Archive for June, 2011

Play Dough Recipe

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I was asked what my recipe for play dough is and I have to admit, that my favorite recipe is the one that I made every other week all school year long for our awesome preschool.  The thing that makes this recipe great is the cream of tartar, which keeps it pliable and moist longer.  I buy it in the bulk section at Winco, where it is super cheap (don’t buy the small little bottles in the spice section– that’s a racket!).  I have had play dough, with normal family use, last for over six months just in a Ziplock bag.

2 C. flour

2 C. water

1 C. salt

1/4 C. vegetable oil

4 t. cream of tartar

Food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot.  Add the food coloring to the desired color before cooking.  Cook at medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom as you go.  When it is ready it will ball up and will no longer be sticky to the touch.  Turn out onto a surface and knead until pliable.  Let cool and store in an air tight container.

P.S.  The picture has nothing to do with  play dough, I know, but I just loved it. 😉

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Rainbow Birthday Party!!

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My big girl is turning four!  It seems impossible that I have such a grown up little girl now.  She has definitely become quite the little person, telling jokes, getting into mischief, and having fun.  After she proclaimed that she wanted to “be a rainbow in the sky” when she grows up, we decided to have a rainbow birthday party.  Here is a pictorial account of the event.

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Rainbow balloon garland~ Each guest got to take a balloon home with them
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Rainbow fruit platter with peanut butter chocolate dipping sauce~ we also had rainbow pasta with various sauces for dinner
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Fruit loop necklaces in rainbow colors
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Rainbow Mobiles made with glue sticks, tissue paper strips, and paper plates cut in half
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Nancy, loving the extra ribbons from all the balloons
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Rainbow cake and rainbow sherbert
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The birthday girl eating her cake~ so good she had to twirl her hair!

Summer Art Play Date #2

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We had our second art play date this week (see our first art playdate here!).  It was supposed to be Monday, but was rained out and changed to a cloudy, cold, but fun Thursday.  We had two great experiential art activities, more bug hunting, more play dough, and awesome friends over!

Clean White Mud

We made up a giant batch of clean mud in the little kiddie pool (which, incidentally, helpfully cleaned all the residual paint off of it from the giant ball painting).   I used this recipe from Disney Family Fun magazine (which is like my ultimate favorite magazine, by the way) and just made a giant batch.  Below are the ingredients and directions for the size I made; follow the  aforementioned link if you want a more reasonable amount.
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1)  Grate three 3.1 ounce bars of Ivory soap ($1 at Dollar Tree!) into a kiddie pool.  Ask your little friends to help you, but you will probably end up doing most of it yourself as they will find step two much easier.

2)  Unravel nine rolls of two-ply toilet paper (four rolls for a dollar at Dollar Tree) and rip it into two to three square pieces.  Even the babies loved this step!

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3)  Add two and a half gallons of warm water and mix, mix, mix with your hands. If needed, add more toilet paper until you get a fun, smooshy consistency.
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4) Add some sand castle building molds, buckets, shovels, etc. and have fun!
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Coffee Filter Spray Art


This activity was a huge hit especially with the toddler set. They just love being able to use markers. We didn’t get a huge number of pictures of this activity, but it was fun none the less. We simply put out washable markers and used them to draw all over coffee filters. Then we sprayed the pictures with water from a spray bottle and watched what happened. Then we hung them up to dry. Its all about the experience, here, not the finished product!
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Backyard Treasure Hunt!

We needed an activity to do yesterday and so Clara got to pull her first popsicle stick out of the Summer Fun Ideas jar!  She was super excited.  I was super glad that she didn’t pull out any of the water play activities as it was really cold yesterday.  But, treasure hunt I could manage.

About a year ago (make that two years ago, according to my Shutterfly account), I took close up pictures of places in our yard, printed them out, and then promptly forgot about them.  I meant to do this treasure hunt earlier.  But, when Clara pulled out the stick, I was finally motivated.  I hid the pictures as the “clues” all around the yard, leading to the barbecue at the end where I had hidden a little snack (fruit snacks, which we NEVER have) as the “treasure.”

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The pictures, since they were close ups, were just hard enough that they had to be figured out, but not so hard that they were impossible.  We had to prompt them a little bit to think, but by the third clue they were off and running on their own, pretty much.  The barbecue was actually the hardest clue for them to figure out since they are not usually allowed to touch the barbecue (for obvious reasons) and so its out of sight, out of mind.

