Category Archives: rainy day fun

Seasonal Sensory Slime: Sorting Pumpkin Seeds

photo(25)After a full night of Halloween fun, the boys and I needed some chill time at home.  But to keep them busy, I used the fun “pumpkin brains” from our pumpkin carving efforts to create a slimy sensory experience.  A bowl and a colander later I was in business.

Basically dump the “pumpkin brains” into a bowl.  Add a bunch of water.  Set a colander or another bowl next to it.  And, let your little one go to town.

B spent forty minutes enjoying the slime.  Afterwards, we made some roasted pumpkin seeds.  Want to try our recipe – check here.

Teaching Colors

photo(16)My almost two year old has been rather focused on learning his colors.  He sings songs that go something like this – blue, green, yellow, green, and so on.  He even woke up one night saying “blue, no purple, no blue.”  Clearly colors are on his mind.

If I’ve learned anything from my first son, it’s that these moments of interest can be fleeting.   One week it’s colors, the next it’s diggers, the next it’s skeletons.  So, for me it’s important to jump on the bandwagon while it’s there.  For C’s color parade, I jumped right in.

I put together a fun matching game that he can play whenever he wants.  He matches his favorite toys (cars or trains) to color swatches.  Sometimes he just plays with the swatches, other times he actually does the matching component.  By the way, the color swatches are paint swatches from Home Depot.  But you can use anything.

In addition, we’ve been reading books about colors.  His favorite is Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle, which teaches the names of animals in addition to teaching colors.  It’s rhythmic cadence makes it fun to read time and time again.  Another book is Baby Colors, which has darling pictures of babies dressed in clothes of a certain color. I like this book because it also has photos of real life objects that C can easily identify.  photo(15)

Since C is into trains, Freight Train by Donald Crews is another winner.  Who doesn’t like a book that combines trains with colors?  Lastly, Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a classic.  It begins to teach the idea that colors can combine to make a new color.   When I read this to C, he was speachless.

Lastly, we play the tot version of ISpy in the car.  It goes something like this, “I spy something green.”  C looks out the window and starts talking about whatever he sees.  Then, I ask him if it’s green, etc.   This one works well, especially when he starts to fuss. It takes his mind off of things.

What’s your favorite way to teach colors? I’d love to hear!

Pumpkin Milk or Latte: Add a Healthy Treat to Your Morning Routine

photo(9)Fall is one of my favorite seasons for many reasons including the changing colors, the festive flavors and the pumpkin patches.  I admittedly am one of those people who looks forward to Starbucks release of the pumpkin latte.  I practically jump for joy when I see the plethora of pumpkin flavored offerings at Trader Joe’s.  You could call me a pumpkin-holic.

I’m proud to say that I am passing on my love of pumpkins to my boys.  They too enjoy visiting pumpkin patches as well as all things pumpkin. We’ve made pumpkin flavored soup, scones, pancakes and muffins.  My latest creation however is my favorite yet – pumpkin milk.  Both kid and adult friendly, pumpkin milk can be enjoyed on its own or even added to coffee.  Say hello to a homemade pumpkin latte, which is much more budget friendly than the nearly $5 and 400 calorie Starbucks latte that despite the name doesn’t include any “pumpkin.” (Sad News for Pumpkin Spice Latte Fans)

Would you know that pumpkins boast many health benefits as according to WebMd they’re loaded with vitamin A (beta carotene), low in calories as well as fiber.  Apparently, “Known for its immune-boosting powers, beta-carotene is essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing coronary heart disease.” (Superfood-Pumpkin, Caitlin Covington) Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin k as well which is said to be able to reduce the risks of some types of cancer.

So, this mama is happy to add the pumpkin milk warmed for my boys in the morning.  They start off the day downing full fat milk enhanced with the benefits of pumpkin.  Want to try it?

Well, here’s myphoto(7) recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (or combination of such spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamon)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (or other sweetener)

gather your ingredients.  Set all ingredients in a saucepan on the stovetop.  Turn heat to low and whisk until at desired temperature. photo(8)

Enjoy plain or add to coffee.

For other fun fall ideas, check out my posts about pumpkin patches, fall art, setting the table and cheap and easy Halloween decorations.  And check back for some crafty ideas as the boys and I are brewing up some Halloween fun

Pick a Pattern

patterns

Mornings around here are magical.  The boys do so well.  On those rare days when both boys get to relax at home in the morning, our day usually goes something like this.  Breakfast, active time to expend that boy energy, snack and then an inside project, puzzle or activity.   So this morning after our exploration down the local trail discovering creatures, caterpillars and chickens, and a nice snack, the boys were ready to dive into something more.

