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Ladybug Apple Treats

It is said that if you let the children make or help make meals they will eat it, or at least some of it. I am not going to lie, I have one child that I will try anything for healthy foods to be eaten. It worked, kind of. But anyways, I am sharing because it was fun and just adorable. so, we just put the ingredients out and let them create the ladybug. You could choose to make these for a after school treat or party and make yourself.

All you need: Apple, raisins, lettuce and peanut butter. (Make your own adjustments such as frosting for peanut butter if there are allergies, out of raisins? Use chocolate chips etc.)

The grape head was an add on that someone decided would be more creative.

Shared Journals

I am always searching for ways to be simple and connected. Creating a new tradition of a shared journal with each child allows for freedom to share, be creative and to keep communication with your child. My hope is that even though my son is not one to chat and share the details of life, he will know that I am always available and that I do care what he thinks. I want him to know that I will be there if he ever needs it. My daughter on the other hand has a different need. The need to feel loved and to know how much she is cared for. So, on those busy days when life is like a tornado, and maybe we missed the chance to show or say we care, she can find a little note to remind her on how special she is to us and the family. Raising children is intentional and can be challenging. So, I tried this with my children because I knew it was easy enough to keep up and the message I wanted to give to them was clear, “I want to know how you feel, It may have been a crazy day but I am happy we are family, you are a special and important part of the family.”  I know that days go by in every family and we do not know where they went. Life is whizzing by, so try this simple and easy journal and see where it takes you and your child.

Buy or make a journal that is easy to keep or place on or near their bed. Decide your rules. I do not have rules for my experience, maybe that will change. Right now we write when we feel like it and then place it on the persons pillow to find. Sometimes, a lot of time goes by and I will find it and re-write something else to get it started again.If you have a child that does not want to write, you can ask simple questions. It does not have to be deep, it can be simple and short. At least you are opening up for a possible dialog and showing that you care enough to take the time to write.

This is not the time to edit or critique writing skills. It is the art of expressing one’s self and to also foster the lost art of writing cards and notes to people, as we have texting and electronic tools to do that now. Of course, role modeling correct writing, sentence structure and grammar is always a nice bonus.

Here is my one dollar find and could not be more perfect.

Creating Relationships and Art

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

~Henry Ford

If you have more than one child, it is a conscience effort to create a bond and relationship that is supportive and uplifting. There will always be valleys in all relationships. But the more we (the parents) create team work and positive environments, the more our children can learn about solving problems and conflict resolution before hitting that big world on their own.

Ownership and pride are an amazing feeling to all of us, especially children. Let your child or children have  an older piece of furniture or in our case an outdoor picnic table from Ikea. Depending on your children, they may have a plan or they may just have at it to make it their own. That is going to be up to you. Is it a piece that many people will see or use and you want a particular look? Well then, you may need to plan the activity for the children. In our case, the table was exclusively for children and I wanted it to be there own. We have had the children paint shelves for their room and in that case, there was only one color to match the bedroom. The whole point is to have pride in what they own and see around the home, as well as to be an important part of the family and home life.

Take time for breaks. Sitting together and sharing some lemonade and is another moment for dialog or just silliness. For many of you, this is perfect for the spring time to prepare for the summer. In the desert, this is our fall and winter thing to enjoy our beautiful time of the year!

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If you do not have the space, look up any local charities or even a senior home that may need some work done. Picture frames are simple and inexpensive to make for the home. Spending time as a family seems almost impossible to squeeze in some days. Make time and schedule into your calendar if you have to!

camp invention rocks

Camp Invention is a week long summer program offered at many schools throughout the United States and is absolutely wonderful. The best part of having your children attend the well organized camp is the innovation and excitement they bring home to continue or start new projects. It was all about inventing. It opened the door to some great activities for the summer time, which is hot for us in Arizona and indoor ideas are welcomed. They offer the program in many states and your school can start one by going to their website for information.

The themes change every year to keep the repeat camper interested and challenged. the day is also split into blocks. In this particular part of the day, children took “upcyclables” and made a city called magnetroplis with a group. There were lessons and plenty of information that went along with the whole idea as well. Then, they created a city using magnets and recycled items. the bottom, base of the city was propped up by styrofoam so that they could design cars and other things to move if they used magnets. The moving cars along the streets were a big hit with the kids. Teamwork , listening to others and respect was also part of the lesson.

