Sunday, December 5, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

Tis the season to get started on holiday crafts.  The last two years I have made a Countdown to Christmas chain with my kids.   Everyday, starting after Thanksgiving they asked "how many more days until Christmas?"  The paper chain made it easy for them to figure it out on their own.  We made a paper chain on December 1st with one loop for each day until Christmas.  Everyday my kids would tear off one loop of the chain and count how many were left.     I was reading a friends blog and I loved her twist on a Christmas countdown chain.  She is doing a gratitude chain with her little girl.   Check out her idea and enjoy browsing her blog at Finding Calm in the Chaos.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pick Your Own Pumpkins and Apples!

My family and I enjoy visiting several "pick your own" farms.  It's a fun experience to pick your own produce.   A few years ago, I found a wonderful site that I love!  You can chose your state, decide which seasonal produce you want to pick and get a list of all of the pick your own farms in your area.   Since Fall is in full swing here in the midwest, we are all about apples and pumpkins right now.   Check out to find an orchard or farm near you!   Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Mousse Recipe

It's Pumpkin Time!  Do you enjoy pumpkin treats?  My kids like to help me make Pumpkin Mousse.  It's easy and delicious.  It's also diabetic friendly.  My dad was diabetic so I often made this yummy dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  The credit for this recipe goes to Mr. Food.
Creamy Pumpkin Mousse:  Ingredients: 1 can (16 ounces) of solid-pack pure pumpkin.  1 package (6-serving size) instant sugar-free vanilla pudding mix.  1/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk.  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  2 cups frozen light whipped topping, thawed.  Directions: In a medium bowl, with an electric beater on medium speed, beat the pumpkin, pudding mix,milk, and cinnamon until well blended. Fold in the whipped topping until thoroughly blended then spoon into a serving bowl. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. 

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/2 cup):Calories: 65, Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 207 mg,Carbohydrate: 11 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 1 g Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Carbohydrate

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to School Traditions

My twins are in first grade this year. Everyday for the first week of school I leave little surprises on their beds. It gives them something fun to look forward to while they are at school. When they come home they run to their rooms in anticipation of their small gifts. I started doing this last year when they were in Kindergarten. My mom actually did this for me way back when I was in Kindergarten. She left me small surprises on my bed each day but I think it may have gone on longer than a week. I needed bribed as I wanted to continue staying home with my mom. My kids love school but I such had fond childhood memories of this. I wanted to create the same great memories with my kids so I decided that the first week of school would be the perfect time frame. My kids enjoyed this so much last year that I decided to make it a tradition every year. It's just something fun and inexpensive (I buy little things from places like Target, Dollar stores, etc.). I only spent about $10.00 for a week of surprises for two kids but the joy and memories from the tradition are priceless.

Another tradition that I want to share:  Back when I was in school, my dad woke me up in the mornings with a silly song that he had made up. He started out singing softly but got louder and louder until I would get out of bed. It was funny when I was little but by the time I was in high school, some days it would drive me a little nuts because I was not a natural morning person and didn't always enjoy my "dad alarm clock". It was something that my dad and I laughed about in adulthood though and it became a good memory. My dad passed away unexpectedly on August 15th, 2010, at the age of 62. My girls and I have been sharing good memories about my dad, their beloved grampy. One of the stories I shared was his silly wake up song. My kids thought it was funny. My girls started school this week (just 3 weeks after my dad died). In memory of dad, I decided to wake them up with dad's silly song. I'll bet he was looking down on us with his big smile and contagious laugh, maybe even joining in with the song.

Some of my other first day of school traditions are common such as taking pictures of my kids wearing their backpacks in the morning before leaving the house.   I also walk them into class and snap a picture of them in their classroom.

I would love to hear  about your school traditions too.  Whether you are a home school mom, a teacher or a parent sending your kids to school.  Please share with me.   I have always loved creating wonderful memories and starting traditions with my kids.  After the recent loss of my own dad, I see even more importance in the memories we make.  They are lasting.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preschool Lesson Plans

It's back to school time!   Whether you are a mom to a preschooler, a teacher or someone who works with preschool aged children, you will find plenty of fun filled learning activities to keep your children busy at Lesson Plans Plus.   Please stop by.   Thanks!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Unplugged and summer fun!

I can hardly believe that August is already here! June and July flew by in a blink! I've been busy this summer working on home improvement projects, putting our house up for sale, going on vacation and having fun with my kids. I thought that I would share some of the fun things we've been doing so that if you are looking for a bit of inspiration, maybe this will get the wheels turning.

