Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homemade Pizza Puzzle

Every once in a while the convenience and tastiness of a Little Caesar's hot and ready pizza gets the better of me, and we buy one.  I was especially tempted today because it's Tuesday (so they're extra cheap), and because I had just read about this fun idea for making a pretend pizza in Good Earth Art.

1.  We gathered up all our old magazines and cut out pictures of food to go on our pizza.  Never mind that we ended up with everything from a salmon dinner to a bottle of vitamins- that made it extra fun (and funny)

2.  I cut out a round circle out of white cardboard and glued it onto a slightly bigger piece of brown cardboard (the crust).

3.  I covered the white cardboard circle with a glue stick and let the girls stick on the pieces of food wherever they wanted.
 4.  We covered the pizza with modpodge and let it dry.

5.  I cut the pizza into slices and placed it in our Little Caesar's pizza box.  (I did end up lining the bottom with paper...at first I thought the grease marks made it look more authentic, but then I decided it was just a smidge gross)

A very fun puzzle!

It's Playtime!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Watermelon Popsicles

A little late for Memorial Day but still a refreshing summer treat.
I finely chopped a couple of slices of watermelon, spooned them into an icecube tray, and stuck in craft sticks.
Two hours later, we had an easy and healthy snack! (it is definitely less sweet than your average popsicle, which is good in one way, but may be a little disappointing if you are looking for something different)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Father's Day Giveaway: Bedtime Prayers and Promises Recordable Book

My girls miss their daddy during the day when he's at work. I love that the book for this giveaway allows him to be a little more "present" in our home when he's not here.

When I was contacted by Dayspring to do the review for Bedtime Prayers and Promises I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'd heard a lot of hype about recordable books, but didn't know if it would just end up being a gimicky kind of thing that didn't have lasting value to children.

Here is a video of the girls when I first gave them Bedtime Prayers and Promises

M looks a little dazed in most of this video, but I have really been surprised by how much she has taken to the book. She listened to the pages for a long time, and even after an hour it was hard to pull her away to come to lunch. She has listened to it for long periods during her afternoon rest time for many days since then. When R came home the first day she thanked him over and over for making her the "wonderful book." :-)

The recording of the pages is easy to do, but it is set up in such a way that the children are not able to accidentally record over what has been done. My husband did say that the amount of time given to record on each page caused him to have to rush a little in the reading of each page, but it didn't cause a major difficulty.

One of the things I really like about it too is the flexibility. You as the reader have the choice to include or leave out whatever you would like from the text of the book or even to add your own little touches.

The content of Bedtime Prayers and Promises has a lot of nice things about it (each page contains a poem, a Scripture verse, and a prayer), but the thing we like most are the Scripture passages. We are planning to replace what is recorded right now with just the Scripture passages (expanded to include the context). I really like the thought of M being able to listen to her daddy read her the Bible during her nap.

Dayspring has provided one copy of Bedtime Prayers and Promises for me to give away to a reader here at Having Fun at Home. To be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post.

For additional entries:

1. Write about this giveaway from your Facebook or Twitter account.
2. "Like" Dayspring on Facebook (you will receive a coupon code for 10% off your next order).
2. "Like" Having Fun at Home on Facebook.

For each additional entry, write an extra comment saying what you did.

On Monday, June 6, I will choose the winner using Random.org. All readers in the USA and Canada are eligible.

Tiny Books: Rhymes and Letters

My girls really seem to enjoy tiny things; so for today's school time I made them each a tiny educational book.

(3 inch by 2 inch strips of paper, stapled together once in the middle)

For G's book, on opposing pages I put an upper and lower case letter.  As we turned each page I asked her if the letters went together.  If they were the same letter, we shouted "SAME!" and threw our hand up in the air.  If they were different, we made our voices as deep as we could and slowly and sadly said, "Different..."

 For M's book on opposing pages I drew simple pictures.  If the words rhymed, we gestured emphatically and shouted "It RHYMES!" if not, we shook our heads, "no, rhyme..."  They really got into the drama of it.  :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Join Us on Facebook!

