Adventures of the Non-Creative Mom

May 29, 2012

Tinker Lab #1: Dr. Seuss

Filed under: Arts and Crafts — by dsuzuki @ 10:24 pm
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Ever since Earth Day and trying to think of ways to reuse items we would normally toss into the trash can or into our recycling bin I had been tossing around the idea of building “tinker lab” kits for my 4 year old. They are basically a bunch of items I set aside for future projects, scissors, glue and tape and instead of telling her what to do I just told her use her imagination and create whatever she wanted.

At first she was a little leery and said she didn’t know what to do but she quickly got into the spirit of things.  For this kit this is what I set out for her:

Tinker Lab

She started off making whiskers here for her Cat in the Hat:

Cat in the Hat Tinker Lab

I stepped back and just watched what she did without giving her any direction and she amazed me.

Cat in the Hat Tinker Lab

When she finally finished her Cat in the Hat she asked for my help in cutting the pink ribbon to “frame” her picture and she also requested some dried macaroni for the cat’s face but otherwise that was the extent of my help. I actually think she did a pretty darn good job making her Cat in the Hat from memory.

Final Cat in the Hat Tinker Lab

Sometimes I get so caught up in creating projects for my daughter to do and telling her the steps that I forget just how creative kids can be when you let them be in the driver’s seat.  She enjoyed this tinker lab so much we did another one later that night with a robot theme (post on that will be coming) and we also painting a “flower” using some cardboard and a straw.

She also cracked me up today when she decided she was going to tape this up on the wall and watch Cat in the Hat “on tv” and sat in a chair looking at her picture.  I asked her if the Cat in the Hat show was interesting and she said “not really, he’s just staring at me.” LOL. It made me wonder what she was expecting or thinking when she did this.

May 21, 2012

Win $25 of Usborne Children Books

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 9:38 am
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Usborne Books & More

How To Win

If you saw my post about becoming an Usborne Books & More consultant recently then you know how excited I am about these books.  To celebrate I am going to be doing a giveaway of $25 worth of Usborne books.  All you have to do is simply place one order (no minimum order. Books as low as $4.99) from my online store and let me know in the comments what book you ordered and an email address to contact you at if you are the winner (note I will need to verify with the winner the email used for placing the order to confirm.). For every 10 people who enter I will increase the dollar amount of books you could win by $5 so tell your friends. 🙂 This giveaway will run until June 18 and is open to US only.

What Are Usborne Books?

Usborne books are high quality books for infants, toddlers, elementary school age and middle grade children.  Usborne books are no longer sold to Amazon or Amazon resellers so soon (if not already) these titles will be disappearing form their site.  They are a great deal and I’ve become a consultant become both my kids love the books we get from them.

80% of Usborne books are under $10 and there are great value packs that allow you to save more. If you end up spending $40 or more you qualify for this month’s special of choosing up to 3 books for more than 60% off from here.

Some of our favorites are:

That's not my dinosaur...

That’s Not My Dinosaur $8.99

That's not my penguin

That’s Not My Penguin $8.99

Farmyard Tales

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales (includes 20 stories & a Read Along CD) $24.99

 Earn Free Books

If you are interested in earning free books you can host a book show (for most of you who are remote this can be done online). Simply contact me, we will set up an eShow and then you send the link to all your family and friends.  The show will run for a set period of time and if at the end of the show your sales total at least $250 you will earn $40 in free books.  If you host your show by July 27, 2012 I can double that so that you earn $80 in free books.  For every additional $50 in sales that come in from your show you earn another $10 of free books.  i.e. If your show brings in a total sales of $350 you earn $60 in free books or if you host prior to July 27 you earn $120 in free books.

May 19, 2012

Digging for Dinosaurs

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Outdoor Activities — by dsuzuki @ 11:33 pm
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Recently every time we go out in our backyard to play my 4 year old wants to dig for dinosaur bones.  She won’t believe me when I tell her I don’t think we will find any in our yard and she is so disappointed every time she turns up nothing.  So I decided to try out this dinosaur “fossils” activity I saw on Pinterest.  She had a blast but if I ever do it again I definitely need to get a wider variety of dinosaurs. Most of the ones we had were triceratops and just one velociraptor.

