Thursday, March 3, 2011

Letter of the Week....J is for Jellyfish

Hello out there in blogland!

Here is our latest addition of Letter of the Week....J is for Jellyfish.

(Beautiful, right??)

Finding Nemo (Storybook and CD)
We first read skimmed this Finding Nemo was a little too detailed for my audience of a 2, 3, and 4 year old!  But the pictures were great, and most importantly it has pictures of jellyfish.  And it's Nemo!  We love Nemo!


We then read a little bit online about jellyfish and learned some cool facts....some of the highlights:

- Jellyfish are not fish!
- Jellyfish have no brain
- Jellyfish eat AND "go potty" through their mouth (followed by a chorus of *eeeews*)
- Some jellyfish are reeeeally big (as big as Daddy) and some can fit in the palm of your hand
- Jellyfish have long tentacles that they use to catch food, keep themselves safe, and would sting you if you touch them!

I also found this video on YouTube that we watched over and over (and over) again.  Very calming and peaceful!  We might work this into our bedtime routine at the end of a busy night...

Moving on- our jellyfish craft (and stArt project!)

The girls first colored with crayons on the outside of a paper plate, then I cut them in half and they painted with watercolors- obviously you could cut the plate in half at any step, before coloring or after painting....I just chose the middle!  Then they helped me tape crepe paper and curling ribbon to the inside of each paper plate and I stapled the two halves together.  We hung them up on our kitchen light with fishing line and they were exquisite (that's fancy for beautiful....sorry, I sometimes speak as though I am IN a Fancy Nancy book at all times)

We hung them up on our kitchen light with fishing line and they were exquisite (that's fancy for beautiful....sorry....I sometimes speak as though I am IN a Fancy Nancy book at all times)

And we continued the jellyfish theme into lunch (thereby officially earning me the Mom-and-Babysitter of the Week award, methinks!)

Check out these FUN jellyfish-hot-dog-pasta creatures!  I saw this in a magazine in a Dr's office - I don't know, maybe a year ago? And thought of it just as I was pulling out hot dogs for lunch on the Day-O-Jellyfish.  I just did a quick internet search and can't find the source but I'm guessing it came from Parenting, Family Circle, etc...something like that!  It was so easy- I just stabbed some uncooked spaghetti into hot dog pieces and threw it all in a pot to boil.  The pasta that was actually inside the hot dog was a little crunchy for Gracie's liking but the other two didn't seem to notice or mind.  Fun times!

  And lastly, a sample J page in their ABC books.

Thanks for stopping by!  Check out these great blogs as well.

Ultimate Alphabet Crafts
We Play 
Someday Crafts 
Preschool Corner 
No Time for Flashcards

Friday, February 25, 2011

Letter of the Week....I is for Iguana

© Terry Willson

Just a quick post on our letter of the week!  One of the books we read to introduce the girls to the letter "i" was I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff.  It's about a little boy who tries to convince his mom to buy him an iguana, and has some great and silly illustrations.  We also read MaƱana Iguana which is a fun south-of-the-border take on the Little Red Hen.

I Wanna Iguana   Manana, Iguana

I found an old Ranger Rick magazine (c/o my former schoolteacher mom!) that had some info and photos of real iguanas, so we learned where they live, what they eat, and what they REALLY look like.  Then I remembered that on a recent trip to St. Thomas, my dad had taken some really great photos of an iguana sunning itself on a rock, and the girls were delighted at the thought of Grandad being so close to a big iguana!
© Terry Willson

© Terry Willson

After learning all about iguanas it was time for a project.  I used a Sharpie and drew a quick (and rather amateur...) picture of an iguana on some painting paper for the two little girls (2 and a half and 3) and they used watercolors to bring their iguanas to life.

Side note: It really makes a big difference in how a watercolor painting turns out when you spring for the expensive paper vs. copy paper!  The colors are so much more vibrant and really soak into the paper rather than pooling up on top.

