Posted in Craft Thursdays, Kindercrafts, Uncategorized

Rudolph with a Candy Cane

With Day 5 the craft came before the book.  I was scouring pinterest one night, procrastinating of course, and came across a cute reindeer craft that I thought would be a good ‘weeknight’ craft.  I then went through our books to find a reindeer book.  In my school box I found Rudolph Shines Again.  I think it was from a scholastic package I got last Christmas.


The book is not is no award winner but it is cute.  The illustrations are very well done (except for some reason Michael kept trying to find ‘the mouse’), and it is written entirely in rhyme.  After Christmas Rudolph returns to be mocked by the other reindeer and this leaves him feeling very sorry for himself and his nose loses it’s shine.

After reading the book we got right down to the craft.  You can get complete instructions by following the links here.  I found all of the things we needed at Michael’s and in our craft bins.  If you want to try it make sure you have very small pom poms for the nose.  This was one of those crafts that is was great to have a stocked craft centre.  I brought out the bin of misc. google eyes and bells and they picked their favourite.  Grandma is a knitter so we raided her stash of wool.  The only thing I really had to buy was the plastic candy canes.


This was a perfect craft for Eileen.  Easy enough for her to do most of it herself and quick enough to keep her attention.  Michael even was able to do some of the wrapping himself.


The finished result.  They are super cute and all unique!


Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Literacy Tuesdays

5 Little Ducks, a Donkey and a Wolf – MeMe Tales Readathon Week #1

I was very excited to learn about the MeMe tales readathon and we downloaded the app and the first books a couple of weeks ago.  However, as school had not finished yet we are a couple of weeks behind.

Week 1 of the Readathon was all about Animals.  We have tonnes of animal books at home but it was cool that both of the books for the readathon were traditional tales.  I am been trying to introduce the kids to nursery rhymes and fairy tales so this fit in perfectly.

We started with 5 Little Ducks.

The Five Little Ducklings
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The Five Little Ducklings

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This is a familiar tale and instantly my girls started to sing the song.  I went to iTunes and downloaded them the Raffi version.  They listened to it over and over again and then decided that they were going to act it out for themselves.  I sent them on a hunt to find as many toy ducks as they could.  Michael’s favourite toy is his stuffed duckie but we managed to find a bunch more, especially when we got into the bath toys!  We used two large pillows covered by my green table cloth for the hill (they called it the mountain), and we filmed in the backyard on a sunny day.  It took a bit of rehearsing and distracting of one little brother but it ended up pretty cute!

I got inspired to create a special breakfast for the girls around the duck theme. I found a gluten free pancake mix in the pantry and decided pancakes and fruit would be perfect.   The only problem was that most of my cool shaped cookie cutters are plastic.  I found a tutorial at Time 2 Save that helped me use tinfoil to copy my pastic duck cookie cutters.  This was supper easy and let me make duck shaped pancakes for breakfast.  They asked why they didn’t have 5 ducks each but I am glad I didn’t make that many – they each ate only 2!

Continue reading “5 Little Ducks, a Donkey and a Wolf – MeMe Tales Readathon Week #1”

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Months of the Year Calendar Wheel

In the land of Kindergarten the role of the calendar in the school day has been changing over the last couple of years.  There is an interesting article about how traditional calendar time in a Kindergarten or Preschool classroom may be wasted time.  I have been playing with the calendar in my classroom since September and am still not happy with how we do it, right now we are using if for counting and patterning but I think I may switch things up again.  I don’t concentrate on the days of the week or months of the year with my students right now, I am trying to figure out the best way to approach the topic.

I am currently readying Carol Copple’s Growing Minds: Building Strong Cognitive Foundations in Early Childhood.  This was the latest publication I have received with my NAEYC membership.    In the article on Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years I appreciated the quote:

“Even though research shows that preschoolers’ capacities are at time underestimated, they do have limitation in their reasoning skills that affect learning.  They have a limited understanding of ideas such as time, space or age, for instance, and don’t use these abstract concepts to help themselves reason unless the ideas are made real and relevant to their current lives”.

