Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Cookies

I wanted to share the Christmas cookie I bake each year without fail. It's a little work but worth it, because it's so cute! I got the idea from a Publix magazine a few years back.

In the magazine article they of course gave you a recipe to use, but basically it's a roll out sugar cookie recipe. I use my favorite. Let me know if you want my recipe.

I roll out the dough and cut out hearts. I have a box of heart cookie cutters from Valentine's Day that has several different sizes, so I cut out a few X-Large and then a bunch of normal size hearts.
Of course bake the hearts and then cool. Once they are completely cooled, then flip them over so that the pointy side is the top. This will become Santa's hat. Ice the top with a regular white icing, don't use whipped or anything else funny just regular white icing.
Sprinkle red sugar on them to make Santa's red hat. Then fill a piping bag with the rest of the white icing and use a star tip to make the trim on his hat, the ball on the tip of his hat, and his beard. Use a bit more as glue to secure the two chocolate chip eyes and one red m&m nose.

I'll have to do a posting on the piping process because it took me awhile to figure it out and it is really helpful with kid projects. So here is my army of Santa cookies.
I've had a lot of fun with these at cookie exchanges and school lunches! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homemade Teacher Present

We gave this present to Big Sister's Kindergarten Intern teacher who just finished up her internship. I thought it would be really cute in her future classroom. I found it in my Family Fun magazine, you can see it here.

This is what we did. First I found an inexpensive frame at Target. I meant to get out to IKEA, but didn't have time. Take out the glass and fit a background paper in the frame.
We used old crayons, but now that we've done it I would use new crayons. Peel the paper off and break them until their the sizes you need. Make sure to use a variety of crayons (or maybe different shade of one hue).

Draw the first letter of your teacher's last name lightly with a pencil on your paper. Lay out the crayons before you glue them down. We used Elmer's School glue and it worked great. Leave a little space below your letter so you can write their name. I was a little worried about my handwriting, so I had Big Sister write it.

I left her name off, obviously, but then I also wrote a really cute card talking about how each child is very different, just like each of these crayons. The little nicks, rough edges and rounded ones need special care.

Now if you go to the link above from the Family Fun website, you'll see theirs is so much cuter. That's why I think if you start with new crayons it would work better.

File this one away for the end of year if you don't use it now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Candy Cane Craft

In our effort to maximize Christ in Christmas, we did a Candy Cane craft and talked about how that Cane reminds us of a Shepherd's Crook. We read Luke 2 together. We talked about how the shepherds were in their field watching over their flock when an angel of the Lord appeared before them.

Shepherds Crook Brown
Here is our craft:
I got red and white pipe cleaners.
Each girl got one of each and then wrapped their choice of color around the other. Really easy, but Little Sister needed help. Big Sister had no problem.
After a little tweaking, we had our candy canes to put on our tree, packages, cookie plates, etc. We love those sugar free treats.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paper Snowflakes

Ok, so we try and do a Christmas activity each day. Today we needed to make paper snowflakes. Here is my attempt...

1. Take a piece of construction paper.
2. Fold it in half, and then half again.
3. Cut some sort of jagged edge.
4. Open.

Big sister's remark, "That looks like a bowtie." Yep, it looked like a bowtie. We tried 4 times before I looked it up online. My trusty friend, Martha Stewart knows how to do it like a pro. Probably because she is a pro.

Here's her link that I used. Paper Snowflakes

Here are the ones we made after following directions.
Thanks Martha!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thankful Chain Part 2

Here is our finished product!

After taking time most evenings, and some mornings, talking about what we were thankful for that day, we finally assembled our chain. It's interesting to see daily what God provides and it's especially interesting to see what to be thankful for through the eyes of my children.

Most commonly we saw the girls thankful for things they did that day, but the best is when they are thankful for their relationship with other people. I love watching them say they are thankful for their family. I love these daily reminders of thankfulness.

Big Sister working hard.
Little Sister working really hard.

Thanks for letting us show you our Thankful Strips turned into our Christmas Garland. We hang it in the girls' room to remind us of how thankful we throughout Christmas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Placemats

Here's a fun little thing to keep the kids in the thanksgiving spirit while you're getting the food on the table. I made my own Thanksgiving place mats to help keep them busy while I'm busy too.
I just took some of our spangles and tossed them about, so she could count them later. I also had her make the thumb print turkey. I have a few plastic templates so I just traced one out for her. I laminated the entire thing and that way she can use a dry erase marker to dress the girl.

To make my work last longer I did a separate page for Christmas.
I put a simple word list on one side and counting by 10's on the other. Because we live so far from our cousins I put a little snowman for each cousin with their name. I just used my scrapbook circle cutter to make them. Also, Big Sister can make word families with the endings just under her name.

I put the pages back to back and laminated them for all season long fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sticker Fun

Here is one of our favorite paper creative activities. I found some of these Melissa and Doug stickers.
And some of these.
They have them in boy blue also.

I let the girls pick out a 'scene' from the pink sticker collection. They have zoo animals, pets, unicorns, fairies, tea parties, etc. They create their scene with the stickers and then add some little girl stickers from the fashion set of stickers. They get to dress up the little girls and we love all the options. There are fancy dresses, fairy costumes, beach attire, pajamas and more.

They finish their papers with their colored pencils to fill in any other details. Here are a few examples.
Here's Big Sister's Ballet picture.

Here is Munchkin's tea party with a fairy godmother on the top.

A great gift idea and lots of fun to play with!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful Strips

So, Halloween is over and the season of Thanks abounds. Well, at least it's supposed to. To help us remember this each day I've come up with a little craft we work on. Our family has been writing on Thankful Strips for several years now. We start the day after Halloween and finish on Thanksgiving. Sounds like too much work, but it's really just a five minute discussion each night at the dinner table.

