage that type of thinking just makes the neuroscientist in me completely geek out!Books and Building Letters- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
Albert's Alphabet is a book about a duck who is a school's carpenter.  It was requested of him to build an alphabet by the walking path on the playground.  Unfortunately, he does not have enough time or materials so he has to get creative in building the alphabet.DSC_0352
For this activity, I actually bought two copies of this book: a copy to read & a copy to cut up (Yes, cut.... like with scissors, GASP!).  I cut up the pages of each letter & laminated them so that they were like flashcards.  I also purchased these blocks (great natural & safe blocks with a carrying bag) for the activities we would do after reading the book.
Once we read the book, I showed my kids the flashcards I made & asked them to create their own versions of the letters using the blocksDSC_0359
So if you get a chance, order this book (twice) AND practice your letters with some building blocks.  Friends, have fun growing those brains!
Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not compensated in anyway for these products; I just really like them :-)
xoxo Darby

Friday, March 16, 2018

Leprechaun Paint

I had not planned on writing this post but I got a lot of comments about it on my Instagram stories so I thought I would share how I combined art with science for St. Patrick's Day fun :-) I told the kids that we were going to paint with "Leprechaun Paint" and they were hooked! And honestly, you really could do this for any holiday, just change up the colors, right?!Leprechaun Paint- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
To make your Leprechaun Paint, you need:
-paper cut into a shamrock (I used cardstock so that it would fall apart so quickly)
-a disposable pan
-green paint & paint brush
-baking soda
-pipette (I used this one)
-white vinegarDSC_0266
I mixed up the green paint & baking soda.  I didn't really measure, but I'm going to guess about 3 tbs of each, in a plastic cup.  With the shamrock in the disposable pain, I got the kids to paint it with the green paint I mixed up.  DSC_0269
When their paper was covered, I asked them what they thought would happen once we added the vinegar to the Leprechaun paint.  We talked about predictions (or hypotheses if I'm going to be technically correct here- can't take the neuroscientist out of the mama ha!), and then I let them pipette (great for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination) the vinegar onto their shamrocks and let them watch it fizz.  It fizzes up a lot like the volcanos you make in elementary school when you're little.DSC_0272DSC_0273DSC_0274
Super fun and easy activity to talk about the holiday, create an art project, talk about the science of chemical reactions, & fine motor & hand-eye coordination.  All of that in one task!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Don't forget to wear your green!
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What You Might Not Know

Okay it's time to peel back some more layers, and let you know just a few more things you might not know about yours truly.Five Facts
Previous lists of weird Hawley-isms for more distractions hehehe
1. PRISON- With a starter like that, I imagine I know what you're thinking.  Ha! But you're wrong!  Right before I moved to Houston I worked for the Department of Corrections writing the science curriculum (earth science, biology, chemistry, & physics) for high school students who were incarcerated.  Did you know that youth who are in prison still have to go to school? Well they do; it's just a bit challenging to teach the same lesson using a bunsen burner that a non-incarcerated student would learn.  I helped create unique ways to teach the same lessons & went into the facilities to train teachers to use technology to teach incarcerated youth the same concepts that were being taught in the public school system.  Truly a wonderful experience!  So I have been to prison, many times, but not court mandated.

2. ALONE IN EUROPE- Between my sophomore & junior year in high school, I spent a summer touring Europe, 8 countries, as an ambassador of music for the state.  I qualified in a state competition as the 3rd alto, and so I sang my way across Europe by myself.  It was one of the single most terrifying, thrilling, and life changing events in my life.  From the things I saw (from landscape to concentration camps), people I met, how I matured, truly changed who I am, and I am forever grateful for those 2.5 months alone in Europe singing blues and jazz.

