Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preschool (Or Family Togetherness) Thanksgiving Holiday Craft: Our Thankful Tree

I saw this idea floating around last year and thought it would be fun to try. It was a fast and simple project that lent itself to meaningful family conversation. I'm so glad we did it, and that we took a picture of it to look at in the future.

We took part of the evening before Thanksgiving to do this activity. However, I have seen other people say they make the tree and a big pile of leaves at the beginning of November and encourage each family member to put one on each day. You could start it today if you wanted. Then read all of the leaves together on Thanksgiving. Perhaps when some of our kids are older we will try it that way.

Thankful Tree

  • Large white paper
  • Brown marker or paint to make a tree trunk
  • Colored paper for leaves
  • Scissors
  • Black pen or marker to write with
  • Tape or glue
  1. Draw or paint a bare tree trunk.
  2. Cut out small colored leaves.
  3. Ask everyone participating to think of things they are thankful for and write them on the colored leaves. Those not able to write can dictate things they are thankful for of course.
  4. Tape or glue the leaves on the tree.
  5. Count your blessings (literally or figuratively).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Simple 4th of July Fun

In case anyone is looking for some fun things to do on the 4th, here are a few really simple (and cheap) things we've done to celebrate!
Patriotic water balloons

Independence Day Learning Activities

Fireworks in a Jar

Crayon resist firework painting

Flag Cake

Flag Pie

Cookie Fireworks

Patriotic balloons

Really homemade s'mores

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Holiday Preschool Craft: Potato Stamp Wrapping Paper

Another not very original idea, but one that is frugal and fun, is to make wrapping paper using stamps cut out from potatoes.

First I gave both boys large sheets of paper from a fun art pad that my mom brought for them on her visit and all kinds of red markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc. and let them color. You can skip that step of course (or just let them color on it  and skip the paint stamping for a different kind of wrapping paper). But I let them color all over the paper to keep them busy while I cut out the tree stamps from potatoes and got the paint ready. Then them stamped green trees over whatever amount of red they had colored.

If you don't want to use new paper reuse paper bags or even newspapers. We've done both before and they look quite nice as well.

This project is has the added benefit of being useful. Use the wrapping paper to wrap up gifts that stand out from the rest.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DIY Black Bean Brownies (gluten free, dairy free)

I heard about black bean brownies quite a while ago, and possibly quite a few of you have too. But it wasn't until recently that we finally found good beans here and I was able to actually try out this unique dessert. The texture is a little different than traditional brownies, but not at all a bad sort of different. And they are incredibly easy to make, much healthier than most brownies, and really delicious.

I thought I go ahead and post about these now, because if you need to take a dessert to a holiday gathering where you know someone has allergies or is trying to follow a gluten free, dairy free, or low carb diet it can often be quite difficult to find a good recipe, but this one fits the bill. At the same time, it is so good no one will know it is a healthy dessert or gluten free unless you tell them.

Homemade Black Bean Brownie Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15oz can drained and rinsed very well)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional additions such as chocolate chips, M&Ms, or nuts, but read labels carefully if you are trying to avoid allergens for others
  1. Add all ingredients together in a blender (except for any optional additions) and blend until smooth.
  2. Stir in additions if desired (or you could wait and sprinkle them on top too).
  3. Spread into a greased 8x8 baking pan.
  4. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Crescent Rolls

Yesterday I made a bunch of these crescent rolls and stuck most of them in the freezer for Thanksgiving. This recipe turned out just as good as last year and they really do freeze well, so no need to try to make them at the last minute. I based it off of this recipe.

My boys said that the rolls look like snails, but they thought that was a good thing and gobbled them up. You could substitute this dough in recipes that call for canned crescent rolls as well.

Homemade Butterhorn or Crescent Rolls

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp yeast (or 1 and 1/2 packages)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups or more flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp or more butter (melted for brushing)
  1. In a large bowl place the warm water and dissolve the yeast.
  2. Add warm milk and sugar and stir well.
  3. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.
  4. Add oil, eggs, and salt and stir well.
  5. Begin adding flour 1 cup at a time, stirring at first and then kneading to form a soft (but not sticky) dough.
  6. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.
  7. Divide into 2-3 balls and roll into circles.
  8. Cut each circle into 12-16 wedges.
  9. Brush generously with melted butter.
  10. Starting at the large end, roll up each wedge, pinch to seal, and place tip down on baking sheet. Brush tops with butter.
  11. Allow to rise until double again and bake in oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 F. They brown quite quickly.
Makes 2-3 dozen crescent rolls, depending on how large or small you want them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Easy Stuffed Heart Ornaments

For another simple Valentine's Day decoration, I made these cute stuffed hearts. I just cut out 1 heart out of a cute print, 1 heart out of black for the back, and 1 heart out of batting to stuff the heart. I put the print and the black right sides together, and then the batting on the bottom, and sewed around the heart with a small seam allowance, leaving just enough room open for turning. Then I clipped the dip in the top of the heart close to the seam to avoid bunching, turned it right side out, whip-stitched the opening closed, and added a loop of thread to hang it at the top. I top-stitched one of them but decided not to bother with the rest. Really easy, but I thought they turned out really cute too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easy Beaded Holiday Ornaments

This past Christmas, I made some beaded ornaments for the unique little Christmas tree I made. Now I am going to reuse the hearts for Valentines day decorations. Aaron (3 1/2) even helped a little, but older kids can do these fairly easily on their own. I remember one Christmas where my aunt brought lots of beads and wire and all of us girls, my mom, and my aunt would bead together for hours.

