Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve Balloon Countdown for Kids

Here is our 3rd Annual New Year's Eve Balloon Countdown of Activities. I will post updates at the night progresses. 

4:30: Make 2016 dipping sticks from crescent rolls
5:15: Make chocolate fortune cookies
6:10: Make 2016 cheese bread
6:25: Make your own pizza or Stromboli for dinner
6:50: Decorate one cookie for Michigan State and one for 2016
7:12: Fill out the yearly questionnaire. 
7:45: Photo booth #1--Wear your favorite Michigan State attire. 
8:00: Visit the concession stand for the Michigan State game
8:25: Make pop-up fireworks
8:59: Open the surprise ball
9:28: Make fire ice cream
9:50: Play glow stick ring toss
10:18: Do the New Year's word search or color page
10:52: Photo booth #2-in Times Square
11:15: Do a 2016 painting
11:58: Silly string, balloon drop, noisemaker check 

Each surprise ball has a little toy inside an entire roll of streamer. They can't rip it. They have to unwind the entire roll. 

The cookie cakes for decoration

The Times Square banner I found at Party City. 

Glow in the dark ring toss...

Balloon drop. (This is a plastic table cloth I bought at the dollar store.)

2016 made from crescent rolls.

2016 Cheese Bread

Chocolate fortune cookies

Decorated cookies

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Buddy the Elf" Spaghetti Cupcakes

We had a "Buddy the Elf" day today. Here are the cupcakes we created instead of trying to eat real spaghetti with maple syrup and candy! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Popsicle Stick Catapult

For one of our 25 Days of Christmas activities, we made this catapult. The original pin we saw used jumbo Popsicle sticks, but I didn't have any of those. We used regular size Popsicle sticks and they worked great. I hot glued on a little disposable cup to hold the pom poms and marshmallows we were shooting. The kids had a blast! 

Make sure the rubber band that hold the two sticks in the front together isn't too tight. There are 8 Popsicle sticks in the middle bunch. The green one that you see in the picture is stuck between the bottom two sticks from the pile of eight. 

Microwavable Hot Chocolate Play Dough

We turned our microwavable play dough recipe into hot chocolate play dough. I started by mixing 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp cream of tarter, 2 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp vanilla, and the contents of 3 k-cup hot chocolates. (Cocoa would work too if you don't have hot chocolate on hand.) I added a couple of drops of brown food coloring to darken it even more. 

Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another minute. Stir. Continue the process until most of the moisture is absorbed. It took 4 minutes and 30 seconds total before I pulled mine out and started kneading it. (It will be hot. Make sure you let it cool before the kids play with it.) 
They had a great time adding "marshmallows" and having a little hot chocolate party. 

Throw the Snowball Cardboard Game

The kids turned our Charlie Brown board into a ball throwing game, so I decided to make them a snowball game out of another tri-fold display board. We have some fake snowballs that work perfectly for this. I just drew on the figures with pencil, outlined them with Sharpie, and painted in the details. I let the kids decide how many points they get for each location. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Peanuts (Charlie Brown) Photo Board

For the Peanuts 50th Anniversary special tomorrow night, we decided to create a photo board of our favorite Peanuts characters. I started with a tri-fold display board and free-hand drew the characters with pencil. Then I outlined the characters with black Sharpie. I painted most of the characters with acrylic paint. (Although, I did some of it with Sharpie.)

Rachel's favorite character is the little red-haired girl, so we had to incorporate her somehow. (So, Charlie Brown is thinking about her.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gingerbread Arena (The Palace)

After turning Ford Field into a Gingerbread Stadium last year (, the boys decided we had to try the Detroit Piston's arena. Making gingerbread houses is a lot easier than I thought it would be, and for the sports' enthusiasts in our house, this is a perfect recipe you won't find in a kit at the stores. 

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 did two longer sides, two smaller sides, a court, and two basketball hoops with stands and backboards. We also did mini gingerbread men for the players.  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 on the court and the stands, 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. 

For decorating the players and anything else that is red or blue, I mixed 1 cup of crisco, 4 cups of powdered sugar, and 4 Tbsp milk. 

The court...

David's favorite part was helping with the roster. 

Here is last year's stadium. I am guessing Comerica Park will be next year :) 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Preschool Centers for the Home

Because we weren't able to get Rachel into a formal preschool program this year, Grandma Ruth has dedicated two days a week to bringing "preschool" to Rachel.. On the weekends, we like to lay out all the activities Grandma has brought, along with some of our own,  on the living room floor so Rachel and David can explore through the "centers".  Here are a few of our centers for the month:

Pattern Cubes:

Use the dropper to place drops of water in the Lego blocks and suction cups:

Hang the Barbie clothes on the "line":

Match the magnetic letters:

String some beads. The pipe cleaners have numbers on them as well, so they could put that amount of beads on the pipe cleaner:

Match the number leaf to the tree (sticky foam):

Frill in the missing numbers on the line:

Practice cutting:

Clip the correct number of clothespins to the block:

Pom-pom patterns and sorting:

Magnetic boards:

Fill in the correct number of black beans:

Use the magna-tiles to make shapes and figures:

Match the letters:

Use the geo-boards to match letters and rhyming words:

I didn't take a picture of one of their favorite activities, but it is pretty self explanatory. I laminated images of a boy and girl that don't have a face. The kids make faces out of play dough and put them on the laminated paper. (You can see this in the middle of the first picture above.)

The nice thing about these activities is they are easy to put together and really work the kids' motor skills. 

Paper Plate Pumpkin

We didn't have too much time to do a craft the other night, so we threw this one together in under 10 minutes. 

Rachel painted the paper plate and stuck on black cut-out shapes. We traced Rachel's hand on a piece of green sticky foam and added the hand and a brown stem. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

We have been trying a lot of baked doughnuts lately. This recipe indicated the doughnuts should be fried, but we baked them instead and they turned out perfectly. (

3/4 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg 
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons nutmeg

Melted butter
5 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

Start by reducing the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat. The mixture will reduce to about 1/2 cup. (This will take a good 5-10 minutes.)

Beat the 3 Tbsp butter (softened) with the brown and white sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. 

Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Then add some of the cider. Then another addition of the dry ingredients. Follow with the rest of the cider and the remaining dry mixture. Be careful not to over-mix. 

Place the dough in a plastic baggie. Cut the tip off one of the bottom ends of the baggie. Squeeze the dough in a greased doughnut pan. The mini doughnuts baked at 350 for 7 minutes. The big doughnuts baked for about 10 minutes. 

When slightly browned, put the doughnuts on a cooling rack. Immediately dip the top in melted butter and roll in cinnamon/sugar topping mixture.