Thursday, September 30, 2010

Owl Pancakes

The Greedy Triangle

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns is about a triangle that gets tired of doing the same old things, so it visits the shapeshifter to ask for one more side and one more angle.  Unfortunately, being a quadrilateral soon grows old and the triangle returns to the shapeshifter again and again for more sides and more angles.  Eventually, the triangle realizes that life as a triangle was pretty good and returns to the shapeshifter to rediscover life as a triangle. 

We enjoyed reading this book.  I always like to see books for children exploring the lesson of the grass not being greener on the other side.  This is also a great introduction to polygons.  C and R counted the sides on triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, octagons, nonagons, and decagons.

R did a fun art project inspired by this book.  Using masking tape, I attempted to make an entire paper of polygons for R to paint.

She loved painting the shapes different colors.  When the paint dried, I carefully pulled off all of the masking tape and she had a beautiful piece of art.  R was so impressed with herself!! 

I really like the way this came out.  This is one art project we will definitely try again.

I am linking this to stArt at A Mommy's Adventures.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grandfather Tang's Story

I recently mentioned how much C enjoyed reading Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes.  He liked completing the tangram puzzles as we read the book.  A few readers left comments recommending Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert.  C was very happy to read another book full of tangram puzzles.

In this book, Grandfather Tang and Little Soo were playing a game with tangram puzzles and their game turned into a story.  The story they told featured fox fairies who could change their shapes and become different animals.  C and I were on the edge of the seat waiting to see what would happen; the story is full of danger and excitement!  Everything about this book is perfect for C; he loves the adventure, the illustrations, and the puzzles.

*I think C might like a book of tangram puzzles for Christmas. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to Make a Treasure Map or Wanted Poster

T recently read The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs for his eighth grade Language Arts class.  One of the assessments assigned was to create a "Wanted" poster for the monkey's paw.  After T finished designing his poster, he made it look old, yellowed, and worn by following this process:

  • First, crumple the paper into a tight ball.  
  • Unfold it and lay it flat on a cookie sheet.
  • Brew two or three cups of strong tea or coffee.  We used tea and I left the tea bags in for a few minutes to make the tea as dark as possible.  
  • Pour the tea over the paper on the cookie sheet and swirl it around a bit to make sure the paper is completely covered.  

  • Let the paper sit in the tea or coffee for five minutes and then pour the liquid into the sink.
  • Carefully move the wet paper to a dry plate.
  • Using a hairdryer on high, dry the paper until it is almost dry.  Then dry on low for about two    minutes until completely dry.  My hairdryer is pretty powerful - the paper was completely dry in less than two minutes.  
  • This step is unnecessary, but T thought it would make the finished product even better.  Carefully burn a few areas around the edge of the paper.  Be careful!!!!

T's project was a wanted poster, but this is a very cool way to make a treasure map too.  The flash on my camera doesn't really allow you to see the color of this paper.  It looks much better than the photo.

Owl Mask

The template and directions for this owl mask can be found at the National Wildlife Federation website.  I traced the template onto craft foam and cut out all of the pieces.  C and R glued the masks together.  I used a pin to make tiny holes on the sides of the eyes and pushed shoelaces through to tie the masks.  You can also add feathers. 

After making the masks, we read one of our favorite owl books, Good Night Owl by Pat Hutchins.  Poor Owl is trying to sleep, but all of the daytime noises around him are keeping him awake.  Will he ever get to sleep?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Owl Snack - Take 2

I replaced the graham cracker beak from the first owl snack I made with a cashew.  I'm still not so sure it looks like an owl.  It's a good thing I am not a food photographer - look at those crumbs on the plate!!!!!!!

I made this by cutting a piece of whole wheat bread into a circle shape (use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter or a glass).  Then I just cut a notch out of the top to make the two points at the top.  I covered the bread with peanut butter.  At the top, I stuck a few Cheerios on the bread.  The eyes are slices of banana with chocolate chips pushed into them, and the beak is a cashew.

Whooooo wants a healthy snack?

I searched for healthy snacks that look like owls, but the only thing I could find was made with lunch meat and C won't eat lunch meat, so I came up with this.  I guess it looks like an owl if you know it is supposed to be an owl.  Next time, I will make the beak smaller; I think that is the problem.