We also did this fun little project that I happened upon from Totally Tots when I was searching for "iguana children's books."  So cute!  They used craft foam at Totally Tots but we used construction paper and googly eyes and it turned out great.

Until next time!  Happy crafting :)

Preschool Corner
Story + Art = stART
No Time for Flashcards 
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Monkeying Around

Friday, February 18, 2011

Letter of the Week....H is for Hands (and hands are not for hitting!)

Oh, sweet two year olds.  I recently remembered a quote about little girls and Googled it and was happy to find it right away....

Little girls are cute and small only to adults.  To one another they are not cute.  They are life-sized.  ~Margaret Atwood

How true is this??  This quote is from Ms. Atwood's novel "Cat's Eye" about the torturous relationships between pre-teen girls (on my must-read list....I hadn't heard of it but am a huge fan of A Handmaid's Tale, and I was surprised to learn that it was published in 1989, right when I was entering the "tween" years myself.  Now as a mom of two girls I am desperate to arm myself with knowledge of girl culture, bullying, etc...but that is a whole 'nother tangent!) Anyway, this quote also applies to my own two and a half year old sweetheart and her BFF- who I babysit several times a week- and who have not yet entered the "relational aggression" stage and are still simply in the old-fashioned survival-of-the-fittest mode that includes, but is not limited to, pushing, grabbing, hitting, and sometimes biting.  Sheesh.

Fittingly, in a particularly aggressive week, we landed on letter H.  I know there is a book called "Hands are not for Hitting" which we do not have, and I didn't fit in a trip to the library, so I improvised and made up our own little mantra (complete with hand actions and ends with a group hug!!)  The girls loved it, and we have used it and revisited as needed :)

And the H page from Greta's slow-growing ABC book:

Happy weekend, y'all!

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Play Academy
Red Ted Art 
No Time For Flashcards 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

stART....The Queen of Hearts!


With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we have been reading Gracie's most FAVORITE Valentine story over and over....Ann Estelle: The Queen of Hearts.  It is a really cute book- has beautiful Mary Engelbreit illustrations and the story has a good lesson.  It is a perfect book for getting in the mood for making Valentines.  Gracie was thrilled because today was FINALLY the day of Valentine's Day party at preschool (JUST like Ann Estelle's class, mom!)

Queen of Hearts (Ann Estelle Stories)

Oh, how I love being the mom of two little girls.  If you haven't yet figured that out by now!  We have been elbow-deep in Valentine creations the past couple of weeks.  I won't be showcasing them all in blogland, but here is one of a handful of impromptu-napkin-and-marker Valentine's that turned out surprisingly well given the materials :)

We made a few Valentines using a layered painting technique that I loved as a student myself and never thought of doing with my kids until now.  While blog-hopping the other day I saw a tip about "framing" kids art (pre-creative process) with painter's tape to create clean edges, giving kids art a finished look.  I thought it was genius and had one of those "why didn't I think of that" moments.  I of course now can't trace the source but if you're out there, thank you!

So we made some Valentines using both the "framing" idea and also the layering technique.  I put some tape on their papers and let them paint with one color family.  After the first layer dried, I re-taped and gave them some other paint colors.  The girls had so much fun and the Valentines turned out great.  We will definitely be doing layer painting again on a larger scale!
Happy crafting!

Happy (early) Valentine's Day!

 Valentine's Day is a much loved "holiday" in our house.  (Hasn't always been the case....see this post for background!)  Crafts, cookies, candy, hearts, everything red and pink.  It is a little girl's dream.

Gracie and Greta surprised us last weekend with some Valentines, treats and a beautiful breakfast table (with Baba's help)...

Grandma used her school teacher skills and got in on the fun too.  She and Gracie made some fun heart garland and decorations to make our house even more festive.

And I thought I would include this little treat Brian left for me this morning.  I think living in a house of pink is wearing off on him :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Day craft....recycled crayons!

