Thursday, February 24, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Pemberley Seamstress

Congratulations to Connie Gruning NutButterandWhine at aol dot com winner of the lovely giveaway from the Pemberley Seamstress!

Connie, you should receive an email soon. If for some reason you do not hear from us in the next couple of days let me know. :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Easy Homemade Doctor's Bag

The teachers of little class that M attends two mornings a week have such cute ideas!  Today they made a doctor's kit out of black construction paper.

Inside are little "doctor's tools" that are easily made from things around the house.  The red cross on the outside is shaped like a Christian cross because they made the kit to go along with the story of the good Samaritan from the Bible.  

I love it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lego Word Families

 A set of large legos + blank adhesive label= a fun word family activity!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Close Up Mystery Pictures

Since I was young, I've enjoyed the kind of books where an extremely close-up photograph is shown and you have to guess the larger object of which it is a part.  Recently, when I was reading Look Closer with M, it struck me that it wouldn't be that difficult to make a book like that of my own using a digital camera. 

 I took a close-up and a regular distance photo of lots of familiar things from around the house (toys, appliances, etc) some hard, some easy.  I printed them out and turned them into a little blank board book, but it would work just as well to leave them loose and use them like flashcards.  M enjoyed the activity, and G actually guessed some of the pictures too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Puerto Rico

CSN, an extensive network of online stores, (and a good place to look if you are in the market for a swing set right now) recently gave me the opportunity to review one of their board games, Puerto Rico.  I was pretty excited to do the review because Puerto Rico belongs to the same genre of German board games as Settlers of Catan- a huge favorite with my family and me.

Basic Idea:  The players go from round to round, choosing different roles for themselves and intiating the associated actions.  Players build plantations and buildings.  They produce goods and sell or ship them. Points are added up at the end to determine the winner.

For ages 12 and up.  3-5 players

What we liked:
1.  Like Settlers, there is very little down time.  Each person's turn still leaves all the other players involved and interested. 
2.  Choosing a role for yourself each time it is your turn is FUN!  The choice makes such a a difference in the outplay of the game that it kind of feels like a choose-your-own-adventure story. :-)
3.  It is a fun game even when you are not winning because you can work toward little goals.  Also, a person can come from behind at the beginning of the game and still win with a little careful strategizing.
4.  There are multiple winning strategies.  It's interesting to see what strategies different personalities gravitate toward. 

What we didn't like as much:
1.  The game takes a loooong time to learn, (longer than Settlers) and the game lasts awhile too.  (Generally 1 1/2- 2 hours)
2.  Each game is different because people make different choices, but the board varies very little from game to game (unlike Settlers).
3. Because it lacks any trading element,  Puerto Rico involves less psychological manipulation and teamwork than Settlers.  (Some people might consider than a good thing, but I always liked the interpersonal elements of Settlers)

Bottom Line:  Puerto Rico is great for a group of adults (or teenagers) who are willing to invest 2 or 3 hours several times within a few days in order to really learn the game. For our family, this kind of game is a really good fit for our holiday get-togethers.   It becomes really fun once you understand the strategies and makes for great bonding.  
We all pretty much agreed that it's not as good a game as Settlers of Catan, but for a group of people who have already played Settlers quite a bit and would like to try something different, Puerto Rico is a fun option. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lovely Giveaway from the Pemberley Seamstress

UPDATE:  I edited the Facebook link.  Should work now! :-)

I received a very fun package in the mail yesterday- a silky little bag tied up with blue ribbon and filled with sweet morsels of wool blend play food for a children's teatime set.  It was from The Pemberley Seamstress, a friend of a dear friend who sells Jane Austen/Anne of Green Gables themed play food on etsy.

It's actually the first felted play food we've ever owned.  I've always admired the bloggers I've seen who make their own play food instead of giving their children the chintzy plastic fare that is the norm, but I've never gotten around to fashioning any myself.  These from The Pemberley Seamstress are made to last and embellished with delicate decorative stitching.  M's pronouncement: "They're LUH-vuh-ly!"

One especially fun touch is that the muslin tea bags are filled with real tea!  (So they smell authentic, and when they are soaked in water make a little actual "tea" for the drinker)
 As you can imagine, M and G wasted no time having a tea party with their new treasures.   (It was the first time I had ever let G drink from a real cup on her own- you can see how excited she is :-)

So, if you'd like a LUH-vuh-ly felted play food set of your own just leave a comment with your email address telling which set from The Pemberley Seamstress' shop you'd like to receive if you win.  (The one pictured here is "Emma's Tea Party Set")

For additional entries:
1.  "Like" the Pemberley Seamstress on Facebook
2.  Become a friend of this blog through Goodle Friend Connect (If you are already a friend that counts too)
3.  Subscribe to this blog through an RSS feed (If you already subscribe that counts too)
(Be sure to leave an additional comment for each of these that you do)

This giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, February 23rd.  

