Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Advents

I can't believe it's December and I'm blogging outside in this humid 80 degree weather.  While I'm posting I'm being entertained by this scooter ballet.

and a little hopscotch spelling

To say I LOVE Christmas is an understatement.  I'm usually playing my music and start creating all my new decorations starting in August.  Just listening to a Christmas carol makes me start weeping.  My all time favorite part about Christmas is celebrating Jesus birth with a party!  

Now, what is that rule about birthday's you get a week before and a week after to claim those free desserts at restaurants.  Well since Jesus is extra special it makes since that we get to celebrate much longer then 2 weeks!  Thats why we have multiple advents...there is just too much celebrating to fill the month.

Yesterday we started with our first "project" our 
Countdown prayer chain.

yup, same old supplies!

I gave the girls the job of telling me the names of different people or places and I wrote their answers on the back of each strip of paper.  

The TOP link!

We hung the chain next to our chair.  Each night as I sing and pray with my children we will take a link off our chain and pray for the person or place that is written on our link.

We also have our advent under the tree

Each day we have one of our Christmas books wrapped up.
I also have a few activities wrapped up, like family movie night, gingerbread house, making Christmas cards, a nutcracker that we will paint and their aprons and cake mix so we can bake Jesus birthday cake.  

making cookies

watching and meeting the Radio City Rockettes. (Coppelia has been saying that she wants to be a Rockette for 3 years now)
The Birthday Party!

Here is the advent calendar I made for my nieces and nephews a few years back.

each day they have a bag they open.  

Some bags have a piece of paper with a number.  That is for a gift that may be under the tree.  Some of them have a simple activities like going caroling or driving around to see Christmas lights.  I even have a special version of "The Night Before Christmas" that I have rewritten for their family.

Last year I embellished some stockings for my brothers family.  There activity for the day was to decorate the fireplace mantal and they had a new gift to do that with.

Even with all the fun books and activities there is something that is always going on in this house...

and more dancing 
and more dancing 
and more dancing.

Here are some of my favorite memories

They use to pull all there instruments to the baby gate and sing around the tree.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Boogie in the Barnyard

We recently had a family move in across the street.  They have 6 kids, 5 of whom are girls and one of the girls I discovered had an imaginary ballet teacher.  Well I couldn't deprive her of the real deal so I invited them to join our dance class.  So today every child that could walk came for a lesson and even the only boy wanted to participate (in some of the activities).

I'm not sure how well this new arrangement will work because the neighbors also have a little baby and Coppelia was much more excited about playing with her then dancing.

Regardless, we did some very fun activities today and although I didn't take many pictures I do have pictures from when we originally started this themed week back in July.
art day
music day

The great thing about the arts is that they can tie into to just about every subject.  They are a great foundation to academics and when you teach them, in the process your educating the whole child.  Today we meshed up two of the arts, music and dance.
We took our 4 hula hoops and inside we placed 4 music symbols.
In the first hoop we placed this
This is the symbol for a quarter rest.  This rest receives 1count.
So when we marched to the rest symbol we froze on each beat (making it looks like we were doing the robot)

In the second hoop
This is a quarter note
It also receives 1 count.
When we marched to this note we did shoulder shrugs to the beat.

In the third hoop

 This is a half note
It receives 2 counts.
When we marched to this note we jumped out (feet apart and arms up) for 2 counts and then jumped back in (feet together, hands on hips) for 2 counts.

In the fourth hoop
This is a whole note
It receives 4 counts.
When we marched to this note we made a windmill with our bodies
standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms above head.  We make a giant circle with our bodies only bending from our hips.  When we reach the top we give a clap on the 4th count.

(knee's should not bend, I just wanted to give you a visual)

Since we are tying in Jazz music with our Barnyard boogie week we did this exercise to
"Straighten Up and Fly Right"
by Nat King Cole.

We then did a movement story about the farm waking up.
The sun came up and the rooster let out a big Cock-a-doodle-doo.
Then the dog woke up up with a shake, shake, shake.
Then the cat woke up with some lazy stretches.
She spotted a bird and decided she was hungry for some breakfast.
The cat got ready to pounce but the bird flew away just in the nick of time.

We introduced the barre today

We talked about holding the barre correctly and why we use the barre.
We worked on lifting our toes and elevé.

We then moved to center where we worked on our jumps.

There are 4 steps to a jump

1- plie (bend of the knee)
2 - jump
3 - land in plie
4 - stretch or straighten

We worked on two types of jumps making sure to clearly define each step during our exercise.

At this age I don't spend much time at the barre and I think it's important to break up the slow movement time so kids don't get bored.

So we did an activity learning about space.
Each child is given a hula hoop and when they stand inside of the hoop we call this their personal space.  All the space outside of the hoop is the general space.
We danced inside of their personal space and when I'd yell switch they would dance around the general space.

Once again incorporating jazz into this theme
We used the song
"Boogie In the Barnyard"
 by The Bellhops

Lastly we used our giant music staff

Then we did a portion of our movement story.
Each animal represents a note in the middle of the two staffs.  By dancing or moving along this giant diagram we are reiterating and hopefully sticking to memory what note belongs where.

D- The dog wags his tail and then chases after the cat
C- The cat leaps (we did a pas de chat) away from the dog
then the cat sees the bird and just as he jumps
B- The bird flaps his wings and flies away

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Cousin Circus

Here it is fokes!

Prepare yourselves to be astounded 
as you witness this highly anticipated performance.
We bring you Clowns,
wild animals,
death defying acts.