To make the snack, I used a large biscuit cutter to make a slice of bread into a circle shape.  I then cut a tiny notch out of the top of the circle, and spread peanut butter over the bread.  Banana slices with chocolate chips pushed into them made the eyes.  The beak is a graham cracker that I cut into a triangle, and I used Cheerios above the eyes.  C and R enjoyed every bite.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

B is for Bear

Last week, R was learning the letter "B" in preschool.  We read one of our favorite bear books, We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.  It's a great book for beginning readers because the text is repetitive and fun.  We enjoy reenacting the story in great dramatic fashion! 

Michael's recently had teddy bear card stock cutouts on sale really cheap (a package of twelve was less than fifty cents); I will probably be doing a teddy bear theme at my coffee shop story hour sometime soon.  I really like the card stock cutouts for preschoolers. 

C and R each decorated their own bears.  C's bear is the one with the bow tie and, obviously, R's bear is the green one.

Time is Running Out!!! Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

We are waiting for a few banned books that we requested to come in at the library.  In the meantime, read my post about BBW from last year featuring the book, Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle.  If you have not read this book, I definitely recommend it.  We borrow it often and always enjoy reading it.

Check out the list of frequently challenged books and make it a point to read some of them.  Don't let someone else dictate what you should or should not read!

Legend of the Guardians, The Owls of Ga'Hoole

The whole family went to see Legend of the Guardians, The Owls of Ga'Hoole in 3D yesterday.  I loved every minute of the movie.  R slept through most of the movie (she almost always falls asleep in movie theaters), but everyone else thought it was great.  Click here to see the trailer, and then go see the movie. 

You can expect some owl crafts and snacks posted here over the next week or so!  To read about some of our favorite owl books and see the owl craft we made last year around this time, click here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to Tie Shoes

One of our favorite books this week is What Eddie Can Do by Wilfried Gebhard.  Eddie has a wonderful imagination that takes him deep sea diving, outer space exploring, and mountain climbing among other things.  But when he has to tie up a double-tailed monster to save his friend Clara, he realizes that his mom was right when she said it was time for him to learn how to tie shoes.  Luckily, he is a quick learner and he returns to save his friend with his new knot tying skills.  Phew!

A while back, I saw this shoe tying craft on Almost Unschoolers.  I traced a pair of R's sneakers onto the back of a cereal box, cut them out, and let R color them.  Then I used a hole punch to make four sets of holes on each "shoe". 

I showed R how to lace the shoes.

Then we worked on tying the shoes.  We use a different method than the one Eddie used in the book.  From experience, I have found that it is easier for kids to learn using the two bunny ears, so that is what we did.  The book is there to keep the shoe down on the table because R was having trouble keeping it in place; a rock would have been better but the book was right there and we were in deep concentration!

I cannot say that R has mastered shoe tying yet, but she definitely knows what to do.  Unfortunately, her little fingers do not always cooperate the way she wants them to.  No worries, she is only four. 

I am linking this post to What My Child is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

Friday, September 24, 2010


This week we read Montana by Jim Ollhoff.  This is a book full of state facts, historical information and more.  The text was a little wordy for C and R so I read the main ideas from each section and we looked at the pictures together. 

I printed the Montana state outline onto card stock and let C and R fill the pages as they saw fit.  I did suggest that they cover the space with pictures of things related to Montana, and they did a great job.  They both included the state flower (Bitterroot) and the state tree (Ponderosa Pine).  C glued on the grizzly bear (state animal) that he colored and he also stuck on some silver and gold stickers because the state motto is Gold and Silver.  R drew the state bird (Western Meadowlark) with a little help from me.  C also included a mountain and some rocks in his picture. 

I was really happy with the way C and R did these.  I wish I had thought of this in the beginning of our Fifty States Project.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Libman Freedom Spray Mop Review and GIVEAWAY

As a reviewer for the Mom Bloggers Club, I recently received a Libman Freedom Spray Mop free from Libman.  Please note that this review is based solely on my experience with the mop and was not influenced by the free product.  Now that the legal stuff is out of the way, let me tell you about my CLEAN FLOORS!!!!!  Woo hoo, I love this new product.  Seriously, I do!

