Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spirited Sunday: Operation Christmas Child

For many years, we have packed shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child.  The premise is simple:  pack a shoebox full of items for a child in need.  What isn't so simple is the impact this can make on you, your child, and the child receiving the box! 

Two years ago, my oldest daughter helped me shop, pack a box, and take it to a drop-off center in our town.  Four months later, we received a photo and letter from two sisters who received our box!  Although I had included a photo and address, I never really expected to hear anything!  It was a blessing and made the whole process much more real for our family!

How to participate in Operation Christmas Child:

1)  Pack a shoe box:  Pick an age group, gender, and include items such as small toys, school supplies, and toiletries.  Click here to find full instructions.

2)  Drop off the box at a local collection site:  National Collection Week is November 15th-22nd.  Find a collection site here.

3)  Follow your gift:  If you make your gift donation online (to cover shipping costs), you can print out a special label and track the gift!  Find instructions here.

We haven't used this option before, but it would be so exciting to see where our packages end up!  We're going to give it a try and see how it goes.  I'm envisioning this as a great spin-off for a learning opportunity (maybe a new country to study?)!! 

If you are unable to pack a shoebox, Samaritan's Purse (the sponsoring ministry of Operation Christmas Child) also offers a gift catalog.  You can give funds to purchase livestock, feed a baby for a week, give sports equipment, purchase mosquito nets, and much, much more.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Savings:

If you aren't familiar with, I wanted to share it with you today!  I have used SmileBox for online birthday invitations, thank you cards, and more!  They have wonderful, easy-to-use design templates and hundreds of different styles.  They are definitely not your typical e-card! 

Click to play
Create your own baby greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox Baby Greeting

You can download a free version of the program, but it does include advertising on the cards and greetings you send.  There is a low-cost subscription available if you do not want the adverting on your cards!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Personalized Color Book

I've shared before that I'm always on the look-out for free and inexpensive photo books.  Not only can you use them to make gifts for grandparents, but they make wonderful learning tools as well!  Colors, numbers, shapes, and various other themes can be incorporated into a photo book.

My youngest daughter is currently having a challenging time remembering her colors, so I decided to make her a special "Color" book.  She absolutely loves it!

To make this book, I selected photos from the past year with a dominant color in them and grouped them in the photo book.  I added colored backgrounds, color names, and picked out a bright cover.  Voila!  A personalized color book!!

Not only does my daughter enjoy pointing to the colors and looking through the photos, she is pretty fascinated with the idea that it is her special book!  Personalizing the information will (hopefully) lead to greater retention!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Color Scavenger Hunt

Color hunts are a quick-and-easy way to practice colors!

You need:
Construction paper (optional)

1)  Place construction paper in various colors on the ground or table.  Ask your child to find and place items to match the construction paper.

I prefer to do one color at a time with my youngest daughter, while my middle child can do many colors at once!  If you don't want to use construction paper at all, just ask your child to make a pile of items for each color.  It makes for an easy review!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Color Mixing Experiment

Mouse PaintAnother wonderful book for preschoolers about exploring colors and color combinations is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  This simple experiment is a fun follow-up to the book.
You need:
Six clear containers
Red, yellow, and blue food coloring
Eye dropper

1)  Mix food coloring and water for each primary color.

2)  Using an eye dropper, transfer color from one container to another.  Mix to make secondary colors.

Afterwards, I let the girls experiment and see what colors they could make!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Color Mixing in a Plastic Bag

The Color Kittens (A Little Golden Book)After picking a color for our house (we're in the middle of painting it this week), I was inspired to do a few "Color" theme posts!

 The Color Kittens (A Little Golden Book)by Margaret Wise Brown is a Little Golden book I remember from my childhood.  It introduces little ones to mixing colors in a whimsical way!

You need:
Plastic bags
Red, yellow, blue paint

1)  Mix yellow and blue in one bag.  Mix red and yellow in one bag.  Mix red and blue in the last bag.  Seal

2)  Smoosh the paints together in the bag to form the secondary colors!

