Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ice Races

We have been doing this for a while now, but I had the chance to snap a picture the other day.

Materials:  ice, spoons, bowls, water
Cost: FREE

Throw some ice cubes into a bowl of water.  We have a couple fun ice cube trays from IKEA (stars and fish) but we throw the regular old cubes in there too (they last longer).  Give them each spoons and tell them to stir until the ice is all gone.

A couple of times the water has gotten too cold and the ice stops melting -- add a cup of warm/hot water if this happens. Or you could leave it be and just let them wait it out.

Variations: you could do colored ice cubes.  you could pile up some snow and have them use a spoon to pour hot water and make the snow melt.  You could freeze objects in the ice and stir until  they are free!  I have seen somewhere a large bowl filled with ice  with lots of little trinkets suspended in it --- like fossils.  USe warm water to melt the ice away from the objects...

have fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

yoo hoo??

anyone there?

really -- is anyone reading this?

So, I have three blogs. This is one of them, and then I have another "side" one and then I have my main family blog that I keep up with.  This past year has been a busy one for me -- we moved into a new home, completely renovated it and I had a baby.  I decided that my side blogs would have to take a back seat for a while.

I do love this blog and have lots of pictures and posts stuck up in my head but I wanted to take some inventory first before the upcoming year. Is anyone still interested in this blog? I just want to make sure it is worth my time.  Do you still want me to dump my brain here?  I blog mostly for myself, but I do get some satisfaction in knowing that others are able to use these ideas.

Thanks friends.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pantry Hotwheel Obstacle Course

on your mark.
get set.

1. hop the canned food one at a time
2. grind along the oven handle.
3.through the fridge door
4. over to the cling wrap
5. Ride one and jump
6. land and ride the gallon zip locs
7. Fly and land in the big yellow mixing bowl.
8. the end.

Cost: FREE

VARIATIONS: Mix it up and change the course.  Look around your kitchen/pantry and see what else you could use in your obstacle course. Have them make up the steps.  If they are old enough have them write them out like instructions to a game.  You could time each other.  You could race action figures instead of cars.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

Following Directions

A friend of mine recently posted something I thought was perfect for Likely Classroom:

A Brilliant Following Directions Activity


Sunday, February 21, 2010

When I dip, you dip, we dip.

Do your kids like to dip as much as mine?  

I decided on a slow Monday to do something fun for lunch for the boys.  I was completely out of bread, milk, eggs, cheese so I had to get creative.  I had hummous and Baba Ganouj in our fridge from Wegman's and I wanted to give it to them for lunch but I didn't know how well just a scoop of those and some pita bread would go over.  So I thought I would make it interesting.  

I put eight different dips down the middle of a mini muffin tin.  I just used what I had.  I don't always have hummous and baba ganouj type stuff at my house but all of the others were things I had on hand.  

Dips from top left to right:

1. spicy mustard
2. baba ganouj
3. hummous
4. salsa

Bottom left to right

5. ketchup
6. bbq sauce
7. blue Cheese dressing
8. sour cream

On each side I put items to dip with for each child.

I would have done more if I had them, but I didn't so I just used what I had.  

They had mini pita pockets cut in half, baby carrots quartered, thick julienned cucumbers, strips of flour tortillas.

They totally ate it all up.  Max got really into mixing flavor combinations  and would dip one item into three things.  I didn't care because they didn't care.  Let them experiment.  I think mustard & bbq sauce was his favorite combination.  

After the savory tin I brought out the sweet tin, a large muffin pan with sweeter items.

Dips from left to right: peanut buter, fruit dip, homemade peach freezer jam

Items: apples, clementines, whole grain coco pops  (I also got these from Wegman's -- have you tried them?  They are awesome and only 16 calories a piece! They come in a circle, I quartered them for dipping and they are incredible to watch being made --- look at that link)

Remember, this is just what I had on hand.  I know that clementines don't go with peanut butter, but they don't know that.

