Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rock Collecting & A Rock Journal

The girls and I went on a rock collecting adventure a couple of days ago. It was on our summer bucket list, so it was definitely something I was preparing to do. After running various ideas through my head about where to take them, I ended up with the most simple idea of all... walking through our own neighborhood. We had a lot of fun wandering around and enjoying each others company.

We turned our trip into an art project. I made each of the girls an art journal and we took those along and a bag of crayons. I taught Lizzie to do rock rubbings and she was soon a girl on a mission, running around, finding rocks, then doing a rubbing.

If you want to make your own rock journals, you can print out the cover here. It prints out on 8.5 x11 inch paper and then you fold in half for the front and back. I found it works best on card stock, but any paper would work, so don't let that stop you! Then add as many interior pages as you want, I used two pieces of paper per journal, which was 4 pages. I didn't want too many pages to make it overwhelming for my girls.

To hold the pages together I used embroidery thread. I used one continuous thread, sewing through the top, then through the bottom. I left the ends on the outside of the journal, so I could tie them together. (You could also staple!)

So head out and look for rocks! Use the journal to record observations, practice drawing rocks or make rubbings like we did. Turn your trip into a scavenger hunt and search for specific colors, sizes or shapes of rocks. Bring some home and create with them. Here are a few fun projects I've seen lately.

Go out, hunt rocks and have fun!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Math Play: Counting Blocks

On Monday, I mentioned that we had been using the book Math Play! by Diane McGowan and Mark Schrooten lately to work on our numbers and have fun at the same time. I wanted to tell you a little more about it, because it truly is a great resource for toddlers and preschoolers. The book is designed for ages 2 to 6, making it perfect for my 4- and 2-year old. The activities are fun, easy to set up and require little if any special supplies. We've had the book for a couple of weeks now and have already done 8 activities with plans to do more.

One game we had a lot of fun with was Tower Counter. The supply list: blocks. Yep, that's it. Easy-peasy. I started by asking her to build towers with a certain amount of blocks. She's build it. Then I'd either ask her to add a certain amount or take away a certain amount. After she did that, she recounted the blocks in her tower. It was a great introduction to addition and subtraction for the preschool age. Lizzie had a blast and kept wanting to play well beyond the point where I thought she'd want to stop. What was AJ doing this whole time? She was building with us, just not using the math concepts. She was in the build and knock down mode.

 If you're looking for a great way to introduce or reinforce some math concept, take a peek at Math Play! It's a great resource.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Make Learning a Game

Motivation has been a huge problem with my 4-year-old lately, especially when it comes to learning writing skills. She has the tendency to use the words "I can't" too much without even trying. After a few weeks of wanting to bash my head against a wall, I came up with a solution. Turn learning into a game! Two pieces of paper and a Sharpie later and I had the "Lizzie Learns her Numbers" game. Yep, it did the trick.

I drew a board game form and started filling in the squares with the skills I wanted her to work on - writing her numbers. I also included fun games and activities designed to help her with her numbers. Most of the activities on the game were pulled from Math Play! by Diane McGowan and Mark Schrooten. (This is a wonderful resource for fun math activities for ages 2 to 6.) She has to complete a square to earn a sticker and move on to the next. Every 4 to 5 squares also has a special prize that she'll earn. When she completes the entire board, she will earn a grand prize. 

In order to make the flip up squares, I cut around 3 sides of one of the squares. I then glued an extra piece of paper to the back of the game, that way, when she flipped up the square, I had room to write underneath it. Simple!

I'm sure you're wondering what sort of prizes she's earning through this game. I've filled it with fun activities such as making cookies, a trip to the park and finger painting. I tried to come up with things that would be a treat, yet wouldn't cost me money. The grand prize will be a trip to a nature center. 

So far, the game is working to motivate her. Her "I can't's" are gone and she's actually eager to learn to write. So, if you're having a problem motivating your little one, turn it into a game!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Kitchen: Easy Smoothies

I've been playing around with smoothie combinations lately. I've found some good ones, but I keep coming back to one in particular, blackberry and peach. The ingredients are simple, but the results are yummy!

Blackberry-Peach Smoothie
1/3 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt
2/3 c. milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whatever you have on hand)
4-5 frozen peach slices
5-7 frozen blackberries

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour and enjoy!

*Note: The frozen fruit is essential to the texture of the smoothie. If you would like to use fresh fruit, you will need to freeze it ahead of time.

Oh yes, it's that easy! Hope you enjoy!

  P.S. I started a Facebook page for My Creative Family. Please come by and like me! Also, if you're on Twitter you can find me here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sea Creatures

If you're anything like me, it can sometimes be difficult to think up fun craft projects for your kids. Luckily, lots of wonderfully creative people have done the work for us. Lizzie and I ran across Cut and Paste Sea Creatures at our local library and we've all been having fun with it.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow. For my girls, I pre-cut all the shapes we needed. Lizzie was able to piece them together according to the pictures while I helped AJ. An older child would need very little, if any, parental help. The projects are simple and it's very likely you'll already have all the materials you need to complete the projects. 
Here are the results of our fun!

