Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Snowman Refrigerator

Our winter refrigerator decoration is a snowman. Instead of using construction paper, like I have for my past refrigerator decorations, I have found that using felt pieces is more practical if I want to reuse these. 
So, I cut eyes, a mouth, buttons, and a hat from black felt pieces. I cut a carrot nose from orange felt, and David picked out a decorative felt piece for the scarf. He picked a blue piece with sock monkeys on it. 

(It took two pieces of the decorative felt to make the whole scarf. Those were 50 cents each at Hobby Lobby. It took two pieces of black felt and one piece of orange felt for the rest of the snowman. The solid-colored felt was 25 cents each.)  Total cost: $1.75

January Activity Wall-Garden of Healthy Choices

The holiday baking season was a lot of fun for the kids (and me). However, I decided January needed to be a time to add more healthy choices to our menu. To make this adventure a little more exciting, I turned these healthy choices into our next activity wall.

Our typical activity walls are dedicated to different crafts the kids uncover each day. For this month's wall, I turned each day into a different fruit or vegetable. The fruit or vegetable the kids uncover each day will be the star of our meal that night. To add a little learning for my younger children, I dedicated each of January's five weeks to a different color. 

I started by making "garden row markers". I broke a flat crafting popsicle stick into thirds. I hot-glued a mini clothespin to five crafting stick pieces. Then I cut paint swatches for the five colors I am using. (red, orange/yellow, blue/purple, green, and white/tan)
I wrote the dates and the colors on the swatches and attached them to the row marker with the clothespin. 

Next, I bought a large brown piece of foam from Hobby Lobby (construction paper would also work fine). I drew five rows on the foam and hot-glued a row marker to each row. 
For the blue/purple week, I cut four random shapes from blue and purple felt. Then I cut seven shapes from green felt for week two. I repeated this step for each week. Then I wrote a fruit or vegetable on a small post-it and attached it to the back of each felt shape. 

 January 1-4 is the color blue/purple. Our fruits and veggies are blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage, and purple carrots. 

January 5-11 is the color green. The fruits and veggies are green beans, cucumbers, green peppers, kiwi, asparagus, green grapes, and leafy greens. 

January 12-18 is dedicated to yellow/orange. Our fruits and veggies are oranges, carrots, yellow peppers, yellow tomatoes, mangos, lemons, and starfruit.

January 19-25 is the color red. The fruits and veggies are cherries, apples, red grapes, raspberries, red onions and red peppers, tomatoes, and red potatoes.

January 26-31 is white/tan. Our fruits and veggies are brown pears, bananas, onions, parsnips, garlic, and white peaches.

The final step was to turn the shapes over and attach the "garden" to the wall. On a piece of grass scrapbook paper, I used a black paint marker to write "Garden of Healthy Choices". Now, each day, the kids can uncover a different fruit or vegetable. We will make that fruit/veggie the star of our dinner that day. 

Because my kids will still want to do activities after we cook dinner, I am going to try to center our activities around the week's color or the day's shape. At the end of each week, we will write/draw about our experiences with that week's fruits and veggies. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Santa Refrigerator Decoration

Here is the start to our Santa fridge. I ran out of red felt, so I will have to finish the pants and arms later, but at least it is started. The entire thing is made from different colors of crafting felt. 

My youngest son has been begging for a Si Robertson Santa fridge, so to keep the peace around here, I printed a picture of Si (http://static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130601153322/duckdynasty/images/0/08/Si.jpg) and placed it in the face spot. 
Here is Santa finished! The entire thing is done with felt.

Christmas Activity Wall

This Christmas activity wall is the one the kids and I started with. So...we have officially been doing activity walls for 365 days! This has been an amazing experience, and I encourage others to find ways to spend special time with their children each day.

This wall is very easy to create. I found 25 small envelopes and glued Christmas scrapbook paper to the front of each envelope. I pasted on a number (1-25) to each envelope. I cut out the activities and placed them in the envelopes. Each day the kids will open the envelopes to reveal an activity.

