Thursday, May 30, 2013

Alphabet Lollypop Game: Free Printables

 Since school is out I have been trying to come up with activities that are both educational AND especially FUN!!!!
I also have to think about coming up with things that are challenging to a preschooler and at the same time a second grader!
Here is what I came up with, The Alphabet Lollypop Game!
It can be played many different ways! AND the best part is I have it ready for you to print out for FREE!!!!

What you will need:
  • 4 pieces of card white stock paper
  • 4 pieces of regular paper
  • 26 Popsicle sticks cut in half
  • a pair of scissors
  • Markers/colored pencils
  • hot glue gun
  • Mod Podge *Optional
When printing the Lollypop backings to the game you have to use a thicker paper! I used what I had on hand, which was watercolor paper but you can buy thick card stock from the store. You will need to print 4 of the Lollypop backing paper to have enough for the 52 alphabet circles!
The Alphabet circles can be printed on regular paper!
Once everything is printed, let your kids have fun coloring in the Lollypop backing!
My kids and I loved this part and we got very creative with the swirls!

*TIP* when playing memory your kids could memorize what color backing is with what letter in the Alphabet... however, since there are so many lollypops this could be a good thing and help the game not take so long for younger kids! If you are making this for older children, you might want to skip the coloring part of this and just print the backings on a brightly colored card stock paper! For my family, coloring in the lollypops is the way to go and they like playing with the pops they colored in!
 Now cut your Alphabet circles and lollypop backing circles out!
If your child is old enough, they can help!
Cut all of your 26 Popsicle sticks in half!
Next, hot glue the sticks to the lollypop backing!
  They are seriously cute!!! Your kids are going to love how they look with the sticks!
 Now, hot glue the Alphabet circles to the other side! I would just say, be carful doing this part because the lowercase u & n look the same. You may also get confused with lower case d, b, p, and q! Just make sure you glue them the right way!! =)
This next step is optional. I added Sparkle Mod Podge to add a little shine and to help seal them to make them sturdier for many hours of play!
Paint one side with Mod Podge. Let it dry for about 15 minutes.
Then, paint the other side and let dry!
Now your Lollypops are ready for playtime!
I came up with a few games to play with the Alphabet Lollypops. They are more corporative because I have been working with my kids A LOT lately on getting along!
One way to play, of course, is memory. This is where you find the match of the capital with the lower case letters! However, instead of playing teams.... we worked together to find the match and still take turns in picking! Another thing to add to this is have your kids come up with a word for the letter they find the match to.... then have older kids help spell out the words!

Another thing you can play is pull out all of just the capital letter pops. Then work together picking in turns until you come up with the alphabet in order. Then try to find the alphabet backwards!!

Another, more active, way to play with the Alphabet lollypops would be to pull out the hard letters like V, Q, X, Y, and Z. Then spread the lollypops face down on the floor! Have your children each choose a letter pop! Give them each a minute to look at them and think (this is where you can give younger kids suggestions).... Then count down to start the timer.
Three, Two, One...... have them run around the house to find an object that starts with their letter! They have to ALL get back before the timer stops so once the older kids find an object, they can help out the younger ones so they can get back and the time can stop!
OR, you can pick the letter and have them work together to EACH come back with something that starts with the letter.... For Example, my kids got the letter F. They ran away for a second and quickly ran back and put their arms around each other. Brenden said, "she brought her Foot and I brought a Friend!!!"
This was Really fun!
We even did it during little brothers nap time. Part of the rules was to be as QUICK & QUIET as possible and if they made a loud noise I would add 5 seconds to their time!
Record the times and tell them their fastest time at the end of the game!

After trying out these games ask your kids what else they could do with them!!!
Have them get creative with it!
These are so fun, the sky's the limit with the games you can play!!!
Comment below if you come up with something fun to play with your Alphabet Lollypops!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Homemade Healthy Yogurt Bites: Activity AND Snack

SUMMER is finally here! I have been enjoying the kids staying up late and sleeping in. In Kansas  it's light outside till almost 9pm. I love it because we are outside taking walks with the dog, playing with the neighbors, and/or sitting on our deck roasting marshmallows around the fire pit. It feels like we get to have so much more family time.
Along with having the kids home, I have a constant choir of little voices saying "I'm HUNGRY or can we do a craft!?!" So with this activity I say YES to BOTH!
Let's have some fun AND make a healthy snack in the process.