As long as the bags don't break, this is not too messy!  If you put enough paint in each bag, you can use it to practice writing letters, numbers, shapes, etc.  You might want to double bag it if you plan to use it more than once.


Parents Magazine for $3.75

Best Deal Magazines has a year subscription to Parents magazine for just $3.75! 

Here's how to take advantage of this offer:

1) Go to Best Deal Magazines.
2) Look for Parents under Deal of the Day.
3) Add it to your cart and enter the code PXSS1031 when you check out!

This offer is only good today (although the coupon code can be used to take 15% off most magazines through 10/31)!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Savings:

About a year ago, I was introduced to the world of coupons!  Now, I had tried clipping coupons here and there, but I thought you could easily find generic items that cost less.  I quickly learned otherwise as I began to follow the blogs of Money Saving Mom, I Heart Coupon Deals, and Savings Lifestyle!  I've saved over a couple thousand dollars in the last year alone!! 

One of the best places I've found for online coupons is, but please don't try to print all the coupons.  There are too many!  The trick is to pick the ones you think you might use and to save them until you can match them with a great sale (so you get items inexpensively or free)!  You can print each coupon twice.

Other great places to find coupons include:
Sunday paper
All You magazine
Brand websites
Mambo Sprouts (for organics -- look under e-coupons--these are printable)
Dillons or Kroger (e-coupons loaded to shopping card) (e-coupons loaded to shopping card)

If you have any questions about coupon-clipping, feel free to shoot me an e-mail!  I love helping people save money!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Clay Pot Jack-O-Lantern

Here is another easy pumpkin!

You need:
Terra cotta pot
Green pipe cleaner or wikki stick

1)  Turn the pot upside down.  Draw a face.  Fold a pipe cleaner in half several times and push in the hole on the top of the pot.

You could also use paint for the face instead of marker!

Linking up to Homeschool Creation's Preschool Corner!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paper Plate Spider Web

A thick paper plate works best for this project!

You need:
Paper plate
Black paint
White yarn
Black marker

1)  Paint a paper plate black and allow to dry.

2)  Make 8 one-inch-cuts around the edge of the paper plate.

3)  Tape a long piece of yarn to the back of the plate.  Weave it across and around the plate to form a spider web.

4)  Draw a spider.  Cut out.  Tape or glue to the web/plate.

I thought a spider ring would look great attached to the yarn, but we didn't have one!

preschool cornerplay academy

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Water Bottle Pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern

This project works well with toddlers, too!

You need:
Small plastic bottle
Orange construction paper or scraps
Black paper scraps
Scissors (if desired)
Green permanent marker

1)  Tear the orange paper in small pieces and stuff in the bottle.

2)  Tear (or cut) the black paper for a Jack-O-Lantern face.  Glue.

3)  Use a permanent marker to color the cap green.

I was trying to dry out one of the bottles with a hairdryer when the plastic started to shrink up in the "stem" area!  I liked how it turned out -- and it reminded me of the book and DVD Spookley the Square Pumpkin!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Monster Marshmallows

Here is a fun way to create a "monster" treat!

You need:
Juice from heated blueberries or other kind of juice
Graham crackers (optional)
Chocolate chips or bar (optional)

1)  Use the toothpick and juice to make a monster face on a marshmallow.

2)  Place the marshmallows on a plate in the microwave.  Heat for 20-35 seconds.

3)  The marshmallow expands to make a monster!

You could either eat it plain or "smash" the monster with graham crackers and chocolate chips to make a S'more!

I adapted this idea from The Exploratorium.  If you want the scientific explanation for why marshmallows puff up in the microwave, visit them here.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Easy Rock Mosaic

We ended up going out of town during the weekend, so I didn't get a chance to post this rock project!

You need:
Play dough (recipe here) or
Salt dough
  *1 cup salt
  *2 cups flour
  *3/4-1 cup water
    -Mix ingredients well.  Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Small rocks
Rolling pin

1)  Roll out dough.  Arrange rocks to make a pattern, picture, or whatever is desired!

