Some More Eggucational Activities

Compiling the eggceptional list  of eggucational activities really got me brainstorming. Here are the descriptions of my personal additions!

Babies:

Pick an egg, say the animal sound and have the child choose the picture of the animal that says that sound.

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Toddlers:

Match the beginning letter sound with the picture.

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Preschoolers:

Match the geometric shape with the number of sides.

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Match the picture with the word.

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Work on division skills by sharing eggs equally amongst a specified number of people. Work on classification by sorting eggs by color and graphing the results.

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Find rhyming words and put them together. Extend this activity by asking them to add another rhyming word to the pair. IMG_2531

Primary Grades K-2

Match the shape with the correct name. Incorporate a variety of geometry terms such as acute angle, line, vertices, etc.

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Intermediate Grades 3-5

Match Equivalent Fractions

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Match a mixture of decimals, percentages and fractions. This is an incredibly valuable skill in the “real world”!

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Really challenge them by doing this mixed math activity. It can be adapted to any academic level and really gets them thinking in different ways.IMG_2570

Help reinforce memorization of states and capitals.  IMG_2522

Make big numbers by placing varying digits on each egg half. Have students grab any 2 halves and put the egg together to create a new number.  Have them write the number out, emphasizing proper comma placement and then read the number aloud. You can even make it into a game by seeing who can make the highest number.

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Middle And High School

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Here is a list of ideas for middle and high schoolers:

  • Balancing chemical equations
  • Inventors and inventions
  • Famous literary quotes
  • Bible Verses
  • Sports teams and mascots
  • metric conversions (cm, mm, dm)
  • foreign language vocabulary

Please add any other eggcellent ideas you come across. Be sure to #strollersavvy!

Why Children Should Color Outside the Lines

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A dear cousin gave Jake this beautiful piece of art when he was born. We promptly hung it in his room.

Fast forward 4 years to this St. Patrick’s Day craft we were doing.  Jake spent a lot of time working on his project, putting the colors in rainbow order. He would add a few dots in different spots “for creativity”, and I was cool with that.

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Then I ran upstairs to get the babies, came back down and found this:

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At first I was very upset.  His picture looked so good and now he had ruined it. (Shamefully, in the back of my mind I was thinking “ugggh, I was planning to post this picture on the blog!”)  I started to yell at him, then I looked at his face. Full of wide-eyed innocence he said “I was seeing what happens when I mixed it all up” with such pride in his voice.  After all, we do LOVE the book Mix It Up!

I took a step back and the words “color outside the lines” kept flashing in my mind.  I had a choice- berate him because his art didn’t look like the cookie-cutter example, while squashing his creativity, diminishing his confidence (he is a perfectionist, so this risk he took was HUGE), and quelling his curiosity OR smile, tell him I loved all of the colors he used and proceed with a science experiment on how long it will take to dry. (For the record, he immediately deduced that we should put it outside to dry faster. Furthermore, I neglected to put paper under it, left it in the rain, and now have a green-stained deck, but that’s beside the point.)

This simple project meant as a holiday decoration reminded me of all of the the things I want for my son.

I want him to take risks and be unafraid of failure.

I want him to to express his creativity and individuality without pressure to conform.

I want him to think outside the box without repercussion.

I want him to be spontaneous and have fun without holding back.

I want him to try new things without the constraints of perfectionism.

I want him to act with passion not restriction.

In the end, it was a lesson learned for all. He gained valuable art, science, fine motor, and personal growth experience, and I learned to let go of preconceived notions and just let him be.

Life doesn’t have to fit neatly between the lines. Color it any way you want!

P.S.   I still despise paint and did not enjoy the mess, but it is so very worth it.

The #1 Way to Turn Your Luck Around

In this picture you see the joy, the smiles, the love.

What you don’t see is the job loss, the financial troubles, the marital stress, the difficult decisions, the  grief, the day to day exhaustion, the anxiety, the guilt.