Making the rocks was pretty easy.  It ended up looking like this:

Rock mix

And then I wrapped the plastic dinosaurs I picked up from the Dollar Tree in the goop and laid them out in the sun to dry. They did kind of look like piles of poop initially so I had to warn my dad not to toss them out!  I turned them over after one day so the bottoms wouldn’t be too flat.  They were dry enough to remold into a rockish shape.

Dinosaur Eggs

I let them dry for about 2.5 days before my daughter was too impatient to wait any longer. They were solid enough as long as you weren’t really squeezing hard to purposely squish them.

Dry rocks

I buried them around her sand box and then let her go exploring and digging to find them.

Digging for dinosaursDiscovery!

and then she had a ton of fun cracking them open.

Uncovering the dinosaur

Once all eggs were found and cracked open we took the dinosaurs over to the “dino wash” to get the rest of the remaining pieces of rock that was stuck on the dinosaurs. Luckily we have this big wading pool that is filled with water that I’ve been trying to use up watering plants over for activities like this so it’s not a waste to just dump it all out.

Dino washDino wash 2

Dino wash 3

And then of course came the playing with the dinosaurs in their under water world.

Dino play

These were really easy to make and it kept her busy and happy that she finally got to dig up dinosaurs!

May 18, 2012

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Little Wonders' Days

I stumbled across this post on Pinterest and thought having a summer bucket list broken down by amount of time needed would be great.  That way when we do have a free day, morning or after I can just go down our list and see what fits.  I have a ton of things pinned on Pinterest but I tried to choose the ones where I already have the materials at home so setting up wouldn’t be too hard.

So here is what is on our bucket list so far:

Full Day Activities

Half Day Activities

  • Host a summer book exchange party
  • Go to the park
  • Go to the aquatic center
  • Cherry picking

Two Hour or Less Activities

May 17, 2012

See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 10:49 pm
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See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes

Sometimes it pays to check out a book that you never would have picked up before.  If you saw my post the other week you know I signed up to be an Usborne consultant because I wanted to buy so many children’s books from them that it made more sense to buy their consultant kit and then I fell in love.  This See Inside Your Body book was one of the books included in the kit that I had never heard of before and I was not about to push a book I hadn’t read before so my 4 yr old and I picked it up for bedtime tonight.  She loved it!  And I will admit I learned some new things too and got a refresher of things I hadn’t remembered from school.

Initially when we opened it up it looked a little daunting with the illustrations of the human skeleton and all the words.  The flaps were the main reason she was willing to give it a try and once we worked through each flap and I started reading the little blurbs she soon became fascinated.  One page talked about the bones in our body and as we read through that we looked at our hands and legs and imagined what would it be like if they were made up on one big bone instead of smaller bones connected to form joints that let us bend and move.

Her favorite section was about the brain and how it passes messages to the rest of your body to tell you to swat a fly or her favorite, to tell you your foot stinks when you sniff your toes at the end of the day!  That had her giggling even after we had to put the book down and turn out the lights.

For those with 5+ year olds (or 4 year olds who enjoy more non-fiction type books) don’t let the subject matter or  the fact that this isn’t a story book put you off.  It’s a fascinating read and makes for a good discussion book about how your body works.  We looked at our joints and veins, took deeps breathes and exhales to see how our lungs and diaphragm feel as we filled our lungs and let the air out, talked about why scabs forms on cuts and picking at them can cause new bleeding and acted out silly messages our brains could send the rest of our body.  Definitely glad I was sent this book and that we took a chance on reading it tonight.  My daughter has already told me she wants to take this for Sharing Day at school tomorrow.

