Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A path not taken....before.....

On my daily two mile walk with the dog, I decided to take a path that I had not ever taken before.  I usually walk her on paths that are to the left of my house, however, sometimes I walk her on paths to the right of my house, and I wanted to find a path (other than my road) that would bridge the two, thereby extending my walk and allowing me new scenery.  This path I took would have to lead me under the railway bridge, as the overground runs through this land.

So, under the bridge and over the hill I went.  Here is what I saw...

Who build these?  Why?  Why don't they lead anywhere?  There is a small gorge with a creek running through it that is near here with another one of these....  maybe it was a boardwalk over the river?  Why has it been abandoned?  Is it safe?  If I was a kid, it would be the ULTIMATE play place!  A few sticks, some of mom's old sheets... hm.....  what fun!  However, as a parent, I can't let my kids play here for fear of it being unsafe.  I'll have to test it out first and see if it's sturdy!

Maybe a nice place for a few photos....  

MY books!

Some shameless self promotion here....  :)  To date I have had three books published.  Yeah me!
These are all picture books, meant for toddlers.  You can find them on Amazon and many other online retailers, you may even find them in some bookshops, but I wouldn't hold my breath!

Silly Turtle is about a Raccoon who invites all his forest friends to a summer picnic.  It teaches youngsters about ordinal numbers (first, second, third), colors and the names of picnic items.  It also mentions items that each of these animals would eat.

The idea for this book came about when Little Lady was about 2 years old, she learned the word menu.  She would frequently ask "what's on the menu?"  One day Big daddy came home from work and 'ate' her belly, and she squealed with delight and shouted out "Silly Daddy!  That's not on the menu!"  and the phrase stuck with me.

Love Shapes is all about shapes!  It teaches your toddler the shape names as a loving mom cuts shapes and makes a lovely picture for her son.  

May I? started out as a poem, and was also something my kids came up with.  May I kiss your lips please?  May I kiss your lips?  Little man used to ask questions about everything, May I do this, may I do that.  So we started chasing him around for hugs and kisses, and this book is the result. 

If you read these, let me know what you think!

-Jennifer Gupta

Monday, 30 January 2012

Family game night

We love family game nights!  Little man is huge on board games.  He'll bring them out of the closet and insist on playing RIGHT NOW!  Here are a few of our favorites.

We also love these!  

Little lady and Little man also love Scrabble, Battle Ship, Life and Monopoly on the IPAD.  I love the whole - board game on the mobile device idea.  The ability to take a whole game and play it on the go, pass it around, no pieces to lose.....  how awesome is that!?

As for card games, which we also love...  we play with decks (as seen before on this blog) from Heritage Makers that have the kids pictures on them; even our UNO deck has their pictures on them.
Little Lady is learning how to play Euchre, Yatzee and basic Rummy.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

My menu board

So years ago, I got tired of planning meals on the fly, so I put all my recipes into the computer, scoured the internet for recipes my family and I would eat, and put them all into google calendar. Yes, I said google calendar! One recipe for each day of the year, with the exception of our once a month favorites. Each recipe repeats yearly, so I have a constant supply of recipes whenever I look at my calendar.

This worked really well for us until I had less time on my hands. When I no longer had the time to make sure all the ingredients were on hand, or consult a recipe before starting to cook, I fell back on my tried and trues. You know, the recipes you know without reading, the ones you know so well that you know what substitutes you can make if need be.

Google now waits until I have time for it. The rest of our meals are fly by night lately.  I wanted to stop this.  It's rediculous to be sitting at 5pm trying to go through cupboards and figure out what to have for dinner.

When I came across the menu board DIY on pinterest, I knew I had to make it.  I really liked the idea of having my weekly menu planned out, and it made sense that I could only really make about 30 dishes without a recipe anyway.  Putting the ingredients list (and how much) on the back makes grocery shopping a breeze, and I love the idea of laminating them for durability.

I started with some coordinating papers, and a ribbon to match...

I had an 11x17 picture frame lying around, so I glued the papers 
directly to the backboard, using my ribbon to cover the join.  

I ran the coordinating paper through my printer and had MENU printed on it
with big spaces between the letters.  I cut them out in heart shapes and attached
it to the board with my ribbon under the hearts.

Here is my completed backboard back in it's frame.
The rest of the stuff goes on top of the glass.

For the boxes that hold the dinner ideas; I used the pinterest idea and cut my paper
around a 16 ct crayon box.  Then glued the paper down to the box for durability.

