Monday, February 28, 2011

r is for rice

At preschool, Eli has been working with the letter "r" so we decided to do an "r" project at "r" house.  haha

So, I created this Word document and away we went.

We started by tracing the word "rice."

Abby gives tracing a try.  I think she expended all of her tracing concentration on the "r."

We painted the "r" outline with glue.

And then covered it with rice.

The final product...stored in a plastic sleeve.

Some more options we might try in the future:
s is for sugar or salt or sand
f is for flour
c is for cornmeal
d is for dirt
g is for grass (if we ever see it again)

 Any other ideas???


A side note on fonts...I once learned from my friend JoDell that not all fonts are created equal in the eyes of a pre-reader.   The letter "a" is the culprit.  Here's what I mean...

These types of the letter "a" are not recognizable by a pre-reader:

a a a a a a a a

You need one like this:

When doing things for my kids at home, my favorite Word font is Century Gothic.  Every letter is recognizable to a pre-reader.

Thanks, JoDell, for a valuable letter lesson!!

Friday, February 25, 2011


All of our snow had melted and then it came back...slightly demoralizing for this mommy who is ready for spring.  My children, however, were not devastated by the reappearance of snow.  In fact, it was quite the contrary;  they were desperate to go out.  But, one forgot his boots at Grandma and Grandpa's house and one had bronchitis.  So we had a snow-depressed mommy, a bootless little boy, and a hacking little girl.  Combine this together and you will find me shoveling snow into buckets while in my pajamas.

Yup.  We brought the outside in.  SNOW!!

The teacher in me could not let this go by without some experimentation.  We tasted the snow, smelled it, observed that any container holding the snow became cold, and of course, we had to look at melting.

We made three "snowcastles" and predicted which one would melt first.  The fun of the inside-snow lasted long after we cleaned up while we watched the melting process.

We had such a good time!  I should have timed it, but they played for a LONG TIME completely happy and completely independently.  Eli eventually told me that he was cold and shortly after that, when Abby's profusely running nose could no longer be contained, I cut her off.

Two added bonuses:
  • We used toy bins and toy dishes for our play.  These are not items that regularly get cleaned, but on this day they got wet and were wiped with a towell.  That counts as cleaning, right?
  • I drank my coffee, in my pajamas, under a blanket while my kids played in the snow.  Perfect.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Helping Hands: Part 2

Well, Andy and I are back from a long weekend and are settling back into the real world, albeit reluctantly.

To continue on with our theme of Helping Hands, we have talked about WHY we want to love others by helping and serving them.  We are studying two verses as we seek to help each other:

Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 4:10
We then brainstormed ways that we could help our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our church.  (You may recognize this painting from this crazy painting project.)

Then, when I spotted my kids doing something to help someone else, we would write out a Helping Hand and taped it up.

This activity has been really wonderful in bringing service to the forefront of all our minds.   It has also been a joy to intentionally focus on the good things that my kids do.  We love Helping Hands!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Helping Hands: Part 1

The hearts are down and we're moving on...but I think we will still love each other.  So, we're launching a project called "Helping Hands."  I want my kids to love people with a servant's heart.  To that end, we are going to focus on loving people by serving them.  First step:  a big messy painting project. 

Anything different is fun.  We paint frequently, but we do not frequently paint on the WALL.  We hung a long piece of craft paper on the wall with the intent of covering it in handprints.  I don't have too many pictures for the very obvious reason:  my kids had paint on their hands and were running at my wall.  I was surprisingly relaxed about the whole thing.

Old cookie sheet, tin foil, and paint.  ON TOP of our tablecloth dropcloth, a must.  Cover your hands and slap them on the wall.  Fun stuff.
Abby did one print and then had enough.  Eli took over with unabated enthusiasm.  We actually did two more long sheets and three little sheets. 
We did this project after the kids took of their pajamas but BEFORE they were dressed for the day.  How often do you get to paint in your underwear?  Combine that with painting on the wall and you've got a winner.
I love the moments that happen which I never could have predicted.  Eli asked me to mix the paints like this so he could see what colors were made when he mixed them.

The big thing I learned here?  The same things done just a bit differently make them fun all over again.  
I was pleasantly surprised at how much Eli loved this.  I was also surprised at how much Abby disliked this...until I gave her a paintbrush, that is. 

