Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Preschool Games

Our Parents-As-Teachers Educator, Pat, is retiring at the end of this school year :(  The girls and I love, love, love her.  We are so sad to say good-bye, but we are very happy that she's going to have more time to spend with her kids and grand kids.

Every time Pat comes to visit with the girls, she brings lots of fun, educational games. It was a very raining week last week so the girls and I had lots of time for indoor games.  Here are a few of our favorites.

Milestone Challenge Game
I posted about this game last year.  It's so super fun that I had to mention it agin!  Click here for the details.

I Spy Jar
This is a great game for helping kids to learn colors.  All you need is an empty Gatorade bottle (or similar bottle with a large opening), a bag of white rice and some small, colorful toys.  

Add the toys to the empty bottle first and then fill the bottle with rice.   Don't fill it up too high; you want the kids to be able to shake up the bottle.  When a toy appears in the rice you say "I spy something pink" and the child has to identify the pink frog.  As the child begins to learn their colors you can have them take a turn "spying" while you guess.

What's Missing
This game helps boosts your child's memory.  You can increase the difficulty as kids get older or more skilled.  You'll need 4 small toys and a small hand towel.

Show your child each toy, then cover them with the small towel (I used a burp cloth, which I always have handy these days thanks to Clara and her recent onset of acid reflux!).

While your child is cover their eyes, remove one toy from under the towel.  Remove the towel and have your child guess which toy is missing.  Add one more toy once your child masters four toys.

I also found some other fun and educational preschool games on Pinterest that you can make at home:
1.  Popsicle Stick Counting

2.  Alphabet Spoons

3.  Feed the Penguin

4.  Flashcard Hide and Seek

5.  Bean Bag Toss

6.  Popsicle Stick Matching

And lastly, these are a few games that we purchased that the girls love to play:

1.  Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

2.  The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That Game

3.  Uno Moo

Do your kids have a favorite game?  Please tell me about it!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preschool Birthday Party Favors

Last week I got to celebrate Ava's birthday with her at her preschool.  I love getting the chance to see Ava at school interacting with her teachers and friends.  Just as I suspected, she's a bit shy and a bit silly!

Ava got to bring a snack for the kids to eat on her birthday - Oreos and Lemonade!  She also got to give party favors to each of her school friends.  It's hard coming up with a birthday party favor that is fun for boys and girls, unique and inexpensive.  Last year, Ava and I made heart crayons.

It's debatable whether or not the boys were excited for the heart crayons.  Hopefully they appreciated the train erasers that I included with the crayons.

This year, my mom gave me the idea for Ava's party favors - punch balloons!  My mom buys these balloons all the time for family get-togethers and my kids and nieces and nephews LOVE them.  You can buy a bag of 16 balloons for only $6 at Party City!

I found some little initial cards at Party City (or you could make your own with card stock and maybe some birthday stickers) ...

I used a heart-shaped hole puncher to punch holes in each of them and looped the balloon's rubber band through the hole.  Then I wrote a little message on the inside and had Ava sign the cards ...

It was pretty simple and the kids seemed excited to get them!  Please share your ideas!  I have many more years of kid party favors to provide!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Flower Pots and Garden Labels

To celebrate Earth Day the girls wanted to plant flowers.  We went to Michaels and picked out our flower pots and paint and the girls got to work.

 I happened to catch Sidney on camera the moment she got paint on her chin!

After they pained their pots and drip trays, they painted these wooden spoons which we used to label their flowers.  I used a black Sharpie to write on the spoons.

We let everything dry overnight. I also used a Pinterest tip to clean the paint brushes.  They said to soak the paint brushes in hot vinegar to help release the paint.
I heated the vinegar in the microwave in a glass and soaked the paint brushes for several hours.  It somewhat loosened the paint.  They said you may have to repeat the process several times....I may just buy some new brushes as time is not on my side these days.

The next morning, the girls and I went shopping at a local nursery to find the perfect flowers and some potting soil.  The main requirement was that the flowers needed to be pink (of course).  They finally settled on pink, purple and white Petunias.  We planted and watered the flowers...

And here's how they turned out!

Happy Earth Day!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Birthday Interview

I started the Birthday Interview tradition last year.  When I was reading it to Ava the other day, Sidney, who just turned 3 in March, chimed in with her own responses.  Hmmm....  I didn't think that Sidney was old enough to understand, but it looks like I was wrong.  I had to break up the questions and ask them over the course of a couple of days but she answered all of them!  I'm going to find a cute binder to store all the interviews.

