Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Tag: fun

January Website Review: Adultitis- The Escape Plan

I found Kim and Jason on the Escape Plan blog two summer’s ago. I started to write down the 40 day steps to end Adultitist. Got to number 20. Then got busy. Lost the name of the website because I forgot to save it. Periodically […]

December Website Review: Roots and Wings

This month’s website review is on one of my three favorite craft sites: Root and Wings. I came across the site last year when I was looking for a book my sister-n-law recommended on the importance of family traditions. I am not sure if this […]

September Website Reviews: Love2Learn2Day, PreschoolExpress, NTFFC

Last school year a few friends of mine and I decided to host a preschool for our four year old’s. We designed the preschool curriculum and drafted a schedule. There were four kids who thankfully got along well together. We met three days a week (Monday through Wednesday) for three hours. Each mom took turns hosting preschool at their house one week each month. The kids had a blast learning their letters and forming lasting friendships. My daughter just barely missed the cut off for Kindergarten this year. Unfortunately all her friends, she has meet since we moved, are going to school. Meaning she will be home with me and little brother. In my search to come up with fresh ideas to make a new ABC book I found No Time For Flash Cards.

NO TIME FOR FLASH CARDS:
If you have little ones at home and are looking for fun fantastic learning ideas for preschoolers from activities to crafts and book recommendations NTFFC is an easy place to start. Allison McDonald is the founder of No Time For Flash Cards. Allison has a degree in Elementary Education and spent 10 years working with preschoolers and parents teaching crafts. In 2008, after the birth of her son she left the classroom to be home with her son. Her passion for teaching children inspired her to share her ideas online. Thus, No Time For Flash Cards was created. You will find tons of books, themes and alphabet crafts to teach your toddler and preschooler.

Favorite NTFFC Links:
Toothpick Sea Urchins
Paper Plate Animals
Fine Art Museum
Venus Fly Trap

PRESCHOOL EXPRESS:
Preschool Express is a free on-line educational resource for children ages 1-5. Jean Warren is the founder of Preschool Express and the previous owner of Totline Publications. She is best known for her songs, rhymes and stories which can be found in popular books such as; Piggyback © Song books, 1*2*3 Art , Theme-a-saurus and the Totline Teaching Tales children’s book series. Jean created the Preschool Express Website as a way to give back to the world. Her hope is to provide every parent and grandparent the resources they need to create a natural learning atmosphere.

There is so much to explore on the Preschool Express. The calendar station offers teachers or parents a calender with chosen themes for each week. There are calenders for preschoolers and toddlers with a daily activity to do together. Plan a party at the party station. Learn to make snacks, read stories and discover.

LOVE2LEARN2DAY:
If you have a child who loves math Love2Learn2Day offers loads of fun games and manipulative ideas that are K-12 math orientated. The creator of Love2Learn2Day is an educational consultant working with both kids and teachers. The website is all about learning to have fun with math.

Favorite Love2Learn2Day Links:
Mapping a Farm
Play dough Maps
Incan Quipu Math (place value, history)
Math in the Movies

Blueberry Scones Over Melted Peaches

I have longed for summer fruit since December. The stock of homemade jams and frozen fruit vanished before the new year. I was fortunate to discover a U-Pick strawberry and blueberry field close by.  The kids went hog wild filling up buckets of fresh picked […]

April Website Review: Let’s Explore

Let’s Explore is one of my all time favorite kid sites. There are tons of ideas and links to help your children learn, create and explore. It is ok if you are not crafty there is something for everyone from sewing, gluing, cutting, pretending, cooking, […]

Making Time for the Family: An Easter Celebration

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Consolator by Carl Bloch

In our home we celebrate Easter in both secular and non-secular ways. For us the Easter Bunny is not an integral part of our Easter holiday but rather becomes a fun pass time for the children like hunting for eggs while waiting for the Easter feast to cook. Historically Easter coincides with a few other cultural traditions such as the Iranian New Year, Jewish Passover (that recounts the escape of the Israelites from Egypt in addition to the removal of all leaven bread), Catholic lent, and the celebration of the Spring Equinox. Worldwide traditions provide a cache of ideas to pluck from religious and secular alike.

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Women at the Tomb (Author unknown)

The Journey:
Holidays that originate in another country have educational potential. We can learn about the traditions, customs, types of food they ate, their sleeping conditions and games they played. On the Eve of Easter we take a journey back in time. We unpack the tent and roll out our sleeping bags for an indoor family camp out. We sing, dance and play an ancient Roman game of Knucklebones (similar to Jacks) using pebbles. For dinner we enjoy an earthy Eastern meal followed by a short devotional recapping the last few days of Christ’s mortal life.

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“Spring Bunny” by Carolyn Bell

The Spring Bunny:
The Easter Bunny was first introduced in the US by German immigrants. Their culture believed the egg to be a symbol of rebirth. The idea for the Spring Bunny came from a friend of mine. To keep the spirit of Easter focused on Christ the “Spring Bunny” comes hopping around their home on the morning of the first day of Spring. He delivers eggs filled with money and baskets filled with candy and surprises. For Stephen it is a sacrilege not having the Easter Bunny on Easter morning. To appease us both we agreed to adopt the name “Spring Bunny” leaving Easter out of it.

Our Spring Bunny will arrive Easter morning to hide plastic eggs filled with stickers, beads for our reward system and money. The baskets contain a few pieces of candy, a wind up toy (to have races with), bubbles and a small something geared toward each child like a bucket and shovel, a ball, stuffed animals or a book. The idea is to keep it light and fun.

The Easter Feast:
Our Easter table is laden with the fresh bounties that spring has to offer. A white linen tablecloth, symbolic of the cloth that Christ’s body was wrapped in, drapes the table. A bouquet of herbs adorns the table in recognition of the spices that were carried to the tomb to dress the body of Christ. Our meal is meager with spring vegetables, crusty bread and a fruit flavored pork roast.

