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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Vacation (year 3, week 1)

We've all taken turns being sick.  It's been a long time since I've had to get up in the night with the kids, but they've been waking up a lot this week.  The good thing is that I've gotten lots of snuggles.  We've also had a lot of Family Movie Date Nights with Christmas movies.

We had our little family Christmas on the 18th.  Dragonfly got her first set of Playmobil toys, a fairy set.  Her brother, Tadpole, got the Green Toys ferry boat.  Dragonfly commandeered the boat because of the commonality between the two words.  She calls it the "fairies' boat."

The boys only wanted monster trucks for Christmas.  They each got a Hot Wheels truck.  They love them!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Joy's Journeys (post 2)

This is part 2 of Joy's adventures at our house.  Part 1 can be found here.

The kids thought it was funny to spin the paper towel roll to make Joy go round and around.

Hanging out on the coat rack by our main door.  The kids are having so much fun finding her every morning.  It's even made the husband laugh a few times.

Joy went Christmas shopping!

Dancing with a stormtrooper.  They both needed a bit of help to be the right height.

If you leave your underwear on the floor, it might be stolen and used to decorate the Christmas tree.  This trick made the kids giggle.

Dragonfly chose Joy's position today.  The kids spent the day snuggling her and giving her lots of love.

All the kisses and hugs from sick kids gave Joy a cold.  She spent the day in bed.  The kids were sad that she wasn't feeling well.

This morning we woke up to Joy working on a felt food project.  We were all very curious to see what she was making.

The next day, she had finished and we could see that she made a felt hamburger.  The kids didn't know why until they went to Grandma and Grandpa's house later that day and saw their homemade play kitchen!

She left us on Christmas morning with a promise that she'll be back again someday.  Dragonfly has been telling everyone that Joy is visiting other children in their homes.  I'm sure we'll be talking about her a lot and awaiting her reappearance.

Joy's Blog Posts
- journeys part 1
- elf house
- elf-sized movies
- introducing Joy

Friday, December 16, 2016

s is for snow (year 3, week 13)

We got snow over the weekend, which was perfect for this week's homeschool unit about snow/snowmen/snowflakes/snowangels.

This is our last unit until the New Year!

We stayed home and played in the snow!

My sister came to spend time with us before she goes back to college in the new year.  She taught the kids the water cycle and explained how snow is formed.

Auntie was still at our house.  She made them pancakes for breakfast and watched them so that I could sleep in.  It was amazing!

We looked a micro pictures of snowflakes and talked about their basic designs.

The majority of the family was sick.

Still sick.

Blog Posts About Snow
- w is for winter homeschool unit
marshmallow counting file folder game

snow globe roll and cover
land, sea, and air arctic animal sort
sorting types of extreme weather
winter preschool pack
winter clothes match game
3-part cards for the Safari Arctic toob
snowman pasta snowflake counting
snowman preschool pack
snowman learning packs
snow learning pack
winter wonderland preschool pack
Frozen preschool pack

ice melting experiment
snowflake slime
tonging snow balls
make snowflakes (and experiment)
how much water is in snow experiment
footprints in the play dough snow
frozen salt writing tray
snowman breakfast
snowstorm in a bottle 
frozen bubbles
ice "magic" tricks
expanding (frozen) liquids experiment
sugar cube building
borax snowflakes
sensory snow

Monday, December 12, 2016

Joy's Journeys (part 1)

Just 1 more Monday until Christmas!

We've had a special visitor at our house this month, Joy, our Kindness Elf.  Just looking at her reminds us to be kind to each other.  The kids have loved seeking out all her new positions every day, and even the grown-ups are having fun with her.  Here's the first round of ideas for her.

Joy's first day in our house.  She perched herself on the top of the homeschool cabinet with her travel case and a note for us.  The note read: "Hi Kids, I'm Joy.  I've come to spend Advent with you.  I want to remind you to do kind things.  What kind things could you do today?"  We used Joy's letter to launch a discussion about kindness and true joy.  We did tell the kids that she isn't real and that she's just a Christmas game.  But, all day, they were asking, "Do you think Joy thought that was kind?"  Joy doesn't do any spying or reporting, but she does serve as a visual reminder to speak and act with kindness.