3. DANCE- I danced for 24 years in some form of organized group.   I have danced everything from ballet and swing, to tap and hip hop.  I love it all.....though hip hop is by far my favorite.  I have danced for private dance schools, UDA (even invited to dance in the Macy's Day parade!), and even in high school and college (I was the captain for 3 years in HS & 3 years in college). I dropped out of dance team my 4th year of college so that I could prep for graduate school.  But dance team is actually how I met the Mr.  He played basketball, number 33, and I used to dance at his games.  I used to thing he was the hottest man on the I just had to marry that man! I sure did love watching that hunk shoot hoops, and while everyone around me knew how much I liked him, it took a while to finally hit me lol

4. ELEVEN PIERCINGS- There was this Facebook status going around for a while, you know one of those where you copy, paste it into your status, & fill in the blanks.  I never participate in those, but for some reason I did a few months ago.  One of the questions was how many piercings do I have.  I wrote 11, and I got SO many comments on that.  Apparently that was really shocking for everyone.  But it's true!  My first piercing I got was my ears when I was 6 years old (the doctor did it, and clearly not the most trained because it was too far back, so my 2nd ear piercing is actually in front of my second).  When I was younger, my mom would always do this thing where when I was stressed about something or getting ready to try out for something, she would surprise me with a trip to get my ears pierced.  Sooooo maybe I was an anxious kid? Maybe I tried out for too many things? Maybe I liked getting stuff pierced? I don't know! lol So I have 4 paired piercings in each ear- that's 8 if you're not a math person ;-), plus a cartilage piercing.  When I was 15 I got my belly button pierced and then when I was in college I got my nose pierced.  I still have all of my piercings even if I don't wear metal with them all the time.

Okay, I know that I said I was going to share 5, but 4 is all my brain can handle tonight ha!  
There is a dip into my past for you.  
Learn anything new? 
Did I shock you??
xoxo Darby

Monday, March 12, 2018

Egg Double Dice + FREE Printable

When you bring chocolate into the classroom you can REALLY capture your audience! Ha! We've used the "Roll. Write. Dice" (FREE download from last spring here) for a while, but we're starting to progress & need something a little more advanced now, so I thought of DOUBLE DICE!!! So I've made a more advanced, and of course seasonal, version for you for FREE today :-)Easter Double Dice- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
With my previous version of Roll. Write. Dice. only ONE dice was involved so the numbers only went up to six. We are way passed that number now so we need to push for more challenge. (Sidebar, I actually just now looked up the singular vs. the plural form for dice).  With this updated version, you will use two dice, which not only will give you numbers up to 12, but also allows instruction time for addition.  So first, go HERE to download the latest version to print off (I also laminated mine but you could also use page protectors).  Using these foam dice, your child will roll to identify the two numbers and then add them.  Using a dry erase marker they can write the sum as a word or a digit, and then count out the corresponding number of Easter eggs (I like Cadbury Eggs, YUM!) to put in the Easter basket. So much fun (and yummy too!).
xoxo Darby

Friday, March 9, 2018

Composition Book Ideas

Do you remember marble notebooks from grade school? I added these to our homeschool activities back in September & love how this affordable notebook is so versatile!  I want to share several ways that you could use this notebook with your preschooler without downloading a thing & minimal planning & purchases!Composition Activities- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
You can purchase several versions of these notebooks at any office supply store.  To be honest, I got mine at HEB.  I like the primary grade version because it has the multicolored lines for handwriting practice, but it also has space at the top of each page for drawing, etc. (similar to mine here).  Besides markers, I also use dot markers, stickers, & wooden letter stamps with our composition books.  With all of those supplies, here are some of the activities that we do in our workbooks:
Using a marker, I will draw a letter or a number and ask my kids to trace it with dot markers or with stamps.DSC_0140DSC_0166DSC_0162DSC_0169

To practice basic handwriting, I will make letters and numbers out of dots and get my kids to trace them.  Here we can talk about how to write letters and often I will draw something at the top of the page with them that starts with the corresponding letter.  Occasionally, I will cut out items that start with that letter and we put the items in the shape of that letter, or give them stickers to put in the shape of a letter.DSC_0161DSC_0156DSC_0167
I do the exact same thing with numbers!  I will model the numbers & provide the dots for tracing.  With dots, I put a lot when they are first starting but slowly put fewer so they have to do more and more on their own.DSC_0155
Another activity to practice letters is to put a bunch of letters in rows and columns and ask them to put a dot on, sticker on, or simply circle a particular letter.DSC_0157
Another fun way to practice finding letters, but also learning the difference between uppercase & lowercase letters, I will put a bunch of numbers & letters in rows and columns.  I will assign one color to the uppercase letter and another color to the corresponding lowercase letter and ask Dutch to find them & apply the correct color dots.

