Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cool Easy Snacks

Peanut butter and Jelly frozen pops
I love to make home made snacks as much as possible, and ones to keep us cool in the heat of summer are no exception.
The simplest cold treat to make I think are popsicles. All you need is some fruit juice (or other beverage) and some molds and sticks. I have been able to find molds for popsicles all over the place, from the local dollar store to my local major chain store.

To make you simply pour some juice into the molds, add a stick and freeze until solid. To step it up a notch, you can add some fresh or frozen chopped berries, or blend them all together to make fruit pops.

Making what we call smoothie pops is also a popular activity in the home here. What I do is take our favorite smoothie recipe and (strawberry banana, here) and freeze it into molds like the juice.
To make the pops melt more slowly you can add unflavored gelatin (or flavored as well if you prefer) before freezing.

You can also take different flavors of packaged instant puddings and make frozen pudding pops, or yogurt and freeze into yogurt pops.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

What a few hectic weeks!

Well, we are right into the new year, and no, I didn't forget about the blog. We have been really busy, playing, doing "school", visiting playgroups and generally trying to keep the cabin fever away.

It's April FIRST! and we are still below zero last time I checked the temperature.

I can't wait to get outside and plant our small balcony garden, build our garden boxes and plant some seeds. Even the pots were frozen to the ground and I haven't been able to find dirt in the stores yet. I had my partner bring in a large frozen pot of dirt last night and plan to get planting by tomorrow (it's still frozen!?)

I hope you all had a merry winter and I'm sure if you are in this hemisphere you are also looking forward to a wonderfully long awaited spring.

Have fun and PLAY today :)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

5 Great ways to get Moving (inside) this Winter

Hey there! A lot of us understand the feeling we get after having to spend weeks on end playing and staying inside for everything. Here are a few great ways to get moving indoors when the weather is too bad to go outside for long or at all.

1. Indoor Hopscotch
I took masking tape (I think painter's tape would work better because of the colour) and made a short hopscotch down the hallway on the way to the bathroom. The idea is that as you pass the grid you hop it to get to the bathroom. We used rolled up socks or small toys instead of stones if we were just playing the "right" way.

2. Kicking a ball down a hallway
I clear out the long hallway on a regular basis, and let the kids use it as a place to play and run. It's as simple as it sounds. They just stand at either end of the hall and kick the ball back and forth. Sometimes they chase it as well. We try to see who can get the ball past the other the most.

3. Bowling
Buy or make a bowling pin set and take turns trying to knock down the pins. See who can knock them all down at once 3 times in a row, or try to think of another way to play that is different. (Maybe backwards or upside down) 

4. Dance Party!
Pick some of your favorite songs and dance away! Kids can make up their own dance to show their family or friends. Remember, the music doesn't have to be typical kids music! What an awesome way to expose your children to the music you enjoy listening to and broaden their musical minds.

5. Animal Moves
What kinds of animals can you pretend to be? Monkeys? Big stomping elephants? Tiny squeeking mice? Hopping frogs or kangaroos? Try to think of how many different animals you can be and which movements and sounds to go with them.

What other ways are there to keep active and get the jiggles out?

Have fun, get messy and PLAY!

Experiments with soap: Propelling a paper boat

I am reading an old science experiment book and decided to use the book as a basis for some of our activities. One of the experiments that deals with surface tension is to propel a paper boat using a drop of soap and since the kids like to play with water, I thought this would be a fun thing to try.

I got DD and my Petit Monsieur together and told them we were going to try something neat. Immediately they were interested and gathered around. I had already gathered my materials: some thin cardboard, water, a tub, and some liquid soap (and a couple of small slivers of soap to try out. They didn't seem to work as well.)

I cut the cardboard into a small rectangle and cut the corners off one end so it was pointed. I also made a small notch in the back of the boat. That is where the soap will go.

DD very carefully placed the boat on the surface of the water, so it would float on top. I had her place it close to one end of the bath tub, so we could watch it move forward if the experiment worked. Next, I dropped a small drop of liquid soap into the water where the notch was in the boat and voila! The boat moved forward. I tried to get it onto video, but every time I tried, it didn't work. I will be trying again to get a video made and posted to my youtube channel.

All 3 of the kids and I were amazed. We wanted to try it again, but after a few more tries with no success, I realized that we couldn't use the same water again and emptied the tub. I filled a baby size bath tub with a few centimeters of water and tried again, this time with daddy there to watch.

The idea is this: when the soap breaks the surface of the water, the stronger pull from the water in the front pulls the boat forward.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

December Activity Countdown: 10th, 11th and 12th.

We worked for a few days on a paper chain garland. I like to try and bring "oldskool" crafts back to light in our household. I look through many older science and craft idea books for my inspirations, and since we had no garland, when I came across this idea I decided what better way to decorate and have fun than to make one out of paper?

I spent some time cutting strips of different coloured construction paper the night before, and set up this invitation for them to play.
While all 4 of the kids (ages 2 to 12) used stickers and markers to decorate strips, mommy glued them into rings and attached them to make a beautiful paper chain.

This was only a small portion of the chain, and I think next Christmas season we will be trying other ways to make garlands to decorate the house.

Happy holiday crafting!

Friday, 17 January 2014

December Activity Countdown: Dec 7 and 8

I have to admit we didn't do much in the way of "activities" on these couple of days. Not all the children were home, so we mostly just read some favorite winter and Christmas/holiday themed books, and snuggled in together to watch a couple of our traditional Christmas movies.

One of the favorite books and videos here is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.Every year I pull out the Book and the old VHS tape (we really have to get a dvd version one of these years) and watch the video over and over again.

We sit together and read the book throughout the weeks before Christmas, and talk about the spirit of the season. About how it's not all about us, and about how we must live the spirit of the season throughout the whole year. About how we must all care for each other and the planet around us.

