Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

December 31, 2011

More Space Exploration

If you have been following us for awhile you know that my four year old has been on a space kick lately so since I had two weeks off from work over the holidays we went to the Chabot Space and Science Museum.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to actually use a telescope since their viewing times were at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturdays so it runs into her bed time but she still had a great time.  I was actually surprised how often she has asked to go back since then.

There were a bunch of interactive displays that she loved playing with.

And she finally got to see the footsteps on the moon.

She also totally shamed me by landing on the moon on her first try with daddy while I crashed.

Her first experience in the Planetarium.  We saw two shows.  The first one about astronauts was actually kind of creepy and after that she didn’t want to go to the second show until it was almost time to leave.  We saw one about the history of the telescope which was actually really good.

She got to see herself on the moon’s surface.

Since she didn’t get to use the telescope at the museum Santa brought her a special Christmas gift:

We weren’t able to find anything good that first night and it’s been cloudy since but hopefully we’ll be able to see something soon.  If you are ever in the Oakland, Ca area I would suggest stopping by this museum.  I think 4 is a little young unless your child is really a space buff but definitely fun for the 6+ boys and girls.

December 25, 2011

Two Great Reads: Cows Can’t Jump & Cows Can’t Quack by Dave Reisman

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 9:59 pm
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I’ve been wanting to read Cows Can’t Jump to my daughter for ages now since I’ve stumbled across it in the blogosphere.  I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of both Cows Can’t Jump and Cows Can’t Quack by Dave Reisman and they are definitely books to check out if you have animal lover kiddos.  Both my 4-year-old and my 17 month old love animals and making all the different sounds.

The illustrations are beautifully done and the wording is simple and catchy.  It was a nice balance of words my 4-year-old recognized and a few new words that she needed to have explained.  I love when she comes across a new word like “stampede” and then gets excited to use it regarding other animals or situations.  I’ll admit of the two my favorite is the Cows Can’t Quack.  Mostly because both my kids could really get into it and had a blast making the different animal sounds.  What they probably enjoyed even more was having me try to demonstrate what certain unfamiliar sounds were.  They literally fell over laughing as I tried to “scream” like an eagle and “sing” like a whale.  Yes, I have to admit it was definitely laugh worthy but at least everyone was having fun.  I also loved how excited my 17 month old would get when we would reach an animal whose sound he knew and he would start mooing or roar like a tiger.

Both books are cute reads but if you have to pick definitely get Cows Can’t Quack.  Both parents and children will enjoy it.

December 20, 2011

Latest Space Reads

My daughter’s interest in the Solar System is still going strong and we made another trip to the library this past weekend.  Our latest bed time reads have been:

There’s No Place Like Space by Tish Rabe

I’ve been on the wait list at the library for the longest time and was excited when I found this at the latest Scholastic Warehouse sale.  It was one of the books I gave my daughter as a gift this morning and she couldn’t wait to read it at bed time tonight.  She loved all the other Cat in the Hat books we have read so far so I had a feeling she would enjoy this one.  For the most part it was the same old information about each planet as the rest of the books we have read but the rhyming was nicely done and made it fun to read.  The greatest part of the book was that it just fueled my daughter’s dreams about going into space one day.  If you are looking for a beginning book about the solar system for your preschooler this is a great pick!

The following books were all ones she picked out at the library.

Saturn by Christine Taylor-Butler

This is the third book we have read from Taylor-Butler and we have enjoyed them all.  They are the perfect level for preschoolers who are just beginning to show an interest in the solar system.  Each page has some basic information with wonderful images.  There is also a word hunt list at the beginning of the book for things like “orbit”, “solar system”, etc and I love that the book provides a simple explanation of what each term means.  When we read these books my daughter constantly asks “what do that mean?” when we come across a new term.  Sometimes I admit to being stumped to come up with a simple enough explanation.  The books ends with a short chart comparing things like the length of a year, day, size and number of moons between Earth and Saturn.  It always amazes my daughter when she reads about how many more moons the other planets have compared to Earth.  This is a great series I suggest for the preschool level.

Jupiter by Elaine Landau

My daughter’s latest favorite planet is Jupiter because it is the largest planet.  We have read the Taylor-Butler book about Jupiter as well but what I liked about this one was that there were a few new gems of information.  Like, in addition to the Great Red Spot every other book mentions Landau’s book also mentions the smaller storm, the Little Red Spot, that has changed color from white to red from 2004 to 2006.  I don’t recall reading about this storm in any of the other books so it was something that caught both my daughter’s and my attention.  My daughter loved all the pictures and hearing about Galileo building his own telescope.  She’s been begging me for a telescope to that maybe she can make her own discoveries in space.

