Thursday, November 3, 2011

Afternoon Activities: Rainbow Rice

The weather is getting colder again and we are looking for more things to do inside.  I have started a new routine this last week or so.  I get E settled down for a bit of quiet time in her room (no more naps now, so sad!), then clean up the kitchen from lunch and set out an activity for her before I take an afternoon break for myself.  When E gets up from quiet time, she has something to occupy her for a bit and we can make the transition to playtime outdoors or in the playroom a little easier.

Last week one of our afternoon activities was our tub of rainbow rice.  I have posted about it before here.  It is so easy to make!  For this activity, I put a few metal scoops and some cardboard tubes of different lengths in with the rice, along with a bowl or two.  We had fun pouring the rice down the tubes and into the bowls, standing the tubes up in the rice and filling them up, and digging around with the scoops.  E wants to do this activity again, but next time she wants to build a slide for the rice with the tubes that will stand alone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Drawing Lessons

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the  things E wants to do this summer is learn to draw.  She has been drawing up a storm recently, and at the same time frustrated by it, because she can't get things to look the way she wants them to.

We finally got to the head-people-with-legs-coming-out-of-their-necks stage, although she does not claim them as people.  They are aliens.  Not. People.  To be fair, they do look more like aliens than people.  This one is wearing its bathing suit and swimming in a puddle.

Directly after that, she began drawing birds.  Big birds, little birds, all kinds of birds.  These ones have nests to sit in and a sky above them to fly in.

Here's a toucan.

And fish.  We went hiking last week around a lake and saw a dead fish.  When we came home E was adamant that she would draw a dead fish for her nature journal.  Since then, we've had all kinds of fish, often in the water with the aliens or large water-wading birds.

I picked up the book Drawing With Children by Mona Brooks from the library this week.  I'm wondering if it will be a good resource for a 3 1/2 year old.  I can see immediately it's use for older children, although there are quite a few drawings in the book done by 4 year olds.

Are there any drawing books you would reccommend for younger kids?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Make a Summer List

I've been absent from this space for far too long.  We've had a lot going on in "real life" and I'm finally finding my balance again.  The last few months have been only about getting through one day at a time, and I'm so glad to finally be in a place where I can start to plan again.  And since I am totally and completely a list making person, I give you the Summer List that E and I created this week!

My main goal for the summer is to get outside as much as possible.  All kids NEED to play outside, and E needs a bit of encouragement to get out there.  I'm working on it. 

In no particular order, our list includes:

Learn to sew
Learn to draw
Go to the carnival  we checked that one off the list already!  
Go on a hike every week
Keep a nature journal
Make a collage
Raise caterpillars
Make s'mores
Go camping with Grandma and Grandpa
Cook in the kitchen
Build a fairy garden
Make smoothies
Learn to read  this one is straight from the three-year-old's mouth . . . we'll see!
Go to the pool every week
Go to the farmer's market
Pick strawberries
Grow a garden  in progress!
Learn to write E's name
Learn to swing alone
Go fishing
Fly a kite
Plant sunflowers
Go to the zoo

I'm sure we'll find more to add to our list.  I put it up on our fridge so we can remember the things we want to do and learn this summer.  I'm thinking we need to make a list like this for each season!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Our picture book for the week has been Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.  E has LOVED this book and every time we pull it out to read, we have to go through it at least three times in a row!  Good thing it's a short book!


As part of our Winter Wonderland curriculum (through Wee Folk Art), we made snowball cookies to go with the story.  They are actually Russian Teacakes, but they really do look like snowballs!

The recipe:

1 c butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
3/4 c finely chopped nuts (we used pecans)
2 1/4 c flour (we used half white and half whole wheat)
1/4 t salt
extra powdered sugar for rolling

First, mix the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Then mix in the flours and salt, add the chopped nuts last.

Roll the dough into little balls.  Bake at 400* for 10-12 minutes.  They don't spread so just use one cookie sheet and squish them all on there.

Once baked, roll them in powdered sugar.

Let cool and roll again in powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it ~
Ginny from small things

I haven't actually started knitting on my sock yet this week, but I did pull it out of the bag of UFOs that I have lying around.  Hopefully, this will be a pair of socks for me!  I started them a year or so ago, got scared when the pattern talked about picking up stitches, and set them aside. 

