Monday, October 29, 2012

Pink Teaches Us Grandma Language

Yesterday we gathered with family to carve pumpkins, decorate sugar cookies, and eat lots of candy.  As Grandma was gathering supplies for the cookie decorating, 5YO Pink announced, "I know grandma language."  I had to ask her to repeat herself, twice, because I didn't understand what she was saying.  So she offered to demonstrate.

In her most sickly sweet, slightly crackly, and higher-pitched than usual voice, she declared, "Oh my goodness!"  I know, you probably had to be there, or I should have captured it on video.

First she teaches us to wave goodbye in Hawaiian, and now grandma language.  The girl is funny in multiple languages.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate = Dark Sunshine

The weather has changed.  Since we are short on mood-lifting sunshine today, we will turn to chocolate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

G is for Ghost

Mom School, third week of October

Monthly Focus: Features of Halloween 
Weekly Theme: Ghost
Letter: G
Number: 13
Shape: Oval 
Color: Black and White

Letter Tracing with Ghost Poop

Materials used:
  • black construction paper
  • silver marker
  • mini marshmallows
Gee, is that ghost poop on my G?  Hopefully no one gets hung up on the name of this - it's all in fun.  Our first activity this week was to trace the letter G using ghost poop, which during the other eleven months of the year is referred to as marshmallows.  To create the letter template, using a silver marker on black construction paper, I wrote a capital and lowercase G, as well as drew a ghost.  3YO Purple took to this activity just fine, and even volunteered to "clean up" after.

Ghost Writing

Materials used:
  • colored construction paper
  • glass pie pan
  • salt
  • glitter
3YO Purple truly loves purple, so the more I can incorporate the color into our activities, the happier she is.  Here the color isn't necessary, but adds to the fun.  We placed colored construction paper beneath a glass pie pan, and then added enough salt to the pan to cover the bottom of it.  A sprinkle of glitter was, again, just for fun.  I then invited Purple to use her finger to draw the letter G.  Pictured here is her first go - pretty good!  I didn't think of it at the time, but I should have then offered her a pencil to write with as well.

Gallon Ghosts

Materials used:
  • empty and clean gallon jug
  • white kitchen trash bag
  • permanent markers
I saw this idea on Crafty Journal and copied it outright.  I placed a dollar store plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table, and then set both my 3YO and my 1YO free with the permanent markers.  Scary!  Both girls enjoyed marking up the head of their ghost.  Above is Blue's work, though I did fill in the black eyes and mouth for effect.

Purple was quite pleased with her ghost, so much so that she would not let me hang it up, but preferred to hang out with it that day, as though it were a doll or stuffed animal.  I guess it was a friendly ghost.

Yes, I digitally dressed Purple.  She is in the clothing optional phase.

GHOSTS IN THE HOUSE! Book and Activity

Materials to use:
So we didn't end up doing this activity, although I had planned it and we had read this book several times previously.  I first discovered this book on No Time for Flash Cards's list of 21 Picture Books About Strong Girls.  The book describes what happens when this girl moves into a house haunted by ghosts.  Our follow up activity would have been a challenge to my girls to figure out one or more ways to use a sheet, besides making a bed (like that would happen).  However, just before I was going to share this with the girls, Hubs decided to build a Cave of Darkness, using couches, cushions and blankets.  

The Cave of Darkness
I figured the girls would likely have used the sheets in a similar fashion, so I saved this activity for another time, but that time never came.  At least not yet.

How to Grow a Ghost, Story and Treat

Materials used:
  • chocolate chips
  • chocolate pudding (I used my fave recipe, Thick Chocolate Pudding)
  • Oreo cookies
  • whipped topping (the canned type)
I had a lot of fun with this activity.  I searched online for "ghost snack" ideas, and came across a picture on Go Graham Go! of a dollop of whipped cream, decorated with chocolate chip eyes, on top of a bowl of pudding.  I wanted to make a treat for all my girls, so I needed to tweak it so there was something about it that each would eat (not everyone likes pudding, not everyone likes topping, etc.).  To involve everyone in the process, since they wouldn't all be eating the entire finished product, I created a story.

Here it goes:

To grow a ghost, start with three ghost seeds.
(Add three chocolate chips to a small bowl)

Next add a dollop of mud.
(Drop a scoop of pudding on top of the chips)

Create a magical mix of black and white dirt.
(Place Oreos in a plastic bag and pulverize.  A rolling pin works great.)
Sprinkle the special dirt on top of the mud.
(Sprinkle the crushed Oreos on top)
(At this point it got a little intense for Purple and Pink. They asked if we were making a real ghost or just pretend.)
Count to 13.  1, 2, 3,...
(At 13 I grabbed the can of whipped topping I had hidden behind the counter, and sprayed a ghostly mound on top of the pudding creation, and then dropped on three chocolate chips to form the face)


Grouping Ghosts Game

Materials used:
  • facial tissue
  • black marker
  • uppercase and lowercase G stickers
  • paper clips
  • magnet
To provide Purple with practice recognizing uppercase and lowercase G, I invented this game of sorting.  I pulled apart a tissue into singly ply layers, twisted a layer to create a ghost-like head and body, and then fastened it with a paper clip.  With a marker I drew on a ghost face, and then attached a G sticker.  I created thirteen of these, so as to also practice our counting to 13.

