Monday, November 29, 2010

Fall Leaves Slide

If you still have some leaves scattered around your yard, why not pile them up underneath the kiddie slide and let the little ones whooosh into them? Or, take a rake to a local park and do the same there? (I'll bet you'd draw a crowd!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wax Paper Candle holders

Did you know that wax paper makes a very pretty "frosted" covering for a glass candle holder? It does! This Thanksgiving candle holder came together in under an hour and cost very little.

One afternoon, M and I gathered colorful fall leaves from around the neighborhood. (I think the ginko and aspen tree leaves have an especially pretty shape) We pressed them in an old book so that they would have a chance to thoroughly dry out and to flatten.
A couple of days later, I cut a strip of wax paper to fit this large glass vase ($5 at Walmart). On one side I scattered the pressed fall leaves and covered them with mod podge. Once they were dry, I sponged mod podge all over the vase and pressed the wax paper onto it. Once I pressed the air bubbles out of the paper, it was finished.It was such an easy craft and made such a pretty effect that I think I'll have to experiment with some variations. Maybe a nativity silhouette scene for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderfully joyful time with your family today!

(This year's nature Thanksgiving banner is simpler than last year or the year before because I'm scrambling a bit for time. We took our first family camping trip at the beginning of this week, and my laundry room is overflowing with heaps of dirty clothes right now!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Alphabet Animal Sounds

This may be one of those things that I've just discovered that lots of people already do naturally, but I've been tickled lately to meet with good success teaching my 15 month-old alphabet letter sounds by treating them like animal noises. Everybody knows that toddlers can't get enough of lions roaring, and monkeys chattering, but it never occurred to me until now that she would love it just as much if I threw in a letter here and there instead of an animal.

Now I ask her, "G, what does a pig say?" then "What does the letter A say?" etc. We also get practice in at mealtime, alternating between "Here comes the piggy," as I oink loudly with the spoonful of peas entering her mouth and "Here comes the letter C!" as I "Cu-cu-ca" with the next spoonful.

Has anyone else found this to be a good trick or had success with similar ideas?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Place Mat Craft

M likes using this placemat everytime she eats these days.  As a plus, it helps remind her where everything goes when she sets the table!

 Materials Needed:
11 x 17 piece of construction paper
2 or more sheets of Autumn or Thanksgiving Scrapbook paper
Laminating paper or contact paper

1.  Trace around a plate, glass, knife, fork, and spoon with a pencil on pieces of scrapbook paper.
2.  Cut out each piece.
3.  Have your preschooler cover the backs with a gluestick.
4.  Show the child where to put glue each piece (maybe taking the opportunity to talk about where items belong at a place setting)
5.  Laminate or cover with contact paper.  (Make sure the lamination extends a couple of centimeters beyond the construction paper because you don't want to risk the construction paper getting wet)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giveaway Winner: Melissa and Doug Blocks generated the number 38 for this giveaway which means that Katrina (ykatrina at hotmail dot com) is the winner! Congratulations, Katrina! Thanks to all who entered.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jesse Tree Family Resources

For a long time I have been intrigued by the Jesse Tree tradition that a lot of families and churches participate in during Advent. It seems like a neat way not only to focus on Christ in anticipation of Christmas, but to also remember what His birth means in the context of the rest of the Biblical story.

If you are interested in possibly starting this tradition in your family, you might take a look at these blog posts from families who have done the Jesse Tree in their homes. I think it's really interesting to see how each family has tailored the basic idea to fit their family's personality.

Also, at the end of this post you will find a collection of resources (printables, devotions, etc) for help in making your own Jesse tree.
As We Walk. Tired, Need Sleep (also has free Jesse Tree printables)
Other Resources:
A list of Scripture readings and description of the tradition from CRI
Devotions for Children with corresponding questions from the Reformed Church in America
Patterns for the Symbols and directions for making the tree also from the RCA
Coloring Pages
Ready to Print and hang ornaments
Calendar with suggested additional activities

Friday, November 12, 2010

Magnet Paths

If you get a strong enough magnet, you can use it to move a paperclip around on top of a thick piece of cardstock.

This morning I let M draw colored pencil paths between a cluster of flowers, a bee hive, and a pot of honey. I drew a quick sketch of a bee, cut it out and taped it to a paper clip. Then I held the cardstock while M moved the magnet under the bee from place to place and made up her own little stories about the honey-making process.

Keeping the paper clip moving along the right path takes a certain kind of hand/eye coordination. I think just letting your preschooler draw curvy paths on a piece of cardstock and then letting them try to keep the paperclip on the paths would be a fun little challenge in itself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas is coming...

