Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flannel Knot Rabbits

I saw these flannel knotted rabbits in an Easter display and fell in love. I knew I had to make Q some! I spent a bit of time tonight and figured them out via trial and error. Here's the tutorial if you'd like to whip up a rabbit! They only take a couple of minutes.

I love that they invite the child to extend their imagination. The general shape of a rabbit is there, but it is also very simple and the child engages the child's imagination instead of providing every detail for them. I also appreciate the soft richness of the flannel. A teething infant would enjoy chomping down on the rabbit and flannel would be fine for little mouths.
Start out with a 5X20 inch piece of flannel. It doesn't even have to be cut perfectly straight, so no worries!
Fold one corner across to the opposite side. On the other end fold the opposite corner across. It should make a parallelogram.

Gather up both of the pointed ends and hold them together in your fingers. (Pink dye on your fingertips is optional......)haha.

Tie an overhand knot by wrapping the points around the bottom and pulling through the middle.

Tuck any raw edges under and arrange ears to look "rabbitish."

I arranged Q's two rabbits in a little basket with some moss (from our tree).
Older children could make up stories about the rabbits.

I initially looked online to see if I could find the directions for these rabbits, but only found a more complex one that includes feet and paws. Here is that link if you are interested.
Posted by Picasa

The famous "teets!" (treats)

Can you find the treats on top of the fridge? If not, Q can show you EXACTLY where they are! I started making my own dog treats to save some $$ and also because my daughter munches on them as she feeds the dog, and I wanted to know what ingredients she ingests. I love this simple, cheap recipe. And you can omit the wheat germ or brewer's yeast if you want. Brewer's yeast is supposed to help prevent fleas in you might want to include it after all! You can buy it in the baking area at the grocer's.

This is a great cook-together activity for you and your kiddos!

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.

In large bow stir together:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup brewer's yeast
2 T. peanut butter
1 c. chicken stock/broth

(if you leave out either the wheat germ or brewer's yeast you will have to add more flour to get the right consistency.)

Once it is stirred together, it should be the consistency of a stiff sugar cookie dough. I always have to add more water to mine--I add tablespoons of water until it's a consistancy I can form into a large ball.

On floured cutting board, roll out (using rolling pin dusted with flour) to about 1/4 inch thick.

With small cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out shapes. Transfer onto greased cookie sheets. You can put them very close together because they don't rise at all.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes (or until you can see bottoms browning). Remove from oven, flip over, and bake another 10ish minutes, until both sides are brown. The first time you make them stay close to your oven and check them several times to determine the correct cook time for your oven. It is better for them to get browner than you think is necessary, because you want them crisp.

Once they are done, turn off oven and let them rest in unheated oven for 3-4 hours (I usually leave them in overnight) to finish hardening. Transfer to jar. Store in refrigerator. Can be frozen.

Q gives Alie 5 treats (we count them out together into a little cup each day) every morning after breakfast. This is beginning to teach her routine and also how our days are boundaried by time (treats come after breakfast, which is in the morning). She also practices counting, following directions (she gets out a cup for the treats and puts it away) and sharing. ;)
Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 22, 2010

Revisiting the stickynotes

The stickynotes provided some more entertainment today, and for a longer period than last time. She likes me to stick them on the wall and then she takes them all down and puts them in her little bowl. We even brought in the chair to reach the high ones! She doesn't yet understand that you have to find the sticky part on the note and stick it to the wall, so she gets frustrated when they don't stick. We'll keep practicing, though! :)

PS) Don't judge my fashion taste by the blue cabinet and door pulls in the background. They came with the house and the computer nook/wet bar is one area we haven't done any updating yet. Blue pulls will go, believe me!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 19, 2010

Post-its are amazing!

While I was trying to get some work done at the computer this week I introduced Q to post-it notes. She loved tearing them off the pad. I showed her how to stick them to the wall and then "pat-pat" them so they stay stuck. Then she pulled them all down and collected them in a tupperware. This only entertained her for about 2 minutes, but the more she works with them the more she will want to explore.
Older children could "write" notes on them and poste them around the house. They could hide them for a sibling or parent to find on a scavenger hunt....they could make a trail with them....lots of possibilities for those sticky little tidbits of paper!
Posted by Picasa

Clothespin activities

I dry our laundry on a clothesline outside....and this is one of Q's favorite activities. She loves taking the clothespins from the tall glass vase and handing them to me. She practices carrying the fragile vase carefully, and when we take down the clothes she replaces the clothespins in the vase. This is a great way for her to practice her spatial awareness as she fits the pins in the narrow vase. It also helps develop a sense of volume (capacity containers will hold) and quantity (number of objects). I try to make observations such as "the jar has lots of clothespins! It's very full!" and "Ohh, there are only a few left! We've used lots of clothespins already!" to help expose her to these relationships.
Older kids can take this even further by playing a game where they try to drop clothespins in a milk jug (put a little sand in the bottom to keep it from tipping over) or soda bottle.

