Pink smoothies for my Valentines

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Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

I‘m one of those mushy folks who loves Valentine’s day and all of the silliness and sweetness that go along with it. Actually, I tend to enjoy silly and sweet all year long, but especially in the name of love.

During the month of February I like to decorate with hearts and pinks and reds and lots of X’s and O’s.  My Valentiney silliness spills over into the kitchen, too, where I cannot help but spoil my sweets with sweets.

Yesterday was a rainy day and kind of dreary.  We needed a little treat to add some sunshine to the day.  So, I made pink smoothies for my Valentines.  Lucy, my four year old, was my sidekick in the kitchen (as she usually is).

While a food photographer I am not, I thought I’d share what Lucy and I whipped up so you and your Valentines can enjoy a sweet treat, too.

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Weekend links

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I also wanted to mention the Family Book Festival going on this month over at Jump Into a Book (a blog you definitely should be reading).  All month long they will be sharing the favorite children”s books of authors, illustrators, and bloggers.  I”ve already discovered a few new to me titles to add to our family”s library list.

I know that parts of the country have a couple of feet of snow on the ground, but most of our snow here in central Indiana has melted.  Last night it was even warm enough to take a family walk at sunset. After weeks being stuck indoors, it felt good to venture outdoors, even just for a walk around the neighborhood.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

The Friday Five: 5 reasons for unstructured play

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Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

While I am certainly a parent who uses planned activities and crafts as part of our regular weekly and daily rhythm, believing that they have value in a parent”s toolbox, I also value unstructured play.

I think it is good for our children, and for us, to walk on the wild side and throw out the rules and the organized crafts and curriculum on a regular basis and just play.  Kids need a healthy amount of unstructured play, even boredom.  From that time and space, creativity and imagination have room to bloom.

For this week”s Friday Five I”m sharing five quotes from some of my favorite authors on the subject of childhood and play.
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Despicable Me 2 Valentines from Makes and Takes

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Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

On Monday I shared with you our watercolor postcard Valentines that the kids are sending to their grandparents and great-grandma. But that certainly isn’t the only “Valentining” we’ve been doing around these parts.

Today I wanted to share with you a fun Valentine that my kids are going to give some of their friends and cousins:  these cute minion Valentines from the movie Despicable Me 2 designed by Marie of Makes and Takes.

My big kids loved the first movie and are getting excited for the sequel coming out this summer. The little yellow minions are their favorites, so I know these little Valentines will go over well.  Plus, this craft involves using the printer, cutting, and those sticky glue dots (some of my six year old Max’s favorite crafty things right now).

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Photo by Makes and Takes

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Literacy games for emerging readers

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Written by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations.

One important skill that emerging readers need to develop is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is sensitivity to the sound structure of language. Children who can detect and manipulate sounds are phonologically aware.

Until your child understands that words are made up of sounds and we can write these sounds down, they cannot access written language. Some children naturally pick up on this understanding, some need it made more explicit.  As my children are not home-schooled, I try hard not to do “school” work at home (apart from homework).  That means we don’t do worksheets, we don’t have a letter of the day, we don’t use flashcards.

Does this mean we don’t do literacy learning at home? Not at all. Incidental learning is happening all the time. I take advantages of many opportunities to reinforce their learning or bring up a relevant concept. With an emerging reader, like my 4 year old, I read books and talk about letters and words. I write things down for him. I help him write letters when he wants to. And we play games. These things all build his phonological awareness.

Literacy games for emerging readers

Here are some activities and games I use at home, that don’t seem like school work, but help children start to notice the sounds in words. I find that many of these games are fun to play in the car.
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