Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1 Hour : Make It : Watermelon Pops

image via familyfun.com

I saw these watermelon popsicles a couple years ago in Family Fun magazine, and really hope my kids and I can make them for the 4th of July.

Popsicle sticks
Star-shaped cookie cutter
  • Use the cookie cutter to cut star shapes from 1-inch thick seedless watermelon.
  • Insert a popsicle stick into each star, then place on an aluminum-foil covered baking sheet.
  • Cover the stars with another sheet of foil and freeze for 1 hour, until set.
  • Eat outside on a hot day!


Monday, June 29, 2009

15 Minutes : Make It : Tissue Stamp

image via ehow.com

Funny how my kids love those little hand stamps they receive at the entrances of museums, zoos, etc. Here's an unusual way to get a personalized stamp--using tissue paper instead of an inkpad.

Choose a piece of tissue paper that's dark or bright. Cut out a shape that is small enough to fit on your child's hand. Moisten the back of her hand with a bit of water, then press the shape down on it. Smooth the paper down. Peel the paper away to see the tissue transfer.

From an old Parenting magazine (May 2006) that I found in my laundry room closet.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Focus : Travel Time

image by redroko

On long roadtrips, we have plenty of activities to pass the time. I admit that we do start a DVD once or twice during a full day of driving (I can't handle seeing their unblinking eyes more often than that); we also read, sing, look out the windows (quiet, "bored" time is not always a bad thing), play games, color, and occasionally sleep.

But then there are those moments when nothing seems to work, everyone is restless, and, really, the kids just need some new 5-minute novelty to re-instate their sanity. Here are a couple ideas that I used on our recent 10-hour drive to San Diego.

--With a pen, draw a simple face on your child's thumb. Ask them questions to create a personality for their new friend. (What's is his name? Favorite color, animal, thing to do?)

--Take turns reciting nursery rhymes.

--Toss your child a small blanket to use for hiding, as a tent, etc. Magical for my two-year-old.

--Do a spelling bee; use words that are appropriate for age and level.

--Tell a story from your childhood.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

1 Hour : Read It : Alphabet Series

image via bn.com

Sleeping Bear Press has published an excellent series of non-fiction picture books that appeal to both my oldest son and my younger children. The series includes a book for every U.S. state, every popular sport, many cultures, and even educational topics. A few of our favorites include:
N is for Our Nation's Capital (A Washington DC Alphabet)
R is for Rhyme (A Poetry Alphabet)
P is for Putt (A Golf Alphabet)
P is for Passport (A World Alphabet)

Each book feature beautiful illustrations, a rhyme for the letter and word on that page, and a detailed sidebar that provides additional information. I can't say enough about these books. They challenge 10-year-olds with new concepts; they are accessible for young readers who are learning basics of a topic.

Find a complete list of titles at Sleeping Bear Press. Also, a list of the state books is available here. Books are available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

(Note: I classified this book as a 1 hour activity because my kids ask so many questions while we read that it takes that long to read an entire A to Z book.)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quick Share : B&N Summer Reading

image here
Today we picked up the forms for Barnes & Noble's Summer Reading Program. After completing (and recording) eight books, kids get to choose a free book from B&N (from their list of "eligible" books--sorry, kiddo, you can't choose that $20 hardcover Harry Potter).


Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Focus : Travel Time

image here

I love to travel. I even love to travel with my four kids. I will not say that every moment of driving/flying time is filled with fun, educational, time-consuming activities. I will not say that we never use our DVD player to calm the ants in the pants. I will not say that the kids sit quietly in their seats, content to look out at passing scenery. But I will say that the happy moments outweigh the grumpy ones.

Having a supply of games makes every trip better. My kids enjoy Car Bingo, especially the eeboo version that I save for "any trip that is longer than 3 hours one-way". Or, here's a printable travel bingo, and a bingo-like picture list that I like.

More games:

Alphabet game: Easily played by any kid who recognizes letters. When my kids are very young, I challenge them to just find the letters in their name, since these are usually the first ones they know. A variation we play when there are no road signs for miles and miles and miles (try Wyoming, or southern Utah) goes like this: name one animal for each letter of the alphabet--supersmartypants 10-year old has to think of animals with more than two syllables. Or, name places for each letter--anything from a town to a country to a planet is acceptable in our family.

License Plate game: This one is great for the cross-country trips (yes, I've done that; it was far better than I thought it would be). Just write down the name of the state as you see its plate; avid players may want to keep tally of how many from each state they see.

Favorites: Our family's all-purpose game. Take turns asking questions that everyone answers: favorite color, animal, movie, book, breakfast food, summer activity, school subject, etc.


Monday, June 1, 2009

15 Minutes : Make It : Salt Art

image via Family Fun

Though this project does take a little advance preparation, I think the result will keep us busy on the back porch for some time. The instructions call for making patterns on glue-covered paper, but I'm sure a blank sidewalk (glue-free) would work as well. I know all my kids--from age 2 to age 10--will figure out their own ways of creating art with their shakers.

Step 1: Tint the Salt For each color, put approximately 1 cup of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid watercolor or 20 to 25 drops of food coloring in a ziplock bag. Seal each bag, removing as much air as you can. Outside, let your child shake, smash, and knead the contents until all of the salt is dyed. Next, pour the salt onto newspaper-lined trays to dry for about 2 hours (or just open the bags and let the grains dry overnight). When it's no longer wet to the touch, pour the salt into clean, dry spice shakers, one color per shaker.

Step 2: Make a Pattern Offer your child a glue stick and some stiff paper or a paper plate. Encourage her to scribble all over the paper with the glue.

Step 3: Add Color Hand your child the shakers of dyed salt and show her how to sprinkle it onto the paper. Once the glue has dried, simply shake off the excess salt.

Instructions from FamilyFun.com
More detailed instructions available at Kaboose.com