Rainy Day Fun

We had a wonderful rainy day today, and found some fun inside and outside.

1. A Hallway Obstacle Course:

2013_5_28 obstacle

2. Puddle and Mud Play:

2013_5_28 rain play

and, 3. a Dance-a-thon:

2013_5_28 dance

Though to be fair, we dance almost every day, rain or shine! The children also did yoga (it is so cute to see the toddler doing yoga right alongside her big sisters), I exercised to a kick-box dvd, and we all enjoyed many books together too.


A Photo Can Be Deceiving…

TheLipperLoppyLife: Running with Kids-in-Tow

TheLipperLoppyLife: Running with Kids-in-Tow

Do you see a difference between these two photos? They both appear to be the same: me running while pushing the jogging stroller (with two kids in it) and the eldest kid riding her bike up ahead, on a beautiful day in a beautiful setting.

WRONG! Well, almost. Both photos were taken at an idyllic moment, but the photo on the left turned out to be a “run from hell” while the photo on the right remained a wonderful time for all.

You see, the first photo was the first run/bike of the week, in a canyon that had a slight incline that I was unaware of. I really thought that my difficulty in pushing the stroller was just my out-of-shape body, especially because it seemed the 6-year-0ld had no problems biking up ahead. But when we turned around, because of my desperation, I suddenly discovered that I could run with ease (being downhill now) and that the 6-year-old was not at all ready for riding her bike down any hill, no matter how gentle the slope. She started crying and complaining about not getting to ride in the stroller. I alternated between running a little bit, and then parking the stroller and helping bring the bike back down. She was still crying by the time we made it back to the car, now with an audience of other bikers and hikers. I am glad that I am at the point in parenthood where I do not get embarrassed about my kids’ behavior in public. It doesn’t stress me out, I just chuckle silently to myself about my predicament and resolve it as best as I can. Those years with child#2 as a toddler have really trained me well!

The second photo (right) was taken a few days later, when we went to a park with a FLAT running track. I tired out sooner than the 6-year-old, but was worried about pushing my luck (with the 6-year-old, and a little bit with myself), so I kept the run to under 15 minutes. When we finished, she did make a complaint about not getting to ride the stroller, but I just reminded her how much she loves to ride her bike. Then we went to the pond in the park and spotted goslings as well as ducklings. So cute! First time the girls got to see goslings. It was a great start to the day!


In the Style of…Monet and the Impressionists

This month we’ve been exploring Monet and Impressionism. The girls have been familiar with Monet because we own the book, Linnea in Monet’s Garden, but we borrowed some more books about Impressionists from our library. (There are many great books about these artists; I only chose these because of what was available from our library, so look on Amazon for more ideas!) We read (many times!) The Magical Garden of Claude Monet, Katie Meets the Impressionists, Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped Trains, Monet Paints a Day, and Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies.

20135 books Impressionist


We discussed two main identifying features of impressionist art: using individual brush strokes without blending, and interest in light and how it affects the look of things. M remembered how when looking at the paintings up close, they look like a bunch of jumbled splots, but from far away you can get the idea or “impression” of the subject.

Then we explored with painting in the impressionist style. We loosely followed suggestions from this activity, but this art project sounds fun too. We pretended to be in Monet’s garden, painting his waterlily pond and Japanese bridge. We started making our water with various shades of blue, green and purple. Then highlighted the water with white. M wanted to paint the bridge (the activity we were following made bridges out of construction paper instead and added tissue paper waterlilies, which we did not do). C ended up painting both her arms too. It’s really not surprising that C got more paint on herself than the toddler! The toddler insisted on having all the colors to paint with, but M, C and I stuck with the water hues. I also want to mention that never again will I paint on construction paper, even if it is suggested by the project we are following. It always wrinkles so much when dry! Only use thick painting paper!!

TheLipperLoppyLife: In the Style of...Impressionism

TheLipperLoppyLife: In the Style of…Impressionism

Product Review: Lexia for Home

Full Disclosure: I was a given a free trial of this software to write this review.

