Friday, August 18, 2017


Our Creating Magical Moments blog has moved to a new, exciting location!  Please visit us on our new website below to find quick, easy activities for you and your children to share!

Plus... lots more!   see you there!


https://hidden-splendor.com/blog/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back to school! Let the learning begin!

Back to school!  Let the learning begin!
 
Parents can help reinforce classroom learning through fun, exciting games at home
 in ways that kids will never even know they are still learning!
 
For your new reader, here are a few ideas to practice sight words:

 
1.  Hide and Seek   
 
Using Post-It Notes,  cardboard, construction paper, deck of cards or  note cards, write one letter of the sight word you would like to learn in marker, crayon or pen in large block letters in the center of each piece.  You can add the small letter under each capital letter, if desired.   Practice the word in a chant or song before you begin.  "T-H-E spells THE!"  You can even clap to each letter as you point to the corresponding letter.  Incorporating body action with memorization helps memory retention. 
 
Then, let the word play hide and seek with your young reader.  Who knows where the word might be found!  Sitting on the bathroom or kitchen sink, in a window ledge, stuck to the refrigerator door, on a dinner plate, on top of a bedroom pillow, in a doorway, etc.  Let your imagination go!  As your child finds the word, help fill the discovery with excitement and cheering along with practice of the word... T-H-E spells THE!   Prompt your child, "Where do you think "the" will go next? We better keep an eye out for him!"   Move the word around to different spots until your child recognizes the word quickly and easily.  It will be so exciting to see the accomplishment and pleasure your child will develop as they learn new words.
 After the child has learned the word, have the word appear in a stack of cards.  Let the child place the letters in the correct order.  Repeat, T-H-E- spells THE!   Continue with the same process for other words.


 


 
 
For the next three games you will need to make a set of flashcards.  Using the sight word list from your child's class, create an individual card for each sight word.  Write each letter in large block letters in the center of each card using a dark color.  You can also create sight word cards on the computer (as seen in the pictures below.)  Cards can easily be created with a package of note cards , card stock paper or a deck of cards.
 
2.  Fishing for Sight Words
 
This game requires a little more preparation on your part, but can be adapted to so many different activities, it will be worth the time!  (See Magnetic Fishing post from June 12, 2012)
 
You will need:
 
-A stick or rod with a string/cord tied to one end.  The string should be long enough so that when your child holds the stick about waist level the magnet on the end of the stick should be able to reach the ground to "catch" fish.
 
-A magnet that can be tied to the bottom of the string.  This is your "hook".
 
-"Fish"   In this case, it will be sight words.  You can use the list from your child's teacher to add one word on each "fish".  You can make fish shaped cards or use note cards, or colored paper.  Place a paper clip to the end of each card.
 
A fun thing to do is use a blue towel or rug for your fishing "pond".  This defines the area of play.  But, it  is not necessary to play this game.  In the pictures below we just played on the storeroom floor, just to see how it would work... It worked great by the way!  Kids aren't fussy, if the cooperating adult presents the attitude of fun, exploration and adventure!
 
As you "catch" fish practice the word on the card.  If the child gets the word correct,  they get to keep their fish.  If they do not know the word, practice the word with them.  ex.  S-H-E spells she.  Point out letter and letter pair sounds.  ex.  S-H-E  the SH says shhhh.  These words are released back into the fishing pond to be caught again.  Play until all the fish are caught and can be kept.  Start with just a few words and work up to all the sight words in the pond. 
 


 
 
3.  Flashlight Tag
 
Kids love flashlights!  So, why not use them to learn.  In this game you are still using the sight word flashcards.  No paperclip is needed on the cards, but can remain on the card if you have created them for magnetic fishing.  Spread the cards on the floor in a designated area.  Turn off the lights.  Turn on a flashlight and let your child "tag" a word.  If they read the word correctly, they get to keep the card.  If not, practice and move on to another card.  Continue until the floor is picked up!  Meaning they have correctly read each word in the game.  What a sense of accomplishment they will have! 
 
And while you have the flashlight turned on, don't forget to make designs on the walls or ceiling with the light beam.  Turn on a flashlight yourself and join in the fun creating a light dance show!
 

 

4.  Flashcards
Use your flashcards like a deck of regular cards.  Hold them in your hand with the words facing you and fanned out.  Let your child take turns picking a card.  Have them read the card they picked.  If correct,  they get to keep the card.  If  the child gets the word incorrect, help them decipher the word.  Spell it out.  ex.    T-H-E-Y spells "they".  Then, use the word in a sentence.  Add the card back into your hand to try again.  When your hand is empty and your child's hand if full, the game is over.  Begin with just a few cards and add as they learn more words. 
An old deck of cards can easily be transformed into a set of sight words (or even math problems!)  Or, pick up a deck of cards with a fun picture on the back.  A picture of something that is of interest to your child.
 
