Friday, February 27, 2009

Good Ideas from Around the Web

Would you ever have guessed that these fun monsters were made using cauliflower stems? Check out Scrumdilly-do's website to find out how!
Might not your kids actually enjoy practicing their math if they got to do it on a giant TWISTER board? Learn how Alexa made this giant math mat and the different games her family played with it at Mind Games.
I think that these treasure rocks look like so much fun! Inside of each one is a special little treasure, and kids have to chip away at the rock in order to find it! Find out how to make them at Moremomtime! You can see how the activity turned out here! (Moremomtime suggests that these would work great at a dinosaur birthday party; check out more ideas for a dinosour party here!)
Learn how to make a colorful bowl out of scraps of paper and a blender at Funny Days with Mommy and Maddie!
Walking around in mommy and daddy's big shoes is always such a thrill for little ones. I'm sure duck and frog feet would be even more fun! Take a look at the homemade feet that Lucky Me! made for her kids!
I love this St. Patrick's Day sensory tub idea that Teaching Tiny Tots came up with! Looking for gold coins or shamrocks would keep me (never mind my kids!) happily occupied for a long time!
This color dice game from Katie's Nesting Spot looks like a great way to reinforce the learning of colors with a toddler. I may have to try it soon!
I know Christmas time is long past, but I just love this easy but adorable snow globe soap making activity so much that I can't resist linking to it. Alpha Mom shows you exactly how to do it, and it doesn't seem to take long at all! There must be an off-season application for this idea too. I'll just have to think on it for a bit!
Because Babies Grow Up has a great idea for homemade fruity necklaces. Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Play Soups for Toddlers

Like any self-respecting toddler, M is drawn like a magnet to all puddles- to all water in general, for that matter. And I, like most mothers who have things to do and generally find it inconvenient to clean up mud-spattered children at odd times of the day, am forever steering her away from those much longed-for puddles.

Today, I decided to let her have her "water touch!" as she likes to say. While she was napping I set out three bowls and filled them with water ahead of time so that it would have time to be warmed by the sun. In each bowl I made a different "soup."

The first was Animal SoupThen Nature Soup with rocks and leaves
and finally Lego Soup!
These were good for a full 45 minutes of entertainment (which is saying a lot for a 19 month old!) The soup ladle was especially a hit as it allowed her to transfer water wherever she wanted- including her mama's lap!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cheap and Easy Laminating

My mother taught me this trick: for small items that need to be laminated, packing tape works great! Laminating can be really expensive, but packing tape is cheap. It's also clearer and easier to use than contact paper.

Even when an item is a little wider than the tape, you can sometimes get away with using several strips side by side like I've done here for a diaper bag tag that I made a couple days ago. It does make for a faint line down the middle, but it's really not that noticeable.
To see other projects where I've used this method see here and here.

To get more great household and family tips head on over to We are THAT Family!

Lent and Ash Wednesday

I do not come from a church tradition that commemorates Lent or Ash Wednesday, but my husband and I have long been interested in observing more of the church calendar in our home with our family.

We like the way that traditions like these can "bring to life" certain aspects of our faith to us and to our children. We also hope that they will provoke our children to ask us questions about the meaning behind the traditions and so open up good teaching opportunities. (like the Israelite children who asked their parents about the memorial stones that God had them lay down after crossing the river)

So, I was wondering if any of you have Lent or Ash Wednesday traditions that you observe at home as a family (or plan to observe someday) that you might be willing to share with us. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know I love to hear ideas. It's so much fun and really helpful too! If you have something to share please feel free to leave it in the comments section of this post or to email me at kmagill1212 at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"My Busy Hands" Homemade Baby Book

Knowing how much M likes to put things in and out of containers I thought she might enjoy an interactive book where she gets to put things where they belong.

My mother bought some blank board books a while back and shared them with me, and I've been waiting until I had some spare time to work on decorating them. You can order some yourself here.

The first set of pages had an apple tree on one side and a bushel basket on the other so that M can go "apple-picking."The second scene asked M to pick up her toys and put them in her toy chest (you'll see my ulterior motives when it comes to some of these :-)Next I have a picture of my father fishing on some water (in a boat named after my mother). M gets to "go fishing" and put the fish on the dinner plate.After dinner, of course, one needs to clear the table; so I have M take the dirty dishes off the table and put them in the sink. (Wouldn't it be great if I convinced M that clearing the table was "fun?" :-)Finally, M gets to deliver five baby birds back to their nest and wish them good-night.