This is an American publication so the students in my class fit into the categories of both preschool and kindergarten, the joy of a junior & senior kindergarten mixed class.  My youngest student just turned 4 and I have a student who will be 6 in a few weeks.  I can see this development in my own girls, Eileen is almost 3 1/2 and Kaitlyn will be 6 tomorrow.  Eileen is learning the months of the year song at school but to her it is just a song that she sings like any other song.  Kaitlyn knows all the months of the year, the order they go in (without singing), can relate them to the seasons, and can read most of them.  So knowing where they are I set a goal for us – I want to see if I can get Eileen to start to understand the concept of a year and the months, and I would like Kaitlyn to be able to spell the words. Out of this came our months of the year calendar.

To make this calendar you will need a large piece of bristol board or other heavyweight paper, a piece of scrap heavy weight paper in a different colour, a metal fastener, pictures of family members and events, markers and glue.  To prepare an adult needs to cut out a large circle from the bistol board and divide it into 12 slices.  I went over the lines with a black sharpie to make them stand out.

The girls and I then reviewed the months of the year song to remind Kaitlyn, and to make some connections for Eileen to the song she already knows.  I found a version on Youtube that we watched.  With their help I printed the name of each month at the top of the slices.  I did it in pencil and then Kaitlyn went over them with marker.  Next we brainstormed special days in each month.  I wanted to make this a concrete activity and tie it to things that are important to them.  For every event with I either printed out a picture on the computer or they drew their own pictures.  Kaitlyn did an awesome job with her drawings and backgrounds and Eileen even got her hands in their with her own decorations.  Both girls played an active role in deciding what would go on our calendar.  Their selection included: birthdays (all 5 of us), holidays, trips we would take this year (Great Wolf Lodge, Skiing in Vermont & Disney World) and the start and beginning of school.  The best part of this calendar is that it is personalized for our family.  We hung it on the wall in our playroom and hopefully Eileen will begin to associate the different months to the events in her life.  To finish off I cut out an arrow to indicate which month we are in right now and attached it with a metal fastener.

The other great thing about this style of calendar is that it is continuous.  It shows that after December the months start over again.

If anyone makes your own wheel I would love to hear how it turns out!

Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures

Happy New Year!

We thought we should do a few things at our place to celebrate the New Year.  Eileen woke up the other day to see the ground covered in snow and then declared that Christmas was finally here.  Then she looked around and noticed the tree and all the decorations were already gone.  To make her feel better we made banner to celebrate New Years.

I found a cute idea for a banner at Kaboose.  I didn’t have any nice felt around the house so we went by Walmart and I found some cool sparkly felt (the sparkles don’t show up very well in the picture).

I cut the strips out as the instructions listed and glued them on the string.  I found that they kept sliding with white glue so I used hot glue to make sure it would stay together.  The next day I sat down with the girls to make our banner.  I used the glitter glue to print each letter in uppercase and they put the sequins on.  At first I tried to get them to use small sequins but after a few minutes I abandoned that battle and let them do it however they wanted.

While it was drying before going on the mantle I decided that it would be a good time to watch Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.

I had PVRd this movie when it was on a couple of days earlier thinking the girls might like it.  It seems like all the good kids holiday specials are always on after the kids go to bed!  For a couple of years now I had been looking for a New Years show I remembered watching as a kid about a New Years baby and as soon as it started I knew this was the one.  This special starts right after Christmas when Santa gets a letter from Father Time telling him that Happy the New Years Baby has gone missing – and of course the only one who can find him in a snow storm is Rudolph.  Rudolph sets off and meets a number of new characters along the way in his search for Happy.  As an adult watching it there are so many inconsistencies that in history that it made my head want to spin.  For some reason I don’t have a problem with the more traditional tales and a flying red-nosed reindeer but a number of islands where the Father Time of each year goes to retire is a bit far fetched for me.  Kaitlyn actually asked me while we were watching it if the cavemen really lived at the same time as the dinosaurs (because of course they do on island 1 000 000 BC).  I did really like the use of time in the film in many of the characters.  This is a concept we have been working on and led us to decide we needed to make a special treat for New Years Eve.  The girls are going to a party with the cousins at Grandmas so we decided to make a cookie clock for them to take.