Monday, February 14, 2011


"Enough is as good as a feast."
-Mary Poppins

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moveable Teddy Graham Valentines

Groan....I'm afraid this one may go down as one of those ambitious projects I undertake for my firstborn but not for any subsequent children. turned out cute; so I'll post it here just in case any of you are equally crazy ...I mean zealous :-) At least you won't have to draw up your own template like I did; I'll include that below.

Supplies Needed:

Brown card stock
White card stock
Glue stick
Fastening brads
Plastic baggies (I just used ziploc sandwich bags and cut off the zipper)
Single hole punch
Teddy Grahams

1. Print the template on card stock. Cut out each piece of the template and trace around and cut out from brown and white card stock.
2. Glue the head on the body, the face on the head, and the tummy patch on the tummy.
3. Poke the four brads through the tummy to attach the arms and legs.
4. Draw the eyes and nose on the face and write your message on the tummy. We wrote "Bear hugs from M" but some other cute (cheesy) ideas might be "You are unbearably cute!" "I can't bear being without you" etc.
5. Punch a hole in one hand and tie a ribbon to cinch the bag of teddy grahams.

I found punching holes through a double layer of cardstock pretty impossible, and so had to resort to putting the holes along the edge of the body. Also, trimming the arms and legs a bit may be necessary so that they have a full range of motion.

Also, I found that the bears had a bit more personality if I tilted their heads to the side a little.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crayon Colors

I'm always looking for new ways to practice basic skills with little G. When we work on colors, often I place four or five solid colored blocks on my lap and ask G to hand me the different colors one at a time. Yesterday, I chose four crayons, scribbled with each one in a spot on a piece of paper and asked G to place each crayon on the correct scribble color.

I'd love to hear other simple color learning activities! Please share! :-)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fun Ideas for Keeping Sick Kids Hydrated

I've found that getting my children to drink enough liquids when they are sick can sometimes be a challenge. Here are some ideas I've found to help make that hydration process a little more enjoyable and less antagonistic. I'd love to hear what works for you as well!

1. Fun, curly drinking straws!2. Have a little tea party. My mother did this with M over Christmas when she wasn't feeling well. She was very motivated to drink up her little cup of (warm juice) tea so that she would have the fun of pouring herself another cup.3. Let them drink from a bottle. My mother used to do this for us when we were children. There was something fun and a little comforting about being able to return to babyhood for those few days. Also, the bottle is easy to drink from in bed and doesn't spill.
4. Popsicles!
5. Make it a contest. Craft a simple chart that the child gets to color in each time he finishes a drink. See if he can drink more than his/her siblings or beat his record from the previous day.
6. Give a small rewards for each cup finished. When M is sick, I let her have a jelly belly every time she drinks a cup of water.
7. Reserve a special kind of tasty drink that your children are only allowed when sick (at our house we only drink ultra-diluted juice, but when they are sick we do away with most of the water and they feel like they are drinking liquid candy :-)
8. Spoon- feed your child their water. They might enjoy the extra care and attention.
9. Freeze different colored juices in an ice cube tray and plop several of them into a clear glass of water.
10. Give the child a small cup of a colored drink and a dropper (perhaps a baby tylenol dropper that has been thoroughly cleaned. Let them have the fun of sucking the liquid up into the dropper and into their mouth.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wipes Container Scavenger Hunt

The other day it occurred to me that the Huggies wipes container openings are just the right size for little hands.  If you have a couple of empty wipes containers laying around you can use them to make a fun little road trip (or waiting room) scavenger hunt game. 

1.  Fill each container with small, familiar objects.  (clothes pin, coins, walnut, baby sock, etc)  Each container should have the very same items.

2. Write down the items you put in so you don't forget.

3.  Give one container to each child.

4.  When everyone is ready, call out the name of an item in the box.

5.  Without peeking (it's actually kind of difficult to peek) each child feels around in their box and tries to be the first to retrieve the named object.  

When I did this activity with M and G this morning we didn't do it as a game (G is too young), but M really enjoyed the challenge of finding things just with her hands.  G mostly enjoyed shaking the box, but she was pretty tickled to find a pacifier inside as well :-)

Works for me Wednesday!