Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pink Lava!

When we were on vacation, we went to a big game zone and won tons of tickets. Tons. Molly (4) and Ben (1) got to choose lots of prizes between the two of them ... ok, I chose Ben's for him. Anyway, one thing Molly chose was a make-your-own-volcano kit! We finally got a chance to start it one afternoon during Ben's nap. This was a two-day project, but could have added even a third day if Molly had wanted to paint it.

So first we used the cone shape and some plaster of paris provided to mold a volcano shape. This part was a little messy but not too bad, and Molly really enjoyed it. If you don' have a kit, you can make a papier-mache cone to use. We let ours dry for 24 hours. The next step could have been to paint it (realistically or not) the next day, but Molly opted out of that and wanted to get straight to the lava!

I already forgot how we made the lava, but I'm sure you could look it up for sure. Wait, shouldn't that be my job as the blogger? Okay - found it: mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap... then we added food coloring to make it a good lava color. Well, actually Molly chose to make pink lava - of course! lol You put a couple tablespoons of baking soda at the mouth of the volcano, then snake a tube through the whole thing and simply squirt your lava mixture through! It bubbles as it touches the baking soda. Also, it can squirt pretty far so just be ready with some extra paper towels.

All in all this wasn't such a messy project as I thought it was going to be. It was fun and no more involved than doing two separate projects on those days. Molly got a big kick out of being a "science-tist" (as she called herself) and wearing protective goggles. I'm sure there are more volcanoes in our future. As for your future: check my blog next time for a fun and yummy volcano recipe!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

That Book Sounds Delicious

We've done a lot since my last blog, but I just haven't found the motivation to type it all up! Luckily I got a great night's sleep last night and so much done today around the house and yard... I feel so empowered! Here goes a new start to my blog!

I've definitely had trouble starting and keeping a theme now that we're in a full-swing fall schedule. Instead, I've been taking things that Molly is interested in to do. One of her favorite books that we read night after night is "Pinkalicious" by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann. In it, a mother and daughter make pink cupcakes... so naturally we decided to make pink cupcakes ourselves!

I used a white cake mix and added pink food coloring ("more more more!") to create the perfect shade. Then I added pink food coloring to the frosting. We took some cupcakes to my parents' house that evening and had planned to read the book together, but I had forgotten it! Luckily we'd read it enough times that I could literally recite it as we enjoyed our treat!

Another book that Molly enjoys is "Bread and Jam For Frances" by Russel Hoban. This was actually one of my very favorite books when I was little so it's always special when we read it together. To celebrate this wonderful book, we made... bread and jam. Of course I had to cut it out with fun shaped cookie cutters though. hehe

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sand Paper (pun intended!)

Both of my kids really love playing in the sand. They had a great time at the beach but they also still enjoy their small sandbox we have in our front yard. I wanted to get some fresh sand for it so we headed to Walmart and was pleased to find their Crayola colored sand was on sale! Woot! They only had blue so that's what we got. ;O) It only took three 20 pound bags to fill my small, ladybug shaped sand box, just FYI.

We've already played in the sandbox a couple times this week, but Molly (4) and I had a chance to play without Ben (1) and I took the opportunity to work on some letters for our theme. I flattened out the sand to make a canvas and we wrote with our fingers and some sticks. Drawing letters in the sand was so simple, but it was a fun way to create a lesson for my daughter. She was even able to write a perfect 'S' in the sand which has been a troublesome letter for her before.

Just because this blog is a little short and lacking a photo, I'll mention another game we like to play in the sand. Molly loves to play hide and seek with little plastic animals in the sand. Her personal favorite is a dinosaur, which just lives in the sandbox, while all the other sand toys get put away each time in the garage. We simply take turns burying the toys and then searching for them. To play this game with a toddler like Ben, be sure to leave part of the toy showing through the sand.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Sign" Language

We began this week decorating a large letter 'M' with shells and have completed Molly's name as the week's gone on. She decorated a couple letters with different dry pastas, one simply with a glue design, and another with small beads. Other things you can use include craft pom poms, craft feathers, small pebbles, or marbles. Molly (4) has so much fun playing with glue and by now she's pretty darn clean at it so I can set her up at the table and let her go to town while I get something done around the kitchen. It's a win-win craft project!

After all her letters were completely dry, we cut them out. I actually drew a secondary line around each letter for Molly to cut around so she could do it herself and not be worried about cutting off macaroni. Then I cut slits at the top of each letter - either two or four so it would be even - by gently folding the paper over and snipping it on the crease. We weaved a piece of yarn through each slit to make a banner, knotting the ends so they'd stay put. Finally, we hung it up for decoration in our living room!

ABC's with Sidewalk Chalk

Molly (4) and I got a chance to enjoy beautiful weather and play with sidewalk chalk outside during Ben's nap. I wanted to continue our theme of letters so I drew the alphabet for her - rainbow colors of course, both upper and lower case. She drew several letters herself, but then we focused on mine and sang the alphabet song. We stepped on each letter as we sang it and then we did it faster and faster. After we ran through the alphabet a few times, we decided to trace each other in funny poses and decorate our pictures with jewelry and different outfits.

We had to head in early when it started to rain, but here is a list of other ideas to practice the alphabet with sidewalk chalk: Try making a really long hop scotch game using letters of the alphabet... or a shorter version with your child's name. You can also draw pictures of something that starts with each letter next to the letter you've drawn. Finally, use either some boxes you draw on your driveway, or maybe a brick wall and write out a QUERTY keyboard for your child to search out letters and "type" with!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

M for Molly

Now that school is in session, I plan to be a little more relaxed with my weekly themes. I'll either spread a theme out longer or just use projects and snacks that fit our mood even if they don't exactly fit our theme! My theme for now is The Alphabet. A great introductory book we read for this theme is Dr. Seuss's ABC. Molly (4) will be learning about two or three different letters each week at preschool this year, so for our project, I began with a familiar one she already knows: M for Molly.

I used an idea I read in a magazine earlier this summer ... probably Family Fun (my favorite for kids' crafts). I drew a big block M on a sheet of heavy paper and had Molly fill it in by gluing on shells. I knew ahead of time that we'd be making these letters, so while we were on vacation at the beach a couple weeks ago, I made sure to gather plenty of "pretty" shells to use.

Any project that involves lots of glue and a little freedom appeals to my free-spirited daughter. I'm confident we can complete her whole name this way over the following days, using something different to glue on to each letter. A great way to find items to glue on is to take a nature walk and gather things like pebbles or leaves. Meanwhile, I'll keep you posted on our progress and what we end up doing with the completed name!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stained Glass Window

Here's a fun project Molly(4) and I did one day during Ben's nap. It consisted of two of Molly's favorite things: cutting and gluing! We decorated our front window to be a stained glass window! I got the idea from a Family Fun magazine this summer.

First, we cut lots of pieces of different colored tissue paper. Then, I taped up some clear plastic wrap over the area of the window we planned to decorated. The magazine article suggested using glue sticks, but I opted for regular glue. We squiggled glue on a small section and used a paint brush to spread it around then just pressed the pieces of tissue paper on in any design we wanted.

The result looks really cool and it was fun to do. This might be a fun project to try at different holidays so you could use different holiday colors. Unfortunately, as soon as Ben (1) came downstairs from his nap, he wanted to pull it all apart, but eventually he lost interest and left it alone! lol I imagine when it's time to take it down, I'll let him pull it off. ;O)