Heart Envelopes

We’ve started preparing for Valentines and what’s better then a home made craft from your kids?  Not much.  I love when the girls make me things at school, even the simplest note makes my day so I had the daycare gang make these beautiful paintings for their parents.

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I started by giving the kids a tray with paint, a sponge and a heart shaped piece of paper.   I used blue, red, and white paint so they could see what happened after mixing them together.  Each piece ended up being different as some mixed the paints more, some used their hands and the one above only painted one side so we folded it over for a nice symmetrical look.  After the paint dried I signed their names and folded them into envelopes.

To fold: start by folding the round parts to the middle, then fold over the rest of top to the middle, fold again and you’re left with only the point- fold it again and seal the envelope with a sticker.

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Pretty cute, with a nice surprise inside!

Marshmallow Towers

I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows but we often have a ton left over after the summer- I don’t want to deny my children the kind of camping trips I had as a child so we roast a few and then aren’t sure what to do with the rest of them.  Of course there is hot chocolate but again I don’t like to over do it, thus marshmallow towers.  It turns out the girls have done this at school too and so were pretty excited to show me their techniques.

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Give each person a plate/tray, a pile of marshmallows, some water and toothpicks.    The marshmallows can be connected with the toothpicks or by wetting them and sticking them together. (watch out for sneaky eaters though, my youngest downed a bunch and ended up with a tummy ache later that night)

My youngest immediately went to work creating a row of marshmallows attached with toothpicks which she then manipulated into different shapes and letters.  My eldest started with a tall tower held with toothpicks and then realized it had no stability so she had to start again.  I worked alongside them and attempted an igloo and inuksuk, as my daughter watched me she too began a similar design testing out where the best spots were to put the next marshmallows and working till completion.  The structures ended up being pretty solid, those that used the water method were pretty stuck together.

It turned out to be a very fun and educational activity, plus a great way to use up unwanted marshmallows and spend some quality time together.  Happy building!

Happy Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year

This is my first time celebrating Chinese New Year, I’ve heard people in the past state which animal they are from the Chinese Zodiac but that was about it.  I grew up in a small town which was pretty culturally barren and so I hadn’t learned much about it till now.  My children are celebrating at school and have been in preparation all week so I figured I’d do a little research and celebrate with the children in my daycare.

We’ve kept it pretty simple by focusing the celebration on craft making and we’ll have a special snack after school.

Chinese Lantern

This is a simple but fun craft and of course a beautiful decoration for the celebration.  Take a piece of construction paper and fold it long ways- then mark cut lines.  Have the kids decorate the paper and cut on the lines.  Open it up and create a tube shape with the cuts running top to bottom, staple or tape the tube together and attach a strip of paper/string/pipe cleaner at the top for a handle.  Mine is pretty simple but you could add stickers or glitter to really make it shine.

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Fan

Fans are always fun to make, I often find them all over the house.  Take a piece of paper and fold about 1″ over, turn the paper over and fold again, continue folding/flipping/folding till you reach the end of the paper.  Now gather the paper at one end to create a fan shape and either staple or tape it together.  We put stickers on our fans once done but really you could decorate them with anything, watercolour painting I imagine would look beautiful.   (My daughter chose Dora stickers- not really Chinese New Year material but it is her fan)

 

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Cardboard Fancy Horse

For this craft I used old cereal box and did my best to free hand a horse shape.  After cutting them out for the kids I set up a grouping of shiny/sparkly things from our craft cupboard (jewels, feathers, ribbons etc).  I also hole punched a spot for a tail and used this sparkly gold floss (I tripled up on the floss and then tied it to the horse).  I think they turned out really well, even my unhappy crafter couldn’t stop decorating this one.

 

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We also did some coloring pages and puzzles found over at Activity Village and they have a great description of Chinese New Year for those of us new to the event, plus tonnes of other ideas.

Happy Year of the Horse!

 

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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