I have since knitted several pairs of socks and overcome this fear!  Yay!  So I am ready to complete this poor pair that's been sitting neglected for so long.

The yarn is Crystal Palace "Maisy" - made from corn fiber and nylon.  I thought that was pretty fun, and I figured that would make a sock to wear in the spring when you don't really need heavy wool socks.  At the rate I am going with these, I'll finish them by next spring!

I'm working my way through Pillars of the Earth for a second time.  I love this book!  It's my book club's book for this month, so I thought I had better refresh my brain a little bit.  It is getting all muddled up between Pillars and World Without End (which, if you didn't know is set in the same town, but a century or so later!).  I'm also watching the miniseries on Netflix, it's not too bad!

Keeping Score

I have gotten a lot done recently in my goal to simplify my stuff.

I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets.

I cleaned out my pantry - I have a large walk-in pantry.  No walk in closets, but a walk in pantry.  I know where my priorities are!

This week I got rid of (well, it's boxed up and ready to go to Goodwill):

4 flower vases
11 baby "accessories" (bottles, bibs, etc.)
1 fish bowl
4 candle holders/boxes of candles
1 microwave splatter cover (we don't have a microwave anymore!)
1 pretty autumn centerpiece that my cats keep eating and puking all over the house
3 kitchen appliances
6 cans of food to donate to the food bank (things that we just don't eat and I'm not sure why I have them!)

Plus a big bag of trash from the pantry and the spice cabinet.  No more MSG boullion.  Not sure why I had 4 jars, I never use the stuff!

That brings my grand total so far to: 82 items.

Doesn't seem like a lot, but my cabinets are thanking me right now.  Really, they are! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading Challenge Week 1

Ok.  I got the pictures fixed on yesterday's school post, so if you want to see our Tomten critters set up, go take a look at it.  I'll wait here for you.  :)

Here's our reading challenge for this week!  I've decided to only "review" books that we really liked and read throughout the week.  If I wrote about every book we checked out from the library, I'd never finish!

The Tomten
1. The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren.  I LOVED this book.  I will say it was a bit wordy for my just-turned-three-year-old.  The story is about a little gnome-like creature called the Tomten, who visits all the animals on the farm in the nighttime.  It is winter and he reminds them that soon it will be spring, winter won't last forever.  If you take a look at yesterday's post you can see what we did with this book for our preschool time.  E really liked it when I got out the props.  I'm going to have to remember to do things like that more often.  It really helped her remember the order of the story!

Little Cloud (Picture Puffins)
2. Little Cloud by Eric Carle.  I'm sure many of you have read this book before, I'm not sure why we're just getting to it now!  Little Cloud changes into the shape of many things: a rabbit, a tree, an airplane.  I think I'll be keeping this book for another week and doing an art project or two with it.  I'm thinking shaving cream!  Messy and fun, yes, indeed.

Goldie and the Three Bears
3. Goldie and the Three Bears by Diane Stanley.  E is on a Goldilocks kick right now.  We read a really neat version last week, and I forgot to write it down.  I'll have to find it and share.  Anyhow.  Goldie is a little girl who knows exactly what she likes, and what she doesn't.  Sound like anyone you know??  Yup, me too.  Goldie has a hard time making friends, because they are all "too boring," "too snobby," or "too rough."  One day the school bus drops her off at the wrong house and she goes inside to call her mom.  It is the Three Bears' house, and you can guess what happens next . . . 

 The Sleepy Owl
4. The Sleepy Owl by Marcus Pfister.  We really enjoy all the books we've read by Marcus Pfister.  The Sleepy Owl was no exception.  Little Owl oversleeps and when she wakes up, all her friends are already flown away.  She flies to a house to find someone to play with and wakes up a little boy.  They try to figure out how to be friends when Little Owl is awake at night and the little boy is awake in the day.  It's a cute story and I love the watercolor illustrations.r

Thursday, January 13, 2011

School This Week: The Tomten

I mentioned previously that we are trying something a bit different with our school time now.  Instead of being really strict with our Montessori time, I am branching out a little bit.  I looked through the Winter Wonderland curriculum over at Wee Folk Art, and I really like what I saw!  Wee Folk Art has a 12 week seasonal curriculum that is based in literature.  So we are trying bits and pieces of that along with our Montessori time, and so far it seems to be working well.

