Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Activity Shelves

This year's December activity shelves revolve, surprisingly enough, around winter and Christmas.

As usual, the top two shelves are filled with themed activities while the lower two hold a variety of non-themed toys.

Our sensory bin is a white dish tub from Dollar Tree. It's filled with white rice scented with almond extract (I'd originally planned to use mint, but we were out), a bit of glitter, miniature mylar gift bows from Dollar Tree, and a scoop that I believe we purchased from Target's Dollar Spot earlier this year.

Our treasure basket holds a few of the same things our Shiny Stuff Treasure Tin held last year (holographic foil tissue paper, a large jingle bell, and a shiny gift bow), but we've also added some other jingly instruments.

There's an art tin with a variety of papers - old dollar store greeting cards, pages from a Christmas picture book that got ruined, a snowman notepad, and festive foam shapes from Target's Dollar Spot after-Christmas clearance last year - as well as feathers, spangles, scissors, glue, and markers.

We have a basket of books about various December holidays and wintry fun, some plush reindeer the kids were given last year at "Story Time with Mrs. Claus" at the mall, and a tree stacker from Plan Toys (purchased for a steal at the consignment store, since it was massing the top piece).

Previous Seasonal Activity Shelves
February and Valentine's 2013
Springtime and Easter 2013
Autumn 2013

Previous Seasonal Sensory Bins
Springtime and Easter 2013
Autumn 2013

Previous Seasonal Treasure Baskets
Autumn 2012
Winter 2012
Valentine's 2013

Previous Seasonal Shelf Activities
Christmas 2012
Valentine's 2013
Halloween 2013


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Colored Glue Suncatchers

We got the idea for these colored glue suncatchers from the fabulous early childhood blog, Teach Preschool.

To make the colored glue, we filled empty condiment bottles ($1 apiece from Wal-Mart) with white school glue and a squirt of tempera paint. You can use food coloring or liquid watercolor to tint, if you prefer. I stuck autumn and Halloween cookie cutters (a Wilton set - $4 at Michael's) to contact paper to hold them in place.

Meg simply filled the cutters up with the glue. I encouraged her to use different colors in the same cutter to highlight features, but she wanted to stick with one color per cutter. Just as well, because the glue did run quite a bit and the colors may have mixed too much. I've read that you can run a bead of hot glue around the inside and outside of the cutters to prevent the colored glue from escaping underneath, but, despite a lot of leakage, our cutters were still nice and thick, so I don't think it's necessary.

The shapes took a few days to dry, but they finally remained firm instead of sticking when we lifted a corner to peek underneath. The oranges and reds dried the slowest, probably because they had more pigment. After we popped them from the cutters (much easier when they're still a bit stretchy, by the way, than if you let them harden completely), we poked holes in the top and bottom of each shape and strung them together with thread to hang in the windows. For fun, I added some faces and other simple (very simple) features with a Sharpie before we hung them, like so:

This was one that we left in the cutter until it hardened completely, and you can see that his hand and tail didn't pop out cleanly.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Hairstyle Photo Dump

Today's bento photo dump inspired me to go back through some other photos on my computer that I may not have had a chance to share on the blog. I found a number of hairstyles Meg wore earlier this year when she was in her fancy stage, and I figured I'd give them a quick dump as well.

Three topsy-tails on top. Braided the middle tail straight down. Used the outside tails and the middle braid to start a chunky French braid with the remaining hair. This style would have looked much neater if I'd started with wetter hair, but Meg hates having her hair sprayed in winter.

I believe Meg wore this to church the Sunday before Valentine's Day. Just a simple topsy-tail-turned-heart (There are tutorials all over Pinterest and YouTube - it's a very simple trick to execute.) with the rest of the hair braided down her back.

This was on Valentine's Day. I did a side topsy-tail heart and made it meet a sideways French braid that wrapped from the top of her left ear to the bottom of her right ear. This looked much softer and prettier as the hair dried.

Top half topsy-tailed. Tail split in half and brought down to meet two pigtail braids. This one was very pretty in person and stayed in well.

"Puffy braid headband" across the top of her head pulled down to meet a messy bun beneath and behind her right ear.

Dramatic zigzag part, pigtail puffy braids, ending in low pigtails.

Three topsy-tails on top. Middle tail split and pulled down to meet the outside tails joined with sections of lower hair. These tails crisscrossed and joined with all remaining hair in low pigtails.

Fourth of July short hair hairstyle. Two twisty knots on top. Pieces of lower hair behind the ears braided up and pinned behind knots with bows. Glitter spray.

Two very messy low curled pigtails. Scrap of fabric rolled and wrapped around head and tied. Bobby pins near pigtails to ensure the fabric stayed put through play. Glitter spray.

Two topsy-tails on top, split to make three more topsy-tails, all pulled down to join rest of hair in a messy bun. Pom pom headband.