Here are our activities for the month (And...I left last year's activity slips in the envelopes in case we have time for two activities.)
Pinecone tree
Candy cane science experiment
Candy cane Christmas tree
Polar express movie night
Paint nutcrackers
Snow globes
Pipe cleaner wreath
Candy cane ornament
Bulb ornaments
Name blocks
Mini glass bulb ornaments
Clothespin reindeer
Paper clip angels
Melted snowman art
Gingerbread house
Christmas tree and icicle ornaments
Paper snowflakes
Snow slime
Snowflake ornaments
Snow paint
Construction paper/tissue paper trees,
Angel handprint
Christmas cookies
Paper igloo

Our activities last year (before I started blogging) were: 
Drink Grinch punch while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Make snowmen lights out of milk jugs
Turn the refrigerator into a snowman
Go to the library and check out a Christmas book
Make your own snow globe
Make elf donuts for Christmas Eve
Make Christmas cookies with Grandma and Mom
Make cinnamon ornaments
Make angel ornaments out of paper clips for 3 special people of your choice
Paint snowflake art from tape 
Write a letter to Santa 
Have a Polar Express night-Read the book and eat Polar Express treats.
Make Candy Cane Marshmallow Pops and Eat with Hot Cocoa
Make the Grandparents a Christmas Tree Fingerprint Card
Paint your own dinner plate
Make rice krispie gingerbread houses
Paint a Christmas scene with puffy paint—glue and shaving cream
Drive to the Nicol’s Christmas light show
Watch one of the ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas movies with treat necklaces 
Pick out two old toys to donate to charity
Pick out and wrap a present for Daddy 
Deliver cards and goodies to the neighbor 
Cut snowflakes and hang them on the window
Do a puzzle together
Read the Christmas story in Luke Chapter 2

Have a candlelight dinner party on the longest day of the year-Dec. 21st. Make sure you dress up J

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Activity Wall

For our November activity wall, we decided to incorporate Thanksgiving by making a turkey. Each day we will "pluck a feather" from the turkey. Each feather has a different activity.

We started by drawing a turkey on white paper. I cut  it out and placed it on our activity wall.
Then I drew four feathers on a piece of cardstock. I cut 2-3 pieces of paper at a time. I used brown, orange, yellow, and red cardstock (7 pieces of paper total for 28 feathers)

Then we taped on the feathers. 

Our November activities are...
Rake leaves and jump in the piles
Make brown paper bag drumsticks filled with candy and give to the neighbors
Make a pumpkin pie
Make a hand/footprint turkey
Make a turkey wreath
Make acorn doughnut holes
Make turkeys out of apples and other fruits
Paint Native Americans
Read the Thanksgiving story
Make cornicopias out of sugar cones
Make clothespin turkeys
Make a handprint Mayflower ship
Make turkey suckers
Make paper plate Pilgrams
Make a turkey hat
Make tureky cupcakes
Make pinecone turkeys
Make turkeys out of disposable clothes, fruit loops, and cheerios
Thanksgiving handprint poem for Grandparents
Make a thankful for spinner
Make a turkey out of paper plate and tissue paper
Make Thanksgiving centerpieces
Make teepees
Make a Thankgiving headband
Paint Calico corn
Make turkey cups
Make a shape cornicopia
Make a family turkey handprint picture

Thankful Tree

For the second year, my family has put together a "Thankful Tree" for the month of November. This helps remind all of us of the many things we have to be thankful for. Every day we all put something we are thankful for on a leaf. This is such a powerful activity because everyone in the family puts down things they are thankful for.

We started by using brown paper to make a tree with limbs.

I found a leaf template and cut it out. I traced it on one piece of construction paper. Then, I placed 5-6 pieces of construction paper under the traced paper and made 5-6 leaves at a time. 

We put our names and Day 1-Day 30 on all of the leaves. Each day we will add something we are thankful for next to our names.
All of the blank leaves are at the bottom of the tree. Every day we will add the next leaf with the things we are thankful for. 
(We had some crafting leaves left over from a past craft, so the boys added some of those to our tree as well.) 

