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 :)

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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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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.

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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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