Story stones

Lou's finished project - The Princess and the Frog
 I have been really wanting to do these story stones since I saw them on Art for Little Hands.  I also saw another version of these on Red Ted Art that we will hopefully get to try out soon. 

I started by introducing the stones and telling the children that each stone would hold a picture that would be part of a story.  I didn't give them any story line to follow, I wanted to see what kind of things they might come up with on their own.  They were so excited to begin!

We began by picking out stones from our back yard and washing them.  We already had a bunch of crayons without wrappers, but we unwrapped a few more for our project.  I placed the clean stones onto a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.  Then I turned the oven off and left the stones in the oven. 

I carefully took a few stones out at a time with a hot pad and placed them on the table in front of the children for them to work with.  I told them that they were hot, so to be careful not to touch them.  The learned pretty quickly that, yes, they really were hot.  Even my 2 year old understood and it wasn't much of an issue - at least no tears were shed.

 Maisy picked her favorite color and just decided to coat her stone with color.  I think she really enjoyed seeing the waxy crayon melt onto the rock.

 Here she is working on her second stone - completely covering this one in blue.

 The girls' cousin was visiting our house this day and she got to work quickly making a butterfly (on the right) and then decided to coat her second stone with white.  She actually made two that were completely white - she tried to add pink polka dots (for Minnie Mouse) but the dots just wouldn't stay where they were supposed to go. 

 Mina went for the same technique as Maisy and chose brown to coat her rock - looks like chocolate.

 Lou was working hard on making little people on her stones.  It was actually quite difficult to do because the melted crayon had a tendency to run.  It may have worked better if the stones were a tiny bit cooler.  Still, she was happy with what she had created.

I did a few of my own - it was really fun for me, too!  I tried to mix some of my colors, but found out that melted crayon colors do not mix together.  Here is our complete collection of stones to use time and time again to play with or to tell stories with. 

Our easy school lunch solution

I am by no means an expert at getting Lou out the door on time, but I have recently found a way to make our morning a little easier.  Yes, those are frozen sandwiches.  I made them last night and here is my week's supply (for the whole family).  Lou wants a turkey and cheese sandwich every day - I know, at least that's easy and she really doesn't like to vary much.  We started this last week when she started school and the week went by so smoothly.   I made all the varieties my family eats - turkey and cheese (don't add mayo until you're ready to eat, it makes it soggy), plain cheese, and pb&j. 

It's nice because it keeps the sandwich nice and cool without an ice pack and by lunch time it's nice and thawed.  All I need to do in the morning is put everything together (or have everything else together the night before).  It's made my morning so stress free!

Paint with water

 This activity is so simple and my girls love it.  All you need is a bucket full of water and an old paintbrush and they can paint and repaint as much as they choose.  I found that our local dollar store had packages of paint brushes and small paint rollers so I picked some of those up the last time I was there. 

 Mina really wanted to paint the kiddie chairs with water.  She started with one and just moved onto the next.

Then she moved onto the picnic table and chairs.  She did a lovely job. 

 When Maisy decided to come outside to try it, she went to work on the sidewalk at first.  She made a few faces with the paintbrush.

 Then she moved on to the roller.

 Then Maisy and Mina began working together to get the job done on the picnic table.

While we're at it, why not paint the house?  The possibilities are endless.  

5 classic ways to wear out your kids!

Summer is coming to an end and many of our kids have already gone back to school. Summer time is pretty relaxed and bedtime over the past few months has gradually gotten to be later and later. This is fine if you've got no where to be in the morning, but I've got a second grader and a preschooler who need to get back into the habit of regular bedtimes.  I've been trying to gradually make their bedtime earlier, but it hasn't worked. 

Here's 3 ways we were able to wear out these girls a bit before bedtime - and 2 more ways we have yet to try. 

1.  Sack Races
 I just grabbed some old pillow cases since I didn't have actual sacks and they worked great! They absolutely loved this - and if you've done this you know how tiring it is!  We used our garden hose a finish line for the races we did.

2.  Crab Races

 Even if the kids don't understand the concept of this they can do it their own way. 

3.  Target Toss
This may not sound like it's very physically tiring, but once the kids are running to grab their birdie it really turns into a sport.  I bought this game, but it could easily be made out of a rope or garden hose and then you could toss a rock or some other weighted item into the target.

These last two we didn't have time yet to try out with our girls -

4.  3-legged Race
Now, this one is tricky but is so much fun and so good for coordination.  You just need a rope or tie of some sort to tie each team together at the leg and you are ready to go. 

5.    Wheelbarrow Race
I really wish we had time for this one also.  I'm not sure how far the kids would have been able to go, but it would have been good for some laughs I'm sure.  If you've never done this, here's how you do it:  Two people pair up and one is the wheelbarrow and the other is the "pusher".  The wheelbarrow person gets on their hands and feet facing the ground and the pusher holds onto the wheelbarrow's feet.  The wheelbarrow has to walk with their hands to the finish line while the pusher walks behind them holding their feet. 