There are other books and movies that get pulled out for the Holiday season around here, of course. This is just our favorite.

Here is a list of some other books and videos we use throughout the Christmas holiday season to get into the spirit of the season.


1.Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
2.The Polar Express
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
4.A Christmas Story
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
6. The Christmas Train
7. Dot and Spot's Magical Christmas Adventure
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (I can categorize this into Hallowe'en fun, too)
9. Little Drummer Boy
10. Frosty the Snowman


1. A Letter to Santa by Gaby Goldstack; Illustrated by Caroline Pedler
2. A Cricket's Carol by Mark Kimbell Moulton
3. Richard Scarry's Christmas Mice
4. The Elf who lived next Door
5. Santa's Magic Bag by Susan Karnovsky
6. Franklin's Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgois
7. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
8. The Littlest Christmas Elf  by Nancy Buss
9. Silent Night a pop up book
10. I Spy Christmas: A book of picture riddles

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

December Activity Countdown: Dec 5 and 6

 December 5th I decided to make some playdough out of a recipe I found using cornstarch and baking soda. DD asked if she could help cook it on the stove and since I was closely supervising, I said yes. I believe it's important to say yes to as many experiences as possible to give children (and the adults around them) many experiences to learn and trust themselves.
After it was finished cooking and cooling, instead of adding colour, I added a tablespoon of cinnamon to the dough for a whole new sensory experience.

The youngest one did try to eat the yummy smelling dough, but soon learned that it did NOT taste like it smelled and spit it out.
The next day I got brave and had the kids do some stamp painting with christmas themed stamps. I used home made paint (recipe will be posted under recipes and other fun stuff)
It did not get as messy as I thought, and not everyone was as into it as I thouught. DD and the little big man got right into dipping the stamps (and even their hands, of course) and putting it up on the paper on the wall. My petit Monsieur wouldn't even come to the hallway to check it out, even after I said "we're painting on the walls!"
Funny how what they like one day might not be enjoyed the next.
To minimize the mess I used newspapers on the floor and cleared the area around them as much as possible. And for a 5 and a just turned 2 year old they were really a lot cleaner with it than I expected.
(I was Imagining paint on the walls and floors and ceilings as well as themselves. there actually wasn't a drop anywhere but the paper they were using and newspaper on the floor.)
Definitely something I will try again during different times of the year.

Don't forget to have fun! Get down and play, learn, discover and explore with your children. They might have surprises in store for you.

Monday, 6 January 2014

December Activity Countdown: Dec 3 and 4

Our next activities weren't much different than the first couple of days. The kids enjoyed making their very own foam gingerbread people.
Even the older one (12)  got involved and enjoyed this little activity, even though he thinks he is starting to get too old for little projects like this. Again they used glitter glue, small confetti and jewels and of course who can forget googly eyes to complete the character.
The 4th day of December we had fun with 2 activities. The little boys, who are both 2, played with some home made salt dough. My petit monsier used his trains and cars to make imprints in the dough, while the little big man just enjoyed squishing it and rolling it in his hands and on the table.

I also set up a small quiet time activity that consisted of colouring winter scenes with markers.
They all had opportunities to choose what page they wanted to colour and went at it.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

What can you do with a....BOX

To some, a box can be just that. a box, something to put things in. Storage. Recycling. Clutter.
To others, a simple box can open a whole new world: a rocket ship to outer space, a race car, a puppet theatre and so much more.
My favorite quote about boxes comes from a book I have read to my kids since the oldest was 2.
 Jillian Jiggs says it best: "I'm wild about boxes. Boxes are fun! No one could guess what we are when we're done."

That is EXACTLY how I think about an empty box. Imagine the possibilities!

In our home, we have built a ramp for cars, a car, and airplane to fly, and a house. as well as painted it for a pretty place for "babies" to sleep.
I have taken the time to cut out shapes into the box and have the kids push them out.
The kids have used them for hide and seek, a dark spot to play with their glowsticks, walls or a roof to a fort. I can't even name all the ways we have played with boxes over the years.

I never throw out a box (especially a really big one) without first thinking about and using it all the ways we can. Then of course it goes right into the recycling bin to get made into new paper product.Hopefully a great big box.

Remember how much fun we had as children with boxes and think about what you want your kids to experience. The simplicity of boxes. The almost infinite possibilities for a box and a person with imagination to go with it.

December Activity Countdown: Dec 1 and 2

The first and second days of December I decided (along with input from DD who is now 5) to make foam Christmas cards and decorated trees.
Using ribbons, glue, glitter glue (I'm not brave enough for actual glitter yet!) stickers, small jewels and shiny confetti, the kids decorated their very own Christmas trees to hang on our walls.
The 2 littles sat there for an entire nap time making decorated trees for us, and cards for family and friends.

To make the cards, they used foam sheets and foam stickers from a Winter/Christmas art kit from the dollar store. They created wonderful snowy scenes to give away to their very loved cousins and to decorate daddy's work office.
Whenever there is an art project happening there is always a mess to clean up, so make it easy to clean and use newspaper or a type of easily washed drop cloth underneath the projects you're doing.

Have Fun! Get Messy! Play!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

December Activity Countdown

I haven't posted in awhile, but that doesn't mean we were not busy with activities. of course with the temperatures being colder than the North pole some days. we have been indoors A LOT!

I tried to have a countdown to Christmas going on this year, and although we did miss a few days here and there, almost every day had an activity planned.

My next couple of posts will describe what we did during the long month of December, especially during the school break. Since we learn at home (and beyond) I hardly notice the difference, but I will post some ideas to shake those wiggles out and get out the energy usually unleashed outdoors in positive ways.