The main thing is that you are just using up what you have.  At first I didn't think I could pull it off, but I kept looking around and kept finding things that would work.

COST:  Whatever your food costs --- you shouldn't have to go out an buy anything unless you want to make it special


SAVORY DIPS:  hummous, mustard, ketchup, ranch, blue cheese, spaghetti sauce, balsamic vinegar,  sour cream , chip dips (like onion or dill), guacamole, salsa, spinach dip, artichoke dip, bean dip, bbq sauce, sweet and sour sauce, curry sauces, pesto sauce, honey musard, etc..........

SAVORY DIPPERS:  carrots, cucumber, green/red/yellow peppers, broccoli, green beans, snap peas, crackers, tortilla strips, chips, pita bread, cubed or sliced bread, pretzel sticks, you could cube up some cheese or deli meat and put it on toothpicks.....

SWEET DIPS: peanut butter, fruit dip (recipe below), jam, pudding, chocolate sauce, yogurt, nutella,  caramel, butterscotch, whipped cream........

SWEET DIPPERS: Apples, bananas, clementines, strawberries, pear, mini rice cakes, pretzels, graham crackers, grapes or berries on toothpicks,  sliced pancake or waffle pieces or even toast, 

Fruit Dip recipe:  

16 oz of sour cream or plain yogurt (or a mixture)
a small package of dry vanilla pudding
1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen OJ concentrate

If you are just going to do a small batch (to do a little dip) just mix a few heaping tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt with a tablespoon of dry vanilla pudding and a couple teaspoons of OJ concentrate. 

Please add to my list if you can think of anything.  I would love to double the size of these lists!

This is a lot of fun to make and serve and eat!  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many vegetables your child will eat doing this.  With my two year old I sat and watched and reminded him to bite and not just dip and lick off the dip and then dip again.  This may need some supervision until they get the hang of it.

Have fun!!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

winter busy-ness

"Boys, please put all of these oranges in this other box for mommy"
"Okay now put them in this box" (conveniently located in a completely different room.)

They were busy for an hour sorting and re-boxing oranges.  
I kid you not.
Well, they might have also pretended they were bowling.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Play out of the Dough

my sister getting crazy with the play-do over christmas break.

When we were visiting my sister in law Sarah during the fall,  Max and his Cousin Benson sat down with some play-do.  I over heard Sarah telling them to make little beds for the animals.  I thought it was a great idea.  You could use any plastic toy really, little people, animals, army guys.  You could make beds, nests, a pool, a cave.

Max ended up burying mounds of animals into a giant blob of play-do.  That was a fun idea too.  He had just as much fun pulling the play-do apart looking for the animals.  You could do it with a sibling or a friend and each have a wad and bury little trinkets and let the other one "dig" them out -- like they were archeologists or something.

I love stretching what I already have.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Prize in the cereal box.

Max:  I want to make a firestation!
Mommy:  Ummmmmmm....... let's look through recycling!

I grabbed a few cereal boxes from the recycling bin and we recycled them ourselves.  And made fire stations from them.  great fun.  Just take all of the tabs up and lay it flat and inside out, have them color whatever they want to and then reassemble it inside out with tape.

And also, don't forget to put a box on your head while you eat your toast.

To see something else you can do with a cardboard box, check out what we found outside our house!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trick or Reading

Mid-afternoon is the hardest time of the day for me.  My 4 year old isn't napping anymore (well, on rare occasion) and my 2 year old is snoozing away.  It's quiet time and it's mom time (at least a few minutes if I can).  We came up with a fun idea one afternoon when Max was asking for treats and Mom wanted him to sit quietly and read books.  

1.  Lay out a handful of books and put a small treat on each one.  We normally use chocolate chips but these pictures were taken back in October so candy corn were aplenty. m&m's, grapes, blueberries, pretzels, goldfish, etc.  

2.  Child chooses book and eats corresponding treat.
3. Reads Book

4. Repeat until all treats are eaten and books are read.  

It's a great way to stretch a treat, stretch reading time 
and stretch a few mommy minutes.