Cut straw painting

This project looked like so much fun when Putti Prapancha did it.  I'm not sure why it has taken us this long to give it a try.  I simply took some drinking straws, poked the point of my scissors into the end of the straw and cut in about an inch and repeated around the entire end of the straw.  Then I bent out the ends so they were perpendicular to the stem of the straw. 

I poured some washable kids paint into separate cups to keep the colors from turning to muck.  Then the girls began to dip the straws into the paint and stamp them onto their papers. 
 Mina started out stamping red splotches all over her paper.  I think in the future I will thin out the paint a bit with water.  It seemed so thick on the paper. 

 Next Mina decided to turn her straw around and stamp a bit with the small circular end.

 When she decided she was done with that picture she turned her paper over to start painting on the back - thank goodness for these awesome washable paints!  I didn't even lay down any newspaper underneath since usually clean up is so easy.  It would have made a beautiful print had we been able to keep it there.

 Maisy started out with the yellow paint she loves so much and moved on to pink.

 She liked stamping for a couple of minutes before moving on to just smearing the paint.  By this point the straw was so bent out of shape that it wasn't making a very nice print anyway.

 Once Mina got a new sheet of paper she was off to her straw stamping once again.  She loved to use all different colors.

 And moving on to the next paper!

 Maisy decided she would have another go on a clean sheet of paper.  Once again she decided to go for the smearing effect instead of stamping.

 Mina's final piece of artwork  - as she decided to jump up and down on the stool.  It looks like we're done painting today!

 Meanwhile, Maisy was getting a bit carried away with the paint also.  It's time to put the paints away once they start being splashed on the walls!

 Mina's 5 pieces of artwork,

And Maisy's 2 finished pieces.

Christmas in August

What kid doesn't seriously love Christmas?  Well, my kids really wanted to play Christmas this past Saturday.  What's so great about this is that Dad was home and able to be in on the action.  The kids decided they would decorate our indoor palm tree so we got out some construction paper, yarn, scissors, and crayons.  Dad went to work cutting out shapes for the tree.

 I think he may actually be enjoying this...

 Maisy is getting to work on decorating her Santa ornament.

Mina is also hard at work decorating ornaments.

And Lou is busy punching holes and tying the yarn on.

 Of course it's Dad's job to hang the star on the tree.

 And the girls did the rest of the decorating.

It looks like Santa came!  It's a good thing those girls were able to get to bed in time.  I think this was the most stress-free Christmas we've ever had!  

Making hard sand castles

Sand castles are so much fun to make.  I recently came across this way from Smmart ideas to make sand castles harden once they are dry so you can keep your creation a while longer.

You begin mixing together equal parts of corn starch and water (I used 1 1/2 cups of each) over low heat in a pan that you don't mind getting scratched up a bit.  Then I slowly added sand to the mixture while constantly stirring until the mixture became thick enough that the sand was moldable.  I think I used about 6 cups of sand.  I wish I would have made a bigger batch, I just didn't have enough corn starch on hand to do it.

Then I took the sand outside along with some plates, cups, cookie cutters and fun beads to let the kids begin with their creations. 

Maisy started out just spooning sand onto her plate and patting it down.  I think she wanted to make a sandy base, but I had to have her start all over again because there just wasn't enough of the sand mixture to allow her to do it that way. 

I really had to help Mina figure out what to do.  She is so used to playing in the sand box, but this idea was new to her.  I think she would have known what to do in the sand box, but with this set up she needed a little more direction.   I ended up making the tiny castles for her and she had a ball just decorating them.

Mina's creation before she just decided to squash it flat...

Yep, she just wanted to remind me that it's about the process - not the end product.

This is Lou's creation complete with party picks, beads, tiny sea shells and Hello Kitty charms. 

Maisy was pretty excited about her sand castle - it looks a lot like her sister's.  I can't wait to see what kinds of things Maisy will create once Lou is back in school.  She likes to mimic her older sister quite a bit, but she takes on such a different role when she is the oldest child at home. 

We left the castles outside overnight to dry and in the morning they were hard as a rock.  Once the sand was dry the decorations didn't stick so well to the sand, but nothing a little glue won't fix.  I think we will do this again next summer with a larger batch of sand.  It would be a really fun activity to do on vacation or with sand that is brought home from a vacation also. 

Simple play - shoe store

Gotta love how kids come up with such fun ways to make believe.  This is Lou and Maisy's shoe store:

I especially love the accessory tote bag hanging from the handle and the nice towel the slippers are layed out on.  I love that the slippers are separated from the other shoes (I just noticed after seeing this picture).  This really could turn into a fun way to figure different ways  to sort the shoes. 

The best part was how they were ringing up the shoes using the scanner.  I never would have thought to use that!  What creative ways do your kids like to make believe?


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