Thursday, April 16, 2009

Magazine cut-out activity with toddlers

M and I found something new and fun to do together today with old magazines. Together we thumbed through the pages, and whenever we found a picture she was particularly interested in, I cut it out and handed it to her. She liked having the picture in her hands- fawned over it and talked to it.

Pretty soon we were using the pictures together. Things like: feeding a bottle to a baby or a cookie to a dog or letting two babies play together. At first I was suggesting things to do, but she soon picked up on it and had her own ideas. (We had a few giggles over giving a pacifier to the dog). It was fun and creative play!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rescuing Baby Animals

In many parts of the country this is about the time when little baby birds start hatching from their eggs and peeping in their nests. When I was growing up I remember that we would occasionally find baby birds who had fallen from their nests or whose nests had been destroyed by a predator.

One time when we found a robin we decided to try in earnest to save him. We kept him warm in a box that had an old nest we had found previously and fed him with little strips of deli ham and water from a medicine dropper. I'm not sure why we fed him ham (maybe we thought it looked liked worms?!) but it worked, and he thrived!

"Caesar" grew up strong and friendly. He even liked our dog! We didn't intend to keep him forever, though, and when July 4th rolled around we thought it would be very poetic to give him his freedom (Independence Day).

With some urging, he flew away, but still came back to visit every once in awhile. It was a very fun experience and made for a fond childhood memory.

Has your family had any interesting experiences raising wild or orphanned animals? One spring we bottle-fed an orphanned lamb for a local farmer. Friends of ours in Florida regularly care for orphanned squirrels as a part of a program at their local wildlife center. I'm sure there are other opportunities around for this sort of thing. It would be neat to hear about them!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Mexican Jumping Bean

Wouldn't you and your kids like to make this fun Mexican Jumping Bean that feels like its alive in
your hand?

Sure you would!

My mother put this craft together for vacation Bible school one year, and the kids LOVED it!

Here is the template. You'll want to print it or copy it onto heavy cardstock (110lb is best). Other than that, all you need is scissors, a gluestick, and a standard sized marble to complete the craft.

Your kids can color their bean and write their name on it. Just a word of warning though: if they use marker, make sure they don't color very much. If the paper gets wet it doesn't work. Also, you may have to play around with the sizing at the copier if it doesn't seem quite right for your marble. It is kind of picky.

Once coloring is done, very carefully cut out the bean along the solid lines. Then fold along the dotted lines. Like this-Finally, you will place a marble inside of the bean and glue the two sets of flaps so that it looks like this-
You're done! Now, you'll want to find a slightly inclined surface- and preferably one that is not too slippery- to let your little bean "come to life."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passover Meal

For the last few years my husband and I have celebrated Passover together. We have always kept it simple, but each year we add a few new elements to our tradition. Some of the elements we adapt from Jewish tradition, and others we find ourselves.

This is what we did this year:

For the Meal:

Unleavened bread (pita)
Roasted Potatoes with bitter herbs (thyme and rosemary)
Charoset (chopped apples with ground almonds, and grapejuice- represents the mortar of the bricks that the Israelites made in Egypt)
Red Grape Juice

Some things we did to help us think about the meaning of the day:

Ryan hid little bags with pieces of leavened bread around the house for M to find. Once she had them all hunted down, we had her throw them all out of the house. (Represents the purging of sin out of our lives)I decorated the table with appropriate images and Scriptures for us to contemplate while we ate. (Scriptures that helped us to think about the meanings of the foods)

Each of us brought our suitcases to the table and left them there during the meal. We figured that this was the modern equivalent of eating with our "sandals on, cloaks tucked in, and staffs in hand" like the Israelites did when they had to be ready at a moments notice to leave Egypt.
We each had five glasses filled with grape juice in front of us. Each glass had a promise on it from Exodus 6:6-8. Jews traditionally drink four glasses of wine during their meal in honor of those promises that the Lord has fulfilled for them. The fifth glass, representing the Lord's bringing them into the land and giving them possession of it, they do not drink. They call it Elijah's cup and leave it in honor of the coming Messiah and fulfillment of his promises. Ryan and I decided to drink half of the fifth glass. (Representing the partial fulfillment in Christ's first coming, but remembering that the final consummation of that promise will come when He takes us to our final home)

We read aloud the story of the Passover from Exodus before our meal.

Traditions that we did not do this year but hope to incorporate in the future:

I hope to clean the house thoroughly before Passover next year. Orthodox Jews do this to make sure they get rid of all possible leaven. I think the symbolism is a good reminder to me of the seriousness with which God views sin. (I also think I can use any extra motivation I can get for cleaning! :-)

Leave the door open. Traditionally Jews leave the door open during Passover as a sign that Elijah or the Messianic figure is welcome into their home for the meal. I think this would be a nice reminder of Christ's presence. (We didn't do it this year because we don't have a screen- but maybe next year!)

Does your family have any special ways that it commemorates Passover? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wooden Stick Puzzles

Preschoolers at my mother's church always enjoy it when she has them make wooden stick puzzles during their craft time. To prepare ahead of time for the craft she lays 8 wooden tongue depressors side by side and tapes them together on one side with packing tape.

On the other side she draws the outline of some easily recognizable object (like a tree). The preschoolers color the tree and rip apart the wooden sticks. Now they have a puzzle to put together! (They also enjoy taking the puzzles home in ziploc bags for their families to try)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Magnetic Flower Arranging

I've wanted to make some sort of "quiet time" activity for M using a cookie sheet and magnets for a long time now. And it just so happened that the first real free time I've gotten to work on it corresponded to the beginning of Spring here in Texas. So, I guess it's only natural that the cookie sheet theme be flowers.

I used an old, corroded cookie sheet for this project. The paint covers any ugliness. It was important though that I find a sheet that would stick to magnets. (Aluminum wouldn't work)

The flowers are cut-outs from several old Martha Stewart magazines. They are covered with packing tape on both sides for durability. The magnets I put on the back of each flower already had adhesive backing; so that saved a little time. Painting the foliage was the most time-consuming part of the whole thing. (but relaxing and fun, nonetheless)M doesn't really understand the concept of making a bouquet, but she does enjoy moving the "flowies" around on the pan and naming their colors. I think I may store it away for now, and take it out in a few years to be used on car trips.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Letter Hunt

Lately I've found a new way to use foam letter stickers with my 20 month-old. I hide them on different parts of my body and ask her to find them. "Can you find the A on Mama?" etc.

My attempts to get M to hide the letters on her body were not so successful. She put the letters in the same place every time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pocketful of Spring

Did you know that you can make your own "lickum" stickers with household gelatin? It's true! Here's the recipe:
1 packet of knox gelatin (1/4 ounce)
1 TB cold water
3 TB boiling water
1/4 teasp corn syrup
flavoring extract
1. Combine the cold water and gelatin. Allow to soak until the gelatin is soft
2. Add boiling water and stir until completely dissolved
3. Stir in corn syrup and flavoring
4. Use a brush or sponge to cover the back of whatever you would like to turn into a sticker.
5. Allow to dry

I used cut-outs of flowers from a magazine. Once they were dry I put them into an envelope and mailed them to a friend who lives in the still-snowy North. Hopefully it will bring a little extra anticipation of Spring into her life!

Older children could do this craft, cutting out whatever pictures they liked. Also you could use fun flavorings like lemon or root beer extract. Once made, you could have them fill envelopes with the stickers and mail them to shut-ins. It could be fun, service-oriented craft!