(Please ignore the messy kitchen!)

The next time you're at the library, check out the craft book section. You'll definitely find some fun activities to do!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Bucket List 2011

When dreaming up our summer bucket list, I had a couple of criteria. Everything on the list should be inexpensive or even free. Also, I wanted my girls to be able to participate with everything. I kept the list at twenty, so it would seem doable. I wanted to share it with you and maybe give you some ideas. Plus, sharing holds me accountable. I WANT to do everything on this list this summer. So here goes:

Summer Bucket List:
1. Host a cook-out
2. Camp out in our backyard
3. Take a trip to the zoo
4. Make a sunflower playhouse (I already have plans for this, which I'll share with you soon!)
5. Go stargazing
6. Go hiking
7. Take a trip to the farmer's market

 (via Ron Dressel)
8. Go rock hunting
9. Visit a state park
10. Play in the sprinklers
11. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
12. Make ice cream
13. Go on a picnic
14. Make homemade lemonade

15. Host an ice cream social party
16. Make salsa from my garden
17. See a fireworks show
18. Go to our county fair
19. Visit a small town festival
20. Swim in a lake

What would be on your summer bucket list?

 P.S. I started a Facebook page for Creative Family Fun. Please come by and like me! Also, if you're on Twitter you can find me here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Making Clouds

After reading (and reading and reading) Little Cloud by Eric Carle, we were inspired to make our own clouds in the style of the book's illustrations.

White paint
Cotton balls
Construction paper
Saucer, plastic lid, or anything with a flat surface to spread out the paint

*Note: Since my girls are young, I drew the cloud shapes with a marker before beginning the craft. If you are doing this with older kids, you won't need to do this.

The process is easy. Dump some paint on the saucer. Grab a cotton ball or two, dip in the paint and start painting your cloud.

After the initial set-up and a quick demonstration, I let the girls experiment with making their own clouds. We had some dabbing and some smearing and we also had a lot of fun.

Here are the finished products:

Hope you have fun making your own clouds!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Story Time: The Little Cloud

I'm sure you've met this guy before:

And, I can assure you that this will not be the last time I talk about him on this blog. Eric Carle has written many books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Quiet Cricket, that have become favorites of children and adults alike. His simple stories and colorful illustrations make his books appealing to children of all ages. Today, I've picked a book of his you may not be familiar with, Little Cloud.

Eric Carle tells the story of Little Cloud who separates from a group of clouds to become one big cloud. Then he starts having fun. Little Cloud changes shapes into many of the things he has seen in his journeys. The illustrations are large and mostly all blue and white. My girls were captivated from the very beginning and loved to see what Little Cloud would turn into next.

This is the perfect book to take outside and read. Hopefully, it will inspire you to lay on your backs and start looking for cloud shapes!

Make sure to come back tomorrow and take a peek at the art project we did inspired by Little Cloud.

P.S. I started a Facebook page for Creative Family Fun. Please come by and like me! Also, if you're on Twitter you can find me here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making Rainbows

We had fun making rainbows recently!

We got out the watercolors.

And the crayons.

We even wore our rainbow sunglasses on the back of our head (or at least one of us did)!

Have you made any rainbows recently?

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Introduction, of Sorts...

As I was lying in bed last night thinking about what I should post today, I realized that you were probably dying to know more about me. If not, lie to me and say you were, make a girl feel better.

 (That's me)

I'm Terri, married, 30-something, stay-at-home mom to two girls. Lizzie, my little princess, is 4 and AJ, my little spunk, is 2. This stay-at-home-mom gig is a little bit new to me. I've only been at it since April of this year. Before that, I worked full time. Boy, was life different! Some women are wonderful as working moms. I wasn't. But, things happened, circumstances changed and now I'm home - and loving it.

(My models, Lizzie & AJ)

I still feel like a kid at heart. I love arts & crafts time, picture books and a good cartoon. I want to nurture my girls, teach them, let them discover the world all while guiding them with my sometimes capable, but not always, hands. 

I hope you'll stick around and get to know me, my girls and all the fun we plan on having.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Story Time: The Runaway Dinner

My kids love books, all sorts of books. We recently found The Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Bruce Ingman at our local library. My girls were captivated from the very beginning.

The story begins with a little boy named Banjo.

One evening, Banjo sits down to eat his sausage, named Melvin.

That evening Melvin decided to run away.

The story takes off from here as Melvin and the rest of Banjo's dinner lead him and his parents on a fast-paced and humorous chase through the park. The book is written in a conversational tone that appeals to children and makes it a perfect read aloud choice. 

I'm sure you're wondering, does Banjo catch his dinner? You'll have to read to find out!

(All pictures are my own, please do not use without prior permission)
(Disclosure: I am a member of Amazon Affiliates, which means that if anyone were to click a link and make a purchase, I would earn the tiniest bit of money. But don't worry... all opinions are my very own and I would never recommend something I didn't personally love.)


Welcome to My Creative Family!

What can you expect to find here?
Crafts, food, inspiration, book reviews, and many, many ideas that are thrifty, fun and kid-friendly. Thanks for stopping by!