In this picture you will notice a theater, bridge, leaning tower that actually had a light bulb on the top, a city water fountain, a puppet theater and more.

This part of a city had a city fountain and statue, sports field, hockey arena and convention center.

Magnets with paper clips were used to design statues to decorate the city.

At home, you can use any of your recycled items to make a city of any size. I chose to cut a smaller cardboard for the sake of space.

Examples of materials: shoe boxes, cereal boxes, lids, cups, blocks, pipe cleaners, office supplies, cardboard rolls (paper towels), any left over art supplies.

Here is a smaller version of what they did at camp and was done as soon as my children came home from their last day.

This was completely done by my son who envisioned a town with a grand hotel with lakes and plants as well as a statue in the center.

Apparently, all you need is a great place to stay and sports.The rest of the town is full of sports fields.

The  best things about art and creative camps is that the children can take the ideas home. I love having my children enjoy the time during the summer to create and have the time to make what they want.

How to Make a Nature Can


A perfect activity for families and classes to celebrate Earth Day! I found this on Plum Pudding and I am excited to try it out with the children this month. There little eyes find treasures everywhere. This nature box is a creative way to keep all of their loved rocks and treasures and also helps to keep the house organized. I find this activity to be perfect for our family. This would also be a cute gift box for wrapped food gifts. Click on the link below to get directions on making your own nature can.

Nature Can Activity by Plum Pudding

How to Make Magic Wand Pretzels

Looking for a fun and magical afternoon with the children?  Frosting dipped pretzels is an easy and fun activity in the kitchen for little hands. These yummy snacks are also ideal for parties, celebrations and gifts. If you want to surprise a teacher or co-worker with a small token of appreciation, these little fun treats would be perfect.  We made our frosting and just dipped the pretzels right into the pan. But, frosting in the container works just fine (maybe even better). You may need to add a little water to make it a bit more smooth.

What you need:

Pretzel rods

Frosting or melted chocolate

Sprinkles to decorate

Wax paper
What to do:

Lay out the wax paper ahead of time to place the frosted pretzels on after they are decorated. I placed mine in a small pan that would fit into my freezer for a quick way to harden the frosting. Have the children swirl the pretzel into the frosting and shake off any extra frosting lumps. Sprinkle and decorate as you wish and then set onto wax paper. Place into freezer for the frosting to harden. After they harden in the freezer place them upright into a mug to serve. The extras were placed into a container and kept in the refrigerator.

A perfect kitchen activity for little hands.

The frosting can be any color to match a theme, birthday party or holiday. We made ours just for fun, so I used white frosting and whatever was in the cupboard. these would be great for football parties and decorated in your favorite team colors, birthday parties, Easter celebrations and much more. Enjoy!

Veterans Day Celebration

Honoring military veterans, the holiday Veterans Day falls on November 11th.  This is the anniversary date of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1.  In the 1950′s the name of the holiday Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day to honor all veterans.

Each Veterans Day check your local area for celebrations, parades and activities.

Here are a few things and activities to do with your family at home:

IDEAS:

READ STORIES (Appropriate for age)

My favorite book is The Wall by Eve bunting. Most of her books are my favorite!

  • Activity Idea:  In the story they make a rubbing of the name on the wall, you could place objects like a quarter under paper and rub with the side of a crayon to make your own  rubbing.

Books about Flag

  • Design flags
  • Write words/phrases on flag as below that have to do with story read or Veterans Day

Here is the plain flag that was bought from the store. The child could draw or paint the flag and then write on it when it is dry.

The words were written on the flag with a fine point sharpie permanent marker.  The words below were written by an eight year old boy who studied the civil war in his second grade class and also had just read the Star Spangled Banner.  That may explain some of his words he chose to write on the flag!

WRITE LETTERS

  • Design notes and letters to send to troops or veterans.
  • Younger children draw pictures and have the adult write a short message and note the child’s name and age.  If the child would like a certain message, put quotes around the message along with child’s name.

If you do not know anyone to send letters to, we  have found troops to send to through churches, local VA medical centers and check with local retirement center for veterans that would like to receive notes of thanks.

RESEARCH

Older children can research American war heroes such as George Washington. Have them write or present their findings. They could even act out the part for a meaningful experience they will not forget!  Give some creative free choice on how to present the material, children (and students) always amaze me how creative they can be when allowed the time.

