Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rice Crispie Creations

I babysat these kids when I was a teenager, and they enjoyed this activity very much!

The next time you make rice crispie treats- instead of putting them right into the pan to cool- consider giving your kids a little extra fun with their snack. Give each child a piece of wax paper and a little pad of butter. They will need the butter to oil their hands so that the rice crispies won't stick. Then divide the still warm rice crispies among the kids and let them use it like modeling clay. I guarantee that a tyrannasaurus rex rice crispie tastes twice as good as a plain old square!

(Find more great Wednesday tips from moms here)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Out-of-Control Popcorn Popper!

Here'a fun idea for a rainy day! Spread a sheet on the floor in your kitchen; take the lid off of a popcorn popper (the tall hot air blowing kind are probably best for safety reasons) and gather your crowd of kids around the popper to try to catch the pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Lots of fun!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cushion Mountain Climbing

These days my fourteen-month old can't get enough of climbing. We've been having fun building mounds of couch cushions and placing one of her favorite toys on top. She gets a sense of accomplishment out of reaching her toy, and even if she slips off it's not a bad thing because we have cushions and pillows scattered about to soften the fall.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alphabet positions

Do you remember Daisy and Demi from Little Women? They were the scrappy little twins born to Meg and Mr. Brooke. Every day Demi would work on learning the alphabet with his grandfather by contorting his body into the various letter shapes.

When I was little, sometimes my sister and I got to practice our ABCs in the same way. Some letters take more than one person, but part of the fun is figuring out how to do each one and then directing people into the right positions. Then of course, you'll need someone to take a picture!

We didn't do this, but I think it would have been fun to take pictures of enough letters to spell a few words with the photographs. Maybe your family will do something like that (or has done it). I'd love to see pictures!

Friday, September 26, 2008

2nd Giveaway! Max Lucado Kids Books

This week I am giving away two children's books by Max Lucado. Both take place in the special land of the Wemmicks, and both teach a lesson about self-image from a Christian perspective. You are Special is a large hard back book. If Only I Had a Green Nose is a smaller board book. The person picked at random will win both books.

To be entered in the giveaway just leave a comment below. I use random.org to pick the number of the winner and will announce that person next Friday. The winner will then have 48 hours to contact me by email.

Have a great week!

Links to Inexpensive Ideas for Fun at Home

I have really found a goldmine of good links from the blogosphere this week. Check them out!

scribbit.blogspot.com is a wonderful blog with lots of fun activities such as:

The flour game
How to make a cheap mini pool table
Packing peanut art
Color-coded nature walks- love this one!
Ping-pong power ball

Berlin's Whimsy has a creative list of children's activities. My favorite is "Picnic around the world"

Vanilla Joy has a cute family game that would be fun for little kids called "Don't Eat Pete!"

Growing Great Kids has a terrific idea for painting with magnets

Toddler Learning Activities is a blog devoted entirely to toddler fun!

Have any more to add that you've found? Let me know!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

13 Reasons to have a Dress-up Chest

Friends who came over to our house and LOVED the dress-up chest

From the time I was a little all the way through highschool- the dress-up chest in our basement provided so much fun! I have so many good memories associated with it that I am taking up a crusade for every house with children to start one.

Here are

Thirteen reasons why you should have a dress-up chest at your house:

1. Promotes imaginative play. This is probably the biggest reason. Having interesting props and costumes around sparks so many unique kinds of play.

2. Creates great photo-ops. What's cuter than a little girl dressed up in her momma's wedding dress or in a ridiculous wig?

3. Inexpensive fun. All of the contents of the chest can be purchased at garage sales, thrift shops, or just inherited from friends and family. No need to spend a lot of money!

4. Handy to have costumes on hand for costume parties, harvest parties, and Halloween (if your family participates).

5. Preserves memories. An old evening gown, wedding dress, or army uniform may have lots of sentimentality attached to it, but without a possibility for future use it can sometimes be difficult to justify keeping it around. Having your kids dressed up in old things is a great opportunity to share stories from the past.

6. Thrill of the chase. Once your family has figured out what kinds of dress-up clothes it likes to collect, tracking them down at garage sales, etc can be a lot of fun!

7. Excites interest in history as children learn about period dress. My town growing up hosted a Civil War Muster every year. Some years we would take the contents of our dress-up chest and put together realistic outfits for attending.

8. Appeals to a wide age-range. Most toys are pretty age-specific, and kids grow out of them in a year or two (or less). A dress-up chest is an efficient use of toy space because it can be enjoyed by toddlers through age 12 (or even older).