At home: Getting the kids involved with projects around the house. Weeding the garden, watering the plants, making jam, washing the car, painting the shed (they loved this), helping with sorting and organizing toys and "weeding" out the stuff they didn't want/need. We didn't have time for a garage sale so instead we made a couple of trips to the consignment store and then donated the rest. We've also been staying cool with the kiddie pool, sprinkler and water table (my kids like to dip paint brushes in the water table and "paint" the house, fence, etc). Summer has also been a great time for the kids to enjoy playing with messy stuff outside (such as moon sand and goop). We've also been keeping busy with lots of reading. My girls are both reading independently now and they love to read everyday. We're doing the summer reading club through the library again this year.

Unplugged! I've been wanting to take a week here and there and do "unplugged weeks" No TV, no Internet, no electronic games, etc. Just good old fashioned summer fun. Our biggest stretch this summer was on our vacation. We spent 9 days at a cottage on a lake. It was great to just enjoy playing in the sand, swimming, fishing, walks in the woods, playing games, campfires, etc. No TV, computer or any other electronic games. It was a nice break. I'm planning to do something similar again at home. We often go 2 or 3 days in a row but it's a fun challenge to go for a week or two without the use of the TV or computer.

Outings: We've enjoyed strawberry picking, cherry picking, picnics at parks (we've been looking for new parks to visit this year which has been fun) , zoo days (we bought a membership), farmers markets, splash pads (water playgrounds at parks), visits to the library, play dates and cousin sleepovers.

I would love to hear what you have been up to this summer. Please share your fun ideas too!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Preschool and Kindergarten Reading Fun

My girls have been reading books on their own for several months now. Listening to my children read brings me so much joy. During my teaching years and also as a mom I purchased a bunch of the "I Can Read" books. You can choose the level that is right for your child. A few years ago a friend gave me a complete set of Magic Castle Reader books. Her son outgrew them and she knew that we would enjoy them. They are fun and easy for young readers and my girls are currently enjoying reading them on their own. Unfortunately, I noticed that these books are now out of print but I did check and you can find them from or eBay. You may even be able to find them at your local library. Some other fun books that my girls have been enjoying are the Fancy Nancy books and my huge collection of Dr. Seuss books.

We've been joining the library reading club every summer since my kids were three years old. This year it will be even more fun as they do a combination of reading their books to me, to each other and reading quietly. Of course, I still read to them too. I'm sure we'll be doing that for many years to come. I don't think we ever outgrow the enjoyment of sitting back and listening to another person read aloud from a good book. Check your local library to see if they offer a summer reading club. The reading club is great for pre-readers too. It helps keep you & your kids motivated and accountable for reading books all summer long. Summer reading clubs usually begin sometime in June, once most schools are out for the summer.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day Activities and Crafts

Are you planning to do anything special with your children or students for Earth Day? A really fun and easy craft for kids is to let them make a junk collage. Provide a variety of "junk items" and let them use their imagination creating. Check out my Earth Day post for more ideas.

This is also a great day to get some seeds planted. It's not warm enough here in the north to start the garden yet but I bought some flower and vegetable seeds for my kids to plant in little pots inside. The dollar area at Target has some cute tin pots. When it's warm enough (usually mid to late May) we will transfer our plants to the garden outside.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fun Easter Crafts, Activities and Ideas (Christian and Traditional)

We were healthy all winter but Spring brought us a round of sickness. Tonsillitis and ear infections for the kids and a cold that turned into a sinus infection for me. The kids are now better and I will be on the mend soon as I finally went to the doctor and started my antibiotics yesterday. I've been sick for almost two weeks and the sinus infection is pretty bad. I was looking at some old blog posts and crazy enough, this time last year we were just getting over being sick too. You can find some True Meaning of Easter Ideas by checking my Easter blog post from last year.

The weather here has been gorgeous. We enjoyed an outdoor Easter Egg hunt last weekend and today we are decorating Easter eggs. I also filled a large basket full of plastic Easter eggs and the kids are having a blast hiding them around the house today and filling them will little toys. I filled our themed book basket with some of my favorite Easter books for the kids to look at and read. About the book basket: I keep a large basket in the living room that I fill with special themed books. These are books that don't stay out all of the time but I bring them out for a week or two and then swap them out for the next theme.

