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Fourth of July Watermelon Carving

Fourth of July is such a fun time to gather with friends and family. Are you looking for a fun and creative activity for your family on the Fourth of July?  Watermelon carving is a blast and a unique new tradition or memory for guests and family.  We chose to use small melons that each child could draw and cut,  if appropriate age.  Large melons would be great for a family to do together especially with small children. The rules are the same for pumpkin carving, except have plenty of storage or containers to serve the fresh watermelon. If you plan to have guests participate in this activity, let them know ahead of time so they can wear the appropriate clothing.

You will need:

Melon

Knife

Area set up for a mess

Spoon

Bowl

Place the melon on the side that allows it to stay up without falling over.

Then cut the top off, just like with a pumpkin.

Set the top aside and start to scoop out watermelon into bowl.

Once it is all scooped out, I rinsed out with water to get the stickiness off the outside. Dry.

The drawing and carving begins.

We only had knives, but you could use carving utensils that are meant for pumpkins.

The little ones drew on the watermelons with sharpie markers as the adults did the carving.

It was a blast and they were pretty awesome all lit up!

Now you may have plenty of watermelon, so what can you do with it?

Make watermelon coolers for all of your guests.

You will need:

8 cups of i/2 inch watermelon cubes

1 1/2 cups ginger ale

1/3 cup water

1 (6 ounce) can of frozen limeade concentrate

Freeze watermelon for about eight hours in a freezer bag (single layer.) Thaw at room temperature for fifteen minutes. blend or process the ginger ale, water, limeade concentrate and the watermelon. If you need to do in half batches for size reasons please do! It is possible to substitute honeydew melon for the watermelon and lemonade for the limeade. Either way, you will have a cool refreshing drink!

I found this watermelon recipe from Southern Living, 2007.

Watermelon Kabobs

Another idea is to make kabobs, a perfect treat for gatherings.

Cut watermelon into squares. Use other ingredients such as cheddar cheese, turkey, other fruit and melons.

Place onto coffee stirrers or popsicle sticks. Guests will enjoy the ease of eating these tasty treats.

A Flag Worth Waving

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

There are many reasons in America to wave your flag. Here is a simple idea to show your pride and instill some tradition in your children. A dear friend of mine had us over for Fourth of July and gave us blank linen flags to take home and write words that we thought would show our feelings of the brave men and women on the

Fourth of July.

Blank Mini-Flag

When we returned home with our blank flags, we read Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier and then wrote with Sharpie marker onto our mini-flags.

Each year on Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day we display these in a glass jar with confetti, curling ribbon or whatever I have on hand.

This activity is ideal for classroom or homeschool children when learning about american symbols. It may be used for Flag Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Flag day is in June and falls during National Flag Week. Search your area for flag raising ceremonies and celebrations. The National Flag Day Foundation is focused on educating and organizing activities and events that honor the country.

Flag Facts:

-On June 14, 1777 the continental congress changed the symbols on the Grand union flag to a new design. The new flag had thirteen stars, one for each state at the time, in a circle on  a background of blue and also had thirteen red and white stripes.

-The United States flag is also called “Old Glory” and “Star Spangled Banner.”

-The modern flag has fifty stars, one for each state and thirteen red and white stripes for the original thirteen colonies.

-Flag Day is observed on June 14th.

Four Seasons Paper Plate Craft

How to Make a “Four Seasons” Paper Plate Craft

What you will need:

White, plain paper plates

Construction paper (green, brown)

Glue

Cotton balls

Crayons or markers

Hole punch

Yarn or pipe cleaners

Tissue paper

This is a fun craft project to go with learning about the seasons. It can be done over several days or as you speak about each season and then display the while craft at the end. This would be appropriate with help for preschool age kids and also for kindergarten and first grade students. Classroom teachers could use this lesson in center time.

To make the Craft:

Winter

Cut out tree with brown construction paper, color background black and ground white (leave blank), glue cotton balls or torn white construction paper for snow.

Spring

Cut out trunk in brown construction paper, color background, crumple small tissue for new buds and glue on branches.

Summer

Color background on paper plate, cut and glue brown tree trunk and cut out green tree tops.

Fall

Color background, cut out brown tree trunk, green leaves and glue falling leaves.


Hanging the paper plate season craft:

Hole punch the top and bottom of paper plates, have children use pipe cleaners to attach together. For younger students, the parents or teacher may need to tie the plates together. On the top plate make a loop to hang on the wall. These hang nicely at home or in the classroom.

Books and Poems:

There are many books, songs and poems about the seasons and each can be used for literature and the thematic unit. Children can make their own poems for each season, which can also be displayed along with the craft or made into a seasons book. Teachers can create thematic books and folders to compile all of their thematic papers and art to take home neatly at the end of the seasons study.

Four Stories for Four seasons by Tomie dePaola

Arctic Winter, Arctic Summer by Reid and Canizares

Scholastic offers many choices

Moonstick: The Seasons of Sioux by Eve Bunting

Music:

Listen to Vivaldi during craft time. For further discussion, have children listen to corresponding season and dance and feel the music and discuss how it reminds them of certain month or season.

