Friday, March 22, 2013

Countdown to Easter Calendar and Activities

Easter always sneaks up on me so quickly when it's in March!! We didn't even get our Easter decorations out until today so our Countdown Calendar we made last year is only going to be for 9 days instead of 12! My daughter (6) was excited to make a new calendar for this year so I came up with a new idea that we put together today.  It would also be a good one to count down to the first day of Spring... but it's been a bit too cold and snowy here for that!

This craft is a great opportunity to practice using scissors and writing numbers.  First, cut out several tulip shapes... I drew the first one by hand and cut it out of card stock. Then I just traced that same shape onto the back of several other colors of card stock to cut out.  My daughter did a few but then got distracted by pulling out the other old decorations so I did the rest. These shapes can actually represent tulips (especially for a Spring countdown!) OR they can be Easter egg shells... which is what ours are going to be!

Meanwhile, have your child cut fringe into a strip of green card stock, measuring 12" x 3-4".  This will be grass! Glue it to the bottom of a separate sheet of 12" x  12" card stock for your calendar.

Have your child write numbers on each shape and arrange them on your calendar. Glue each one down , leaving the top free to form a pocket. 

Once your glue is dry, fill each pocket with a little note to be opened every day leading up to Easter (or the first day of Spring!). Each note could be an inspirational saying, a part of the Easter Story, or my personal favorite: each day can have a different activity to do! Here's a few ideas to get you started:

1. Go visit the Easter Bunny
2. Decorate Easter Eggs
3. Make a special Easter craft
4. Watch a special holiday movie (such as Hop or Rise of the Guardians)
5. Make and send out special Easter cards
6. Have a special bunny meal... in the shape of a bunny or carrots like a bunny eats!
7. Make some homemade Easter decorations
8. Take a walk and look for signs of Spring
9. Have a practice Easter egg hunt

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fun St. Patrick's Day Meal Ideas

Sure, you might be eating the classic corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day every year, but here are some new, fun side dishes to add to the table that your kids will love!

What Irish dinner is complete without POTATOES!? This potato dish is shaped like shamrocks and is so easy to do! Start by washing and peeling your potatoes - you'll probably need at least 4 or 5 medium white baking potatoes, depending on your family's size and appetite. Now cut two long ditches down the length of each potato.  This will create three leaves to your shamrocks.

Next, cut two triangles along the length of the bottom of each potato. This will form the stem. Now slice the potatoes like normal, each slice about 1/4" thick.

Fry your potatoes in a large pan in about 3 or more tablespoons of oil. Be sure to heat the oil first; turn the potatoes half way through cooking; and fry until golden brown. They should be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside - YUM! You can also add in slices of onion to cook with the potatoes- YUM! YUM! To avoid hot oil popping on your stove top, cover the pan while cooking - you can buy a special metal mesh cover just for this purpose but since I don't have one I used a round pizza pan with holes in it. Final tip: I used vegetable oil and blotted the potatoes afterwards with a paper towel to remove access oil before eating. ;O)

(this photo keeps uploading SIDEWAYS! Can't figure out why... )

Another great side dish for kids? Creamy GREEN macaroni and cheese! Here's what you do: start cooking the macaroni as directed on the box (yes - you get to use a box mix!). Meanwhile, peel one medium avocado and mash it up using either a plain ol' fork (like me) or a fancy food processor. Mix in the ingredients you're supposed to mix into the macaroni and cheese, per the directions on the box. It's probably something like 1/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of butter. Also mix in the cheese. If desired, add a dash of onion powder. It probably won't quite be bright enough, so stir in a few (5-6) drops of green food coloring. Here's a picture of what it should look like so far:

When the macaroni is finished cooking, drain it like normal and stir in your green cheesy mixture. My daughter (6) loved this creamy (secretly healthy) version of macaroni and cheese!

P.S. A fun addition to any Irish meal is brussel sprouts because they look like mini cabbages! My daughter eats them so well and loves to pretend they are baby cabbages.  I simply toss mine in a tablespoon of olive oil and sea salt and cook in the microwave (in a covered microwave safe dish, of course) on high for about 5 minutes. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Marshmallow Painting

I just thought one day that it would be fun to paint with marshmallows...and so we did. My daughter had so much fun painting with them - and it was a great way to use up stale marshmallows, too! Here are two projects you can make for St. Patrick's Day with this unusual paint brush!

We used Crayola washable paints, by the way, which are the best.

First I created a pallet of colors for her on a paper plate and provided one marshmallow per color... and a couple fresh ones for snacking! The first project we made was a rainbow, using the marshmallows to dab circles of color along an arched line. 

When your rainbow is finished, add marshmallows clouds with regular glue! We used a heavier card stock for this project to accommodate the weight of the glue and marshmallows.


Next, we made a lucky shamrock sign! I wrote "Happy St. Patty's Day!" on another sheet of card stock and had my daughter (6) decorate our sign with marshmallow shamrocks. Just make three green circles together with your marshmallow, then draw a stem with your finger.  Next project... s'mores! :O)