Monday, January 31, 2011

A Little News

I was going to wait a few more weeks before sharing this news, but I have received quite a few emails from concerned readers (so sweet, thank you!) asking where I have been and if everything is okay.  So, without further ado, I am thrilled to announce that we are expecting a new superhero or princess in early September. 

I am certainly not going to stop blogging (GASP!), but morning sickness seems to have taken over my body and I have not been able to find the energy to do anything worth blogging about!  I hope to return to our normal routine soon!

So, tell me, did you suffer from morning sickness and did anything help? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Heart is Like A Zoo - Valentine Craft

We are currently enjoying My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall.  Each page of the book features a different animal created out of heart shapes with a description about how the narrator's heart is like each animal.  The heart is eager as a beaver, steady as a yak, hopeful as a hungry heron fishing for a snack, etc.  It's a wonderful book, perfect for all ages, and perfect for a Valentine's Day craft project.

C and R each chose their favorite animal from the book and we recreated the animals with construction paper.  I cut out the shapes and they assembled them by looking at the animals in the book.

R needed a little help, but C was able to do this on his own.  He could have cut out the shapes too, now that I think of it.

R recreated Frightened as a rabbit:

C recreated bothered as a bull with a hornet in its hair:
Now, of course, they want to make all of the animals in the book!!!  I am not sure that I am up for that, but we might make a few more.

I am linking this to stArt at A Mommy's Adventures and Kids Get Crafty at Red Ted Art.  Click on over to both sites for more great ideas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Groundhog Day

If you are looking for a cute Groundhog Day idea, check out my post from last year featuring these super cute pancakes:

You can also check out the Groundhog Day hot cocoa we made last year:

They are both on the menu for this year too!  Groundhog Day is so much fun!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Polar Bear Snack

With our freezing temperatures lately, it only made sense to read a few polar bear books and enjoy a freezing cold polar bear snack.

To make the polar bear snacks, I used vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, and Raisinets (the only brown candy I had on hand).  Coconut would make nice "fur", but my kids would never eat it.

R does not care for marshmallows, so I just used whipped cream in place of the marshmallows.  I added a little whipped cream "snow" to both plates.

Here are a few of the polar bear books we are reading:

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett - This is a retelling of the fairytale The Three Bears, but it takes place in the Arctic and features an Inuit girl.  We love everything by Jan Brett; her illustrations are simply brilliant.

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson - A polar bear cub wakes in her warm den and sets out on a magical journey through her starlit world.  This is a nice bedtime story with simple text and simple illustrations.  

The Last Polar Bear by Jean Craighead George - The world is warming and the ice is melting, so Tigluk sets out to save the last polar bear.  Obviously, this is a story of the plight of the polar bears threatened by global warming, but it is not at all scientific and does not even use the term "global warming".  We enjoyed the story.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Beaver State - a Beaver Snack and Some Drawings

We finished up our studies of the state of Oregon by reading  B is for Beaver, An Oregon Alphabet by Marie and Roland Smith.  I love this series of books.  For C and R, I stick to the simpler text that goes through the alphabet and points out something about the state for each letter.  Occasionally, if they find something interesting, we will read the more detailed text about that alphabet fact.

Oregon is the Beaver State because Oregon was the main source of beaver furs when beaver fur hats were popular.  The animal was almost trapped to extinction until a law was passed in the early 1900s to save the beaver.

We learned a little about beavers including the fact that they live in dome-shaped homes on the water made out of branches, sticks, and mud.  Their homes are called lodges.  Originally, I was going to make some kind of beaver cookie or cupcake, but I decided that beaver lodges would make a much better snack!  So easy, and yet so memorable!  C and R won't forget where beavers live!

C and R made their own lodges by putting a dollop of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread (mud) on a plate and then piling on some pretzel sticks (branches and sticks).  The hazelnut in the Nutella is especially significant because 98 percent of the hazelnuts grown in the United States are grown in Oregon.  Since I also had some hazelnuts in the cabinet, I decided to add a few to the "lodges".

C and R also drew their own beavers.  I looked for a good "how to draw a beaver" site, but nothing was working for us, so they both just looked at the pictures we had and drew them freehand.

