Monday, September 29, 2008

Cowboys, Scarecrows, and Bunnies...OH, MY!

It's the Sheriff! No, he's a farmer. Wait, I think he's a cowboy!
"If I Only Had a Brain!"

KID 2 made her debut just days before Fall Fest.
Our Little Hunny Bunny had no idea how cute she was!
I wonder what myterious guests will visit this year?
I'd love for them to be Hansel and Gretel...KID 1 may not go for it, though. Maybe I can bribe him with lederhosen and a bag of bread crumbs to drop wherever he goes!

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Memory

The Old Man Goes to the Big House (OFD)

His Captivated Audience

The Storyteller and His Legacy

The Storyteller
by Donna

He wears a cold one in his hand,
His blue eyes buzz intense.
A long cool sip and frothy lip,
He holds us in suspense.

"I was watching the kids one day,
Keeping track of all ten.
Jimmy was only four years old -"
I don't mind hearing this one again.

I watch him as he tells his tale;
Is he really eighty-two?
So alive, determined and fierce,
An old tale told anew.

"I couldn't find him anywhere--
I thought I'd lost a child..."
His face still reflects the fear he felt,
His imagination still runs wild with "What If?"

"I got home, heard Jimmy was missing and--"
Grandma starts to tell me.
Papa gives her the Irish eye,
"Eh! You wanna tell the story?"

He crosses his arms over his chest
And leans back in his chair.
Grandma presses her lips and smiles,
Ignoring his reproachful glare.

"Anyway, we finally found Jimmy."
This is my favorite part--
"He was sound asleep on the toilet! Ha!"
He claps his hand to his heart.

He reaches for his sweaty mug,
Which indicates he's done.
He gulps it down, sets it aside,
And begins another one.

We'll always remember our Storyteller and the Wise Woman who knew to just press her lips and smile.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Worms in Dirt...Yum!

We started a compost heap back in Letter Cc Week, and now we can start putting some of that rich dark soil to work in our fall vegetable garden. We're very excited about that!

One of the cool benefits of a compost pile is sifting through and finding lots of earthworms, studying them, singing about them, fighting over them, crying over them because KID 2 ran away with KID 1's earthworm and dropped it in the grass and now he can't find it and needs to throw the World's Biggest Tantrum, reading about them, and, sweetest of all, making "Worms in Dirt" for dessert!

Get a package of chocolate pudding and prepare according to package directions. Top with crushed chocolate cookies (dirt) and gummy worms crawling out. We even served ours in small just tastes better that way!
This is a great creepy, crawly dessert for October.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesdays Are For Whirling

We're looking forward to Musikgarten class this afternoon...

her teacher will be so impressed!

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Fall

"Mommy! MOMMMMMY!!!" Little feet come pounding across the house toward my office. "Today is the first day of fall! I get to wear my pumpkin shirt now!"

His excitement amazes me, since we live in Florida...there is no "fall" in Florida. Just more heat. A little less humidity. If we're lucky. Oh, and hurricanes. Nothing says "fall" like a hurricane, right?

These leaves were stowed in a suitcase in Silver Bay, NY, by my sister-in-law. She hiked into the Adirondack mountains to find the prettiest leaves for KID 1 and KID 2, knowing this little piece of fall would thrill and inspire them.

I'm seeing leaf rubbings in our future. And maybe some fall decorations, hung enthusiastically by a four-year-old in bright orange fishy shorts and long-sleeved jack-o-lantern t-shirt. Now that's style!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MapQuest for Letter Mm

We printed out a map of our neighborhood on and have been using it all week to plan our route:
  • to the park

  • to our church

  • to the library

KID 1 loves being the map reader, marking our route before we step out the door, map in hand. Along the way, we make a note of everything we see that starts with "Mm." I will turn our word search into word cards for him to glue corresponding pictures from magazines on the back.

Some "Mm" words we found:

  • mailbox
  • magnolia seeds
  • moss
  • moth
  • mower
  • month (printed on a "Yard of the Month" sign)
  • movers (on the side of the moving truck that delivered our piano!)

For more frugal tips and tricks, go here.

Painting with Magnets

Continuing on with our exploration of letter Mm, we tried a new "Mark-Making" art activity: Magnet Painting.

We have a set of Magnetix ($3 at a children's consignment sale) that works perfectly for this activity. I cut some of our easel paper to fit a cookie sheet and taped it in place. If you have strong enough magnets, you could just use the tabletop. KID 1 used two metal balls and two magnetic posts, one for each hand.

He really enjoyed sliding his magnets around the bottom of his tray and watching the effects as the little metal balls rolled through magenta paint.