This week's picture book is The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren.  This was a new book to me and I loved it.  We read the book several times on Monday, and talked about the seasons and how the Tomten made tracks in the snow.  This would be great to do a couple of activities from Montessori for Everyone; I'm thinking the four seasons matching or the animal tracks activity.  Since I am planning on repeating this curriculum next year in the winter as well, I think I'll plan on using those then. 

On Wednesday, when we read through the story again, I pulled out some props and we acted out the story as I read.  I had made a set of rainbow gnomes for E for Christmas, so the red gnome was drafted to play the Tomten, and some of our Little People farm animals got in on the fun as well.  The purple parrot is pretending to be a chicken.  The white playsilk was for the snow, and the Tomten walked through the "snow" to check in on each animal.

After our story, we went upstairs to do some Montessori work.  I had a mat rolled out for E already with the pink tower cubes set up.  At first she did not want to work on that, but I told her she needed to do the pink tower first, and then she could choose a different thing to work on.  She built the tower correctly by herself and then I showed her how the smallest cube could "walk" along the edge of each bigger cube.  E thought that was pretty cool!

When she was finished with the pink tower, she did some good work with the brown stair and red rods before deciding it was time to go downstairs and do some music time.

I'm trying to incorporate some music into our school time each week.  You'd think that would be easy for me, after being an elementary music teacher, but somehow it's always the thing I forget about.  I'm going to save our music time for another post.  I'd like to get some good photos first, so you can see what we did with it.

We did several art projects for our first week of Winter Wonderland.  The curriculum suggests watercolor painting with salt, and I think we'll be doing that tomorrow.  We had a friend over for art and craft time and made the glittery window clings from Family Fun.  Ours did not turn out as expected, they're still beautiful, but I'm going to have to cut them out of the waxed paper and hang them with string. 

The other project we did was something I saw on Art Projects for Kids.  I drew snowflakes with white crayon on white paper and wrote E's name.  Then I cut the paper into quarters and had her paint each piece a different color with watercolors.  This turned out beautifully, and E was so excited to see her name revealed in the white crayon as she painted! (The picture is from Art Projects for Kids, so you could see what it looks like.  I didn't want to post ours since it has E's name all over the front of it)

I'm linking up to Montessori Monday and Preschool Corner.  Please take time to visit some of the other blogs linked up!  :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yarn Along

Linking up with Genny again for the Yarn Along over at small things.

No WIP pictures this time, but an "action shot!"  I got 3 mittens done this week - 3 because the first one was way too big, so I had to go down a size.  I'll finish a fourth in the larger size, and then she'll have some to grow into!

Now I need to figure out which knitting project to start next.  I'm thinking it needs to be something for me, but it will probably end up being something for E again.

What have I been reading?  Ummmm . . . aside from numerous children's picture books?  Not much.  I will have a post up on Friday about our books for this week, as part of the reading challenge.  Maybe by next week I will have gotten my act together and actually start a new book!  I even have a couple on my bookshelf calling my name, I just haven't had time to pull them out and say "hello!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easing Back into Things

I thought we were going to start school last week.  Hmmmm.  I have noticed that I tend to procrastinate more as I have gotten older.  I didn't get half of the things done that I wanted to over the weekend, and since it was E's birthday week, and we were still recouperating from illnesses, I decided to just wait until this week to start up again.

We did, however, do some activities for Epiphany!  I saw this neat and EASY art project, and thought we would do something similar.  I don't have step by step pictures, but here's what we did:

I only have large white paper, so I had E color the whole page with different blue, gray, and black crayons.  Since I wanted to do this project, too, I chose to paint my page with blue and black paint.  I had E use crayons so she could move directly to the next step without waiting for paint to dry.

I made a star stamp (like our fish stamp) and let her stamp all over the paper with white and yellow paint.  Then we let our paintings dry for a day and I put them under some weights to flatten out a bit.