First, I'm gunna show you what made me come up with this idea....
My baby LOVES those freeze dried baby yogurt melts! I think they would be his FAVORITE treat if he could tell you himself. He actually SCREAMS with joy every time I just open the cabinet where I keep them! =)
I was about to put them on the shopping list when I thought, "NO! I don't want to spend almost 4 bucks on one pack of those right now. I'm gunna MAKE them and make them even healthier!

I grabbed a banana yogurt and my mini food processor.
 I steamed a few veggies. In this case I chose carrots and zucchini. The reason I used these is because of their mild and slightly sweet taste. I always go for these two veggies when I am experimenting..... 
I blended the yogurt and veggies together.... I also actually added a few spoons of plain yogurt to the mix.
 Spoon your mix into a ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole at the tip of the bag.
 Then carefully squeeze out little dots out of the hole onto parchment paper.
Once you have done this, throw the whole thing into the freezer.
It only takes an hour or two and they are DONE!
After they are all frozen, you can simply fold up your parchment paper and store in a freezer ziplock.
 OR you can peel the all off the paper and store in the ziplock.
So funny because just before this picture, he was spitting out those same veggies he is now GOBBLING down in that yogurt bite! lol
I've never had a picky kid before this little guy but one thing is for sure.... He isn't getting his own meal and I still place the things he spits out on his tray! There are studies that prove children need multiple times tasting particular foods to start getting used to the taste. I think in Garren's case, this also has to do with texture.... He NEVER liked pureed baby food but give him chunks and he was all over it.
 After making the yogurt bites for Garren I decided this would be great fun for my big kids.
Here is what we did.
We used the same veggies, this time in the large food processor (or you can use your blender). Remember that you want your veggies steamed because if you use raw, there will be hard chunks!
 After blending the veggies, we added cherries and a few strawberries.
 Here is a picture of the fruit and veggies blended together.
 Add some vanilla yogurt and blend! I would say there was about 1/2 cup of fruit/veggie mix to 1 cup of yogurt.
Basically you are making an all yogurt smoothie.
You can get very creative with this.
 Then we added a banana.... this was for taste and to thicken it up a bit.
Blend and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes..... This is just to help thicken it for the next step!
Then I gave each of the kids their own parchment lined plate and a ziplock bag with our yogurt smoothie mix. The hole I cut in their bag tip was VERY small.... This is just so it doesn't pour out to quickly.
 I told them to create their own design of lines and dots! Make sure you explain that this is an abstract art project! You don't want older kids to get frustrated because their drawing bleeds together!
 With my help, we drew the first letters in our names.
This could also be a great educational activity where you help your child write the whole alphabet.
I am going to do this when it is just my daughter and me.
 With your leftover mix, make smoothie pops for all of those HOT days to come!
 Here are my big kids eating their abstract creations! They were ready in about an hour from throwing them in the freezer. Fun Times!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The "Life" Yearbook

Today is Brenden's last day of First Grade!! Kansas is always a little earlier letting out for summer vacation. Wither your child is out of school, has a few weeks left, or isn't even attending yet... here is a GREAT idea that I got from Pinterest that I NEED to share with you! 

First of all I am going to share our pictures from beginning of First grade to end! You can REALLY see the difference when looking at Garren! 

First Day
 Last Day
 Ok, so here is what I am doing for all of my kids.... I have just started doing this for Brenden. 
I am making a "life" yearbook for him! 
Basically, what it is is any book you would like to give to your child as a gift on their High School graduation. I chose Dr. Seuss's book Oh, the Places You'll Go because of the message and all of the fun pictures and blank spaces to write within the pages.
What you do is have their teachers, coaches, family members and other influential people in your child's life write a little message to them! Then when they graduate from High School, they will be BLOWN AWAY with support for the future from everyone!
When choosing a book, make sure there are places that MANY little messages can be written! I was talking about this with my friend Sara and she wanted to choose a different book for her daughter. She was contemplating using a favorite childhood book that they always read together. She ended up choosing (I hope you don't mind me sharing) a cute book of quotes at Hallmark called "Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten". So an inspirational book of quotes for a graduate would work well for this. Also if you are religious, I would consider a book to encourage your child in their walk on their pathway to adulthood. 

