Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 11 Favorite Posts of 2011

Yesterday, I gave my top 10 most popular posts according to page views. Today, I want to share my favorite posts that did not make it into the top 10. Some are from the early days of my blog and others are more recent.  While putting together this post, I realized I've only been blogging in this space since June - wow! It's been so much fun and I can't wait for the year to come!

I love all the projects we've done and just couldn't narrow it down to 10, So here they are, my top 11 favorite posts of 2011. 

11. We spent a day observing, playing with and doing simple science experiments with ice. They're all here in this post: ice play.

10. I set out all the parts to make a mask and let the girls come up with their own creations. I love this post because it was child-led and I loved to see the creations the girls came up with. Check it out here: making masks.

9. We had a lot of fun learning about Japan and one of the crafts we did at that time were these recycled kokeshi dolls.

8. We played outside a lot and one of the fun things we did was this driveway obstacle course made only with sidewalk chalk.

7. I love books and so do my girls. I've been having a lot of fun coming up with craft projects to go along with some of the books we read. Here is one based on one of my favorite books for my childhood: The Little House Book and Craft.

6. We love pretend play and the girls absolutely loved this pretend snack bar we set up!

5. I stepped outside my comfort zone and let my 4-year-old use a glue gun while crafting. Check out a girl and a glue gun to see our creations!

4. After seeing so many inspiring pictures of story stones, I decided to make a set for the girl. They were simple stones made with only rocks and a Sharpie. Here are our story stones.

3. A pivotal point for me was participating in the Creative Christmas Countdown along with a group of talented and inspiring kid bloggers. Here is my post about giving back and helping others.

2. I love a good scavenger hunt and we had a great time with our backyard scavenger hunt!

1. Well, it's time for my favorite post and I'm not telling you yet! Come back on January 2nd and I'll reveal my favorite post. I'm joining a group of very talented bloggers from all over the world in sharing my favorite post of 2011. In addition, there will be a linky party which will give you the chance to share your favorite as well as a chance to see some of the best kid-related blog posts!

Top 10 Most Popular Posts

Now that 2011 is coming to an end, I thought I'd do a round-up of my top 10 most popular posts according to page views. Looking back, we've had a lot of fun and have been very crafty! Hopefully 2012 brings us even more fun!

10. We had a lot of fun making princess wands and a lot of fun eating them.

9. I found a lot of fun crafts and activities to do with acorns. Here's my acorn craft round up.

8. We learned a new twist on hopscotch: shape hopscotch!

7. Here's another fun craft round up! Thanksgiving craft round up.

6. We did a bit of recycling and came up with some pretty artwork when we did our cardboard roll stamping.

5. We made our Christmas tree even more beautiful with our stained glass window ornaments.

4. We recycled even more of our cardboard rolls and made fun googly-eyed monsters!

3. Our magazine collage owls was one of my favorite crafts that we did.

2. We learned about India and did our own version of a popular form of Indian artwork: Indian Art - Rangoli Designs.

1. And the number 1 most popular post was my owl craft round up of some of my favorite owl crafts found on some of my favorite blogs!

So there you have it, my top 10 most popular posts! Come back tomorrow and I'll count down my 10 favorite posts that did not make the top 10 (only 2 though 9). And then on January 2nd, I among with other talented kid bloggers will reveal my favorite post of 2011. If you have your own blog, there will be an opportunity to link up your favorite blog post as well! Stay tuned!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Word Games

Do you remember playing Mad Libs as a kid? I do and I loved it! So, when I was thinking about what you get you, my readers, for Christmas, I thought it would be fun to make up a couple of my own. They're simple stories written at a level that preschoolers are easily able to participate. They've been preschooler tested and approved and even my toddler loved them. And, now they're ready to you and your kids to have fun with!

They're a fun last minute Christmas game and also perfect for entertaining the kids while waiting for that big Christmas dinner. Print off as many as you like! Set them at the kid's table. Enjoy them during a family night. Have your older kids help the younger ones play. Enjoy!

The links below the pictures will take you to the printable. All you need to do it print it out and grab a pencil and your kids. I hope they provide you with a lot of fun!

Please feel free to share, but please do not post the links to the documents directly on your page. You may link to this post though!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Creative Christmas Countdown: Helping Others

Thank you so much for joining me on Day 17 of the Creative Christmas Countdown. The ideas already shared have been wonderful!

Today, I have a little story that I hope will inspire you.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a very big heart. She loved everyone and always enjoyed helping others. One day close to Christmastime, her mommy and daddy told her about a very important organization that helped make sure every little boy and little girl had a great Christmas. She wanted to help. So, her mommy and daddy helped her count her money and took her to a store. There she found the most beautiful Sleeping Beauty doll and knew that would make another little girls very happy. She bought that doll and her mommy and daddy drove her to a big cardboard box labeled "Toys for Tots," and she dropped that pretty doll in it. She was smiling the entire time and talking constantly about that little girl "who we didn't even know" that was going to get that doll for Christmas. It is a memory that has stuck with her for over a year now and one that I hope becomes a yearly habit for the little girl.

My little girl was 3 the first year we took her shopping and through simple explanations was able to grasp what she was shopping for. She loved the experience and my husband and I were very, very proud of the size of her heart. 

