a content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/> Kenna's Felt Forest: September 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Purple Puddles

 Our sand/water table has seen a lot of action this summer (Gifted by Grammie and Poppy- an awesome $6 purchase at a yard sale. The table was in like new condition (retails for close to $70- and the accessories were still in their package!!)  Kenna plays with it almost every day. I try and mix it up now and then to keep it interesting.

 The water looks kind of murky- don't worry, it's just purple food coloring! I gave her an empty "puffies" container today, which she really liked playing with.

 See- light purple!  I also provided a bunch of bowls, a bulb syringe, and of course,
lots of purple water.
I also gave her a big bowl of ice. Kenna played happily for over an hour while I fed the littles and prepped dinner.  She was cooking, mixing, stirring, pouring and talking to herself the whole time. It was so sweet. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I is for I do it!!

We finally moved onto I week activities. (We got stuck on H, learning about Hippos, then talking about hearts and being happy, and then we got on a huge horse kick.  I love it when we are so engaged!)  I is for Icecream at our house! This activity turned out to be very interesting. I gave Kenna some playdoh to form into the letter I. That didn't even hold her interest long enough to take the playdoh out of the bag. Instead- she went for some buttons.

I sat back and watched as she lined up the buttons and carefully chose which ones she wanted to place on the lowercase i.  She picked out a square button for the "dot" on the i, since it was a square shape.  After she did this, she and I made an uppercase I with buttons.  I hadn't pulled out the butons in a while- I'm so glad she thought of it!

The next day, the playdoh tray enticed her, and she rolled out a lower case i with playdoh, but she used the buttons as dots. It was really fun and not what I had planned at all!
Are you strict about your trays? I am starting to feel torn- I want her to do the work I've laid out, but I would have been so sad to stifle this creativty today.  Ah, Montessori, I always need to read and learn more.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pretend Kitchen, Organized

 I don't have a "before" picture, but picture in your mind a wicker basket overflowing with pots, pans, and play food, crammed into the little playhouse.  No room to add more, no easy way to find things, and no room to play! Kenna is totally into her kitchen/house things right now, so I decided it would be better if I organized her things for her.  I stole a four cubby shelf from my hubby's closet (heh heh...wonder when he'll notice!) and set it next to the playhouse in our playroom/schoolroom. 
 Bottom shelf- wicker basket for all of our mommy-made felt food.  (want some? Check out my etsy!) I put her pots and pans on the second shelf. She also has a couple empty spice jars, and I set those there as well.
 Third shelf from the bottom has her "Green Toys" plates, bowls and cups.  She's getting the Tea Pot for Christmas! I am so excited! (Generally, we don't buy a lot of plastic, but this recycled plastic seemed a nice alternative. I'd love to be able to afford wood. Maybe I'll get some little ceramic pieces when she's old enough...)
The top shelf has a can of utensils (Decorated with scrapbook paper), and as of this picture-taking, a fake cell phone one of her friends gave her.
I'm really pleased with this set-up, and it seems to be encouraging "high play".  I also provided a cloth grocery bag and a rag for washing her dishes in her play sink.  So much fun! I feel calmer about this area, and can't wait to do more organizing!

Dinosaur Cake

I don't cook. I definately don't bake. I rarely make edible toast. Also, we're vegetarian (i.e. no butter, eggs or milk). 
Today, I'm going to demonstrate how not to make a dino cake.   I'm sure you'll take away lots of great advice. I found the idea for my adorable dino cake here.
Here are some of the ingredients you'll need. Not all of them, because of course I don't bake and forgot a bunch of stuff.  (You'll notice I didn't forget any of the ingredients that start with "c.h.o.c.o.". ) I did completely forget to buy fake butter.  If you start with a cake mix and the required ingredients (listed in pictoral form) right on the box, you'll be doing great.
 After sending Handy Husband to the store for butter, he came home and I promptly announced we were out of egg replacer.  He then sighed deeply and whipped up some egg replacer-  a yogurt and soymilk experiment. (Here's where you can start taking notes- don't experiment with egg replacer on important birthday cakes.)  While the dubious cake mixture was baking, I gathered some chocolate pieces- I unwrapped some Kisses, picked out some brown m&ms, and opened some chocolate candy melts. I was going to open a bag of chocolate chips, too, but thought it might be overkill.
Dubious cake mixture yielded two incredibly sticky 9 inch round cakes.
I printed off a dino template from the Betty Crocker website, and got to work carving. 

You'll notice the cakes are still in the pans. Please note that this is a bad idea. You should get your cakes out of the pans before cutting.  (My delicious cakes wouldn't come out, so I had to hack them out, piece by piece as I went.)
Prying my cakes out of the pan required a knife, a spatula and a lot of cursing.  (My cake was, in fact so sticky, the templates stuck to it.  Awesome.)

Ahh, lovely. Just like they demonstrated on the video. Simply place the dino pieces together and glue them down with a bit of icing.  The template was supposed to yield three dinosaur body parts- my cake crumbled into about ten.  Doesn't it look great pieced together?