Dragonfly bought presents for her brothers today.  There was a lot more hugging and kissing, too.

I guess Joy was feeling settled in at our house because she decided to make her bed and sleep through the day.  She moved from the cabinet to the counter.

Joy had some hot cocoa today in a doll-sized china tea cup.

Hanging out on the top of the Christmas tree.  She's giving 2 thumbs up to her fun position today.

Dragonfly was getting concerned the Joy hadn't slept in a few days, so I thought she needed a big cup of coffee.  This is our coffee/cocoa corner.  The kids were jealous of all the marshmallows Joy got so they had to have some as well.

Sort of boring today, but the kids thought it was very funny that she was so high up.  They wanted to know how she got up there.

This bunting hangs above our kitchen table.  The kids thought it was pretty fun to see her climbing.

Joy put up her Christmas Tree!  All day long, Dragonfly kept looking at it and saying how much she liked it.  I think she was trying to puzzle out how it was made, but I wouldn't let her touch it.

Dragonfly asked me for several days to put Joy on the rope that's hanging off of our kitchen cupboards.  She thought it would look like Joy was swinging.

Elf's like cold weather, so I put her in the fridge.  I wonder how long it will take the kids to find her?

So, there's the first 10 of Joy's adventures.  The kids are really loving the game so far.  They have just learned how to play hide and seek and they enjoy looking for her every day.  One of my biggest concerns was that I would need to be untruthful with the kids in order to make the game work.  That hasn't been a problem at all.  I have told the kids that I move the doll around, and they still want to play the game.  I was also worried that the kids would be afraid of her, but they think she looks sweet.

Friday, December 9, 2016

C is for Christmas Cookies (year 3, week 12)

It's Christmas time!

Gymnastics class!  We stayed home because of sickness.

The kids and I watched "The Gingerbread Man," "Gingerbread Baby," and "Gingerbread Pirates" and talked about some of their similarities and differences.

Read a gingerbread man book at acted it out a bit with chases through the house.

AWANA day!


We made homemade cookies together- peanut butter snicker ones!  Skimmer thought the mixer was fascinating and loved actually getting to help with the baking.  He pretend cooks all day long (he'll be so excited to get the pretend kitchen for Christmas) but I rarely let them help me cook (the kitchen is my space- you know).

We made Grandpa's "It's not Brain Surgery" peanut butter cookies and used the dough to coat Snickers bars the way great-grandma used to make them.  Unwrapping the candies was good fine motor skills practice for Dragonfly, until she outsmarted me and grabbed some scissors.  Scissors practice counts though too, right?

Tadpole helped too.  I just didn't get any pictures of him since he needs more direct supervision.

When the Snickers bars were gone, I used the rest of the dough to make peanut butter chunk cookies with holiday m&ms and peanuts.  Obviously, we don't have nut problems (wink).

Family Movie Night!  We watched Elf and talked about elf culture and New York City.  For our special movie snack, we had candy corn, candy canes, and cookies.

Blog Posts About Christmas Cookies

- cookie addition folder game
- c is for cookies (year 2)
- c is for cookies (year 1)
- gingerbread writing tray

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Spelling Game
cookie bump game
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie preschool pack

- decorating large foam cookies
runaway cookie pattern
How Flour is Made video
hot cocoa sensory bin
cookie shop pretend play
life size gingerbread house
bake C shaped cookies

- Gingerbread Man
- Gingerbread Baby
- Gingerbread Girl
- Gingerbread Cowboys
- Gingerbread Pirates
- Gingerbread Friends
- It's Called Christmas with a Capital C (Christmas light show)

Friday, December 2, 2016

u is for umbrella birds (year 3, week 11)

We did a week in South America and learned about the animals of the Amazon Rainforest.  Our "focus" animal was the umbrella bird, a type of parrot that lives in South America (and our "letter U" animal of the year).

Gymnastics class!

We had a big weekend and the kids took a hug name today.  I did too.  It was amazing.

We tasted a finger lime today!  Our local grocery store gave it to us for free when I hold the produce man that I was buying tropical fruits for homeschooling this week.  It was a very interesting food.