This is what our tree looked like last year. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pilgrim Turkey Refrigerator

After the Tigers lost, we decided to change the refrigerator. Because it was so close to Halloween, we went right into the Thanksgiving holiday. The hat is black and white construction paper. The feathers, beak, and feet are cut out of felt. The turkey body, lapels, and hands are from brown construction paper. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Halloween Activity Wall

Our next activity wall is centered around Halloween. I started by drawing a web on a large sheet of white paper and hung it on the wall. 

To create the spiders, I cut 4 sheets of white cardstock into four pieces each. I then cut black, red, and purple construction paper into 8 pieces. From the cut construction paper, I cut out circles. I glued a circle on each of the white pieces of cardstock. I glued on google eyes and drew legs and a mouth on each spider.

Each of the spiders is a daily activity. The spider hanging down from the web has the activity we will do that day. 

Here are our activities: 
Make pumpkins and Frankenstein faces on paint swatches
Make slim sensory bags
Use pumpkin seeds to create pumpkin pictures
Play pumpkin bowling
Make a hand print spider craft
Make a skeleton out of marshmallows
Make a haunted house craft
Turn the hallway into a haunted hallway
Make Halloween cookies
Paper plate Halloween faces
Make slime punch and watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
Go to the library and check out Halloween books
Make ghosts
Make Kleenex box monsters
Carve pumpkins
Make a witch craft

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Football Activity Wall

The boys have been wanting to do endless football crafts, so we decided to make a football-theme activity wall. This wall went together very quickly with the help of a few supplies from Joann Fabrics.

Whenever we go to a craft store and the paper is on sale, I let them pick out a few of their favorite pieces to add to our collection. Of course they pick out paper that resembles every sport they can find. So, we didn't have to look far to find paper that looked like a football in our stash.

I cut a football template out of scrap paper to use when cutting the football paper.

Using a white paint pen, I put football lines on each of the cut-outs. I added a number (1-15) on the footballs. This number will correspond to the activities we do each day.

In our paper stash we also found paper that resembled a football field, so we used that as the background. I cut out goal posts out of yellow cardstock.

We added the footballs around the paper. The football in the goal post will show the activity we do for the day. 

Here are the activities: 
Cork painting
Visit an apple orchard
Go to a local school football game
Football name plaques
Football hand prints
Make homemade applesauce
Make tissue paper hand print trees
Collect leaves and make toilet paper roll leaf creatures
Make a paper plate football mask
Make a football windsock
Make a leaf wreath
Make a candy apple bar
Make fall-theme sensory bags
 Pumpkin craft
Make spiders out of thumbprints

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Valentine's Day Heart Tree

One of the best ways I have found to teach my kids to appreciate the things and people they have is to tie it into a holiday countdown. Our latest creation is a "Love Tree". I simply took a piece of Valentine scrapbook paper and cut it into strips. From the strips, I created a tree trunk and branches. (I used masking tape to place it on the wall.)

Together, the kids and I cut out little hearts from construction paper. We each picked a color. We cut out 14 hearts in each color. (One color for every family member--including the parents!)

The kids taped the hearts to the wall around the branches.

Everyday, from February 1st until the 14th, we will write the name of someone we love on one of our colored hearts.

Valentine's Day "Chocolate" Activity Box

My kids love doing crafts and special activities at night after school and daycare. We have just started doing activity countdowns to different holidays, thanks to my love for Pinterest!! For our Valentine's Day countdown, we created a special "chocolate box".

Step 1: Get an empty candy box. Cover the box with scrapbook paper. I found "Love" paper at Hobby Lobby. I put it on the candy box with Modge Podge.

Step 2: I found clear mosaic circles to be used for the "chocolates" at Hobby Lobby. I placed a Valentine sticker on each of the "chocolates".

Step 3: Find Valentine activities you would like to do with your kids. Print off the activites and tape them to the bottom of the "chocolates".

Step 4: Give your box a title. We are calling ours Happy ValenTIMES Day! I created nutritional facts to be placed on the back.

