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Monday, December 15, 2014

Cornstarch and Baking Soda Ornaments

We made cinnamon ornaments last year, so we wanted to try something different. I found this recipe online:

2 cups baking soda
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water

Whisk the ingredients together in a large pot until smooth. Heat on medium heat (I had my stove between 5 and 6.)

Continue stirring constantly until the mixture changes consistency. 

Pull from the heat when it forms a dough, as shown below. It took about 12 minutes. 

When it is cool enough to touch (a couple of minutes), place the ball of dough on a table covered with a light layer of cornstarch. 

Place a damp towel over the dough ball, until it is cooled. 

When the dough is cooled, roll it out on a piece of wax paper. Roll the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut out shapes with your cookie cutter. 

We wrote names and the year with a toothpick on some of the ornaments. Then we used a skewer to poke a hole in the top. 

Place the ornaments on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 175 degrees for 50 minutes. Flip the ornaments. (It is cool enough in the oven to flip with your hands.) Bake for about another 50 minutes, or until the ornaments are no longer spongy. 

The final step is to paint the ornaments if you would like. We used Sharpie markers. Tie a ribbon through the skewer hole. 

Baby Jesus Ornament

This is a simple craft that doesn't take a long time to make. We painted 5 popsicle sticks (per kid) yellow. Then I hot glued them together. The kids drew a face on brown construction paper and wrapped the paper with white felt. Then we glued down some moss on the star and glued baby Jesus to the moss. We tied a ribbon around the top to hang it on the tree. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gingerbread Stadium

We wanted to make a unique gingerbread house today. As we thought about ideas, we decided that the boys' favorite things involve sports, so why not make a stadium. 

We made the gingerbread dough first (I got a recipe from 

6 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon water

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. 
Using a mixer, beat the brown sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water. 

Add half of the flour mixture to the molasses mixture. Beat until well combined. 

Add the remaining flour mixture and knead with your hands or the dough hook of a mixer. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to the size you need for your stadium. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. I rolled two pieces 4 inches wide by about 14 inches long for the long sides of the stadium. The short sides were 4x8 and the field was 3x11. (Or close to that.) I made goal posts out of scrap dough. It was a lot easier to have the entire goal post constructed, as opposed to constructing the post after they were baked. I also did some mini gingerbread men and some mini footballs with the scrap dough.  Bake the dough for 8-11 minutes on a greased cookie sheet, or until it starts to brown. Let cool before constructing. 

For the icing, I mixed two egg whites with 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Whisk that until it is smooth. Then add another 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat with a mixer on high speed until you get the consistency you want. You may need to add a little more powdered sugar. 

I decorated the field before placing it insde the stadium.

 I glued the pieces of the stadium together with the frosting and put it on a cookie sheet pan covered with tin foil. Make sure you put frosting on the bottom of the walls so they attach to the tin foil for extra support. 

I used a grass tip and colored some of the white frosting green for the field. Then, I colored a little frosting blue and drew on a lion and colored the end zones. I added white accents with a line decorating tip. I cut out little slots on the end to stick the field goal posts. 

We added the footballs and gingerbread players to the field. Then we placed the field inside the stadium. 

I was going to attach marshmallows to the sides of the stadium to resemble people, but it didn't look good, so I settled for the frosting dots the marshmallows made on the walls. Then I attached the goal posts with frosting. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Plastic Bulb Ornaments

The possibilities are endless with plastic ornaments. For this one, we filled it with fake snow and added a penguin sticker to the front. 
We wrote the date on the back with puffy paint and hot glued a piece of ribbon to the top. 

Button Christmas Trees

For this craft, I cut a tree out of green cardstock.

Then the kids glued on buttons for the ornaments and lights. 
We found mini bows at the dollar store to be used for a tree topper. 

We finished it by gluing on a brown trunk.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lemon Sugar Cookies

5 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 drops lemon essential oil

Glaze Frosting: 
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons milk
1-2 drops lemon essential oil

Mix the flour, soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and sour cream together. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the flour mixture. Chill the dough for a couple of hours. 

Drop about a Tablespoon of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Cool on wax paper. Mix the glaze and frost the cookies. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Grinch Cookies

The kids were in a baking mood tonight and wanted to learn how to crack eggs. So, we decided to throw together some cake mix cookies and make them look like Grinch cookies. 

I had a cherry chip cake mix, so that is what we used. You could use any light colored cake mix. 