While an interesting book it is a little longer and has more words that the Taylor-Butler books so my daughter’s attention did wander at times.  I would suggest this for kids a little older (my daughter’s 4).

Activities to Try

Family of the Sun song: I stumbled across this song that is posted on the Smithsonian site and is sang to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell. It sounds like a catchy tune so I want to try it out with my daughter.  Here’s how it starts off and the chorus:

The Family of the Sun,
Its planets number eight,
Plus other rocky, icy worlds
That we appreciate.

Mercury is hot
and Mercury is small.
Mercury has no atmosphere;
It’s just a rocky ball.

The Family of the Sun,
Its planets number eight,
Plus other rocky, icy worlds
That we appreciate…


December 19, 2011

Christmas Tree Ice Cream Cones

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Holidays — by dsuzuki @ 11:56 pm
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I saw this cute activity on Pinterest and thought it would be perfect for my daughter to do.  If it involves frosting, candy and Christmas she is so there.  A few friends ended up popping by and I thought it would be fun to have the kids do it together.  It was funny seeing the different approaches each child took.

I put out a plate of frosting (note for next time probably best if each child has their own plate of frosting), various candies and sprinkles for decorating and each person got a sugar cone to decorate.  The younger set went straight to eating the cone, forget frosting them. lol.

Then the older ones ranged from spots of frosting here and there as more frosting made it into their mouths than on the cones.  Yes, that is my girl.

Then there was the meticulous ones who made sure the cone was completely covered in frosting first.

Then came the decorating.  It started off with just a tiny bit of sprinkles…

Then the candies started making it into their mouths…

And then it evolves into this…

You knew it was going to happen right?

Don’t ask me how those blocks ended up in there too.

Because more must be better right?

So notice how none of the cones look like the example from Pinterest. My friends asked how could I stand just watching the kids go at it. I figured as long as they are having fun who cares what they look like right?  Just a few suggestions if you decide to try this.  I would put a tarp or blanket down under the table.  I did put the tables on our tiled area but getting all those sprinkles cleaned up was a pain.  Thank goodness for one of my friends who literally was on her hands and knees wiping them up.  And second, not the best idea to do this before dinner time. lol.

We all had a blast and we wish you a Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2011

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell by Lucille Colandro

Filed under: Books,Holidays — by dsuzuki @ 9:37 pm
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If you are familiar with the book There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly then you will recognize this as a holiday take on that story.  While it did not flow quite as smoothly as the original book my 4 year old still really enjoys reading it and has been reading it at bed time every night since I picked it up at the Scholastic Warehouse sale.  The old lady swallows a bell, ribbons, presents, etc until eventually she is swallowing reindeer and a sleigh!  In the end she whistles and blows everything out and then picks up Santa to deliver the gifts.  I’m not quite sure how whistling got everything out but oh well as long as the kids enjoy it right?  My daughter’s favorite part is when you see the old lady staggering with her belly hanging out of her shirt because she is so full.  This is a light hearted holiday story that makes a nice addition to the bedtime reading leading up to Christmas.

I haven’t had a chance to do this with my daughter yet but I think it would be a fun activity to adapt to this book.

December 12, 2011

Scholastic Warehouse Sale Haul

I have a confession to make.  Even with  money being tight my one area I find it hard to restrain myself in is book buying. In particular, children’s book purchases.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my library but between having to request a book, wait for it to arrive, keep track of them as my 4 yr old and 17 month old carry them around and put them in random spots I enjoy having a copy of our own.

There is a Scholastic Warehouse sale going on now and it just feeds my need to buy books for the kiddos.  I tried to restrain myself and kept it under $20 this time.  Here is what I picked up:

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro and Jared Lee

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell by Lucille Colandro and Jared Lee

There’s No Such Thing as Monsters by Steve Smallman and Caroline Pedler

Starry, Starry Night by Wade Cooper

There’s No Place Like Space by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz

National Geographic Kids: Penguins! by Anne Schreiber

Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman and Liza Woodruff

December 11, 2011

Salt Dough Ornaments

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Holidays — by dsuzuki @ 11:11 pm
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I’ve been seeing all sorts of salt dough ornament activities on Pinterest lately and decided it might be something my daughter would enjoy since she’s been begging to do some baking but we still haven’t finished the last batch of snickerdoodles we made.  This was my first time making these (at least since I was a kid) so I wasn’t sure about which recipe to use.  I ended up using this one:

4 cups flour

1 cup salt

1 & 1/2 cups of water

1. Mix flour and salt together

2. Slowly add the water while mixing and then knead the dough.

3. Roll out the dough and cut them into the shapes you want

4. Bake at 225 degrees for 1-2 hours

Notes for next time:

