Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Make Name Cards for Passover

There is no end to the many different ways you can make place cards for your Passover Seder. This idea uses up those plastic baskets that strawberries and other fruit may come in. My original idea was hoping that they would shrink like shrink plastic does alas they do not but this is still fun and it allows for some marker time and most kids do love marker time!What you need:
*plastic fruit containers, washed & dried
*permanent markers (I know, I'm sorry but Crayola won't stick)
*cookie sheetscrumdilly-do it!

Wash and dry your plastic containers. Your kidlets can do this, easy peasy. If you can, remove the label from the container so that you can use both the top and the bottom. Each container will give you two place cards.

Cut apart your containers so that your wee ones can doodle-up the tops and bottoms. Save the sides for other fun but usually they are too bumpy to write on. You can even cut each top and/or bottom piece into two pieces for smaller place cards.
Have your tots use the markers to decorate each piece and then place on a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet and pop into a low temperature oven or toaster oven. 200 degrees or under is good.
The plastic doesn't shrink, but it does curl up quite a bit. You may choose to weigh it down with a cast iron skillet or other heavy oven safe pan. It goes without question that you are to do this part and NOT your tots! After about ten minutes, the plastic will curl and be pliable. As quickly as possible, remove pieces, one at a time and gently shape into a wave so that the place card can stand on its own. The plastic cools very fast and becomes rigid. And yes, it does get a might bit stinky.Viola! You are done! You may want to experiment with your kidlets and let them color up all bits of the containers and then see how wonky they will curl. Call it sculptural art!

cake mix fun with Bakerella!

If you have a box of cake mix and cupcake sprinkles and candy melts floating about, head on over to Bakerella for a wonderfully whimsical take on lollipops! The idea is brilliant and her pictures are more delightful than a pink bunny! Hop on over!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

hearts to shamrocks

Whip out your green art supplies and tweak this classic Valentine's Day craft for St. Patrick's Day. Use three hearts instead of four and play with them until you get your shamrock shape. You can of course add more and make for a lucky four leaf clover! Have fun!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rainbow Rice Salad

More holiday fun inspired by that green day, this one is super easy and just might get some veggies into your wee ones. It's white rice based salad cooked in veggie broth and a wee bit o' turmeric. The broth adds some good old fashioned vitamins (use a low sodium if you can) and the turmeric gets the heart pumping and turns that bit of rice into gold!All you need to do is whip up a batch of rice, white rice makes for a more vibrant gold color but brown rice will fine. While the rice is cooking, grab you favorite muffin tin or a series of small bowls, a handful of vibrant veggies and get chopping.This is a rice salad that tastes just dandy all warm and toasty but is meant to be devoured chilled or at room temperature. Some of my veggies are raw and some are steamed, it just depends on the veggie.

Here's what I chopped up:
*red-radishes & dried cranberries
*orange-steamed carrots
*yellow-steamed squash
*green-steamed broccoflower
*purple-raw cabbage and red onionChop your goodies up to appropriate bight sized pieces and place each kind in one section of the muffin tin. Fluff up the rice and let your wee ones do the topping. Season the whole shabang with a pinch of salt and/or pepper along with a squeeze of an orange and you are good to go. I also added a bit of green onion to mine and some nuts, cause I like nuts.
If your tot isn't a fan of rice, cut your veggies into larger pieces and add some turmeric to a yogurt dip for the pot o' gold. You can do this with fruit too of course, turmeric is very subtle in flavor and al ittle adds a lot of color. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Inspired by St. Patrick's Day

Make "pot o' gold" biscuits!
Okay, it's a bit of a stretch really but this biscuit alteration is soooo yummy, especially if you halve them and smear a bit of butter & garlic to make a garlic bread biscuit. So good!

All you need to do is take your favorite biscuit recipe and add two cups of cubed sweet potatoes, steamed, along with some chopped chives or other green bits like parsley and/or cilantro. I used all three. Mix it all up and bake in muffin cups for a savory, hearty holiday snack. This batch also has carmelized onions and parmesan cheese. It's like a meal in the palm of your hand!I've done this with both baking powder biscuits and a savory muffin recipe like this one, which is from this awesome book. Involve your tots in the mixing and make green collages while you wait for them to bake.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fox in Socks part 2

After you have found yourself all twisted up by tongue twisters, take a break to whip up a batch of goo. Here are two recipes using ingredients you may already have in your home. If you do not have these ingredients, try mixing up a batch of homemade play-dough or bring out the dough you already have on hand and construct a creature from Fox in Socks.