 

 
5.  Search and Find
 
Use your flashcards to randomly select one word.  Then start searching. 
 
1.  You can use a magazine or newspaper to let your child search for the chosen word for the day.  Give them a bright colored crayon, marker or pen and let them circle the word each time they find it in the text.  A variation?  set the timer for a few minutes.  When it goes off, count how many of the sight words were found.  Use a different color for different words.
 
 
 
 
 
 
2.  During reading time have your child look for the sight word they are working on that day.  It could be the word that mysteriously keeps appearing throughout the house.  Read a page and then search for the sight word you are working on.
 
 
Keep track of the sight words you have learned.  Add the words to a master chart that is hanging someplace that can be seen every day.  As the list grows, watch your child's confidence grow as well!  Pretty soon you will have a child that is reading with confidence and speed!  And, a good reader is more successful in life!
 
Happy Reading!
 

Friday, May 19, 2017

MoreThan a Piece of Chalk

 
 
 
Chalk... a stick of originally white porous sedimentary carbonate rock.  A form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite.  It gets on our fingers and clothes and now , a popular children's "toy" available in a rainbow of colors for children to play with each summer.
 

Such a scientific description for a whole lot of potential FUN!

A piece of chalk.  Nothing fancy or complicated.  However, a single piece of chalk can open a large variety of play opportunities for children that can provide hours of fun, laughter and even learning!  Add a few pieces of colored chalk and the opportunities burst open with unlimited possibilities!
 

Remember, PLAY is a child's work.  It is how they learn.          It helps them grow physically, mentally, socially,                      emotionally and cognitively. 


 
Here are a few ideas. 
  • Lay down on the cement and trace around your body.  Add facial features, hair, clothes, etc.
 
 
Best Friends - Photo by Hidden Splendor
 
 

  • Using only dots, draw a simple outline of a familiar object (tree, house, flower, car, etc.) .  Let the kids connect the dots to find out the resulting picture.
  • Free draw pictures.
  • Draw ovals on the sidewalk and let children fill in the "heads" with eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, etc.
  • Trace around objects found in the yard.  Examples:  leaves, flowers, sticks, rocks, etc.
  • Become part of a picture.  Then take a photo of people becoming part of the total design.
"Up, Up and Away"   Hidden Splendor
 
 
 
  • Traditional Hopscotch- With chalk, draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk.  One color can be used or a combination.  Let your imagination go wild!  (Hopscotch can be created inside using the blue painters masking tape on the floor or carpet.  Remove the tape when you are finished playing.)  Players take turns tossing a marker onto a numbered square.  Where it lands is where you hop to.  Numbers( 2,3), (5,6), (8,9) use both feet down on the ground at the same time.  All other squares use just one hopping foot.  Markers can be a favorite stone, bean bag, rolled up sock, a small chain, etc. 
created by Hidden Splendor
 
 
  • Put a twist on the normal hopscotch.  Make the jumping design into a snail.  
  • Idea:  Bean bags can be created using old shoulder pads sewn together and filled with beans or rice. 
  • Shoulder pad, bean bags created by Hidden Splendor
    

Snail Hop Scotch - photo by Hidden Splendor
 
 
  • Another twist to hopscotch:  Perform the action listed on where the marker lands.                    Ideas:  twirl, touch your toes, roar and stomp, meow like a cat, bark like a dog and "wag" your tail, smile standing on one foot, hop like a rabbit, etc. 

Hop Scotch Action Adventure - Photo by Hidden Splendor

Walk of Action - photo by Hidden Splendor



Meow like a Cat - photo by Hidden Splendor
Roar & Stomp - photo by Hidden Spendor


Touch Your Toes - photo by Hidden Splendor

Land and Twirl - photo by Hidden Splendor

  • Create a scavenger hunt.  Look for common items found wherever you are playing.  This helps children become more observant.  And who doesn't like a scavenger hunt?

Can you Find? Scavenger Hunt - photo by Hidden Splendor

  • Research animal footprints.  Make trails on the sidewalk or driveway.  Have fun following the trails.  Act like the animal you are "following".