This is C's beaver drawing:

Here is R's beaver:

I am linking this to the geography linky at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ballerina Math

Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone is about eight little girls who study dance with Miss Lina.  Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina dance around town in four rows of two.  When a new girl, Regina, joins the group, the original eight girls are a little unsure about how they will work together.  In the end, they realize that nine girls can dance in three groups of three.  This is a sweet book about teamwork, friendship, and ballet!

I decided to use the opportunity to introduce R to more number fun with grouping.  She has been counting by twos for a week or so now, and I thought she could have some fun putting ballerinas in groups.  First, I printed nine ballerinas for her to color.  I found the ballerina coloring page at the Sherri Allen website.  C helped her with some of the coloring.

I cut out all of the ballerinas and challenged R to put the first eight into equal groups.  She was a little silly at first, but eventually she put them in two rows of four and four rows of two.

When I added the ninth ballerina, she did not know what to do, but C reminded her that the ballerinas danced in three rows of three.

C was very helpful throughout all of this.  He loves to be the teacher.

When all was said and done, I taped popsicle sticks to the backs of the ballerinas and R took off to put on a ballet.

I am linking this to Math Links.  Click on the link for more fun math ideas.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Few Good Reads

Here are a few of our favorite reads right now:
The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky is about a brave little rabbit who learns not to panic when the sky, or something else, appears to be falling.  I really like the message that things are not always as scary as they seem.  The illustrations by Andrew Joyner are simple and fun; I particularly like the facial expressions he gave the different animals. 

What Sisters Do Best/ What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff is two books in one.  The text is almost exactly the same in both books, with the only difference being the word "sisters" or "brothers".  I like that it shows that sisters and brothers can do the same things, and I also like the way the sisters or brothers help each other throughout the book.  This is a very cute book for preschoolers and early elementary age children.

My sister and brother-in-law gave C the book The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow by Andy Griffiths.  It has ten short stories that are easy to read and feature exactly the type of humor that keeps C going back for more.  He has read through this book a few times since Christmas, so I have to highlight it here as a great choice for reluctant readers.  C likes to read, but he often gets bored with the easy readers because the subject matter does not always appeal to him.  This book does exactly that.  I'm on the lookout for more books like this.  Let me know if you have any recommendations.

I am linking this to What My Child is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  Hop on over there for more book suggestions!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Secret Messages

C is home sick from school today.  Our most recent newsletter from the Children's Museum had a method for writing and revealing secret messages, so I thought we would try it out.

Directions:Mix together 4 TB baking soda and 4 TB water.
Dissolve baking soda in water in the cup.
Dip the cotton swab in the mixture and paint a design or message on the paper.  (It will be invisible)
Wait for your artwork/message to dry.
Brush watercolor paint over the paper to reveal the message or art.

Ack, this didn't work!  The messages were not invisible on the paper

and when we tried to paint over them, we could not see the messages.  (So, the messages become secret after all!)

I wasn't about to give up on secret messages though.  I went with the old standby:  we wrote messages in white crayon on white paper and painted over those with watercolors.  Worked like a charm.

After a while, I ran out of clever things to write and started writing C's first grade words for him to reveal.  I never thought about this before, but it is a fun way to practice spelling words or sight words!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Salt Paint Snowmen

I like salt paint.  When it dries, the final project looks so unique and you just have to touch it.  Last Easter, we made salt paint marshmallow chicks (click on the link to check them out!) and they looked just like marshmallow Peeps!

While cleaning under my kitchen sink, I found the bottle of liquid laundry starch that has been sitting there for quite some time and figured it was time to use some of it.  I decided to make salt paint.  This is the recipe:
  • 1/4 cup liquid laundry starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBSP paint (we used white paint this time to look like snow)
  • 1 cup salt

I mixed all of the ingredients in a foil pie pan and C and R got to work making snowy scenes.  When the salt paint dried, C and R used markers to add details to their snowmen.

It is really hard to capture the texture in photographs.  This is C's salt paint snowman:

Here is R's salt paint snowman:

We followed this with a snowy story time.  We began by reading Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner.

Just like the other snowman books by these authors (Snowmen At Night and Snowmen at Christmas), this book is fun to read and the illustrations are perfectly sweet.  We love to find the hidden pictures on each page too!  The concept behind this book is unique - imagine your snowman friend could last all year, think of all the things you could do together.  C and R like the idea of trick or treating with a snowman and taking a snowman to the beach in the summer!  I am particularly fond of the snowman camping under the starry skies. 

