Sunday, September 29, 2013

Math Card Game for Preschoolers--War

After receiving a pack of Duck Dynasty playing cards for Trick-or-Treating last night, my 5-year-old wanted to play something right away with them. 

I remember playing the game "War" from my childhood, so this became the perfect opportunity for me to teach him how to play. Not only that, I secretly had him practice the math terms he will need to know for kindergarten! I took out the Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces until he got the hang of the game. We each got an equal amount of cards. We then each flipped up a card. I used the questions, Which card has fewer/more items?, Which number is higher/lower?,  etc. It was great for his number recognition as well. 
If we both flipped a card that was "equal", we got to play "War". (Both players place a card down and then another card up. The winner with the highest bottom card takes all six cards.)

College Logo Candle Holders

After making the Halloween jars out of tissue paper, my oldest wanted to make a Michigan State Spartan jar. So, we cut a Spartan logo out of white tissue paper and applied it on green tissue paper with Modge Podge. For the full directions, see

Crock-pot Potato Soup

This crock-pot potato soup is simple and comforting. 

1 bag of Ore-Ida frozen diced potatoes
1 box of chicken broth 
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 medium onion, diced
1 bag of real, uncured bacon bits, or any diced cooked bacon
4 oz cream cheese
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Place the potatoes, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, onion, and bacon bits in a crock-pot. This can be done on low or high-- It only takes about 4 hours on high. Plan on 6-8 hours on low.

About 30 minutes before serving, add in cream cheese and shredded cheese. Stir until melted and let simmer until ready to serve. I eat mine with oyster crackers, although crackers aren't necessary. 

Oatmeal Dinner Rolls

I have been making these dinner rolls for quite a few years, and they are always a huge hit. I originally found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine, and have since altered it to get it just the way I want it. 

2 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 Tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
5 1/2 cups flour

Start by boiling 2 1/2 cups of water. While that is reaching boiling point, combine the oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the boiling water to the oatmeal mixture. Stir and let cool for about 10 minutes (stirring occasionally to help cool it down faster). 

While that mixture is cooling, put the yeast and warm water in a separate mixing bowl. (I use my kitchen-aid stand mixer for this) 

When the oatmeal mixture is cool enough so it won't kill the yeast (about 100 degrees), add it to the yeast with 2 cups of flour. Stir until combined. 

Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time, until you get a soft dough. 

If you don't have a stand mixture and hook attachment, you will have to knead this mixture by hand for about 6 minutes on a floured surface. 

After kneading, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour. (I turn my oven on to 170 degrees for one minute and then place the bowl in the warm oven. Be sure to turn off the oven after a minute though.) 

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down and place on a lightly-floured surface. Divide it into four equal balls. Divide each of those balls into 6 equal parts (24 rolls total). Place the rolls in a greased 9X13in pan, cover with a towel, and let rise for about 30 minutes. 

Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. When browned, remove rolls to a cooling rack and spread butter over the tops while still warm. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Duck Dynasty Halloween Costume

The campground my parents camp at hosts a Halloween weekend every year. The boys decided they definitely had to dress up like The Robertsons from Duck Dynasty. They even talked their dad and grandpa into dressing up so four Robertson men were represented. 

We used the two beards we had already created for David's birthday party ( We bought two more pieces of crafting fur from Hobby Lobby and cut out two more beards. 

Using a gray sharpie, I colored in some areas of the white beards so they looked more like Si and Phil. 

Add bandanas or hats, Duck Dynasty t-shirts, and some sunglasses and the costume is complete. 

For finishing touches, David added his Duck Commander lanyard and duck call and gave Grandpa (Si) his Si tea cup. 

Halloween Jars

This Halloween project is a lot of fun for the whole family. All you need is a clear jar, some tissue paper, and modge podge (Modge podge can be purchased at Wal-Mart or crafting stores. I have made my own and tried it on the jars, but it doesn't work as well--the tissue paper wrinkles a lot more with the homemade modge podge.) 

Start by cutting your tissue paper in about 3 inch strips. If you try to paste too big of a piece of tissue paper on the jar it will wrinkle. 

Spread modge podge on the jar. I used foam paint brushes for this application. Place the strips of tissue paper on the modge podge. Spread on another layer of modge podge over the tissue paper. For the faces, cut shapes out of a different color of tissue paper and apply those with modge podge as well. After it drys, you can tie ribbon around the top for an added accent if you like. 
They look really neat at night with a tea light lit in the bottom of the jar. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Tree Painting

Start by cutting off strips and half-strips of masking tape. The kids placed their "branches" where they wanted them to go on their trees. The smaller pieces of tape you use, the better. They will come off a lot easier when you remove them. 
 Then we used a small foam brush to paint the paper. We used orange, yellow, red, and green paint.
When they are done painting, let the picture dry. 

Take the masking tape off when the picture is dry. 

Paper and Sticker Craft

Sometimes the crafts my kids are the most proud of are the ones that require no planning and little time. Last night, my five-year-old really wanted to use the new baseball stickers he picked out from Michael's this weekend. He found a piece of scrapbook paper, we added the stickers to the paper, and wrote "Go Tigers" on it. He was so excited to show off his poster. It is important to know that doing a little activity with your kids each night does not have to be time consuming or require a lot of supplies. Let them use their imagination and they will surprise you with their ideas.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Duct Tape Roads

Using black duct tape, the kids created a city that provided hours of fun. They stuck the tape on our laminate floor and drew on white lines with chalk.