Older toddlers and preschoolers that have the dexterity and strength to squeeze a clothespin love clipping work!
This is a large, empty oatmeal container that I covered in felt. The clothespins are then clipped around the rim. When not in use they can be stored in the center.
-actually clip objects onto the container--felt animals, flowers, paper, baby socks, etc.
-draw dots around the rim of the container so the clips go on each dot
-use clips of differing sizes--binder clips, chip clips, etc.
*For my preschoolers I used to use about 5 different size clips. I would trace around each clip (clip it on the container and then draw around the part that touches the container) and they would have the task of matching each clip to its drawing.

Of course clothespins are fabulous for fine motor development as they use the pincer grasp. They also promote counting!
Posted by Picasa


I put away the St. Patrick's day items on Q's work shelf and replaced them with a few more Easter things.
I found these paper-mache eggs at Michael's in a 6 pack for $1.99. I had saved a cardboard egg carton, so I cut it in half to hold the eggs for a matching, one-to-one correspondance activity. I kept the other half in case this side gets worn out or stepped on. :)
I always try to use work trays to organize and contain each set of items, and I like for them to be a contrasting color to the item so the work really shows up. I had to scrounge around for something that contrasted with these natural-colored eggs....found the baking sheet for our toaster oven! Perfect!
I love Easter decorations but hate the tacky plastic stuff that tends to come out at easter. Especially plastic eggs and plastic grass. I found these wooden goose eggs (bigger than regular eggs) also at Michael's. I really try to repurpose items I find for free or that we already have around the house, and when I do buy something to use in Q's curriculum, I try to choose something that can be used for a long time. I see these little eggs coming out every Easter for different purposes. I have a beautiful cut-glass egg plate that I know Q will enjoy using when she gets a bit bigger!
I want to try to dye these wooden eggs and am doing a little internet research for a method that won't stain our hands when the eggs dry and we work with them!

We are working on teaching Quinn about eggs--we talk about eating them, we look at pictures of birds hatching out of them in books, and we have some decorated ones around our house. She knows the word EGG and likes to point them out to us as we're out and about.
Posted by Picasa

March Literacy Cards

Here is Q's bulletin board for March.
-Little Bunny Fufu
-Mary Had a Little Lamb
-I Have a Little Duck
-Here Comes Peter Cottontail
-Six Little Ducks

(Nursery Rhyme)
-Little Bo Peep

(Finger Plays)
-Bouncy Cottontail

Little Bo Peep is her current fave! :)

I have posted some of the songs and the fingerplay in previous posts and here are a few others:

(click for full size or email me for the Word version if you're interested!)
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Had a Little Rooster CD

We are all enjoying this cd! Quinn listens to it on her little cd player in her playroom whenever the mood strikes her, and it's actually a cd Matt and I don't mind, either! It's folky with catchy tunes (I've caught both M and I singing it around the house!) and fun lyrics while not too "kiddish." Definitely give it the thumbs up! Several songs have an opportunity for children to fill in missing words, which is called "cloze" activities and helps build listening comprehension, an important prereading skill! Be still, my heart. :)
Posted by Picasa

Yummy, easy, healthy dinner idea!

One of the most important things Matt and I work to teach Q is to be a healthy eater. We've worked our hardest to expose her to primarily unprocessed foods (fruits, vegetables, etc.) and when we do use processed foods (she LOVES crackers!) we look for whole grains. Not to say we never let the girl eat junk food, but we are very intentional about what nourishes our family. My parents taught me this at a young age and that's why I am a healthy eater today!
We also have the expectation that Q eats whatever we're eating at mealtimes. We don't make special food for her or give her other choices. Because this has been our routine from day one, she has no problem with it. She will even try spicy foods! She eats virtually every fruit and vegetable, and there's rarely a food she turns down (except sometime cold, plain cheese). We don't give her any juices (per our pediatrician and several nutritionists' recommendations because of the empty calories from sugar--even with 100% juice) and she gets her fruit servings from real fruit--eaten raw, mixed in her oatmeal or yogurt or in smoothies.