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adventures with Dan & Louie

We've all heard stories about the good ole' days when our grandparents or great grandparents would sit around the radio and tune into their favorite programs.  I smile every time Mamah tells me how she used to listen to "As the World Turns" before it was ever a soap opera on TV.

As a young child I remember listening to children's musicals on my record player.  I suppose for that time it wasn't exactly a common thing.  But how wonderful the experience is to turn off the visual (TV) and use our imagination to see the pictures in our mind.  Turning off and tuning in, is a great way to exercise our creative capacity.

Years ago my sister introduced me to Dan & Louie

The stories run like the old time radio programs.  They always begin with Louie (the dummy) having some sort of problem so Dan and him take a trip to the bible storybook castle to find the answers.

 My girls are always laughing at Louie's antics and I love how well the stories are told and the amount of detail that is included, I'm even learning new things.

Dan and Louie have replaced much of our TV time.  In fact it's the girls that request listening to them.  While they listen they go along with their play; dolls, puzzles, arts and crafts, creating booby traps, all the while listening.  Last night I let the girls listen to a few stories after I tucked them in.  Later I heard Coppelia screaming for me and I go running to her room and she very enthusiastically says, "MOM, did you know Jesus turned water into wine?"  

I seriously love these stories and knowing my kids love them makes them all the more wonderful.  Christmas is a few months aways and it would make an excellent gift from parents or grandparents.  That's how we gifted them to our girls and I promise you it is worth the investment.

 You can purchases them here as downloads or on disk.

And because we love our musicals around here, 
I thought I'd share with you some of our other favorite children's musicals to listen too.

Estee's favorite!!!

These are the ones I plan to add to the girls collection this Christmas.

all these Cd's can be purchased here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

American Kids in a Third World Country

For the random strangers that do follow my blog, sorry for my lack of posts this past 6 weeks.  I've had a revolving door of company and my priorities shifted.  Although we had bits and pieces of Mommy school finding the time to document and post them was another thing I just could not make time for.  I will catch you all up on theses activities and projects very soon.  Many of my planed weeks went unfinished and I still have loads of fun activities to get through.  Pre-K starts next week so my plan is to play catch up on our free days.

For the majority of this break we had a very special family come and visit us.

This is my sister Heidi her husband Chris and their amazingly awesome kids
Larissa, Brailynn and Caleb.

My sister and her family are missionaries in Africa.  I only get to see them every 4 years so to my surprise my nieces have both grown taller then me and my nephew is no longer a little kid.  For the first time my girls were able to build relationships with their Aunt, Uncle and cousins and I think it really stinks they live so far away.

Before the girls met their cousins they had a skype relationship with them.  Basically my nieces and nephew would call and ask "Can we just watch the girls?" and so via skype, my girls would entertain the kids on the computer.  When talking to the girls about their cousins we would tell them they lived in Africa.  They could point it out on a map and tell us they wanted to go see them.  Of course I told them it was a very long ride in an airplane so they mapped out a better way, first driving to the Atlantic, taking ship across the ocean and then (making me laugh to hear what goes on in their little brains) A donkey all the way across Africa!!!!  

When the girls learned that they lived near the Nile Coppelia asked her Auntie, "Is it still all bloody?" (The girls are obsessed with the story of Moses and all of the plagues, it's their favorite story to act out.)

People often ask me about my nieces and nephew, what are they like being American kids living in a third world country?

Well, their different... 

In a GREAT way!

The only way I can describe them is by comparing them to American kids and that's totally unfair.

In some ways they are way more mature. They are more thoughtful, compassionate and self-less.  They have not been marketed by endless ways of advertisement and are uniquely themselves and not a reflection of our consumer happy world.  They don't know who or what is cool besides what they themselves have determined.

The typical child grows up WAY too fast now a days and unlike them they have not lost their ability to  play.  An example...

We had to take off for a few days and my 13 year old niece says to the 15 year old, "want to play dollhouse?" The 15 year old says "sure" and they did.

Some of you may think that's weird, but I think it's refreshing.  Look what growing up to fast has done to the kids of today.  

more examples of how awesome they are...

They played 5 hours straight of hospital

complete with mental institution 
and I found this note when cleaning up

They were teaching my kids their training in disaster/crises situations. 

they took every floatation device they could find and built a boat

When given cardboard Caleb made some seriously cool armor

Sure they have little arguments but I've never seen siblings lift up and encourage one another like they do.  Nobody else will ever know what it's like to live the way they live or experience the things they experience.  More siblings should take the time to build those relationships.

I'll probably never become a missionary or live in a third world country.  But I hope my kids can turn out as good as them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Perfect Toy

Have you ever walked into a Goodwill or consignment store and found the most perfect item?  That's what happened to me a few weeks back when I was with my mother.  We went to the kids consignment store and up high on a shelf sat a little theatre.  Along with the set came different backdrops, stage props, dolls and costumes, my Mom looked at me and said, "you have to get it!"  

It's been the perfect addition for our Mommy school.  I have been able to introduce the girls to new theatre terms like upstage, downstage and center stage.  We like to pretend the orchestra is warming up in the orchestra pit and the dancers are waiting back stage.  Although the set came with its stuffed doll they use it for their doll house dolls too.  One morning I woke up to find they had made stadium setting for all the dolls to enjoy the show.  The also use it for their ballerina's.  

Why limit ourselves with the props it came with?  A few Christmas trees, the fireplace we made with popsicle sticks and the stage is now set for The Nutcracker.

An amazing find that will be played with for years to come!