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DAD ROCKS

Show dad how much he rocks with this cool gift! Make dad an easy, but useful paper weight for his desk or dresser at home. The reminder of his thoughtful child will bring him smiles all year long.  If you need to buy rocks, first check your local hardware store and ask for a sample of a smooth river rock (I also found them labeled as Mexican river rock and large beach pebbles.)

HOW TO DECORATE  YOUR ROCK

Choose a special rock.

Rinse it off and dry.

Set out glitter glue and different material to decorate.

We love glitter glue!

Example of materials:

Smear glitter glue with sponge or paint brush onto rock.

Let it dry completely.

decorated rocks

MONEY SAVING TIP:  For large groups, cut up padding for seat cushions. I found mine at a craft store for $2.00 and cut up into 30-40 pieces.

Much more cost effective than sponge brushes.

Coffee Filter Spring Flowers

Coffee filters are such a great find for artists and teachers!  These simple flowers look great when a whole class puts them together on a branch or hanging from a ribbon or string.  We have not done, but you could decorate for a bridal shower, Mother’s Day or birthday party by making into a garland and using the theme of the celebration colors.

You will need:

White coffee filters

Spray bottle with watered down tempera paint (I add until watery consistency and easy to spray)

Thin wire to twist around and tie onto stick or string/pipe cleaners

String to make garland or branch/stick to decorate for home

What to do:

Prepare an area…it will be messy

Lay out coffee filter and spray

Allow to dry a few minutes and fold to look like flower

Twist tie/wire or pipe cleaner around bottom of flower.

Add to string/branch or garland!

Each child could tie to straw or stick to bring home to mom for Mother’s Day.

Little fingers at work, twisting the pipe cleaner to complete the flower.

Adding different amounts of water and how much each child sprays leads to

a unique flower amongst the garden.

Flower Masterpiece

This beautiful art project looks great on your little girl’s wall after it is all dry!  The art project is perfect for birthday parties, groups like girl scouts and as a class project during spring or Mother’s Day. Oh, and how about the grandma who has everything, a precious gift this would be to hang on her wall.

I started my shopping early to utilize coupons and watch for sales, especially on the canvas.  At any craft or art supply store you can get plain canvas wraps. I used the 11×14 for our project, but it would be beautiful on a larger canvas if you have the space.  The loose flowers were a hunt. If you have a Joann’s or craft store carrying silk flowers they may give you the flower heads that have fallen off and will be thrown away anyway. It is worth asking.  A friend of mine had a manager at Michael’s tell her no, and even said they would still be throwing them away (and mind you this was for Girl Scouts.) On the other side, Joann’s collected them and had a bag ready for pick up.  If this is not an option, buy them on sale and pull off yourself.

You will need:

canvas

glue (all-purpose like Elmers)

sponge brush (any thing to spread glue)

acrylic paint (any color)

paintbrush (I used popsicle sticks)

loose flowers/petals

First:

Prepare area with paper/cloth and write name on back.

Second:

Pour generous amount of glue and spread with sponge brush over whole canvas.

Third:

Choose paint color and spread in any design, using paintbrush or sticks.

Fourth: Add flowers and press into glue.  (The flowers need to be cut close.)

Last: Allow to dry for a day or longer if paint and glue were heavily applied.

Recipe For Friendship Writing Activity

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time for children to discuss and write about what friendship “looks” like.  This is a great writing activity and a way for classroom teachers to start creating the community of friends and learners they desire for the rest of the year. In a classroom, these pages could be collected and copied into a recipe book for each to take home or just to keep in the class library. The same thing could be done for a family, small group organization such as Girl Scouts etc.

Back to School Celebration

As the children head off to school you may feel relief or sadness. Either way, make the first day a special and memorable time for them!  Start the tradition of a first day celebration.  Invite a few children over after school for a small get together and yummy snack.

Ideas:

Bake cookies: Prepare cookie dough ahead and have children cut out shapes, letters and numbers. Bake, frost and enjoy!

Homemade popsicles and swim or run in sprinklers:

Use popsicle molds or ice cube trays to freeze any juice or nectar. Make a creamy treat by adding ice cream. Use one cup juice (we like orange) and 1C vanilla ice cream, stirred together until runny but not liquid, and pour that into the mold to refreeze.  For a yogurt treat, blend plain yogurt and fruit (you can add powdered sugar to taste) and pour in molds to freeze.  There are many popsicle recipes, that include sugars and gelatin to make the popsicles not melt as fast, but we just keep the ingredients simple.

Design a scrapbook for the school year. Have everyone design a cover page and a first day page.  Take pictures at school to add later. Use pre-made scrapbooks or use a binder with page protectors to add to throughout the year.  This is a good place to keep school papers, pictures, and report cards.

Design a frame:  Make frames and decorate. Take a picture of child and friends to place in frame.

A mellow evening with just the family. Order pizza and eat a picnic style dinner outside, give each child  journal or new book to read that night as a family.

Planning a St. Patrick’s Day Party for the Kids

Whether you are hosting a party, play group or just planning something fun for your family there are many engaging activities, yummy foods and creative crafts to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Matter of fact, it is one of my favorite parties to have children over to our house. There are no great expectations on this day, it is usually beautiful outside (at least in the southwest of the U.S.) and it just seems to always be relaxing and exciting for the children.  Maybe, it is the lack of cake and ice cream!

Where to start?

Choose the time of day.

