Saturday, August 31, 2013

Painting with Vegetables

I found some vegetables that were a little beyond their "usable" state, so we created an activity with them. 

We used a radish, parsnip, brussel sprouts, and celery. I gave each of the kids their own plates with paint and they dipped and painted as they saw fit. They even peeled off some of the layers of the brussel sprouts and painted with those. We used a rubber band to tie the celery together to make flower-like patterns. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Back to School" Summer Olympics

As summer winds down, we are busy cramming in as many activities as we possibly can.

We wanted to get together with our summer play group at least one more time, so we planned a "Back to School" Summer Olympics. It was a busy day, but the kids had a lot of fun. Here is a breakdown of how the day went.

We kicked off the celebration with an opening ceremony. Each of the kids got a "torch".

To make the torches, I cut strips of red, orange, and yellow tissue paper. Each torch had three strips (one of each color) folded in half and placed in the cardstock holder.
 The cardstock holder is just a white piece of cardstock rolled up and stapled at the bottom.

We stood outside in front of the games, held our torches, and blasted a confetti blaster (bought for $2 at the party section of Wal Mart.)

Then we had lunch...We tried to incorporate a "ring" or circle theme for our Olympic party. I made a taco ring ( and a BBQ chicken ring. (Rotisserie chicken, barbeque sauce, and shredded cheese in crescent rolls)

I made up a sandwich platter as well. Using Texas toast and a circle cookie cutter, I made circle sandwich bread. I also cut the cheese with the same cookie cutter.

We also had circle pretzels, peach and apple rings, and apple donut holes.

 To create the apple donut holes, I bought unglazed donut holes, rolled them in my own glaze (1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 2 Tbls. milk) and rolled them in colored sugar. The stem is a tootsie roll broken up and molded to resemble a stem. I cut a green chocolate melting disc into four pieces to represent a leaf.

Also on the food table is an Olympic ring pretzel brought by one of the moms, and shaped fruit kabobs.
As one of our activities, another mom brought circle sugar cookies. The kids each got a frosted cookie and decorated their own "medal" with gold sprinkles and gold spray. We also brought out other colored sprinkles and let the kids add any colors they wanted.
Another activity the kids could do inside was create their own pencil holder. This is just a colored toilet paper roll with the ends cut and folded up. (I was lucky enough to find these at Michael's. Regular toilet paper rolls could be covered with paper or painted.) The kids put stickers on them, wrote their names, and drew on them with crayons and markers.

The outside activities were a big hit. We set up an obstacle course for the first game. Most of the games came from my daycare provider. She had accumulated these things over the years when she did these games at daycare. I did find some games at Party City and random things from garage sales.
The obstacle course started with a tunnel to crawl through, a sack to jump in, a hurdle to jump over, another sack to jump in, and to win, the contestant had to throw a bean bag from their own hula hoop into the basket at the end.  
The next game was an egg/spoon relay.
The kids really seemed to enjoy the parachute. They played a Red Rover game with it and a popcorn game. (ball placed on top of it)
We also had a little duck pond. These were Olympic glow-in-the-dark ducks placed in water. I drew different colored stars on the bottom of the ducks. There were prizes in the house placed on colored construction paper. The kids matched up the color on their duck to the paper in the house. They picked a prize located on that color of construction paper.
What seemed to be their favorite activity was the watermelon eating contest.
To finish the festivities, each of the kids were awarded a trophy, medal, and ribbon to take home. (I found these on Amazon)
 It was a beautiful day. We had a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beach Day Frame

We went to the beach yesterday for a picnic and came across some pretty cool rocks and shells. To keep the rocks and shells safe, we created a beach frame.  We used a gallon size ziploc bag, water scrapbook paper, glue, cardstock for a border, sand, stickers, and shells. 

Start by putting about 1/3 cup of sand in the bag. Add your rocks and shells. Seal the bag so there isn't any air in the bag. 

Fold the top of the bag over the scrapbook paper., gluing the top of the bag to the back of the paper. Cut strips of cardstock to be used as a border. 

Glue the strips around the bag and trim the excess scrapbook paper. 

 We wrote the date and location on the frame and decorated it with stickers. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dog Days of Summer Activity Wall

For the last couple of weeks of summer vacation, we created a "Dog Days of Summer" activity wall. I just drew a dog house on large white paper and painted it with tempera paint. I found dog shape cut-outs at the Dollar Tree. Each dog and bone has an activity written on it. Every day we will pick a dog "activity" to place in the dog house. 

