Natural Valentine’s Day Crafts

I have been meaning to make an easy bird feeder with my son for ages, but the problem was all the ones I knew or have done in the past used peanut butter. My son isn’t allergic but he is completely repulsed by the smell.  So when I found this one on Pinterest and saw that it uses gelatin I squealed ( yes really) and added gelatin to my grocery list immediately. We had some left over gelatin so we made some yummy all natural gummy treats too. Two easy heart shaped treats made with 1 box of gelatin, that’s rad!

  1. We doubled the recipe that Bargin Hoot  uses here.  And instead of cookie cutters we used a silicon mold .
  2. They had fun  mixing .I had fun vacuuming after. But it’s easier to vacuum bird seed up than try to sweep it, those little seeds roll and hurt to step on!
  3. Press into the mold. We filled it halfway popped our string in then filled it up.
  4. A few hours later – voila!

The best part of this activity wasn’t making it was finding the right spots in our yard to place them.

We put them in the apple trees in the front yard, the pine trees in the back and some random bushes too . Clearly I am not a gardener. Since we hung them up we have gone outside every day to see which ones have had birds nibble away at them. It’s been fun to see my son concerned about the birds and I think the hearts add some natural sparkle to our wintery yard. Just today we noticed the birds ( or perhaps raccoons?) already have a favorite. We will continue to observe them in the upcoming weeks.

After we hung those up we noticed a recipe on the back of the Knox Gelatin box , adjusted it for our serving size and made some heart jellies! Why haven’t we been making these for years? My son loved helping me make them and I loved that there are no artificial colors like the store bought gelatin desserts.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 envelopes of gelatin, 1/2 cup of cold juice, 1.5 cups of juice brought to a boil and a dash of sugar. You will also need a heart cookie cutter, a sauce pan , casserole dish( ours is 8x8x2) a spoon and a big bowl for mixing.
  2. Pour the cold juice into the bowl and drizzle the gelatin on.
  3. Boil the other juice.
  4. Pour into the bowl and mix . I added just a dash of sugar since the juice we used was already low sugar. I had my son gently mix and I got the bottom bits. Once dissolved let cool for 2-3 hours.
  5. Using the cookie cutter make heart shapes.
  6. He loved the leftovers!

Note about the juices we used – we used mostly natural lemonade with just enough natural strawberry kiwi to make it red. Any juice will work though, I may hit up the natural market for some pomegranate juice before Valentine’s Day.

 

Witch’s Hat – Halloween Food Craft

 

This is one of my favorite Christmas party crafts we did ages ago adapted for Halloween. As my son pointed out it would also be fun for a Harry Potter party as it makes a great sorting hat craft. It’s a fun way to make something edible without baking.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some one sugar cone, some black icing, halloween sprinkles ( ours are just orange and back non pareils), some gummy worms or other gross candy, a cupcake liner and spoon.  I normally have my son help mix the food coloring if we are using it but black food color is notoriously stubborn to get out of anything ( like my hands… hours later) but by premixing it the mess with my son was minimal.
  2. Start by using the icing to “glue” the cone to the liner.
  3. Now cover the cone and liner with black icing. Have diaper wipes on hand I swear they have magic food coloring erasers, nothing wipes it up like wipes!  Oh and see his lips… if you are doing this with a group give them individial cups of icing or there will be a lot of germ sharing.
  4. Add the sparkles.. I mean sprinkles, it’s habit to type sparkles !
  5. Add worms… eat one more than you were supposed to.  See that little hand ? Baby girl was aching to have some sugar but she will have to wait til next year. Bummer.
  6. That’s it – super easy right?! It’s perfect for a fun Halloween party where kids are busy running around and don’t want to sit for too long to make something.

 

Halloween Books

I was going to link to some books I have previously reviewed since we have not made it to the library lately but my friend Amy Kraft from Media Macaroni just posted a wonderful post about new Halloween Books - so run over there and see what’s new. I was giddy to see a new Todd Parr book!

Pretend Play Grocery Store

This isn’t the first time we have made a grocery store for pretend play , but it was the first time with both kids and because it was such a hit the 2nd time around I thought I may as well post about what made it so much fun.

I started by clearing out some of our toys from the playroom. In the past I have done this in a bedroom and kitchen. In a bedroom I used the low bed for main aisles/ produce section. In the kitchen I used a shelf on an island. It doesn’t matter what you use it matters if it’s in their line of sight.  My son reached for the grocery items on the windowsill and my daughter went straight for the ones on the shelf ( well after the baby in the cart ).  If you don’t have a shopping cart grab a basket or small bag for your shoppers to put their purchases in.