Special Note: The "stand" for the cookie sheet is actually a tv table turned upside down! Whatever works, right? The links below show three different sizes available in these magnetic building sets. The smaller sets have smaller balls that could be a choking hazard for little ones. Any of these sets would work for this art project, plus add a science toy to your playroom. What a great way to learn cause and effect!

For more tips and tricks, head on over to Works-For-Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Musical Murals

We're learning about letter "Mm" this week, and I'm anxious to share one of our very cool activities!

On Monday, I cut a big, long piece of easel paper and taped it to the floor. I gave both kids their own set of crayons (we used Colorations Silky Sticks, which are soft and glide over the paper).

To prepare them for the activity, I told them to just listen to the music and draw what they feel. I didn't say much more than that, and they didn't really need to know more. After a questioning look from KID 1 (What are we supposed to do?), I reassured him that he would know how to draw the music once he heard it.

The first piece of music I selected for them to "draw" was "Moonlight Sonata," which has lots of repetitions. It's very smooth music, and my 4-year-old really reflected the feel of the music as he drew, using large, sweeping movements of his arm in concentric circles. My toddler tapped, dabbed, and pounded her crayon to the beat, raising her crayon over her head with a flourish as she looked up to see if we were watching.

I tried to melt into the background and just observe, occasionally reminding them with a hand signal to just listen. I didn't want them to feel their art time was a performance, but it sure was fascinating to watch!

The second piece was my husband's choice (he was home from work by then and thoroughly fascinated by this little experiment) and we moved this new mural up to the table so the kids could really move their whole bodies. He chose "Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)" from the Swing Kids soundtrack. Oh, my goodness, it was so funny to watch! And what a difference between the two pieces of art! Fast, jaunty scribbles took up the center of the page as his feet flew beneath him! Watch our's too funny!

Combining our love of art and music really works for us!

Monday, September 15, 2008

This Little Piggy Went Weee! Weee! Weee! All the way to the bank!

We've been using coins as math manipulatives.

Counting and sorting are so much fun
when you know you get to "keep the change" when you're done!
I labeled zipper bags with the coin names, so when KID 1 finished sorting and counting, he had to find the correct bag for each one. He could recognize the names by their beginning sound/letter.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cheapie Challenge: Make-Your-Own Popcorn Containers

We decided we wanted popcorn for snack the other day when my nine-year-old niece came to visit us. On the spur of the moment, rather than grabbing bowls out of the cabinet, I thought I'd challenge them while they watched their movie and waited for their snack.

The challenge: Create a container for their popcorn using only the materials I provided.
Here is what I gave them:
  • One square sheet of waxed paper
  • A roll of transparent tape
Here are their creations...

Frugal, but fun!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Letter "Cc"...continued...

Briefly the world's tallest building, the Chrysler building is truly an American icon in architecture and the New York skyline. We are using clay to make miniature sculptures of the Chrysler building today. This gives us an opportunity to talk about uppercase and lowercase letters and when to use them.

Adorned with metal hubcaps, radiator caps, car fenders, and hood ornaments, as the name suggests, this building gets much of it's inspiration from a car! If it has anything to do with cars, it works for us!

Happy Works-for-Me Wednesday!

The follow-up: Sculpting was very challenging, but we had so much fun making all sorts of things!

My nine-year-old niece and my son really "went to town" with their creations. He sculpted a city and she did a shoreline with a lighthouse and the Little Mermaid on her rock!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Introducing....the Letter "Cc"

Both kids made their letter "Cc" signs using corn kernels...
I "wrote" the letters in glue and they stuck the corn on. Creative and cute! (Our letter signs are made from cardboard diaper boxes, cut into 6x6" squares.)

We're celebrating the letter "Cc" today by cutting cheese and crunching crackers. We only buy big blocks of cheese's much cheaper and the kids love cutting it themselves!

We conspired to clear the clutter from our yard. And KID 1 is learning about composting in the garden to enrich the soil. We love this because it means less waste!

We also created cookie cutter sandwiches and concocted a fun cooperative art piece using bubble solution and powdered tempera paint.

We'll be making cupcakes later in the week, of course, and I'd love to take the kids to a local candy factory to see how their confections are made. Cool, huh?

Can you tell we're kinda crazy about the letter "Cc" around here?

Any more frugal ideas for us to introduce the letter "Cc" this week?

Messy Art Table

Our art table is always a mess! I love to give my kids access to their art supplies, but we need a better way to organize them so that clean-up isn't such a chore.

Here is a brief overview of our basic materials:

LOTS of paper, different sizes
Paint - watercolor palettes, powdered tempera, poster paint, finger paint
Colored Pencils
Stamps and ink pads
writing paper
fat writing pencils
paper punches
paint applicators

How do you organize your materials? Do you limit child access to them? What works for you?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Letter C Week Begins: We're going to a cookout and we're bringing corn on the cob! What are you doing to celebrate this last hurrah of summer?