I love convenience cleaning products.  Anything that makes cleaning easier and less time consuming is my kind of product.  You should also know that my LEAST favorite chore is cleaning the floors.  I have to admit that I should do this more often than I do.  Anyway, I used to use the mops that require special solution, batteries, and cleaning pads.  I will never use them again!  The Libman Freedom Spray Mop is so much better because:

  • I have the Freedom to choose any cleaning solution I want to put in: my favorite cleaner, plain water, environmentally friendly solution etc. There is a removable bottle for easy filling.
  • I also have Freedom from costly and wasteful disposable pads; the reusable microfiber pad can be machine washed up to 50 times and it is safe on all flooring surfaces.
  • I now have Freedom from batteries!  The trigger sprayer allows me to control how much liquid is coming out.  I just grab the mop and go, no heavy messy buckets to lug around. 
  • This mop is quality manufactured in the USA (Arcola, IL) by a 4th generation family owned company.  This means a lot to me.  I love to buy products manufactured in the USA!!!
  • The Freedom mop is sold fully assembled in the mop and broom section of your favorite store.  How nice that it does not have to be assembled; seriously, you just grab it, fill it, and clean!
  • The Freedom Spray Mop became available at retailers nationwide beginning August 2010 with a suggested retail price of $19.99 to $24.99.
If you love Libman products, check out their facebook page and let them know that you LIKE them!!!

One of my lucky readers is going to win their own Libman Freedom Spray Mop from Libman.  For your chance to win, please leave me a comment letting me know how you currently clean your floors.  This contest is open now and will close on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Please include your email address in your comment so that I can reach you if you win.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Elephant Appreciation Day

In honor of elephant appreciation day, we read Elmer's Special Day by David McKee.  We are big fans of the Elmer series of books.  What is cuter than a patchwork elephant?  In this book, it is almost Elmer's Day for the elephants and they are getting their parade outfits ready.  The other animals in the jungle are upset about all of the noise, so Elmer changes the rules and invites every animal to join in the parade.  The animals show up with a special surprise for Elmer!

Our sliding glass door was looking rather boring, so we decided to spruce it up with a "stained glass" patchwork elephant.  I cut the Elmer the elephant shape out of clear contact paper and R stuck squares of tissue paper on the sticky side of the contact paper.

We used a black Sharpie to outline the legs, ear, and eye to make it obvious that this is an elephant. 

Our door doesn't look boring anymore!  How are you going to celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day?

I am linking this to stArt at A Mommy's Adventures.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tag, You're It

Jenny from Our Nifty Notebook tagged me in this fun game of questions.  The rules of this game require me to answer eight questions from Jenny and then come up with eight new questions and tag some blog friends.  Here is what she wanted to know:
  1. What was your favorite childhood show/cartoon?  My favorite childhood show was Mister Rogers.  I watched this show until I was WAY TOO OLD, but I adored him.  I wonder what my children would think of the show.  My husband does not know this and when he reads it, he is going to laugh and laugh and laugh.
  2. What does your child/children want to be for Halloween?  (At my house, this changes daily, so just use their latest idea)  This changes at my house too, but as of right now C wants to be a soldier and R wants to be Alice in Wonderland.
  3. What's your favorite color?  GREEN
  4. What is your go to recipe for parties or get togethers?  Rachael Ray's black bean salsa for an appetizer and Mexican Brownies for dessert.  Click on the links and try these recipes; people are always begging me to make these and give them the recipes.  You will love them.
  5. What's your favorite website?  I love my library and the website is very helpful to me.  It helps me keep track of the books we have out, due dates, fines (ugh), and I can renew or reserve books with the click of a mouse. 
  6. Do you have a favorite family tradition?  I love our Christmas traditions.  My favorite is purchasing frame ornaments with the year engraved on them and putting recent photos on the tree.  I love to look at how much the kids have grown over the years when we decorate the tree. 
  7. If you had an extra $500, what would you do with it?  I would put most of it in savings, but first I would get a facial and a pedicure! 
  8. Has your child/children started their Christmas list yet?  HA!  They started the day after Christmas!  Actually, they have not sat down to compile the lists, but the catalogs are already coming in the mail and they have plenty of ideas.
I am tagging the following bloggers:
  1. Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom
  2. Natalie from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns
  3. Leah from Almost Unschoolers
  4. Lynn from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile
  5. Julie from Just Playin' Around
  6. Sherri from Families Are Fun
  7. Annette from Live, Learn, Love
Here are my questions for you:
  1. What is your favorite fictional book?
  2. What was your college major?  If you did not go to college, what would your major be today if you had to pick one? 
  3. If you could visit one place in the world, where would  you go?
  4. What is your biggest challenge as a mom?
  5. What did you eat for breakfast today?
  6. What kind of music do you listen to most often?
  7. What is your least favorite chore?
  8. Pretend that money is no object and you need a new outfit; where would you go to buy it?
Okay, my bloggy friends, consider yourselves tagged.  I can't wait to read your answers.  If I didn't tag you and you want to play along, feel free to post your answers.  If you read my blog, but don't know the seven bloggers I listed above, click on the links and check out their sites.