May 15, 2012

Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Filed under: Books — by dsuzuki @ 10:45 pm
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Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I stumbled across this book when I looked up Duck! Rabbit! on Goodreads since my four-year old loved that one.  Yes Day! sounded like a cute book especially since I do felt bad telling my kids no all the time.  I picked it up from the library yesterday and pulled it out for bedtime reading tonight.  My four-year old really enjoyed as I suspected she would but I was surprise how much my 22 month old liked it as well.   It may be because his big sister was giggling most of the time and I’ll admit I hammed it up reading and acting out how excited the boy was over yes day.  Some of our favorite activities he got to do on yes day were eating outside which consisted of sitting on a tall ladder so he could eat on the dining table but from outside the window and staying up late lying outside under the stars and moon.  Ever since my daughter has developed this fascination with space she begs each night to go outside and see the stars and the moon and wishes on a star each night that she will see a shooting star.

The inside of the cover flaps also has funny illustrations and ways of saying “No!” for each day of the month until we reach Yes Day.  I skipped it at the beginning because I didn’t think the kiddos would get it but after the story was done I did read through them and they got a few laughs out of some of them. I think my son just enjoyed hearing “No!” over and over. lol.  I will admit to some guilt over how many of the “no” sayings I have used on my kids.

I wouldn’t be surprised after reading this one a few more times if my daughter starts asking for a yes day.

May 13, 2012

Recycling: Treasure Box

Filed under: Arts and Crafts — by dsuzuki @ 10:18 pm
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My husband bought some ginger tea that came in this pretty solid container that I knew was just waiting for an arts and crafts project for my four year old.

Tea Box

I had to do some work but I also needed to keep my daughter occupied so I whipped out this box and glued a piece of construction paper over the label on the box, laid out a bunch of random pieces of things she could use to decorate the box and a bottle of glue.

treasure box

As expected there was heavy glue usage but she had a great time decorating.

Treasure Box 2

And she was very proud of the finished piece.

Final Treasure Box

Once everything dried she was excitedly running around the house picking out her favorite items that she wanted to store in her treasure box.  I found it adorable that the first item was a picture of her cousin aka her “best friend”.

One of the greatest things about this project was a) I didn’t have to buy anything for it. We had the box from the husband’s tea, the tiles, snowflakes, etc were all left over pieces from past projects or Christmas gifts, b) it definitely kept her busy while I got some work done and c) it was something my daughter could actually use.

May 11, 2012

Exciting News!

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 12:27 am

Usborne Books

I’ve been so excited to finally share the news that I am now an official Usborne Books consultant.  Basically what this means is I now have the ability to showcase and provide an opportunity for others to buy some awesome books from Usborne and provide people with the opportunity to earn free books.  I also learned that Usborne no longer sells their books to Amazon in protest of their attempts to control publishers and wipe out smaller, independent bookstores.

What this doesn’t mean…This will not affect my personal reviews about any books posted on this site.  I promise to continue to provide my honest opinion and opinions of my children about any book discussed on this site.  The main reason I joined Usborne was I was surprised how many of the books we love and that I was curious to get for my kids are Usborne books.

Two of our favorites:

That's not my dinosaur...

That’s not my dinosaur…

 That's not my penguin

That’s not my penguin…

At first I didn’t realize there was an entire series of these “That’s not my…” books but both my kids love them.  Each page has a different texture on it like “rough”, “fuzzy”, “slippery”, etc. and they enjoy touching each page.

Another series that I’ve had my eye on and just found out they are Usborne books as well are:

How Big is a million?

How Big is a Million?

 I saw How Big is a Million? in the store and after browsing online I found out there is also How Deep is the Sea? and How High is the Sky?

And the last book that was already on my wish list was:

On the Moon

On the Moon

 This one caught my eye since if you have read my earlier post you know that my four year old is on a space kick and loves reading any book about outer space.

You can be sure that I’ll be getting these and letting you know what the kiddos think of them.  If you are interested in purchasing any Usborne books I would appreciate if you would purchase through my online store but even if you buy elsewhere I doubt you will be disappointed in these books.