For months we have been using well-used, broken, and scraps of crayons and when Target put out their Valentine's stuff in the dollar aisle, I saw a silicon heart-shaped muffin pan that I knew would be perfect for "up-cycling" our dwindling crayon supply.

The hardest part of this project was peeling all the crayons!!  Not always easy for my 2 and 4 year old girls so this was primarily my job.  We did this project 2 weeks ago and I think I still have crayon wax embedded under my nails!  The best part of the project (in Greta's world) was breaking the bigger crayons into smaller pieces.  I am a little nervous now about introducing a brand-new box of crayons to the little destroyer.....I have a feeling they won't survive long!

This activity was great for sorting colors.  You can definitely just melt a rainbow of colors together but we wanted to maintain individual color the prep was great practice for both girls.  I read a couple of how-to's on recycling crayons in this way but it seemed the directions varied a lot so I assumed it would be pretty hard to mess it up.  So we filled the muffin pans with the pieces of broken crayons and I think I ended up baking them about 20 minutes at 200 degrees.  I also was impatient at waiting for them to cool so I popped them into the freezer to quicken the process.

The results were great!  And such a fun little Valentine gift for their friends.

Get Your Craft On
Made By You Monday
Making the World Cuter
Creative Juices
Red Ted Art 
Someday Crafts 
Virtual Valentine's Day Party

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letter of the Week....G is for Goat

I wanted to catch up on my letter of the week posts, mostly for my own record-keeping purposes!  Seems like many MANY weeks ago (well before Christmas) that we did the letter G.  As you can imagine the letter G is very popular in my house with two little girls bearing it as the first letter of their name and even the name of the little girl I babysit starts with G as well.  So we had some fun with "G is for Glitter" which, for the record, required clean up for several weeks afterwards with 2 two year olds elbow deep in glitter heaven... 

Using small paper plates, paint, and black construction paper, we made stoplights for G is for GO!  (and G is for Green and Green means GO!) We also had fun playing "red light, green light" and it is still requested almost daily.

 But my favorite "G" activity was G is for Goat.....we read The Three Billy Goats Gruff and made little goat puppets.  I read the story and they were in charge of holding up their goat when it was their "turn to speak."  It was SO fun to see how they loved participating and it's such a fun story with the different voices of the troll and the three goats, lots of room for dramatic interpretation!

More letters to come!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My abandoned blog

Hello and welcome back!  I got a little lazy over the holidays, and a little first trimester-y, then just plain out of blogging habit, so my little corner of the world wide web was altogether abandoned.  But not forgotten!  I decided to bring it back to life (again) and be a SUPER BLOGGER until everything that I wish to share with the world is permanently etched in url.  So get ready for overkill.

To kick it off, I thought I'd share a couple of pics from a baby shower for my dear friend Kristin.

I wanted to fancy-up the cupcakes for the shower and found this great FREE cupcake liner template on Skip to My Lou.  Then I just used a stamp, circle punch, and lollipop sticks for the flair.  And although for some reason hardly anyone ate them, I was secretly thrilled to have LOTS of leftovers for the girls and myself :)

My girl Martha helped me out with some cheap and easy decorations....Tissue Paper Pom Poms.  Awesome.  And the link includes an easy step by step tutorial, so I will save some steam and pass on repeating, just click and learn!  The only thing I did differently was that I simply used leftover twist-ties rather than "floral wire".  Who besides Martha Stewart has floral wire sitting around?

I also made some fun gifts for the new baby....freezer paper onesies (more on that later) and this little piece of nursery art inspired by the incredibly talented Ashley of Lil Blue Boo.  It is a mixed media hodge podge of fabric, acrylic paint, paper, painted paper, marker, cardboard, and one of my FAVORITE products- Mod Podge.  The little monkey and owls were giving me trouble so I ended up drawing them on paper, painting over the drawing, cutting them out and mod-podging them to the canvas.  I love how it turned out!

It's good to be back!  Letters of the week coming soon.....

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