Sunday, February 28, 2010

Super Easy Space Shuttle

The "N" in the Florida alphabet book is for NASA.  C and R were very excited to make their own space shuttles.  This craft is super easy and you probably have everything you need.

  1. Paint a paper towel tube white
  2. Cut a large triangle out of white paper or card stock
  3. After the tube is dry, glue it to the triangle
  4. Paint a piece of aluminum foil black and wrap it around the nose of the shuttle (you can use black paper if you want, I just like the way the aluminum foil stays in place when I wrap it around the tube)
  5. Cut some strips of red tissue paper and glue them inside the bottom of the tube to look like flames (if you don't have tissue paper, use any red or orange paper)

Practice counting backwards from ten.  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF, and run around the room like crazy with your space shuttle.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Send Your Name to Mars

Visit the NASA website and send your name to Mars.  Your name will be included with others on a microchip on the Mars Science Laboratory rover heading to Mars in 2011!  You can print a certificate of participation for your child too. 


I currently host a preschool story hour at a local coffee shop.  This week, I read two books about clouds.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw is a fun book for kids because they recognize the familiar shapes on each page and after a few pages, the repetitive text allows the children to read along with you.  Is it spilt milk or a bird or a birthday cake or an angel?  No, but what is it?  Use your imagination because there really are no wrong answers.  It's all about what you see in the clouds.

We also read Little Cloud by Eric Carle.  This book is about a little cloud that drifts away from his friends and changes shape to become many different objects.  In the end he joins his friends to form one big cloud and it rains.   I think Eric Carle is a wonderful author/illustrator and this book is no exception.  It's a fun read for children.

The story hour attracts children between the ages of one and five, so I try to keep the craft portion simple and yet fun.  This week they all made their own clouds.  I provided blue paper, glue, and cotton balls.  Older children can draw a picture on the paper first (using white chalk is great to create the cloud effect) and then fill in the picture with cotton balls to make their clouds look like something specific.  Younger children can just enjoy the tactile experience and stick the cotton balls on the paper however they like.  This is a very open-ended craft that translates well for children of all ages.  Story hour was a success!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Bed Fit for a Princess

R has a bed fit for a princess, and she LOVES it.  Grandma and Grandpa gave her this gorgeous bed as an early birthday present, and I could not resist sharing this picture.  I have to tell you that her bed is so comfortable that I am always tempted to snuggle up next to her for the night. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fine Motor Skills Fun

It has been cold and rainy here.  I didn't have any of my own craft projects ready to go and R was a bit antsy, but we found this Disney Princess Scrunch Art Activity in one of the toy closets.  It was a Christmas present from Papa and Grandma M that I had put away for exactly this type of day. 

The kit comes with three cardboard princesses and 300 sparkly tissue squares.  You peel the plastic off the front of the princess' dress to reveal a sticky film, crumple up the tissue paper, and stick the crumpled paper wherever you want.

This is a great activity for improving your child's fine motor skills.  If you don't have this kit, scrunching up any kind of paper is great for this purpose.  Scrunch up newspaper and find a wastebasket or laundry hamper to make a homemade basketball game, scrunch up white paper and have a "snowball" fight, or scrunch up small pieces of different colored tissue paper and glue them on to another paper to create a mosaic. 

Here are the princesses after R and I finished decorating them:
R enjoyed this activity so much more than I thought she would, and we have a lot of the sparkly tissue paper squares left for future crafts!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Key Lime Pie

We couldn't possibly study the state of Florida without making key lime pie!  No way!

I used a recipe from The United States Cookbook by Joan D'Amico and Karen Eich Drummond.  I love this book.  It has a few facts about each state and a recipe for each state too!  If you are studying the states, I definitely recommend that you purchase this book!*

*I paid for my copy of the cookbook and I am not receiving anything for recommending the book!  However, if you do purchase the book through this link, I do receive a minimal amount through the Amazon Associates program.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From Oranges to Orange Juice

When I think about Florida, I think about orange juice!  I found the book, From Oranges to Orange Juice by Kristin Thoennes Keller at the library.  After reading about how oranges find their way to the container of orange juice we buy each week, we made some of our own freshly squeezed orange juice.

This provided an opportunity for R to see how many oranges are required for just one cup of orange juice.

Most importantly, the juice was delicious!  We have to make freshly squeezed orange juice more often.

Monday, February 22, 2010


We are learning about alligators for the Florida section of our Fifty States Project.  We read:
  • There's an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Meyer
  • Never Kiss an Alligator by Colleen Stanley Bare
  • What's the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile? by Lisa Bullard

I found this alligator and liked the idea of using an egg carton for the body, but instead of using sequins to add texture to the nose and tail, we used bubble wrap.  C and R painted the egg carton and bubble wrap green and we assembled the alligator together.

R also made an alligator A like the one featured on No Time for Flashcards.  I cut out the A and she used dot markers to color it, and then glued on teeth and googly eyes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A New Ride for Disney World

C chose to learn about the state of Florida because he LOVES Disney World.  It is his favorite place in the world, and the one thing he really wanted to do as part of this project was to design a ride for the park. 

I scanned in his drawing.  C described the ride to me:  The ride is called "The Godzilla and King Kong Washout" and it is a water roller coaster.  On the left, you can see King Kong holding Ann Darrow, and when you go by him, he tries to take you out of the roller coaster!  Down in the valley is Godzilla.  He swings his tail at the roller coaster cars and sprays water out of his mouth.  The water has food coloring in it to look like fire.  At the very top is Godzilla's head; when you go by his head, water drips down on you.  The green army men shoot bullets, but they are not real. You get really, really wet on this ride because there is a huge splash at the end and there is very cold water too.