The great thing about this activity is it can be permanent or temporary!  If you use play dough, just take the rocks out and start again!  To make it permanent, use salt dough.  Bake at 250 degrees for about two hours, paint (if desired), then seal with several coats of acrylic spray.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Savings: Motivated Moms' Printable Chore Planner

Can I just tell you that I am in love with this printable chore planner from Motivated Moms?!!  I do pretty well planning school and activities for the girls, but keeping the house clean is not an easy task for me!  Once I fall behind, I just give up.  That's why I love this planner.  It has a checklist for each day.  Household chores are broken into manageable chunks -- and it includes everything from changing batteries in your smoke alarm to cleaning the microwave to clipping the children's nails.  It has all those things I know I should be doing (but can't seem to remember).

If you're interested in checking out the planner, now is the perfect time to do it!  You can give it a try for just $1! 

Here's how to do it:
1)  Go to Motivated Moms
2)  Order the chore planner (Oct-Dec 2010) for $2
3)  Enter the code LLNOE at check-out to receive $1 off

Download, print, and you're ready to go!  Let me know what you think!

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Giveaway Winner!

Let's try this again!  Comment #24 was generated by!

4torock said...

LIKED The Amazing Mess on FB!! thank you!!:P

Thank you to all who entered. A big thank you to Leah at Leah's Little Bowtique for the wonderful giveaway!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tumble Painting with Rocks

I was inspired by this post about painting with acorns at Teach Preschool, and I decided to try a variation to make invitations for our Stone Soup party!

You need:
Baby wipes container (or shoe box with lid, oatmeal container, coffee can, etc.)
Containers for paint
Small rocks

1)  Place a 1/2 sheet of paper in the container.

2)  Put individual paint colors in small bowls and place rocks in paint.  Scoop rocks into wipes container.

3)  Close container and shake, shake, shake!

We experimented with various colors of paper.  The girls liked yellow the best!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Painting Rocks

The college I attended (a long time ago!) has an unusual history of painting rocks and adding them to a "mound." Every year, students design a rock and place it on a huge pile during a special Moundbuilding Ceremony.

This year we went to homecoming, and our girls had the opportunity to paint a rock and add it to the mound. It was a great activity for preschoolers!

You need:
Q-tips and/or paintbrushes

1) Design and paint a rock!

It seems very simple, but preschoolers can be amazingly creative with this project!


Reminder: Fall Giveaway Ends 10/14

Don't forget! The fall headband and bow giveaway from Leah's Little Bowtique ends tomorrow. Your chances are still pretty good! Go here to enter!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Stone Soup

This is a frugal way to host a fun playdate and lunch!

Stone SoupHave you read Stone Soup? There are many variations, but the idea is the same! Some travelers are hungry and stop in a small town, but the townspeople refuse to feed them. The travelers begin to make "Stone Soup" with water and stones. When the people wonder if the soup is any good, the travelers trick them into sharing ingredients to make a wonderful soup!

The girls and I thought it would be great fun to host a Stone Soup party!! We're working on invitations, decorations, activities, (we'll post some ideas throughout the week) and finding stones for our soup!

You need:
Large pot
Stone Soup recipe (I borrowed this one from NellieEdge)
Serving bowls
Crackers and/or bread

1) Invite friends to a Stone Soup party. Ask each guest to bring one item in the recipe. If you'd rather have a "surprise" soup, ask each person to bring a vegetable or two, meat, or noodles and you provide the broth.

2) Read through the book. Boil the water/broth and add the stone! Then, each family can add the item(s) they brought to the pot!
3) Cook the soup according to the recipe directions. If making a "surprise soup", follow these time guidelines:

*It will take 30 minutes to cook chunks of peeled potatoes, carrots, onions, or canned tomatoes.

*It will take 15 minutes to cook cauliflower or chopped celery.

*It will take 10 minutes to cook broccoli, frozen corn, leafy greens, and cabbage. Cook noodles according to package directions.

We made our own "surprise soup" for lunch. I let each child pick out one ingredient to add to the soup (and I added a few more). It turned out pretty well! We're excited about our party and will post pictures once we host it!

Linking up to Homeschool Creations: Preschool Corner!

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