Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fly Swatter Game

Here is a fun one I learned from my Spanish teacher in high school: The Fly Swatter Game.

-Dry Erase Board
-Dry Erase Markers
-Fly Swatter

I divided the board in half to have shapes on one side (for my 2 YO) and sight words on the other side (for my 4 YO).

After that I just let them take turns with the fly swatter. I would call out a word or shape and the kids would swat the answer with the fly swatter. Easy and simple and they LOVED it!

Here are some fun variations:
-Choose to do synonyms/antonyms/rhyming words
-Vocab words from another language
-Have the whole board covered and children each have a swatter and compete to see who can swat the answer first (that's what we did in Spanish class. I ruled.)

Thanks for checking out this fun activity!

This project has been linked up to these parties.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer School Activity - Magazine Letters

-Old magazines
-cardstock or other paper
-glue sticks

This one was inspired by this post by Molequish. I love her idea, but I don't think we are quite there yet for our four year old. I gave each kid an old magazine (given to me by a friend, but I also found out local libraries give them away for free sometimes). My four year old was asked to find each letter, one at a time, cut it out, and glue it on a piece of cardstock in order. The two year old simply got to cut to her heart's content, as it was her first time using her "big girl" scissors. Her collage ended up consisting of several models with shredded legs.

It took about 2 hours over 3 tries for the four year old to finish his, but he really did a great job, and I am so proud of him. This one's going in a special place for sure.

And of course, no project would be quite the same without Daddy coming in and showing kids how to make alien people by splicing different body parts together....

Here are some modifications for different ages and skill levels:

-Learning to cut - let them cut whatever they want. Show the process of cutting and gluing
-Visuals - cut out pictures, or any letters they find that they think will look nice
-Alphabet - cut out and glue alphabet in order
-Words - cut out words they can read
-Sentences - cut out words and make new sentences out of them
-Story book - cut out words and/or pictures to make a story book

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer School

Well, summer is here. School is out, sports start up in a couple of weeks, and my fingers and toes have officially swollen to the size of sausages. I'm trying to both have a fun summer with my kids, yet still take it easy this year. After all, this preggo girl can only take so much before the heart starts pounding a little too hard and I feel like I'm going to pass out.

As much fun as summer is, it can be really hard to not have something planned at some point in the day to keep a small amount of structure. I decided to put my teacher hat on and start planning some "school" activities for my kids. I am trying to make them free or as cheap as possible, while still engaging and (hopefully) teaching my kids something. My 4 year old son is very motivated to learn to read, so I am hoping we can get him reading pretty well by the end of summer.

As we plan and do these school activities I am hoping to write blog posts about them. They are so much fun and have saved our days from chaos, and I want to share them with the world. Knowing me, though, this will last about two weeks and I'll give up eventually....

**Note - SAD DAY! My computer isn't reading the SD card from my camera for some reason! I have pictures of the first two days and I can't upload them right now! I promise as soon as I can I will add them...**

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Late Night Photoshopping

I know, I'm sorry, I keep posting about this. But, it's my blog and I'll do what I want.

Here are a couple more pictures I have been playing with in Photoshop tutorials I used in my previous posts.

I have been learning quite a bit from the tutorial, but now I'm also straying a bit on my own again and trying some new things. The picture with the baby and rabbit ears is my adorable niece. I always hate the yellow color that comes out when I take photos inside. I know I can adjust the white balance on the camera itself, but I always forget. I learned though, that if you decrease the saturation a little bit on the yellow curve and increase the brightness a little bit it makes the photo appear much less yellow and pink. And doesn't the Christmas tree photo look magical? Keep an eye out on Deviantly Domesticated for that same picture to end up in an upcoming challenge!

Okay, I promise to stop boring you with Photoshop stuff for a couple of days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Photoshop Practice

Let's just say that I'm absolutely LOVING this tutorial from Noel Culbertson. Here are a couple of pictures I took today, the "befores" and "afters."

I love the color tones that are popping out from doing this. The kids' skin looks smoother, the sky looks bluer, and overall the effect is very nice. The dangerous thing, though, is that now I want to redo all of my Project Life album for this year by editing the photos first!

My Favorite Dinner

This is by far my absolute FAVORITE dinner. A little bit on the expensive side for the cheese, but oh so very worth it.

Chicken Capri Salad
1 lb. chicken breast (even better if marinaded in Italian Dressing)
1 small block of fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh spinach
Cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
Italian dressing

Grill the chicken until cooked, then shred or dice. (It goes a lot farther if you shred it.) Place bed of spinach on plate. Add grilled chicken, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes. Dress with Italian Dressing.

Absolutely divine.

Linking up to these great link parties!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Attempts in Photoshop

I took this picture of my daughter on Easter, and while I absolutely loved the composition (and the subject!) I felt like this photo was in too much of a haze for me to really love it completely.

I had the honor and privilege to meet Noel Culbertson at CHA in California this January, and I have always admired her work, especially her pictures. (With our Pinterest boards I think we could be twins!) She has a lovely Photoshop Tutorial I decided to give a whirl and see how it turned out.

Using a couple of filters in PSE5 and adjusting the contrast a little bit, I think I truly love this entire picture now. I may have to use these steps quite a bit for the upcoming Project Life pictures to print out!

Here is another attempt I tried. This time I added the vignette Noel suggests. I didn't add it to the last photo because I loved it so much more without. Before:

And after:

I am wondering if I am adjusting the contrast a bit too much. But I feel like these pictures definitely pop the way I am hoping for. What do you think? Should I not increase the contrast so much? I definitely enjoy this process though.

**Edited - I talked to a graphics friend of mine, and he pointed out that the whites were too blown out for the flower picture. I agreed with him, so he showed me how to lower the levels a little bit on the top end. Here's what came out:

Definitely getting there I love the blue that popped out in the background after I did that, it makes a really beautiful color palette all together. Learning learning learning!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Gift

Teacher Appreciation Gift

I can hardly believe that right now my son is at his last day of school. His first year went really well, and we are looking forward to next year, even though it’s at a different school. The teacher appreciation brunch is tomorrow, so parents who were wanting to give a gift were asked to have it ready for today. I’m a total procrastinator, so of course I did it this morning. It went surprisingly fast though! I decided cards are always a good thing to have on hand, and everyone needs birthday cards! Here is a set of 9 cards I whipped up (seriously, took an hour and a half start to finish!)
All of these were made with the Die Cuts With a View Celebration paper stack and kraft cardstock, along with brown ink and ribbon from my stash. I am SO HAPPY with how these turned out and I hope Ethan’s teacher likes them too.

This project has been linked up to these parties.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No Speak Chinese

I bought a spur-of-the-moment toy on Easter. My friend had an awesome flash on his awesome camera, and I asked him how he used it. He showed me, then found me a great deal on a used one online. It came in and it feels so pretty and I feel all professional and stuff.
The problem is, the manual may as well be in Chinese, because I don’t understand a word of it.
I’ve tried Google-ing it and searching for it on Youtube, only to come up with results for practically every other speedlight out there for the Nikon but mine. I feel dumb.
If anyone has any idea on how to use a Nikon Speedlight SB-50DX, I would greatly appreciate it.