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Photo of  painted Czech Easter eggs by: Norman Millauer/Getty

Easter Delights:
After Easter service the kids are thrilled to paint Easter eggs, bake cookies, make crafts and hunt for eggs. After hours of hiding and finding eggs we all sit down to watch “Veggie Tales: An Easter Carol.” Before we had kids we always watched “Jesus of Nazareth,” directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Robert Powell is amazing in his gripping portrayal of Jesus the Christ.

A few ideas for families with older kids are:
–Plan a Spring picnic. Pack a lunch and head to the park or country.

–Watch the sunrise. Climb to the roof of your building or set out for the mountains. Bring along some nibbles for breakfast and some blankets.

–Plant a garden. Gather some of your neighbors to plant a neighborhood garden or keep it private in your own backyard.

–Make an advent calender using plastic eggs and an egg carton. Fill the eggs with a scripture from the last days preceding Christ’s death and an item represented in that scripture; leaving the last one empty). Read one each night beginning 12 days before Easter. Some items to include might be 3 dimes, a cross, white linen and so on.

–Make fun decorations like a banner or a special tablecloth.

–Host a neighborhood parade or festival.

–Devise an Easter egg scavenger hunt.

–Play egg relays.

–Pin the tail on the bunny.

–Make oversized Easter Bonnets to wear in the parade.

–Buy a new spring outfit for church.

–Take a family portrait.

Springtime Chocolate Nests

The birth of Spring is a marvelous sight to see here in the Valley. The medians along the highway flourish with a backdrop of orange and red poppies in addition to random purple and yellow wildflowers. The once boring lifeless hills awaken with the fresh […]

The Art History of Vincent Van Gogh

Self Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh March 30th marks the birth of the great painter Vincent Van Gogh.Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Holland. During the brief 10 years that Van Gogh pursued painting he produced some 900 paintings and 1100 drawings.  […]

Saint Patrick’s Day

Illustration by: Richard Svensson
Illustration by: Richard Svensson

I have been referred to as the “Kool Aide Mom” once or twice because our home is the place to be if you want to have fun. There is always something going on here. We love celebrating holidays official and corny made up ones. That is why we put just as much effort into Saint Patty’s Day as we do any other holiday. I started a tradition years ago when the cousins still lived nearby. That year I made a hat out of paper, filled it with spritz cookies and left it on their doorstep. Down the walkway I placed little Leprechaun footprints running every which way leading into a bush. I also dropped a half eaten apple for extra fun. The little kids went nuts. They searched the yard trying to find the little Leprechaun.

A little Irish History

Maewyn Succat was born to a Roman Official sometime around 385 AD near Wales. He was later taken prisoner (at the age of 16) by Irish sea-faring raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. Maewyn was not a religious boy before his time spent in Ireland where he turned to God in prayer in search of solace. He wrote that he believed his misfortune was due to his apostate attitude toward God. He remained captive for six years as a slave tending the sheep and pigs before  he had a vision from God telling him he would soon return home. Maewyn escaped by ship to Gaul where he dedicated his life to serving God. He changed his name to Saint Patrick while attending the Seminary in France.  St. Patrick believed that his calling was to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. Eleven years later he would return to Ireland to fulfill that calling . He was revered by those whom he converted yet despised by those who favored the Celtic pagan ways and saw him as a threat. He spent 30 years  building monasteries and schools working to establish Christianity in Ireland. Saint Patrick died March 17th 461 AD.

There are many old Irish legends that describe the miracles Saint Patrick performed but they are just that, old legends.  St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737. The Saint Patrick feast day remains a religious holiday in Ireland while here in the states it is a festive occasion celebrated by wearing something green and other symbols we have come to associate with St. Patrick’s Day. The use of the shamrock was believed to have originated with Saint Patrick. As legend states he used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock thus became a symbol of Christianity in Ireland. To the Celtic people of ancient Ireland, the shamrock represented the rebirth of spring. (Ireland is referred to as “The Emerald Isle” due to the lush green landscape.) Historically, the color green was used by revolutionary groups in Ireland. By the 17th century, when the English began to suppress the Irish, the shamrock became a symbol of hope and Irish nationalism. Thus it was only fitting for the color green to become part of the official Irish flag in 1919.

The Leprechaun with his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a mythical creature. The Leprechaun stems from the Irish pagan belief in fairies. It is said that the Leprechaun is a crafty workman who guards the pot of fairy gold. The Leprechaun, the rainbow, the pot of gold and the clover are symbols celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day here in the United States to make St. Patrick’s Day a fun family affair.

Other ways to celebrate Saint Patty’s day may include:

  • Cook up a pot of Stew and a loaf of Brown Bread or Corned Beef and Cabbage.
  • Fry up Green Eggs and Ham.
  • Cook up a batch of rainbow colored pancakes.
  • Serve a bowl of pineapple jello (Pot of coins).
  • Leave gold coins in the kid’s shoes.
  • Go on a picnic to enjoy nature.
  • Perform a family service project.
  • Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • Play Rainbow Bowling. Fill water bottles with different colored water.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt in search of a pot of gold (chocolate) coins using paper shamrocks for clues.
  • Set up a Leprechaun maze stringing different colored string throughout the house with a prize at the end.
  • Make green cupcakes or cookies with green frosting.
  • Tie green balloons to the car.
  • Dye the milk green.

Chinese New Year Dragon Puppets

Artwork by: Brittany Mei Hill In our home we enjoy learning about other cultures and their traditions. Last year for Chinese New Year we made lanterns and masks and fortune cookies. This year for our New Year’s craft we are making dragons. In China, the […]