Tracks in the snow

Tracks in the snow

Recently we’ve focused on tracks.  Its been so cold here (like -40C) so we’ve been a bit confined to the house, maybe not the best time to be looking for animal tracks but fun none the less.

Child Tracks

To start we made our own tracks.  I set up a sort of foot print making assembly line and had the kids take turns going across it.  I placed a bucket with black paint at the start, followed by a long sheet of paper and then a damp towel at the end for clean up.  The kids had a blast and have asked to repeat the activity since then.  My daycare families really appreciated the finished products as well.

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Animal tracks in play dough

I made a batch of my usual cooked play dough and left it white to resemble snow.  I then had the children flatten it and make marks with some little toy animals.  What was really cool is that some of the animals actually made accurate tracks.  Once the kids were done exploring the prints they went on to some imaginary play- creating homes for the animals and people, and starting up a bit of a dialogue and story line.

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Matching Game

There are so many great resources on-line and so I searched around and found some animals and their matching prints.  I glued them onto construction paper and shuffled them up creating a matching game.  You could also have the kids make a little book with one or two animals per page.

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Animal Track Painting

Using the same animals as the above play dough activity we made paint prints.  I set up a tray of paint with the animals and let the children explore.

Nature Walk

The best activity is a walk if the weather permits or you live somewhere that animals cross often.  We have found the usual cat, dog and people tracks so far.

Well it was a pretty fun week spent indoors, hopefully things will warm up soon.    Happy tracking!

Winter Crafts

My December was quite busy with work and other obligations and I found I didn’t have the time to blog, so here are a few things we worked on that didn’t make it to my site earlier this winter.

Paper plate Snowman 

This is a pretty quick craft to set up and you most likely have all the materials at home.  I stapled two plates together and pre-cut some arms, nose and hat.  I also found some buttons and yarn for a scarf.

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Snowy Tree

This is another easy one.  I pre-cut a tree, glued it to a plain paper and gave it to the children with a pile of cotton balls and a small dish with liquid glue.

 

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Snow Clay Ornaments

I found the recipe for the clay over at Growing A Jeweled Rose and after making the clay I gave the children some cookie cutters and some random things to decorate with.  I used a straw to punch the holes and then we waited a few days for them to dry.  After they were dry I painted them with a coating of glitter glue and glued on any decorations that fell off.  They really made beautiful Christmas ornaments but really this recipe could be used for any holiday.

 

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Gingerbread Men Ornaments

A fairly similar activity to the above is our gingerbread men.  I used our chocolate squirrel dough but found I needed to add a bit more flour as it was pretty wet.  You could make and remake as many people as you wish but we were making gifts so we were looking for a finished product.  Again use some cookie cutters and decorate with whatever you wish.  We used beads and buttons.  For the youngest of our group I left the dough in the cutter as she pressed a little too hard/deep with the buttons and lost the shape of the man altogether.  You could air dry the men but I ended up speeding up the process by placing them on a lined baking sheet at the lowest temp of my oven for about 30mins, it didn’t fully dry them but at the same time it also didn’t melt the plastics.  I didn’t poke holes this time, instead we hot glued some rope at the top.

 

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Bubble wrap snow painting

This is a pretty fun craft using bubble wrap, of course you may want to pop all the bubbles first for double fun.  I cut the wrap into chunks and then formed a little ball so the kids would have something to grasp, and used an elastic to hold the shape together.  We dipped the bubble wrap into some white paint and then made it snow on some paper.  If you switch the colour of paint this could easily be adapted to an underwater theme as well.

 

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Coffee filter snowflakes

We used to use filters but replaced them with a reusable one and so have a whole pack left over, instead of throwing them out I’ve been looking for ways to use them.  This craft is the perfect opportunity and is a great way for the kids to get some scissor practice.  With regular paper it can be hard to make snowflakes as you have to cut through so many layers of paper, the filter is thin and so it becomes easier to cut.

