Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4th of July Flip Flop Wreath

When I saw these flip-flops for $1 a pair at Target, I knew they would work perfectly for a 4th of July wreath (thanks for the initial idea, Ruth)! This project is a little challenging for preschoolers (it needs a lot of adult help and supervision), but there are many ways to include them!

You need:
4 pairs of flip flops
Craft knife
Curling ribbon

1)  Line up the shoes and see if your child can make a pattern with them.  Place a large piece of cardboard on the floor.  Place the shoes in the shape of a circle with the curved, inner part of the flip-flop facing center and the toes overlapping the heels.  Trace lightly around the inner and outer parts of the shoes.  Cut (use a craft knife if available) about 1-1.5 inches inside of each line (you don't want to see the cardboard!).

2)  After the cardboard guide is finished, rearrange the flip flops and glue.  You will glue them to the cardboard and to each other.  We used a combination of tacky glue and hot glue.  I had the girls hold the heels down for several minutes until the hot glue set.

3)  Tie curling ribbon to the plastic top of one shoe (I already had red and white from Christmas, so I decided to splurge on some blue!).  Curl the ribbon.  Allow the glue to dry, then hang your creation.

I think this could be a fun idea for a flip flop-themed birthday party, too!

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SYS Thurs


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- 4th of July Juice Pops

These juice pops make an icy treat for a hot summer day!  Be prepared -- they take several hours to make, because each layer has to be well frozen before you add another. 

You need:
Muffin Tin
3 types of juices or drink mix (red, white, and blue)
Popsicle/Craft sticks

1)  Pour 1/8 cup of juice into the muffin tins.  We started with blue (I couldn't find blue juice, so we went with Berry Blue Kool-Aid with a few blueberries thrown in).

2)  Prepare a spot in the freezer for the popsicles.  Cover the muffin tin with foil.  Using a knife (parent's job!!), put a tiny slit where the popsicle stick will go.

3)  Push the popsicle stick through the foil.  Make sure to push them straight down (we found out the hard way and our sticks kept falling over).  Freeze for several hours.

4)  Prepare the other juices and have them chilled for best results.  Remove the foil and put the white juice in next (we used white grape juice).  Freeze.  Top off the muffin tins with the red juice (cranberry-apple for us).  Freeze.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

July 4th Plastic Bag Windsock

As long as you aren't squeamish about permanent markers, this is a fun and easy windsock to make!

You need:
Plastic Bag (quart-sized)
Permanent markers (blue and red)
Star stickers
Hole punch
Yarn or string

1)  Draw several lines (about 2/3 up from the bottom) on the plastic bag with a red marker to give your child a guide for cutting.  These will be the flag "stripes".  Color the area from the top to the start of the stripes blue.

2)  Examine a flag, and then talk about a red and white pattern with your child.  If it is easier for your child, tape up every other stripe.  Color the untaped stripes red.  Cut the bottom edge of each stripe (to open it up so they can flutter in the wind).

3)  Put star stickers on the blue part of the "flag". 

4)  Hole-punch an opening in the top center.  Attach to a pole or post outside with yarn or string.

If you live in Kansas, there will be no trouble getting the windsock to twirl in the wind!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Scoop - Dice Jar

We have just a few preschool games that have dice.  And they drive me crazy!  The girls are always dropping them on the ground when we're playing, losing them, or not really rolling them.  This is a super way to contain the dice!

Put the dice into a clear, plastic container (we used an empty peanut butter jar).  Shake!

This would work with elementary-aged kids, too!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Shadow Snack -- Homemade Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I had been thinking and looking all week for a "shadow snack", but I just kept coming up empty-handed.  I finally just decided to go with an ice cream sandwich recipe I ran across while at the dentist this week!  I decided it was black and white and could go with a shadow theme (that may be a stretch, I know!).  Anyway, I really didn't follow the recipe too closely, and I cut down the number of servings.  I don't need something so delicious tempting me!  Here's our final product!

You need:
1 family-size box brownie mix
Vanilla ice cream
2 8x8 pans

1)  Line one of the pans with wax paper or foil.  Leave an inch or so on two of the sides, so you'll be able to pull the ice cream out of the pan when it is set.  Allow ice cream to soften for 10 minutes and scoop a 1/2 - 3/4 inch layer into the pan (on top of the wax paper).  Freeze for at least three hours.

2)  I only have two 8x8 pans, so I had to wait for the ice cream to set.  Then, I pulled it out of the pan and put it back in the freezer.  Next, make the brownie mix according to package directions.  Line the pans with foil.  Put half the batter in each pan.  Bake (I just followed the baking directions for the 9x13 inch pan, and it worked well).

3)  Allow the brownies to cool completely.  Pull the brownies out of one pan and turn out onto a flat serving tray or other pan.  Lay the ice cream on top of the brownies.  Remove the wax paper.  Top with the other pan of brownies.  Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

They were so delicious!!  Thankfully, my husband ate most of it (well, sort of thankfully.  I really would've liked another piece!).