Studying the seasons of the year has science and more behind it, this craft and introduction to the seasons is ideal for younger students at home or in school.

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!

All You Need is a Box

Running out of ideas for those long summer days or on a rainy day? All parents have witnessed the child who loves to play in the box and use their imagination. Well, how about those small shoe boxes or whatever size you happen to have in the house. I gave both children a box and pulled out all the little things that we have around the house that I should have thrown away.  I just knew they would be used and come in handy! It is good to re-use and recycle.

You will also need some glue, tape, scissors and markers to get started.  Next, your child may just take off and not need any help to get started . For the others, ask questions about what they like to play….dolls, cars etc. This may help them to make a choice to make a house for their little animals, design a car for characters etc. My son was into gadgets and rockets. Below you can see his control box that has been used for many missions to the moon.

For this project he wrapped white paper around the box, I cut the slit for him to put his sliding piece of cardboard in, a bolt served as his on and off switch and the plastic squares were around the home as counting squares and last a mosaic piece filled in as the last button.  Any tiny craft things would work including buttons, pom poms and stickers. My son was about six years old when he created this “thing” and I am thinking we need to do this again and see what he comes up with this time.  I do not have my four year old’s version pictured and I am sorry I do not have it because it was quite hilarious as she made a control box as well.  I love how different each child is and you can really see it when you let them have free reign of their projects and crafts.

Creativity is the key!

“Creativity is a great motivator because because it makes people interested in what they are doing.  Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea.  Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”   Edward de Bono

*Edward de Bono wrote and studied about the brain and creativity. He was the author of The Mechanism of Mind and introduced the term “lateral thinking.”

Wine Cork Boat For Kids

Recycling wine corks can be lots of fun and a simple summer craft or game for children.

Make a Boat:

You will need: Corks, popsicle stick, tape (electrical), hot glue, some form of fabric, plastic or foam to make sail.

Before you involve the children hot glue several wine corks together and allow to cool.  Then with the children, design a triangle shape foam or plastic sheet.  The size is up to you depending on the size of the boat. Use the tape to adhere to popsicle stick. Push in between cork. Or, you can glue popsicle stick in with corks prior to activity. Now the fun begins, use the boat in a river, pool or bath tub!

Pool Game:

The most simple activity is to bring the wine corks into the pool to play the old game of dibble-dabble.  All players are standing on the side of the pool and the “dabbler” swims to the bottom of the pool with the cork and leaves it on the bottom of the pool.  When the dabbler is up they yell go. All the other players may jump in the pool and the first to come up with the cork says dibble dabble. It is now that persons turn to swim to the bottom.  A simple game that keeps a group of children having fun in the pool!

Chocolate Frozen Bananas

A yummy and fun to make treat any time of year.  We especially like them at our house in the summer to cool down!

Ingredients:

8 medium bananas, peeled
8 wooden popsicle sticks
32 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Decorations for dipping the banana:   granola, chopped nuts, sprinkles, jimmies, crushed cookies, and toasted coconut, chopped chocolate or candy bars.

For holidays use the color sprinkles of the holiday. For example, green or red sprinkles.

Directions:

Line a sheet pan with waxed paper. Cut 1-inch off the end of each banana. Insert a popsicle stick into the cut-end of each banana, pushing the stick halfway in, leaving the other end exposed for use as a handle. Place the bananas on the sheet pan and freeze one hour.

These were done by a five and seven year old.  They cut the banana with a butter knife and prepared bananas for freezing.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Arrange the dipping decorations on several flat plates. Working with 1 banana at a time, dip it in the chocolate and turn to completely coat (spoon some on, if needed). Roll the dipped banana in the desired decorations, transfer to the sheet pan, and return to the freezer.

Once frozen, store the bananas in an airtight container.

TIP: When having little ones over we cut the banana in half making two chocolate covered bananas out of one.  It is also much easier for the children to help make and decorate.

Super Sidewalk Paint

Ingredients:
·       ¼ c cornstarch
·       ¼ c cold water
·       6-8 drops food coloring

Directions:
1.  Mix cornstarch and cold water together in a small plastic bowl.
2.  Add food coloring & stir.
3.  Repeat with different colors.
4.  Paint (paint can be easily washed away with water)

This fun idea submitted by Teresa!

Life Is A Beach Frame

Making a beach frame is a fun way to use your sea shell collection and create a great keepsake or gift.

What you will need:

  • Small wooden frame
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sea shells
  • Permanent adhesive glue like GemTac
  • Photograph

Remove glass from frame. Paint frame solid color and let it dry.
Use permanent adhesive glue to decorate outside of frame with shells.  You can also use sand for the bottom of the frame.  Let dry completely.
Insert the photo and the glass into the frame.

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I found this frame for one dollar at Michaels, but there is not a piece of glass in it. They also have wooden pieces painted or not painted in different shapes such as flip flops, sea animals, etc. (These range from 59-99 cents.)

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