Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Name Cookies

This is a fun activity to celebrate your child and draw attention to his name!

You need:
Sugar cookie dough (check out my favorite recipe here)
Rolling pin
Alphabet cookie cutters
Cookie sheet
Sprinkles or other decorations

1)  Roll out the cookie dough.

2)  Cut the letters of your names from the dough.  Bake according to the recipe/package directions.  Cool.

3)  Frost the cookies.  Decorate!!


Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter SetMy aunt gave us a container of 101 Cookie Cutters one year, and I wondered what in the world I was going to do with them!  We've loved having them though and have used them for so many different things (from Play-Doh to tracing them to cutting out biscuits and cookies).  Our set has numbers, letters, and seasonal cookie cutters. 

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Tasty Tuesday: Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

These are my absolute favorite sugar cookies!  They are nice and moist -- not crunchy like most sugar cookies.

You need:
1 cup shortening, butter, or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream (for a dairy-free version, substitute soy yogurt)
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt

1)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar.

2)  In another bowl, beat the eggs.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Stir.

3.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.

4)  Alternately add dry mixture to sugar mixture and wet mixture to sugar mixture.  Stir.  Repeat.  Place dough in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

5)  On a floured surface, roll out the mixture about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut shapes with cookie cutters.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and cook for approximately eight minutes (until bottoms are just barely browned).  Allow to cool for several minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack. 

These are delicious with cream cheese frosting!!  Check out the Name Cookies we made!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Masterpiece Monday: Self-Portraits by Frida Kahlo

"I paint self-portraits, because I am the person I know best."  - Frida Kahlo

With our focus on "All About Me" this week, I wanted Masterpiece Monday to highlight the work of Frida Kahlo.  Frida Kahlo painted over 55 self-portraits during her career.  A well-known artist from Mexico, Frida's life was filled with pain and her paintings often reflect that tribulation.  As a young child, she suffered a bout with polio.  Later at the age of 18, she was in a terrible bus accident.  She began to paint during the year she spent recovering fom her accident.  Sadly, Frida had over 30 surgeries during her life but lived with chronic pain until she died at the age of 47.  You can read a more complete biography at http://www.fridakahlo.com/.

If you are unfamiliar with the paintings of Frida Kahlo, this video includes many of her self-portraits.  As we watched, I pointed out the backgrounds of the portraits.  I also discussed Frida's life with the girls.  I didn't have access to any books I felt were appropriate for preschoolers, so I just shared with them some things I learned about her (you can find some children's book about her life here).

If you are viewing this via email subscription, view the video here.

After viewing Frida's paintings, let your child try this unique self-portrait!

You need:
1.  Stand your child in front of a mirror or place a mirror in front of them.  Have your child paint herself on the mirror.

2.  If your child paints quickly, you can carefully place a piece of paper on the mirror and press down.  Peel the paper back and allow to dry.  If the paint is already dry, capture the portrait through a photo!

The paint came off easily, and I finally got the mirrors cleaned!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Let's Do Lunch by Roger Troy Wilson

As someone who has struggled with my weight off and on for years (and especially after my three pregnancies), I was excited to receive a copy of Roger Troy Wilson's Let's Do Lunch: Eating all the Calories and Carbs You Want to Lose Weight.  My excitement was short-lived, however, after I started reading the book.  While I enjoyed and was encouraged by Mr. Wilson's personal weight-loss story, I quickly realized I would not be able to follow this diet plan!

Let's Do Lunch: Eating all the Calories and Carbs you want to lose weight!The title is a little misleading I think.  The plan includes a lot of fruit, corn, peas, and beans, but other carbs like pasta, rice, and potatoes are off-limits.  Nuts (except soy nuts) and chocolate are also a no-no.  I felt like the diet was really just based on trial and error.  If it worked for him and he lost weight doing it, then it must be the right way to do it.  With that said, I do think you will lose weight if you follow the diet -- mainly because the foods you are eating are low calorie and filled with fiber.

While there were things I did not like about this book, I found a few things to like.  I did like his suggestion to eat your largest meal at lunch.  It makes a lot of sense to fuel your body early on in the day when it needs it and not in the evening when it doesn't need it!  I also liked his advice to eat as much unprocessed food as possible and avoid sugar (except naturally occuring in fruit).  Also, the recipes look good, and I'm excited to try some of them.

If you like fruit, and you want to try another diet plan, this might be the book for you!  As for myself, except for the recipes, I think I'll skip it.  I know I couldn't last more than a day on this diet (chocolate, chocolate, I need chocolate)!

Disclaimer:  This book was provided for free by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my non-biased review.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Savings: Early Christmas Shopping

I like to frequent hometown businesses when possible, but sometimes a bargain comes along on-line I just can't pass up!  I love sharing deals with friends, and I've become a rather "crazy coupon lady" (yes, that's me you see in the grocery store with the binder full of coupons).  In that spirit, I would like to introduce a new feature:  Saturday Savings!  This is my attempt to share some of the best bargains I've found or read about on-line throughout the week!