My coordinating paper box, cut to fit around a 16 ct
crayon box.  
I am a freak about making everything the same
size, so I printed out the template for business
cards, added my own (internet found) cooking
picture, and hand wrote in my menu items.  
I didn't have any full sized clothes pins lying around, but I did have these cute
little pink and purple ones with crowns.  So I hot glued them to the 
glass instead!  Hot glue on the boxes to one side, wherever they fit.
Here is my finished menu board; the kids have already chosen this week's menu!  

Friday, 27 January 2012

Shaving cream paint

Continuing with my experiments found on pinterest, we made shaving cream paint last night!

I had some clear plastic cups left over from Little Lady's birthday party, as well as paint brushes from the decopauge. I bought cheap shaving cream ftom the store, mixed a bit in each cup with some food coloring, and voila! Instant bath paints that washed off with the spray nozzle!

Little lady in her shower and Little man in the bath both had a blast painting on the walls !

Afterwards, they each had fun 'experimenting' with mixing the colors, adding water and generally playing with them. What great fun!
My setup...  food coloring drops, clear cups, and cheap shaving cream.

After mixing some of the colors.

Above: Little lady's artwork.  Below:  Little man drawing a birthday cake on the wall.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Money Math Center

When I was student teaching in 2nd grade, I came up with this money math center.
Have students do this in their journals, or even just on a piece of paper.  If you don't have a classroom, download and print it anyway!

Find the difference between the original and sale prices.

So to make this center, you need to print several of these images; then cut them out.  To be honest, I printed 25 of each at first, then printed another 25 later.  I cut ovals from colored card stock in slightly larger sizes, and placed one original price on one side of the card stock, and a sale price on the other side of the card stock.
I then wrote in an original price and a smaller amount sale price.  For example: $94.36 for the original price and $64.23 for the Sale price. The second set of 25 that I created had amounts less than $10.00, originally I did amounts from $100.00 or less.    Laminate for durability.  You can choose your currency - as you can see, I have remade some in the Stirling currency to show my kids that the math is the same no matter what currency you are using.

This center came about because I had to make a prop for a Readers Theatre where the kids had prices on them.  It made me start thinking about what else I could do with these images.  Happy money mathing!  

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Passport Adventures!

There are some fabulous websites out there for getting our children to learn about other countries.  You can go to Little Passports  or you can even subscribe to Highlights's Top Secret Adventures, (which we do).  For your child or children at home, these are both great options; however, you are going to pay for them.  Little lady has a subscription to Top Secret Adventures, which she LOVES, and I wouldn't end it for the world, but this came after my 'little experiment' was put on hold.

You see, I thought this was a GREAT idea, but wanted to use it in a classroom and for many, many students.  I started making these country kits for my kids, and for my friends kids; then I made them up for my daughter's then 2nd grade classroom.  The kids loved them, and for a long time, I was anonymous; pretending that they just 'appeared' in the mail with the kids names on them.  You know how much kids love getting mail with their names on them!

In each kit that I created (I think I've done 6 so far), I used files found for free use on the internet, and I'll give credit and links where possible.  If you see your file and I haven't given credit, please let me know and I"ll fix it immediately!  I would like to give TONS of thanks to Activityvillage.co.uk for existing, for providing a good amount of the material that I have used, and for letting me!

Each kit contains the following:

  • Welcome letter from Passport Adventures - this explains what is in the kit, who it's about, what country it details, and what game is included.  

                   For example: Japan includes otedama balls with instructions on how to use them.

  • A letter from a child in that country.  This is many pages long and includes details of school children, their daily lives, information and facts based on that country, and a map of the country.  
  • something kids can make (and all the materials to make it)  Japan's is a paper and pop stick fan.  Sometimes there are two or three things in there.  Japan has doll making, and origami as well.  
  • A game for the kids to play with (includes instructions)
  • Coloring pages
  • bookmark
  • a flag (to put in their passports)

Before the kits were used in a classroom, each child was presented with a passport that they had to fill out.  The kids take the flags (included in the kit) and glue them into their passports, which help them to tell what they've done already.  I pulled the passport from the Passport Project found on the University of California, Berkeley's website.  I added colorful paper to the top (with the word Passport on it) and assembled them per the instructions.

Each kit in the classroom goes home on a weekly rotation (similar to the take a stuffed animal home and journal with it idea).  I made canvas tote bags and ironed on the name of the country on one side and the flag of the country on the other side. Under the flag, I included the name of the teacher that gets to keep these. Inside each tote bag is a folder with a binder and 2 pockets.  The binder includes all of the sheets of paper that the kids do not get to keep - but only read about.  They are laminated and hole punched.  One side of the folder contains the things that are laminated (kids do not get to keep them) marked "return" that includes things the kids need to take out and use.  The other side has things that the kids get to keep (coloring pages, book marks etc.)