Well, about a week ago I finally got a Facebook page together for Having Fun at Home. I had been dragging my feet for a while because I wasn't really sure what it would contribute, but now I'm really excited about it.

Here's what you can expect to find on the facebook page:

1. Notifications for new posts on the blog.
2. Links to other great ideas I find on other family activity blogs.
3. Quick, fun ideas that aren't long enough for a full post.
4. Occasional pictures of completed ideas that I don't post on the blog. (For example, if you go there now you'll find a picture of the tea wreath that M and I made for her preschool teacher.

and the thing I am most excited about...

5. It's a great venue for readers who try ideas here on Having Fun at Home to share with each other their pictures/ blog post links. It doesn't even have to be based on something from HFAH. It would be neat to see any great ideas you find!

I love the thought of Facebook becoming a forum for sharing creative ideas in community.

By the way, if for some reason this link doesn't work, would someone tell me about it? I've been having trouble with my links lately. Thanks! :-)

Texture Scavenger Hunt

When everybody was napping yesterday (except me, sadly :-)  I hunted around the house for spots with good, recognizable texture and made crayon rubbings of them. This morning, M took one rubbing at a time and tried to match it with where it was made.

 Several times she needed hints, but it was fun to see her skill improve a she went along. 


It's Playtime!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Everyday Life "Portraits"

I found this idea for creating personal "portraits" out of everyday life objects. I love the idea! This morning I gathered objects to make little portraits for M, G, and myself. They turned out only so-so, but it was a fun process.
Honestly, I enjoyed making the one for myself the most. Something about trying to artistically arrange the simple objects from my life into a pleasing collage felt profound and healthy. It was something of an exercise in thankfulness.

It might be neat to make these collages every couple of years as a unique kind of journal.Works form Me Wednesday

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dandelion Curls

I found this idea in a 19th century children's book that described how to make hair for one's homemade woodland dolls. And, having a houseful of curly-headed girls, it seemed like something we definitely had to try. :-)

1. Pick a long dandelion stem and, using your thumbnail, split the stem two or three times as far down the stem as you can. (the longer the split, the longer the curls).

2. Toss the stems in a bowl full of water and watch the stems start to curl. It takes about a minute to fully curl.

Show and Tell Tuesday!
Works for Me Wednesday

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homemade Paint with Water

If you have a set of watercolor tubes you can make homemade paint- with- water pages for travel or just for keeping things a little more contained.  Just squeeze a few colors at the top and let them dry.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

They Grow up so Fast...an Update on the Chickens

It has been awhile since I gave any kind of update on our little suburban flock.  The chickens are no longer the cute little fluff balls they once were.  They have passed through their ugly adolescent stage and are almost full grown hens now- just about ready to start laying.

Things I've learned so far about backyard chickens:

1.  They really have very agreeable personalities. Certainly, they're not the brightest bulbs in the box- but nice.  I never have to worry that they are going to be malicious to the girls.

2.  Chickens light up the backyard.  I really enjoy standing on the back patio, watching them scratch about and listening to their mellow (usually) clucking.

3.  They've really cut down on the bug population.  (Horray!)

4.  Once you get past the initial set up hassle and expense, they're even easier to have around than cats.

5.  There's something soothing about putting the chickens to bed every night.  Chasing them into their pen is a chore I almost never resent.  It reminds me of the old Green Acres sentiment that the chores are one of the best parts about living in the country.  So true. 

6.  So far there hasn't been a problem with any kind of smell.  That may be partly a reflection of the fact that we're in the middle of a drought here in central Texas, and the dry heat solves what might otherwise be an issue.  I guess I'll find out as we go along.

7.  The chickens really like fresh, organic produce.  This might be commendable if it were not for the situation of my garden.  They nibbled down all the leaves within reach and quite a few baby cantaloupes and tomatoes.  I was  ready for chicken noodle soup until my husband helped me install chicken wire around the perimeter.  Our relationship is restored.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Teacher Gifts from Young Children

With the end of the school year coming I went hunting about to see if I could find some nice teacher appreciation gifts that a young child could help make. These are some of the fun ideas I found.