I drew the background scenes myself (trying to keep them as simple as possible for the sake of my unprofessional artistic abilities). The movable objects I made by printing off pictures that I found on the internet, laminating them with packing tape and placing a piece of removable, double sided tape on their backs. (In order to ensure that the tape stuck to the object and not to the background I also placed a tiny piece of regular tape on top of part of the removable tape to fasten it down)

I was a little nervous when I presented the book to M because as you can probably tell, it was a bit of work, and I was afraid the pieces might be difficult for her to move or that she just wouldn't be that interested. But horray! She loved it! She was able to move all of the pieces and loved doing it over and over!

I do have to make sure she is supervised with the book though because she was, of course, interested in putting the "stickers" every where else beside the book as well!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Help for Playing Ball with a Toddler

M and I have a new way of playing ball. I lean a collapsed box against the edge of the couch. She sits at the top and rolls her beach ball down to me at the bottom. Then I pop it back up to her at the top. This set- up helps to compensate for the fact that her little throws are not always the strongest or most accurate. It's a fun new twist!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grandmother/ Granddaughter Cooking

I saw a very sweet thing at Barnes and Noble the other day. I saw a grandmother with her daughter leafing through children's cook books looking for just the right one to give to her granddaughter as a gift for teaching her how to cook.

It occurred to me that it could be an especially memorable and special gift if upon presentation, the grandmother told her granddaughter that she could pick out any recipe in the book, and they would do it together. A mother could do this for a daughter too!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Use for Old Makeup: Painting Rocks

Do you have some old make-up you are about to get rid of? Maybe you can get one last bit of fun out of it. We used some old stuff I had lying around to paint faces on rocks.

M thought that was pretty fun, but honestly not as entertaining as painting my knee! It was a fun mess. Have you made any creative activities for your family out of things you were about to throw away? I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Craft and Activity Blog Links

I hope you'll take a look at my new sidebar feature. There I have recently listed the names of other "kindred spirit" blogs that regularly feature family crafts and activities. I get lots of great ideas from these places! Be sure to check them out!

Also, if you have any blogs you think belong on this list feel free to email me at kmagill1212 at gmail dot com so I can take a look. I love discovering new family fun blogs!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pregnancy Letters

Children love to hear true stories about their family members- especially when the story involves themselves! They revel in all the little details, want to hear them over and over and remember them better than one might expect that they would.

With this in mind, I began writing a letter to M when I was pregnant with her, telling her the story of her time in the womb and her delivery. I wrote it envisioning that I would read it to her as a story when she was about six or seven years old. Now that I'm pregnant with baby #2 I'm beginning to piece together some of the elements of a second letter. (For me, pregnancy is perfectly suited to such a task because I become ridiculously sentimental during those months)

If you decide to write a similar letter here are some ideas for things to include:

- The circumstances surrounding the discovery that you were pregnant
- How you announced the pregnancy to different people
- Your feelings the first time you heard the heartbeat
- A description of where you were living at the time
- Your husband's and my prayers for the baby
- The different foods you craved or felt aversion for while you were pregnant
- Reactions of older siblings to the news (as long as they are not terribly negative! :-)
- A description of the seeing the baby for the first time in the ultrasound
- An explanation of how your baby got its name and your thoughts about the name
- A description of the unique ways in which the baby moved in the womb (did he have hiccups, etc)
- The weather, time of day, circumstances when you first went into labor
- Some of the less graphic details of the delivery
-Description of holding the baby for the first time

The more funny, interesting, and unique details the better! Above all though, I'm hoping that when my children hear their stories they get a profound sense of the excitement surrounding their birth and the fact that they were loved and wanted.

Have you done something like this? I would love to hear the details!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Memorable Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day was just about the nicest I've ever had. I'd like to tell you about it!

In the morning, my husband babysat so that I could go garage-saleing. I was tickled to find this vintage apron with little hearts all over it for a dollar.
It was just perfect for baking the heart-shaped chocolate chip muffins I had planned to make that day.
While M was taking her nap I made and hung out this heart shaped bird feeder out of popcorn and wire (for attracting lovebirds of course; I was hoping for a bright red cardinal to land on the heart for an amazing picture opportunity, but it hasn't happened yet!) The idea for making valentines for the birds came from Ordinary Life Magic.
I think it would make a fun tradition to string popcorn with the kids on Valentines Day while listening to Frank Sinatra love songs or some other old crooner.