Helping Hands:  Part 2 coming tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The 5 Minute Clean-Up

I never knew how much five minutes could change my day.  We have started doing a "5 Minute Clean-Up" after breakfast and again after lunch and any other time that I can't get across a room without crushing someone's favorite toy.  It's easy enough...we play a song that is fiveish minutes long and we clean until the music stops.  I have found that it works better to give the kids very specific tasks...put away the blocks, put away the dishes, etc. 

When I first tried this, I was skeptical, but, WOW.  Five minutes of cleaning makes a huge difference!  I was shocked.  It feels so good to get regrouped a couple times a day and enjoy seeing the floor for a few minutes.  Love love love this.

Our two favorite cleaning songs:
  • The Imagination Movers "Pick it Up" (Show on Disney JUNIOR)  This one gets played twice.
  • Eli's current favorite song:

I wish I would have started doing this a long, long time ago.  A good reminder for me too that in five minutes, without a song even playing, I can clear the dining room table or wipe down the kitchen counters or tidy up my own room.  It is more fun with a song, however.   Oh...this is VERY MUST stop cleaning when the music is done.  That's the best part.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Lesson in Simplicity

I have never been one to go crazy over Valentine's Day.  This year was different, however.  I don't know what it was...maybe it was my new Cricut paper cutting machiney thingy that can cut thousands of hearts just by pushing a button.  Regardless, I was reminded yesterday of the joy of simplicity watching my precious children.

Andy and I made very simple Valentine's for the kids.  They were your standard "fold-the-paper-in-half-and-cut-the-heart" type.  At three times during the day, I put Valentine's in bags that we had decorated.  In the morning they ran for their bags to find a Valentine from Mom and a Valentine from Dad and ONE Hershey kiss.  They were ecstatic!

Eli's favorite.
It was simple and the kids loved it.  In fact, after our last round of Valentine's yesterday afternoon Eli exclaimed, "This is the best Valentine's Day ever."  What a wonderful reminder for doesn't take much to make a kid really, really happy.  Not everything has to be planned or extravagant or perfect or even bought.   Simple is good and I need to remember that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marble Painting

I first learned of marble painting when Eli did it at pre-school.  A quick Google search yielded directions and we gathered our supplies.  Simply put, you place a piece of paper inside something with sides (like a box), dip marbles in paint, put them on the paper, and roll them around.  How fun is that?  I don't have any pictures of this, since we did it before I became a "blogger" so here is a great tutorial complete with pictures.  Incidentally, we did not have any marbles so we used two bouncy balls.  Abby would have done this for hours if I would have let her.  She particularly loved it!

We used our marble paintings as the base of our Valentine cards.  When Abby saw me get out the paintings again she promptly said, "Paint.  Ball."  Marble painting clearly made an impression on her!

Incidentally, I have started saving all cardboard that we bring into our house.  I now cut apart all cereal boxes and other boxes too....makes a great canvas for quick art projects!  I used to just throw all of our boxes away.  It feels good to not do that anymore.

Some lucky family members received a partial recipe on the back of their Valentine.
These were CHEAP Valentine's.  We used recycled cardboard, cardstock and paint I had on hand, and wallet-sized pictures printed at Meijer.  Grand total:  less than $2.00 (not counting postage.)

Happy Valentine's Day! 

We are thankful today for this great love...
"For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  
John 3:16

Friday, February 11, 2011

Confessions of a Crafter

Lest anyone have any false impressions or be under any unnecessary duress...

These are my children watching TV...a lot of TV.  It's not even educational.  See the blank looks?

We do this frequently.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

H is for Hop

I have one child that is a fantastic independent player.  The challenge is;  I have two children.  When Eli asked me for the 19th time, "What are we going to do today?" I decided the poor kid need a little more guided help.  I don't work on letter identification enough with the kiddos, so I took this opportunity to do just that.  In addition, we've been inside A LOT.  It's cold outside.  We needed to move.  Letter identification combined with some cabin fever brought about this:

On a cube I wrote the letters h, r, j, k, s, and d.  Letters were then associated an action word.
  • h:  hop
  • r:  run
  • j:  jumping jack
  • s:  sit
  • d:  dance
Since I have no drawing ability whatsoever, I searched Google for pictures of these actions.  I am not sure about copyright rules, so I won't post links to the pictures, but all I did was search "CARTOON CHILD HOPPING" and then "CARTOON CHILD RUNNING" and so on.  There were some great images.  Then, the pictures were copied and pasted into a Word document with the action word printed next to it.  We grabbed our letter cube and print-outs and were ready.