Over the summer, the teacher makes copies of these items and paper clips them all together to keep in a file.  (say 30 copies of each and makes them into packets).  Then when one student is done with the bag for the week, she simply checks to make sure that all returned materials are there, and pulls one paper clip bunch and replaces it into the keep side of the folder.  It's then ready to go for the next student.

Without further ado...

Japan's kit contains the following:  (remember to edit them and change the salutations, etc !)

  • Welcome letter from Passport Adventures - this explains what is in the kit, who it's about, what country it details, and what game is included.  (laminate)
  •  A letter from a child in that country.  This is many pages long and includes details of school children, their daily lives, information and facts based on that country, and a map of the country.  (laminate)
  • Origami Dog pattern, origami tulip pattern, (provided for from ActivityVillage.co.uk)  (laminated)
  • Origami paper for dog and tulip 
  • Japanese Carp Kite  include string
  • Japanese Fan template  and instructions (laminate the instructions), and 4 popsicle sticks
  • Otedama game for the kids to play with (includes instructions) (copy instructions from webpage --cutting out what you don't need and laminate the instructions)...
  • Coloring pages - japanese children, Kokeshi Paper doll
  • bookmark (pdf has 4, but we provide one each)
  • a flag (to put in their passports)  Print page 3 as it has the smallest ones.
For the Otedama game - I included 5 bags that I made myself.  I got the instructions from here; and the template from here.
You can also use small hackey sacks or juggling balls in a pinch.  

Here's my image for the canvas bag (note it's mirror imaged so that it would iron correctly)

Monday, 23 January 2012

Boys valentines day cards

So I know that its still three weeks away, but Pinterest has these fabulous ideas for valentines day cards and I couldn't resist! After searching all through the available options for cards, little man chose the super hero ones ( as I knew he would!).  These are originally from Zakka Life's blog, but I pulled the idea from Little Bit Funky's blog.  Many, Many thanks for this great idea!

I told both kids right from the start that the valentines may not look exactly like the photos, as I wasn't going to buy anything to do these projects, but that we could use materials already in the house.

Here is my version of these adorable valentines!

I began by cutting out a cape template. I used the template

from Zakka life's lego cape blog. I printed it out at 50% size,

which was perfect for me.

Less Ordinary Designs has provided us with a great free
Superhero printable designs for use with this idea.
I modified it slightly, and printed them on 2" circle sticker paper.
(find the links to my modificiations below, and print your own!)
I cut out all the capes (I only used yellow, but the colors to match the  logos would be a nice addition)

Here are my completed capes and logos..

You can either make several holes in the top of the cape

big enough to stick the lollipop though, or you can fold it

down a bit at the top.
Flip it over and add the saying sticker, covering the stick

so that it all stays in place.
The other side...
Here are the completed valentines, waiting 

Little man to sign them!

As I went to blog this, I went to link to Zakka's blog for the cape template and found her new super hero valentines... they have masks!  :)  

As promised, here's the modified designs for use with sticker circles..
Batman   flash     green lantern     superman     wonder woman

A beautiful walk in the woods

My goal is to take a family walk on each of the weekend days. This weekend we made it out once and I walked the dog by myself the second day. Hmmm.. Not a great start...

Saturday's walk was georgous though, here are some pictures.  Mobile blogging doesn't seem to allow me to format the blog the way I want it.  How annoying.

It started out a little dark, but quickly cleared.
This is actually on our way back up!  :)  Note little lady dragging her stick?
It's a wonder the dog didn't try to grab it from her!
Can we see anything in the creek?  
Little Lady and her stick!
From far we thought it was a gazebo, but when we got up close we
realized it was an empty aviary.  Wonder when it'll have birds in it?
As usual, the dog got filthy and had a blast!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Soft shelled eggs part 2...

In the afternoon we took our eggs out of the vinegar. Little lady didnt like the feel of hers, and little man's egg felt like a water balloon. We noticed that the eggs were larger than they started out as, and we wondered if some osmosis hadnt taken place, thereby expanding the inside of the egg while the shell was soft enough to do that. We also noticed that the vinegar serms to have removed the color from our eggs. They started out brown!

We are now going into the next part of the experiment; one egg is sitting out, while the other egg has bern placed into a glass of water. We are told that the one sitting out will gather carbon from the air and become hard again. The one sitting in water should expand until it bursts. This would be due to its taking in the water through osmosis.

A day later and the eggs havent changed at all.