Watch a Valentine Movie and drink Cupid Floats
 Make Heart-Shape Pizza for Dinner
 Do a Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot-Use Mustache pops and Pipe Cleaner Glasses
 Make heart monsters
 Make Valentine flowerpots for Grandmas
 Make I love you to pieces frames
 Make tissue paper hearts
 Make monster valentine boxes
 Make secret message Valentine Hearts
 David-Do Valentine Activity Sheets, Matt write a Valentine Poem
 Color Valentine Pictures
 Make Valentine treats for your neighbors
 Write Bible Verses on hearts and mail them
 Make yarn heart cards
 Make heart sun catchers
 Go to the library and get a Valentine Book-Take the librarian a special treat.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size                               1 Chocolate
Serving Per Container        16
Amount Per Serving: One “chocolate” per day
Calories: 1 ---Hour of Endless Fun
Total Fat:—10 – Guaranteed Belly Laughs
Sodium: 1 –Day of build-up until the activity
Total Carbohydrate: 500mg of Energy for an Activity of Love
     Dietary Fiber: 5—guaranteed hugs per day to keep you full of love
     Sugars: As many as you can grab without mom knowing J
Protein: Countless memories to fill you up

Valentine's Day Snowman Fridge

After finding the Christmas snowman fridge on Pinterest, we decided to keep our snowman up for a few more seasons. We changed his scarf color, added some heart stickers, made heart buttons, and decorated his hat. (Helps to keep unnecessary clutter off of the refrigerator!)

This was made from construction paper, minus the stickers.

St. Patrick's Day Pot o' Activities

After removing our "Heart Tree" for Valentine's Day, I realized that this spot on our wall would now constantly have to be filled with something. So, as a family, we came up with this Pot o'Activities at the End of the Rainbow.

Every day the kids will select one of the numbered coins from the pot of gold. Because Easter and St. Patrick's Day are so close this year, I have bonus Easter coins for them to select the week between St. Patrick's Day and Easter. (Some of the initial 17 coins are Easter activities as well.)

I like to make the kids think about things they are thankful for, or tie this activity to a life lesson of some sort.

Every day, in order to collect their "activity coin", they have to go around the house and find something that they normally take for granted to donate to our "Pot of Blessings". (This could be toothpaste, can food, shampoo, roll of paper towels, etc.) At the end of the season, we will donate these supplies to the local shelter or to the church collection. (This idea is courtesy of the kids' daycare provider--Thanks, Marcy!)

Here are the activities I have chosen for the coins. (The best part of this is the kids have not seen the activities, so if I find something better between now and then, I can always change the activity without them even knowing.)

1 Make St. Patrick’s Day Playdough

2 Make lucky cupcakes

3 Make jelly bean prayer eggs

4 Make a shamrock collage

5 Take a green bubble bath

6 Paint shamrock ornaments

7 Make bunny handprint cards

8 Make toilet paper roll bunnies

9 Make bunny tin decorations

10 Make sugar cookies for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter

11 Make a leprechaun handprint craft

12 Go to the library for holiday books

13 Make an Easter chick

14 Make a green carnation centerpiece.

15 Make rainbow cupcakes

16 Go on a shamrock hunt

17 Have a “green” dinner

Bonus Easter Coins

18 Go on an Easter egg hunt for privileges

19 Make Mr. Potato head eggs

20 Make a cross suncatcher

21 Make a popcorn lamb

22 Make shaving cream colored eggs and Easter handprint frames

23 Make other colored eggs

Note: The Pot o' Activities is made from white craft paper. The reason it is a little crooked is it is drawn freehand! We colored the pot and drew a shamrock.
The rainbow is made from the same white paper and is colored. The shamrocks are wall decorations we found at Joann Fabrics. The coins are yellow construction paper with the small wall decals placed on them.

Coming next...April showers bring May flowers. (Raindrops will be activities scattered around flowers on the wall.)

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Refrigerator

Today we turned our snowman into a leprechaun. This is made from almost all construction paper. The only things that aren't construction paper are the eyes and button stickers.

The boys really enjoyed cutting out the pieces and drawing a variety of "noses" :) I think he resembles a dog a little bit, but the boys were happy with their creation, so that is all that matters.

Easter Bunny Refrigerator Decoration

This bunny is made mostly from construction paper. The mouth is pink pipe cleaners, the nose is a pink puffball, and the eyes are craft eyes. Everything else is cut from construction paper. I outlined the hands and feet in black construction paper so the white would stand out a little bit more.