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It is so easy to judge others, to make assumptions. You wouldn’t know it from meeting me, but if we were in a “when bad things happen to good people” contest, I would be right up there on the podium. Suffice it to say that  I have been unlucky enough that at my Grandma’s funeral the man of God delivering the eulogy literally said “no offense, but if there is lightning outside at the burial, I will not stand next to you”. Awesome, right?

That negative man would be hard-pressed to believe that the smiling people in the picture are legitimately happy. We don’t hide our realities from anyone; we just don’t let them define us. Here’s the reality: Life is tough. Everyone has their burdens. But if you are blinded by the negativity, it is nearly impossible to see all of the incredible things that life really does have to offer.

Yes, last year was a very challenging year for us, but we were HAPPY!  How couldn’t we be? It was an amazing year!

Hubby’s company folded right after the twins were born…  and together we were able to witness all of the incredible stages the first year brings- first smiles, foods, rolling, crawling, walking, first words, bonding, wonder, amazement.

We struggled financially…but the kids didn’t know it! They loved spending time with us, they loved each other. They showed us what was most important. We tightened our already frugal budget and anytime we felt “too cramped” in our house all we had to do was look around and see how happy they were.

We were exhausted and stressed…  and our exuberant 3-year-old made us laugh every single day. He amazed us with his budding reading and math skills, his tender heart, and his relentless joy for life.

We mourned the loss of three close family members… we stepped back to soak in the positive memories, thankful that we at least had those. We were able to see many of our out-of-state relatives. We remembered to cherish the short time we have on earth.

We learned some harsh realities about who our true friends and family are… and we embraced those that mattered. Together we celebrated marriages and baby announcements and knew who we could count on.

Our marriage took a toll… and we pushed each other to seek out the good, recognize that it was a challenging time, and fight for our relationship.

We felt stuck and had wanted to move for years… and we accepted the challenge to move across the country ready for a fresh start and a blank slate.

We sold our house, we bought a new one.

It is easy to see how we could have thrown a pity party much of last year, but look at all that we would have missed out on!  Rather than feel sorry for ourselves or let it consume us, we chose to see the positives.  With the right mindset, we were able to keep faith that everything would work out how it was meant to.

Trust me, positivity didn’t always come easily to me. I used to be overly critical, judgmental, and downright negative. I envied people who let things slide off their backs and had faith that things would work out. I thought everyone else’s life was so much easier than mine.  One day I made the conscious decision to change that, and with practice it has now become who I am.

I am not going to get all “Law of Attraction” or “The Secret” on you, but I will say this: Once Hubby and I made the effort to seek out the positives, more and more good things shone through (we even won a trip!). Having a positive attitude gives you faith in life, in others, in yourself. It helps you see there is light at the end of the tunnel and to recognize that setbacks are just that- setbacks.

Having a positive attitude gives  you faith in life, in others, in yourself.

The #1 strategy that helped me turn my negative thinking around was this simple practice:

Each night, before going to sleep, name 5 things that you are thankful for. 

Initially, it may start out totally forced. You may be grasping for straws-  thankful for air to breathe, food to eat, a roof over your head. Soon it becomes second nature and you will find that you are able to see the positives in any situation.

You will gravitate towards other positive people and your whole outlook will change.

You will be motivated to chase your dreams and seek out what makes you happy.

You will quickly see how lucky you really are!

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Put Your Heart Into It

This Valentine’s Day, save your money, spare your waistline and give a truly priceless gift- the gift of love and memories for the entire family. (Note, this works just as well whether you are single and dating or have a huge family). This idea is so simple, that even the artistically challenged like myself can quickly and easily execute it. What it lacks in difficulty it makes up for in its substantial benefits.

I plan to start this on February 1st, so that everyone will get a warm fuzzy each day leading up to Valentine’s Day. If this seems too daunting, you could always shorten the time frame to one week or even just a few days.

“Everybody likes a compliment.”   -Abraham Lincoln

1) Cut out 14 hearts for each family member. If you don’t remember how to cut out a symmetrical heart, channel your inner grade school self and take a trip down memory lane:

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2) Write the person’s name on the bottom corner or back. You can assign a color to each family member or do it at random. I chose to color-code so it will be easier for the kids to hone in on their own hearts on the wall.