Another fun way to practice fine motor skills is to cut out pieces of paper & glue them in the notebook in the shape of a letter/number/shape that you're working on your kiddo with.

To practice numbers, counting, and matching, I will put numbers on one side and dots for the different numbers on the opposite side of the page.  The child has to identify the number, count the number of dots and then match them.DSC_0158
To practice shapes, colors, number recognition, & counting, I will draw different color shapes with numbers inside them.  The kids have to identify the color & number for each shape and put the corresponding number of dots in the same color in each shape.DSC_0159
Occasionally if I have a download or a printable, I will glue the activity in the notebook.  I really like to put the ones that involved cutting and gluing in their notebooks.DSC_0163
To practice motions for handwriting, holding a writing utensil, and size comparison, I will get them to trace different sized shapes, and them ask them, "Can you put a blue dot in the biggest square? Can you put a yellow dot in the smallest rectangle?"DSC_0164
With counting and shapes, I will draw some shapes and ask "Can you put three stickers in the circle? Can you put one sticker in the heart?"DSC_0168
Another really easy task that is great for helping to form great writing habits is to draw dotted lines and get your child to trace them staying on the line.DSC_0165
We also use our books for seasonal celebrations! "Can you decorate the Christmas tree?", "Can you decorate the Valentine's heart?", & "Can you put fall colored leaves on the tree?".
See, for the most part you don't need to print off anything for preparation!  You can draw all of this in their notebooks while they're sitting right next to you.  Really easy and fun! As a selfish desire, I love looking back through these books as a record of how they have improved, & I know that both of my kids love their notebooks and are so proud of their work! Do you use composition notebooks with your preschooler already?
Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review, I just really like these products.
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Real Coffee Break (+FOUR Freebies!)

I figured it out.  I found more time.

We all want more time!  But no one ever figures out how to get more time or how to maximize the time we have.  It's too hard.  We cram too much into the day.  We do too much. We want to do too much. We have to do too much.

Since my bestie just had baby #3 (remember I made this sprinkle bag for her?) I was trying to think of a gift for her.  Not just a gift, but a good gift. I really can't stand giving gifts just to give a gift; it has to be a good gift.  When we have so much to do, we all want more time.  And what mother has time for a coffee break?!  I've never met one!  So I made her a coffee break bag.  Everyone in the workplace (out of the home workplace, just to clarify & not step on any toes) gets a coffee break, and mothers of small children, of all people, deserve and have EARNED a coffee break.  So enters, the coffee break bag without guilt!!  A Real Coffee Break- Life with the Hawleys
Allow me to explain this brilliant idea (just play along & let me call myself brilliant; I don't get many chances for those kinds of labels).  There are many times throughout the day where you not only want a coffee break, but you NEED one quite honestly......a time out from what you've been doing.  A time to regroup or collect yourself before you say or do something you later regret or feel guilty about (I hope I'm not the only one here).  With little toddlers this happens on the reg, so the next time you are having one of these moments you just grab your prepared Coffee Break Bag. As I was making this for my bestie, I quickly realized that I needed to make 2 of everything, because I needed a bag for myself too lolDSC_0441
Inside this bag I have packed, with all the instructions and supplies needed, 14 activities that are SIMPLE, but will buy you a few minutes where mom (grandma, auntie, nanny, or dad) can grab a cup of coffee in peace. All of the activities are educational, reusable, & fun; none of them require scissors, glue, or a screen (let the angels sing over that one!). 

I keep my Coffee Break Bag hidden so that we don't play with these activities and they remain novel.  I save my Coffee Break Bag for that moment right before my brain teeters out of my skull onto the floor, & I tell my kids they get to pick a surprise game to play while mama goes to warm up her coffee.  They reach in, without looking, and pick a "game".  Then, once I've collected my brain off the floor with my caffeine, I rejoin the group & participate in the activity.  (Dramatic much, Darby??? Just a little). 