Shhh!!  Can you keep a secret from my mom and in-laws?  I just ordered a few things from Current Catalog for Grandparent's Day on Sept. 9th!  I also picked up part of the grandparent's Christmas present.  Every year, I like to make a special calendar for them.  Unfortunately, I'm not very good at scrapbooking, but these calendars are fun, easy to fill, and have a scrapbook look.  I print out photos from the last year, cut, and paste, and they make such a sweet gift.  Right now, you can buy two or more calendars from Current and receive a discount.  They also have many great gift ideas, address labels, cards, checks, and more! 

As an added bonus, Current is offering six free Christmas cards (several available styles) personalized with your photo or 8 bookmarks with your purchase (make sure to read the details on the website).  I made bookmarks for my oldest daughter for her Christmas stocking!

Click on this link to receive 10% off & FREE Shipping with your $40 order at CurrentCatalog.com.

You can also shop through Shop-at-Home and earn $5 when you sign up plus 5% cashback when you order from Current Catalog.
I usually order my Melissa and Doug toys through Amazon, but they have some good deals on their own website MelissaAndDoug.com!  Click shop and then scroll down to specials.  They have an adorable, fully-furnished dollhouse for 35% off right now (I'm thinking of three little girls who would love a dollhouse for Christmas)!  There is also an activity cart and other toys on special.
LeapFrog - Letter FactoryFinally, Amazon has a good deal on LeapFrog - Letter Factory and LeapFrog - Talking Words Factory for $7.99 each (47% off list price). My oldest daughter loved the Letter Factory DVD when she was younger, and I'm convinced she learned her letter sounds so quickly because of it (and the catchy, if not slightly irritating song)! Be aware that Amazon's prices change frequently, so I can't guarantee it will still be at this price! There is also a $4 credit for movies and TV shows from Amazon Video On-Demand when you order the DVD (check under special offers on the product page for more information).

Let me know if you like or dislike this feature! I know there are many deal blogs out there that are much more thorough, but I'm not attempting to be one of them. I just thought maybe one dedicated post on the weekend would satisfy my desire to share good deals I find for moms, families, and kids!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Magnetic Clock Craft

I've always wanted a Judy Clock but never wanted to spend the money to buy one!  While the minute and hour hands of this clock don't move together like a Judy Clock, it is very inexpensive to make!  I found the craft foam for $1 (and only used a few sheets of it) at Dollar Tree, and I cut-up some old business magnets I already had.

You need:
Craft foam
Lid (or other circle template)
Permanent marker

1.  Trace twelve circles on craft foam.  Draw an hour and a minute hand.  Cut out.

2.  Write the numbers from one to twelve on the circles with a permanent marker.

3.  Glue a magnet on the back of each circle and hand.

4.  Arrange in a clock shape on a cookie sheet or other magnetic surface.

The Grouchy Ladybug
We read through Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug.  I would stop on each page after I read the time and allow the girls to match the time on our magnetic clock to the time in the book.  This was great for visual matching skills and a basic introduction to time (by the hour).

When you're done practicing and exploring, the pieces are easily stored in a small plastic bag or other container!

           abc button


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Months of the Year Song

This song is also a part of our circle time and is great for learning the months of the year in order.
If you're viewing this via e-mail subscription, click here to see the video.

(Sung to the tune of Ten Little Indians)

January, February, March, and April,
May, June, July, and August,
September, October, November, and December.
These are the months in a year.

My oldest wanted to star in this video but had a bit of stage fright (she was convinced she needed me to write the song down on a piece of paper)!  Hopefully, you can still understand the words!

preschool corner


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Days of the Week Song

This is a simple little song we sing to practice the days of the week during our circle time!

(Set to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

I know the days of the week.
I can say the days of the week.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

preschool corner


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Calendar Time

Our morning circle time includes activities to help the girls understand time.  Preschoolers are concrete thinkers, but time is an abstract concept.  It may be a while before they will grasp it completely, but we can begin to lay the foundation now!

You need:
1)  Post a calendar in your child's room or other highly-trafficked area.

2)  As you go through the month, write words and draw pictures symbolizing something you did that day (i.e., a baseball for baseball practice) or activities that will happen (a trip to grandma's, etc.).

3)  Cross off each day as it ends (or at the next morning's circle time).  Talk about the words yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  For example, "Yesterday was Sunday.  We went to church.  Today is Monday.  We're going to play with friends.  Tomorrow is Tuesday, and you are going to spend the night at Mimi's."

Do you have any calendar ideas or activities?


Monday, August 23, 2010

"Helping Hands" Chore Chart

Our activity today is a continuation of our chore week, but it also starts our "time" theme!  I am currently working with my middle daughter on finishing her morning routine in a timely manner (instead of me finding her on the floor daydreaming when I ask her to put on her shoes)!  I came up with an idea I'm calling "Helping Hands". 

If you saw our schedule a few weeks ago, you know I generally let the girls watch some TV when they first wake up.  I know some might not agree with this, but it allows me time to get going.  I am definitely not a morning person!  When I'm ready to begin, I just say "I need some helping hands" and the girls know to shut off the TV and start morning routines! 

