Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

April 27, 2013

Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems + Craft Activity

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:24 pm
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Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems

All the Piggie & Gerald books get a good laugh out of our family but this is one of our favorites.  Gerald gets an ice cream cone and must decide if he is going to share it with Piggie.  He wavers back and forth until the entire cone melts and he is so sad.  Lucky for him Piggie comes along with an ice cream cone of her own and offers to share it with him to cheer him up.  It’s a hilarious story that we read over and over.

This book also lent itself to an easy craft activity for both my 2 yr old and 5 yr old.  I’m not a very good free hand drawer but I managed to cut out some ice cream cone like shapes.  We have a bunch of left over pom poms from Target dollar spot clearance sales and some other random trinkets I keep handy for projects like this.

Decorating ice cream cones 158

It was also a great way to sneak in some writing practice for my 5 yr old who dislikes writing with a passion.  She wrote the title of the book on her cone and signed it as a gift for her old preschool teacher.

Ice Cream Cone

As you can see my 2 yr old has yet to learn restraint using glue but he still had a great time.

Fun with glue

Once both kids were done we let them dry and then they took them to school to give to their of their preschool teachers.  So yes, they chose to share their ice cream. :)

January 27, 2013

Spelling Practice in Baking Soda & Then Some Fun

My daughter has been struggling a bit with her spelling tests at school lately and she always lets out a huge groan when I tell her it’s time to practice.  Homework and studying is a constant struggle with her and I don’t want to turn her off of learning so I have been wracking my brain to come up with a fun way to study.

One of her favorite experiments that she constantly asks for is the baking soda and vinegar volcano so I decided to try and combine that with studying.  So I replaced the old baking soda that I was using to freshen up the refrigerator and split the box across two cookie trays (my 2 year old always wants to do “homework” too so I had to have one for him as well).  I then would give my daughter one of her spelling words to “write” in the baking soda.

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I won’t say we had a complaint free study session but it was a 100% times better than straight studying and after we went through all of her words we moved on to the play time.

I pulled out the food coloring and learned that you don’t want to take your eyes off a 2 year old for even a second because next thing you know he will have used half a bottle of food coloring before you know it!  But I digress…I had them drop different food coloring all over their trays.

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I don’t know if you can see but my son’s tray of baking soda was pretty evenly spread out and my daughter tried making mountains.  Once we moved onto the vinegar step we found having the smoother surface worked better.

I poured vinegar into two cups and gave the kids eye droppers to drop vinegar onto their trays.

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The kids loved their colored mini-volcanoes as the baking soda and vinegar reacted to bubble up and ooze.

Once they had used up all their vinegar the kids immediately set in to squish, smash and draw in their trays.  My 5 year old and I talked about the difference in texture of the baking soda before the vinegar and after the vinegar.

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When we were done and had washed hands I thought they would be walking around with purple hands as we just couldn’t get the color all off.  Fortunately after bath and play time in the water the color finally came out and their hands were back to normal. :)

So while we won’t be doing this all the time since we used up the entire box of old baking soda at least my daughter saw studying doesn’t have to be a drag.

January 26, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle & Craft

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:36 pm
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a much beloved book in our household (as you can tell by how well chewed up it is!).  It has been a favorite of both my 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son.  It’s a great book for practicing counting as the caterpillar eats his way through various numbers of foods, the bright colors are eye catching for the little ones and the little holes in each page are just fun for the kids to stick their fingers through.  It’s a book that we have read over and over and over.

Since my daughter constantly begs for crafts and experiments to do and I just happen to have a handy, empty egg carton we decided to make our own caterpillars.  I just split it down the center so each of my kids could make one.  I poked two holes in one end to stick a pipe cleaner through for the antennae and glued some googly eyes on.  Then I just let the kids at it with paint.

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You can probably see that I use whatever is available to put the paint out and I find for crafts like this the top of the egg carton makes a handy paint tray that I don’t have to worry about washing out when we’re done.  I did have to break out a tray as my 2 year old insisted on mixing all the colors together and my 5 year old wanted them separate.