April Showers Bring May Flowers Activity Wall

Our next wall of activities is called "April Showers Bring May Flowers". The raindrops hold the activities for each day. (Each day the kids will select a raindrop.) The wall will work for a couple of months and focuses on spring crafts and activities.

I got the flowers from the Easter clearance at Hobby Lobby. They are foam flowers the kids put together for the first craft of the month. Then we taped them to the wall. (They could also be made from construction paper if you don't have the foam flowers.) The cloud is just cotton balls glued to construction paper. Everything else is just construction paper.

I pinned most of the activities that are on the raindrops to Pinterest. Here is the link to my Spring Craft board: http://pinterest.com/emcarlson/spring-crafts/

Detroit Tigers Mascot Refrigerator

There aren't any holidays coming up in the near future, so we decided to celebrate the start of the 2013 baseball season.  We turned our refrigerator into our favorite team mascot, Paws.

Paws is the mascot of the Detroit Tigers. The boys love watching baseball with their dad, so this seemed like a great fit for our house.

Everything is made from construction paper except the face. I found a tiger mask at the dollar store, so I used that as the face. I added some google eyes, cotton balls in the ears, and a baseball sticker in the paw, but other than that, I cut everything out from construction paper.

Father's Day Activity Wall

 Our next activity wall for the year is centered around Father's Day. To start, I taped down some white paper on the floor. (Originally I was just going to trace the top half of my husband, but when my son saw how much fun it looked, he wanted a sheet of paper to lay on as well. So we improvised the wall a little bit.) The two lay side by side with their hands together. I traced them and cut out their shapes.

We taped the images on the "Activity Wall" and colored some clothing on them. I tried to draw on some faces, but they looked a little scary, so I just taped on a picture of my husband and son where the faces would go.

For the activity part of it, we cut out ties from different construction paper. There is an activity listed behind each tie. Every day the kids will pick one tie out of the "closet" (located on the other side of the hallway) to put on dad. The tie they choose will tell them the activity for the day.

4th of July Activity Wall

We decided on a 4th of July theme for our next activity wall. (I am secretly making this a history lesson for the kids as well.)

While we made this, I explained that the first flag the United States had did not look exactly like the flag we have today. For this activity wall, we made the first flag of the United States. We talked about why the first flag only had 13 stars and why the flag has 13 stripes. We used this website as a starting point to the history: http://www.usflag.org/history/the13starflag.html

I drew the 13 stripes on a piece of big white paper. I outlined all the red stripes with red paint. Then David painted inside all of the red outlines.

Next we painted the blue square.
 We cut out 13 stars.
On each star, I wrote what state it represented.

  • (1st) Delaware December 7th, 1787
  • (2nd) Pennsylvania December 12th,1787
  • (3rd) New Jersey December18th, 1787
  • (4th) Georgia January 2nd, 1788
  • (5th) Connecticut January 9th, 1788
  • (6th) Massachusetts February 6th, 1788
  • (7th) Maryland April 28th, 1788
  • (8th) South Carolina May 23rd, 1788
  • (9th) New Hampshire June 21st, 1788
  • (10th) Virginia June 25th, 1788
  • (11th) New York July 25th, 1788
  • (12th) North Carolina November 21st, 1789
  • (13th) Rhode Island May 29th, 1790

  • On the first day, the kids will see that the first star is Delaware. We are going to do a little bit of research about Delaware. After we do our research, I will direct the kids to their first activity. (I pinned a bunch of activities to a Summer board on Pinterest.) After they do their research each day, they can pick out an activity from that board.

    ***Addition: After doing this for a couple of days, I realized this was a perfect opportunity to teach the boys how to do research. So, we started a notebook. At the top of each page we wrote the name of the state and numbered the page 1 to 5. I talked to them about doing searches. For instance, I showed them that if they just typed in "Delaware" it wouldn't give them the facts they needed. I wanted them to find 5 facts about the state they didn't already know. So instead we typed in "Facts about Delaware" and got a great site for fast facts about all 50 states. This was also great writing practice for my 10-year-old. He worked on turning the facts into complete sentences.