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Summer Art Play Date #1

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We had our first summer art play date here on Monday!  It was awesome.  We had fifteen of our best kid friends over and did two different kinds of messy painting in the back yard.  I started this series of play dates for this summer as a way to fill in the vacuum of activities left from preschool being out for the summer.  The hope is to create fun, messy outdoor arts/crafts for kids from one to four years old to participate in all together as well as just to play and hang out with friends.  I’m going to try to post here after each play date.  We’ll see if I can keep up! 😉  The plan is to do two or three craft activities at each play date. Monday we did some fly swatter painting and giant golf ball painting.

Fly Swatter Painting

This idea came from the awesome blog, Teacher Tom, who is an incredible co-op preschool teacher and champion of play as a learning tool.  If you haven’t checked out this blog and you love a preschooler, you really should stop by.  I love Tom’s philosophy of early childhood.  All you will need for your own fly swatter painting are some fly swatters, some tempera paint, and some paper.  I put cardboard down on the grass to collect extra paint and I put the paint in pie plates (which will have another purpose later in the summer, I promise).  That’s it.  Some of the kids were into smacking with the fly swatter, some smearing with it, and Nancy gave up the fly swatter almost immediately and just rubbed her hands in all of the paint.
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Giant Golf Ball Painting
This idea came from Pink and Green Mama, whose blog I also adore.  She has an art teacher background which is something that I don’t have, so her ideas usually turn out much prettier than mine, but she also has the teacher sensibility in the way she blogs and comes up with projects.  The idea of art playdates came from her as well as she did something similar last summer. 

All this project requires is a wading pool, tempera paint, golf balls, some bowls and spoons (I used recycled single-serve applesauce cups and plastic spoons), and some newspaper.  Line the bottom of the pool with newspaper.  Mix the balls around in the paint in the bowls with the spoons.  Have the kids dump the balls in the pool and roll them around as a group.  This was, surprisingly, an awesome teamwork activity and Clara’s favorite part of the whole day.
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Besides these two art activities, we also had play dough out on the kiddy picnic table, balls, the playhouse, the baby swing, slide, and plenty of room to run around. Our friends brought snacks to share with everyone. The morning ended with everyone grabbing a bucket for an impromptu bug and slug hunt. The chickens were grateful when I dumped all the buckets into the run.  Can’t wait for the next play date!

Hand print bag

This is a belated Mother’s day present idea since we didn’t get to give my mom her present until she got home from Hawaii.  This is what we made for her!  I think she liked it.
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It’s just a canvas grocery bag that I used fabric paint to make   flowers from all of the grand kids on. One side for each set of two. 😉
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Oddly enough, Nancy was the most patient of all the kids. who would have thought it.
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Garden/Foster Farm Update

The rain has finally subsided for a few days!  I am overjoyed!  So overjoyed that I actually acquiesced to a bike ride with the hubby and kids (in the bike trailer) today.  It was beautiful.  If only it was summer in Portland all the time.

Anyway, this was a garden update!  I was talking to a friend the other day, as we played in the park on a rather partly cloudy and sixty-five degree day, that maybe this year isn’t quite as bad as last year as far as rain goes.  My roses are not molding.  But, it is rose festival time and do I have even one rose blossom?  Not a one.  So, they aren’t moldy, but they are just non-existent.  But, the irises are coming in!  Remember that we planted a TON of irises last year after the birth of Miss Nancy Iris?  Here’s the first of them about to bloom!  I’m so excited to see them.  I don’t even remember what colors we planted!
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I have pretty much all of my vegetables in the garden now. There are carrots (seedlings are just starting to show up), kale (a new veggie… I’m hoping to make kale chips that the girls will love), brussels sprouts, swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers, squashes, zucchini, pumpkins, green and yellow beans, and Clara also convinced me to plant corn, which should be exciting. I got rid of all of my sunflowers last year because they were a pain in the butt to try to keep standing come late summer, but preschool sent home some seeds to plant, so I guess we’ll have some of those as well. I also planted some peas and tomato plants around the patio, in hopes that the hotter spot will get me more tomatoes (although it can’t get much worse than last year).
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Oh! And my chives are back and blooming. I just love chive blossoms.
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The chickens are finally all living together outside in the hen house. It was a little rocky there for a while. I had the little chicks in a chicken annex run outside every day for a month before I actually tried to put them all together. The first time didn’t take. Curry tried to peck their eyes out. So then I let them free range together for a few days and finally just locked them all together at night fall. They survived. And it only took a month of that for the big chickens to let the little ones roost near them.
Here’s Clucky, a beautiful Americauna. I just love her coloring.
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And here’s Sugar, a Buff Orpington.
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And the big girls, Buffalo, an Australorp, and Curry, a Buff Orpington.
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