If I can gather enough energy (this sinus infection is the pits!) I am also going to cut out a couple of large Ovals from construction paper (for eggs) and let the kids paint them and tear little pieces of tissue paper to stick onto the painted eggs. An easy but fun last minute art project.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Fun

I want to make sure that find this St. Patrick's Day post of mine about Magic Leprechaun Powder. It's fun, yummy and of course "magical" for the kids.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Irish Soda Bread

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and I found a quick and easy recipe for Irish Soda Bread to share with you. Check out this Irish Soda Bread from Family Fun. This would be a good recipe for the kids to help make. You can find more great St. Patrick's Day recipes by visiting this link to Family Fun.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fun and Educational Fieldtrips

The snow is still on the ground here in my neck of the woods but spring is on the way. Field trips and outings are wonderful year round but with the arrival of spring, many parents and teachers start getting the itch to take their children on more fun and educational field trips. Lots of people are looking for some inspiration and ideas. I have an entire page of fun field trip ideas for you to check out on the field trips page of my Lesson Plans Plus website. The field trips listed would work well for preschool and elementary aged children alike. Truth be told, field trips are fun for adults too. I'm not sure who enjoys fun field trips more, me or my kids! Check it out: Fun and Educational Field trip Ideas.

If you know of a good field trip that I haven't listed, please share it with us by leaving a comment here on the blog or emailing me at I'm always looking to add more great ideas to my website.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Fun with Homemade Snow Ice Cream!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Okay, well maybe I don't actually scream but my kids did start bouncing up and down shouting for joy when I told them we were going to make snow ice cream.

We had a lot of new snow and I knew that my kids would enjoy making and eating snow ice cream. It's really fun and easy to make. All that you need is clean snow, milk, vanilla extract and sugar. You can adjust the amounts to your liking. We made a lot because we wanted to test out some different flavors and we also wanted left-over ice cream. We put about 10 cups of clean snow into a big bowl (it melts fast when you bring it inside) and mixed in 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1 cup of milk and about a 1/2 cup of sugar. We just mixed it all together with a spoon. You can adjust the amount of milk and snow until you get the consistency that you like and adjust the amount of sugar to your desired sweetness. We enjoyed the vanilla ice cream first and then we experimented with adding a little baking cocoa for chocolate ice cream. We placed our left over vanilla ice cream in the freezer.

Later in the day, my kids wanted to surprise daddy with our yummy after dinner dessert of snow ice cream. Our left-over ice cream still tasted great and we sprinkled "malted milk" on top for some extra goodness. If you haven't tried snow ice cream before, give it a try. It's easy and fun for the kids to make and even more fun to eat!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cooking healthy and yummy foods with kids!

I enjoy cooking and especially making healthy meals that my kids enjoy. Tonight one of my children requested that I make extra baked potatoes because she loves them so much. My other daughter wanted asparagus. I was happy to cater to their dinner desires tonight.

I want to share with you a new food blog that my friend Kendra has started. She also loves to cook healthy meals for her family. She is a home school mom and enjoys including her children in the cooking process. In addition to her healthy meals recipes, I think you will also enjoy her kitchen school posts where her kids get involved. Check out Kendra's yummy blog. The Queen of Brussels Sprouts.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fun Valentine Party Games for Kids!

I'm currently in the process of planning a children's Valentine party. I know that coming up with themed party games can be challenging so I'm going to make it easy whether you want to host a classroom Valentine's party or a party at home with your children and a few little friends. You could even do some of these games one on one with a child at home.

Heart Hunt: This is super easy. Simply cut out a bunch of paper hearts. Hide them all over the house/classroom or even outside if you are in an area with mild weather (it's snowing here). Let your children have fun finding all of the hearts. It's basically just like an Easter egg hunt but with hearts.

Candy Heart Towers: Set a bowl of candy hearts and a timer on a hard flat surface. See how high the children can build their heart tower before the timer goes off. This can be a competitive game or not depending on the age of the children and what they would enjoy. Really, everyone is a winner because they can keep and eat their candy hearts.

Candy, Candy, Heart!: This is a game that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers as it is played just like Duck, Duck, Goose. Just replace the wording with Candy, Candy, Heart!

Estimation Jar: Fill a jar full of candy hearts or any type of pink/red candy. Make sure to count out how many you put in the jar! Let each child take a guess at how many pieces of candy are in the jar. Whoever guesses correctly gets to keep the jar of candy. Another option: If you don't want to let just one child win the prize, just give the winner a round of applause and then everyone can share the candy inside.

Famous Pairs: This is always a fun game. I remember playing this when I was a child. Make a list of famous pairs that your particular group/age range of children would recognize. You name one half of the pair and the children have to guess what goes with it. Some ideas: Peanut Butter & Jelly, Mickey Mouse & Minnie, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, Bert & Ernie, Jack & Jill, Hansel & Gretel. You get the idea.

I hope you enjoy one or more of these Valentine's Day party games with your kids. Have fun playing!

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