Friday, August 31, 2012

Sticker Art

Currently, one of my most favourite things about the kids being the ages that they are is that they are the same age as the kids that I teach.  I love that I can "experiment" and "try things out" at home before I take them to the kids at school.  And usually, they are a hit!  Before our vacation a couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to the Dollar Store to get a few things and I saw these Garage Sale stickers and remembered an activity that I had pinned!  So I grabbed the stickers and on our way home from vacation we pulled out the stickers and some plain, white paper.  She created some pretty neat (imaginary) pictures - mostly of amusement park rides that were really scary (for her and daddy) and not so scary (for mommy and brother).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ring Toss

We do have a ring toss game (which I took along JUST in case) but I saw this idea on Pinterest and I wanted to see if it worked.
I have to say this was a great camping activity because it kept them busy and not loud in the morning while the rest of the world was sleeping.  All it took was some paper plates, masking tape, scissors, crayons and a paper towel roll.  First we sat down at our "table" and drew/coloured on all of the paper plates that mommy had already cut a hole in.  It wasn't the largest hole, as you can see from the picture. 

Next, mommy and the little helpers taped the empty paper towel roll onto a non-cut plate. 

And finally, they tossed the rings and had a great time playing!  Even the grandparents got in on the action!  It was a great family activity!  Note to self - even though the kids had a great time just tossing the plates, next time I would cut out the WHOLE bottom of the plate and only leave the raised edge.  We weren't getting many of the rings onto the roll.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Water Balloon Fun

Are there a couple of hot days in your forecase?  There have been lots around here and we have been taking advantage of them because for us - summer holidays are almost over!  Back to work.  Back to school.  Back to daycare.  Summer is coming to an end.  So we bought some water balloons!  There were a couple of things that I wanted to see if my daughter could do with the water balloons.  The first thing: Could she drop and try to catch the water balloon before it hit the ground (nope! but we had fun trying) and Could she throw or roll the water balloons to hit a target (using both one hand and both hands).  Yep, she could do that, sometimes.  We laughed and we had lots of fun!  Oh, and PLEASE clean up the mess no matter where you are.  Don't litter!

Sorry there are no pictures.  My camera stopped working.  I tell you, every electronic in this house that I touch, breaks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Soccer and T-Ball

Take some time today and play some common sports with your children!  Get outside, get some exercise and have fun!  We "learned" how to play soccer and T-Ball when we went camping with the grandparents last week and it was a lot of fun!  We also like to play Basketball, but I wasn't moving that net to the campground . . .

Did you know that 68% of our kids over the age of 12 watch 2 hours or more of television every day.  Every day.  OK, now get off the computer and take those kids outside to play!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Listening Walk

Wake up.  Shower.  Get the kids ready for school/daycare.  Run out the door.  Drive to work.  Worry about meetings.  Sit through said meetings.  Drive though rush hour.  Get stuck in rush hour.  Pick up kids.  Make supper.  Clean house.  Get kids ready for bed.  Bedtime.  Story.  Story.  Story.  Maybe one more story.  Collapse on couch.  We are busy.  Every day.  Every. Single. Day.
That is why it is more important now than ever before to stop, calm down and listen.  Take in your surroundings and enjoy each and every minute.  And yes, this needs to be taught.  We need to teach our children to slow down and enjoy what is around them.  This was the first of three activities related to listening to our surroundings.  Because summer is almost over, I wanted to start with the outdoor part first.
First, I made a checklist of some different noises that the children would have to stop, be quiet and listen for.  You can download and print my checklist here.  This website (where I originally got the idea) has a printable checklist as well.  Or you can make your own!  It's really easy!  I took the kids camping with my parents a week ago and this was one activity that I took with us so that we could maybe go for a walk through the campground and the kids would be kept busy and take in their surroundings at the same time!  What a great success and I can't wait for the next activity in this series!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hula Hoops and Jump Ropes

Hula Hoops, jump ropes and hopscotch.  Three of my daughters most favourite things to do in the backyard in the summer, spring and fall.  Just getting active is something that I want to promote to both of my kids, because it is so important today in our society where obesity is a HUGE concern among children.  And we as the parents need to be aware and help put a stop to this growing epedmic.  This was an item on our Summer Bucket List.  Teach my daughter how to hula hoop and jump rope.  I have taught her, but she is still learning.  I got the small hula hoop from the Dollar Store, which was great because she is WAY too small for those big hoops!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Take a look at the forecast.  Is it going to be hot for the next couple of days?  Then get the kids together and make popsicles!  Quick, easy, cheap and fun to make . . . and especially fun to eat.