The next day, I had cut triangles, circles and a star for each of us.  We glued our triangles onto the paper, and topped them with a circle.  Then it was time to decorate with glue, glitter, and sequins!  After decorating was done, we added our star for the wise men to follow.

I put my picture behind our nativity set,

E's went up on our new art display I created on the back of my kitchen cabinets.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Read to Me Challenge

I have a post about our Epiphany activities up my sleeve, but first a quick post about a neat challenge that we will be participating in this year!

We are excited to participate in the Read to Me Challenge over at There's a Book!  The challenge is to read picture books with your little one during the course of the year, and review them and share with others so we can find lots of neat books to read!

We are shooting for the "Harvesting" level: 200 picture books over the course of 2011.  Seeing as how we checked out 20 new books from the library this week alone, we should be able to complete that. 

Check it out and join up!  It should be loads of fun!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yarn Along

I'm joining up again with Ginny at small things

Working on a small project to keep my hands busy when I am watching the little one play.  The begining of a pair of mittens for her, she desperately needs new ones!  And now that we finally have a little snow, it will be nice to have some warm wool mittens to keep those little fingers warm.  They will match the hat I knitted for her last year - it still fits and should for quite a while with the rate E grows!

Not really reading anything right now.  Between Christmas and birthday I've been at my sewing machine constantly.  I do a lot of knitted gifts, but sewn ones are much faster, and when you have a little girl who insists upon wearing skirts and dresses every day, you have to be able to whip up a few quickly.  I am, however, perusing several books: Basic Montessori by David Gettman, to refresh my braing as we get back into the swing of things, The Essential Montessori by Elizabeth Hainstock, and Mothering Like the Father by Dianne Daniels.  Mrs. Daniels came and spoke to my MOPS group not too long ago, I found her speaking to be pretty inspiring.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Special Day

Happy Birthday to my little munchkin!!  I can't believe she's three already!  Where does the time go?!

We celebrated her birthday yesterday because I have to work tonight.  She requested a brownie birthday cake (she's never had a brownie before so I'm not sure where she got that from), so that's what we made.  It made me laugh a little because she insisted on making it herself.  Well, helping, at least.  If someone asked me to make my own birthday cake, I would have laughed at them and told them to get busy or go to King Soopers!  E did a great job making the brownies, she poured the water and oil all by herself without spilling, helped me crack the egg, and helped me count as we mixed everything together.  And they tasted really good, too!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hello, 2011!

I'm ready to get back into the swing of things, I think.  Someone in our house turns 3 !!!! on Tuesday, and life can settle down back to normal after that.

I've been thinking of a few goals for the new year.  Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  I prefer to just think of it as long term goals for the year.  Things that I know it's going to take me more than a day or a week to accomplish.  I see a few bloggers writing about a word for the year, I like that idea.  I think I even used it last year, but I don't remember what my word was.  Things can change so much over a year!  Right now, the word that comes to my mind is simplify.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by stuff, responsibilities, activities, commitments.  I am hoping this year to simplify my life in general.

1. Simplify stuff!  I want to get rid of 2011 things in 2011.  I'll probably keep track of that here on the blog.  I don't think I'll track the things I throw away, only the things I donate, gift, or sell.

2. Simplify schedule.  Make sure we do preschool (Montessori time or otherwise) 2-3 times per week.  We started off great this school year, but have really started to slack!

3. Simplify health.  Eat breakfast and lunch every day!  I am horribly bad about snacking and never eating a real meal until dinner time.  And I wonder why I have no energy some days . . .

4. Simplify hobbies.  I joined a destash-along on, I am really going to try to do my sewing and knitting from what I already have on hand.  I also joined a craftalong doing 50 projects in 2011 - I'm hoping this will help me to actually finish the projects that I start.  Unless they're a gift for someone, a lot of the time they don't get any further than planning and purchasing materials!  Hence the large fabric and yarn stash.

5. Simplify money.  This is the year we need to plan a budget for food/household expenses.  Hubby got a new job (yay!!!) but my hours keep getting cut at work when I need them the most.  So either it's budget and stick to it, or work more days out of the week.  Budget it is! 

I started cleaning out the house with my kitchen.  Today I boxed up 51 items for goodwill, mostly excess coffee mugs and sippy cups.  And I haven't even touched my pantry yet!  :)