In all seriousness, dramatics aside, sometimes we just need a moment to collect ourselves, and this bag has helped me so much with a terrible 2 & a terrible 3 happening at the same time.  Some people call these activities "busy bags," but I'm not going to lie to myself.  This bag is clearly for a coffee break, but if you were going on a trip this would be fun to pack for the road (other road trip ideas).  I don't like to just throw something at my kids and say "mommy needs a break so do this" (if you say this line, I'm not judging you at all; do your thing mama.  I know you're doing what's right & best for you & your family. That line just fills me with guilt & anxiety so I avoid it at all cost). Instead, I want something to bring them an experience, a lesson, a skill, or some form of development.  I've found that having prepared items helps my kids AND my mama guilt.

Sooooooo let me share some of the activities I put in our Coffee Break Bags (Here are the labels I made, that you can print off---for FREE!!).  I made these labels, printed them in color on cardstock, & then laminated.  Each activity is individually packed in a ziplock bag with all of the materials needed & instructions.  Just to make sure that everything lasts and is reusable, each package was laminated.
Chain Counting- (Get FREE printable here) Using these links, ask your child to connect the links to the card with the corresponding number, e.g. card with the number 6 gets a chain made of 6 links, etc.DSC_0452
Color Clip Matching- (Get FREE printable here)  You could print off images, stickers from your child's favorite show, color stickers, shapes, even sight words, or letters/numbers.... basically anything you want.  I used these sticker dots to just stick on the cards and then I laminated them. Using clothes pins, my kids have to match the colors.  This is such an easy way to customize a task for your child where there is self correction but also usable for various age groups and levels of cognition.DSC_0453
Pipe Cleaner Shapes- (Get FREE printable here) Have your child make each shape on the card out of pipe cleaners.  This is an easy reusable task that will assist in learning shapes and fine motor skills.DSC_0460
Rubber Band Counting- With numbers written on each popsicle stick, the child has to slip the corresponding number of rubber bands onto the popsicle stick.  If your child is past the preschool age, use these sticks to talk about addition & subtraction.DSC_0447
Pom Pom Counting- Count out the number of pom poms for each number shown on the card.  As the child ages you can convert this into an addition/subtraction task.DSC_0448
Make a Bracelet- Thread different color beads onto a pipe cleaner until you make a bracelet or a necklace. Awesome for fine motor skills.DSC_0449
Face Drawing- The psychologist in me loves this task.  The child is asked to draw on the face, with a dry erase marker, the emotion that is velcroed onto the bottom of the card.  This leads to great conversations about emotions, the perception of emotions in others, & the correct way to conduct yourself when you are feeling a certain way.DSC_0450
Popsicle Matching- Match the popsicle with the same color popsicle stick.  A great tactile task to practice colors.DSC_0451
Felt Chain- Wrap the strips of felt & connect with velcro into a chain. Fun fine motor task.DSC_0454
Caterpillar Counting- To practice colors, number recognition, & counting, match the number of pom poms to the caterpillar cards.DSC_0456
Alphabet Connection- Using the plastic chain link, match the upper case letter to the lower case letter.  When your child can do that, then you can progress to spelling the child's name, and other sight words using multiple chain links.DSC_0457
Animal Rainbow- This is a great fine motor & sorting task.  You could ask your child to sort by color or animal.DSC_0458
Lacing- For fine motor development, ask your child to thread the string around the cards. We also like these DSC_0459
Chain Patterns- Using the chain links, create a chain to match the pattern on the card.  Then ask your child to make a pattern for you to copy.DSC_0461If you want to make this as a gift for a new mama, I also threw in some new slippers, a new coffee mug, & book (like she has time for that lol) about how much she means to me as a friend.DSC_0438 Do you have something like this?
What do you do for a "coffee break" in your home?
Please share your tips & tricks with me!!!!Hawley Homeschool
xoxo Darby
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