Here's a closeup of the Jurrassic carnage.

One of the materials I forgot to mention gathering was green food coloring. I used about 15 drops to get a really nice green (totally washed out in the picture, but it truly was nice and green in person.) Here is the crumb coating applied. It definately helped, since most of my cake was crumbs...

After an hour in the freezer, I applied another layer of frosting (with the back of a bread knife- BAD idea...) and then decorated liberally with fun candy.  I made some cute eyes with white candy melts and some black sprinkle dots.  Then I made some teeth with the candy melts. It's really hard to see in this picture.
It's really hard to see in this picture, too, but here we are-  a nice close up of Mr. Disaster the Dinosaur.  :)  The ear spikes were Kenna's idea, and by that point, I was in no place to argue.

He really did end up quite cute. Anyone with any baking or decorating skill can do this with ease. Anyone else, good luck.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I is for Ice Cream

 I is for ice cream and inch worms. I set up Kenna's magnet pom poms early in the morning so she could get it done first. She really dislikes it for some reason right now.  She's less cranky in the morning, so this is working for us. 
I gave kenna a melon baller (which was swiped while I was focusing the camera lens...) and told her she could scoop "ice cream into each little "bowl". LOVED it!

Where did I get that fun tray? Why, it was empty, sitting on the shelf at Walmart, so I snagged it and asked the cashier if I could keep it.  (She then decided I was a weirdo and didn't make any further eye contact.)

 I love this little counting game from confessionsofahomeschooler.  Counting, number recognition, and little inchworms.  This was harder for Kenna than I thought. She counts faster than she moves her fingers. We're working on it. She really loved the adorable inchworms! Now that my number rocks are dry, we can use those instead of the cards that we've been using.  It'll spice things up a bit.

This was a simple color, cut and paste activity I created- I used some ice cream clipart to make strips of ice cream. She colored the ice cream, cut them out, and then glued them down.  She really loves doing cutting and pasting right now, so I am embracing it. Look for other fun cut and paste activities coming soon! ( I would totally share the printout, but I don't know how. It's currently a PDF.  Suggestions?)

Dinosaur Party!

 Our sweet foster child, Little Man, is ONE!! We are so blessed to be able to spend his special day with him! I made this easy pennant banner to hang in the dining room.
 $2.00- scrapbook paper, $.99 spool of ribbon, and boom! So cute, so personalized, and so easy! (There was a third banner with his name, not pictured for privacy)

 Candy melts and a $2 mold made some adorable dinosaur candy favors.  (these were actually our "practice" dinos... I needed to experiment with painting the details on the mold with candy. The final dinos were more masculine- white and brown!)
 Some tips- jostle your mold to get the air bubbles out. 
* I painted my details with a tiny 1ml syringe- it worked great! I was able to squirt the candy out gently and exactly where I needed it.
* the mold cavities take a lot more candy than you think!
* If you are making more than 20 pieces of candy, buy two molds.  This one only made 4 dinos at a time... then you have to wait for the dino candy to harden and start again, by which time the melties have hardened and need to be remelted.  It was a lot of work!
 Since I was playing with melties, I gave Kenna some, too! I gave her a big squeeze bottle and she had fun splurting out the candy all over a piece of wax paper.
When it hardened, she enjoyed eating a few pieces of her masterpiece!  (The rest of the blobs are in a tupperware, to be meted out as desert over the next few days.)
More Dinosaur Party fun coming soon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Name Puzzle

Cutting and pasting is one of Kenna's favorite activities. I created this fun game quickly- I wrote her first and last name out, leaving a little space between each letter. She diced it up with her scissors, and I scrambled the letters.
Then one by one, she picked out the letters and glued them down in the correct order.
She purposefully glued the 'e' down wonky- she said it was "silly".  I am really proud of how well she did her first name- we definately need to keep working on her last name! (and also on glue restraint...)
Easy cutting, spelling, gluing, and fun!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Numbers Rock!

If you remember my Literacy Rocks, you'll know I have a special place in my heart for rock crafts. :) Last time, I used rub-on stickers. This time- acryllic paint! I went with numbers, since Kenna (31 mos) and I are about to start some basic math skills.
The tools: rainbow of acryllic paint, some brushes, water, a washcloth for messes, a bag of black rocks from the Dollar Tree, and a can of sealer. Oh, and if you have a bored toddler lying around, give her a paint brush and a couple of rocks, too!
I totally stole this idea from about a million rock decorators online. I may continue to embellish these, but my toddler decided that painting time was over for today. ( I am going to spray these with sealant when it isn't pouring down rain outside.) Then we will be ready to count! Note that I went with digits, not "numbers". I prefer 0-9 as opposed to 1-10. Call me crazy, but I think it's easier to build numbers and teach skip counting if a child knows "zero".