AWANA day!

We watched a Rainforest "Relaxation" video from Amazon Prime to learn about different parts of the rainforest.  I really liked that it was just nature scenes and instrumental (spa) music, so I would add my own narration.  We saw hummingbirds that looked very similar to the ones we have here in the mountains.  We watched the rain pound down and roll off the leaves.  We named the colors of the flowers and the frogs.  We talked about the layers of the rainforest.  It was a great way to engage the kids in a different format.

And then, lest you forget what type of mom I am (wink), I let them watch Go, Diego, Go.  We also got our first snow today, so the kids spent some time outside exploring.


The kids got introduced to Dora the Explorer today.  Most annoying show in the entire universe!  The kids have been attempting the Spanish, so I guess that makes it ok.  We had pineapple with dinner tonight.

Dragonfly got to stay up to do math workbook with me, and then did a rainforest animal sensory bin with Safari Toob animals.


Daddy took the day off, so Dragonfly and I went shopping in the bigger town.  We had lots of good conversations.

Blog Posts About Umbrella Birds
- themed 20-frames
- j is for jungle (year 2)
- monkeys and apes 3-part cards
- j is for jungle (year 1)
- rainforest review game
- making teen numbers folder game
- tree frog math game

- fruit of the rainforest
- plants of the rainforest

- books about the rainforests
- jungle vines game
- classifying rainforest animals
- rain bottle
- tasting coconut
- rainforest swamp
- jungle tot trays
- measuring snakes
- rainforest small world
- coffee scooping
- jello snake play

Monday, November 28, 2016

Elf Traveling House

3 more Mondays until Christmas!

I've been having way too much fun preparing for Joy, our Kindness Elf.  She debuts with our kids this week for the very first time.  I bought a 10 inch metal lunch box to store her and her belongings.  As you can see from the picture, they fit pretty nicely.  Here's the list of what I've put in it:

Crafts I've Made

- gingerbread cookies (buttons) on a cheery teal cookie sheet

- button Nativity scene set on a plastic canvas background

- folding bed out of plastic canvas sized to the doll and 1/2" thick

- printable Cheerios box

- printable cake mix box

- printable chocolate chip bag

- printable tissue box

- knitting: embroidery floss (variegated) on mini wood spools with large eye needles

- plastic canvas Christmas tree

- mini tea cup and saucer

- wood suitcase

- good luck minis frog and duck

- bottle of rock chips (for bath salts)

- elf dust in a bottle (elf medicine)

{Other Ideas}
- apron
- laptop
- coffee cup and newspaper
- colored pencils
- tablet
- towels
- candles
- sleeping bag
- fire
- mailbox
- movie screens and accessories
- doughnut box
- Luke 2 Bible
- envelopes
- mini J.O.Y. sign

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Felt Pies (pattern)

Happy Thanksgiving!

The kids are getting a play kitchen for Christmas, so I made them some food.  Here are the pies.  They are sized to fit in a 6 inch mini pie pan like this one.

The recipe for this pie is pretty easy 😉  Use my pattern to cut out a base and sides out of off white or light brown felt.  Cut the larger circle out of red, blue, or purple felt to act as the berries.  If you're feeling very bold, use pompoms to simulate the berries.  Using another set of tan/brown felt, cut it into ½ inch strips and lattice weave it, gluing the crosses with fabric glue.  Sew the base onto the sides piece.  Cut a piece of sturdy cardboard as a stabilizer.  Set aside.  Begin sewing the "berry" top to the top edge of the pie, adding creases every couple inches to keep the top even.  About halfway around, put cardboard circle inside pie and sew another few inches.  When you have a 2 inch section left, begin stuffing the pie, taking care to keep the cardboard at the base.  Make sure you get stuffing securely into the "corners" of the pie to help it keep it's shape.  Stuff firmly.  Sew the pie shut the rest of the way.  Next, lay the lattice top onto the berry part of the pie and stitch it onto finished edge.  Trim the top as you work to ensure that the fabrics join neatly.  Congratulate yourself on a beautiful pie.