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The kids were so proud of their caterpillars when they were done.

December 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Filed under: Recipes — by dsuzuki @ 11:10 pm
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My family absolutely loves these muffins and that includes my extended family.  During my brother’s family’s last visit from Southern California my nephew asked if I could make these muffins.  I told him I didn’t have enough ripe bananas and he actually got his mom to drive to Target to pick up bananas so I could make some muffins. LOL.  The original recipe is from the Hawaii Soto Mission Cook Book andI added some of the variations I’ve tried at the bottom of the post.

Chocolate chip banana muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup mashed, ripe bananas (you want them really ripe for that added sweetness)
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Wesson oil (I normally use just 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mash bananas and set aside
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl
  3. Add sugar, oil and eggs; beat until blended
  4. Add bananas, chocolate chips and vanilla; mix well
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (note this is for bread loaves. I normally do muffins in cupcake tins and bake for 17-18 minutes)

Variations:

I’ve been trying to get my kids to eat somewhat healthier food options and it has not been easy.  I have found that I can substitute 1/2 cup of flour for whole wheat flour and it tastes fine.  I also toss in a tbsp of flax without a problem.  If your bananas are ripe enough I’ve also found you can reduce the amount of sugar you use.  I noted above that I never use the full cup of oil and instead add 1/2 cup of applesauce.  I’ve tried lessening the oil even more and found they really stick to the pan so be sure to use liners if you try that.

I will often make a double or triple batch and freeze some of the muffins.  Just take them out a day or two before you want to eat them and then warm them either in a microwave or toaster.  I sometimes also make some mini-muffins which my kids love!

November 25, 2012

Making a Turkey

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Holidays — by dsuzuki @ 9:47 pm
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I know I’m late posting this but I misplaced my camera and finally found it while cleaning up today.  My 5 yr old has been begging for a craft using feathers and I finally got a bag of feathers on clearance at Michael’s.  It was Halloween colors but beggars can’t be choosy.  So while I cooked dinner I set my daughter up to make her own “turkey”.

She started off drawing a face:

Turkey

Then she started putting in her turkey’s feathers.

Once she finished up with the feathers we stuck in a couple pipe cleaners for legs and my daughter insisted her turkey also had to have feet so I had to try and shape those pipe cleaners into feet for her.

And voila…turkey!

Gobble…gobble.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2012

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:39 pm
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Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

I can’t recall where I heard about this book but I requested it right away from the library. Ish is such a cute story for the kiddos and both 5 yr old and 2 yr old loved it!

Ramon is a boy who loves to draw.  He draws all the time and everywhere (my kids love that he even draws while on the potty).  One day his older brother laughs at his drawing because it doesn’t look like the vase of flowers he was drying.  Ramon feels so bad that he starts to crumple up all his drawings because they don’t look “right”.  He’s about to give up drawing when he catches his little sister snagging one of his crumpled drawings and chases her into her room.  There is is stunned to find her walls plastered with his discarded drawings.  She mentions that the vase of flowers is one of her favorites and he complains that it doesn’t look like a vase though.  She tells him no but it looks vase-ish!  This revelation frees his creativity again as he embarks on an ish drawing journey.  Not only does he draw things that are fish-ish and sunset-ish but also feelings like “peace-ish” and even starts to write poem-ish poems.

By the end my kids were cracking up over all the ish drawings. It also helped when my 5 yr old would get frustrated over her own drawings I would mention they look house-ish or bird-ish and she would giggle and be okay with her drawings.  This is a wonderful book to encourage kids to keep their creative juices flowing.

November 12, 2012

Christmas Shopping-Usborne Book Suggestions

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 1:49 pm
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With my email being flooded with the Black Friday ad scans I have started thinking about what to give the kids.  A lot of my friends have mentioned how many toys their kids have and how they really don’t want to get any more toys.  So I figured why not get them some new books?  They are both educational and fun plus the Usborne books quality are so much better than most other books and have held up well from all the abuse from my 5 yr old and 2 yr old.