For food and grocery items just raid your pantry. Last time I used real produce but my son was old enough to tell him not to eat it while playing ( which you could encourage also depending on if you need the fruit or vegetable later for a meal), my daughter is a muncher and I knew if I put any real produce out each and every piece would have little baby girl bites out of them, so I opted for our play food.

For an added layer of learning I placed the produce/ fresh food  in food groups. My son has been interested in this lately and immediately when my daughter would place an egg into the vegetable basket he’d correct her. Play like this is a natural opportunity to talk about nutrition too.

We added an old lap top and a desk for the checkout, one of our own cloth grocery bags and a simple sign on the door – then the kids!

They had a blast!  Especially my daughter who went shopping multiple times yesterday.

This time I added some labels and other print like this weekly specials board for my son to read, but both children benefit from a print rich environment so even if your child is not starting to read don’t skip them.

 Labels are a great way to boost print awareness and help show children how people use reading skills in everything we do not just reading stories.  We were crunched for time so I threw it all together but guess what things don’t need to be perfect for the play to be fantastic! Please remember that, so often I see wonderful beautiful things on pinterest and think that as pretty as those things are for the average parent trying to manage a family and throw together some fun things for their kids those perfect pretty things might not be attainable. Perfect isn’t the goal , play is.

 Now play!

Food Matching Game

by Kim

This post is not intended as a way to try to get sneak math into snack time. If you would like to use it for that reason, by all means go ahead. It would be a fun learning game. I am writing this to try to help make trying new foods fun for you and your child. My biological children love eating healthy foods. They usually request a healthy snack, even when I am offering a convenient (for me) junk food alternative. But fostering children has exposed me to problems I had not experienced before. How to get a child to eat healthy foods? Heck, how to get a child to try anything new?! Here is a fun game we came up with. Grab something that is not transparent or translucent. I like to use clean emptied yogurt containers. Cut up pieces of familiar food and new food into sizes that will fit under the containers. In this instance I used one familiar food that he liked along with two foods he refused to try before. Be sure to place two of each kind on the tray or plate. Cover the food with the containers. Now play the good ‘ole match game. When your child gets a match they get to eat the reward! It really feels like a reward for your child. While this is not guaranteed to work for every food, it sure is fun. You can watch your child get excited about matching. It is fun to see them study the tray and try to match it up. Their minds are focused on the game and not on “having” to try new or healthy foods. Are your kids picky eaters? ___________________________________________________________________________________

Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

5 Senses – Ice Cream Taste Test

science for kids

Who said science can’t be yummy? Let your kids explore their senses with this blind taste and smell test using ice cream. Ice cream gets turned into a science experiment with this simple and oh so yummy experiment. Teaching about the five senses has always been one of my favorite themes and I guarantee your kids will love this science lesson too.  I have also done this with plain yogurt and natural food flavoring if ice cream isn’t an option. You can use a blindfold if your child will tolerate it, my son doesn’t like them and a simple ” If you peak the activity is over.” was enough to keep his eyes glued shut during the experiment.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need multiple flavors of ice cream, a sheet of paper, markers, peel off labels, cups to conceal the ice cream containers and one or more spoons. These tiny single serve Hagen-Daz were perfect for this and the left overs weren’t too plentiful.
  2. Number your cups.
  3. Make a basic graph, you could make it on the computer and print it out but there is no need for perfection, just fun and learning.
  4. Write the flavor on the chart and cover with labels. Your child will peel these off after all the tests and predictions are recorded.
  5. Place the ice cream in the cups with the correct number. Can you tell I had a little pre taste test taste of some ? Can you blame me?
  6. Invite your child to begin the test. Explain why you want them to have their eyes closed, not just because you want to keep it a secret from them, but because when you aren’t using one sense the others work harder.
  7. Smell the first and make a prediction.  My son inherited my accurate sniffer, he was like ” That is mango , I know it!”
  8. Taste.
  9. Repeat. I was fascinated by his ability to recognize smell and taste as well as his honest aversion to peanut butter. Seriously who doesn’t love peanut butter? My kid.
  10. Fill your graph in as you go.
  11. After all the tests – peel and reveal! He loved this part almost as much as tasting them. He was shocked that #2 was caramel not vanilla!
  12. Choose your favorite to have as an after experiment snack! Chocolate won out at our house.

Great 5 Senses Book!

Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell: Learning About Your Five Sensesby Pamela Hill Nettleton is a really great find. The book doesn’t separate the senses, instead the author explains all the ways the senses work in specific situations. My son was intrigued by the ideas of smores and kept telling me “I want to smell and taste some smores Mommy, please!” I liked how it explained the connection between the areas of our bodies we associated with the senses ( mouth, eyes, nose, skin and ears) and the brain. The author succeeds in making it accessible for young kids but not boring for older ones. Good Find!!