Lexia for Home is a software program designed to improve reading for students at all levels, including children with dyslexia and other reading challenges. It is used in many school districts and is also available for use at home in the US and Canada. A 1-year home license costs $174.95 for the first child and $109 for each additional child. The software is web-based, so it can be used on multiple computers and is very easy to install. There is also an app available for iPad use (I did not test out the app).

Once your child first logs-in to the program, they complete a placement test. My 4-year-old tested into the Early Reading program, while my 6-year-old tested into the Primary Reading program. I thought they were both placed accurately. The interface is easy for each child to navigate. (Your child should be comfortable with using a mouse.)

The Early Reading program had 4 different games: (1) finding rhyming words; (2) identifying words with the beginning and ending sounds; (3) segmenting words into syllables and sounds; and (4) blending syllables and sounds into words. The Primary Reading program had 5 different games: (1) segmenting CVC words into sounds; (2) completing words with initial/final consonants; (3) sight word search of irregular preprimer Dolch words; (4) sorting letters and words with b, d, and p; and (5) matching short vowel letters to their sounds. A bar graph displays how many units your child completes per game, and the child progresses at their own pace.

The program states that it is most effective when used for 20 minutes daily. I started enforcing that in the beginning, but did not continue at that pace. I let the children decide how long they played (it was usually for about 10-15 minutes) and we did not use it daily. My kindergartner used the program for longer periods and more often than my preschooler did. Computer time is novel in our home and the games are interesting, so both children always enjoyed playing the games, but some days we just did not have time!

I was specifically interested in trying out the software because my apraxic 6-year-old had been doing well with reading but was still anxious about reading books. After the first session, she was solidified in the sight word, the. M also had been mixing b and d, so the game targeting those skills was helpful. The games are a great way to achieve drill practice without boredom. And now, after a few weeks, M has finally exploded into reading books! I do not know if it is purely coincidence or the fact that along with the software, I gave her many reading games to play, or what, but it is exciting. The other night, I caught her reading in bed to her sister. I’m all for avoiding sleep to read! For my preschooler, she already knew her letter sounds and understood rhyming, but was not ready for reading sounds to form words, so the games have been a great introduction to reading skills. Her favorite game by far was the game that blends sounds into words (I think she liked this game best because as you find the solutions it slowly unlocks a picture).

Most of the time, the children played the games without my supervision (computer time was a great time for me to spend with another child or do housework) so it is an added bonus that you can request progress reports anytime you need them. You submit a report request on the website or via email, and within 24 hours you are emailed detailed reports on skill accuracy and usage.

We’ve had a lot of fun exploring this reading program. If you have a child that could use extra help with reading skills, this may be the program for you! For more information about Lexia for Home, visit their website at http://www.lexiaforhome.com/. Also, please like them on Facebook; when they have received 100 likes they are giving out a set of their 72 Family Readers for free. These readers retail for $149 and covers Kindergarten through 2nd-grade reading levels. Go and like them for a chance to win!

Thank  you, Lexia for Home, for this opportunity!

Musical Imagery

In our household, the girls refer to classical music as “ballet music,” much to my embarrassment. Classical music is so much more than that! So it was a great surprise that they received this book from my Dad as a gift. It’s a picture book about the composer Charles Ives who was inspired by everyday sounds, such as car horns, footsteps, and a ship’s whistle. After reading the story a few times, we listened to the song that the story is about, From Hanover Square North (note that the book does not include a cd; I found the song on YouTube). The girls enjoyed picking out the different street sounds in the piece.

130430 mr ivesWe also borrowed from the library an excellent book/cd set for exploring the imagery that classical music can create, Can You Hear It?. This book pairs classical songs with art, so the children can look at the accompanying art while listening to the song, hearing how the different orchestral instruments make the sounds that evoke the imagery. We are having so much fun with this, listening to bumblebees buzz, graceful skaters skating, or bubbles rising to the surface of the ocean.  Sample songs include Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumlebee, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and excerpts from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. So far we have enjoyed dancing and acting out the imagery, but I think we will also paint/draw along to the music as well. Actually, this book is going to go on my to-buy list, because we all enjoy it so much. The art is beautiful too; it will be a great resource as we are learning about different artists.

