October 24, 2014

Printable Bingo Cards

This is not your average BINGO. For kids who are old enough to start practicing their spelling, this is a completely independent version. Here's how it works: Kids look around trying to spot objects in the room that start with the letters on their Bingo cards. For example, if they see the turkey, they could write down "Turkey" underneath the "T" on their Bingo card. Just like normal Bingo, they are trying to get five spaces, or in this case, letters in a row. They are completely in charge of sighting and writing down the objects that correspond to the letters on their cards. EASY! And maybe a fun little challenge for kids the right age.

Click right here to download a set of 4 different cards you can print, cut, and have ready as part of your kids' Thanksgiving table set up. If you have more than 4 kids, print more copies. It doesn't really matter if a few kids have the same card, since they will all choose different objects around the room and letters to cross off their card. If you want to have a special treat available when someone completes their card, that could be an added bonus. Or maybe the first one to finish gets the first piece of pumpkin pie. Have the older kids help the little kids complete their card. With these and some chalk and black paper to doodle on, you should have bought yourself a few minutes to get those last few dishes out of the oven. 

I'm already getting hungry!

Did you miss the other posts that were part of the Kids Table series? Check them out here:
Kids Thanksgiving Table 

Wood Slice Place Cards
And for my favorite, more sophisticated Thanksgiving ideas, see what I'm pinning on my 

Thanksgiving Board

October 23, 2014

Wood Slice Place Cards

Kids love seeing their name printed. Who am I kidding? Don't we all feel great knowing someone thought about us and prepared something just for us? Thanksgiving is the perfect time, and place cards are the perfect way to make your kiddos feel special.

These are easy as pumpkin pie to make. Grab your saw and a thick fallen branch or skinny tree that needs removin'. Or buddy up to a neighbor who might want to. Once you have your wood slices, sand one surface until it's as smooth as you can make it. Use chalkboard or plain black paint to paint the surface. After it dries, use a chalk pen to write the names. My wood slices were a little rough, so my writing turned out a little less smooth than I liked. I just filled in the rough areas with a little white paint and a fine paint brush.

When you're sure your lettering is all dry (you don't want it to smudge), wrap embroidery floss haphazardly around the sides. When I wanted to change color, I simply tied the next piece of thread right onto the previous one. When I was all done, I tucked the end under. You could secure it with a little dot of hot glue if you're worried about it unraveling during an impromptu food fight or something, but I think for one night they would hold up just fine as is. 

I love how they turned out, and think they would look adorable with a fun coordinating pheasant feather centerpiece or something. Maybe next year. Be sure to come on back tomorrow for a free printable to keep your little turkeys entertained (and maybe even quiet?) for those last few minutes of dinner prep! 

Follow The Elephant of Surprise on Pinterest for more holiday inspiration.
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October 22, 2014

Kids Thanksgiving Table

Simple but special is what I aim for when prepping for occasions. I've thought of just a couple ideas I thought would be cute and add a little something to the kiddie table at Thanksgiving this year, and I thought I'd share them here this week. I know we haven't even hit Halloween yet, but my kids' costumes are just about done, so I'm kind of feeling really on top of it! (10 days ahead of schedule. What?!)

I'm feeling kind of a clean tribal look, so tomorrow I'll be back with some cute and supremely easy wood-slice place cards.

And since it's always so tough counting down the minutes before all that delicious goodness is served, I've got a little printable game that kids (or the kid-at-heart) can use to keep their minds off the wait. 

And while we're at it, here's a quick tip: Why not have a black, butcher paper table-covering with chalk available for lots of cute hand turkeys?

See you back here tomorrow for more of the simple details.

Are you following The Elephant of Surprise on Pinterest? Be sure to check out some of my favorites on my Halloween and Thanksgiving boards!

October 17, 2014

Library Picks: October

What would we do without our amazing community libraries?! Are you and your kids regulars at yours, too? If not, seriously. Check. It. Out. (no pun intended). Our library offers many free story times for different ages, classes, and other fun special events. I'm sure yours does, too. My boys could spend hours thumbing through books, and no matter how many times we've been they find tons of new ones every time. With such little effort on my part, I feel like I'm doing something so great for my kids when I see them cozied up on a comfy chair, completely engrossed in a new book at the library.

So anyway, with that spiel as an intro, I thought it would be fun to share some of our library finds once in a while. I usually give my kids a set number of books they can each pick, and then I choose a few for them, too. Sometimes I'm looking for something in particular, and sometimes I'm not. Since we've been planning "moon lessons" lately, I thought it would be helpful to pick out a few space books for some background. These are three we found that were lots of fun.