I created a wand by sandwiching a craft stick between two strong round magnets, but really any magnet could be used.  I handed the box full of ghosts and the wand to Purple, with the instructions to catch each ghost, and sort them into their group by whether their letter was uppercase or lowercase.

There was plenty of help on hand, but Purple completed the challenge on her own.  The other girls took turns as well.

G-H-O-S-T Bingo Game

Materials used:
A few months ago I bought a Bingo Game .  We've already used it for a couple of birthday parties, as well as the occasional casual game.  This time we used it for a numbers learning activity.

I created customized Bingo cards to match our focus on the number 13 (and those 12 numbers before it, too).  I re-titled the game as G-H-O-S-T, and used the following table to  convert a few existing Bingo cards to match the numbers we would use in G-H-O-S-T.  I also referred to this table as I pulled and called the Bingo balls.  Yes, it is a tad complicated, but mainly in creating the Bingo cards.  

The top right cell shows that "B" is called out as "G",
"14" is called out as "4", and so on
across the columns and rows.
Playing the game was easy, and the game helped Purple practice her numbers, as well as worked her fine motor skills in placing those stickers within the boxes on the card.  And, as a bonus, Purple was the first among her sisters to reach G-H-O-S-T.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Four Gift Rule of Christmas

It's not even Halloween and I'm already scared..of Christmas.

Well, it's not that bad, actually.  Especially since last year we instituted the Four Gift Rule of Christmas:

Or as I remember it,

WANT it,
NEED it,
WEAR it,
READ it.

Last year was our first Christmas in which we were a single income family (I had become a SAHM, transitioning from full-time employment).  I needed to be more practical in my gift-giving.  

Following this Four Gifts rule made Christmas present selecting much easier, less time consuming and much less stressful.  Since we have four girls all within a range of five years, it made sense to figure out a type of present for each category, and then give something similar to all.  For example, everyone received a plaid skirt outfit last year for the WEAR category.

It was so sunny and nice we were outside blowing bubbles on Christmas Day

The most surprising aspect was that our girls made no comment about there being less presents than previous years.  

But, I have to say, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.  All the family togetherness and food, without the presents.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A 7YO's Playlist

7YO Yellow rises early and likes to color before it's time to get ready for school.  This morning she created a playlist; no, not the music kind, the kind that we all had as kids.

BTW the animals are the favorite animals of the friends listed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

C Is for Cat

Mom School, first week of October

Monthly Focus: Features of Halloween 
Weekly Theme: Cat
Letter: C
Number: 4
Shape: Diamond
Color: Purple

I "C" You Playdough Writing
3YO Purple enjoys playdough; almost daily our box of playdough and playdough tools can be found scattered across the kitchen table.  And as one might guess, her favorite color is purple.  So for this activity I cooked up a batch of purple playdough.  I then traced the letter C into the clay, and offered up googly eyes for Purple to trace the C with.  She really took to this activity, and 1YO Blue did her best to help out.

At the end of the playdough session, the googly eyes were mixed into the dough, and most of the purple had joined forces with the black playdough from the previous week, creating a dark mass with the occasional eye watching you.  Very appropriate for Halloween.

Create a Cat Cookie
Treat time!  For this activity we waited until Pink and Yellow were home from school, and invited a couple of 7YO friends to join, too.  Each child was given the same supplies and challenged to create a cat cookie.

BTW I recommend these Easy Sugar Cookies - they live up to their name and are very good.  They were still soft on the third day.  Yum!


I like how the mouth is detailed in licorice
Notice how neat this one is - nice!
3YO Purple's cat creation
This one is mine - I cheated and cut up a second cookie to make my ears

Cat Mask
To concentrate on our shape of the week, the diamond, I offered Purple several diamond cut outs of different colors, along with a paper plate, and asked if she wanted to make a cat mask.  

The Prototype
The answer was yes, but she insisted that instead of yellow or pink diamonds, they must all be purple.  And that the plate be purple.  She's a stickler.  So I obliged.  And then she took my diamonds, too.

I would be afraid to meet this cat in an alley - teehee!

Three Little Kittens' Mittens Search
I gave an energetic reading of the Three Little Kittens poem, which left Purple giggling.  Next I asked her to find the ten pairs of mittens hidden in the living room.  To create the mittens I printed this page of mittens with different patterns, and then cut out the individual mittens.  After finding the mittens Purple then matched them into pairs.

Purple had fun with this one, even keeping the mitten papers to play again later with her sisters.