If you are like me and always want more books than my wallet can handle you can also contact me about “hosting” an eShow to which you can invite your friends. Through the month of May the more purchases made during your show the more free books you can earn.

May 9, 2012

Get Ready for the Children’s Summer Reading Programs

Filed under: Books,Learning — by dsuzuki @ 11:26 pm
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Can you believe the summer is almost here?  This year is going by so fast and I’m sure the summer will go by just as fast and I will find myself sending my daughter off to kindergarten!  I can’t believe how quickly they grow up and we just don’t realize it.  I was doing bedtime stories with her last night and to my surprise she read through 22 pages of an early reader book with minimal help on my part.  I was floored. She’s always loved books but when did she grow old enough to start reading on her own?

But I’m going slightly off track. This made me realize that soon she will be participating in reading programs/challenges and I’ve seen several upcoming summer programs.  Here are a few that you might want to check out.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

New York, NY–May 1, 2012– While athletes prepare for the 2012 Summer Olympics, kids will compete in their own challenge – the Scholastic Summer Challenge  a free, interactive reading program dedicated to helping kids keep their reading skills sharp throughout the summer by reading every day.  Kids everywhere willRead for the World Record by logging the minutes they spend reading this summer and attempting to beat the current world record of 64,213,141 minutes set during summer 2011. The 20 schools whose students log the most minutes will be recognized in the 2013 Scholastic Book of World Records.  Go to their site for more info.

PBS Kids iVillage Summer Reading Challenge

From PBS Kids’ website: Fight the summer slide and keep your child reading and learning all summer long with our free six-week program.

Sign up now and starting June 18 , you’ll get daily emails with literacy-building tips and activities from experts at PBS KIDS and Scholastic.

You’ll also get book suggestions and discounts, free downloads of PBS KIDS shows and a daily chance to win $1,000 and other great prizes.

Help your child discover the joys of reading. Sign up now!

Read More

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Program

How kids 14 and under can participate:

  1. Read for at least 15 minutes each day for a month.
    (Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning.)
  2. Add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week.
  3. Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed reading log PDF to earn your $5 HPB Back-to-School Bucks reading reward for the month.
  4. We’ll award one top reader per age group each month with a TOP READER prize – a $20 HPB Gift Card!*

Get more info at Half Price Books.

Barnes and Nobles Imagination Destination

Kids read 8 books and record it in their journal. Take the journal into a local B&N store and get a free book.  See their website for more details.

Check Your Local Library

I’m sure as summer approaches most public library’s will be running some sort of summer reading program so be sure to check our local branch.

May 7, 2012

Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Up and Away

Filed under: DVDs — by dsuzuki @ 10:46 pm
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Cat in the Hat Up and Away

A little over a month ago I was lucky enough to win a giveaway that included this dvd: Cat in the Hat: Up and Away! and I was curious because while we have read some of the Cat in the Hat books I’ve never seen the cartoon.  My 4 year old curious as ever found the dvd and immediately wanted to open it and watch it.  It was all over from there.  She wanted to watch it every day and while it’s actually kind of interesting even for me and has a few funny parts after watching it for the umpteenth time I was getting a little sick of it.  Luckily PBS kids has it on tv so I’ve managed to record some episodes to add variety to the rotation.

Her favorite episode so far is when Nick and Sally go to meet Humphrey the whale to get singing lessons.  There’s one line with the kids screeching “caakke!” and the Cat in the Hat shows up yowling “caat!” that she cracks up over no matter how many times she watches it.  When her grandmother arrived for a visit my daughter insisted grandma just had to watch this part because “it’s so funny!” as she puts it.

I have become quite a fan of Cat in the Hat videos as well as they are funny yet informative.  My daughter does bring up random facts she remembers from watching these episodes and she will ask me questions about things she sees in the video.  My almost 2 year old will watch it as well but he still prefers Max and Ruby so it has proved to be a challenge in limiting tv time yet being fair as to letting them both see their show.

If your child is a fan of Cat in the Hat or even if they are new to it I would highly suggest the series and in particular this DVD.

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