Here are some of the latest books that have become favorites in our house.

Big Book of Big Machines: my 5 yr old was a bit disappointed that this book didn’t have the flaps like the See Inside and Look Inside books but my 2 yr old can’t get enough of it.  He is a huge fan of construction trucks, airplanes, etc. so he loves going through this book and talking about all the machines.  There are a couple pages that fold out to show some big planes which is neat.  I’ve found my son a number of times sitting somewhere flipping through this book and “reading” it to himself.

See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

See Inside Your Body: this is one of my 5 yr olds favorites.  It was one of the first non-fiction books I purchased from Usborne back in May or June and we still go back to it.  The first thing that appealed to the kids were of course the flaps.  There are over 50 flaps throughout the book but the other neat thing was just learning about your body.  Each set of facing pages covered a part of the body like your muscles, your bones, your senses, etc.  You learn about what red blood cells are and how they help your body, how your brain tells your hand to swat a fly, etc.  It’s fascinating for both kids and adults and will keep you busy for a long time.

Wind-Up Pirate Ship: I earned this book a few months ago and am glad I did because I normally would not have bought it myself and it’s a wonderful book.  There is a story but the thing that my kids both loved about it was the windup toy that came with it.  There are pages throughout the book that have groves cut out so that you can wind up the boat and let it travel along the page.  One was a treasure map and the kids loved seeing where on the map their boat would stop.  Would it be in the shark pool? On a deserted island?  For those worried about losing the toy the book is designed with a plastic covering that fits around the boat and when you close the book it holds the boat in.  I’m debating getting the train wind-up book for my 2 yr old for Christmas since the kids love this book so much.

See Inside How Things Work

See Inside How Things Work: this is another book in the See Inside series that have interesting facts and a ton of flaps for the kids to lift.  The most surprising thing about this one is that my 2 yr old has taken to bringing it to me each night for bed time.  It’s listed as for 7 yr olds+ though I have found my 5 yr old enjoys them just fine.  She enjoys describing to me now how each thing works like how airplane wings help it fly or how does velcro work.

Busy Truck: this book is listed for 1 yr olds+ but my 2 yr old really enjoys it and even my 5 yr old comes and sits with us when we read it.  The truck you see on the cover is actually a thick cut out that is attached to the book by a red ribbon.  As you read the book you move the truck along and fit it onto each page like a puzzle piece.  When you get to the last page you have to flip the truck over to get it to fit into the slot and you see all things the truck has picked up along the way.  It’s a lot of fun and great for the kids manual dexterity.

Brush Your Teeth, Max and Millie: this is just one of the books in the Max & Millie series and is my kids favorite.  There’s a little clean teeth song and a catchy rhythm to brushing your teeth which my 2 yr old will sing while he brushes his teeth.

I could go on and on but then this post would just get too long :)  Here are links to some of our past favorites:

Farmyard Tales

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales

That's Not My Car

That’s Not My Car…

Sophie’s Big Bed

A Baseball Story by Richard Torrey

A Baseball Story

Picture Word Lotto

Picture Word Lotto Game

October 6, 2012

Picture Word Lotto

Filed under: Learning,Reading/Vocabulary — by dsuzuki @ 8:39 pm

Picture Word Lotto

Picture Word Lotto is a game from Usborne Books & More that I purchased a couple months ago since a friend was asking how it was and I hate selling something I haven’t tried myself.  I haven’t had a chance to try it out until recently and am sort of kicking myself for not doing so sooner.

It’s designed for up to 4 players and it says for ages 4 years and up on the website but the game box itself says for ages 2-6.  My 2-year-old and my 5-year-old were both playing and having a ball so I’d say the age range on the box is accurate. It comes with 4 boards that have pictures and words on it.  Then there are two sets of cards. One set has pictures and words and the other set has just words.  You can play with either set depending on the ages of the players.  We started with the picture cards.  I laid them all face down and we took turns picking a card.  One person would flip a card over and say what picture they had and everyone would check to see whose board had the card and then place it on their board.  Whoever fills up their board first wins but we kept playing until everyone’s board was filled.

