Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Colored Rice and Caramel Confession

I am constantly on the look out for new ideas to use in my AWANA Puggles class. I am finding the 2 year old age group a difficult one as the abilities of a just turned 2 year old are a FAR cry from the abilities of a 2-almost-3 year old. We are in the second half of the year now so the children are all much more able to handle things than they were when we first started.

This week I decided to do colored rice art. I've seen this idea floating around various preschool blogs for awhile now and I'm feeling adventurous this week so I thought I'd give it a try finally.

I always let Claire test out the ideas before I present them to my group of Puggles. That way I can find and fix any issues and prevent mishaps. (Although, Claire is a bit more capable than 10-16 2 years olds with supervision spread among 3 adults.)

First, I let Claire squeeze the food coloring into the rice. We had a mini lesson on mixing colors and how to make green, orange and purple.
Then I set the rice in the sun to dry. One tutorial said it could take anywhere from 5 hours to 2 days to dry but this is Arizona so they were dry in about 20 minutes.
Claire cautiously sprinkled the rice onto her gluey paper. She doesn't like to be messy anymore.
I guess she is growing up:(
The finished product...When I asked her what it was she said it was a picture of eggs. "Easter eggs?" I asked, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. "No, just plain eggs." she said. Okay.......

I put the rice in my handy dandy containers and they are ready for Puggles tomorrow!
Oh, oops, should I be ashamed of picture? Naw, but if you saw the other dozen of Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered caramel containers in my cupboard I might be.

Some of them are from my mom, I promise! I asked her to save them for me because they are perfect for storing things like paint, play dough, and colored rice.

But since I brought them up, I must ask. Have you tried them?!?!?!

They. are. to. die. for.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Last week, we were playing outside on a windy day and realized that Claire had never flown a kite. Today, we picked up a pack of 2 at Dollar Tree and tried them out.
They flew amazingly well! Claire was in awe the first time it lifted up into the sky.
She liked trying to catch it as we were pulling it in.

At first she didn't quite understand that she couldn't run toward the kite as it was flying and that she needed to keep tension on the string.

But by the end of the afternoon she was a pro kite flyer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


A few weeks ago Claire officially started school. It's hard to know what a 3 and a half year old should know and learn. She has known her colors and alphabet since she was 2 so I figured she should start learning the letter sounds and work on basic math and writing skills.

Over the years, I have found a few different kinds of supplemental curriculum at our good old Mormon thrift store. They are proving to be quite valuable and the combination of all of them is making a well rounded curriculum for us.

Ancient... yes,
But fun and effective.
When we first started doing these rhyming pages Claire was completely lost. We kept working on rhyming words everyday and now she can complete these pages perfectly and comes up with words that rhyme throughout the day. She is still a little confused though because she'll find words that go together; i.e. Fox and the Hound or Eric and Ariel, and say that they rhyme.

For math, we are practicing counting consistently. She often is in a rush and moves her finger faster than she says the number so I make sure she slows down and watches what she is doing/saying.

(these next few pictures are of the Letter of the Week curriculum which can be downloaded for free)

(Did you know that clothes pins are very tricky and take practice to master? I did not)

I bought this Base Ten Number Concepts Set from Amazon to help with understanding the teen numbers and counting by tens. If she pays attention and tries hard, she gets to build something with them afterward.We have a packet of these worksheets to practice easy addition and subtraction.
We have found that playing SORRY! is a fun way to reinforce counting and number recognition... although as I write this I am realizing this may be a one of the reasons why she does not know 6 or 9 since SORRY doesn't have 6 or 9 cards.
The 3 steps ahead program has cards like this.
They start out easy, with visual discrimination and go all the way through colors letters, sounds, letter combinations, reading, math, and telling time.

We also work on patterns. I had no idea how hard patterns were. It took Claire a while to understand but now she can do any pattern I give her.
More Letter of The Week pages - they are too easy but it builds her confidence and she thinks they are fun.
We also practice pre-writing and writing skills through Letter of the Week and Kumon's Easy Mazes book.
The last 2 days we have worked on reading since she quickly learned her letter sounds. The first day we sat down and read the first Bob Book, she sounded out each letter perfectly. mmmm-aaa-tttt but she couldn't grasp how to blend them together. (and believe me, I tried, and it was very difficult for me to not yell "mmmm-aaaa-tttt, MAT! It says MAT for crying out loud!" I had her watch this Hooked on Phonics video a couple times and she seemed to understand it better than she did when I was impatiently pointing to each letter and trying to not raise my voice when I said "mmmaaatttt, mat" for the 7 thousandth time. If she gets lazy then she looks at the picture and tries to figure out what the words say. This one was my favorites.
"Mmmmm....aaattttt Mat.....".