I have made a little rule at first that Max must tell me when he finished before his next treat just to make sure he understood that he couldn't eat all the treats first.  Now he gets it and he doesn't have to tell me, although sometimes he still likes to tell me which one he is going to pick next. 

Variations:  You could switch it up and do a different little treat on each book or if you are daring, spread their lunch in bite-size pieces over all of the books.  Nothing that would stain books though.  or get pages messy --- well, maybe that wouldn't work.... but maybe it could?  hmmmm...  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It started with Max bringing me a penny he found and me reaching up on the shelf to put the penny in the change jar.  He asked if he could do it.  I said sure and took the jar down.  He clanked it in and smiled.  Then Oliver wanted to do it.

So, since Oliver is out of the put everything in the mouth stage I sat them at the table with the change jar.  I gave them all sorts of containers to put them in.  The smaller the opening and the taller the container the better.  Hence the bud vase and thermoses.

Max sorted coins by color and sizes.  I told him to put five in each colored bowl.  Oliver lined them in a long long choo choo train.  But mostly they just wanted to hear the clank clank into the containers.  Metal and glass were the best clanks. And they loved pouring the filled containers back into the change jar or into another vessel...

Of course you can't play this with younger kids.  PLEASE don't.  Make sure that all participants are out of that mouth-y stage.  Also, make rules.  No money on the ground and if a "money" falls, tell mom and she will pick it up.

This kept my boys busy for nearly a half hour while I made dinner.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


2 or more players

This is a fun game that I made up while teaching.  Start with a 3 letter word like the above "big".  Pass it to the person to your right.  The next person can only change one letter and has to make a new word.  You can change the first, middle or last letter.  Then you set your new word down and pass it to the next person (kind of just slide it on the table to the next person).  You can't do the same word twice.  Sometimes it helps to have a scribe that is writing down words to make sure they are not repeated.

If a person is stumped, they get the letter P given to them.  Then that person starts over with a new 3 letter word.  You can also choose at this point if you want to allow the person to change it to a four letter word.  Or five letters.... That is up to the group and the age and the skill level.

So the game continues until a person ends up with a PIG and then is dismissed from the game.  When a person is dismissed the person to the right starts with a new word.

Words can be changed and anagrammed however a player wishes.  Basically, the letters can be mixed in any way as long as only one is changed.  For example:

Player1: HEAT
Player2: BEAT
Player3: TALE
Player4: LEAF
Player1: FALL
Player2: BALL
Player3: BALE
Player4: BLED
Player1: LEAD
Player2: DEAD
Player3: DATE
Player4: TAPE

You can also not implement the PIG part of it and dismiss players.  Another option could be to try as a group to set a record for number of times anagrammed...or just gather points for every time you create a word, keep track of points and the most points wins.  When you are stumped you don't get a point... Or if you create a word that stumps someone else you get an extra point.  You can change things however you wish to fit your group.  Have fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Words in a word.

In third grade my teacher, Mr. McArthur, would challenge us every holiday with a word contest.  He would give us the name of the holiday and we would have to see how many little words we could find within the big word.  I LIVED for these word contests and would spend any remaining time after I finished homework in the evening searching for words, dictionary beside me, until I was quite certain I would be the winner.  I think I won all, if not nearly all, of those word challenges that year.

I did the same thing when I was a teacher except I had Limber Letters for my students to use.  It was great to see them mixing things around, finding words they might have not otherwise found.  It makes a HUGE difference to visually see letter combinations.  The double "ee" or "ll" for example.. putting those together and looking at the other letters makes it easier to see possibilities.

Have a friend, class, family or neighborhood challenge.  Give it as an assignment during school breaks -- it will keep your school aged children busy for quite some time (at least it did me).

Happy letters to all of you!  The letters are going fast.  I only have about 8 more bags ready for this round of selling and then I will be taking a break...