I personally just made the Kool-Aid as directed on the package.  There are recipes out there that include JELLO in the recipe as well.  I didn't have any on hand but I do want to get some so that I can try it, because I'm not sure what the difference would be!
1 sm. pkg. Jello, any flavor
1 envelope unsweetened Kool-Aid, same flavor
1 c. sugar
2 c. boiling water
2 c. cold water

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Zucchini Muffins

This is our favourite muffin recipe!  It's healthy and easy and I often make them with the kids on the weekends and then we get to have muffins for breakfast and snack for the rest of the week.  They are a huge hit around here!

2 cups flour
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cups shredded zucchini
1 large apple, peeled and cored (sometimes I use pineapple)
3/4 cups honey
3/4 cups raisins OR chocolate chips (or a little of both . . .)
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup apple sauce or any flavour of fruit sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the muffin tins.  This is important because there is no oil in the recipe, they are more likely to stick, ESPECIALLY if you use paper liners.  That's why I prefer none at all.  Mix all ingredients except eggs and apple sauce in a large bowl. Whisk eggs and applesauce in another large bowl to blend. Stir flour mixture into eggs. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Travel BINGO

We took a vacation a couple of weeks ago and had to be in the car for 10 hours (5 each way) and that's a LONG time for a four year old.  However, now that she is a little bit older, she is understanding more how to play games like BINGO and I Spy, so I wanted to take advantage of that.  I found some great ideas on Pinterest (teaching with tlc, a pretty life in the suburbs, brandys crafts, lady bird ln, but I wanted to make some BINGO cards that would be my very own.  I used all of the ideas from these links and made some fun games that my girl LOVED!

The first thing that I did was head to the Dollar Store and I bought a cookie sheet and a couple packs of magnets for each of the kids.  I love the magnet idea because then pieces don't get lost.  Next, I created BINGO cards.  I made quite a few, and you can download and print them for your next trip as well!  If you want to make your own cards, just head to Google Images and type in "___ clipart".  You'll find lots of images to use.  I made . . .
Car Colour BINGO
1-10 I Spy
Number BINGO
Alphabet BINGO
Travel BINGO
Transportation BINGO
When she saw something or finished counting in the I Spy game, she used a magnet as the BINGO piece and when she finished the whole card we had a "mini party" in the car!  Sometimes we stopped and stretched our legs, if we were close to a gas station we got out and got some 5 cent candies or we just put on some awesome music and danced crazy!  She was always excited to see what kind of "prize" she would win!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Learning at the Park

Going to the park in the summer is something that all families do at LEAST once or twice.  Parks are everywhere.  It's a great way to meet up with friends, meet new people and let the kids waste some energy (after some crazy ice cream sundaes perhaps . . .)  But what do the kids LEARN at the park?  Well, let me tell you . . .

  • How to play with other children in small groups or pairs
  • How to exclude/include children that they don't/do want to play with.  This sounds harsh, but if someone is being mean, not sharing, children WILL exclude them from play and to learn how to do it NICELY or CHANGE the situation is an important life skill.
  • How to protect younger siblings/children
  • Respecting the property of others
  • Jumping from heights
  • Climbing fences
  • Muscular endurance when mastering the monkey bars

Friday, August 17, 2012

Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae

What else is there better to do than to make your own ice cream sundae in the summer?  Well, eat it of course!  Simple activity that kept them busy for about half and hour (and yes, I timed it so that we started half an hour before daddy got home so he would be there when the sugar kicked in . . .).  Very simple.  We used some leftover ice cream cake from Dairy Queen as the base and then added in our candy, "dirt and worms" and caramel sauce!  Delicious!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ice Cube Painting

What a great idea this is!  We have had plenty of hot days this summer and the kids LOVE painting and all other kinds of art, so this was something that I had to try.  I enjoyed this so much and it was SO easy that I will probably do it with my preschoolers at work next June when the weather gets nice!
The first thing we did (24 hours before we painted) was put water in the ice cube trays and then we added food colouring.  My son told me the names of all the colours and my daughter "taught" me how to make purple, orange and green by mixing colours.  I used one of our chopsticks to stir the food colouring in each of the cubes.  Then we put the coloured water in the freezer.

