Monday, September 26, 2011

Apple Math

This was a fun activity that I saw on pinterest once again! It was so simple and I had everything in the house. I cut a tree shape out of construction paper (I figure we can use it for a bunch of learning activities this fall, and maybe again in the spring!). I found a small bag of small red pompoms (the apples), and 2 dice. I had the kids roll both dice, they then had to add the dots, and place that many apples on the tree. They counted out loud while they put the apples on the tree. They both really had fun with this, and kept asking to do it again. I like that we had 2 dice because it made them add up to 12! This was originally posted on Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi!

Fun Fall leaves

I found this idea on a great blog that I follow. The Chocolate Muffin Tree always has fun kid's art and science projects to try. Now we have done the washable markers on coffee filters before, but this time we made leaves!

I laid out sheets of newspaper on our coffee table, drew leaf shapes on coffee filters, and pulled out some fall colors out of our washable marker bin. I showed the kids what to do, and they were off. They had tons of fun playing around with color combinations, and L discovered that if you just leave the marker on the filter, the ink will expand. This was fun to see because he never really paid attention to that kind of stuff before. But then that also resulted in a fight over the one skinny brown marker because "that is the only one that does it". It didn't matter that I told them all the markers do that. Oh well!

 After we colored in our leaves, we sprayed them with a mist of water out of a spray bottle I picked up at Dollar Tree. I had picked it up this summer and kept in full of water in the fridge so we could spray ourselves cooler in the hot weather. Now it will be used for crafts!

 We let them dry on the newspaper, with the windows open. Once the filters were dry, each child cut out their own. We put double sided tape on the back and put them up on the back door. It looks great, and really makes the house feel like fall!

Open Book Festival 2011

It was that time of year again, where we go to one of our favorite events! This is a free event at our local library, and this was our 3rd year going. They have costumed characters from our favorite books, crafts, music, puppets, magic, and authors come to talk. Always a blast! We come home with tons of goodies like pencils, crafts, and books.

Curious George and Clifford were waiting outside for everyone. D ran right up and gave everyone a hug. Big change from past years!
 L was a bit more standoffish this year, but I think that is because he realized in the last year that these just have people in them.
 Each child gets an "autograph" from each character. D is very good at collecting hers.
 As soon as we walked in the door, D was asking where the Cat in the Hat was. Turns out they were waiting just around the corner.
 Those are some happy kids!
 Mouse from If you give a mouse a cookie, giving L a high five!
 Hello Maisy!
 This one was new, it was Froggy from the froggy stories. My kids kept thinking he was from the Rubber Dubbers.
 They had a ton of new crafts this year. Here D is cutting out a fish bowl, for the fish from Cat in the Hat.
 L showing us how his fish pops out of the bowl.
 They also had cut outs of Maisy to color, and a pop up background to design. L and D both picked the pirate Maisy. L put a plank, a "seaclops", and the Berrien sea. Not sure why he knows the name of that sea, but cool, we will go with it!
 They also colored masks, here D is a pea, and L is doing his best owl impersonation. Can you see he unzipped his coat to make wings? They also made birthday hats, and colored parts to make a mouse paper bag puppet.
Past events:
Open book 2010
Open book 2009

Fall craft day 2011

We had our annual first day of fall craft in the park this last Friday. Happy Fall everyone! This year we did apple prints, leaf prints, and paper plate apple cores. I think all the kids had a great time. Ages ranged from 7-2 years of age, and they were all able to do all the crafts with just a little help.

I cut the apples in half both ways to give the kids some variety. The older ones got some really nice prints, the little ones just liked smearing the paint around the paper with the apple. But it was all about doing something new, right?