Easy Beaded Holiday Ornaments

  • small beads
  • wire
  • wire cutters
  • pliers

For most of the ornaments that I made this year, I simply strung a long series of beads to cover the wire and then twisted it into the shape I wanted. I then twisted the wire around to make a loop at the top and then twisted it tightly together to secure it. I often left a little extra and made small curls with the pliers. The hearts were one of the easiest shapes to make.

I also made some stars that were a little more complicated. For the points on the stars I made, I strung on a pattern of beads, ending with a large pear shaped bead. Then I put on one more small seed bead and threaded the wire backwards through the pattern of beads, starting with the pear shaped bead and ending with the small beads.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cookie Fireworks

I had some pie crust left over from making apple pies, so I decided to make some fun cookies in the shape of fireworks and sparklers. Sugar cookie dough would also work well. This is a fun project that even little kids can help with and older children could do all on their own.

Simply cut strips of dough with a pizza cutter and stars with a cookie cutter (or a star shape from your child's shape sorter that you have thoroughly cleaned). Arrange strips and stars to look like fireworks and/or sparklers on a cookie sheet. Press together lightly. Bake until golden brown. Let cool completely. Then frost with accents of red and blue for some very patriotic cookies. Enjoy!

All American Apple pie

What is more American than apple pie? Apple pie shaped like a flag. Strawberries and blueberries are out of season here, so I came up with a different flag-shaped dessert.

Oil Pie Crust

2 cups flour
½ cup oil (vegetable, canola, sunflower, etc.)
6 Tbsp or more ice water
(makes enough for a standard double crust pie or a thin 9x13 flag pie)

Mix together oil and flour with a pastry cutter. Add ice water, and continue mixing until firm dough forms. Let rest at least 15 minutes before rolling.

Apple Pie Filling

5 cups thinly sliced apples (peeled if you like)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
(makes enough filling for a standard 9 in pie or a thin 9x13 flag pie)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to coat apples in dry ingredients.

For a regular apple pie, just divide the dough and roll two circle large enough for your pie pan. Place the first crust in the pie pan. Bake for 5 minutes at 350°F, remove, and add apple pie filling. Place the top crust over the filling, crimp edge, and cut slits in the top to vent while baking. Bake at 350°F for 40–50 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

To make an American flag pie roll a large rectangle of dough to fit in a 9x13 pan. You can use a 9x9 pan for a thicker square-shaped pie, but unless you decrease the recipe you will have crust left over. Place the first crust in the pie pan. Bake for 5 minutes at 350°F, remove and add apple pie filling. Use a pizza cutter to cut thin strips of crust for the stripes of the flag. Use a small star cookie cutter (or a star shape from your child's shape sorter that you have thoroughly cleaned) to cut some stars for the flag. Arrange stars and stripes on top of the pie. Bake at 350°F for 40–50 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

American Flag Cake

This is a simple, yet elegant dessert is a classic for 4th of July.

Flag Cake

1 9x13 yellow or white cake (from a mix or homemade)

1 small container of cool whip, can of white frosting, or homemade cream cheese frosting
1 pound of strawberries with tops removed and cut in half
1 cup of bluberries

Frost the top of the cake, arrange blueberries in a square in the top left corner, and then arrange the strawberries as horizontal stripes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our First Unit Study: America the Beautiful

With the boys begging for more school activities, I decided to incorporate some simple unit studies into our days. Aaron definitely needs a challenge, and Andrew is happy to be a part of any activity we can include him in. Eventually, I want our boys to have a good understanding of both America's and China's history and geography, as well as the states of Illinois and Texas. I thought that celebrating the 4th of July all month long would be a great first unit study. We're keeping it simple and doing the activities as a sort of birthday party for America. Aaron is getting really excited about celebrating America's birthday, and Andrew loves our patriotic decorations.

I found so many awesome resources online that I thought I would share them in case anyone else wants to learn more about America this month, or anytime of the year.

The blog 1+1+1=1 has an awesome calendar you can print that teaches history facts. You can also print out activity sheets that accompany the calendar to reinforce the facts in fun ways.

2 Teaching Mommies provides a free printable 4th of July activity pack. These preschool worksheets and activities teach basic skills using fun patriotic graphics.

Homeschooling in Heels has a really cool lapbook pack available to download and print for free. I think we are going to have to wait a year or two for this one, but it still looks well done.

Currclick has a free ebook about why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.

Kidzone has free coloring sheets focusing on state history and geography.

DTLK has a lot of 4th of July activity sheets and games for kids.

Apple 4 the Teacher also has a ton of coloring sheets and other activities focusing Independence Day and American history.

Family Fun has some neat craft ideas. Including printouts for a patriotic paper airplane and patriotic pinwheel that look fun.

We have also been trying to learn more songs together as a family, and I think we will try to learn some patriotic songs this month. And perhaps we will work on the pledge of allegiance with Aaron as well.

There are so many awesome resources out there to pick and choose from. It is great to be able to pull together activities that are right for each child's level and tailor what you want to focus on. I pulled bits and pieces from a lot of these resources. I may add more if time allows, and the boys are still interested. We'll see what we all end up using this year, and can always save things they aren't ready for yet for another year.

So far we have just done a few days of the calendar cards and some of the activities from 2 Teaching Mommies. Aaron has enjoyed them a lot and asked to do more. I plan on making traditional American food for tomorrow's official birthday party, and we may try to make other special treats and/or crafts throughout the month. I want to make this learning experience lots of fun for our little guys.


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