B's for lunch

R is learning the letter "B" at school this week, so I made her a special "B" lunch at home.  She loved it!  I used her Barbie plate and bear muffin cups to hold bear toast (toast cut with bear cookie cutter and then covered with peanut butter, chocolate chip eyes, and a candy mouth), frozen blueberries (this was R's favorite part of the lunch; she loves frozen blueberries even more than she loves fresh berries!), bunny snacks, and bumblebee bananas (banana slices held together with chocolate hazelnut spread).  While she ate, we took turns naming "B" words.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Saturdays with Dad

I am teaching a class at a law school every Saturday this semester.  So far, each week there has been something great going on around town and C and R are having a grand old time with Dad.  They have been to a town celebration, public safety day, and a birthday party.  They are also playing soccer every Saturday.  Dad sure is busy on Saturdays, but he seems to be enjoying this special time with C and R.  Here are just a few pictures of all of the fun they have been having together:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Apple Cupcakes

We finished R's week of letter "A" activities with a special treat.  I saw these apple cupcakes in Family Fun magazine and figured they would be fun to make.  We made vanilla cupcakes, frosted them, and sprinkled some red sugar on top.  The "stems" are tootsie rolls cut in half, and I used green icing to make the "leaves".  A few of the "apples" had bites taken out of them; those "bites" revealed the inside of the "apples" with a little help from some white frosting and tiny pieces of tootsie roll "seeds". 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Montana Grizzlies

We are currently studying the state of Montana for our Fifty States Project.  The state animal of Montana is the grizzly bear.  I read the book Moon in Bear's Eyes by Stephen R. Swinburne to C and R this week.  The book describes a day in the life of a grizzly bear family in Yellowstone's high country.  There are a few pages of grizzly bear facts at the end of the book.  C and R both enjoyed the story and the illustrations.  R is a little young for this book, but the fact that the book features a mother grizzly and her two cubs was enough to keep R interested.  It also helped that we brought this book with us to the doctor and read it while we were waiting for C's annual physical.  I had a captive audience.

C and R colored grizzly bear coloring sheets.  C glued his bear to a craft stick to make a puppet.  I cut out R's bear and she glued it onto dark construction paper.  We learned that grizzly bears are mostly nocturnal, so R made a nighttime scene for her bear by sticking some star stickers on the top of the page.  They also learned that grizzly bears are omnivores, so R drew some plants, berries, and animals on the paper.   Here is R's finished Montana grizzly:
The red circles are apples, the green squiggles are plants and grass, and the brown thing is a squirrel for her bear to eat!

I am linking this to What My Child is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

Friday, September 17, 2010

A is for Acorn a.k.a Squirrel School

There is no shortage of acorns around here right now and since R is working on the letter "A", I figured we could use some of those acorns as manipulatives.

R is not always interested in my suggestion that we sit down and work on a concept, but she is very competitive lately and wants to turn everything into a game.  I am more than happy to make learning a game.  This is what we did:

The first person to put ten acorns in a line won the first round.

The first person to make a circle using nine acorns won round two.

To win the third round, the players had to be first to make a rectangle using the entire perimeter of the tray.

The final round could be won by being the first to make a circle in a rectangle.

R also made the letter "A" but for some reason I didn't get a picture of that.  The game ended after this because the acorns were rolling all over the trays and it was getting frustrating for R.  We also spotted a gross little bug in the pile of acorns and I decided that the acorns had to go back outside. 

After returning the acorns to the squirrels and washing the trays and our hands, we snuggled up on the couch and read one of our favorite squirrel books, Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert.
We enjoy all of Lois Ehlert's books and this is a cute book about a squirrel's antics.  At the end of the book there is a great section with factual information about squirrels.