I took the girls shopping again this year and they were excited to pick out toys. Lizzie understood what we were shopping for, although AJ is still a bit too young to understand. We picked out four gifts, one from each person in our family.

We picked out a princess wand, a tea set, Duplos and a football. The next step was donating them. I drove the girls over to our bank and we walked in and found a box overflowing with toys. It was wonderful to see! We dropped the toys off and talked all the way home about the happy little boys and girls who would be getting some pretty cool toys under their tree.

I learned a very valuable lesson during this process as well. Never ever underestimate the power of a little kids heart. They understand far more than we give them credit for. 

Unfortunately, the deadline has already passed for Toys for Tots donations, but if you are interested in your kids having this experience, you can start shopping next November.

Toys for Tots is not the only way you can teach your children about giving. Here are some ideas for giving all year long.

  • Check with your local food shelf. They will accept donations all year long. Take your children grocery shopping for the food shelf then drop off the items.
  • Your church is also a great resource. Donations and gifts of time are always welcome.
  • Check with your local Ronald McDonald House. Oftentimes they need and will accept donations of household goods and personal care items.
  • Next Christmas, choose an angel from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Help your child shop for their angel. Or volunteer together as a family to ring the bell at the Salvation Army kettles.
Make an effort to give back over the holidays and all year long. The rewards are amazing!

Do you volunteer or give to charity as a family? I would love to hear your experiences!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sparkly Christmas Tree Banner

You may have notice that we've been crafting a lot with tissue paper lately and our latest creation is this sparkly Christmas tree banner. I'm sure we'll eventually move on to a different medium, but until then we've been having fun and making beautiful artwork with our tissue paper. Now, on to our glittery banner!

Supplies Needed:
Tissue paper
Clear contact paper
Needle and thread

I cut small squares of contact paper and laid it down sticky side up on our trays. I was using the trays in an attempt to contain some of the glitter. We then started sprinkling the glitter. The mess is actually minimal this way (unless, of course, your 2-yr-old manages to pull the top of the glitter bottle off), since the contact paper catches most of it. After you're satisfied with the amount of glitter, it's time to cover the entire thing with tissue paper. I had originally intended the girls to tear the tissue paper into small bits, but they wanted to go with large pieces instead.

After all the contact paper is covered, put another piece of contact paper on top so that your glitter and tissue paper is sandwiched in between. Now, you need to cut it into tree-shaped triangles. We were able to get several tree shapes out of each girl's glittery contact paper.

Just look at that pile! Next, I took the needle and some strong thread and started threading the trees. I just ran the needle once through a spot near the top of each tree. It was surprisingly easy to pierce the needle through the contact paper, so much so that I know Lizzie would have been able to have handled this part on her own. We alternated the trees, one purple then one gold on the string. Once we were done, it was time to hang in the window.

The result was beautiful and I'm glad we went with the large pieces of tissue paper instead of the small. I just love the look of it!

Now, what should we do next with our stockpile of tissue paper?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Loving Literature: Favorite Christmas Books

There are so many Christmas books written for children that it gets hard to figure out which ones are good and which ones are not. I thought I'd help you out a bit and share some of the Christmas books we've been enjoying this year.

We've hadOn Christmas Morning by Patricia A. Pingry ever since my oldest was about 2 years old. It's a constant favorite that we read every year. This is a simple board book that tells the story of a modern-day Christmas morning along with the story of the first Christmas. This is one that is easy enough for even the youngest child to understand.

We just discovered Coming Through the Blizzard by Eileen Spinelli this year and are enjoying this story of a Christmas Eve in which is snowed and snowed and snowed. One by one, both animals and people came through the snow to the Christmas Eve service and finally Christmas itself came.

Christmas Is Here, illustrated by Lauren Castillo,uses the words from the King James Bible and beautiful illustrations of a live nativity to tell the Christmas story. I love this choice because it is the story straight from the Bible, but the pictures make it appealing enough for children to want to listen.

What the Little Fir Tree Wore to the Christmas Party by Satomi Ichikawa is a very sweet story of a little fir tree living among a group of larger trees. The trees talk about getting dressed for a Christmas party and the little fir tree dreams of what she will wear. On day she wakes up and realizes that all the other trees have already left for the party (i.e. been cut down for Christmas trees) and she is all alone. Little does she know that her Christmas party will be the best one of all. 

What are some of your favorite Christmas books?

Recycled Paper Chains

Do you have a lot of leftover Christmas cards? So do we! I've been thinking about what to do with them and finally decided to just keep things simple and make paper chains from those old Christmas cards.

The girls and I gathered around the Christmas tree with a pile of old cards, several pair of our fun scissors and a stapler. No mess, no glue, just time together listening to Christmas carols.

We cut strip after strip after strip until we ran out of cards. At this point, the girls were quite eager to see what the chain was going to look like.

We set up an assembly line. I was manning the stapler and the girls were handing me strips. Finally, our pile of strips turned into a very pretty paper chain.

A paper chain that we soon found out was perfect for tying up little sisters! (Just kidding! No child was actually tied up... we just had fun taking silly pictures!)

Don't ever underestimate the fun of a simple activity this holiday season. Use what you have and do what you know how to do. You'll have fun just spending the time together!

What is your favorite simple Christmas activity?

Linking up to Monday Madness