Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sanity Savers: Plastic Straws

If you're pretty dead tired, and the kids are itching to do something fun, you might try putting your hair in an up-do and getting out the plastic straws.  It kept my kids occupied for more than a half an hour while I lay there resting on the floor.  :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Children and Cancer: Small Hand Creating Hope

Small Hands Creating Hope
Ever since my father-in-law began his most recent round of treatments for prostate cancer several months ago, little G has probably been the most faithful person in our family at remembering to pray for him during our nightly prayer times.  When we talk to him over Skype, she is eager to ask him how he is doing and to learn about his medicine and sickness.

It's exciting to see a child's natural care and compassion come out and to find ways to help channel it.  That's part of the impetus behind a really neat project which I get to participate in this spring.  I am joining with an incredibly talented group of bloggers who focus on fun, creative, and educational activities for kids in this fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.  Each of us has worked with our children or students to create a craft that could be made by or for someone facing cancer.

The projects in the book are varied, creative, and inspiring, and several include tutorials so that you can recreate the crafts at home with your own children or students! For our project, the girls and I worked together to make some pretty sun catchers with glue and drinking straws.  We used the colors purple, symbolizing cancer survivorship, and yellow, symbolizing hope.

Our projects have been compiled into an ebook, which we are sending out to anyone who donates at least $15 to the American Cancer society. An email with the download link, as well as a second link that allows you to purchase a hard copy of the book at production cost will be sent once we receive your donation. This button will take you directly to the American Cancer Society’s donation page:
Donate to the American Cancer Society
If you donate but do not receive this email for any reason, or if you have trouble with the download, email smallhandsproject at gmail dot com.
MaryAnne at Mama Smiles compiled this book as a way of celebrating thirty years of cancer survivorship! 

We are hoping to raise $3000 by July 4th, and we are running a blog hop from May 14th until July 4th to celebrate and raise funds so that, in the future, thirty years of cancer survivorship will be the norm, not the exception! Learn about each of the bloggers who participated in the book by visiting each blog on their assigned dates – a few bloggers will be running celebratory giveaways, too!
14 May Mama Smiles
15 May Artsy Craftsy Mom and Rainbows Within Reach
16 May B. Inspired, Mama!
17 May Rainy Day Mum and Imagination Soup
18 May Inspiration Laboratories
19 May Experimenting Mom
20 May Outlaw Mom
21 May NurtureStore
22 May Living Montessori Now
23 May Mess for Less
24 May Having Fun at Home and CraftoArt
25 May Mama Mia’s Heart2Heart
26 May Angelique Felix and Sense of Wonder
27 May Sun Hats & Wellie Boots
28 May Duck Duck Octopus
29 May Smiling like Sunshine
30 May Mommy with Selective Memory
31 May One Perfect Day
1 June The Educators’ Spin On It
2 June Kids Stuff World
3 June Rainy Day Mum
4 June Teach Preschool
5 June Dirt and Boogers
6 June Creative Connections for Kids and The Golden Gleam
7 June Montessori Tidbits
8 June Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
9 June The Iowa Farmer’s Wife
10 June Scribble Doodle and Draw
11 June Learn with Play
12 June Kitchen Counter Chronicles
13 June CRAYON Freckles
14 June Glittering Muffins
15 June Wise Owl Factory
16 June Crafty Maa
18 June Lessons Learnt Journal 20 June Growing a Jeweled Rose 21 June Growing Play 23 June JDaniel4′s Mom
If you are a blogger, please feel free to post the button in your sidebar for the duration of the event, in order to get as much publicity for this event as possible.
Small Hands Creating Hope
Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaf Man Activity : A Book and a Craft for Lois Ehlert

I know we've done a successful project with the toddlers in my home school co-op group when I overhear them reminiscing about it together later on.
  "Remember when we made leaf man?"
"Yeah.  Mine was a leaf LADY!"
 I overheard this conversation among them this past week, and I knew then that it had been a good activity.

The Book
 Leaf Man was such a simple activity that I hadn't bothered to blog about it, but since it seems to have been a hit, I thought I should.
First, we read the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  The story is pretty simple; not much happens, but the illustrations are the beautiful nature collages that Ehlert is known for.  It seemed to capture the imagination of the toddlers well enough, at any rate.

The Craft
After story time, we went outside to collect nature materials to make our own little leaf men.  Leaves, sticks, seed pods, lichen, and the like.
I cut out a basic gingerbread man shape out of brown paper and attached it to the end of a popsicle stick.
We talked with the children to help them arrange their nature materials on the gingerbread men and glue them down.  Each little man was finished off with two plastic googly eyes.
After the glue dried they were all set to act out the story from the book or to make their own!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle: Art Project

I figured Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed would capture the attention of the two-year-olds I would be teaching at last week's homeschool co-op.  The bigger challenge was finding a craft or art project that would be simple enough for toddlers but still related to the book.