Photographs of your child's chores/routine
Laminator (or contact paper)

1)  Take a photo of each chore or routine your child is to accomplish (i.e. eating breakfast, brushing teeth, gettting dressed, making bed, picking-up room, etc.).

2)  Laminate or cover with contact paper.  Trace your child's hand on a photo or use a handprint template.  Cut out.  Repeat for each photograph.

3)  Glue a magnet on the back of each photo.  Place on the refrigerator or other magnetic surface.

As my daughter goes through her routine, she moves the accomplished task from one side of the refrigerator to the other.  This works really well to keep her on task, and it seems to motivate her!  I also use sequencing words with her (first, second, next, last) as she goes through her routine.  This is an easy way to begin teaching about time (which is a very challenging idea for preschoolers)!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Magnetic Menu Planner Giveaway

We have a winner for the magnetic menu planner:  Terra!!!!

I will be contacting you via email to get your detailed menu, so I can get started!

Thanks to everyone who entered!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweeping with a Preschooler

This simple trick makes sweeping fun for a small child!

You need:
Small broom or hand-held broom

1)  Draw a chalk-circle on the floor in the room you want your child to sweep.

2)  Show her how to sweep the dirt into the circle. 

You and I know how to sweep dirt into a pile, but your child may have no idea what to do!  Considering things from your child's point-of-view can be quite helpful when teaching them to do chores!

I adapted this idea from Mommy, Teach Me by Barbara Curtis!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Utensil Sort (Unloading the Dishwasher)

Preschoolers can easily help put away utensils and dishes from the dishwasher (make sure to remove any knives beforehand)!

You need:
Tray for sorting

1)  First, have your child practice sorting the silverware.  Dump out the tray and show them where the different utensils are stored.

2)  Sort the utensils. 

After practicing a few times, allow your child to empty the dishwasher utensil basket!  They can also learn to stack dishes and put cups away if you have the items stored in an easily accessible place. 

Check out this preschool-friendly kitchen, and Barbara Curtis's advice to one mom about young children unloading the dishwasher!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Usborne Book Opportunity!!

I don't normally use this blog to promote my Usborne Book business specials, but this is just such an amazing opportunity!  I have never seen a starter kit priced so low!

Starting today at http://www.usbornecrazy.com/, you can go to the site and look under Income Opportunities.  You will see a Game Time kit (under "View Specials") for only $20 (free shipping included)!  This kit comes with 11 books and tons of business supplies!  IT IS AMAZING!  Maybe you are looking for a fun home-based business, or maybe you just want to build your home library (or get some books for gifts).  With a kit priced this low, you can get the books, host your own home show (and earn double free books from that), and end up with all of this (plus your home show books) for free!

I just adore Usborne Books!  I started selling them because I wanted to build my home library, but I've continued selling them because they are high-quality, engaging, and award-winning books!  I love helping people earn free books!

In order to receive the kit for just $20, you must sign-up by August 30th (you must sell $200 in retail in the first 12 weeks, but that is easily done with just one or two shows)!  Send me an email if you have any questions!


Chores and Preschoolers

Preschoolers can help with many more chores than we often think!  While they may not be able to do them independently, you can lay the foundation for joyful service now!

Chores preschoolers can help with include:
Dusting (a sock over the hand works well)
Sweeping (with a small hand-held broom)
Picking up toys (music makes it fun)
Putting away laundry
Getting dressed
Unloading the dishwasher
Pouring and mixing ingredients for cooking
Setting the table
Watering plants -- indoors and outdoors

We will take a look at some easy ways to help your child accomplish these tasks over the next week few days (I promise we'll get back to our regular weekly themes soon)!

I have found these resources helpful:

Homeschooling at the Speed of Life: Balancing Home, School, and Family in the Real World with CDROMManagers of Their Chores (Managers, 1)

A friend reminded me of this book by Vicki Bentley.  While I have not read it, I've heard several workshops of hers and they were excellent!
The Everyday Family Chore System

I still have a lot to learn!  Do you have any great ideas for training children in chores?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Crock Pot Yogurt

After reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, I have been trying to incorporate more whole and less-processed food into our diet!  I found the idea to make yogurt in the crockpot at A Year of Slow Cooking, and I've been doing it for about six months now!  It is so easy, and we've saved so much money (we eat yogurt like crazy)!  Invite your little ones to help you -- it makes a great experiment!

You need:
1/2 gallon of milk
1 cup plain yogurt
Towels or a blanket

1)  Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into a crockpot.  I use a 2.5 quart slow cooker with just two settings - high and low (it's an old one we received as a wedding gift)!  Replace the cover and cook on low for 2.5 hours.  Turn the crockpot off and allow to set for three hours.

2)  Mix one cup of the warm milk with one cup of plain yogurt (this is your starter).  Add the mixture into your slow cooker and stir.

3)  Wrap the crockpot with towels or blankets to insulate.  Allow to set for eight hours or overnight!

The yogurt will be thinner than store-bought, but you don't have to worry about high fructose corn syrup and artificial thickeners!  I put mine in the refrigerator for several hours before eating.  Then, I add honey and fruit right before serving. 

preschool corner