Thursday, April 30, 2009

1 Hour : Make It : May Day Bee Bouquet

Have a May Day celebration by creating these bee bouquets from Family Fun.  Create the paper cone baskets and fill with your favorite flowers or treats and deliver to family and friends.  Try making other fun designs for the paper cones like butterflies or eliminate the "wings" and just decorate the cone shape with patterns and shapes. 


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

15 Minutes : Make It : Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is in just 6 days. I love these simple crafts from Kaboose for mini sombreros and maracas.

Make your own shakable maracas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Use your imagination to create colorful and festive maracas to enjoy with your friends.

What you'll need:
2 Styrofoam or paper cups
Tan, red and white acrylic paint
Decorative accents such as pom-poms and buttons
Hot glue gun
Dried beans

How to make it:
1. Paint cups with tan paint and let dry.
2. Decorate cups by painting on swirling or curvy lines. We used red paint for ours. You can also paint zig-zags. We used white for ours. Paint the bottom of each cup red.
3. Place a handful of dried beans into one of the cups.
4. Put a layer of hot glue onto the rim of the cup with the beans in it before quickly placing the other cup on top of it, lining up the rims of both cups. Allow to dry completely.
5. Finish any decorating you would like, such as adding pom-poms around the center (to hide the glue line). We also used mini pom-poms to dot the peaks of the zig-zags.
6. Once your glue is completely dry, shake your maraca!

-Smaller children may enjoy using stickers instead of trying to manipulate pom-poms and buttons. Older kids may like to get even more intricate by painting on more detailed and thinner lines.
-If you don't have any dried beans, use a few pennies instead.
-Our color suggestions are just that, suggestions. Use whatever colors you like to make this project your own!


These adorable little sombreros make fun table decorations for your Cinco de Mayo celebration! Make one or several for south of the border fun.

What you'll need:
Styrofoam or paper cup
Mini paper plate
1" wide strip of brown felt
1/4" wide strip of red felt
1/4" wide strip of orange felt
Acrylic paint in red and sunflower (tan/yellow)
Medium pom-poms in red, green, yellow, orange, white and brown
Paint brush
Hot glue gun

How to make it:
1. Paint paper plate and Styrofoam cup with sunflower paint. Let dry and repeat. Paint the outer edge of the plate rim red. Let dry completely.
2. Hot glue the Styrofoam cup to the center of the paper plate to form your hat.
3. Glue the brown felt around the bottom of the Styrofoam cup (the edge that is touching the plate) to make the hat band. Glue the red and orange felt over the brown to create stripes.
4. Glue the pom-poms to the red edge of the paper plate, alternating colors as you go (green, white, red, yellow, brown, orange, green, white, etc.).

-If doing this craft in a group or classroom setting, break into two parts: painting one day, doing the remainder of the craft the next.
-If you don't have a color paint similar to tan or "sunflower" on hand, make your own by mixing a little brown into some yellow paint until it is the color you desire.
-Use any color of pom-pom you like. If you don't have all the colors listed here, simply use what you have on hand.


Monday, April 27, 2009

1 Hour : Make It : Snickerdoodles

image via Betty Crocker

We're going to make snickerdoodles. My kids like to help with measuring, mixing, and in this case, rolling the balls in the cinnamon and sugar.

1 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Beat together first four ingredients. Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, then blend into wet mixture. Set aside. In small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Form small balls with the cookie dough and roll each in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Focus : Everyday Science, Part 3

image via

Exploring the five senses is a fun way to teach a little science. I've gathered some ideas from the book, How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way:

Taste: Make snacktime a taste-testing experience with a variety of foods; encourage your child to put the salty, sweet, and tart foods in different groups before tasting them.
Touch: We love making a mystery bag with different objects like small toys, coins, shells, etc. The game is simple: without looking, figure out what item you are touching, and then pull it out to see if you're right.
Sound: Try the silence game: once silence is signalled, challenge your child to remain quiet until he hears you whisper his name. He'll have to listen very carefully, and he may even learn a little self-discipline along the way.
Sight: Gather paint swatches and help your child arrange them from darkest to lightest color; or, for a harder challenge, arrange them from darkest to lightest hue.
Smell: Provide several bottles containing very different smells and ask which ones he can identify, which he likes, and which he dislikes. (Examples: lotion, lemon juice, vanilla, flavor extracts, spices, herbs.)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

15 Minutes : Know It : Earth Day

image via
In honor of Earth Day today below is a list of simple items we all can do to help our homes be a little more green. We're all doing our best but, if you're like me, there's certainly more we can be doing. Please leave a comment with some of your favorite green-techniques.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle! The city bins are a lot cheaper than your trash bin and you'll be amazed at how much you contribute each week.
  • Use Environmentally-friendly cleaners. They're not only better for the environment but much better for your family's health. We love Method products and Costco's Environmentally-friendly laundry detergent.
  • Limit disposable water bottles. Our family has really liked switching to a Brita water pitcher and Camelbak water bottles. My kids love having there own water bottle and use it ALL day long. It keeps them drinking more water and we're not adding waste by constantly throwing out plastic bottles.
  • Plant a garden! We're still working on setting ours up but really looking forward to it.
  • Start a compost. Free fertilizer for your garden and a great way to get rid of kitchen scraps.
  • Donate old clothing and unwanted items to local charity groups. Your junk could easily be another one's treasure.


Monday, April 20, 2009

15 Minutes : Play It : Nature Walk

The perfect weather today encouraged us to take a quick walk around the block. We like to take a small pail to collect treasures such as pinecones, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. We also try to name things around us--tulips, daffodils, dandelions, apple trees, magpies, robins. I often ask the children questions such as:
What sounds do you hear?
What flower colors do you see?
What does the bark of that tree feel like?
What is your favorite bird?
Do those blossoms have a scent?