Pretend to be a NICE mommy

I find it a bit irritating when 3YO Purple instructs me to "Pretend to be a NICE mommy."

I'm already pretending!

Monday, October 15, 2012

S is for Spider

Mom School, first week of October

Monthly Focus: Features of Halloween 
Weekly Theme: Spiders
Letter: S
Number: 8
Shape: Octagon
Color: Black

Playdough Spiders, Snakes and Ss
3YO Purple is a big playdough fan.  We have the playdough out before breakfast almost daily.  For our first Mom School activity we made spiders, snakes and the letter S out of playdough.  I mixed up a batch of homemade playdough, added black gel coloring (a lot of it), but it appeared a bit greenish to begin with.  No matter.  Still fun.  I helped roll out and count 8 legs to create the spider.  Add a ball of playdough for the body, and a couple googly eyes, and ta-da: spider.  

And then Purple was off!  On her own she created a large snake, which I explained also begins with letter S.  And then we made letter Ss.  Sweet!

Anansi the Spider Book

We read Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti .  Purple is not a spider fan (she freaks out when she sees one, and she is otherwise quite fearless), so this was a good book to share.  The book shows how the different spider talents of Anansi's sons bring about Anansi's rescue.  I recommend this book.

Oreo Spider Treats

In a different family these spider treats might have been made from round crackers, with pretzel sticks and raisin eyes.  In this family, it would be eyebrow-raising if Purple ate the cookie instead of only the cream filling.  These treats were fun and easy to put together.  I originally saw the cracker version, and then came across the Oreo version.  I recommend pulling off one of the wafers, pushing the licorice legs into place, swiping a bit of the cream center to use to glue the eyes, and then sticking the wafer back on.  If you have trouble separating the cookie wafers, have your child do it.  Seriously.  Mine are pros.

Coffee Filter Cobwebs
I bought a pack of coffee filters form the dollar store to use as inexpensive disposable bowls for snacks, as I have seen our church nursery do.  Since then, I've noticed quite a few craft ideas using coffee filters.  This craft requires some scissor skills, and I couldn't interest Purple into trying it.

7YO Yellow and I each made a cobweb, by simply folding the coffee filter in half 3 times, and then cutting in our design.

Spun Spiderweb
Purple was excited to spin a spiderweb.  I cut notches around a paper plate, tied one end of yarn around the plate, and then Purple wove the yarn around and through the notches.  She was very satisfied with the result!  5YO Pink and 7YO Yellow also spun webs, while 1YO Blue was content to watch (and pull faces for the camera).  Big secret ingredient = spider rings.

7YO Yellow's spiderweb

Crazy 8s Cobweb Search

This looked more impressive than I could capture with the camera, and Purple was quite excited for this activity.  I started by stringing about twenty letters and numbers onto my skein of yarn, using numbers and letters with an enclosed opening, like 0, 4, 6, 8, 9, A, B, D, etc.  Then I wove the yarn around our living room, spacing out the letters and numbers as I went.  When I finished I asked Purple to find as many 8s as possible.  She did great!  And then Purple and Pink invented ways to use the string as obstacles (burning laser beams, anyone?).  They kept busy with the yarn all afternoon, and even asked to leave it up for the next day.

Spiderweb Cookie/Cake
Another treat activity.  I used a sugar cookie bar recipe that I've recently discovered, baked it in a pie plate, and frosted it.  Next I melted chocolate with a bit of oil, and piped it in concentric circles.  Even though the circles were wonky, it only added to the effect of the resulting spiderweb.  The final step is to take a toothpick and drag it in a line from the center to the edge; repeat until you have a spiderweb effect.  Each child had a turn pulling the toothpick through the frosting to create the web.  

BTW, the frosting is purple because that is how all frosting should look, according to Purple.  Purple asks repeatedly to make this again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We've Been Girled

We were "booed" last night with a treat of homemade cookies. Since they were oatmeal cookies (practically health food), Hubs decided the girls should eat them for breakfast. This morning I showed the girls the "boo" sign to explain where the cookies were from. 

Yellow read the sign as "You have been boyed".

Pink said that "Dad's sign should say 'You have been girled'" Teehee!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Easy Haunted Houses

My wonderful mother-in-law often throws holiday parties for her grandchildren.  Last year one of the party activities was making haunted houses - a fun and easy craft.  

Materials needed:
  • birdhouses (you can usually find these for under $1 at Michael's or similar craft stores)
  • paint or permanent markers
  • stickers
Another item I recommend using is a dollar store plastic tablecloth.  Since the colder temps mean you will likely be working indoors, spread the tablecloth on your work area, let the kids go at it, and then toss the mess-containing tablecloth in the trash when done.

It's almost spooky how easy these are to make, but my children loved it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Wave Goodbye in Hawaiian

5YO Pink's last words to me tonight at bedtime: "Mom, watch how I wave goodbye in Hawaiian" (waves hand slowly while rolling arm gently up and down)
She's so random sometimes, but hilarious!