Our second snowman book of the night was Snow Party by Harriet Ziefert.  On the first day of winter, snow men, snow women, and snow children come out for a special party.  There is dancing, singing, and seasonal fun.  The illustrations are very charming!  I like the simple text too.

Any book that has snowmen coming to life makes my children very happy!

I am linking this to stArt, Kids Get Crafty, and Read, Explore, Learn.  Visit all three sites for more book inspired projects!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Penguin Pairs: Counting By Twos

We enjoy reading books from the Count the Critters series.  This week we are reading Penguin Pairs:  Counting  by 2s by Amanda Doering Tourville.  Emperor penguins dive into the icy cold water two at a time, and each page aids the reader in counting by twos and doing simple addition up to twenty.

We made our own penguin pairs.  C and R each made twelve fingerprint penguins following the directions from the DLTK website.  First, I folded large pieces of construction paper into twelve squares.  Then, I told them to put a white thumbprint in the middle of each square.

Once the thumbprints dried, I showed them how to make black fingerprint wings on each penguin.

I think R was daydreaming as she made her penguin wings!
Again, we waited for the paint to dry, and they added black fingerprint heads to the penguins.  Orange markers were used to add beaks and feet.  The final step was to use a toothpick to dot on white paint eyes.

Once the penguins were done, we cut out the squares and worked on counting by twos up to twenty-four.  C can count by twos much higher, but this was pretty new for R.  She did great and picked up on the concept quickly.

We also used the fingerprint penguins as we read the book to do the addition and counting by 2s.  C was a great helper; it's nice to see that he really wants his sister to understand a concept that he knows well.

On another note, I will never buy cheap paint again.  I thought I was saving money, and figured the paint would work just as well as any other paint, but I was wrong.  C redid his fingerprints several times and the black paint is still very light.  I'll keep this paint for some art activities, but I'm going to buy some better paint to use most of the time!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Read and Share Bible Giveaway

We read from a children's Bible every night before bed.  We have been using the same one for a few years now, and when we finish it, we start back at the beginning.  I think we have read through it at least five times already.  So, I was happy to accept a free copy of the Read and Share Bible for children from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review.

This Bible has more than two hundred stories in it.  I like that the stories are in chronological order and that each story has a Scripture reference.  The thing I like most about this Bible though is that there is a discussion question or extra information at the end of each story.  Instead of just reading the stories, we are discussing them.

If you would like to learn more about the Tommy Nelson Bibles for children, including the Read and Share Bible, check out their website at  You can also find an excerpt of the Read and Share Bible on Facebook  (click on this Facebook link and then click on the Read and Share tab). 

I hope you are still reading because Thomas Nelson provided me with an extra Read and Share Bible for children to giveaway to one of my readers!  To enter this giveaway, please leave me a comment.  If you would like an extra entry, let me know (in a separate comment) that you are a follower or email subscriber of Superheroes and Princesses.  Please make sure that I can contact you either through a valid email address or a blog.  If I am not able to contact the winner chosen by, I will select a new winner.  This giveaway begins upon posting and ends on Friday, January 21, 2011.

Build Your Own Snowman for Breakfast

We have a lot of boring breakfasts in our house, but once in a while I come up with something fun to start the day.  This week, we built our own snowmen.

I gave C and R each three pancakes of different sizes.  I also gave them a small amount of mini chocolate chips and pretzel sticks.  I offered them fruit leather to make scarves, but they didn't want it.  The carrot noses are just a tiny bit of orange icing.

Once happy with their snowmen, C added some powdered sugar and R topped her snowman with syrup.

The pancake recipe I use is from Ellie Krieger.  Everyone in my house loves these pancakes and they are half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour.  There is no sugar added to the recipe, so I don't mind giving the kids a little sugar on top of the pancakes.  Click here for the recipe.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Penguin Sandwich

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make cute food.  Sometimes, I have to admit, the cute food is not the least bit appealing to my children.  This sandwich was one of those foods.  Oh well, I'm going to share it anyway.

I began by using a circle cookie cutter to cut a piece of bread.  You could also use a glass to cut the circle shape.