Bento Photo Dump

It's a well-documented fact that I hate to cook. Haaaaate. I get around this some by having a husband who loves to cook and handles all dinners and weekend meals, but the authorities say I still have to give my kids lunch while he's at work. In light of this fact, it's somewhat surprising I'd jump on the bento bandwagon, no? But, in fact, creating cute lunch boxes makes the food preparation process much more pleasant for me. And the kids are crazy about it.

So, here's a photo dump of my first attempts at bento (and not-so-bento-but-still-decorated) lunches and snacks.

These are the first bento-specific supplies I purchased. Plum District had a great coupon available for Bento USA, an online retailer with a huge selection of BPA-free bento accessories. We've since added a number of cutters, picks, food markers, bento boxes, and silicone cups to our collection - some scavenged from the kitchen drawers, some purchased from Target or HomeGoods or other local stores.

My first sad little attempt. Grape tomatoes, black grapes, cucumber stars, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat with a sprinkle-filled star cutout, string cheese stick. (Meg)

Grape tomatoes, raisins, carrot sticks, cottage cheese, cheese tortellini. (Meg and James)

Grape tomatoes, turkey roll-ups, whole wheat star, string cheese, apple section with happy face drawn on, turkey and hummus on whole wheat with crusts cut off and star cutout. (James)

Frozen peas, "cheesy beans" (kidney beans with melted cheese, crumbled whole wheat crackers, and Italian seasoning), mango. (Meg and James)

Apple, grape tomatoes, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat cut into puzzle pieces and topped with green sprinkles. (Meg and James)

Whole wheat crackers with food marker initials, black grapes, carrots, Happy Panda cookies, (Not pictured: shaped hard-boiled eggs the kids just couldn't wait for me to finish before they started their lunch. The eggs bombed spectacularly anyway, because I put them in the egg molds the wrong direction.) (Meg and James)

Cucumber hearts, grape tomatoes, cottage cheese with pink sprinkles and strawberry heart, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat cut into a heart and drawn on with a food marker. (Meg)

Snack of strawberries, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, and veggie straws. (Meg)

Plum, frozen peas, grape tomatoes, Happy Panda cookies, veggie straws, peanut butter on whole wheat cut into animal shapes and embellished with food markers and shaped sprinkles. (Meg and James)

Dyed egg snack. I just submerged boiled and peeled eggs in food-colored water and put them in the fridge overnight. The dye bled through part of the white inside, leaving neat rings of color, white, and yolk when the eggs were sliced into circles. (Meg and James)

Frozen peas, cucumber stars, apple slices, olives, hard boiled eggs, Happy Panda cookies. (Meg and James)

Giant strawberry, frozen peas, large grape tomato, cheese tortellini. (Meg)


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ghost Suckers/Lollipops and a Pumpkin Goodie Display

It's been a long-standing family tradition to make ghostie suckers to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Tootsie or Blow Pops, a tissue, some ribbon or twine or string, and a couple dots with a marker for eyes. We love to turn on a family-friendly Halloween movie and spend an evening making up 50 or 100 of these guys.

We usually just arrange them in a bowl, but last year we made them even cuter by drilling holes in a pretty pumpkin and sticking the suckers in. We had to refill frequently through the night, as these little ghosties were popular. I loved hearing the kids' exclamations of how cute and cool the candies looked!


Grace Kelly and The Hipster - Creative Kids' Halloween Costumes

It's nearly Halloween again, and I just realized I never took a moment to share the kids' costumes from last year. So, without further ado, I give you Grace Kelly and The Hipster:

Three year old Meg and I were watching an old movie one afternoon when she told me, "I want to be her for Halloween," gesturing to the lovely Miss Kelly. We searched through Google images to find a suitably fabulous gown to recreate (taking some serious artistic liberties), and I then set about making a skirt with miles and miles of pink, black, and white tulle. Meg already had the hat, purchased from the adult section at Target on clearance for $5. A black long-sleeved top and an old purse of mine finished the look off splendidly.

I made the skirt by simply cutting long, thin strips of tulle and looping them around a piece of elastic. I stacked pieces of black and white or black and pink tulle before looping to be sure the colors were variegated nicely and not too stripey.

A few strips of tulle tied around the hat helped it blend seamlessly with the rest of the costume.

Baby costumes are my favorite, because you can get a little silly or whimsical or downright ridiculous, with no protests from the wearer.

James already owned the hat, t-shirt, jeggings (I purchase all his jeggings and leggings from the girls' department, because I love the fit and variety), and socks. I picked up the flannel top and shoes from the kids' consignment store for less than $5 total, the glasses from Dollar Tree (just popped out the lenses), and cut out a mustache from craft foam and hot glued it to a pacifier.

We're still giddy we managed to catch this awesome candid on camera!