After M's nap we all went on a wonderful hike at Hamilton Pool State Park. The waterfall and grotto were really beautiful! We hiked a little bit down the Pedernales River to find a picnic spot where we could eat the heart muffins and exchange Valentine's gifts.

One of the gifts from my husband was a chunk of Wensleydale cheese with cranberries! (must be exclaimed with a British accent!) That, of course, became part of the picnic.I made this scratch card for R with pen and heavy crayon.
The instructions were that he was allowed to scratch off one heart from each column, and behind each heart I had written a different gift. An advantage to this approach is that it allows me to get chocolate for cheap at the after-Valentine's Day sales!We came back from the State Park and I made heart shaped cheeseburgers. They didn't turn out so pretty; so I don't have a picture :-).

After M was tucked in bed, R and I snuggled down to watch an episode of Bonanza together (we both like that old show, and R recently found a 4 DVD set of Bonanza best-ofs at Walmart for $5) We don't usually make such a big deal about Valentine's Day, and we probably won't always in the future, but it made a nice memory and didn't really cost very much at all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day Mirror

Can you keep a secret? This is the valentine's day "card" my husband will wake up to tomorrow morning!
I was happy to discover that dry erase markers work on mirrors. I imagine I will use this idea for other sorts of things in the future! It was also handy to have a moveable mirror that I could decorate and then hide away in my closet until Saturday morning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shape Find

Here's an easy and inexpensive learning game I have been doing with M lately. From colored cardstock I have cut out basic shapes. I lay them out in front of M and ask her to pick up the shapes by name. Once she has the correct shape in hand I ask her to put it somewhere specific. "Can you hide the red circle in your toy chest?"

Once all of the shapes are hidden away I ask her to find them one by one. "Can you find the blue triangle?" Usually she can remember where she put them but sometimes she needs some help. It's a good way for an 19 month old to work on her memory skills as well as learning shapes and colors!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Church Family Tabernacle Project

I thought you might like to hear about a project that my husband and I oversaw with the Junior Church aged children at our old church in Florida. It really turned out well- was very educational, allowed families to do fun work work together at home, and brought the many generations together at our church in a really fresh way.

For two months, the kids at Grace Church learned about the Tabernacle (its history and symbolism) and worked on making some of the details for our model. During that time, different adults in the church worked on making the larger pieces of furniture. Many of those adults involved the kids in their work, making it a truly multigenerational project. The project culminated in a tour of the Tabernacle where the kids got to share what they had learned with the adults.
Making "The Bread of the Presence"This boy worked with an older man in our church to construct the Table of Showbread.One Sunday we talked about the role of the priests and put together a model of the High Priest's clothing.The man who made this Bronze altar put together a really fine piece of furniture!

Getting everything set up for the adults to take a tour.
When everything was assembled, the children stationed themselves at various places in the Tabernacle to give interesting tidbits and answer questions about their particular piece of furniture. Here it looks like maybe Dr. Dolly has stumped these girls with a really hard question!

The inspiration for the Tabernacle Project came from Linda Cannell who teaches children's ministry courses at Gordon Conwell Seminary.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Air Mattress Climbing Wall and Slide

We've had an air mattress inflated in our home for quite some time. Yesterday, I propped it up with our coffee table and placed some pillows and blankets at the bottom for safety, and M had the perfect little climbing wall/ tumbling down slide!

For more great ideas head over here!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Bathtoy: Kitchen Whisks!

Honeybear Valentine's Gifts

My in-laws gave us a Costco membership for Christmas this year, and so lately I've been having fun exploring there.(The samples alone make it a fun place to hang out!) The other day I made a delightful discovery- cheap vanilla beans! (Or rather, relatively cheap- vanilla beans tend to cost an arm and a leg; these were 10 beans for $11).

I have been positively giddy with the possibilities for these beans ever since they became mine. First on the list- vanilla infused honey for Valentine's Day gifts!

Infusing honey is very easy- just put the bean in the honey and bring to a low simmer on the stove. Turn off the heat, and allow it to steep for about an hour and a half. (Lots of things can be used to flavor honey; apparently lavender is supposed to be wonderful. Here's a website that gives some good instructions)
These honeybears are headed off to my parents, in-laws, and sister and brother in-law so that they can enjoy the honey with their own sweet honeybears.
(Three bears waiting to have their tummies filled. I love how they look mischievously to the right)