Bird Watching

In Our Own Backyard....A Mama Hummingbird

Birds are a fun and small creature that most of us can find in our neighborhood or backyard.  Enjoy a few of these simple activities with your little ones for just an afternoon or for a whole thematic week.

Homemade Bird Feeders

Coffee Can Bird Feeder:

Open both ends of the can with a can opener, then use a string to string through both ends of the can.  Tie both ends of the string to hang the feeder when complete. Take the plastic cover of the coffee can and cut it in half. Take each piece and place on each end of the can to hold all of the food in the feeder.  This can be done with any can that has a plastic cover on top.  Fill the feeder with bird seed and bird treats such as corn, apple pieces, cooked rice, berries and dry cereal. Hang the feeder in a place where you can observe the birds enjoying their new hangout!

Peanut Butter Pinecone:

This classic bird feeder is still tons of fun and was always a great one to do with a class or large group like scouts.  If you are with other children make sure no one has peanut allergies, i would choose another activity all together, or use lard or shortening in the place of peanut butter.  choose a pinecone, make a mix of peanut butter and a small amount of oats or cornmeal.  Then roll in bird seed.  With a piece of yarn tie it around the top portion of the pinecone to make a hanger for the bird feeder.

Fruity Treats:

Cut an orange in half.  Use a needle to get yarn through the orange to hang from a branch. This also attracts butterflies!

Other Activities

Bird Watch:

Now that you have made a bird treat, just hang out and observe. Children can sketch, take photographs or take notes in a journal of the experience.

If you have older children you may want to have a field guide to try and identify and learn about birds in your area. (For example: National Audubon Society Field Guide)

Binoculars:

Young children may want to make binoculars out of cardboard tubes to prepare for their bird watching experience.  Get two equal size cardboard tubes, toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes cut to size. Lay them next to each other and tape together at each end.  choose a side to tie the string or yarn through and punch two holes. Tie a knot at both ends at the hole punch to make a strap to carry the binoculars.  Have the children decorate with markers, stickers or paint. Set off for your next adventure!

April Fool’s Day With A French Twist

The French celebrate Poisson d’Avril.  To do something a little different in your home or classroom this year celebrate April Fish with your little ones.  In France, children will make paper fish and tape them on another child’s back without them knowing it.  When they find out, the prankster will say “Poisson d’Avril.”

As a family or class make and decorate paper fish and state the allowed times to try and put fish on others back.

This simple and fun activity will surely put a new twist on the day!

Why not tie this in with The Rainbow Fish if you have little ones to teach or at home.  What a fun day!

Bringing Art to Your Home

As I try to instill art and culture into our home, I find it is hard to find the time. So, I am  looking for simple and fun activities to do with my children before they grow up on me!  It can be challenging to squeeze in these art lessons now that both children are in school and the days zzzzoom on by. So, this year I am going to have an artist wall for about a month. On this wall we will add facts, quotes and pieces of art found online, in magazines or on postcards.  Although we have been to the art museum, I am hoping to visit this summer with fresh new artist eyes!

I will post on our experiences and include our art projects as we go.

TO PREPARE

First, get  a large binder. This will become the artist binder. As your family studies an artist you can put the information into this binder. If you have a bulletin or wall you can place into the binder after displaying for the week/month. Try to keep the facts and art work 8×10 size, so it will fit into the binder. They do have larger scrapbook sized books that would also be nice and then you could have larger sizes of artwork from the children.

Next, give each child an art journal. This can be a binder or notebook. I got my children a sketch book that has no lines.

*Tip: limited on wall space, use a science bulletin board that folds into thirds. You can display and easily put in the closet when company comes over.

Deciding your artist could come directly from the children or look into what artists you have at your closest art museum. As for me, I am starting with Gauguin because I just taught about him at my son’s school for art masterpiece and I already have a book. So, whatever your method, get started!

First session with your children or class:

Give them art journals and decorate front, include name.

Introduce artist name.

Ask what they know about artist? Make a list.

Ask what they want to know? Write responses.

Leave a blank paper labeled “What we Learned about ……”

*Write as group on large paper/poster board or dry erase board OR have each child write in their own art journal.

This could end first session or you could read book on artist or show some of the artwork and discuss what they think of the shown pieces.  All of this can be found at library or on-line.

Looking forward to sharing about our first session and artist, Gauguin.

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