The next day, it was HOT out.  We went outside and sat on the ground with our "paint shirts" on (plus sunscreen - and lots of it!).  I have watercolour paper at work, so that was what we used.  Regular paper will probably not work, but try it!  The original post used white fabric, which would have made a really cool keepsake!  The ice cubes melted REALLY fast but the kids made some beautiful artwork!  Definately a hit and I can't wait to do it again with my preschoolers AND with my own kids again next summer!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

I found this recipe on Pinterest, but I didn't have the croutons so I decided to try something a LITTLE bit different.  It's still Chicken Parmesan, but a STUFFED chicken parmesan.

1/3 cup of Broccoli Puree
3 tbsp Jalepeno Philly Dip
1/3 cup of Tomato Basil Spaghetti Sauce
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 COOKED chicken breasts

Here's the How-To
Set the oven to 300F and grease a 9x13 pan

1. Mix the philly dip and the broccoli puree together in a bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Once mixed, slice the chicken breasts apart and spread the dip/puree on each side of the chicken breast and then put it back together.  Kind of like you are buttering a sandwich.
2. Put a small layer of the spaghetti sauce into the pan.  Then place the chicken breasts on top.  Use the rest of the spaghetti sauce to cover the breasts.  Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese.
3. Cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Pull out of the oven, add the parmesan cheese and place BACK in the oven for another 10 minutes.  I kept the tinfoil on for the second part, too.

The chicken was a little dry and next time I would probably use NOT cooked chicken, but it was all we had.  I didn't want to put that recipe on because the cooking times would be VERY different between raw and cooked chicken.  So if you want to try starting with raw chicken, feel free, just be aware of when the chicken is done.  And when you do it, let me know what times and temperature you used!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nature Preserves

Learning about and respecting nature is something that is very important to our family.  We took a trip as a family to a local nature perserve a couple of weeks ago.  With us, we took magnifying glasses and bug catchers to see what we could find in the long grass and "forests".  The kids had a great time following daddy along the grassy paths.  We used our magnifying glasses (bought from the Dollar Store) to look at the flowers beside the path, being sure not to touch or pick any of them.  We saw really neat things INSIDE the flowers.  It was a great learning experience for both of them.  Once we finished our hike we sat down and ate a picnic lunch together which was the best part of all!

Don't think that there are not nature preserves close to you.  Ask around.  Check the internet.  I'm not talking about National Parks, these are just areas of land that are meant for the public to hike, ski, walk and enjoy nature.  I didn't even know about this area and I have lived in the city for 11 years - in the area for 28!  So do your research - I bet you will find something close by!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Roller Skating

Last year at a garage sale I picked up some Roller Skates for my girl and thought we would try it out this week!  She balanced very well, but always needed to hold my hand to move herself forwards.  She loved it and can't wait to do it again.  She even wants to try ice skating again this winter, so we will see how that goes!

Always be sure to wear protective gear when biking, roller skating, ice skating or roller blading.
  • Helmet
  • Knee Pads
  • Elbow Pads

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spray Parks and Paddling Pools

The kids and I took a trip with friends a couple of weeks ago to a city about 3 hours away from us.  We had lots of things planned for the kids to do, but one of the things on our "to do list" was to visit a spray park - to knock yet another item off of our Summer Bucket List.  We have visited the spray park at the park beside us many times this summer, but it's always fun to explore new ones!  And to our wonderful surprise, not only did this city have spray parks, they also had PADDLING POOLS!  Yes, this is a wonderful surprise because we have none, zero, nada, zip in our own city.  The kids had a blast and we knocked something off our list that wasn't even on it!