  • Definitely half the recipe next time.  She got tired out and bored by time she used about half of the dough
  • We tried adding some glitter to the dough and that didn’t work at all.  It just made the dough look a little dingy.  Not sure if it’s because we used some of the cheaper, finer glitter.
  • We also wanted to try coloring some of the dough and added the food coloring after we mixed everything.  It took a long time to get it to a dark enough color.  I think next time I may try adding the food coloring to the water before adding the water to the salt and flour.
  • Some of the ornaments were thicker than the others and I should definitely have baked them for longer (I baked them for one hour).  The tops looked good when I took them out but after they cooled off I turned them over and realized they didn’t bake all the way through to the bottom.

The next day my daughter and I decorated them.

I gave her some glitter glue and paint and let her go at it.  She insisted I had to do some too and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

And finally tying the strings onto them.

So all in all my daughter had a blast but definitely room for improvement next year.  I highly suggest everyone try this activity out with their kids and let their creative juices flow.


December 5, 2011

Moon, craters and getting down and dirty

Ever since my daughter got the book Eight Spinning Planets by Brian James & Russel Benfanti she has been asking me lots of questions about space, the planets, moon, etc that I just can’t remember the answers to.  So where do I turn when I need help?  The library!  We took and trip and browsed through their  astronomy books and she picked out a few along with a couple about the Earth in particular.  Then of course she started begging for some “observation” activities.  Just as a warning this one means letting the kids get down right and dirty.

Here were our favorite books we picked up:

Atlas of the Universe by Mark Garlick: Believe it or not she picked this one out herself. I tried to tell her it was more for adults (she’s 4) but she insisted and we picked it up about 3 weeks ago we have been reading a few pages every night at bed time and she loves it.  I don’t think she understands it all but everything in it just amazes her.

The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: This one talks about the planets and is much more kid friendly.  The only word of warning is that it’s on the older side and still talks about Pluto being a planet.  My daughter and I have already talked about how Pluto is no longer a planet so it didn’t really confuse her although she does feel bad that it’s no longer a planet.

What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: After talking about the planets, orbits and rotation she wanted to know more about why we have night and day and this was a nice book to go through.  Of course since it mentions the moon so often she started asking about craters, visiting the moon, etc.

Earth by Christine Taylor-Butler: This one talks about what the Earth is made of, the continents, volcanos, etc.

After reading all these books she really wanted to do some sort of experiment or observation.  Luckily I stumbled across this activity about recreating craters on the moon’s surface on I think it was Pinterest.  It coincided nicely with my daughter’s latest request to experiment to see what flour mixed with flour would feel like.

First I filled up one of our bins with a couple cups of flour:

Then added a layer of cocoa for some contrast (note for future reference: I left the cocoa kind fo pebbly but I think it might be better to smooth it out before starting the comet portion):

Next we found balls of different sizes and weights to try to see what different size craters they would make when they “impacted our moon”.

We observed how when they hit the “surface” it kicked up a cloud of dust into the air and talked about how this could stay in the air for a really long time.  We also looked at the different size dents and how deep the dents were when we dropped the different size balls.  She dropped them over and over to see how the craters would start to overlap and how it started to look like the surface of the moon.

Then we moved on to the seeing what water and flour mixed together felt like so I thought it prudent to move it outside.  Thank goodness I did.  First off it was great weather and we actually had a great view of the moon and talked about how the different colors were actually craters on the moon.

Then came the dirty phase of fun. Even my 16 month old had a blast.  I gave them a few things out of the kitchen: funnels, measuring cups, bowls, a strainer, etc.

My daughter really enjoyed feeling how gooey the mixture was and talked about how it was a “chocolate lake” (for those with kids who love Dora I’m sure you know what she was referring to.)

Once everything was nice and wet and gooey my daughter decided to see what would happen when our “comets” and “meteors” landed in water.  My son loved helping with this part as you can see.

All in all they both had a lot of fun and I think my daughter is finally satisfied with how all those craters on the moon were created.

December 2, 2011

Friday Finds 12/2/11

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Books,DIY — by dsuzuki @ 11:44 pm
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Some of you may know I have a serious Pinterest addiction.  There are a ton of things I want to try but between work, the two kids, the two blogs, etc there just isn’t enough time.  So I just wanted to show case some of the great things I’ve stumbled upon and hope to try one day.  Let me know if you have tried them out yourself and what you thought.

Snow Playdoh

Homemade Glitter

Glitter Playdoh

Starry Night Glitter Jar

Busy Wallet-fill with items for kids-what a good idea!

Use old dresser as a dress up storage

Busy board for the little ones