We started by making a batch of soft sugar cookies.  We had a recipe from that we had used to make our reindeer cookies a few weeks ago, and they worked really well, so we used it again.  You could easily use refrigerated cookies dough from the grocery store.  Since this was an experiment and we weren’t sure how it would turn out we decided to simply make them circle shaped.  We have an awesome box of 101 cookie cutters that has a number of circle cut outs so we picked the size we thought would work best.  After chilling the dough for a couple of hours the girls helped me cut them out and bake them.  I let them cool overnight and then I made a glaze using another recipe I found at  This recipe made enough for the cookies we needed for our clock but not for all the cookies we had made.  I made two batches of glaze – one in blue and one in green.  All I did was dip each cookie in the glaze and then let them dry.  After they were dry I used some buttercream icing and piped on the numbers.  The girls picked gummy worms for the arms of the clock and I used a chocolate wafer for the middle.  You could also use liquorice.  It helped to secure the arms with some more icing.

Next week while Kaitlyn and I are still off school I think it will be a good time to do some more activities on time, but this was a great start!  And yummy too!

We decided we needed to do one more thing for New Years, especially since they would be at Gramma & Grampa’s house.  Make noise makers!

We found a cute idea at Kibmoou.  We first called Gramma to bring over any empty water bottles, we didn’t have any.  She brought over a few different types and we picked the Gatorade and Powerade bottles because they had the biggest openings.  I went through my pantry and picked out a number of things that would make noise in a bottle: navy beans, rice, white beans and split peas.  I put a small amount in 4 bowls and told the kids they could experiment to see what filler would make the sound they liked best.

Eileen picked the navy beans because their sound was the loudest.  Kaitlyn mixed them with a heavy concentration of rice because she it made the sound she liked.  Michael just put in anything he could get his hands on.

Our bottles had large openings but if you had smaller openings you might want to use a funnel.  After they were full I glued the lids on so they would have not escapees.  As an aside make sure your bottles are clean and dry before starting, otherwise it won’t work as nicely.

We took off the labels and got started with the decorating.  This style of decoration is very easy at this time of year because we had so much tissue paper from Christmas presents.  First I gave them scraps of white tissue paper.  They each covered their bottle by gluing on the tissue paper using glue I had diluted in water.  They would lay the paper down and brush the glue on with a paint brush.  We let them dry a little, not completely and then I gave them a bowl of mixed colour tissue paper and let them make their designs all over their shakers.

Kaitlyn pretty much did Michael’s for him but Eileen’s persistency was impressive.  I have been very excited with how much patience she has been showing with her crafts lately.  Other than Mommy smoothing a few edges she did the entire thing herself!

We let them completely dry overnight and then I added some ribbon for them today.

Now that I am done my last blog of 2011 I am going to take the kids cookie clock and their shakers over to Gramma & Grampa’s for the girls (who are already there) and then I am going to come home, put on my comfy P.J.s and enjoy some fajitas and a movie with my Gord and Michael.

Wishing everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!!!

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

The Toys Night Before Christmas

My December 22nd school was done for myself and Kaitlyn and we were in full fledged Family Christmas mode.  We had been doing Christmas things for a while but the load of work off my mind suddenly made everything much more fun!  Our book for the 22nd was The Toys Night Before Christmas.

This version of the night before Christmas is not written in the familiar verse but instead tells of that special night from the point of view of the toys.  Jack (in-the-box) brings up how he feels it is not fair that everyone gets Christmas presents except them, because they are toys.  The other toys aren’t bothered but Jack makes it his mission to bring presents to all the toys on Christmas.  He goes all out becoming his own version of Santa complete with presents, a sleigh, and reindeer – well he uses birds instead.  All goes well until he gets stuck in the chimney.  One cute feature of the book are the signs of the real Santa Claus on each page.  A very cute tale that will really echo with the ‘Toy Story’ generation of kids.

Christmas was really close and I wanted to give the girls a chance to make their own wrapping paper to go with their gift tags we made on the 20th.  I was unsure that type of paper to use but found newsprint really cheap at Staples and thought it would work perfect.  Wether working with markers, paints or other materials this is definitely an activity where you want to put a drop sheet down.  The first type we tried were with our Christmas stencils.

I picked these when I hosted an Usborne book party a number of years ago and the girls love them!  They are great for working on pencil control with Eileen and Kaitlyn loves using them for an outline and then she adds her own patterns and colours.  I would love to try and find some other cards with different themes.









Next I pulled out the tempura paints and my cookie cutters.  It works well to pour some of the paint in to pie plates.  This makes it easier to dip the cookie cutters in the paint and then stamp them on their paper.  To make things easier I picked one colour for each cookie cutter – this kept things a bit neater and limited colour mixing.  When we got close to being done I let Kaitlyn mix a few to see what colours she could come up with.