Halloween Felt Candy Corn Cookies

 As I was bathing the kids last night, my mind wandered (shocking, I know) to my favorite things about Halloween. Besides the spookiness, the adorable pumpkins, and the fun of dressing up, I truly love Candy Corn.

It's a disgusting cross between waxy texture, tons of sugar and waay too much food coloring, and I LOVE it.  :) I decided in that moment to make up a couple little cookies decorated like candy corn.  They could be considered "stuffies" at this point, but I'm sticking to my sugar cookie theme...
These little guys would be fun treats for your kids or cute table decor.
 Check 'em out in my Etsy store!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inchworm alphabet matching

I had mentioned last week that the uppercase and lowercase matching cards we've been using are too easy for Kenna. Soooo, today I provided Kenna with the Uppercase mat, but lowercase letters.  WHOA! I rocked her world. She sat, and stared, and puzzled over it. I had set the tiles out in a jar like usual, so when she pulled them out, she found an upside down w and matched it to the M.  then she found the real m and kinda panicked.
To avoid stress, I stepped in and we talked it out together. I set all the letters out again, and we found the easy ones first. (c, o, and i.) Then we studied the others, and she correctly matched them up.

I haven't seen her this focused on an activity in quite a while. I am glad that it was challenging for her! We will definately work on this activity again this week.

Halloween Felt Cookies

***First a little PSA:  Halloween is my favorite holiday. Brace yourself for the onslaught. ***

Okay, so I am finally back from maternity leave, and so happy to be sewing again for my Etsy shop, Kenna's Felt Forest. I don't have a lot of free time to sew, so I am going to try to keep my store instock and not get backed up with a lot of customs.
That said, if you REAAAAALLY want something, just ask.  :)

I decided that the best way to get back in the saddle was to make some fun Halloween themed sugar cookies. These felt cuties are completely hand-sewn and I accomplished it today while all three- ALL THREE- kids napped at the same time. The same time. Are you listening closely?
I just experienced a miracle!! :)

Anyhow, I finished up the purple and orange ones cookies and was going to add one more orange cookie to the pile when Kenna woke up and demanded a pumpkin cookie. Okay, sure. 

So, for your purchasing pleasure, I offer up a set of three felt sugar cookies- one orange, one purple, and one with a pumpkin! They can be found here.
I am going to make a huge batch of these tonight with different designs. Any suggestions? I am thinking bat, cat and a witch's hat!

Grow a Giraffe

Our Dollar Tree Grow-a-Giraffe actually grew!! He was mailed to us in an awesome care package from Kenna's GG (that's Great Grandma).
We started off by measuring the giraffe from head to foot with a ruler. We recorded his length on paper, and then plunked our friend in a bowl of water. We talked about what might happen to him in the water, and Kenna answered with the incredibly insightful, "He'll get wet and wrinkly." 

Then, every day for a week, we pulled him out, dried him off, and remeasured him.  We used 1 inch "unit blocks" to reinforce the measuring.  He grew from 4 inches to 9 inches in 6 days! WOW! Kenna was really impressed with him and his magical growing.
This was a simple and fun way to introduce measuring to Kenna. We haven't done ANYTHING with a ruler until now, and this was superfun. She inspected the ruler very carefully, noting all of the lines and numbers.  Rulers are cool because they help you measure, of course, but they also help you count, compare size, and show growth. They also help you decide "does it fit?" I can't wait to do more activities with our ruler.

I is for inches:  Inches went along perfectly with our letter of the week, I.  We read the book Inch By Inch, by Leoninni, and measured a bunch of other small things with our unit cubes, and then our ruler. 

I have to say that I am ridiculously surprised that our giraffe grew! One of his legs was a little stunted, but the overall effect was great. Now we are going to take him out of the water and measure him every day for a week as he shrinks! (they have these grow-a-thingys in the A.C.Moore dollar bins right now. I spotted a mermaid and a princess, and a dragon, but I resisted- since, really- how many grow-a-thingys does one family need? :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Light Box- First exploration

I finally found the time to make Kenna a Light Box. I have been dying for Bill to make me a Light Table for quite a while, but waiting for Handy Husband to create something is a test of one's patience. I finally decided that while an awesome table with inset light kit would ROCK, I would be just as happy with any flat surface that lit up.
Once I set my mind to it, it took $7 at Walmart for an opaque rubbermaid container, and five minutes rummaging around the attic for some Christmas lights. I assembled it during nap time, and set the stage with a small bowl full of translucent "gems". ($1 at Dollar Tree). She beelined for the "surprise" and was fascinated with the fact that Mommy let her turn off the lights! The Light Box works great!
Daddy and Kenna lining up gems.
See how beautifully the gems light up? (oops- need to peel off the rest of that price sticker under the lid...)

We modelled a little bit with how to place the gems, move them around, make pictures with them. Then we sat back and watched Kenna explore on her own. It was a lovely first exploration. I waited until she walked away from it to put it away, and later she asked to play with it again! I can't wait to add different elements and do lots of fun playing with our new Light Box. I have a ton of ideas ready and waiting...

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