9. Facilitates creative school presentations. We used the contents of our dress-up chest for book reports, speeches, and skits (not to mention all of the school plays that made use of our costumes).

10. Flexible enough to accommodate your family's changing interests. If your son develops a sudden interest in the Wild West, you are sure to be able to find cowboy boots, hats, and toy horses at garage sales. If, the next week, he is interested in the army, you can help fuel his imagination with fatigues, toy guns, and army tents.

11. Feeds a little girl's sense of femininity to be able to dress up in pretty dresses. I realize that this isn't necessarily a good thing in everybody's book, but it is in mine!

12. Encourages the making of homemade movies and plays.

13. Provides a sense of connection and participation in the stories of old books. The classics are so much more fun when you can become Jo March or Huckleberry Finn.

Do you have a dress-up chest? Have you found perks besides the one's I've listed here? I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A very merry unbirthday...

Does your family have a long space of time during the year when nobody has a birthday? Here's something to break up the monotony of everyday life: throw a surprise unbirthday party!

Pick someone you know who you think would particularly enjoy it, and invite them over. They will be so confused to see streamers, balloons, a cake, and presents! It will brighten their day, and will be a lot of fun. Maybe even play the music from Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter tea party in the background!

Giveaway Winner

Thank you everybody for all of your fun comments! The winner of this week's giveaway is:

Miss Kathy

(I use random.org to generate a random number- which this week was #57)

Please contact me within the next 48 hours with your address so that I can send you your three wonderful books!

Be sure to come back this Friday for the start of another great giveaway!

Wordless Wednesday: Olives!

What kid hasn't had fun with olive fingertips at one time or another? (and these aren't even the full olives!)

Works for Me Wednesday: "No" Tags

Problem: Our 14 month-old is generally pretty obedient, and when we tell her something is off limits, she almost always follows the rule. A little bit ago, however, we encountered a problem in trying to keep her from opening two of the kitchen cupboard doors (safety latches don't work very well on our particular doors). No matter how many times I scolded her, she opened them again and again.

Finally I figured out that she wasn't trying to be bad in opening them, but the rest of the cupboard doors (that weren't off limits) looked just the same, and it wasn't easy for her to distinguish the ones that she wasn't supposed to open.

Solution: I created "no" tags with a picture and the words "This is a "no" to go on the off- limit cupboards. It worked! She just needed a cue that was easily recognizable. I decided to label everything that was off limits in the apartment with the same tags. I figure that an added bonus will be that the tags are easy indicators of boundaries to show babysitters our rules.

This post is part of the Works for Me Wedneday meme at Rocksinmydryer.net

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dinosaur Birthday Party

Do you have a little boy with a birthday coming up? I have just come across a delightful idea for his party!

How about a dinosaur party with the following activities?

Dinosaur Dig

Save all of your chicken, turkey, and beef bones from dinner for a few months. Boil them so that all of the meat comes off. Then bury them in your sandbox or in an old garden bed. Give the birthday guests buckets and send them off on an archeological dig to find as many bones as they can.

Museum Creations

Let the kids create their own creatures out of the bones they have just found. Give them white modeling clay to hold the bones together. Distribute index cards so they can make placards for their creatures and encourage them to make up names and descriptions. Each guest can take his/her dinosaur home in a shoe box.

Colossal Volcano Eruption

As a climax to your party, make a giant volcano eruption in the sandbox. Ask the kids to make a big mound of sand. Maybe you can have little plastic dinosaurs and trees and such available for them to decorate the scene. In the middle of the mound, bury all but the top of a clean frozen juice can containing 1/4 cup baking soda. In another can mix 1 cup water with 2/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup diswashing liquid and a few drops of red food dye. When the kids are all paying attention, pour the vinegar mixture into the volcano and enjoy the foamy eruption!

(It's probably worth noting on the invitations that guests should arrive in play clothes that they don't mind getting dirty)

This idea for a party is from Prime Time Together with Kids by Donna Erikson

Monday, September 22, 2008

Museum Day!

This Saturday, September 27th is a free admission day for many museums around the country. Click here to see if there is a museum in your area participating.