Goo #1
*1 tablespoon of Borax
*white school glue
* 1/2 cup warm water
*container to mix it all in
*mess friendly zone

There are many recipes for this goo online and while they all work, I like to give children small amounts of the ingredients and allow them to experiment. The key to this project is the warm water and Borax. You do not need a lot of glue.Pour your warm water into the container you are planning to use. Have your child measure out one tablespoon of Borax detergent. Borax (sodium borate) is a natural mineral compound often used as a laundry booster. You can find it at large drugstores or online. Stir to dissolve.Squeeze or poor a small amount of white glue into the borax/water mixture. The glue almost immediately sticks to itself and turns into putty. Add more glue for more putty.
Remove and have fun! This recipe make a silly putty style putty. The more you handle it, the more you are able to get the moisture out. This putty bounces just like a superball and even lifts newsprint for some comic crazy fun. The leftover water mixture can be poured down your sink and the goo can be saved for about three days in an airtight container. If you wish to make a tinted putty. Add your color to the glue first and then add the borax and water mixture to the glue. Click here to read more about this experiment and have fun!

Goo #2 (this one can be super messy)
*a good sized container for the mixing
*1/2 cup water
*1/3 cup of corn starch
*food color optional
*mess friendly area
*aprons or smocks for the tots

Set out your ingredients in a mess friendly zone. Making this an outdoor activity is perfect but indoors will work just fine. Dump the cornstarch into your container.. You can have your wee one measure it if you like. You really don't need much so stick with 1/3 cup if you can.Next, allow your child to add water to the cornstarch, a little at a time. It will start out looking crazy clumpy, lumpy so take some time to stir it up a bit.
That's it! It is really hard to explain how this goo feels so I made a quick video clip for you to watch. Have fun!

Read Across America Fun- Day 1

Years and years and eons ago, when I was in charge of children's programming at a large bookstore chain, I held a doozy of a Read Across America Day. It was actually a weekend event with over one hundred children in attendance and did we have a blast! For this Read Across America week I am going to dig into my memories to share with you some of the fun we had. Children love connections between the fun stories they read and their real life. So, what we are going to do today is give you some idea on how to extend some of their favorite stories into arts & crafts and games & fun. Are ya ready?
Today's Dr. Seuss book is Fox in Socks! If you have never read Fox in Socks, get ready to run your tongue through a twister! This book is a great tool to introduce the fun in tongue twisters. Take is slow and have your wee ones repeat after you the silliest of rhymes. Tongue Twisters find their magic in rhyme and alliteration. Children adore alliterations and it is easy for them to mimic.An alliteration is a group of words (usually a sentence) in which each word begins with the same letter. For the best effect, the letter should produce the same beginning sound (sometimes c, j, g and others don't make the same sounds). For example:

"Foxes find flowers fun" or "Senta's socks slip slowly"

The sillier, the better and children do seem to like things that are silly. While tongue twisters themselves seem nonsensical and silly, they actually are powerful in teaching children phonemic awareness. Before children read, they begin to gather an awareness of sounds (phonemes) and rhythms (syntax) in language. When you read aloud from a book of tongue twister or rhymes, you are able to visually show your child what those sounds look like. Fox in Socks can be a great tool in beginning identification of sounds and how they look written down. Though I may stick with the first part of the book and stay far, far away from that tweetle beetle battle. After you have finished trip, trip, tripping those tongues up, have your wee ones create an alliteration of their own using their names as a jumping off point. You can also spend some time thinking up all the words you can that rhyme with socks, fox and box or pick another word that delights your tots.

If you have a large empty carton around, bring it on out and have your wee ones put on their happiest socks and see if they can act out the first part of the book. Try reading it as fast as you can and see how silly they can get.

Let's Read Across America!

Or Australia, Singapore, Canada...you name, it's time to read! In honor of the ever fabulous Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) today kicks of Read Across America week here in the U.S. Need a new book to read? Check out these lists from lil' old me or check out some hat making fun in honor of The Cat in the Hat!

*sweet love for little ones
*circle, circle, dot, dot!
*ahoy mateys!
*penguin reads
*garden reads
*puppy reads!

Take a visit over to the White House and read about literacy from President Obama's point of view.

More fun going ons from these nifty sites:
*Reading Rockets
*Read Write Think
*The Art of Dr. Seuss
*Kids @ Random