  • Draw a four square game.    All you need is four squares drawn and a large ball.  ( You can make a four square court inside with masking tape.  Remember to remove the tape when you are finished playing.  My boys left home over ten years ago.  We didn't remove the four square tape in the store room.  It will be on the floor forever.  yikes!  Nice memories however!           To learn the rules to play Four Square visit this site:  http://www.squarefour.org/rules
 
created by Hidden Splendor
 
 
 
  • Create a rainbow!
  • Draw lily pads and jump across the "pond" by only standing on the lily pads.  You can do this by making stepping stones across a river as well.  What other ideas do you have?
  • Draw what you see around you - in front of you, behind, above, etc.
  • Leave a message for .... ?   someone coming home, the postal carrier, etc.
  • Create a large maze and drive through the maze with bikes/tricycles, hot wheels, or walk on foot.
  • Trace different shapes from patterns pre-made with card board ( cereal or food box fronts make great card board to create patterns.)
  • Play Tic Tac Toe - for directions visit this site:  http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Tic-Tac-Toe
  • Recreate your neighborhood.  Draw your house, your street, your neighbor's houses, grocery store, parks, etc.  Then using toy cars, take a drive around the neighborhood.  This is a great way to familiarize a child with their community and may be of assistance if they get lost.
  • Practice writing numbers or the alphabet.

Don't stop now that the list is finished!  What ideas can you think of?

Let the creativity continue!



Friday, February 10, 2017

I Want it My Way! A Party Pleasing Entree

 

I want it my way...

 

The guest list was full and the kitchen would be packed.  Everyone had an opinion on the type of pizza they wanted for this momentous occasion of my grand daughter's first birthday.  Thick crust, thin crust, original crust... pepperoni, extra cheese, olives, green peppers, Canadian bacon, anchovies??? Really?  The list went on and on. What was a hostess to do? 
 
And then an idea began to form.  Wouldn't it be fun if everyone made their own pizza?  Games at a one year olds birthday party was not the most appropriate.  This would be an activity that all ages could enjoy and help engage the guests.  It promoted interaction and communication between both sides of the family and was filled with excitement and laughter.  Repeatedly guests remarked on how much fun they had making their pizzas. 
 
The first tray of personalized pizzas head to the oven.

Instructions:
1.  A pizza base is needed.  This can be done several ways.
     a.  create a pizza crust and add a desired sauce. 
         1.  homemade crust and sauce
         2.  refrigerated pizza crust or already prepared pizza crust
         3.  manufactured sauce from a jar
     b.  purchase a fresh cheese pizza from your grocery deli

2.  Decide what toppings you would like to offer.  Here are some examples:
     ham, bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage, hamburger, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, pineapple,
    spinach, broccoli &/or cauliflower, extra shredded cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, Mexican blend,
     etc.)     
    Place toppings in individual bowls and arrange them in a buffet like manner.

3.  Using pizza crust that has been prepared with sauce and cheese, cut into pie shaped wedges or in
     a  "party cut", which results  in more pieces.  "Party cut" is cut in rows like a tic-tack-toe pattern.
    The pieces will be uneven in size providing a variety for every size appetite.

4.  Guests enter the buffet line choosing the size of pizza they desire. They add the toppings they
    want and then place their piece on a baking sheet. 

5.  When the baking sheet is full, pop it in the oven.

The guests had great fun fixing their own pizzas and waiting for it to bake.  When the freshly baked creations came out of the oven, announcements were made and people rushed to grab their own personalized pizza.  They went back for seconds and thirds and had so much fun creating a different version each time.

One person needs to be designated as the" oven mister".  Coordination of the full baking pans going into the oven and being removed when golden brown will provide success to the activity.

This activity promises to be a crowd pleaser that produces many smiles and laughter!




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Queen Anne's Lace- Flower Dyeing Experiment

Recently we traveled to central Missouri on a boating trip.  We passed fields and ditches of dainty Queen Anne's lace gently blowing in the wind.  It was if someone was shaking a delicate lace table cloth.


Over and over I sucked in a breath of wonder at the colorful feast before my eyes.  Everywhere you looked white Queen Anne's Lace, bright yellow Brown Eyed Susan's, and pale cornflower blue Chicory created a picture of beauty.  It was if an artist had spent the evening painting a masterpiece along every road!    Now to the Master Gardener it would have been a batch of unsightly weeds.  But to me it was candy for the eyes!



As I continued my drive, my mind went back over the years and I smiled. It was the Queen Anne's Lace that tickled my memory and filled my mind with joy and laughter.

I suppose it was my mom who first introduced me to this fun summer activity.  I later continued this summer ritual with the children I babysat as a teen and later with my own children.  I look forward to carrying on the tradition with my grandchildren.  I remember lining up an  array of various size bottles and jars on the top of the stove filled with water.  Mom's stove was next to an eastern window in her tiny kitchen and the morning sunlight always provided a spotlight to whatever botanical treasure we would find and display.

Next we would add different colors of food coloring to each bottle of water.  A search of the pasture and yard always produced armloads of the frilly white flower we called Queen Anne's Lace- or wild carrot.   Then we would fill each vase with as many flowers as we could and wait for the magic!  Sometimes as early as that evening, if we looked really close we could see the water color seeping into the veins of each tiny petal.  As the days unfolded our bouquets became red, blue, green and yellow.  It was so exciting as we monitored the progress each day.  Little did I know that a science lesson had been done, we just enjoyed the JOY of the activity.