 I saw these on pinterest a while back, and new the kids would get a kick out of these. They are just one paper plate, with the leaves cut out of the side. I had the kids color them with markers, and we used glue dots to attach the leaves. Even the littlest ones enjoyed this!
 Our finished apple prints, L is on top, and D is on bottom.
 Our leaf prints, Mine is on top, and L's is on the bottom. This one did not turn out how I had thought, but was still fun. D and I went for a walk and collected a large bag of different kinds of leaves, flowers, and grasses to use. We found so many neat ones, I saved all the ones that did not get paint on them to do leaf rubbings later this week.
The books we read:
Fall Leaf project by Margaret McNamara
A is for Autumn by Robert Maass
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Past fall craft days:
apple tree
fall craft time 2010

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pinterest Part 2

I know, this post has TONS of pictures. Sorry about that, but D and I have been having lots of fun, and I wanted to share it all with you guys.  As I have said before, has been helping me come up with even more fantastic ideas to do with the kids, and here are two more that we tried! Follow me on pinterest here:

First up was drawing on a white piece of paper with a white crayon, and then going over the pictures with bingo stampers. D got a fun metallic set for her birthday and was very happy to pull them out again. I started by drawing 2 pictures for each of us. She had so much fun doing those, that she asked if she could draw her own. She drew 3 more, but my favorite was the "ballerina".
As seen on Let's Explore!

D's self drawn ballerina

Next up was making our own apple pie play dough. We started with the recipe from Counting Coconuts, and then took the advice from  Little Wonders' Days! In the play dough, we added Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Allspice. I think next time we will add a little vanilla extract, or an apple candy oil for a better scent in addition to the spices. As you can see, D had fun mixing up her own play dough!

It was a fun pie color, but D insisted on coloring it red when we were all done. The color of apples, and her favorite color!
Then I made us some "mats" to play with. I drew an Uppercase and Lowercase A, and wrote the word apple on a sheet of computer paper. I stuck these inside the plastic page protectors. I also wrote out squares with numbers on them, and got out some fall cookie cutters. D pulled out her rolling pin and knife to help out.

First game we played was hide the "apple seeds", this was taken directly from Little wonders'! Loved it! These are just some wooden beads I have had laying around since my "hemp necklace making days". I hide a handful of them in the play dough, pulled the number card out, and told her to find them.

She thought this was great fun, and even wanted to hide them for mommy to find.

Our fall cookie cutters! A turkey, 2 leaves, and an acorn. I think I need some more fall ones.
 And lastly I had D roll out snakes and shape them into the letters. I have seen this all over the homeschool blogs for a long time now, but this was our first time doing this. What a fun and easy way to learn letter shapes. She had a good time doing it, and it encouraged her to play more with the play dough in ways she has not done before.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Couscous Casserole

The picture I took for this turned out just awful, so please don't be mad! ;-) This was a very tasty recipe. Adam and I both agreed that it needed more zucchini, and then maybe still served over pasta. Or leave out the zucchini, and make it into a sloppy joe. Oh, this is another recipe that I am unsure of where I found it. So please if you know, please let me know so that I may properly credit it.

4 tbp oil                             2 med. zucchini, thinly sliced (I would use more next time)
1 med. onion, chopped       1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp garlic, minced          4 cups pasta sauce
1 lb. ground beef                1/2 cup uncooked couscous
salt and black pepper          grated Parmesan

1. Heat oven to 400. Oil a 2 quart baking dish.
2. Put 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over med-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and garlic; cook about 5 min. Add the meat and stir, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is no longer pink, 8-10 min; set aside.
3. While the meat is cooking, put the zucchini slices on a baking sheer, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until tender, 5-8 min. Remove, set aside, and reduce the oven temp to 350.
4. Put the stock and sauce in a pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and turn off the heat; let sit 10 min.
5. Spoon a thin layer of couscous on the bottom of the pan, top with zucchini and then some meat. Repeat until all ingredients are used; finish with couscous. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake for about 25 min.

Elephant Appreciation Day

This is one that I can not take credit for! One of the other moms in the group I run, took this on as her own, and boy was it cute! We made this elephant craft. It was a print out, but you could make it yourself. There were two circles for the ears, a circle for the face, 2 ovals for the eyes, 2 tusks, and a long rectangle for the trunk. The kids colored all the pieces, D wanted hers a pink elephant, and then we had them glue the pieces together. Oh and what is that as the back of the elephant, none other than a old, used CD. You know you have some old ones either for computer programs, or horrible music! All of this was then glued onto a large popsicle stick so the kids could use them as puppets.

