Wednesday, July 30, 2014

101 Kids Activities That are the Bestest, Funnest Ever (Book Review)

Earlier this summer we were really excited to receive a copy of the book 101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest, Funnest Ever. This is the first book from Holly Homer and Rachel Miller from the Kids Activities Blog and Quirky Mommas. And after some time with it this summer we're certainly hoping it's not their last!
Book Review of 
101 Kids Activities that are the Bestest, Funnest Ever
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 
Book image from 101 Kids Activities by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller, printed with permission of Page Street Publishing June 2014

From the moment the book arrived Big Brother was entranced with it. He was captivated by the incredible photographs and endless activity ideas. He spent over half an hour carefully inspecting each page. The next day he reread the book and began asking about the different activity ideas and selecting the ones he wanted to try. 

Over the last month we've had several opportunities to try out several different activities. Although at first we were drawn in by the photographs and range of activities, one of the things we've enjoyed most about the book is its possibilities for engaging a wide age range of children with a single activity. Each activity includes ideas for how to modify an activity for both older and younger kids, which makes it a great resource when you're looking to play with (and entertain) a wide age range of kids. Below is a brief write up of some of the things we've tried with a group of children. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pirates' Gold Number Play

We've been exploring Pirate Week here at our house. We all love pirates; in fact I realized I've never shared this picture from this past Halloween of our whole family in their pirate wear. So when Big Brother asked for a "Pirate Week" I couldn't resist.

Beyond reading some pirate books, wearing our pirate costumes, and talking like a pirate this week I wanted to create some fun learning and crafting opportunities around pirates. I've been thinking for a while about how to turn Big Brother's love of pirates into a math activity. Using some rocks, gold spray paint, and number fun here are two different activities we came up with. 

Pirates' Gold Number Play

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quick Pick & Project of the Week: Dinosaur Stomp Painting

We're still putting together posts on the fun we had recently with our dinosaur week. We absolutely love the book Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp and it leant itself perfectly to our Quick Pick and Projects of the Week series.

What we love about this book is the rhymes, the use of the actual dinosaur names, and the idea that they are all celebrating somewhere together. It's really upbeat and fun to read aloud. We've gotten it out of our library several times. 

To create our dinosaur stomp paintings we used our collection of toy dinosaurs. Most of our dinosaurs come from an awesome Learning Resources play set we purchased a few years ago. They have different shaped feet, so it made the painting fun because there were different prints. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shortbread Fossil Cookies

We love tying snacks into our new weekly themes, which led us to create these yummy shortbread fossil cookies. Not only did they fit in with the dinosaur fun we've been having, but they are perfectly delicious too!

I've seen a couple of recipes like this before, but we based ours on a buttery shortbread. For this recipe I did most of the prep work and cooking while Big Brother helped with pressing in the images. This is a very soft dough, and as it was a very warm day that made the rolling and cutting of the dough a little trickier. 

2 sticks of unsalted butter (softened to room temperature) 
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cereal Box T-Rex Statue

When little kids think dinosaurs they of course think of T-Rex first. So for dinosaur week we had to do something where we made our own T-Rex!

Before crafting we learned a few things about the tyrannosaurus rex (some of them are well known facts, but to 4 year old Big Brother it was great information and mostly new.) 

A Few T-Rex Facts (from the Usborne Book of Dinosaurs)
• T-Rex dinosaurs are meat eaters, or carnivores. They ate other dinosaurs and sometimes scavenged. 
• They were so heavy they could probably only run for short distances at a time. 
• Its hands only had two little claws. 
• Its teeth had edges like saws. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Homemade Dinosaur Bones

We've definitely been feeling a little frazzled here between the hot and humid weather, a sick toddler, and several days cooped up in the house. Luckily, kicking off our dinosaur week is proving to be a great distraction.

Dinosaur books are something I've been collecting for a while now, so we officially kicked off the week by reading several different dinosaur books. Later this week we'll be creating a dinosaur bone excavation, and while I had planned on creating the bones, I realized it would be much more fun to get Big Brother involved.
Homemade Dinosaur Bones

These homemade dinosaur bones were easy to make and are proving to have more than one way to use them.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pudding Beach Cups

We wrapped up our Ocean themed week over the weekend by making these yummy Pudding Beach Cups. We connected this activity both to our Quick Pick & Projects of the Week and our Kids Cook! posts.

Because we used instant, no cook pudding mix Big Brother could do most of the work himself and was pretty proud of his work at the end. (It also meant they were a little brighter and a little less smoothly assembled than if I had made them, but the point was for him to be hands on with this special treat.) 

Before cooking we read a new find from our library, Beach by Elisha Cooper. The book tells the story of a day at the beach from morning to night through simple watercolors and a variety of little pictures. It reminded us of our day trip to the beach a few weeks before, which is what kicked off ocean week to begin with. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ocean Alphabet

As we continued with our Ocean theme this week I knew I wanted to tie in some literacy skills practice. With the warm, almost perfect, summer weather, it was also a great time to be outside and the kids were definitely interested with playing with water. That inspired the creation of our "Ocean Alphabet" activity.

Big Brother has done alphabet fishing before in our alphabet sensory bin. But this was the first time we created something outside in our actual pool. It was a huge hit with both Big Brother and Little Miss H!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Under the Sea Votive Holders

This is a fun and simple craft using old baby food jars we made this week to go along with our current Ocean theme.

Using craft acrylic paint, clean baby food jars, and stickers we created these cute votive holders. 
(Project note: Don't have any baby food jars? Any small, smooth sided glass jar will work too!) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3 Ways to Play with Shells

Last week we had the chance to get away to the seacoast for an overnight. We all loved being on the beach, both for an evening picnic and a morning playing in the waves.

But our two small trips definitely didn't feel like enough time there. Everyone was rather bummed to return home.

So we decided to try and recreate some of the ocean fun here at home. Last weekend we started exploring some ocean fun and we've decided to extend it into this week too.

Our first three activities have all been sensory play based around shells!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Red, White, & Blue Oatmeal Cookies

We love experimenting with different ingredients in oatmeal cookies, a few weeks ago we posted our favorite Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies. We also love holiday recipes, and this week we decided to combine the two with our new recipe for Red, White, and Blue Oatmeal Cookies.

The colors come from the add-ins: red craisins, white chocolate chips, and blue dried blueberries. The combination is yummy and creates the three colors with out artificial dyes. 

As always Big Brother was eager to help with the creating of the cookies, which included sampling the ingredients. This time he wanted to try mixing the ingredients by hand, but quickly discovered he liked the mixer better! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fourth of July Windsock

For a few years before teaching elementary school I taught preschool and I always loved making this craft with kiddos. We hadn't made them here at home yet, but it was a perfect time to make them with the Fourth of July quickly approaching.


The materials are simple but the result is very festive!
For our wind socks we used 12 inch by 18 inch white construction paper, red and blue washable poster paint, white glue, blue ribbon, white glitter, and red and white crepe paper streamers. We also needed scissors and a hole punch to finish the project.