1. Decorated Soap pump from Giver's Log
2. Another soap idea from Factory Direct Craft.
3. Thank you pouches from Skip to My Lou.
4. I would just love to receive a tea bag wreath like the one at Kojo Designs. (maybe your child could be the one to clip on the tea bags?)
5. Homemade bird feeders from Salt Water Kids

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Button Tappers

We happened to have some large buttons around the house, and decided today to hunt down some skinny rubber bands to make "button tappers." 

I threaded the rubber band through both holes, and tied the ends in a little knot.  I was a little afraid that G wouldn't want to have anything to do with something so strange on her fingers, but I was pleasantly surprised.  She was eager to wear them and to try them out, tapping them on the bottom of a big pot.

(I realized, after seeing the above picture that I never changed G after she spilled a whole glass of milk down her front- oops!)
Soon M decided that they'd be even more fun on her feet.  So we tapped on the drum with our toes :-)  M and G also enjoyed listening to me walking around the laminate floor with them on my feet- sounded like tap shoes.  (They didn't like the feel of it themselves though)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oyster Craft

I wanted to show you this cute and easy craft M brought home yesterday from her preschool.  It's a small paper plate, folded in half, painted gray on the outside and pink on the inside.  Inside they glued a small white pompom to be the pearl.

The girls like making it "talk." :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Soap Clouds

Say to your kids, "I wonder what would happen if we put a bar of soap in the microwave." and then find out! It bubbles over to make the nicest, fluffiest clouds.

This afternoon I'm planning to send my girls out in the back yard with the fluffed soap (it's cooled and actually pretty stiff now) and a tub of water to wash some toys.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spray Bottle Painting

Gather up your empty, non toxic spray bottles, and old sheet, and some washable paint for an outdoor Watercolor mural!

I really liked the effect of this medium- felt like we were working on a large Monet painting. G had a little difficulty squeezing the spray bottles; so we just let her use a paintbrush, and that looked neat too!

Fun for Kids Friday
It's Playtime!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maybe Wimpherzina?

M's comment:  "Maybe if it's a girl we could name her Ellie, or Ruth, or maybe Wimpherzina?"

Maybe we'd better hope it's not a girl :-)

This fun paper punch

came in handy for announcing our good news to my mother.  I sent her an envelope in the mail full of baby footprint punches and our estimated due date (early December).  After initial confusion about the flutter of paper to the ground, she figured it out, and I got the excited phone call. :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Front and Back Alphabet Cards

I decided to make a set of alphabet cards with first letter sound pictures on the front.  I know it's easy enough to buy that sort of thing, but it's nice to have pictures that are personally meanful to G.

Me: G, what's this?

G: Hat!

Me: Right. "h-h-hat"  What letter says "h-h-h?"

G:  H (actually, she only occasionally gets it correct- still a bit hard for her, but it's nice to have some activities that we can practice and practice until it clicks)

Me:  Right!  Hat starts with "h."


Friday, May 13, 2011


I really do love hats.  In fact, one of the elements at our wedding reception five years ago was a little girls' "Teaparty with the Bride" where the little girls got to wear lovely, fanciful hats.
So...ever since I discovered that my extra pizza pan would stick to magnets I've been scheming to use it to make this fun magnetic hat toy for the girls.

1.  First, I painted the pan with white acrylic paint.  (You can maybe tell that it could have used a third coat, but I'm impatient).

2.  Then I hunted down pictures of each member of the family (including our dear suburban chicken Miriam, of course)  It actually turned out to be harder than I anticipated to find full figure shots of each person head-on.

3.  Using Microsoft Word, I sized the pictures to be proportionate to one another and printed them out.  (You can see that I didn't quite get the sizing on little G right.  Her head is much bigger than everybody else's and tends to dwarf the hats!)