Even these little conversations teach them about beauty and variety in their world. I smile when I hear my four-year-old point out quail, or my six-year-old notice hyacinth.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Focus : Everyday Science, Part 2

image via here
An important part of discovery is making predictions. Children use what they already know to make guesses, then they test those guesses, and finally, they gain a new understanding based on the outcome of their test. This process is not limited to typically scientific experiments. Children make predictions when they try new foods, learn new words, and play with their friends.

Because children love playing in water anyway, a simple sink and float activity is ideal for teaching and recording the prediction process. Collect many items around your house: small toys, coins, a sponge, different types of balls, etc. Together with your child, create a simple chart to record the results of the experiment. Then, ask your child to predict whether each item will sink or float in a small tub of water. After he tests his prediction and records the answer, try the same test in a larger container of water. What things still sink or float? What things have a changed result?

For older children, you can discuss the two main factors that influence sinking or floating: density and buoyancy. Here is a great explanation of buoyancy. Here is a basic definition of density.

Children's literature about sinking and floating:
  • Floating and Sinking by Franklyn M. Branley
  • Keep it Afloat! By Julian Rowe and Molly Perham
  • Mike Swan, Sink or Swim by Deborah Heilgman
  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • The Magic School Bus: Ups and Downs by Jane Mason, Bruce Degen, and Joanna Cole
  • Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky
  • Mr. Archimedes’ Bath
  • Will It Float? by Pamela Allen

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    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    15 Minutes : Know It : TV-Turn Off Week

    image via

    Next week (April 20-26) marks the annual TV-Turn Off Week. According to a study published by the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle in April of 2004 for each hour of t.v. a child watches there is a 10% increase in the risk of attention deficit disorder (ADD). We may all be guilty of using the television a little too often once in a while but for next week our family is committed to keeping the TV OFF. Will you join us?


    Monday, April 13, 2009

    1 Hour : Read It : Chasing Vermeer

    image via
    My fourth-grader enjoyed Chasing Vermeer so much that he asks me daily if I've read it yet. He loves action-adventure and puzzles, and this books is a great combination of both, with a sprinkle of culture as well. I'm eager to finish this one so we can have our own book club session together.


    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    15 Minutes : Make It : Easter Coloring

    image via redleadpaperworks

    Need some Easter coloring pages today? Here are some that I printed out for my kids:

    Eggs on a tree

    Hedgie's Easter
    Bunny & chick egg
    Bunny & flowers
    Vintage bunnies
    Plain egg


    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Friday Focus : Everyday Science, Part 1

    image via here

    Ever conscious of combining daily life with education, I enjoy finding ways to teach my children during our normal activities: cooking, coloring, yard-work, walks...all become learning experiences when I ask and answer questions. Because I'm organizing a science day at the school, simple science experiments and discoveries are on my mind lately. I've been consulting a couple little books called Simple Kitchen Experiments and Simple Nature Experiments, from a series that encourages discovery during everyday activities. To start off very easily and with minimal preparation, I might try some salt activities.

    Salt wilts vegetables (and our bodies)
    from Simple Kitchen Experiments

    Try it: While making salad for dinner, salt two or three cucumber slices or lettuce pieces, set aside, and let stand for a while. The vegetable will wilt and/or shrivel.

    Say it: Though our bodies need the two minerals (sodium and chloride) that salt provides, too much salt can cause health problems. In the demonstration, the salt draws the water out of the cells of the vegetable; the same thing happens to our bodies when we eat too much salt. When the amount of sodium in the fluid surrounding our cells is too high, the "wilted" cells don't function properly. You have probably noticed that you feel thirsty after eating salty foods such as potato chips. Your body needs extra water to dilute the salt you've just eaten.

    More Salt Experiments


    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    15 Minutes : Know It : Easter Traditions

    My kids can hardly wait for the Easter Bunny to make his arrival this week. Since our family has deep religious beliefs we let the Easter Bunny leave his goodies Saturday morning so Sunday can be devoted to thoughts of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Below are listed some of the tips and tricks of our Easter Bunny. How about you? What are your favorite Easter traditions?

  • Friday night empty baskets are left on the kitchen table labeled with each child's name (so he won't mix up the baskets, of course) so Mr. Bunny can have easy access to fill and hide them.

  • On Saturday morning the treasure hunt begins. We limit the hiding to certain areas of the house and the kiddos love finding their own baskets as well as helping their siblings.

  • Since I'm not a huge fan of piles of candy around my house we try to get creative when filling their baskets. Items usually include: their new Easter clothes (they're getting them anyway, why not make it a surprise), a yogurt smoothie, organic pop tarts, a couple of candy filled plastic eggs (I can't resist), a couple of toy trinkets, and this year a surprise DVD gift (which I'm most excited about). Hopefully it's enough to get them excited but not too much to overwhelm them.

  • We also try to include a family Easter Egg hunt with all the cousins. Some of our favorite egg fillings include money, stickers and goldfish.

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    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    15 Minutes : Play It : Colors

    image source

    I'm trying to teach my child about colors and want him to be able to identify them. One fun way I've thought of is through a fun treat. This would really catch his attention. My first plan was to use M&Ms but because Spring is here and Easter's right around the corner I think jelly beans are a better fit. I would start of by showing some flash cards or pictures and then end with this type of fun activity. Now, my only challenge will be to make sure he focuses on the color of the jelly bean not just eating them.


    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    15 Minutes : Make It : Kite

    This kite template from Family Fun lets you create a simple kite from one piece of paper. It's a perfect activity for those windy, spring days.


    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Our Apologies

    RedRoko will no longer be operating. We are grateful for your support and are so sad to be done with this great adventure.

    (Oh, you should hear the doosies the four year-olds are pulling off at my house.)