130430 can you hear it

And there’s still so much more to explore. I want to look at Story of the Orchestra and The Jazz Fly, for example. Hopefully I will be able to get a new book each week from the library!

Homeschool Organization: File Folder Games

I love to organize. This was probably my best quality as an employee in my working years. But since having kids, it seems that there is never time to organize! (And I was always good with time-management too!) Lately there has been an ever-growing pile of random games that I printed from teacherspayteachers.com. I love this site! It’s easily searchable by grade, subject, cost, etc, and there are a lot of free items (I have yet to purchase anything). I’ve found fun math and reading games, and the site offers items in many other areas too (like science and history). (OMG, I just discovered that they have foreign language stuff. Looks like I might be printing off some Spanish resources this weekend!) The girls love to play these games. M is still a bit overwhelmed with reading sentences, so I specifically printed games for beginning reading, working on sight words and simple CVC’s (consonant-vowel-consonant). I would randomly print off a game and give it to a child to play with (if they were interested; they always are).

Anyway, I kept printing games, but never took the time to create a system of organization or storage. So last weekend, I finally got around to organizing them into file folders. I even organized our alligator math game and speech target word cards (I get most of my speech cards from TestyYetTrying, a very awesome blog written by an SLP with an apraxic child…who also is venturing into homeschooling) into folders too.

I had envisioned creating a place for each child to keep a folder or two (such as vertical file folder slots or something) and then “assigning” a few folders to each child and switching them out every week. But I haven’t started this yet, and not sure if I will (at the very least, I’m waiting until we hopefully have more “storage” options in the new home). The girls ask to play these frequently anyway. It has been really handy to have around to occupy one child while I’m doing 1-on-1 schooling with the other child. A lot of the games are also fun games to do when we’re doing speech practice, so bonus! So for right now, the folders live in a box, alongside a few “busy bag” games and our homemade geoboards.

The LipperLoppy Life: File Folder Games

The LipperLoppy Life: File Folder Games

Check out the inside-view of one of the folders below. I glued game boards and instructions to the folders (which also means I could print those out on regular paper instead of cardstock) and taped paper pockets to hold any game pieces or cards.

The LipperLoppy Life

The LipperLoppy Life

What are some of your favorite homeschool organization tips?

Creative Construction

Over the last few months, M has been constructing 3-D paper crafts. Perhaps she has been inspired by all of the new building toys we have acquired lately (Magna-Tiles, Amaze ‘N’ Marbles, ZoobMobile, and CitiBlocs, to name a few). Here are a few of her creations (that I remembered to photograph): a chicken coop, table, and covered wagon.

left: chicken coop; right, upper: table; right, bottom: covered wagon

left: chicken coop; right, upper: table; right, bottom: covered wagon

Ever since we visited The Leonardo and made some cardboard/stick creations, I have been wanting to provide a bin of “junk” for the girls to create with. I kept putting it off until “After The Move”…which, obviously, hasn’t happened yet and we are still completely clueless as to when it will happen (sometime before the end of this year). So since I recently found an empty storage bin, I filled it up with cardboard, paper rolls, egg cartons, wooden sticks, fabric scraps, wood cubes, etc. I quickly realized that this bin will need to be larger (but that will wait until after we move) and it will be fun to add random recycling items and other craft supplies for replenishing it. I admit it is hard for me to let go of some of the more “precious” crafting materials, like feathers, glitter glue, etc, but I have every intention on mixing those in randomly from time to time.

TheLipperLoppyLife: Creative Construction materials (upcycle!)

TheLipperLoppyLife: Creative Construction materials (upcycle crafting!)

The girls have loved exploring and creating with this bin; they have used it daily since! Some of their first creations included an instrument (M never called it a guitar or other stringed instrument, just “instrument”), some pipes for moving water (this was C’s specific explanation), and sail boats.

130406 bulding2

Even the dog loved the full-access to these crafting materials!

130406 bulding1So, have you been collecting recyclables and other crafting materials? Put them all in a bin and let your kiddos have free access – they will love it!


Handwriting, Ladybugs, and Teeth

Yes, a weird title for a post. It is hard to capture a full day into a post title when our days seem to go all over the place!