Friday Night Pizza Tradition

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver:

Routines save time, and tempers. Like a mother managing a toddler’s mood swings, our family has built some reliable backstops for the times in our week when work-weary, low-blood-sugar blowouts are most likely. Friday nights are always pizza-movie nights. Friends or dates are welcome...We always keep the basic ingredients for pizza on hand- flour and yeast for the dough, mozzarella, and tomatoes (fresh, dried, or canned sauce, depending on the season). All other toppings vary with the garden and personal tastes. Picky children get to control the toppings on their own austere quadrant, while the adventurous may stake out another, piling on anything from smoked eggplant to caramelized onions, fresh herbs, and spinach.

Because it’s a routine, our pizzas come together without any fuss as we gather in the kitchen to decompress...and talk about everybody’s week. I never have to think about what’s for dinner on Fridays.

I like this idea, and have been toying with it for our family lately. It’s cheap (especially if you make your own dough), easy, and fun! Here is a recipe for basic pizza dough that I used the other night. (Turned out great)

Easy Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water. Knead in bowl for about 5-10 minutes (until elastic consistency is reached) Sprinkle with flour when needed to keep from sticking to bowl or hands.
  2. Allow to rise for 30 minutes to an hour. Knead again and roll out on oiled pizza pan.

Here are some additional tips:

- You can actually skip the kneading, rising step if you need a quick pizza

- For extra flavor, add 1 teaspoon dried basil, oregano, or garlic powder to the dough

- To keep the dough from bubbling, prick with fork

- Bake for 5-10 minutes without the toppings to allow the crust to rise a little

- At the very end, place pizza under the broiler for a couple minutes if you like the charred cheese effect

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shaving Cream Fun

See how much fun my cousins can have with a 79 cent can of shaving cream? On a nice sunny day my aunt handed each of them a can and let them make as big a mess as they wanted with it.

It looks from the pictures that they were pretty nice to each other with their cans :-) Maybe that's owing to the fact that they are cousins and not sisters. (If my mom had given shaving cream to my siblings and me, I'm pretty sure it would have turned into a war!)

Shaving cream is such an ideal outdoor play thing - puffy, slimy, sticky- easy to clean up! It's great for making foam sculptures (maybe a cream castle?) and of course, just general sliding and oozing around.

Clean-up is part of the fun! It looks here like my aunt is spraying the kitchen sink sprayer out the window at the girls. All this fun and a great memory for under $2.00!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Isn't this a pretty little plate of fruit? My Aunt and cousin had this set out on their table for us to eat when we came for a recent visit. Don't the tiny grapes make it special? Finding something that is special and a little unique and then sharing it goes such a long way toward making someone feel welcome!

Scarecrow from an old mop

Here is a fun use for a mop or broom that has reached retirement age. Let your kids build a scarecrow out of it for the pumpkin patch or garden in your yard! Here's what you need:

- an old mop, broom, or some sort of long pole
- rags (best if they are pieces of clothing, and a pillowcase can work for the head)
- straw (can be cheaply purchased from a local feed store)
- some good strong rubber bands for cinching the waist, neck, wrists, and ankles. (twine would work too, but it's a little more work)

He may not be as pretty as the scarecrows in the windows at JoAnns or Michael's these days, but your kids will think he's great especially if they do all the work themselves!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pooh Sticks

Do you know of a bridge with water flowing underneath it, even if it is ever so slowly? If you have small children (or maybe even if you don’t) you really must play Poohsticks.

How do you play? Everyone finds one small piece of something that will float (twigs, leaves, pine cones, etc). It is best if the pieces are easily recognizable and distinguishable from each other. Each person places his or her wrist on the same side of the bridge, holding the object with their fingers. At the same moment everyone releases their object.

There is then a scurry of little feet as everyone rushes to the other side of the bridge and peers down to see if they can see their object coming out from under the bridge. The first to come out is the winner.

If your family is like our family, you will probably end up playing many rounds, and will play it every time you encounter a serviceable bridge.

I think it makes it especially nice if your family has read the book together or at least the relevant excerpt.

One day, when Pooh bear was just walking along the bridge with a fir cone in his paw, in his own world, not looking where he was going (probably thinking about honey), he tripped over something. This made the fir-cone jerk out of his paw into the river.

"Bother", said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge. So Pooh went to get another fir cone, but then thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day. So, he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him, and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too. 'That's funny,' said Pooh. 'I dropped it on the other side,' said Pooh, 'and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?'

And he went back for some more fir-cones. It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn't know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice ... and then he went home for tea.

And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks, which Pooh invented, and which he and his friends used to play on the edge of the Forest. But they played with sticks instead of fir-cones, because they were easier to mark.'

- Excerpt from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne