Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Fairy-fly Birthday

My daughter loves flowers and butterflies.  And every fairy is a butterfly in her three year old world.
Perhaps I intuitively suspected she might have leanings like this (or maybe it's because I love fairies myself), but when she was a mere five months old, I took a photo of her and transformed my little baby, with the help of Photoshop, into a little flower fairy.

Now, here we are at her third birthday, and there are so many delightful things to plan and do.  On the menu:

Butterfly Sandwiches (Made from homemade PINK bread colored with beet juice and cut out using a cookie cutter that worked surprisingly well on the bread and cheese--the ham was trickier!)

Cherry Butterfly Shish Kabobs (pictured here:)

Strawberry Fairy Mushrooms (Just a marshmallow for a stem and a strawberry for the top.  I used frosting for the little spots on the mushrooms to give it that classic fairy tale look)

Filled Butterfly Wing Clothespin Treats (Filled with blueberries on one side and salami and cheese bits on the other)

Flower Cupcakes (for those who might not like a fondant covered cake.)

Those delightful cupcake holders are available at Walmart and add SO much to the cupcakes.

The table was covered with empty cardboard boxes first to give us varying heights.  The fairy castle and toys were picked up at a consignment store for $6.00.  The green sheer canopy that hung over it all is usually in my daughter's room, hanging over her special chair.  But today it provided us the perfect fairytale drapery.

The large fabric butterfly was a thrift store find and the balloon flowers were a delightful addition to the background.

We had two games planned for our preschool bunch, and this first one was the biggest hit.  The children were told that butterflies and bees love to collect pollen, and were ushered outside where tiny gifts had been pre-wrapped in yellow vinyl (formerly a tablecloth from Dollar Tree, which is less expensive than tissue paper, and more hardy for a lawn game).

With their little paper buckets in hand, the children ran about the lawn (the younger ones were given a head-start as if they were on an Easter egg hunt) and gathered up their little treasures. 

The second game involved paddles the children had painted earlier with flowers.

Using these flower paddles, they batted away at a balloon bee (decorated with a Sharpie).  This was a hit also, except that our "bee" had a tendency to pop when it hit the grass, so I would recommend this one for an inside game.

There is something so delightful about a children's birthday party.  Their innocence and wonder make it so much fun.  You might ask, "Why put so much time and effort into something that is over and a complete disaster in a matter of hours?"

And this 1 minute video would be my answer:

Hope you find wonderful ideas here!  Things for visiting!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snow Igloo Fun

We get lovely snow here in Denver, and having covered the letter I and igloos earlier in the year, my husband decided it was time to make one for the kiddos.  Here's the chronicling of their creation.

  Daniel marked out the place and size for the igloo.  Then, using a plastic tub (shown in photo beneath), he made solid bricks with the snow.  You do need wet snow, and ours was nice and wet once the sun hit it and began to melt it just a tad.

Then, they would turn the bricks out on the snow and re-place them where they wanted them to go.  The kitchen knife was for leveling stuff off.

This was much harder work then it may look, and halfway through both igloo makers took a hot chocolate break...

And had some Snow Ice Cream, which you can find the recipe for here:

Then the went out and hit it again...and at dusk, it looked like this:

 The colored window is made from colored ice that we froze in baby food containers in preparation to create a fun colored window in one side of the igloo.  Problem was:  the containers were too small and melted before we finished, so we came up with another way which you will see later...

Thank goodness, more snow was on the forecast because they were going to need more for the top of the igloo.  Next snowy day, here they are, finishing it off...

Even at half way through, the kids were having a blast with the igloo. 

Once it was this far completed, I think they figured that this was the coolest thing they'd ever seen made from snow.  Caedyn told his daddy, "Wow.  I love you, Daddy."  Which is always fun to hear.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, we had frozen these colored ice globes in celebration of New Years...
These things were really fun and we got a lot of compliments on them.  We made them simply by filling up some large latex balloons with water and then dropping a couple drops of food coloring in the water before knotting up the balloon.
Once frozen, these puppies were solid, SOLID and very pretty in the sunshine.  We moved them around back and...voila!

And a few days later, after the Denver sunshine had a chance to melt everything down...

And the next day after, the joys of kicking the last of it all to pieces with the help of a few neighbors!

It's snowing again now as I write this down...just imagine the possibilities that await.  Just get out there and create!  Woo hoo!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Letter of the Week for X

Let's talk the letter X for a moment, shall we?

Because we all know, it is not the most utilized letter in the alphabet.  In fact, sometimes, this poor letter seems to be downright ignored.  But you can't blame folks.

I mean, X usually gets put at the end of words, or somewhere in the middle.  So finding activities to work with it can be tricky.  This is EXACTLY why Glimmercat Education decided to offer a packet full of ideas and activities for free.

Not only do we have crafts related to the letter X (an X-ray craft, an xylophone, the ever popular X-ray fish, and creating your very own boX), but we also include a fun Dot-to-Dot, an "X marks the spot" color by letter treasure map, and lesson plans if you wish to try these activities out in a Letter of the Week styled program.

We also recommend some lovely picture books, "Christina Katerina and the Box" by Patricia Lee Gauch and "Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis.

But enough talk!  Let's explore some of the pages we include in this fun pdf packet that is downloadable for free right here:

 We try to introduce every one of our new letters with a picture that tells a story to illustrate the sound.  This is our introductory letter card that tells the story for X:

With this picture, we introduce the letter X, the sound of X and X-rays all at the same time!

We pretend that our friendly character Glimmercat discovers an X-Ray machine and when the machine takes her X-ray (Xxxx!) she here's the X sound (Xxxx!).  Of course, it is super important to put a lot of fun emphasis on the Xxxx! when you say it.

Then, we explore the letter X through flash cards, or this fun Matching Game...


And with this X-citing introduction to a variety of words containing the letter X, we can begin some of the delightful letter X crafts, like the Xylophone.

 When we first released this post, the top image looked like this: 

But we upgraded a few things for the packet.  This is our new Xylophone Craft:

So although, I love the Xylophone Craft that we did before, using popsicle sticks and colored foam, you can't exactly print it out.  I'm still going to leave these photos here, because I think if you can do this craft with the foam, it was a lot of fun for my kiddos.

It was a great craft for discussing colors, different sizes, "longest" and "shortest", and putting things in order, small to large.

  Especially after they watched this video of this little girl rocking out on her xylophone like a boss:

Isn't that awesome?

So, for the classic X-ray craft, last time we traced little hands on wax paper and then used hot glue to recreate the "bones".  I wielded the glue gun, but after the glue cooled, the kids were able to peel their "bones" right off and then glue it to the black paper.

I still love the idea above, and would recommend it, but for an easily printable classroom craft, we created a unique and fun X-ray Craft, here:

Now, you can use a photo of your child, like I did here:

Or your child can draw in the face and then add the small Q-tip pieces and the little heart.

Then, there was our X-ray fish that we made last time using glue and food dye to color their insides.   

Here was the problem we ran into with this one:  it took so long for the glue to dry in the air-tight baggy that it was a tricky craft to complete in one day.  Which isn't always practical.  But they turned out so cool!

The "bones" were just white foam cutouts (like the foam squares we used in the xylophone, but white instead.  We tucked our fishy bones inside the sealing plastic bag, too.

The finished product, with googly eyes was very fun and the kids were very happy with their X-ray Tetra fish. So, I figured, maybe we could create something similar as a printable.  Here's what we made:

Since it is just paper, we didn't add colored glue to the inside of the baggies.  We glued the fishy skeleton inside the baggie, and added the other parts to the outside with glue.

And we discovered such a fun book for our Reading Literacy Page!  Now, the letter X being what it is, there aren't a whole lot of children's books that begin with X.  But, there are some useful words that include x in them, and so we made the most of the word "Box" and focused on the X at the end of the word.  And thinking in this direction, we snagged this amazing book called "Christina Katerina and the Box".

This is the story we utilized for our Reading Literacy activity:

AND for our last craft, my son created a Box of his own with our printable Box and decorated it all himself.

Because that's what boxes are really for, as every child knows, especially Christina Katerina.

For a lot more X activities, both printables, reading literacy activities, flash cards and a Letter X Matching Game, all FREE FOR DOWNLOAD head over to our teacher store here

For the other alphabet letter of the week packets, we offer the following blog links with crafts included:

Letter of the Week for A

Letter of the Week for B

Letter of the Week for C

Letter of the Week for D

Letter of the Week for E  

Letter of the Week for F

Letter of the Week for G

Letter of the Week for H

Letter of the Week for I

Letter of the Week for J

Letter of the Week for K

Letter of the Week for L

Letter of the Week for M

Letter of the Week for N

Letter of the Week for O

Letter of the Week for P

Letter of the Week for Q

Letter of the Week for R

Letter of the Week for S

Letter of the Week for T

Letter of the Week for U

Letter of the Week for V

Letter of the Week for W

Letter of the Week for X

Letter of the Week for Z

Friday, January 9, 2015

Squinkie Village Remodel

UPDATE:  This has been a very popular post, so if you're contemplating doing this yourself, I want to mention another remodel we did, this time using a free end table. 

 This end table was another fun remodel that my children love playing with, but it takes up less space, which is helpful sometimes for those of us with smaller spaces!  

Everyone knows about train tables.  Toddlers and preschool age kiddos flock to the kids' section in Barnes and Noble just for the fun of the knee-high Thomas the Train table and the toys which dazzle its surface.  But what if your kid (my daughter, for instance), is more interested in Squinkies or Calico Critters than trains?
Train Table listed on craigslist
Buy an old train table off of craigslist and upcycle that bad boy into a Squinke Village (or My Little Pony Paradise or Calico Critter Town or Littlest Pet Shop Haven or...?)
Our train table remodel: Squinkie Village Extraordinaire

Here's what we did with ours using acrylic paint, Dollar Tree foam, beads, glass balls and glitter.  Be sure to finish off with a thorough coat of ModPodge to ensure your upgrade can withstand hours of play and still look amazing.
Those glass beads in the photo above hail from Dollar Tree.  The white 3D edging came from there, too and as an added benni, it glows in the dark. 
An overhead view
We set out my daughter's little Squinkie houses and sets on the old train table and then we redrew and designed the surface around them, trying to ensure that every little toy set faces outward so that she can walk around her table to play in front of each one.
Close-up of the Squinkie Mansion
And just what is a Squinkie, you may ask?  Tiny little rubber dolls that often come from one of those little toy dispensers.  We got our sets at the thrift store, and my daughter adores them.

Here's the Official Home of Squinkies (since I know you are curious):

So, go ahead--don't be afraid.  Grab one of those used Train Tables and remodel that sucker!  Use weird elements  like 3D moldable Styrofoam and create something new and awesome.  And post a link here in the comments!  I'd love to see what you make!