The time of the party depends the age of your children, your schedule and if you will serve a meal or light snacks. For a small group, I start at 9:00a.m. and have green pancakes for breakfast.  If you would like to keep things simple,  plan between meals so you will only offer snacks.

Invite:

If it is for a playgroup or an informal group of friends I will send out an e-mail.  If I am planning a larger group or if I have the time I will buy or make invites to mail.  This is your preference and schedule!

Activities and Crafts:

Most parties I plan are jam packed with activities since we do not have a large house or yard to roam in.  Also, the teacher part of me likes to set everything up in “centers.”   With that in mind, I plan more than I need just in case one craft is not as cool as I thought or if they finish earlier than anticipated.  You may have a large yard or bounce house to allow more free play.  Under the heading of St. Patrick’s Day are several craft and activity ideas for planning a party.

Food:

The theme is quite easy for St. Patrick’s Day, GREEN.   Younger children are easy to plan for since they typically eat snacks for their meals.  So, you could have everyone bring a green snack such as cucumber sticks, celery, grapes, kiwi, chips and guacamole and the list goes on.  As mentioned, I serve a pancake breakfast (pancake mix with green food coloring) and have another snack (green veggies and fruit) a wee bit later. More traditionally, a lunch or dinner of corned beef and cabbage could be served for older children, or the theme of green eggs and ham could be used for food and decorations.

Decorations:

I have the children decorate as they please with green streamers and shamrock cut-outs.  They think of spots that I would never have…like all the doorways.  If you have crafts from school or your own home just put them up and the house looks ready for a celebration!

Have fun and keeping the party simple allows for one more memorable moment with your children.


Snow in a Jar

Shake, shake, shake, little ones love to shake and this activity is perfect for anytime of the year!  With help from an adult children can make a winter scene or any theme throughout year in a jar or bottle.

 Materials Needed:
Empty small jar (like a baby food jar) or plastic water bottle with cap

Hot glue gun or Epoxy glue

Small plastic toy animal (depending on scene)

White rocks for winter scene

Glitter (small cuts of ribbon can be used)

Water

Food coloring, if desired

Directions:
Use hot glue gun to glue rock and animal to the bottom of jar.
Fill with water and add food coloring if desired.
Spoon in some glitter and glue lid onto jar.
Shake to make it snow!

Other Themes:

Birthday: Find cake toppers such as balloons and use colorful confetti, ribbon or glitter.

St. Patrick’s Day: Use green food coloring, green glitter and you may find small items such as shamrocks to glue to bottom.

Easter:  Use a cross to glue to bottom with gold glitter or use red to represent the blood. Pastel colors can also be used with any Easter confetti.

Winter-Snowboarding in the Family Room

Growing up in the Arizona desert is sunny and wonderful, but not when you try to explain the concept of seasons and  winter to children!  Traveling north to see, touch and play in the icy snow is always a joyous and exciting event for our family, but we know plenty of children who have not been exposed to snow, winter and winter sports.

So, how can we incorporate this foreign concept of falling snowflakes, winter boots and gliding down the mountain slopes?  The first part of the winter series is dedicated to winter sports and will continue with further crafts and fun soon.

First of all, and most obvious is to visit your local ice skating arena.  They have special classes for large groups, skating lessons and field trips.  For the sports enthusiast you can visit during hockey practice or games.  We wanted to take our son to the professional hockey games, but know it is way too loud for his liking (and mine!)

Find the snow!  This year our zoo, church, city park and train park all had special events where they brought in snow piles for the children to devour.  What a fun and free (except the zoo) way to play in the snow.

Visit the library.  Let’s never forget the powerful magic of words.  Check out books about the winter olympics, winter sports and  famous athletes.  Which sport would you like to try?

We love boxes.  Boxes transform into anything your child imagines, so why not let them decide what to make that can be used in winter.  I am guessing that a bobsled box would be perfect entertainment for an afternoon.

I should have invented carpet skates.  The most genious and simple invention if you have carpet in your home.  Before we found carpet skates for about ten dollars (I think at Toys R Us)  I would tape wax sandwich bags around the kid’s feet and they would pretend to skate around.  They had a blast.  I am sure this may sound crazy to those of you in parts of the world that have real ice outside your front door.

Technology allows us to explore many exciting new things. For example, record the winter games on television and watch as a family as you enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or even Icees.  I am coming around to video games and I know the concern most parents have about these mindless types of activities.  With that said, I love the Wii snowboarding game and have been caught shredding and grinding the slope!

Use your imagination.  Since we cannot snowboard down the real slopes, we made our couch into a mini hill to use with our cardboard boards.  I had pipe cleaners in the crafts area, so we taped them on for the straps.

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This little piggy said, “Wheeeee!”

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Creative Writing Ideas for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November “a day of thanksgiving and praise.”

75 years later, in 1939, President Roosevelt set Thanksgiving one week earlier to lengthen the shopping period before Christmas. Finally, in 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday of November was going to be the legal federal holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving.

A few writing ideas for a classroom or family at home:

Pretend you are president. Write a proclamation for Thanksgiving Day.  When do you think it should be and how should we celebrate?

Make up your own holiday and describe what should be done on that day.

Read a book about the Mayflower’s trip to America. Write about what it would be like on the Mayflower. If you could only bring one or two items from your home, what would it be?

Keep a Thanksgiving journal. Every year, write the things you are most thankful for and let each member of the family contribute. What a neat tradition and keepsake to look at every Thanksgiving!

Craft Ideas for First Day of School Pictures

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