Each girl made a few sheets, enough to wrap their presents for each other, for Michael and for Daddy.  I thought the paper may be to big while we were making them but we used it all when wrapping. Next year I may do a few smaller sheets also for those smaller presents.

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays, Kindercrafts

Olivia Helps with Christmas

One of the book series that I love are the Olivia books.  There are two types: the true Olivia books, and those based on the television series.  The true books are much better. I couldn’t resist using Olivia helps with Christmas in our 24 books of Christmas.  It was our book on Day 20.

I think the reason I love Olivia so much is that she reminds me of Kaitlyn.  She is a precious young pig (that is where they differ), she thinks she is very proper and has the best of intentions, very creative and artistic but a bit of a drama queen.  To top it off the last page is a picture of Olivia dreaming of dancing in the Nutracker and only a couple of days prior to reading this book my dad and I took Kaitlyn to see the Nutcracker, the third year in a row.

Our original plan was to make Christmas cards on the 2oth but I came across a post on Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas on gift tags and thought these would be fun – and they could make more of them then if we made Christmas cards.  The 2oth was also the day of Kaitlyn’s mini recital in her piano class and the dress rehearsal for the school concert so we had Kaitlyn’s friend Maggie over for the afternoon.  We had an hour break between the two events so this was a good time for all 3 girls to make their gift tags.  I decided we would try 4 that were all painted: finger print Christmas trees, finger print Rudolph, finger print wreath and painted candy canes.

I set the girls up with one design at a time and gave them just a bit of instruction.  They were very creative and I was amazed how determined Eileen was to do hers all by herself.  I was bit nervous as I only had green acrylic paint but I have never seen her paint so neatly before.  They were not quite dry in time so Kaitlyn finished Maggie’s for her but they all turned out pretty cute.  These could easily be done with an entire Kindergarten class.









Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

The Snow Bear

The one book that we missed before Christmas was The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss which was suppose to be on Saturday, December 17th. If we had to miss one this one was a good one as it is not specifically a Christmas book but more a winter book.

This is the story of a little bear who can not find his mommy.  He decides to make a Mommy Bear out of snow while he waits for his real mommy.  As he is building other young animals in the forest come out to help him build his snow bear.  A cute tale of compassion that would have worked nicely with my class in November (will keep it in mind for next year).

My initial plan was to build snowmen as an activity for this book but it has been a very warm winter so far.  We actually just got our first good snowfall today (and it wasn’t even that much snow).  I have been looking for a good craft to do with the girls and then came across pom pom snowmen on Mom on Timeout.  My mom was over yesterday so I thought it would be a good time to tackle this craft, as it required one on one attention with the girls.  We started by making our pom poms.  The key was to not have the girls cut off circulation in their fingers.

Since we were using little fingers we made 2, 3, and 4 finger pom poms. Then I trimmed them down to make them increasing in sizes.  We left enough wool to tie the three balls together.  I do not crochet so my mom made each of them a cute little hat.  We used goggly eyes for the eyes, foam for the nose and jewels from our craft box for the buttons.  I pulled out my Christmas ribbon and they each made a scarf.  I made sure to hot glue on the hats so they will stay on for when we put them on the tree next year (ours came down today).  I think they turned out pretty cute.  This was not a difficult craft to do but does need one on one attention if children are making their own pom poms.

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

Candy Christmas Wreath

On Wedneday, December 14th our book was Dav Pilkey’s Dragon’s Merry Christmas.

This book has three short stories on Dragon’s Christmas adventures: The Perfect Christmas Tree, The Candy Wreath, Mittens and Merry Christmas, Dragon.  I read the girls the first two stories before craft and Daddy read them the last two before bed.  To be honest I picked this book because I thought it would be fun for us to try and make a candy wreath.

These proved to be a much more difficult venture than I had originally thought.  We live in a small town, without any big craft stores, so finding a wreath form took a bit of work.  I checked all the dollar stores along with Walmart and Zellers but ended up finding one, the very last one, at a flower shop. It was a 14″ inch green, hard, foam, wreath.  I had planned on making a smaller one but took what I could get.  I also purchased 5 bags of candy at the dollar store.  We never plan on eating our wreath so we picked based on the colour of wrapper.  I picked up a lot so I wouldn’t run out which was a wise decision as we used almost all of it.