We planted an amaryllis bulb today on the window sill of the playroom.  I'm hoping it will bloom by Christmas, but I may be cutting it a little close.
 At least we will have the anticipation of it's bright bloom all during advent.  I've been trying to find new ways for our family to revel in the symbolism of the anticipation of Christ's coming.  It is such a rich time, and after Christmas, I often feel as if I have not really taken the time or initiative to ponder it enough.

Do you have any simple advent traditions that you have found meaningful for your family at this time that you'd be willing to share?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inventor's Box

I love the spirit behind this idea in the book More Mudpies: 101 Alternatives to Television (great book, by the way)

"There is an Inventor's Box in our garage filled with the kind of junk most people love to get rid of. Two coffee cans, a bicycle chain, an old eggbeater, and a broken thermostat from the newly repaired furnace are the latest additions. The box is used year-round and has generated everything from doll furniture to intricate contraptions that magnetically close doors.

You may have similar inventions ingredients (disguised as junk) in drawers and under beds but not collected together and called an "Inventor's Box." That's the secret. By placing the items into our box, the rules of function are eliminated and the bits can be reinvented into something new. Children, with their unburdened perspective, are naturally equipped to discover new uses for familiar objects.

When you clean out the garage and junk drawers to create your Inventor's Box, keep in mind that almost everything has potential for invention. Grand ideas are hidden in the pieces of an old game, the innards of small appliances, cat food cans, and rubber bands...

The act of creating cultivates creativity in children, not the creation itself. Our spirited four year old reminds me of this often. He thinks invention and adventure are the same word. "This is for my wire adventure," he declares one day, holding up a trio of rusty coils. And, of course, he is right."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun Giveaway: Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks

Just in time for Christmas, CSN (a company of online stores that is currently running a special on dining chairs) will be giving away to one of the readers here a 100ct box of Melissa and Doug wooden blocks.

We have this set at our house and really like it. The blocks are just the right weight and size (small enough for little hands but big enough to build nice, tall towers quickly). These would make a great gift; even a good gift for a family that already has a set (two sets mean even MORE creative potential :-)

To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment at the end of this post. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!

For additional entries:

1. Subscribe to the RSS feed here and leave an extra comment to that effect.
2. Become a follower with Google friend connect, and leave an extra comment to that effect.

The giveaway will end on Tuesday, November 16th at midnight.
This giveaway is open to all US and Canadian entrants.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

5 More Yes/No Riddles

One of the most popular posts ever on Having Fun at Home is a list of yes/no riddles (otherwise known as lateral thinking puzzles) that I put together about a year and a half ago. Since then, I've encountered a few more and thought I would share them.

If you are not sure how a yes/no riddle works, be sure to check out the explanation here.

The solutions are listed at the end; so if you want to be on the guessing end of these sometime be sure not to peek!

1. Tom and Mary are thirsty for some peach juice. Mary says that she wants two glasses of juice, and Tom wants just one. When the waiter comes, Tom orders five glasses of peach juice. Tom takes the three glasses off of the waiter’s tray and tells him to take the others back; he doesn’t want them. Why did he order five glasses?

2. A black dog walked down a black road in a town painted black with streetlights that were broken because of a recent power outage. A car came by driving 45 miles an hour whose headlights were both broken; it swerved and narrowly missed the dog. How did the car avoid hitting the dog under such conditions?

3. It is the middle of July. Detectives arrive on the scene in the middle of a park in Miami, Florida where there is a dead man lying in a slight depression in the grass. The medical examiner said that the man froze to death. How did the man die? And how did he get there?

4. He was lying there, in a puddle of blood, shattered glass all around him, curled up in the too small space, a bucket of water standing outside. He was obviously very dead.What happened to him? Where is he? And why the bucket?

5. The two victims, father and son, were rushed into the ER. The attending physician pronounced the father DOA. The son, however, was obviously still alive. He was rushed to the operating room. The surgeon came in, and prepared to save the young man's life. But when his face came into view, the surgeon started, and announced: "I can't operate! He's my son!" How can that be?


1. Tom has a speech impediment. He can’t pronounce the letter “r.” He orders five glasses because it does not require him to say the letter “r.”

2. It was daytime.

3. He had attempted to smuggle himself into the States by stowing away in the wheel bay of an airplane. Unfortunately, those bays area not heated, so he froze to death at 30,000 feet. When the landing gear unfolded over the park in Miami, he fell out.

4. The man was in a phone booth, calling his wife after a morning fishing. The bucket with his catch is outside. Bragging about his enormous catch, he spread his arms wide, accidentally smashing through the glass in his enthusiasm and cutting his wrists.

5. The surgeon was the boy's MOTHER!