All the children were also encouraged to bring a stuffed or toy elephant. We listened to a few songs and did the elephant walk around the room with our toys. We also listened to a very nice book. The book we read was Big Little Elephant by Valeri Gorbachev.

Songs we listened to:

Book we read:

Soups, soups, soups!

First, let me say I'm sorry these pictures are not the best, nor do I have a picture of the second soup. But the taste was fantastic! I am not sure where I found either of these recipes, so if you know, please let me know of the source so that I can properly acknowledge them. Thanks!

The first soup, pictures above, is the Creamy Beef, mushroom, and Noodle soup. Man, this was amazing!!! I will be making this again, and I will be making a double batch! The kids didn't really even try it, but Adam and I were blown away.

2 tbsp butter                                 1/4 cup ketchup
1 medium onion, chopped              3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp minced garlic                         1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms         2 cups uncooked egg noodles
6 cups beef broth                          8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup dry sherry or beef broth
1 1/2 lb. boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut into 2"x3/4"x1/4" cubes

1. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over med-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; cook 5-6 min, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are softened.
2. Stir in beef. Cook 5-6 min, stirring frequently, until beef is no longer pink. Stir in remaining ingredients except the noodles and sour cream. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low; cover and cook for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in noodles. Cover; cook 5-7 min, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender. Stir in sour cream, and cook 3-5 min; until well blended.

Now for soup number 2. This one is a Chunky Italian Soup. Adam and I both thought this one was a bit bland, and it needed a little bit more spice. So I have updated this recipe with my changes.

1/2 cup small pasta                                2 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil                                       5 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped                                   1/2 cup diced tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, sliced                             1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 tbsp oregano

1. Cook the pasta following package directions; drain and rinse under cold running water.
2. Put oil in a large saucepan and add onion and garlic. Half cover the pan and saute for 7 min, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat. Simmer, half covered, 15 min. Remove the bay leaves, and stir in pasta, cook for an additional 5 min.

Both of these soups were a fun new adventure, and I do plan on making them again. As you can see, there were no leftovers!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pinterest Inspiration

First I want to say a big Hello to all the people coming to check me out thanks to! Welcome!!
Now on to our normally scheduled posting.... Have you checked out at all? What an amazingly fun site! It basically is a virtual bulletin board for all those recipes, or crafts that you find all over the web. A great place to keep all those fun ideas, plus you get to see things that other people are pinning. I have found so many fun things to make both food and craft, that I had to share two of them. Want to see what I am talking about? Follow me here:

First up is a fun way to get the kids to practice their A-B-C's. If your kids are like my kids, they get bored with the same old "teaching" ways. I am always looking for fun ways to include learning. I pulled out their easel from Ikea (under $20!), and drew the alphabet on the chalkboard side. I then grabbed a small bowl of water, and a cheap paintbrush (I believe the one I grabbed was from a watercolor book the kids had). I showed them what to do, and they loved it. They each had to trace over the letter with water on the paint brush, and wash away the letter. Both kids tried it twice, and then drew the letters back on for each other. This went on for a good half hour. The original idea that I found came from here. But just think, you don't have to stop with just letters. I plan on using this for numbers, and shapes as well. And then work up to words!

Next up is a project that I found almost as soon as I started my pinterest account! Melted crayons on a canvas! Brilliant I shouted! I can do this I thought. Hmmm, where to start. I started to see it everywhere. Finally, other bloggers started to post tutorials. Many said to use a hair dryer. Well, that wouldn't work for me, never really had a need for one of those. Until, pink and green mom said to use the heat gun for scrapbooking. Now that I DO have!!! The canvas is one I have had sitting around for sometime, just looking for a project. Well tonight was the night! I got out my old big box of crayons, hot glue, canvas, and heat gun. I lined up all the colors in order (ROYGBIV) on the canvas to make sure they would all fit. I stuck to the colors in the rainbow, because they are super cool! I headed outside for all the glueing and melting. The kids loved watching from the large window, but I did let them come out to watch me melt them. What fun! And it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. This piece now hangs proudly in my living room right next to the tv. A place of honor! The original idea was found here on etsy.

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