Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Favorite Homemade Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon cooking oil or baby oil
1 cup water

Mix ingredients together. Stir constantly over medium heat until play dough consistency is formed. Cool and knead. Store in a tightly covered plastic container. Add food coloring to the water before adding it to the other ingredients, or knead in colors at the end while still warm (kids enjoy this part!).

We love this recipe and use it for playgroups and projects all the time! A triple batch makes enough dough for 6-8 kids.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Celebrating Easter with Preschoolers

Easter is hopping up on us, so this week we thought we'd share some of the ways we celebrate this season and holiday with our little chicks.

Easter Decor

Speaking of chicks, our little barnyard babies (stuffed lambs, chicks, ducks, and bunnies) adorn the house to remind us of the new life of Christ.

Check out this cute Nest O' Fluffy Chicks craft over at Family Fun. We'll try this one this week!

And the Bunny Chair Covers look so easy! I'll make these myself this week and surprise the kids when they come out for breakfast one morning...they'll love it!

Eggs - Once a pagan symbol, the egg became a Christian symbol of the empty tomb left behind when Christ rose from the dead. At MOPS last week, we decoupaged eggs using Mod Podge and decorative paper napkin cut-outs. They were pretty cute! The detailed project how-to is over at Martha Stewart's site.

Glittered eggs are always fun and easy for preschoolers. Just let them paint the entire egg with thinned-out glue and then roll it in a bowl of glitter. Dazzling!

Books, books, books - Several weeks before Easter, we pull out all our Spring and Easter books. We have quite a stack, but a few rank among our favorites:
Three Ducks Went Wandering
by Ron Roy, pictures by Paul Galdone
We love the illustrations. Directional phrases like "RIGHT IN FRONT OF..." and "RIGHT UNDER..." are educational and fun, letting the kids guess what's coming next. Paul Galdone is a gifted illustrator.

Seven Little Rabbits

by John Becker, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Fun, repetitive story of seven silly little rabbits who never make it to Toad's house. Barbara Cooney's illustrations are so lovely!

The Golden Egg Book
by Margaret Wise Brown

The author of Goodnight Moon writes a cute tale of a bunny who finds an egg and wonders what could be inside. He falls asleep after his great efforts to crack open the egg (unsuccessfully), at which point the baby duck emerges from his egg and wonders what this furry little brown sleeping thing could be.

Home For A Bunny

by Margaret Wise Brown

A Time to Keep:
The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays

A lovely illustrated book of holidays
and traditions of old...very nostalgic and sweet!

We also have a couple of children's bibles and bible storybooks that tell the Easter story. We read this during devotional time before we make our resurrection crosses. I'll post more details about the playdough resurrection cross tomorrow!

Do you have any favorite Easter books or traditions?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Time to Get a Timer?

Check out my list of great uses for timers with preschoolers over at MotleyMoms:

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Book, a Boy, and a Body

Kids never cease to amaze me with their natural curiosity and limitless enthusiasm for things that inspire them! Our son, age 5, recently amazed us with his artistic (and scientific) rendition of the human body. As is often the case around here, the jumping off point was a book he read before bed with his daddy, The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. (We love this series of science discovery books. They're well-illustrated by the talented Bruce Degen, and offer lots of detailed information about each topic in a very kid-friendly format.)

Upon waking the next morning, KID 1 informed us, "I'm going to make the human body today!"

"Oh. Okaaaaay...how do you plan to do that?" I inquired, my curiosity piqued.

I offered clay, but he declined. He said he needed paper, markers, and paint.

"Great!" I responded enthusiastically, relieved that we had all those supplies on hand.

He proceded to set his easel area, completely unassisted, with every paint pot we own, each with its own paintbrush standing at the ready.

I noticed he had found the Magic School Bus book from the previous evening's bedtime reading, along with a larger lift-the-flap book of the human body. Both were propped at his feet, ready for close inspection.

I taped up his paper and he set to work immediately, starting with an outline of a body. Then he was flipping through his books feverishly, stopping on pages that intrigued him to add an organ here, a blood vessel there, a representative bone or an important muscle. The end result is amazing (and funny: note the green blob of brain!).

When he finished his painting, I asked him about each part he included in his body and he matter-of-factly named each one for me so I could label it. Kidneys. Esophagus. Windpipe. Large intestine. Small intestine. The villi inside the small intestine. All the while, I'm thinking "Is this normal? He's only five! How does he remember all this, yet can't identify letter "Gg" correctly?"

Thank God for good books that feed my child what I didn't know he craved. Amazing.

Lent for Preschoolers: A Hands-On Activity

We love making our faith a more hands-on experience for our children, especially during important seasons of the religious calendar. Lent can be a tough one to explain in a tangible way, but most kids are familiar with the phrase "Jesus is the light of the world."

Building on this concept, last year I gave my 4-year-old a batch of white playdough and a few smaller balls of colored dough to create his Resurrection Cross. You can read about it on my MotleyMoms post and see a couple of photos of this easy project.

Have fun!