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Masterpiece Monday: The Photography of Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams: 400 PhotographsI seem to have my days all mixed up this week!  I know it isn't Monday, but I had an idea for Masterpiece Monday (on Thursday)!  I love the photography of Ansel Adams (if you aren't familiar with his work, you can check out his biography and photographs here.  Your library probably has several photobooks as well).  I wanted to introduce my girls to his work, and I thought our shadow theme would be a perfect time to look through his photographs and focus on the light and shadows in his work.  I set out the book and allowed the girls to look through it themselves.  Later, we went back together and talked about the light source, directionality, and shadows.

(Photos taken by the girls)

1)  Indoors, we set up a few homemade towers, etc. and explored the shadows cast by a lamp at various angles and locations.

2)  I reviewed some photography basics with the girls (see article links below).  Then, I had the girls (carefully) take photographs with my point and shoot digital camera to capture their "artwork".

(More photos taken by the girls)
3)  We went outside, looked for shadows, and composed photographs around the shadows we found.

PBS has a good article about introducing your child to photography here.

Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School has an article entitled 13 Lessons to Teach Your Child About Digital Photography.  It is aimed at school-aged children, but there are some good ideas even for your little ones.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shadow Theater Guessing Game

When the sun isn't bright outdoors, you can still explore shadows inside with a make-shift shadow theater.  I'm sure you did this when you were a kid, right?!!

You need:
Two chairs
White sheet
Household objects

1)  Set two chairs a few feet apart.  Drape with a white sheet.  Set up a lamp behind the sheet.

2)  Let the children explore shadows using their hands, arms, and legs.

3)  Play a shadow guessing game.  I had each girl pick a few items from her room, sit on the chair, and hold an item in front of the lamp.  The rest of us sat on the other side and guessed what she was holding up! 

I left it set up for a little while so they could experiment!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shadow Stomp

Sometimes shadows are quite frightening for little ones. Using a simple story like Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch can help tame this fear. Another story with a good introduction to shadows followed by a photo guessing game is Guess Whose Shadow by Stephen Swinburne.

Moonbear's Shadow

Guess Whose Shadow?

I have also found it helpful to take my fearful child outside on a sunny day and go on a shadow hunt.  Another non-threatening way to explore shadows is to play Shadow Stomp.

To play Shadow Stomp, you need:
Shadows  :)

1)  Run around and try to "stomp" on each other's shadow!  A variation would be to stomp on an object's shadow (trees, bikes, flowers, etc.)

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Scotch Thermal Laminator Deal on Amazon

I love my laminator.  I know it is silly, but I just do!  There is a great deal at Amazon for the exact laminator I recently bought.  Buy the Scotch Thermal Laminator and the 50 pack of laminating pouches, send in the mail-in rebate and receive $20.00 back.  You'll end up with the laminator and pouches for just $21.49!!  I hope you don't mind me sharing this with you -- I think it is a great deal!

Scotch(TM) TL901 Thermal Laminator 15.5 in x 6.75 in x 3.75 in 2 roller system
Scotch(TM) Thermal Laminating Pouches, 9 Inches x 11.4 Inches (TP3854-50)


Monday, June 21, 2010

Shadow Guessing Game (or Basic Table Setting Placemat)

With our focus on the sun last week, I thought we'd look at shadows this week.  This is an easy shadow guessing game to make. 

You need:
Construction paper
Household objects (like a key, fork, spoon, pencil, tape dispenser, etc.)

1)  Take the construction paper outside on a sunny day.  Place the objects on the paper and leave them for a few hours.

2)  Take off the objects, give them to your child, and see if they can match the shadow with the object!

Another idea is to make a placemat.  I have been teaching the girls how to set the table.  I thought this would make a great placemat to show them a basic plate setting.  I'm going to laminate mine for durability!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Scoop - Spaghetti Letters

When you're making a pot of spaghetti for dinner, pull out some of the plain noodles and let your kids practice letter and number formation or make an artistic creation.  After they are finished, they can eat the noodles or let them dry and harden!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Preschool Sun Dial

I thought I had come up with an original sundial idea, but I ran across several of these when I was looking for information about sundials!  Oh, well!  Here is an easy way to make a temporary sundial!

You will need:
Empty flower pot
Pen, marker, or dowel rod

1)  Go outside to a sunny location on a porch, driveway, or sidewalk.  Place the flower pot upside down on the concrete.  Place a pen or marker (or dowel rod) in the hole on the bottom.

2)  Trace the pot with a piece of sidewalk chalk.  Mark the pen's shadow from the sun on the concrete (you could also mark on the bottom of the pot). 

3)  Try to check it every hour and mark the shadow.  We set a timer to go off hourly.

Go to the North American Sundial Society webpage to find out more about sundials!  Crayola also has a fun human sundial project.