Fold the filter in half, and then again and again till your desired level of thickness.  Then cut shapes out on each edge and unfold

 

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Cheers!

 

 

No more rushed mornings

No more rushed mornings- a few easy things to add to your morning routine

Mornings at my house are crazy…  My eldest knows how to get onto the computer and tv and so if she gets up earlier than me she’s on them and has a hard time getting off, my youngest dreads going to school and is pretty slow at getting ready.  Put the two of those together and I find I’m force feeding them, dressing them and rushing them out the door- not to mention tonnes of yelling and arguing and sometimes missing the bus.

I decided to start fresh this new year and its been good.  I only added a few new things to our routine to make it easier and it really works.

  • make lunches in the evening- I plan a weekly menu and attempt to have some left overs either for my girls lunches or my daycare, I make their lunch as I’m cleaning up the dinner dishes
  • set out an outfit for each child the night before- if your kids are older I’m sure they could do this on their own- my girls are a bit overwhelmed with the amount of choices they have and so I do it
  • set out any dishes or food that doesn’t require refrigeration for breakfast- my girls have been on a Cream of Wheat kick and so I put out the pot, measuring spoon/cup, cereal, bowl and spoon
  • I wake up at least 15 minutes earlier then my girls- I use the time to pack their back packs, start cooking breakfast and do a little tidy up (in the past we all slept in way too long and it was stressful)
  • we also ensure to leave all hats, mittens, scarves, boots etc where they can easily be found in the morning
  • last we save tv and computer time for weekend mornings or in the evening- if the girls are dressed and done eating with spare time they are permitted to play in their room or do something creative at the table

As my girls get older I plan on delegating some of the above tasks to them- they are currently responsible for packing their communication log books and any library books or homework they have.

I spend a few extra minutes in the evening and wake up a bit earlier then I used to but its been way worth it, there are no more fights in the morning and no missed buses.

I hope these will help any of you dealing with the same crazed mornings of my past, if you have any great ideas for mornings please pass them back!

New Year

New Year

Well I’m back, after a rough December here I am.  It’s a New Year and instead of my usual new years resolution of losing weight I will be trying something new.  I have quite a few things I want to focus on this year but feel the word Purge covers them well.

I will be purging all things unnecessary- activities, material goods, emotional baggage, relationships etc.

This past year my family was so busy that I had to schedule in free time, I will continue to do this but also plan to not make so many commitments whether they are for extended family or friends alike.  The constant feelings of anxiousness due to our crazy busyness was getting to be too much.  I don’t want our lives to be full of rushing around, we rush all week for school and work, weekends should be about relaxing and being creative, thus the want to purge activities.

Here’s another one that is tough.  My background is environmental studies and I really want to teach my girls about making good choices when spending and that living with less is actually more, but our families are very generous.  My home is always overflowing with new goods/gifts and so I will be focusing on purging material goods.   Plus I’ve heard that clutter is not good for your health and I have to agree as I feel ill looking at the piles of things covering the surfaces of my home.  I usually donate our extra clothes and toys etc. to the Salvation Army and so at least our excess will benefit someone.

The hardest thing to purge will be relationships.  I’ve always had a hard time standing up for myself and often it takes years to sever unhealthy ties.  I hope to learn from my past mistakes and end things more quickly then usual.  I will choose to focus my energy on my closest family and friends instead.

Happy New Year!!  What New Years resolutions did you make?

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Home Made Gifts

Home Made Gifts

It’s gift giving time again and the girls and I are trying to come up with some fun, unique, eco and economical ideas.  I like trying to give gifts that will be used and enjoyed.  I hate receiving gifts that I don’t need or can’t use and thus either end up in the garbage or re-gifted to salvation army (though I do love purging and giving the goods to charity).

For the girl’s teachers this year we will be giving these funky pencils which I like to call Elf Pencils.  I figure teachers need pencils and these are so fun who wouldn’t want to do their work with them.  I’m hoping that once the pencil gets too small for the decoration that it will be taken off and placed onto a new one.