First of all I prepare the paper so that we only have to write on them each night. Just take construction paper, cut them into strips and presto- you have your Thankful Strips. We keep them in an empty Oatmeal container.
In the years past I'll cover the Oatmeal container with paper and let the kids decorate it. We haven't gotten that far yet this year.

Each night at dinner (maybe breakfast if time didn't allow for it) we'll ask the kids what they were thankful for that day. We be sure to record exactly what they say and the date. Try to get them to be specific. The older they are the more adjectives you should encourage them to use.

On Thanksgiving we pick a few completed Thankful strips and read them during the course of dinner. It helps us remember the blessings God has given us throughout the month.

The day after Thanksgiving we help the kids create a paper chain with all the strips and put the chain up in their room as the first Christmas decoration. That's why we use green and red paper. When we look at it throughout the month we remember all of God's goodness to our family. We now call it our Thankful Chain.

In years past when we only had one kid, or only one kid who talked, we mailed out strips to family and friends and asked them to complete some. Have them mail it back to you before Thanksgiving so you can add it to your special dinner!

Monday, November 7, 2011

1st Birthday Beach Party Part 2

We sat and made a list of all types of things we associate with the beach and tried to match food items to that. Here is what we came up with...
Swishy Fishies are Goldfish

Neptune's Garden is our veggie tray with dip.

Sand is vanilla pudding with crumbled graham crackers on top.

Jazzy Jellies are sweedish fish pushed into blue jello.

Here you can see our Fish Bowls. Just blue Jello again with Sweedish Fish pushed into slits we cut.
We also had SeaGull Wings which were chicken wings.

Here is our cupcake tower. The same 4 images were used on all the signs and these cupcake toppers.

And no 1st birthday would be complete without a smash cake for the birthday boy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

1st Birthday Beach Party Part 1

After spending a weekend at the beach as a family, Little Guy made it very clear to us that he loved spending time in the sand. When his first birthday rolled around we went with the sand thing and made a beach in the backyard.
We dumped many many bags of playground sand onto a large tarp. His birthday happens to be at the end of summer, so I got plenty of beach toys on the cheap to help the kids dig and fill and dump until their heart was content.

I thought about putting a kiddie pool up to simulate the ocean next to the sand, but was more afraid it would be mud next to the sand. I guess you could also do a sprinkler.

Instead of goodie bags we sent each kid home with a cute sand bucket and an assortment of toys inside it. We had these cute little tags we made on Adobe.

I'll show you the food from the party next time. It was so cute and I love how it all followed the beach theme.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making Words

The other day when my kindergartener stayed home from school we did a few fun things together that I thought I would share with you.

We used a few of the words she is using in her classroom to create bead sentences.

I wrote on a sticky note the sentence we talked about and she strung the beads on to make it. These are the Melissa and Doug Wooden Stringing Beads that we have. I love them because they have a lot of letters and plenty of shapes. I can get several kids using this at the same time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Fun 2011

Here's a list of the pumpkin activities we did to celebrate Halloween. Big Sister and Munchkin invited some of their friends over and we all managed to have a pumpkiny time. 
I tweeked an idea I found called the Mix and Match Pumpkin Game to fit our indoor small group. I printed out the templates they give you for the pumpkins (1 for each kid present) and the facial features to go with it. I placed all the eyes, noses and mouths in a bag, they came up one at a time and picked one out, placed it on any pumpkin. They loved the crazy way they all looked at the end.

Here's a fun magnet craft I picked up at the Joann store. We made our own little pumpkin patch! I can't find it online, but it was in a dollar bin there.

Here's our homemade orange play doh. We used paprika (mixed in with hot water) to make the basic dough an orange color. Next time I think I'll use this recipe, from Food.com to make it though. It uses KoolAid and even suggests putting some glitter in there.

These Jar O'Lanterns were so much fun. I found them on the Family Fun site, under Jar O'Lanterns. Basically, I saved up a few empty glass jars and cleaned them really well, inside and out. We used masking tape to give it a face and painted the entire thing with orange paint. After it dried we pulled off the tape and put a candle inside. Next year, I think I will save enough jars so we'll make enough to line the driveway for Trick or Treaters.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Spider

In our family we don't really do anything too scary for Halloween, but we do like our spiders, pumpkins and scarecrows. Here is our latest Halloween decoration, the Spider!

Thanks to these great directions on Family Fun, the girls and Daddy were able to construct this thing in about an hour.

Daddy thought it was hilarious that I wanted to use only one yellow easter egg, which creates two different sized eyes. We also omitted the green duct tape that the directions called for. When am I ever going to use green duct tape again?

Now when we drive around the neighborhood the girls can say that we have a spider unlike anyone else's.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our Favorite Kid Magazine

I wanted to share our favorite kid magazine. The High Five Magazine from Highlights is awesome for the younger crowd.

We received it as a gift for Christmas this past year and I'm going to be sure to renew our subscription.  The girls feel so grownup getting their own magazine.

I like the simple hidden pictures pages. They aren't so difficult to bamboozle my 3 year old but still enough fun for my 5 year old. Another great feature is their build it and make it articles.

The build it gives the kids ideas on what to use their blocks to build (like a post office, race track, or grocery store). The make it section gives a cute craft and a food item to make. Lots of fun and easy to do!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's been a long time...

Blogging got put on hold for a long time. Seems like life takes you by the hair, swings you around a few times and puts you down so you can catch your breath.

Life with baby number three has been marvelous! They say three is a charm and boy oh boy we have our charm. Little Guy is awesome and his big sisters have been amazing. Once Little Guy was born we started in strong with preschool for Big Sister.

Here we are a year later and Big Sister is in Kindergarten, Munchkin is getting ready for preschool next year and Little Guy is happily following us along!