Our Solar System by Seymour Simon 
This Smithsonian book is obviously non-fiction, and laid out as you would expect a science ref book for kids to be. It is straightforward, but has lots of cool photos, all the info you would want to share with young children (and then some for older ones), and it's current. (Some of these books can be so ancient.) We won't sit and read it multiple times as a bedtime story, but it was great to show pictures and present info. My 4-year old had lots of good questions.

Fly Guy Presents Space by Tedd Arnold
Have you read any Fly Guy books before? There are TONS, and they are really cute "starter chapter books" for little boys. I've read bunches to my 4-year old, and he gets a kick out of them. This one isn't a chapter book, but obviously features the same characters, and has a cute little story line to go along with the info it presents. It was a fave.

Sun Up, Sun Down, The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly
At first I thought this one was a little cheesy, but then I realized it's probably the closest to how I would actually teach my boys about the sun, the moon, and our planet in my own words if I had no resources and was as familiar with the info. It has cute illustrations, is written in words kids can easily understand, but has PLENTY of information. What I like most about it is how it presents the relationship between the sun, moon and our earth. It helps paint a picture of why all this really cool info is actually really significant to us, too.

So there are our three favorite space books from our most recent library trip. Are there any others you would recommend on the topic? Any others NOT on the topic that you've just loved lately?

If you've missed the two Moon Posts leading up to this one, check them out here:

October 16, 2014

Chart the Moon Calendar for Kids

Hey, everyone! I'm back with another moon activity for you and your kiddos. If you didn't catch my last post with the Phases of the Moon lesson, check it out here. Once you've made your little Oreo Moon Chart, you are set to start looking at the moon each night and recording what phase it's in. 

Take your kiddos outside with their chart and look up at the sky. Ask them which "Oreo" the moon looks most like that night, and then use this handy dandy calendar to have them draw a picture of it each night.  We used a white gel pen to draw the moon. Chalk pens would work great.  

Talk about whether the moon is "waxing," "waning," and after a few days of drawing the moon, you can ask your kids to guess what they think the moon will look like before they go outside. Older kids can write the moon phase in each day's square, too if you'd like. If you're wondering what you can expect the moon to look like during the month you're recording it, you can check out this site, but don't show your kids--it's more fun that way!

And one more time, here's the link to the free downloadable calendar. It prints on a regular 8 1/2 by 11 page and can be used for any month of the year. Don't feel like you have to start charting on the first of the month either. Start with whatever day it is, and you can simply do it for 30 days! Enjoy.

October 15, 2014

Phases of the Moon Lesson for Kids

We usually think of summer as the time for star gazing, but now that it's getting darker earlier, it's the perfect time for our little ones to take a glimpse up at space before bed. Also, at my house I've got a little alien and a little astronaut coming out for Halloween, so I thought it might be nice to run with it and incorporate a little science while we're at it!

Did you ever use Oreos to create the moon phases when you were in elementary school? It's easy to do. You'll need 8 Oreo halves carefully split. Then, using a diagram like this as a guide and a butter knife, cut the creme to create the different moons. 

After all the moons have been made, we hot-glued them on a plate and labeled them. Now, when my boys go out and look at the moon each night, they can look at their Oreo guide and see if it's "full," "waxing" or "waning" etc. On Thursday, I'll have a fun printable calendar to go along with this guide.

Here's a screen shot of what you'll see over at that site. It's AWESOME! Games, photos, and info galore. 

October 9, 2014

Shop Your House for Fall Decor

Halloween is right around the corner now. AHH! I have tons of costume creating to do, and my 4-year old never lets me forget about it. Maybe you have Halloween on the brain, too? Or maybe you want to take a break from black and orange and spooky and just enjoy something pretty for fall. I looked around my house a few days ago for some "non-Halloween" items I could whip into some pretty fall vignettes. You can do the same thing, and you'll probably be surprised what you come up with! 

Last year I picked up some foam craft leaves from Target. Some were already glittered, and the plain ones got a coat of paint and a layer of sparkles from my craft stash. I love them. You can find something similar and string them with fishing line to hang somewhere, or just nestle them into little spots on a bookshelf or mantle. I also rounded up some wood log slices, white dishes, jars, and a few other decorations I saw laying around that seemed to match. Here are the different options I came up with.

I love me some glitter, but maybe all white is my very favorite. Are your eyes wandering around your house now to see what you've got? Think about things you can find outside too, like twigs, pine cones, maybe a branch with some remnant leaves.

Pull a little vignette together, make yourself some spiced cider, and sit back and enjoy. For a few minutes before you have to get back to costumes, laundry, or whatever else!

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