Of course, each year Mom would tell me the folklore of how a princess was held captive and forced to produce lace.  One day she pricked her finger and a drop of blood fell on her work.  To this day, a tiny spot of dark red can be found in the center of each Queen Anne's Lace flower to remember her story.  Now, I have no idea where this story originated from or if there ever was a Queen Anne with a sorrowful tale.  But, this storytelling would accompany our search each summer.







Here's how you can try this activity/experiment. 

Dye a flower.          




"Pick white daisies or wild Queen Annie's Lace (usually found along the side of roads, in              ditches, along fields or anywhere that has been left to grow wild).  Fill several bottles/jars, glasses or vases with water.  In each container of water add a different color of food coloring.  Blue and red work well. Insert several flowers in each container of  colored water and observe over the next several days.  The colored water will flow up the stem and turn the veins and petals of the flower the color of the water.  Very cool!"
 
Older children could chart the progress, research why and how the water travels up the flower's stem,  measuring how quickly the dye travels up the stem, etc.  OR... just enjoy this very cool experiment!
 
 
This Blog Post is inspired from the book:
Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:
Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share
by Becky B. Baxa
If you would like more fun ideas to share with your children
(that do not require batteries or electronics )
you can purchase this 180 page book,
full of color photos,
for $21.95
from Amazon.com
 




 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fun, Colorful and Festive Ice Cubes!


Summer has  officially arrived!   And, with that comes the dog days of summer!   

"Dress- Up" your favorite summer drink with flavored, colorful ice cubes! 

Below are a few recipes that my kids loved (the whole family actually)

 that can perk up your day, cool off a hot, weary body;



and, add a splash of fun and pep to a sizzling afternoon of high temperatures. 

When the kids were little a neighbor gave us the Fruit Sparkle Ice Cubes

recipe below that makes any day a party.

We "dressed" up our summer meals with these festive, colorful ice cubes.

You can use one color or a variety of colors.  Use whatever matches the occasion or mood.

Research & Experimentation:

Kids LOVE to mix colors and experiment with what color will result in the melted liquid.  For example,  red and blue ice cubes not only produce an interesting flavor combination, but when they produce a purple drink when melted!  Now how cool is that? 

Ice cubes made in specialty ice cube trays produce fun shapes. 


Hearts were our favorite!    

Fruit Sparkle Ice Cubes

Mix one small package (small envelope) of powdered drink mix

with 2/3 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water.

Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Any flavor can be used.  

If several flavors are made you can put one of each flavor in a glass,

making it more festive.

Examples: red and green at Christmas, red for Valentine’s Day,

green for  St. Patrick’s Day, red and blue for Patriotic days,

pastel colors for Spring and Easter, orange for Halloween, etc. 

Serve with a lemon-lime  or ginger ale carbonated drink,

 poured over the top of the cubes." 

*  For a healthier, refreshing summer drink add fresh fruit to the above recipe or to plain water to make your drinks.  You can also experiment with your favorite juices. 
Example: Place one raspberry, blueberry, strawberry or a mint leaf, etc.  in each ice cube tray section filled with water before you freeze.  

*  Another very fun, and healthy, summer drink is to serve low fat vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt) with orange juice! 
*  Or,  throw in your favorite fruit, vanilla yogurt, some fruit juice or milk and ice cubes into a blender.  This makes a delicious, refreshing smoothie drink!

Have fun!  Experiment with the possibilities and stay cool!

 

This Blog Post is inspired from the book:

Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:

Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share

by Becky B. Baxa

If you would like more fun ideas to share with your children

(that do not require batteries or electronics )

you can purchase this 180 page book,

full of color photos, for $21.95

from Amazon.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Water Play for a Hot Day!

Today the forecast is for 101 degrees Fahrenheit!
I do believe you could probably fry an egg on the sidewalk! 
 So, when the age old "I'm bored" bounces from the walls, here is a water play activity to try.
 
Have fun! 
 
It's hot, the sun is blazing and you can't make it to the pool. 
You don't have a sprinkler, so what can you do to cool off?

Grab an empty, clean dish detergent bottle.  Fill it with water and head to the sidewalk.



Water art is fun for the older child and
just squirting water all over the place is fun for the littlest child. 

This is a fun way to "paint" pictures on the side of the house too.  

Predict how long it will take for your creations to evaporate.  Which piece of "art" lasts the longest?
Let your school -age children research the properties of evaporation. 
What other experiments can you do with this concept?




Another way to cool off is to fill a spray bottle with water and have a water mist "fight"!

Don't forget the sunscreen!