Today she read the Bob book by herself. It took some time but she did it.

These worksheets were in one of the boxes I got at the thrift store. Claire loves to do them because they are so easy but at least it gives me an idea of what she knows. There are over 100 of them so I'm sure they'll get harder.

Phew! That seems like a lot, but each thing doesn't take much time. We probably work on school for 2 hours each day. Every morning Claire asks "Can we do school today?" and today she said "Yay! School is fun!"

Very soon I am going to order Sing Spell Read and Write to officially teach Claire to read. It is what my mom used for me and my brothers. I remember liking it and never having an issue learning to reading. It is a little expensive but can be used for all of our kids and I already know I like it so I don't have a problem spending the money on it.

Claire is right, school is fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trial and Error

I am busy preparing for the 2nd annual tea at for our church. It is very important to me that everything is just right, so I work hard to find the perfect recipes that not only taste good but also look good.

This weekend I tried this cake. (from pinterest) It looks beautiful and delicious right?
Pink Lemonade Pound Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix

1 (3 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup pink lemonade concentrate

4 drops pink or red food color, optional

1 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup white sugar

(I followed the recipe exactly)
First of all, the batter was obviously yellow due to the lemon cake mix, lemon pudding mix and 4 eggs. When you add red food coloring to something yellow, it turns orange.

Second of all, when you bake any cake, the outside turns brown. It's just a fact of life.

THIRD of all. The "glaze" is 1/2 cup white sugar and one cup of pink lemonade concentrate. Here is what it looks like.There's no way on earth it is going to look like the smooth, delicate, white coating as shown in the picture.

ALSO, this is how the recipe reads. Remove from oven and prick cake all over with a fork. Immediately pour lemonade glaze over top of cake. Let cake stand in pan until almost cool.

Okay, so do they not realize that the cake is upside down when it's in the pan? If I followed the recipe, the bottom of the cake would be drenched in that pink liquid. I cut out a slice and followed the directions just for kicks.
Yep, pretty much how I thought it would be; an ugly, wet, sticky piece of brownish-orangeish cake.

So where did that beautiful light pink cake in the picture come from? - Because the recipe under it is definitely not its origin.

This is why I try all of the recipes ahead of time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shes Got Skills

Our little Joybug is working on some new skills! She has just started sitting by herself. Of course she still needs some practice but she can sit for awhile before toppling over. Not too bad for a 5 and half month old who was born a month early! Joy is a tiny girl weighing in at 13.2 pounds.
She is also so close to crawling. She can get up on all fours and rock back again forth. She tries to take a "step" but her arms give out. She is quite mobile regardless and somehow rolls, scoots and pushes herself all over the room. (mostly in a backward direction)She has had her 2 bottom teeth for a month now and often has her lips pursed, like she is sucking on them. We thought the top ones would make their appearance awhile ago but they have not broken through yet.
Joy enjoys long walks in her babybjorn and spends most of her time on her tummy on the floor, standing in her disc, jumping in her johnny-jump-up and of course being held and snuggled. She is a sweet and wonderful baby in every way. She smiles and is happy most of the time. She also does things you would expect a baby to do which is a novelty since Claire never did anything by the book. ( i.e. playing with toys, sleeping, fussing only when tired, rubbing her eyes when tired, enjoying life, etc.)

We love this little girl!

Cheap Entertainment

This is what we do for fun on Friday nights.

Looking good!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I HATE to blow bubbles. Claire, of course loves them and I constantly feel like a bummer mom for not blowing bubbles as often or as long as she would like. We had a Little Tikes lion bubble blower but it was used so much it finally bit the dust.

I decided to splurge and get this bubble blower from Amazon. I always justify purchases like this by telling myself I can use it for my Awana Puggles group too. (and believe me, if it buys me 5 minutes of entertainment for the Puggles then it is well worth it.) I was more excited when it came then Claire was. I turned it on in the house and in less than a minute the air was thick with bubbles. I had to turn it off because there were so many that the floor was getting soaked. We took it outside to really try it out.

I let it run until Claire got her fill. I love that there is no wasted bubble solution with this machine. The only bummer is that the solution reservoir is very shallow so you can't carry it around after the solution is added. No matter how careful you are, it will still spill.

Even Joy like bubbles.
I am very happy with it so far. I figured it would be a good buy since
I have many more years of blowing bubbles.