Roll the cube, match the letter, and do the action.

I pulled the cube from my stash of math manipulatives, but this could be done so many ways.  Write the letters on popsicle sticks and draw one, put pieces of paper in a hat, etc...

J is for Jumping Jack!
We took a rare chance to HOP on the couch.

What a blast we had!!  The kids long outlasted me.  As I was collappesed on the couch praying for an "s," Eli was praying for a "k," his favorite.  We burned off some energy, I actually got a decent workout, and we have been playing, what Eli calls "our new game," a lot since it was invented.

A few changes I made after watching some play:
  • I did draw a line under each letter to help Eli orient the cube.  This helped greatly in his letter recognition.
  • Each word was cut apart and put in contact paper, allowing the game to see another day, even in the hands of Abby.
"Dance" was in Abby's hands before it was in my hands for the contact paper.

I am now working on thinking of an action word for each letter of the alphabet to expand our game.  Any ideas?  Eli told me this morning that he "cutted the cheese the mostest."  Maybe that can be our "c."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We "Heart" T-Shirts

I like to sew things onto T-shirts.  Plain T-shirts are cheap and seeing your kids wear something you kind-of made is just too fun.  I saw this idea for painting a heart on a shirt somewhere out there in cyperspace.  If I could remember where, I'd link you to it...sorry person who had this idea!!

  • Plain T-shirt (I have had the best luck finding shirts with NOTHING on them at Walmart)
  • Fabric paint (I used Jacquard Textile Paint that I found at Joann's.  $3.99 and I used a 40% off coupon!)
  • Paper heart doily
  • Paintbrush
  • Rolling pin
  • Extra piece of paper
Before doing anything to a T-shirt, make sure to wash it first...get any shrinking out of the way.  In addition, if you are putting fabric on it, wash the fabric first for the same reason.

Cover the doily with paint, getting all the little cracks and crevices. 

Put the doily paint side down on the shirt, cover with a sheet of paper, and give it a good roll to transfer the paint.

Now for Eli...would you believe that I could not find a manly heart doily anywhere?  I tried dipping a heart cookie cutter in the fabric paint and then pressed it onto some scrap fabric, but I didn't like it.  I then decided to make a "stencil" of sorts.

That's right four-year old girls...don't forget it.  He'll be wearing one of these at sixteen too.

I dabbed the paint onto the shirt using a spongy paint brush.  I was really pleased with how this turned out.  The color was vibrant and the lines were well defined.

Let the paint dry and then follow the directions on the jar of textile paint.  Mine had to be set with a hot iron.  I did wash both shirts in cold water as I was curious how the paint would hold up.  AMAZING!  No change in the color after the wash.

Sadly, I found that cute shirts does not guarantee happy kids that are willing to take a cute picture.  Sigh...

How I love my little, funny Valentines.

This is absolutely not just for kids.  Make a shirt for yourself...or pillowcases...or towels...or something to put in a cheap frame and hang up...or curtains...or, dare I say, underwear.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Heart Garland

    Did you know that you can sew through paper using a sewing machine?  I had no idea.  You can totally sew through paper using a sewing machine.  LOVE THIS.  I saw this idea on one of my favorite blogs, Little Page Turners.  (The author reviews children's books, includes corresponding activities and, incidentally, is a friend of Trisha DY's!)  So, we began cutting and sewing hearts...

    Sewn horizontally, no gap was left between each heart.  Just keep feeding them through your machine.

    Sewn vertically.  This time I pulled the thread out a bit between each heart to leave just a little space.

    The snowflakes hanging from the railing in our Winter Wonderland were also sewn together vertically.  So many possibilities with this technique!!

    On Little Page Turners the author had her daughter cut out the hearts. This is such a great idea to work on those fine motor skills.  I think, however, that I will have to save that idea for a few children simply do not have the stamina for the mass production of hearts that February requires.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Some Penguins Move In

    After we made our Footprint Penguins, I wanted to display them in some sort of "Winter Wonderland."  So, that night we got the kids to bed, my husband went to hang out with some friends, and I sat down to  build a penguin house.  Andy texted me while he was gone to see how things were going and my response was "doing some serious crafting over here.  Take your time."