I covered that circle with tiny trapeze all natural marshmallow creme.  It's like Fluff, but from Whole Foods.

Then I cut another circle out of bread, covered that in chocolate hazelnut spread (like Nutella) and cut the circle in half to make wings.

A peppermint patty became the head, and I used icing to make the eyes, beak, and feet.  Guess who ate the sandwich?  Me!  I thought it was good!  C ate the peppermint patty though!

Even though the kids didn't want to try my penguin sandwich, they were happy to listen to the book I chose.  Penguin Day by Victoria Winteringham is a fun picture book that follows a colony of penguins from dawn to dusk.  We especially like the silly illustrations of penguins doing laundry, bathing, and making art!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Penguin Cookies, a Penguin Book, and even some Science

 It is January and there is snow on the ground, so that means we are reading penguin books!  Penguins are so cute, aren't they?  I love to watch them at the zoo or the aquarium.

I made a super cute, super easy, no baking involved penguin cookie treat to go along with a few penguin books we have been reading.

To make these penguin cookies you need:  Oreo cookies, Junior Mints candies, and icing (I used white, orange, and blue). 

First, twist off one of the chocolate cookies from a few Oreo cookies.  Cut that cookie in half and place it back on top of the creme to make the wings.  Place a Junior Mints candy on the creme to form the head.  Use the white icing to make the eyes; I used some Oreo cookie crumbs to make the pupils.  Use the orange icing to make beaks and feet.  That's it!  It can't get any easier.

I made one penguin with blue feet because there is a blue footed penguin in one of the books we read.  Do you see him in the picture?   

On the recommendation of Almost Unschoolers, we read 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet.  I can't believe that I have never seen this book before; it is SO cute!  On the first day of the new year, the mailman delivers a penguin to a family.  Well, day after day the penguins keep coming and the family has no idea who is sending them or why.  The family, obviously, runs into a few problems feeding and caring for the penguins.  On New Year's Eve, the family discovers that all of the penguins were sent by their uncle, the ecologist.  He explains that the planet is heating up and the penguins territory is getting smaller, so he was hoping to introduce them to the North Pole, but due to exporting restrictions, he was forced to send one penguin a day to the family.  This is a great book for some math practice for kids a bit older than C and R. 

So, why are we linking this post to Science Sunday this week?  Well, we learned a few new science words/terms from 365 Penguins:  ecologist, endangered species, ice caps, and the theory that the planet is heating up and shrinking the South Pole.  We also learned a little about where penguins live.   C and R had a great time!

Find more fun science ideas at Science Sunday!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Favorite Books of the Week

Here are a few of the books we have been reading this week:

Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligot is our absolute favorite book of the week.  My sister gave C this book (a signed copy dedicated to C with a cool monster drawing by the author) for Christmas and we have been reading it quite a bit since then.  Once a month, when the moon is full, the young son of a barber goes to work.  His regular customers come in the back door looking for rotting tonic, horn polish, and stink wax.  I think this book is so original, and we laugh every time we read it.  The illustrations are fantastic too.  If you have a monster loving child, this is a must read.  One more note:  this book is not scary at all, and the monsters are funny and cartoonish - nothing to be frightened of here!

My Pony by Susan Jeffers is about a little girl who wants a pony more than anything else in the world.  Her desire is so strong that she imagines herself flying through the sky on her very own pony.  This is a beautifully illustrated book with a sweet story that every child can relate to.

Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter is about a family moving from Iowa to Oregon, and the father cannot bear to leave his fruit trees behind.  This is a tall tale, but the author notes at the end that the first apple trees really did arrive in Oregon by wagon when a pioneer carried seven hundred plants and young fruit trees in his wagon.  We really enjoyed this book; it was a fun addition to our Oregon Trail books.  It's time to move on to Oregon in the present though; C and R have started groaning when I pull out a book with a prairie schooner on the cover!

Finally, C and I finished reading Stuart Little by E.B. White this week.   I am sure that you are familiar with this book, but I feel the need to leave a summary so, Stuart Little is a mouse who is born into a normal human family.  The book is about his adventures.  This is the third E.B. White book we have read (we also read Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan) and we have thoroughly enjoyed all three.

What are your children reading this week?  Head on over to What My Child is Reading and discover more great reads!