Taking a trip to the Spray Park or Paddling Pool?  Make sure you pack a park bag and put the following items in it!
  • Water Bottles
  • Hats
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Tylenol
  • Sunglasses
  • Comb

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bulk Bubble Dispenser

What a great idea!  Instead of having the kids spill the whole containter of bubbles while they are playing so that I have to go out and buy brand new bubbles, I can make my own and if they spill it, they can refill it!  I can't say that I made the bubble solution in the container, though.  We actually used this at my preschool and another teacher made the solution and at the end of the June, I just took it home with me.  I got two cups - one for each kid - and a bubble wand and let them have fun.  My son is still learning how to blow bubbles.  He blows so hard that sometimes he actually falls over.  It's quite funny actually.  My daughter, well, she had a blast popping all of the bubbles that she blew.  They were both able to refill their cups when needed (not because of too much bubble blowing but because of spills) and they had so much fun being independent!  Be warned - my son decided that the cement needed a good dose of bubble solution and just watched it pour out while his cup lay abandoned on the grass . . .

  • Here are a couple of bubble recipes to get you started!
1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy)
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of sugar

12 cups water
i cup dishsoap
1 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp baking powder

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

Original Recipe: Kraft
red peppers, cut into small pieces
2 ears of corn on the cob (kernels need to be cut off the cob)   
1 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
1 170g bag of snap peas
3/4 cup of Italian Dressing     
3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Heat the stove to medium heat.

Mix the corn, snap peas, peppers and zucchini with 1/4 cup dressing; place in the pan and saute for 10 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender, turning occasionally. Cool.     

Cook pasta as directed on package, drain.  Place in large serving bowl.
Add the vegetable mix to the cooked pasta as well as the remaining dressing, onions and cheese.  Mix carefully.

This salad I believe was meant to be served cold - but the kids were hungry so we ate it warm - not hot - and it was really good!  The next day I ate some leftovers straight from the fridge and it was also good, but I actually prefered the warm way.  Your choice! 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Circle Jumping

When you look at any developmental checklist, "Able to follow __ step directions" is on every single one of them.  My daughter can do this (when she wants) and so can my son, but it's always fun to turn listening into a game.  First I moved all of the furniture off of the patio and I chose different coloured chalk to draw many different circles all over the cement.  We started out with just single instructions.  "Jump to a BLUE circle".  Even my son could do this, and he loved it.  Once we lost his attention, we moved on to harder instructions . . . a sequence of colours!  "Pink, Orange, Blue, Green"  At first, she had a hard time.  But reminding her that she needs to look at who is talking and repeat it in her head, she was able to follow the sequence no problem.  Here is the original link.

  • By the age of two, children should be following two step diretions
  • By the age of four, that should have moved up to three step directions
  • If your child is learning their numbers or letters, you can add those to the circles as well
  • Make sure you keep it fun! 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Summer Bucket List - Halway Point

Way back in June I came up with the Summer Jar that held our Summer Bucket List!  There were a LOT of things on that list!  How many have we done?  Check it out!  It's halfway through the summer and I think we've done pretty good.  Note - If the item is highlighted in blue, that means that we HAVE done the item but I just have not (due to technical difficulties) got the full length feature on the blog yet.

  • Play with sidewalk chalk
  • Homemade sprinkler (Pinterest)
  • Ice Cube Treasures (Pinterest)
  • Night walk with flashlights
  • Farmers Market Trip
  • Make and Eat Ice Cream Sundaes
  • Sidewalk Painting (Pinterest)
  • Feed the ducks
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Have a picnic
  • Blow Bubbles
  • Make a pet rock
  • Make Your own watering can (Pinterest)
  • Jump rope for 20 minutes
  • Play Frisbee
  • Make and eat a popsicle
  • Ice Cube watercolour (Pinterest)
  • Plant something in a lemon (Pinterest)
  • Bike Painting (Pinterest)
  • Go to the park
  • Go to a spraypark
  • Go on a park scavenger hunt (Pinterest)
  • Play hopscotch
  • Lay on the grass and look at the clouds
  • Take a trip to a Nature Preserve
  • Fly a Kite
  • Visit the Bird Sanctuary
  • Water Balloon fight
  • Learn how to play soccer/baseball/basketball
  • Learn how to rollerskate