Anyhow, here is a great recipe we tried this week out of Everyday Food Magazine (March 2010 issue). All three of us gobbled it up, and the extra portion I had planned to freeze for another meal--it disappeared! :)

-1 butternut squash (peeled with veggie peeler, quartered, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch slices)
-1 large red onion, cut into wedges
-2 T. olive oil
-fresh sage (I didn't have any so I used dried savory and it was delicious--dried or fresh thyme or rosemary would also be good)
-course salt and ground pepper
-2 pork tenderloins (I used boneless pork chops)
-1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
-1 orange, halved (all our oranges had already been eaten so I used a splash of orange juice)

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
*On rimmed cookie sheet, toss together squash, onion, oil, and sage and season with salt and pepper.
*roast 10 minutes.
*MEANWHILE....Season pork generously on both sides with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 8-10 minutes (I used olive oil cooking spray)
*Nestle pork into vegetables on cookie sheet; roast until veggies are tender and pork is cooked through
*transfer pork to seperate plate to rest.
*squeeze orange juice over veggies.
*with wooden spoon stir and scrape up any browned bits.
*Transfer to serving bowl and add sliced pork. Top with any juices from pan.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I added a rug to the playroom to start using during our little circle time. It helps Q stay in one spot and if she does get up to get something, I can say, "bring it to the rug!" It gives her a bit of a sense of boundary.
Did you know that rolling up a rug at clean-up time actually helps to promote pre-reading skills? Here's how:
First teach your child to fold it from left to right (don't look at this picture--I flipped it the wrong way on my computer, yikes).
Then teach them to roll it from top to bottom.
This is teaching an important concept that print goes from left to right and top to bottom and even something as simple as rolling a rug can help foster print awareness!
Posted by Picasa

Bible Lesson

This month's Bible focus is Baby Jesus! I made a flannelboard shepherd, sheep and baby Jesus, since we are talking about sheep in our curriculum. I found a great tiny book at the dollar store that tells the story of Jesus' birth. What a find!!! Q especially loves tiny books. :) Last month I used real objects (baby Moses and a basket), so this month I wanted to do something different. We read the book and talk about how the shepherds came to visit the baby Jesus.
Posted by Picasa


This poor little cd player has lived a hard life. I used it in my 1st grade classroom when I taught elementary. Matt used it in the garage after that. I found it a couple months back and cleaned it up the best I could for Q's playroom. We keep a cd in it at all times and she knows how to turn it on. In March we had some Celtic music to go with St. Patrick's Day. We also check out lots of kids' cd's from the library!
Posted by Picasa

Velcro Rabbit work

For this work I cut out two felt rabbits. I had a piece of orange webbing I had picked up on a walk one day. It was nasty, so we washed it and then I cut it into carrot shapes and sealed the edges with a lighter so they wouldn't frey. We always come home from our walks and runs with treasures in the storage compartment of our jogger. :) I love repurposing old junk. Anyhow, I sewed a felt top on the carrots and attached some velcro. The goal is for Q to attach the carrots on the purple dots. This teaches one-to-one correspondance, counting, science skills (rabbits eat carrots!), and fine motor.
I read an article recently on how using velcro is difficult for children for a little while because they have a hard time understanding that you have to match up a hook and a loop piece to get it to "stick."
This particular work only uses the hook side of the velcro, but I used the advice of the article and colored all the hooks one color (that I will stick with on any velcroing work) and I used the color I will eventually use on the loops--purple--to make the dots.
Later on when I add velcro to some of her blocks, coloring the velcro will help her know which pieces stick together!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paint that baby!

Yesterday I let Q paint outside in the warm sun. We made painty footprints and handprints and I even showed her how to put some paint on her cheeks and legs! She loved looking in the mirror at the paint. I made sure to talk about the fact that when we are inside we paint out paper, but when we paint outside we can paint our bodies.

Afterward she had so much fun washing up and playing in the hose! She discovered the fun of filling her little wheelbarrow and then dumping it over....again and again! My dry grass loved this!

One note....the actual time she spent painting was about 5 minutes. Toddlers still have a really short attention span, even with super-fun activities. Sometimes its frustrating to put all the time into preparing and cleaning up an activity when the child only spends 5 minutes engaged in it. However, the more you repeat and practice activities, the longer they will keep interested. Just remember you are training your child how to paint (or whatever the activity) and it's worth the effort!
Posted by Picasa

Just finished reading this.....and give it a thumbs up!

There were a lot of the usual activities that show up a lot in baby/toddler activity books, but I was pleasantly surprised by several neat "variations" or activities I hadn't heard of before. All of the activities are easy and don't require special materials--just things you have around the house. I have/will be posting many of my favorites as I try them out on Q, so you will notice me referring to "Baby Days" from now on!
Posted by Picasa

Sticky Note Finger Puppets

Here's an easy idea.....use a pad of post-it/ stickynotes to make finger puppets!

Wrap them around your finger, draw the animal, person or character, and create a little fingerplay!

Another good item to keep stashed in a purse or diaper bag. Older kids could create their own puppetshows and littler ones could be entertained by Mommy or Daddy's (or older sibling's) fingerplay!

(This came from Baby Days.)
Posted by Picasa