This morning, after playing around and eating breakfast, we started with handwriting practice. I recently bought the Handwriting Without Tears booklet for M, as she wants further work on her lowercase letters, and could just use some more formal practice to ease her writing skills. This has been the best writing booklet we’ve purchased so far. I really love their technique, and I didn’t even need to purchase the accompanying parent/teacher handbook. C could really use this instruction, as she tends to still “draw” her letters instead of writing them, but I am going to wait until she is a little older before purchasing her own copy. Though M specifically wants to improve on her lowercase letters, we started at the beginning of the book (it starts with frog jumping uppercase letters, like F, E, P, etc.). I was worried she would get bored, but she did 4 pages easily without complaint. C got out one of her workbooks to do some letter writing practice as well.

(top, M; bottom, C)

(top, M; bottom, C)

Next the girls wanted to do a ladybug craft. We are raising ladybugs this year (we did butterflies last spring), and have had our larvae for over a week now.  Our larvae have grown so much! Even the toddler fights for a view whenever we’re checking them out. The girls have started journal books and have been learning about the four stages of their life cycle. I found a great free resource from the montessoriprintshop.com; it includes life cycle cards, blank life cycle cards and worksheets. We also got three great library books: Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons; A Ladybug’s Life by John Himmelman; and Are You A Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries.

ladybug activities

Anyways, back to the craft. The girls wanted a ladybug painting craft, but we didn’t have any black paint (and I didn’t feel like mixing all our colors to try to get black). So we made up our own craft. Using paper plates, red paint, black construction paper, a Sharpie, buttons, hot glue, and pipe cleaners we created our own ladybugs. We had first looked at some of the different ladybug species, but everyone ended up creating their own species. The toddler even did all her own painting and sticking on the dots! All three ladybugs are hanging in our kitchen, and they look mighty cute. I now wish that I had made one myself too.

TheLipperLoppyLIfe: Ladybug Craft

TheLipperLoppyLife: Ladybug Craft

While the ladybug craft was drying and I was making lunch, C drew a robot and M punched out more holes to create fingerprint-like drawings.

(left, C, "robot"; right, M, "dot art")

(left, C, “robot”; right, M, “dot art”)

Lunch was fantastical, as we left the Pandora station playing and danced in our chairs while eating (mostly the toddler and I danced). All of us continued the dancing into the living room and had a quick jam session (to Franti’s Say Hey) before it was time for the toddler’s nap. After I nursed the toddler down, I read books to M and C: two ladybug books, another library book, and two chapters from our current chapter book, Charlotte’s Web. Then M had speech class, and both M and C had dental appointments. M’s bottom teeth are just on the verge of starting to become loose, and she has 2.75 of her 6-year molars in! Milestones! Of course when we arrived back home, playing dentist was of high interest. M and C then played outside while I made dinner with the toddler on my back (who quickly fell asleep — late bedtime for her tonight, uh-oh!). Dinner was delish: roasted yam and spinach frittata, maple strawberry scones, and a grapefruit-strawberry smoothie. (Ok, the smoothie was a little too tart.) After dinner Dada played outside with the girls while the dog and I went for a neighborhood jog. Then M and C did a quick speech practice on the Ipad (using the Articulation Station app) before bed.

Wow! I am physically and mentally exhausted!

Finding the Joy When Overtired

I had grand plans to leave the house early this morning for a hike in millcreek canyon. But with the toddler fussily sleeping last night, AND my husband leaving his alarm on for twenty minutes (while I had the toddler glued to my breast and unable to turn it off), well, I did not get restful sleep. After the girls woke up as usual around 7, I tried to take a little nap to catch up. But today was one of those days when the two eldest girls could Not.Stop.Bickering. I resorted to letting them watch a tv show, but I seriously only found an extra 10 minutes. So I eventually crawled out of bed, and expected the day to SUCK.