    I made the penguin house to have an opening door with adoorknob, curtains (which were on the outside of the house, architecturally incorrect, I know), and a chimney with tissue paper smoke coming out.  Let's just say, I had too much fun with this one.

    I tucked a print-out penguin (Google Image searched CARTOON PENGUIN) in the front door and attached a note for Eli and Abby to find in the morning.
    Dear Eli and Abby,
    I just moved into my house last night while you were sleeping.  But, I'm kind of lonely.  Will you come visit and talk with me?  Do you know any other penguins that might want to live at my house?  I'm glad to live here!
    Love, Pingu
    (Pingu is a random cartoon we found on Netflix.  The kids LOVE and dad love him not as much.)

    Then I waited in great anticipation for the kids to wake up and find our Winter Wonderland...

    We had just come down the stairs and had a few minutes to play before we took Eli to school.  They quickly brought out our bin of play food to give Pingu some breakfast.

    There's Eli in the window!

    A piece of bread and a waffle...just what a penguin wants for breakfast.

    Eli helping Pingu slide down the hill.

    Later that afternoon we had our Footprint Penguins "move in" to keep Pingu company.

    We also printed out some penguins, taped them to popsicle sticks, and took them to visit Pingu.

    Abby in the window!
    This could be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it.  I used just bits and pieces of things I had...nothing was specifically purchased.  I was surprised at just how much my kids loved the penguin house!  They check in with Pingu multiple times during the day and report to me what he is doing.  I don't think I will leave the house up all of the time, but it will definitely make a return appearance with new friends living in it.  When the penguins come down I think that I will put a letter inside the door.  We will then spend the day looking for items that begin with that letter to "move in."  So, if I put an H in the door, we will look for H things...

    Completed Winter Wonderland

     It is not completely clear who had more fun with this...the kids or the mom.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Footprint Penguins

    I love, and somewhat fear, waking up in the morning knowing that anything is possible for the day that lies ahead.  Today could be one of the best days of my childrens' lives.  Today we could make a memory that we will cherish for a lifetime.  Today could be one that I remember forever.  I am thankful for a gracious and sovereign God who knows what that day will hold as I lie in bed only wondering.  There is nothing that can happen to me that is out of God's care, His love, or will draw me out of His hands.  Whether the day brings joy or pain, I am His.  So, the day that we made Footprint Penguins, I had no idea when I woke up that this would be a day to remember.  More on this later... 

     Footprint Penguins

    Eli is not what I would call a real crafty child.  I don't know if it's becuase he's a boy or becuase he's an Eli, but there are many things he would rather do than an art project.  For a child of just four years, he has been to craft stores way too many times in his life;  maybe that has something to do with it.  Anyways, when I offered him the chance to have his foot painted black he was quite enthusiastic.

    • Paper
    • Washable black paint
    • Paintbrush
    • Newspaper
    • Googly eyes
    • Orange paper triangles
    Simply enough, paint your child's foot black, step on a piece of paper, glue on googly eyes and a beak, and you have a penguin.  You could also just trace your child's foot on black paper instead of the footprint.

    Painting your foot that's fun stuff.

    A Mommy fork-life ride to the sink for a foot bath...also fun stuff.

    And this is what God gave us on Footprint Penguin Day...Eli and I (Abby was napping) laughed and laughed.  It was really a moment of pure joy between a mother and son.   Simply put, we had fun.  After we finished and cleaned up he asked if he could do MY foot.  Now I ask you, how could anyone say NO to that face?  Eli was hysterically laughing watching me hop around on one foot and I was hysterically laughing because I have extremely ticklish feet.  What a great reminder to me to get down and dirty with my kids;  I don't do that enough. 

    Thankfully, I had just painted my toes the previous night.  (And my legs were shaved...a nice bonus, and definitely not a guarantee during the winter.)
    Abby's turn.

    Getting the print.

    Eli Feet

    Abby Feet

    This was a day to be thankful for an unexpected blessing of pure fun with my kids.  I am glad that God created feet, penguins, and a memory to cherish on nothing but a plain-old Thursday.