 We added a few of our old crafts to make it look more like a city. Below is our brown paper bag house on scrapbook paper. We also put up the three-ring binder dollhouse rooms around the town.
This was a great activity the whole family could do together.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Today, September 23rd, is National "Family Day". To celebrate, we decided to bake a dessert together. 

After seeing some posts on Facebook for pumpkin pie cupcakes, we thought this would be a perfect 
recipe for us to do together. We changed a few of the ingredients to make this a little more like a 
cupcake than a pie, and we were all pleased with the results. 

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 (heaping) teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 (heaping) teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix pumpkin, sugars, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla in a bowl with a hand-mixer. Add flour, salt, baking
soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Blend until incorporated. 
Spray foil liners with cooking spray and pour the batter in the liners. If you don't have foil liners, just spray 
the muffin tin, but don't use paper liners. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

 Top with whipped cream if you would like. They are great plain too.

Apple Cider Pound Cake

I had some leftover apple cider from our trip to the apple orchard this weekend, so I decided to try this Taste of Home recipe. It is incredibly moist and was loved by all members of the family! 

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup apple cider
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. Spray the paper with cooking spray. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add about a quarter of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Then add a quarter of the apple cider to the bowl. Continue alternating the flour and cider to the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. 

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Then remove bread from pan to a cooling rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, mix powdered sugar and cider in a small bowl and pour the glaze over the bread. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins or Cupcakes

This recipe will work either as banana chocolate chip muffins or cupcakes. They are extremely moist and are excellent with or without frosting. 

1 stick butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (can substitute with 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tablespoon vinegar) 
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time. Add mashed bananas and vanilla. Mix with mixer on medium-high speed. 

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. 

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Then add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Continue alternating between the flour and buttermilk, beating well after each addition. 

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. 

Can be frosted and served as cupcakes. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paper Plate Football Helmet

We saw a picture of something like this on Pinterest the other day, so we decided to create one to match David's favorite team.

Simply take one paper plate and cut it in half. Cut little slits in the plate to resemble a face mask.
Using another paper plate, paint the outside of the full paper plate for the helmet.
Next, paint the face mask. Then, have your child draw eyes and a mouth on the large paper plate. When the paint is dry, glue the face mask to the large paper plate.

Halloween Sensory Box

This is our Halloween sensory box from last year. It stored very well and the kids really enjoyed getting it out with the rest of our Halloween decorations. The base is dry black beans. The other things placed in here are fall items that can be found at the dollar store--erasers, little pumpkins, stickers, plastic leaves, etc. With this box, we have a silicone pumpkin tray. The kids play sorting and counting games with this sensory box. For example, I will tell them to find as many candy corn erasers as they can and then count how many they found. Other things we have done are to sort through and pull out anything purple, or find 5 cat erasers, etc. 

Space Sensory Box

My 5-year-old has been wanting to make a space sensory box for quite a while now. With his Grandma's help, he found all the necessary components to make his own sensory box. (Grandma was able to find lots of space items from Oriental Trading for him.)

The base of this sensory box is what we call moon sand...This is a mixture of two ingredients: flour and baby oil. For a large batch of moon sand, mix 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. 

We also placed our galaxy playdough ( in the box. It works very well to hold the rockets, flags, and people into place while he is playing. The green pebbles are glow-in-the-dark pebbles I found online. For a final touch, we placed planet and galaxy stickers around the bin. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Football Hand and Footprint Craft

Here is another one of our football crafts. I used a piece of scrapbook paper, brown paper, and white paint for this craft. We cut out a football shape from the brown paper and glued it to the scrapbook paper.  David dipped his hands in white paint and placed it on the paper. Then we dipped his foot in the paint and placed it on the football. 

Galaxy Play Dough

We are getting things together for a space sensory bin.  While searching for space things, we came across a recipe for galaxy play dough. It turned out really well and the kids had a great time! 

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tarter
2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 bottle black food coloring (I also added some blue food coloring) 
Heat water, food coloring, and oil in a pan on medium-high heat.

While it is heating, mix together the flour, salt, and cream of tarter. Add the flour to the liquid mixture and stir. 

Stir until it thickens. 

Remove from heat and place on the counter. After it cools for about 5 minutes, knead the dough. Sprinkle glitter on the dough and let the kids knead the glitter into the dough. We used purple, gold, blue, and silver glitter. Store in a plastic bag. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

I had some pumpkin left from the cookies we made earlier today, so my five-year-old thought it would be a good idea to turn it into pumpkin pancakes for dinner. How do you argue with that!

We used a Food Network recipe to create these amazing pancakes.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk the milk, pumpkin, butter, and eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
 Add the flour to the liquid mixture. Whisk until just combined.
 Pour on a hot skilled and cook both sides until golden brown.
Serve with your favorite syrup. 

Pumpkin Cookies

We tried another fall recipe today, and it received rave reviews by everyone. These cookies are like a portable pumpkin cake. I adapted this recipe from a Food Network recipe.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the softened butter and sugar together with a mixer. 

Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Beat until mixed. 

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Stir with a spoon until combined. 

Drop rounded tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 11-12 minutes. 

After baking, move cookies to a cooling rack. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon milk. Spread the glaze over the cookies.