But to my surprise, after breakfast, I was feeling pretty good! Maybe it’s the nice spring weather? I wasn’t sure I would be up for hiking, though, so I decided to start with a little speech practice first. C (the 4-year-old) is now taking a speech class through the school district, so both her and M need to practice at home. (Actually, C always wanted to practice speech whenever I was working with M, so it works out well.) Today we played a hide-and-seek game; I just wanted a quick, fun practice session. I hid their target word cards in the dark playhouse, they used a flashlight to find the cards, and then had to practice repetitions of the target words. This activity would work well for practicing sight words, or math equations, or whatever your child might be working on. It’s fun! Sometime I need to do it at night throughout the house (or in a dark basement if we ever have one).

hunting target words for speech practice

hunting target words for speech practice

While one child was doing the speech activity, the other was playing with a flannel board that I recently threw together with stuff laying around the house (I have every intention to make a big flannel board, but decided to just use what I had already for right now). The felt cupcakes were made from this tutorial. The toddler was content to play with an extra flashlight and run around.

making cupcakes on the flannel board

making cupcakes on the flannel board

The girls were still bickering a lot. The girls get along really well and play together so much, but some days, it seriously feels like they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Today was one of those days. We needed to get out of dodge. And I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided that we could still make time for a little hiking. Millcreek Canyon is a 3 minute drive from our home (to the first trails, anyway), and on odd-days like today, dogs can be off-leash. (We are so going to miss this natural resource when we move away. We have not found such great dog hiking, so close to home, in the other cities that we have lived in.) We got dressed as quickly as possible, and endured some bickering on the drive there, but the hike was peaceful. Just what we all needed!

Pipeline Trail

Pipeline Trail.

After returning home and eating lunch, M practiced piano. We recently started a practice chart; the goal is to have a weekly lesson (I am the piano teacher) and at least 3 practice times during the week. M puts a sticker on her chart each time she has a lesson and/or practices. She has learned quarter and half notes, and can play a few basic songs, although she isn’t reading the music; the notes are numbered to match her fingers.

piano practice

piano practice

When M was done, C played on the piano and M played some more with the flannel board. I put the toddler down for her nap. Bickering bubbled up again, so after nursing the toddler down, M and I practiced reading while C played. M has been reading the books from the Usborne Very First Reading series. This series has been so helpful for her. M is intimidated with reading a whole book by herself, and the Usborne stories are shared reading with an adult; one page the adult reads and the next page the child reads, etc. As the series continues, the difficulty level increases and there is less adult-reading. At the end of each book are quizzes, and there are extra activities (worksheets and word cards) available online. The set is pricey, but well worth it! Reading is extra difficult for M, because of her apraxia, but she is doing well. I’m starting to wonder if she might be dyslexic (it is common with kids that have apraxia), so that will be something we need to figure out this coming year. When she trips over a word, it’s hard to separate out if it’s because of her speech or if there is an added complication. (By the way, I love my local Usborne consultant, and we get a lot of our educational resource books from Usborne; if you need a consultant, I highly recommend her!)

Usborne My Very First Reading

Usborne My Very First Reading

Then it was time for speech class for M. Of course, we take time to marvel at the daffodils!

always take time to stop and smell the flowers!

always take time to stop and smell the flowers!

When we got home, M finished the big floor safari puzzle she had started just before speech class, and then joined the rest of us outside. I enjoyed working on this post, sipping my iced mocha, and listening to the house finches singing and the children playing. Porter enjoyed the sun too.

blogging outside

blogging outside

And, our day isn’t yet over! We still have to make our homemade BBQ chicken pizza (well, the BBQ sauce isn’t homemade; I need to figure that out!) and the big girls have ice skating class tonight. I’m surprised that I am still going strong, and that the only bickering today has been from the children and NOT me (usually when I’m overtired I find it difficult not to snap). I am looking forward to having the house to myself tonight (with the toddler too) for some quiet relaxation though! I have been so blessed today that we all found the joy!

Building Play

M has really been inspired with our set of Magna-Tiles. For the first month or so, she would usually just build little houses or tunnels with them. Yesterday, while I was busy caring for the sick toddler (and before she got sick herself), she started experimenting some more, first making an igloo and a big cylinder, and then making a 6-point star and a butterfly. These tiles are so fun to play with!

The Magna-Tiles website has suggestions for extension activities, so I think we will be trying those out soon.

And I’ve just discovered another magnet-block building set, made with wood, not plastic! These Tegu blocks might end up on next years’ Solstice list.

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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