Another thing I wanted to share was having people in your family sign the book now and then again at graduation. I don't want to have a negative outlook on life but one thing we all know is that we never know how much time we have with our loved ones, no matter there age!!! How special would the book be with a little message from someone who has passed.

You can even have siblings sign it! 
Kiki picked her favorite page in Brenden's book, the big monster page, and she drew a little picture and signed her name. Then I wrote the year by her signature! 
With baby brother Garren I am going to trace over or paint and print his little hand and put his name and the year inside it! These will be so much fun to read over YEARS later!
If your child is a little older, you can STILL start this....
Just go back to their old teachers and have them sign it! If you can't reach them, it will still be special with whatever you can get! If your child is homeschooled, you(as teacher) can write a special message about what your child learned and how much they grew throughout the school year! 
The point is to encourage our children for the future.

Lastly, If you wish to add a Bible verse the perfect one to add is, Jeremiah 29:11.
 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I would LOVE to know and for you to share what book you chose for your child's "Life" Yearbook!!!
Comment below!!!
May we bless our kids for the future!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Cookie Assignment

 This post isn't to give you a special recipe, it's just to give you an idea of a fun, educational, and YUMMY activity to do with your kids!
Yesterday, My two older kids and I decided to make cookies! I have been craving chocolate/peanut butter all the time now! I blame this on my husband! =) One of our families FAVORITE cookie recipes is peanut butter blossoms! The perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter!

What is your families favorite cookie recipe!?!

As we mixed and measured together my kids and I started talking about food.
What kinds of food we love and why they taste good to us...
Then I started asking them questions about vegetables and why a lot of kids AND adults think they taste bad! I explained how we can add vegetables to treats, still get their good benefits, AND they will taste YUMMY!!! (Not that we don't think that they taste yummy by themselves)
We decided to add carrots and spinach to our peanut butter blossoms!
I would say, for a normal cookie recipe, it was about a cup of ground veggies! All we did was grind them up raw in our food processor and mix them into the cookie dough.

What I am going to prepose to you is set time this week to make your families favorite cookie recipe with your child/ren! If you don't have one you can always follow my recipe for Peanut Butter Blossoms
Have a few veggies on hand and talk about the benefits of eating them, you might have to do a little research to come up with a few facts. 

For example, if you are going to add carrots to your cookies, here is something you can tell your child!
"Carrots are a rich source of Beta Carotene. Our bodies convert Beta Carotene to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps with night vision- that is why it's good for us to eat them so we can see in the dark!!! Your body actually can absorb more beta carotene from cooked carrots so this is perfect to add them to our cookies because we are going to bake them!!!"  

Then grind your veggies up in your food processor or you can use your blender it just might take a little longer. Then add the ground veggies to your cookie dough and enjoy a sweet treat! 
This will impact your child/ren more than you know! Then more they think of vegetables in a positive way, the more they will make healthy choices when they grow up!!!

So try out this fun cooking activity and PLEASE comment below on how it went!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yo Gabba Gabba Birthday Ideas

 Here are a few ideas I thought I would share with you! We have a little friend SJ who LOVES the Show, Yo Gabba Gabba just like my Kiki and Garren do. She recently turned one so I went searching for an all Yo Gabba Gabba present! I found myself having to come up with a few ideas to make it more personal! It was hard to find a lot of cute Yo Gabba Gabba stuff! My first idea was to paint their faces on a ball! Sorry for the poor quality picture but this is the best I got!
I simply used acrylic paints and painted these simple faces, pictures posted below, on the color ball of the character! Then I sealed it with Mod Podge! Before you look anywhere else to buy the balls, check the dollar store! This is such a cheap and FUN present to give to any Yo Gabba Gabba lover and these would also be a great party favor for a Yo Gabba Gabba theme birthday!

I have blogged about Mod Podging on a ball before.... To check out the technique click HERE!

 Another thing I did was wrap her present like Brobee! This was so fun... I think she thought the wrapped present WAS the present at first! =)

For the horns on top, I just made three cones out of orange paper and taped it to the box.
I also found this cute idea on Pinterest after I wrapped up SJ's present like Brobee....
Damaris from At Studio D shows you how to make these cute gift bags! Just click on the picture and she will show you how!

I'll add one more idea that I used for Kiki's second birthday! I drew a big Muno and then made a bunch of extra eyes.... and we played pin the eye on the Muno!
Hope this helps to inspire you for your Yo Gabba Gabba lover's Birthday!
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