We decided to make a flower collage out of paper we colored with the shaving cream marbling technique my girls had enjoyed so much last year.  The marbling makes a fun textured look that is similar to Carle's art style.

I gave each child a cookie sheet and squirted a pile of shaving cream on top.  I asked the toddlers to show me where to squeeze some paint, and then let them stir the paint into the shaving cream with the back end of a paintbrush.
The trick is to stop them stirring before the paint is too mixed with the shaving cream.  You get a much better marbled effect if it's not too homogeneous.

It's also helpful to make sure that the shaving cream is spread over a large enough area so that it will cover an entire piece of paper.

After the paint was mixed, I gave each child a piece of white card stock and told them to press it straight down onto the shaving cream.

We lifted off the card stock and wiped the shaving cream off the paper.  (Try to get as much off in the first wipe as possible to keep the blurring minimal).

After the cardstock had dried, I cut out a flower center, petals, stem, and leaves.  The toddlers used glue sticks to glue them on to a brown piece of construction paper.

What other fun activities, crafts, or art projects have you tried to go along with Eric Carle books?  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gardening with Kids: Rainbow Chard

We don't garden to save money or to enjoy fresh, organic produce (actually, last year we lost money on our garden, and didn't get that much produce, but I'm still glad we did it). Our family gardens mainly for the pure joy of it. If you've ever had a garden then you know how miraculous it feels to see seeds you planted sprout and the thrill of eating food you planted and tended yourself.
 Because we're in it mainly for the experience, I'm always on the look-out for things we can grow that will be especially fun for kids. I've written about the multi-colored carrots we've grown. When the kids dig up the greens, they don't know until they get there whether it will be a yellow, purple, or orange carrot dangling from the other end. This year we're growing purple snap beans that turn green when you cook them.

 Today, I wanted to show you another fun thing we've got in our garden right now. For the past two years, we've had really good success growing chard. Unlike most things, it really flourishes in this dry, Texas heat, and the stuff is chock-full of vitamins. This year though, instead of regular green and white chard, we're growing Bright Lights, a kind of chard with multi-colored stems.

Rainbow Chard in the Kitchen

 Chard can be chopped up and included in salads for a really pretty touch (especially the smaller leaves; once they get large they tend to be a little more bitter).

 It's also delicious roasted with onions and feta cheese. When we prepare it this way, first, we chop the stems, toss them with olive oil and a chopped onion, and roast them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

 Then we add the chopped chard leaves; sprinkle them with feta cheese and return to the oven until the feta is a little melted. Really, really good.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Crafts

Before we moved to Texas I don't think I even knew what Cinco de Mayo was. Now that we're here, we see signs of it everywhere.  (If you live in Austin, you might want to check out 10 Free Family Friendly Cinco de Mayo Events for this year from Free Fun in Austin)
I figured doing a simple Mexican flag craft with the girls this year was a good opportunity to sneak in a little geography and history.  We pointed to where Mexico is on the map and looked up the Mexican flag.  (The girls love pointing out flags when we drive in the car; I'm pretty sure they'll be noticing some from Mexico in the next few days)

 Here's how we made a festive Mexican flag drinking straw with kids:

1.  Cut a green and a white straw into several pieces.  Slit each piece down the side with a pair of scissors.  (Don't look too closely at my picture.  I didn't happen to have any white straws at the time; so I used a piece of ribbon for the white)

2.  Slip several pieces of white and green onto a red straw.

3.  Print two copies of a Mexican flag from your printer.  Glue their backs together and use a piece of clear tape to attach to the straw 2/3 from the top.

4. To make your straw extra fancy, cut a small piece from another red straw.  Cut fringes into each end of the piece with a pair of scissors.  Slit the piece all along one side with a pair of scissors and slip on to the straw just above the flag.

If you are in the market for Cinco De Mayo crafts you might also take a look at the Mexican jumping bean craft I wrote about a couple of years ago.  The template is provided as well as a video showing how it works.  (It feels alive in your hand and is so fun to watch)

My friend Rebecca's over at Quirky Momma also has some fun ideas on celebrating Cinco De Mayo with kids!

Does your family celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  I'd love to hear what kinds of things you do together!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gardening with Kids: Magic Beans!

We just had our first harvest of green beans...which is all very normal except that they weren't green!  They were burgundy until we cooked them, and then they turned green.  The kids loved it, and they were delicious.
The beans are called Royal Burgundy and are sold by Botanical Interest