We decided the girls would put the candy on the top flat part of the wreath, so they could use the normal craft glue and Mommy would be responsible for the sides (inside and outside) with the hot glue gun.  This worked pretty well, as the sides would not have stuck with white glue.  It would be interesting to try it with different types of wreath forms to see what would stick best.  After all the candy was glued on I made a bow and hot glued it on as well.

I think it turned out pretty cool.  Gord even liked it (sincerely) and that is unusually for our craft creations!

Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

A Fancy Christmas

One of the series that many little girls love is Fancy Nancy.  Last year for Christmas Kaitlyn recieved Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas.

Nancy’s favourite time of year is Christmas because everything that is normally dull and boring becomes fancy.  Last summer she spent all of her birthday money to buy the most extravagant and fancy topper for the Christmas tree and finally can put it on the top of the tree.  While waiting for Grandpa to arrive she is playing with her dog and they accidently knock over the tree breaking the angel.  Nancy is devastated but then Grandpa helps her make a new special ornament that can become a family heirloom.  A cute story with familiar characters and a good message about family traiditions.

The activity for this one was very obvious.  I got a large variety of items out of our craft bins, everything from pipcleaners and pom poms, to paint, plates and every sticky, sparkling or sticker that we have.  First the girls painted their paper plates (both sides) and then I let them loose to decorate them.  The only thing they needed help with were making the holes for the pipecleaners and ribbon (which are difficult to see in the pictures. Kaitlyn’s is a star and Eileen decided her was a face.

Posted in Books, Cooking with the Kiddies, Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures

Our Ginger Home

When I was shopping at the end of November I picked up Home For Christmas not realizing it is the newest book by Jan Brett.  I knew it was a Jan Brett but didn’t notice the 2011 publication date.  I hadn’t even read the book but decided it would be good for the 8th day of December when we were to decorate our Gingerbread House.

This is the tale of a young and carefree troll named Rollo who still has his tale, because trolls only loose their tail if they are kind.  Always doing whatever he wants Rollo leaves home and on his journey spends time with different animal families throughout the year.  No matter what he does he just doesn’t seem to fit in with any of the animals for very long, and ends up back at home, a changed troll, just in time for Christmas.  We read through it for simple enjoyment, and loved taking in Brett’s pictures but their are so many literacy and character connection that can be made.  As with all of Brett’s book the illustrations are perfect for helping children predict what is coming up next in the story, and inferring what the characters are feeling and thinking.

This was to be a fun activity so I didn’t want to get too serious – on to the Gingerbread house.  Now we do a Gingerbread house from scratch every year and it is a 3 day adventure.  A number of years ago I found a great site that gave a perfect outline and template for making a gingerbread house.  I printed it off and we use the same recipe every year.  The first year I made templates for the shapes and a board for the house, which are put back into one of our many Christmas boxes after the holidays to be brought out the next year.  On day 1 I bake the house and sometimes get a bit of help from the girls.  I always have lots of dough left over and make Gingerbread Men out of the leftovers.  Sometimes I make the stained glass windows using lifesavers (if I remember before baking) and this year the girls loved crushing the lifesavers.

On day 2 I assemble the house.  I use books and pop cans to help prop up the pieces.  This is an activity for after the kids have gone to bed!

Day 3, which fell on December 8th this year, is the fun day – it is decorating day.  I took Kaitlyn to the grocery store bulk section and let her pick out a variety of candies.   We we everything up on the table and decorated!

Mommy’s job is to put the icing on and the girls are responsible for decorating.  This is the first year I pretty much did none of the decorating.  Kaitlyn is very much into hearts so she put a large heart on each side of the roof.  Eileen pretty much ate more candy than she put on the house, but she made a good effort with creating a pattern with the M&Ms.  This year we pretty much had to decorate the house twice.  We did it Thursday afternoon before the daycare Christmas concert, but while I was getting Eileen dressed for the concert Michael crawled up on the table and ate off half of the candy (most of it he simply spit out).  I quickly cleaned up the mess the best I could and then when we got home from the concert we decorated it again.  Now it is kept well out of reach from Michael.  It has dried but I still don’t want to take any chances!