The activities we chose were: Go to the beach, Go on a picnic, Summer photo shoot, Sun paper craft, Clothespin animals, Celebrate Cupcake Day on Aug. 20th, Do a science experiment, Scuba diver craft, Make musical instruments, Make beach frames, Giant ice cube dig, Build indoor fort. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apple Pull-Apart Bread

This is an old recipe I found quite a few years ago and make quite often. It takes a few steps and some time, but is amazing when it comes out of the oven! 

1 Tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
1 egg
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons hot water

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. (I just heat the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds.) Add 2 tablespoons butter, egg, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Slowly add remaining flour and knead with mixer for 6-8 minutes. (If you don't have a mixer, knead by hand on a floured surface.) 
 Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. 
When doubled, punch dough down and separate in half. Then separate each half into 16 pieces--you will have 32 pieces in all when done. 

 Meanwhile, chop your apple into small pieces and add the cinnamon and 2/3 cup sugar. Stir in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. 
 Press each piece of dough into a circle. Place about 1 teaspoon of the apple mixture on each circle. Press the edges together and dip the ball in melted butter. Place 16 of the circles in a greased and floured angel food pan.
 Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the apple mixture over the first layer of 16 circles. Then make the remaining 16 circles and place on top of the first layer. (Don't forget to dip each of the balls in the melted butter.) Sprinkle any remaining apple mixture over the top layer. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes.
 Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. The picture below shows the bread inverted. You can serve it either way. Combine the icing ingredients and drizzle over the bread.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Doc McStuffin's Cake

For this cake, I split a cake mix between a 9" round pan and a small heart pan. An 8" round pan would work fine if you don't have a heart pan. 
I bought purple Pillsbury frosting and made my own teal frosting with blue, green, and red food gel. I just used a small star tip to create the border and the little star bursts around the cake. I did add some of the purple, blue, and black sprinkles that came with the frosting, although it looked cute without them too. Then I added the little Doc figures my daughter had from the Disney store. 

Painting Activities

These are extremely easy painting activities that the kids had a blast doing. We started with a piece of colored paper and some paint. We just put little blogs of paint on the paper and the kids took their brush and started swirling. 

They found that the less they swirled, the cooler their creations. They tried a red, white, and blue paint combo. 
While we had the paint out, we decided to make hand print creations. We took a small paintbrush and painted the boys hands with different colors. The boys both chose the colors that represent the local school. We did these on cardboard. I plan on putting them in a frame and doing this once a year to see how their hand prints change.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dirt Cup Treats

The theme for our library summer reading program was "Dig into Reading". For the wrap-up party at the end of the program, the kids and I made these treats for all the reading participants. For 30 clear party cups, it took 8 packages of chocolate pudding and 16 cups of milk. (I bought the pudding mix in bulk so it was a lot cheaper.) 

Then I crushed 1 1/2 packages of off-brand oreos in my blender. (Only do about 4 cookies at a time.) Use a spoon if any of the filling gets stuck in the bottom of the blender. 

I put about 2 teaspoons of crushed oreos on top of each cup. 

Then I added 2 gummy worms to each cup. For easy transporting, I put 15 cups on a baking sheet and covered the cups with Press n Seal. 

Balloon Painting

We found this idea on Pinterest. The kids had a lot of fun with it. (Their pictures ended up being pretty smeared when it was all said and done, but they had lots of laughs. It is a good thing this paint cleans up easily!) For my 2-year-old, I put 5 different colors of paint on a plate and gave her a balloon.
 For the boys, I put their paint in this try and let them mix as they wanted.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

These are my favorite cupcakes, and the reason I always have canned pumpkin in my house regardless of the time of year. 

I have done different variations of this cupcake recipe, but this one is extremely easy. The recipe comes from Libby's Pumpkin.  

1 box of spice cake mix
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water

Mix together and place in a cupcake liners and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees. 

I top mine with my perfect cupcake frosting recipe:

For my mom's 50th birthday party, I turned the cupcakes into a 50. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fun Dough

1 3/4 cup cornstarch
about 1 cup hair conditioner ( I didn't have a full cup.) 

Mix with a spoon. 

For different colors, the kids put food gel on their individual portion. Then for added textures, they put on colored sprinkles.