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This gift was a little hard for my 5 year old and so I helped her with the pencil wrapping part, she did the beading herself.  For this gift you will need some colorful plastic thread/gimp, beads, pencils/pens and a glue gun.  We cut about 36″ for each pencil and started by tying off around 4″ from the bottom of the pencil (you can leave a small chunk of gimp to be woven under the wrap to make the knot more secure).  Next put some hot glue onto the knot so it doesn’t unwrap, now wrap the thread all the way up to the top.  For a different look (not shown) you can stop every so often and add a bead as you wrap to the top.  Once at the top tie the thread to the pencil and hot glue the knot (try not to glue the knot to the pencil-this way the wrap will be reusable).  If there is a tail left you can bead it as shown above and then knot and glue it as before.

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Bird seed ornaments are another fun gift to give, they are beautiful enough to hang on your Christmas tree or outdoors as a bird feeder.  I first saw them at MamaPapaBubba.   We tried them last year and will be making them again this year.

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Last year we made peppermint foot scrub for the teachers and it was received very well, who doesn’t enjoy a little pampering now and then.  Check out the post here.

 

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Stay tuned for more fun home made gift ideas!

Snow Day

Snow Day

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We had our first snow day this week and my girls and I were thrilled (no rushing around to get ready for school and a whole day to enjoy the snow and each other).  Since I run a little home daycare I knew I would need to find some things to do to keep the whole gang busy and here are a few of the things we did besides roll around in the snow.

  • played in the snow
  • made a snowman
  • sled ride around the neighbourhood
  • played at the park (the slides are fast when full of snow)
  • shovelled the back yard
  • painted indoors
  • painted the snow

For our indoor painting I gave the children blue paper and white paint with pom poms and clothes pins as a brush (simply clip the pom pom with the clothes pin).  I asked the kids to paint snow falling everywhere.  This is a great activity for the little ones to work on their fine motor skills.

 

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For our outdoor painting I prepared some paint by putting water and food colouring into some bottles from our recycling bin.  I had a spray bottle, some salad dressing bottles and a dish soap bottle.  The easiest for the kids to use ended up being the salad dressing bottles as they poured freely without much squeezing, the spray bottle was too hard with the big mittens.

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It ended up being a great first snow day, hope there are many more!!  What special activities do you do when there is a no school bus day?

Teddy Bear Tea Party

Teddy Bear Tea Party

Knowing that Christmas and winter related activities will be filling up our schedule for the next few months I wanted to do something different, so this week we had loads of fun doing bear activities and crafts ending with a little tea party.

Teddy Puppets

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Our first craft is this cute teddy.  I cut the bears out of cardboard from the recycling box and clothes from scraps/old clothes.  The kids glued on the clothes and some buttons.  I added the eyes, a felt nose and a mouth.  The bears are so cute and great for pretend play or putting on a little show.

 

Colour Matching Bears

 

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This activity is very easy to set up and a fun way to get the kids working on their colours.  I quickly drew three teddies and cut out three blankies with matching hats.  The kids glued the corresponding squares and triangles for each teddy.

Teddy Tea Party

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Lastly we had a teddy tea party.  For the table I used some shoe boxes with little blankies as the table clothes and the children collected the dishes from our play kitchen.  It was fun for the kids to set the table, giving each teddy a plate, cup and cutlery.  We all fed our teddy’s pretend snacks and tea.

We finished our Teddy party with a circle time including some fun finger plays and songs which I learnt at my local early years centre.

