Saturday, March 31, 2012

the weather report

 We've been studying weather at the preschool. To add a little fun, I whipped up some weather influenced pillows to add to this week's outdoor reading corner. I thought the rainbow would be the most popular but it turns out the lightening bolt was a zinger!
I used the fabric I had on hand and drew up some paper templates on large sheets of white paper I taped together. I stitched up smaller sheets of fabric to create larger sheets to fit the templates. Pieces were layered right-sides in and then stitched all the way around save for a three inch channel that allowed me to turn the whole thing right-side out and stuff. I then hand-stitched the opening shut after lightly stuffing with poly-fiberfill. The rainbow was a whole other process, I 'll post that soon. Happy weather!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

make a matzoh s'more

 Passover is approaching and my local grocery stores have their kosher products out in full force. Remembering the awesome Passover-safe camp out food we had with friends a few years ago, I picked up a box of salted matzoh to make this sweet treat.
Now, you know far better than I what foods are appropriate for your observances. Either way, whether you celebrate Passover or not, might I suggest a matzoh s'more? There is something quite delicious about the thin salty cracker mixed with the ooey-sweet of the marshmallow and chocolate. Our friends preferred a dark chocolate in their mix, their kiddos (and I) preferred a milk. Don't forget the salt, it brings out the flavors of the whole shebang.

If you have access to a fire-pit or campfire, whip out the roasting sticks and make them the old fashioned way. You can also use a s'mores kit, or if you are like me and a wee bit impatient, the good old stove top makes a nice replacement. If you are not partial to the toasty goodness of an almost burnt marshmallow, pop your layered treats in the microwave for a quick melt-down. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

let me tell ya about

my man Froebel.
Frederich Froebel was an educational theorist born in 1782. He developed his educational theory that became what we call Kindergarten in 1837. Froebel believed that children best learned through play and the action of exploration. Even back then, the idea of learning through lecture and the banking of information left a sour note in Froebel's heart.

Many of the tenets of Froebel's philosophy are reflected in today's popular educational theories.  Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, progressive and/or play based schools all lend themselves to the ideas that Froebel brought forth. Click here for some light Froebel reading and a breakdown.

The coolest thing, to me at least, about Froebel's Kindergarten is that many of the routines we do in preschool come from him. Circle time? Froebel. Nursery Rhymes? Froebel. Manipulatives such as block playing and sorting? Froebel! I have been hard pressed finding reading material on this fascinating philosopher. Most of the books I have found were written in the 1800s. So imagine my delight when I found out there was to be a Froebel convention just a few hours away from the tiny casa! This year's convention will feature the use of the Froebel gifts (i.e. manipulatives) and I am over the moon with the idea of learning more about them. As I wrap my head around articulating how awesome I beleive Froebel's theory is, I will be adding more info the scrumdilly-do! If you are a reader or fan or passer by who is interested in supporting my journey, I would greatly appreciate any donations to help me get to the convention. There is a happy little donate button up there on the left side-bar of the blog. If you have any direct questions, feel free to email me, I would love a conversation with you!

Thank you, and happy reading!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

pinterest party

 I have to admit I am quite happy that Pinterest exists. It keeps my desktop free of eye candy clutter and helps me organize thoughts and ideas for future projects, recipes, home decor and more. I've been working on collecting fun and easy projects to bring to the kiddos at the school I work at and even managed to put two of them in action. Now, I just need to find more fun to pin!
First up are cloud jars. Here is the pin and here is the original source. The kiddos had a blast experimenting with their eyedroppers water and shaving cream. It made for a great mess and lots of exclamations as they discovered their blue and yellow drops turned green once they ran together. The first day we did this, the fun took a a while to clean up. The second time, I placed a tray under each kiddo's jar to catch all the excess excitement. We also set up one enormous vase to work on together. Listening to the children plan and make predictions made all the clean up more than worth it.
Next up, I painted up a large batch of happy sticks a la this pin from Pure and Noble. I used acrylic paint in happy colors and picked up some magnetic tape from the craft store. I also used three large pizza pans from the dollar store to use as stations for the kiddos to play at. I had no idea what would happen. I imagined there would be some color sorting, maybe some arranging and then mostly some imagination play happening thus turning the sticks into money or tokens or what have you. Sure enough, a little of everything happened. One toddler really took a liking to the blue sticks and would gather them up to carry around. Another toddler liked to arrange all the sticks, one color at a time atop their pizza pan. The 3s and 4s gathered up all the sticks and put them in the backs of their cars. So not a total bust.

I am looking forward to putting more Pins into action, This week I think I will do this one and next week we'll tackle the cloud dough. Happy pinning!

Friday, March 16, 2012

pot o' gold cookies

Complete with rainbow coating! Well...sort of. This kooky cookie is super easy to make and packs a punch. One cookie is super-sized so don't worry about making a huge batch. One for each kiddo should suffice especially if they each paint their own.