I was surprised how quickly my 2-year-old picked it up and then the second time we played we used the word cards and I was amazed at how many words both my 2-year-old and 5-year-old could recognize.  For the ones they didn’t know I had my 5-year-old sound them out.  For my 2-year-old I had him look for the word on his card so he could work on his matching skills. So not only is it a fun game but also a good learning experience.

Definitely would suggest this one to other parents!

September 28, 2012

What Are We Reading?

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:56 am
Tags: , , ,

One one of my online book club boards someone asked what are we all reading to our kiddos.  I realized we read so many awesome books that I never get to highlight since I tend to stick with the ones we have a related activity for.  Some of these other books are wonderful and favorites of my kids.  So here is what we have been reading and the kids are going crazy over.

My 5 year old is hooked on our Usborne Look Inside and See Insider series.  The Look Inside books are geared towards 3 yrs & up and the See Inside are supposed to be for 7 yrs & up but both series fascinate her.  Right now we are on the last couple pages of See Inside How Things Work.  I love these books as well because honestly a lot of it is new to me or a refresher of my long ago science and history classes.  We typically do 1-2 pages a day because there are so many lift the flaps on each page and so much information that my daughter likes to discuss.  One of the first topics was about pulleys which we spend a ton of time on because she wanted to read all the flaps, go through the pictures on each page and try and figure out for herself where the balls started and where they would end up as the pulleys and gears moved them along.

See Inside How Things Work

Up next is Look Inside Space which we had started before but my two year old had hid and we recently found it again.  My 5 yr old loves reading about the planets, solar system, rockets, etc. so we are excited to get back to this one.

Look Inside Space

My 2 year old is on a Dust Bunnies kick right now.  We started off with Rhyming Dust Bunnies which was a favorite of my daughter as well.  Since he loved it so much and we were reading it about 10 times a day I borrowed Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny! from the library to mix it up a little.  He has both books memorized and has to have it nearby at all times.  He was so upset and constantly walking around the house looking for “big, mean dust bunny” after I returned the library copy I finally bought him his own copy.

Rhyming Dust BunniesBig Mean Dust Bunny

So that’s what has been filling our reading time with the kiddos lately.

September 25, 2012

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

I don’t know about where you live but the leaves on our trees have started to change colors and that means my 5 year old is asking why.  This book is really neat as it takes you through the four seasons and you follow a boy and his mama as they go out on leaf hunts during each season. They talk about the leaves they find and what is happening as the buds change into leaves, what makes leaves green and eventually why do the leaves change color.

This had my daughter asking to do one of her favorite activities…going on a nature hunt.  This is our second time doing this and she loved it as much as she did the first time.  Instead of painting the egg carton this time my daughter colored each well a different color using crayons and then we headed out.  We were on the hunt to see what we could find in nature that fell into each of the colors and collect a sample to bring back home.

Nature Hunt

Our front yard yielded lots of the colors thanks to our rose bushes.  And our neighbor was doing yard work so we came across lots of leaves on our walk.

I just had to share a picture of the nature hunt dance my daughter also came up with on our walk.

Nature Hunt Dance

We finished up our hunt at the park.  For the second time we had no luck finding anything blue other than the sky. Never realized just how hard it could be to find blue in nature around here.

Once we had all our nature items of course she wanted to do an activity with them.  So the next day we decided to do a collage.

Collage

My two year old initially wanted to paint Kai-Lan but of course once he saw glue he had to glue leaves as well.

Gluing Leaves

And the final collage!

Nature Collage

We did a couple other leaf/nature activities with our collection that I will post in the future.  If you are looking for other leaf/nature books we also did a nature hunt back in January and read There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves.

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