Have the kids dance round the room with their bears to the following song;

1 2 3  1 2 3 Waltzing with bears
1 2 3 1 2 3 Dance round the chairs
1 2 3 1 2 3 That’s what we’ll do
1 2 3 1 2 3 Waltzing with you

1 2 3 1 2 3 Waltz round the room
1 2 3 1 2 3 Dance round the moon
1 2 3 1 2 3 Glide past the stars
1 2 3 1 2 3 Waltzing to Mars

This is another fun one for the children to follow along;

Teddy bear teddy bear turn around
teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground
teddy bear teddy bear show your shoe
teddy bear teddy bear that will do

teddy bear teddy bear touch your nose
teddy bear teddy bear touch your toes
teddy bear teddy bear shut the door
teddy bear teddy bear count to four

teddy bear teddy bear climb the stairs
teddy bear teddy bear comb your hair
teddy bear teddy bear turn out the light
teddy bear teddy bear say goodnight

Cheers!

 

 

 

Home-made Advent Calendar

Home-made Advent Calendar

The last few years I’ve wanted to do something different when it comes to advent calendars, though I used to love the cheap chocolate filled ones of my youth I wanted to change it up for my girls.  In the past I’ve gotten a Playmobil advent calendar and we still use it every other year or so.

This year I made my own calendar with toilet rolls, old Christmas paper rolls from last year, old tissue paper and scrap booking paper.  Though my intention was to keep it simple, containing only little treats which were practical and sweet messages, my husband got involved and now it contains some pretty good gift size items.  Here is a pic of the bigger items.

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I still did keep my sweet message idea though and here are some pics of a few.

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I tried to focus on suggestions for acts of kindness which in turn would make the girls feel great and ideas for activities to do as a family.  Things often get so hectic that we forget to stop and do meaningful activities together, this will be a good motivator for all in the family.

To make my calendar I cut the rolls into various lengths and then flattened and stapled one end shut, next I glued scrapbook paper around the roll (you could paint/colour/sticker etc as well).  I then numbered them with some old number stickers in the craft cupboard and sharpie markers.  Put an item into each roll and fill the top with tissue paper.

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For mine I piled the tubes into an old container left over from a previous gift and placed it on the table.  You could also hole punch them and hang them on a garland or from a mantel piece etc.  Here is a look at the finished project.

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I can’t wait for the girls to open their rolls and start all the fun activities waiting inside.

Cereal Buffet

Cereal Buffet

There are some nights that I just don’t have the energy to cook or I haven’t planned anything and so am at a loss.  On one of these nights I decided to try a Cereal Buffet.  If you choose good cereals and healthy sides this can be a quick and healthy meal not to mention fun…who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?

I try to buy cereals that are high fibre and low sugar, or a good balance of the two.  I’ve tried many of the ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ types and my girls just don’t like them so cheerios, brown rice krispies and shreddies are common in my home.  I on the other hand do like the other varieties.  For my buffet I put out a few choices of cereals, a store bought granola, a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, fruit, milk and plain yoghurt.

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It’s a fun, quick, healthy last minute dinner idea, why not try it yourself!!

Squirrel Puppet and Colour Match Activity

Squirrel Puppet and Colour Match Activity 

To tie in with my last post and our weekly concentration on squirrels I quickly whipped up these two activities.  They literally took minutes to prep.

For the squirrel puppet take a toilet paper roll and cut into the top to make two little ears, draw on some eyes, nose and arms and glue a paper tail to the back.  This puppet is very simple you could of course do it up a bit more, perhaps a fabric/felt tail, paper or pipe cleaner arms, googly eyes etc.  There really are many options you can use.  If the children are older they can explore and design their own squirrel.  I made these for the 2 year olds in my care and so I did the cutting and drew the facial features, they quickly decorated with markers on their own.

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The colour match activity was also easy to prep, I quickly drew two squirrels (red and brown) with two baskets and cut out a few acorns of matching colours from left over scraps.  I discussed with the children the colours we were using and asked them to put the acorns in the corresponding basket (I pre glued the basket so the children could simply place their nuts in the correct spots).  To increase the difficulty add more colours to the sheet.  I was surprised how well the children did with this activity, even the little guy in my care who avoids table time activities enjoyed himself.

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