Having had a bin of lacing beads around for a year that have provided little interest, I decided to try something new and create sheets of pattern puzzles for Bobby to solve.  Basically, I took sheets of paper and drew out patterns based upon the beads that I already had.  If you want to try this, but don’t have time to make your own pattern sheets, rest assured that you can buy them online .

Bobby then was able to solve the pattern.  First, he was tasked with matching the bead to the pattern.  Then, I asked him to continue the pattern.  This second part was more difficult for longer patterns, but he was able to figure it out.  In fact, he ended up wanting to draw the color of the bead on the paper first before placing the bead in sequence.

In addition to providing a fun and challenging activity, the patterns teach concepts that are fundamental to learning math.   So, I encourage you to pick a pattern and let your kids have fun figuring it out.   You can use pretty much anything from beads, to hotwheels and legos.  Get creative!

Tackle Those Spices: One Way to Organize A Shelf

Too cold to jaunt outside in the morning?  Or are your kids like mine, sick as dogs with the cold that just won’t go away?  Why not take advantage of being inside and make life a little easier by organizing your spices.

spice 1If you’re like me, you have a few spices on hand.  Some of them you may never use, because they are buried in a corner, at the bottom of a drawer or have just disappeared completely.  After years of trying to figure out how to best organize my spice drawer, I finally figured it out!

Rather than use a spice drawer, I am using a shelf.  I have labeled the tops of the spice jars.  Since the tops of the spices are at eye level it is so easy to find the spices I need when I need them.  My cooking has gotten a bit more creative as now everything is easily accessible.

All it took was a few labels, a sharpie pen, a little time and a dash of patience spice 2and voila — mission accomplished!  You can color code your spices as well.  I used red for spicy, yellow for savory, and blue for sweet which is turning out to be helpful.

By the way, the Slap Ya Mama spice in the photo besides adding a dose of humor to a spice collection, offers a fabulous slightly spicy yet salty flavor.   In my opinion,  like the man spice for women.  You know, the one your husband wants to put on everything? My husband would put Lawry’s or Mrs. Dash on anything and everything (before he met me).  So Slap Ya Mama is a southern favorite -its like Old Bay but with more flavor.  Made with red pepper, garlic and salt, it is pretty darn versatile.

What’s your favorite way to organize spices? I’d love to hear.

Rainy Day Fun – Ornaments With A Bit of History

Desperate for a rainy day activity, I remembered back to when a babysitter in days of past made cookie ornaments.  It dawned on me that Bobby might like doing something like that, after all he does love to play with playdough.  Salt-dough is basically the same thing but more keepsake friendly.

The difference between the two recipes comes down to oil – play dough has it, salt-dough doesn’t.  Consequently salt-dough dries hard giving lasting life to your child’s creations.  The good news is that kids can play with the dough for days (just keep it airtight) and then dry their creations for further play or even gifts.

Here’s how to make salt dough.  Take 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt and 3/4 cup warm water.  Mix all ingredients and kneed for 5 minutes.  Then play!

We made animals and even cookie cutter ornaments in the shapes of cowboy boots as Bobby has been really into Woody from Toy Story lately.  If you decide to make ornaments, make sure to make holes in them before you set them out to dry.  Straws make perfect holes.  Drying takes about a week.  After they are dry, you can color them with paints or markers.

As a side note, making cookie ornaments also provides a way to teach a bit of history.  The whole tradition of decorating a Christmas tree started in Europe. Back then trees were decorated primarily with food and candy as a symbol of giving thanks for daily bread.

Wishing you rainy days filled with fun!

Cheap & Easy Halloween Decorations

With Halloween in the air, it’s time to dress up with your home with ghosts and goblins.  Decorations are the perfect excuse to have some crafty fun!  There’s no need to break the bank.  So, here are a couple of ideas for decorations that are both easy and inexpensive.

Hanging Ghosts – Use your stash of plastic grocery bags to make ghosts.  Just buy some white trash can liners and a sharpe pen.  Draw eyes and a mouth on the plastic trash liner, then stuff with grocery bags.  Tie with a string or fishing line and hang in front of your house.  These ghosts will fly in the breeze and are weatherproof!

Lanterns – Make lanterns out of sandwich bags or old milk jugs.  Break out a sharpe pen and draw faces on them!  If using milk jugs cut a hole out of the bottom to put in the lights.  Use either a string of white lights or battery operated tea lights.

Window Silhouettes – All you need is black paper and a little imagination to decorate your windows.  Just cut festive shapes like cats, bats and witches, out of black construction paper and hang on the inside of your window.  If you’re low on construction paper, just paint anyother paper black and it will do the same thing.

Happy Halloween!