4.  Using clear packing tape I "laminated" each person.

5.  Back to the computer!  This time using Google images to find all sorts of wonderful hats.

6.  Resized and printed them out, and "laminated" with packing tape.

7.  On the back of each person and hat I put a small piece of an adhesive magnet sheet.

I may end up using one of these pictures for our family Christmas photo this year.  It just might be easier than the normal impossible task of convincing everyone to smile at the same moment.  :-)
Yes, I am a bit enamored with the sight of Miriam the chicken in all these hats.
This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday,   The Amazing Mess, It's a Blog PartMaking the World CuterMotivate Me Monday,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Blog Feature: Favorites from Our Bookshelf

I've added a new feature to the sidebar on Having Fun at Home- a list of relatively obscure but wonderful children's books that we've discovered lately. I'll try to keep it up to date.

But in the meantime, has your family stumbled across any really great kids' books that you haven't seen widely recommended? Please share in the comments so we can all be on the lookout for those titles!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Icy Raisin Hunt

After a neighborhood get- together this past weekend, I was left with a large bag of ice in the freezer and no room for anything new and frozen (like ice cream!!) So when the girls got up from their nap this afternoon I emptied the bag of ice into a large tupperware container and spread some raisins through the ice for them to find.

It made for a fun hunt and prolonged snacktime. Then, of course, they found lots of other ways to play in the ice and came to the back door dripping wet, but it was worth it, I think!

Works for Me Wednesday! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Top Art Supplies for Empowering Real Fun

A friend once asked me which art supplies I considered the basics for a well-stocked kids closet.  I'm afraid I've taken my sweet time answering her (partly because I felt unqualified to answer; I'm a really bad minimalist-  my crafts closet is bursting at the seams!)   One of the many great comments on the recent post 13 Things Parents do that Inhibit Real Fun made me think though, that the time had come for me to do some thinking on my friend's question. 

The comment had to do with keeping  open-ended art supplies around instead of buying kids craft kits.  Such a good point!  The question is, what are the most helpful supplies to have around?   A person could spend their life savings impulse shopping at Michaels!  So...which things are likely to sit on the back shelf, and which things will inspire and empower creativity and fun?

I did some thinking about the supplies I use most in crafting with and for kids, and this is the list I came up with.

1.  Scissors!  Child and adult pairs.  My mother taught me to keep some scissors nice and to use others for rougher jobs (for example, cutting through anything sticky or grainy)

2.  Glue sticks.  I try to get the kind that have larger tops so they're not such a choking hazzard.

3.  String.

4.  Markers

5.  Crayons

6.  Tissue Paper- It seems like there are so many great ideas around the web for using tissue paper in kid's crafts these days!

7.  Hole punch.

8.  One inch fasteners- these metal brads are sharp- so not good for unsupervised kids, but they allow for so many creative projects with joints, dials, etc.

9.  Hole enforcer stickers- great for making little homemade books, etc

10.  Packing tape- one of my absolute favorites- cheap laminating!

11.  Washable Paint- just writing those words reminds me that I really should send the girls outside with an easel and several jars of paint the next time they are having a rough day.  I'm sure it will improve their spirits 100%!

12.  Popsicle sticks- the "backbone" for many a craft.

13.  Colored cardstock- construction paper is definitely cheaper, but it fades and rips so quickly.  I guess both are good to have around!

14.  Paper cutter- not for young children to use definitely, but I have been so glad I've had mine for dozens of little games, etc. I've made for my toddlers. 

Everybody does arts and crafts a little differently.  I'd love to hear what you would add to this list or swap out! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

I didn't make any homemade Mother's Day cards this year, BUT...

If I had, I might have tried to make one of these clever cards!

1.  The instructions for this stand-up card are at In2Art
2.  This fantastic idea for a sign language mother's day card from baby comes from Baby Sign Language
3.  To see how to make a purse that folds out into a card visit All Kids Network. 
4.  The printout for making a "Best Mother in the World" newspaper card is over at the Tip Junkie.


1.  Photo cards are always fun.  I like the balloon idea from Jerome's photography.
2.  Family Fun has a cute photo house idea.
3.  This flower card from Celebrations would be easy for children to make and folds up into its own cute little envelope.  
4.  The I love you to pieces idea comes from kiboomu.  (Might also be cute to use actual puzzle pieces with good qualities of Mom written on each one)
5.  The I love you this much! card is from All Kids Network.
6.  The wheel of affection card is also from Family Fun.