Yesterday, C found out that there are people who actually design Disney World rides for a living.  He is so excited about this and has added it to his list of future careers.  In case you were wondering, he also wants to be an illustrator, a movie director, and a Kindergarten teacher. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010


We began our Florida studies with two Florida alphabet books.

S is for Sunshine, A Florida Alphabet by Carol Crane (I love this series!)
My Florida Alphabet by Russell W. Johnson and Annie P. Johnson

We are very excited to explore alligators, manatees, the Everglades, oranges, and more!

Friday, February 19, 2010


C is always proclaiming the day as "opposite day"!  I think this originated with an episode of Little Bear, but now it is a regular occurrence.  Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a fun book of opposites.  My kids love to lift the flaps (very cool die-cut pages) to see how black becomes white, day becomes night, narrow becomes wide, and more.  Seeger is an incredibly clever author; we love Lemons are not Red and First the Egg by her too.  We have read all of these books quite a few times.

We focused on black and white for our book project.

C and R folded a black piece of construction paper in half and then painted one side of the paper with white paint.  I helped them fold the paper to reveal the opposite of their painting on the other side of the paper.

This is C's creation; he said it is a butterfly:
Here is the work of art by R:
They also made collages placing black paper, buttons, pom poms, and googly eyes on white paper.
Notice that R added a pink button to her collage.  I guess she thinks everything needs a little pink!
Do you ever have opposite day in your house?  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Wolves


We have read a lot of wolf books.  Here is part two of our list:
  • Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco
  • Wolves by Emily Gravett
  • Diego's Wolf Pup Rescue adapted by Christine Ricci
  • Wolf's Coming by Joe Kulka
  • Where's the Big Bad Wolf by Eileen Christelow
We enjoyed a lot of wolf play.

We learned quite a bit about wolves (we especially enjoyed listening to them howl) from National Geographic Kids and a Jeff Corwin dvd.

Wolf paw print cupcakes were a perfect treat.
Click here to read my first post about wolves.
I'm about to be cheesy so stop reading if you must, but we had a howling good time learning about wolves.

FYI:  The Little Red Riding Hood finger puppets are from Dollar Tree.  I think we bought them last summer.  The Three Little Pigs play set was purchased from a teacher supply store a few years ago; I have linked the play set to Amazon but it is currently unavailable there.  The idea for the wolf paw print cupcakes came from Gourmet Mom on the Go.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cotton Clay

Cotton clay recipe:
3 cups cotton balls
2 cups water
2/3 cup flour
food coloring (optional)

  • Tear cotton balls into small pieces and put in a saucepan
  • Add water
  • Stir in flour 
  • Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for approximately five minutes or until mixture begins to stiffen
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool on a towel
  • I then split it in half and put it into two containers with a few drops of food coloring (red for C and purple for R)
  • Begin sculpting, squishing, and just having fun

If you create a structure that you would like to keep, just leave it out to dry for 24 hours.
*Edited to add:  The clay is very wet and the best way I can describe the texture is goopy.  I'm not sure how long it will last, but we stored it in a ziploc bag and it is still moldable two days later.  I hope this answers your questions!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We are learning about wolves this week.  Some of the books we have read so far are:
  • Wolves by Duncan Searl
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf retold by B.G. Hennessy
  • The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman
  • Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec

We also brainstormed to come up with all of the fairy tales we know that have big bad wolves in them.  This led to a discussion about why wolves have been perceived as "bad" animals and how they are endangered.

C and R also made paper bag wolf puppets.  We used the puppets to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.
 Don't tell me you have never seen a purple and pink wolf!  R would have it no other way!

 I also made some yummy wolf paws for C and R to enjoy.  I was inspired by Gourmet Mom on the Go's idea for dinosaur claws.  I covered Nutter Butters with melted chocolate and then added cashews for the claws.  These were so good!
Stay tuned for more wolf books and activities!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day

This Abraham Lincoln craft was made by C in school.  Isn't he adorable?  If you are looking for a simple hand print craft to honor our presidents today, this would work perfectly.  I love Abe's hand print beard.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year and a Sweet Valentine

Happy Chinese New Year!  We couldn't resist making some dragon claws for good luck!  The recipe is from Gourmet Mom on the Go.  They are Nutter Butters covered with melted chocolate and cashew claws.
We are also very excited about Valentine's Day today, and I was thrilled to receive this box of Godiva from my children!
I'm going to enjoy them now!  Happy Valentine's Day!

A Winter Hike

We went out for a long winter hike yesterday.  It was tough, but the kids did great.  Everyone got some exercise and fresh air.  My favorite thing about winter hikes is the lack of mosquitoes!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Chapter Book

Can you guess which chapter book I am currently reading to C? 

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Year of the Tiger

We read two books in honor of Chinese New Year (February 14th this year).  D is for Dancing Dragon, A China Alphabet by Carol Crane and Zong-Zhou Wang is a nice way to learn a little about China.

This year is the year of the tiger.  We read Who is the Beast?  by Keith Baker.  This book is not about China or Chinese New Year, but it is a great picture book featuring a tiger, and we happen to love reading it.   

After reading this book, I gave C and R white card stock with the outline of a tiger's face drawn by me on the paper.  They placed the paper in a cardboard box, added a few squirts of orange and black paint, and dropped in a few marbles.

They worked together to shake, tilt, and spin the box for some fun marble painting.
Once the paint dried, I cut out their tiger faces.  Then we cut out holes for the eyes and attached craft sticks to the back for them to hold.
Happy Chinese New Year!