3) Put the hearts into a bin.      IMG_0824

4) Each day, have each person close their eyes and pull out a heart. (We plan to draw in the morning to give us the day to think about it and work on it as time permits.)

5) Write something on the heart that you love about that person. Try to be specific. Instead of “you are a great father”, say “when J needs help you patiently give him your undivided attention.” Obviously you will have to help younger children write, but let them provide the ideas. For the non-talkers, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would say. (Daddy, I love when you hold me high in the air and make me feel so special. Sister, I love when we play blocks together. Brother, I love that sometimes you hug me in the middle of playing. )

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~Mark Twain

4) Display it. I plan to post them after the kids go to sleep so they can wake up to see their new heart each morning. I chose to display it on a wall by the kitchen table where everyone is sure to see it at least three times per day. It doubles as an adorable seasonal decoration!

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Many simply do the project and stop at that. Have you ever considered what really goes into these seemingly basic ideas? This simple project benefits each person in so many ways. Not only do the warm fuzzies boost our egos and strengthen our love, but they also provide myriad other benefits. Here is a sampling:

Children:

Children thrive on positive reinforcement. They beam with pride upon receiving a compliment and it motivates them to keep doing those great things. Each day they will wake up in eager anticipation to see what compliment their new heart holds. Making the hearts for family members teaches them selflessness and thoughtfulness while further developing their writing, drawing, literacy, creativity, language development, and fine motor skills. The notes from siblings will validate them as big(little) brother(sister).
Today I asked my 4-year-old what he loved most about his little brother. As he pondered it, a slow smile crossed his face, and he emphatically drawled out, “everything!” <3

Babies:

Okay, I’m a realist, they will have no clue what is going on and will most likely try to eat it. But I promise, this WILL benefit them too. It will serve as a great memory source providing a glimpse back to what they were like at this moment in time. This is a great way to record the minutiae that may not get recorded in a journal or baby book. Instead of writing “you are sweet” to my baby girl, I am going to write “I love that you say ‘tank oooo’ when you hand us something”. When I look back years later, I will vividly remember her waddling up to us with a toy, handing it to us and saying “thank you”. It is also an opportunity for their older siblings to really look at them as people on the inside rather than just playmates. If they are able, let them hold a crayon and scribble on their heart to work on their grip, fine motor skills, focus, hand-eye coordination, and self-expression. Remember, they are little sponges at this age. They are just taking it all in, so continue to set good examples!

Adults:

Let’s face it, being parents is a pretty thankless job sometimes. And when you are caught up in the daily insanity of raising young children, the compliments don’t always roll off the tongue. (Can I get a ‘holla’ from anyone who has ever said “mmm, this dinner is good, isn’t it?” or “Did you see that I cleaned the house today?”) The sad truth for adults is that if you don’t ask for it, you don’t always get it. But a compliment is a compliment, so fish away! This will be a great way to show each other that we DO notice the little things and that we appreciate those just as much as the big ones. It will be insightful to hear how the kids see us and a great opportunity to share the unseen with one another (like how happy C looks when he is atop Daddy’s shoulders.) Perhaps this little project will rekindle something between us, as compliments and acknowledgements are something we desperately need to work on. Just the other day we were discussing how authentic our four-year-old’s compliments are (“Wow, you look AMAZING”) and how forced ours often seem. It will make us slow down and reflect on all of our blessings. It will warm our hearts to see the appreciation on our children’s faces. It will provide a creative outlet.

If done well, this project will capture a moment in time. It will provide memories that can’t be seen in a picture. I never want to forget that Tink makes a purring gurgling noise when we rock in the glider, that Cubbie stops whatever he is doing to run up to us with a huge hug and smile when we enter the room, or that Jake’s quick-witted comments crack us up daily.

When you finish them, and are ready to take down your Valentine decorations, remove them from the wall, and make them into a keepsake book.

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I feel like it is Christmas Eve. I am so excited to hear what they say about each other. I can hardly wait to get started on this tomorrow morning!

Seems much better than over-priced roses and chocolates, doesn’t it?