In some ways, the pumpkin pie is harder than the berry.  The crust took longer for me to figure out, and I'm not sure that it's the best method to make this kind of crust.  The pie is make similar to the berry one, except that you use the smaller top to keep the pie flatter.  The crust is done by cutting 2 inch strips of tan fabric, folding it into thirds (about ¾" wide), and wrapping the thread around sections to create bunches.  I ran the thread through the middle of the strips from one section to another to keep the top and bottom part of the crust nice.  When you finish a strip, beginning sewing the underside of the crust to the top of the pie.  I held the pie upside down and sewed from the bottom of the crust, catching a bit of crust and a bit of pie as I worked.  Continue crust until you've gone all around the pie.

I have wanted to make felt pies for a long time, but I never found a pattern and was hesitant to make them without a recipe.  Because I've done the work and made the pattern, I want to offer it to the crafting community for free.  Just click on the link below to download it as a PDF.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Accessorize the Play Kitchen

4 more Mondays until Christmas!

The kids are getting a play kitchen for Christmas!  My dad is building it, and I'm very excited.  I've been sewing up some felt food and collecting some clean recycling to stock their kitchen.  I thought it might be helpful for others if I did a blog post about play kitchen accessories.  I hope this inspires you in your own Christmas preparations!

Store-Bought Accessories

Melissa and Doug Pots and Pans
Every kitchen needs some pots for the stovetop.  I like this set by M&D because they're a good size for pretend play (about 5" diameter) and they look durable.

Green Toys Tea Set
In all reality, these tea cups will probably become the kids regular drinking cups 80% of the time.  They're made from recycled milk jugs, so I feel good about letting my kids drink out of them.  I can see many tea parties in our future.

Stainless Steel Tea Set
If staying way from plastic is important to you, then you'll need to check out this stainless steel tea set.

Melissa and Doug Fill 'Em Up Bowls
These are bowls with plastic pieces that fit into them to simulate different types of meals.  I know the kids will really be excited about the mac and cheese one, but the cereal will be popular too.  I like that they don't have a lot of pieces to lose.

Realistic Chicken Eggs
30 eggs for $7 bucks is a steal!  You could even buy a chicken if your child would enjoy collecting their own eggs!  Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and baking.

International Bread Set
I love making bread, so I can see my kids making a lot of types of breads in their kitchen.  I like the variety in this set, as it includes both leavened and unleavened bread.

Melissa and Doug Christmas Cookie Set
This set looks like so much fun!  Velcro sticks the cookies together so that they can be "sliced" apart and baked.

Felt Groceries

I really enjoy making felt food!

- For our summer road trip, I made a "counting" pizza out of felt and plastic canvas.  This would be a good addition to our play kitchen as well.

- I love the cute foods from Bugga Bugs Patterns on Etsy like this grocery set and these cereal bowls.

- This blogger had a great idea for condiments using recycled bottles

- Every holiday dinner needs a turkey with detachable parts!

- And perhaps pancakes for breakfast?

- Or maybe a bagel is your favorite?

- Check out this amazing bread!  Isn't it fabulous?

- This is a tutorial to turn a pizza crust into a soft taco.

- Another amazing felt creation: a grilled cheese sandwich

- Matzah for Passover!  Gotta make it in time for spring.

- PBJ sandwich made with felt and hot glue.

- This steak has a raw side and a cooked side.

- I would never make this popcorn.

Felt Sweets

Nothing says play kitchen like treats!

- A few years ago, I made this set of felt muffins in a variety of flavors.  I still haven't gotten the courage to give them to the children yet.  Maybe they're ready this year?

- I started this insane felt cake about a year ago and haven't decided whether or not to finish it.  It's looks so fun!

- I bought a pattern for cookies and cocoa from The Pixie Palace on Etsy that are absolutely adorable.  Now, um, I just need to make them (wink).

- These flour and sugar sacks are on my list of things to make.

- I'm going to try to make a couple pies this year (pattern coming soon).

- I've been playing around with this free pattern for gingerbread men and snowmen cookies.

- Another inspiring felt food- smores!

- I also find this ice cream sundae pretty cool.

- free felt pie pattern

{See more ideas on Pinterest!}