*shortbread cookie dough
*caramel filled candies such as rollos or kisses
*liquid food color
*clean paintbrushes
*parchment paper
*cookie sheet
Start with a batch of shortbread dough and a small bowl of unwrapped caramel filled candies. Shortbread dough has the texture of a play dough so it makes for easier handling. There are no eggs in the dough so it allows for the occasional nibble without worry of salmonella. It's a win-win kind of dough!
Have your kiddo flatten out a golf ball sized bit of dough with the palm of their hand. Add a candy to the center and gently wrap dough around the candy creating a kiss-shaped cookie. Set onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and continue until you have 8-10 cookies at the ready.
Fill a small paint palette with watered down liquid food color. Have your kiddos paint up their cookies with all the rainbow colors. 
Return them back to the cookie sheet. Lining your cookie sheet with parchment will keep your sheet sticky-free as the caramel candies have the tendency to ooze out of the dough. Pop the sheet into a preheated oven (375 f) and bake for 10-12 minutes. A little less if you want a less crumble cookie but not too much more otherwise the cookie tops will burn.
Allow to cool and enjoy with a cold cup of your favorite milk beverage. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

make crepe tissue rainbows

 For this project, we're going a little old school by wrapping small squares of tissue around the eraser-end of a pencil. To update it, we're using crepe paper streamers instead, they are much easier to cut into small squares. So easy, your kiddos can even do it!

*crepe paper streamers in rainbow colors
*large yogurt lids or other round bases
*white glue
*pencil with eraser-end
*hole punch
*cotton balls
*yarn or string
Gather up your supplies and have your kiddos cut long strips of streamer into smallish squares.
 Use a hole punch to punch a hole out of your yogurt lid. I like using yogurt container lids as they are a smidge larger than small but not so large, children lose interest in filling them. You can also use cardboard or sturdy paper cut into circles but the lip on the lids will corral all that sticky glue.
Squirt a happy amount of glue inside the lid and have your kiddos use their fingers to spread it around. Some lids may resist the glue, you can sand down the surface with a bit of sand paper if you like. This will help the whole thing stick better and last longer.
To create a rainbow, have your kiddos wrap a red square of tissue around the eraser of the pencil. Next, while the tissue is still wrapped, flip pencil over and push it against the glue filled lid. Slowly pull the pencil away from the tissue and you will leave behind a happy tissue flair. Repeat with the red and arc across the top part of the lid creating a rainbow shape.
Continue with each color in rainbow order (or not). Notice how each arc grows smaller and smaller? Dialogue with your kiddos and see what observations they make.
After the last arc is in place. Give your kiddo a cotton ball to tear into smaller pieces. Place the cotton "cloud" at the bottom of the rainbow and set side to dry.
Once dry, loop a length of ribbon, yarn or string, through the hole-punched hole and hang in a happy place!You can also let your kiddo glue their rainnbow squares however they like to create a happy party of color!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

shamrockin' pop corn!

 Making a snack for St. Patrick's Day is pretty easy. All you need to do is fill up on green things. Here all you need is some popped popcorn. I would recommend fresh popped but used a microwavable bag for the photo and an assortment of green candies. It's the whole salty sweet thing that wins here.
 Have your kiddos wash up their hands and ask them to sort a bowl full of treats. All the green goodies go into the green bowl. Here we have Easter m&ms, mini m&ms, & sixlets.

Add a healthy does of mini marshmallows for variety. And mix it all into the popped popcorn. If the popcorn is warm, all the better. The marshmallows and chocolate bits will melt a smidge, boosting the flavor up a notch or two.
 If you are serving to the grown-ups in the group or perhaps some teens or an adventurous kiddo or two, add a handful of HOT wasabi peas. Be careful of the brand I used up there. Those little green things are HOT HOT HOT!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

make an animal parade

This project is super simple and just as tasty. Older kiddos can whip up a whole batch mostly by themselves. Younger kiddos can stir the melts and add the sprinkles Kiddos of all ages can eat them up! I made them green with rainbow sprinkles for St. Patrick's Day, but you can use any color you choose.

*1 pack of green candy melts
*animal crackers or cookies 
*wax paper
*cookie sheet
*two forks
*heat proof bowl
Candy melts are super easy to melt in the microwave. If you choose not to microwave or do not have one, you can melt the candy using a double broiler or heat proof bowl over a saucepan. The green melts are kinda dark so if you want a lighter green you can try the white melts with a drop or two of food color mixed in.
Once your candy is melted, drop an animal cracker or two into the melty goo until coated. In my house, we really like these animal crackers. Use one fork to lift the cookie up from the melty mess. Tap the fork against the edge of the bowl so that the excess candy drips off the cookie. Use the other fork to gently nudge the cookie onto the cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.
Add sprinkles. Don't wait too long for this step. The candy hardens quicker than you think. I waited too long, so my first four or so cookies are sprinkle-free.
Allow cookies to harden, place in a happy bowl and enjoy with a glass of your favorite milk drink!