Monday, April 25, 2011

15 Minutes : Play It : Spring Bingo

I printed out this Spring Bingo game for one of the centers in my son's kindergarten class. Since it was an Easter party, we used jellybeans for markers; at home, we use pennies, buttons, or Legos.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

1 Hour : Make It : Chick Beanbags

image via Martha Stewart

I would like to give my little seamstress daughter more practice by helping her sew this simple project. She would probably love to give them to her cousins on Easter.


Monday, April 18, 2011

1 Hour : Make It : Easter Chain

I love Christmas chains, so I don't know why I never thought of making chains for other holidays. This one is actually made of ribbon, which makes for an extra-special feel; since Easter is so close and my ambition is so low, we'll probably make our chain out of pretty spring papers.

Find the full instructions for the Ribbon Chain at


Monday, December 13, 2010

Link Love : NieNie Dialouges

we are so excited (and flattered!!) that NieNie featured our PlayCrates on her blog; part of her "Nie's Homemade Christmas".

check it out here

If you are looking to add some "homemade" charm to your gift giving this year
or simply want to add to your child's creativity and development
Don't pass up our Play Crates


1 Hour : Make It : Button Cards

I'm using this craft at my son's kindergarten Christmas party this week. I'm sure we'll make some "practice" cards at home as well. The great thing about this project is that I can just show my kids the above photo, give them some buttons, ribbon, and cardstock, and say, "Go".

Full instructions at Martha Stewart.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quick Share : Thanksgiving

In postpartum mode here. So, until I find a minute to post something about Thanksgiving...

Enjoy some of our ideas from last year!


Friday, October 22, 2010

15 Minutes : Play It : Pin the Face on the Pumpkin

Another one of the center activities for my son's class party: Pin the Face on the Pumpkin. So simple and classic that I wonder why I needed the internet to think of it.

But to be fair, this site reminded me how to play.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

15 Minutes : Make It : Pasta Skeleton

So, despite the fact that I'm going to have a baby any day now, I am supposed to organize--not attend, just organize--the centers for my kindergartener's Halloween party. (Believe me, this year I am definitely the reluctant room mother. But when they lay on the guilt...)

This is one of the activities I have planned for the party: just your basic skeleton made out of assorted pasta. Very easy and self-explanatory, but if you want more details, I found them here.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

15 Minutes : Read It : Stone Soup

The classic folktale, Stone Soup, is a beloved of mine. I love the lessons of working together, of selflessness, of community--it just never gets old. Here are two versions I particularly like:

Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown. You just can't go wrong with a Caldecott winner. This version is the perfect, traditional intro to this story if you're not already familiar with it. Marcia Brown's simple illustrations and text are masterful no matter what the book.

Stone Soup, by Jon Muth. Same story with a fantastic Asian flair. The villagers add their Chinese ingredients to the pot in this beautiful watercolor version.
images via


Thursday, October 7, 2010

15 Minutes : Read It : Autumn Books

My very favorite picture book to start off the fall season is Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall. Another excellent one is In November, by Cynthia Rylant. But since I've already reviewed both of those, I thought I'd share a couple others that are regulars at our house this time of year...

Pumpkin Moonshine, by Tasha Tudor. It's another name for jack o' lantern, for those (like me) who had never heard this old-fashioned, New England name. And really, does anything bring autumn vividly to mind like old-fashioned, New England illustrations?

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, by Steven Schnur. Beautiful, detailed poetry combined with intricate woodcut pictures; and an ABC book as well. Someday I'll help my kids come up with their own acrostics.
images via


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

15 Minutes : Make It : Lunches

image via anotherlunch

Have you heard of Bento lunches? I like the ideas at the deliciously beautiful site, AnotherLunch, though I wonder if some of them would be too light a meal for my sprouting sixth-grader.

I like sending my kids with home lunches for so many reasons, but I have made the compromise of allowing them to buy lunch once a week (pizza day, of course). Amazingly, after years of this pattern they are finally tired of pizza day, and are more interested than ever in trying new combinations. My second-grade daughter is especially happy to help out right now.

I haven't fully embraced the Bento ideas just because our lunch boxes aren't the right shape. However, I have added a cold pack plastic box full of vegetables or fruits; I don't know if it's the box or the fact that the food is chilled, but the kiddos are loving it.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1 Hour : Play It : Activity Centers

image via here

Today I borrowed from the quintessential preschool/kindergarten set-up: activity centers. The truth is, I really needed to work on organizing the laundry room--which is next-door to our playroom--and I wanted my two boys to 1.)stay, 2.)play, and 3.)play happily with minimal supervision on my part.

So during lunch, I asked for center ideas and together we came up with the following:
  • Coloring center--not just crayons, but markers with big paper
  • Lego center
  • Puzzle center
  • ABC center--I added two metal baking sheets to make magnet play more of a novelty.
We put each center in a different area of the playroom, and even made "blanket islands" for some of them in order to keep the activities a little more contained. I didn't use timers like they might at school, but I did go in every so often to play, chat, or encourage a change if I sensed the need.

I got a good 1 1/2 hours out of the whole deal.

It is truly amazing how a new set-up of the old toys can change everything. Since the laundry room isn't quite done (it's also sewing/craft/general dumping area), I think we'll try more centers tomorrow.


Monday, September 20, 2010

15 Minutes : Play It : Memory

image via here

After spending five whole minutes tracking down the whereabouts of my very mischievous three-year-old, I decided we needed to have a little sit-down-and-focus time this morning. We played Memory--twice. We have the sweet, teeny Mini-Memo by Haba, but I also have visions of creating my own set like this one I saw at homemade by jill (though, technically the tutorial is on Or So She Says).

P.S. Little boy was out in the garage, hiding with various keys to various locks that were specifically placed to keep him out of trouble. Yes, we have child locks on our doors; no, that doesn't stop him; no, he doesn't respond when I call him; yes, I was doing something very quick and responsible--making my bed--when he sneaked away.


Monday, September 13, 2010

15 Minutes : Play It : Listening

image via here
Still working on listening skills...

One day as we sat on the back porch, I asked my two youngest to close their eyes very tightly and just listen. My kindergartener knew instinctively what to do and described what he could hear: helicopter, birds, kids playing, a bumblebee flying past his face. The three-year-old had more trouble focusing (and keeping his eyes closed), so I told him to listen for specific sounds. "Can you hear the car going by? Where do you think that bird is chirping?"

We also tried to be completely silent for one minute. Ha--way harder than it sounds. Did you ever play "The Quiet Game" when you were little? I think it's easier to be still when no one is telling you to be still. Once there's a goal or a requirement, the temptation to talk is just too much. Our silent minute looked more like giggles about to erupt.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

15 Minutes : Read It : Nonsense Books

Sometimes we just need some of those books that are so ridiculous and silly that my kids actually hoot out loud when we're reading them. I know any mention of underwear sends even my three-year-old into giggles, but I try to steer clear of those. (There's plenty of that without bringing it home from the library too--*sigh*) Here are a few of our favorite (non-potty-humor) nonsensical picture books...

The Runaway Dinner, by Allan Ahlberg. I love the rambling, conversational style of this one. It's told just the way a kid would tell a story.

The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone. This oldie from my childhood continues to pack a good, silly punch.

The Cow Loves Cookies, by Karma Wilson. The expressions on the characters' faces make me smile too.

Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood. Sing-song, predictable words make this one stick in their heads for days.
images via

What books guarantee a laugh from your kids?