1 cake mix (cherry chip or vanilla would probably work best)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
green food gel
red heart sprinkles

Mix the cake mix, oil, eggs, and food gel together. 
I let it sit in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes while I waited for the oven to preheat. 

Then scoop about a tablespoon of the dough onto a greased cake pan. Place a red heart sprinkle in the cookie. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Tree Brownies

David found a picture of these on the frosting container and decided he wanted them for his snack day contribution. 

We made two batches of brownies in 9x13 inch sheet cake pans. I always add a little bit of caramel topping to my brownies before I bake them. They are extra gooey when I do this. 
After they cooled, I cut them into triangles. I got 18 triangles out of each pan. I am sure there was probably an easier way to cut them, but the kids enjoyed having the "brownie scraps". 

Then we added green frosting and sprinkles to the top of the brownie triangles. The finishing touch was half of a pretzel stick for the bottom. 

Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree

Another of our 25 Days of Christmas Crafts was this popsicle stick tree. We cut the popsicle sticks in different shapes. Then we painted them green and let them dry. We glued the smaller pieces to a large popsicle stick and attached some jewels and stickers for decorations. 

Paint Sample Christmas Tree

This is one of our 25 Days of Christmas Crafts. The larger paint samples would work better, but our local stores only had the skinny paint samples, so we cut two of them and glued them together. Then we glued on a piece of brown paint sample and puff ball decorations and stickers. 

Sense of Smell and Touch Christmas Activity

I got the chance to work with the kids in my son's classroom last week. I found this idea online and transformed it to fit kindergartners. I lead one of the centers the kids worked through. I had 20 minutes with each group of about 5 students. 

For the prep work the night before, I started by making some stockings. I cut pieces of red and green felt as shown below. Then I sewed on some cotton balls across the top. 

I sewed the stocking together so the top opened. I found Christmas-related items to place in the stockings. The kids had to feel what was inside and make a guess using their sense of touch. I put a toy car, a stuffed animal, a piece of an artificial Christmas tree, Sands Alive (fake snow), a candy cane, and some coal. (I found bags of candy coal at Meijer. This was the kids' favorite item because I had enough pieces of coal to give all of them when we were done :)) 
I wrote A, B, C, D, E, and F on the front of the stockings with a fabric marker. (See in the final picture at the bottom of the post.)

These are the worksheets I made to go with this part of the project. The kids drew what they thought was inside, and if they were able, they wrote it on the lines below. 

It was a lot of fun seeing the wonder on the kids' faces. 

Then we worked on their sense of smell. 

I created fake chimneys to place the scents in. 
I started by attaching scrapbook paper to toilet paper rolls (I did this with hot glue.)

Then I hot glued a piece of tin foil to the bottom of the roll. To help deter the "peeking" I added a piece of brown tulle to the top. I also glued on a piece of construction paper that had the numbers 1-6 on the rolls. The smells I used were an orange, cinnamon sticks, peppermint, pine, chocolate, and marshmallows. The marshmallows were hard for the kids to identify. I would probably do a cookie or something like that if I did it again.

This is the worksheet I created for the chimneys. The kids filled this out like the stocking sheets. The final sheet was a conclusion page for us to discuss together. It asked them how many smells and feels they guessed correctly and then which one was their favorite. 

The smell activity was definitely a little harder than the touch exercise, but the kids really had a lot of fun guessing.  

These are the finished stockings and chimneys. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I found this recipe from Taste of Home. I altered their frosting a little bit though.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves

1 8 oz cream cheese (softened) 
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 can pumpkin, 1 cup oil, and four eggs in a bowl. 

In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp cloves. Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. 

Add the batter to a greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Set on a cooling rack until completely cooled. 

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, and 2 tsp vanilla with a mixer.  Add the 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. We added some candy pumpkins for decoration. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Sugar Cookies

I cheated a little bit with these cookies. I started with a sugar cookie mix so I didn't have to wait for the dough to chill. Anyway, after the cookies were cooled, I added a Reese's peanut butter cup for the head. I secured it with a little bit of frosting on the bottom of the peanut butter cup. Then I added the yellow, orange, and red frosting with a star tip. I added legs with a line tip. 

These could be done at this stage if you want it to look like the back of the turkey :) 

I added eyes, a beak, and a gobbler with the line tip. 

I made the ones below with chocolate discs insted of peanut butter cups incase anyone couldn't have peanut butter. I secured two discs together with frosting.