Click here for a link to my Interview questions.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hello Kitty Birthday Party

Ava asked to have a Hello Kitty party for her 5th birthday.  I'm not sure why.  She's never shown an interest in Hello Kitty before.  Maybe because it's pink?  Anyway, I was very happy to find that there is a TON of Hello Kitty stuff out there.  Seriously.  A TON.  Did you know you can buy Hello Kitty kitchen appliances??!!??  Target sells Hello Kitty microwaves, toasters and rice cookers, slow cookers and even mini fridges!  I had no idea that Hello Kitty was such a big deal.

There are also a lot of cute ideas on Pinterest if you're looking to have a Hello Kitty party for your kids.  Here are some pictures from our party.

Table Centerpieces
I found a bunch of pink pails and filled them with Blowouts.  Then I surrounded it with party hats, confetti and Hello Kitty cut outs that I color copied and pasted on pink foam flowers.

Birthday Cake
I'm sure you can make a cute Hello Kitty cake but you can't beat a $15 half sheet from Walmart!

Hello Kitty Head Bands
I found white head bands and red bows at Michaels.  Then I found stiff, white felt that had a peel-off adhesive back.  I traced ears on the felt, cut them out and wrapped them around the head band.  I used fabric tape to stick the bow to the felt.  I practiced first with paper.  It took me a few tries to get the ears to be the right shape.

Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty

I used poster board and card stock to make Hello Kitty and the bows.  To make everything symmetrical, I folded  large piece of paper in half and drew half of the shape, then I cut out the half shape on the folded piece of paper, unfolded it and traced the whole shape on the poster board or card stock.  I also traced around the bows with a pink Sharpie to give it more shape.  I took everything to Bradburns Parent Teacher store to get it laminated so it could be used again.

Balloon Pinata

This was by far the big hit of the party.  The kids had the best time popping the balloons and finding the tiny prizes inside.  to make a balloon pinata, buy several 12" (or larger) balloons.  Cut the top off of a large plastic bottle to use as a funnel.  You want the opening of the bottle to be large, but not so big that you can't wrap the balloon around it.  I used a SoBe Life Water bottle.  Also, when you purchase your prizes, be sure that they're small enough to stuff through the funnel.  Party City has lots of good options.  I put little toys, Starburst candy and Hello Kitty confetti in each balloon.  Then you just blow up the balloons and hang them from the ceiling.  The kids used tooth picks to pop the balloons.

Birthday Wreath
Ava painted her #5.  This has been the best wreath - it gets a lot of use.  Click here for the tutorial.

Ava's Year in Photos
I printed out a bunch of pictures of Ava over the past year and displayed them in the shape of a #5.  I taped the extras on our kitchen cabinets.  The kids love to see and remember all the fun things that they did over the past year.  I try to include pictures of Ava with the people who will be at the party too.

I found even more ideas on Pinterest that I didn't have time to do.  Click here to see my Hello Kitty Pinterest board.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

This is Five

Five …
   Sleeps with her Teddy and brings him everywhere
   Loves stickers and temporary tattoos
   Squeezes into size 2T pajamas 
   Helps with chores
   Insists on tagging along on mundane errands
   Has best friends
   Sings along with songs on the radio
   Refuses to wear socks
   Cannot wait to lose a tooth
   Wants to be brave but still hold your hand
   Knows the rules and tries to follow them
   Listens to reason
   Plays pretend with her stuffed animals
   Will do almost anything for a treat
   Is gaining independence
   Tolerates her little sister and adores her baby sister
   Giggles at potty jokes
   Believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny
   Has so many questions and needs to clarify everything
   Wants to make a plan and confirm the plan again and again
   Tries to make you laugh non-stop
   Is learning to spell and so proud of it
   Can do simple math and is so proud of it
   Plays board games and card games and loves to win
   Struggles sometimes with being a “big girl”
   Wants to be an artist and a mommy when she grows up
   Asks if there are toys in heaven and can she take Teddy too
   Can swing all by herself
   Talks and talks and talks and…..
   Believes her stuffed animals have feelings
   Will let you know when you hurt her feelings
   Loves her grandparents

"Five is a big deal.  Five goes to Kindergarten and reminds us that while we thought this day would never come and we thought we’d be elated to finally have some free time, we are actually sad to realize that school gets more of your time than we get.  Our heart aches over the passage of time.  Five shows us how fast it goes."

Five years old and full of fire.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DIY Wooden Block Puzzles

My sister-in-law, Rebecca, is pretty crafty.  She is always wowing me with a cute craft or jewelry.  I was completely shocked when she and her husband MADE a solid wood bed complete with a head board and foot board!  It looked like something that you could buy at a furniture store.  She casually said, "It was our first time making a bed so we picked an easy design.  All you need is a drill, a circular saw, a jig saw and we got an oscillating and belt sander."  Oh, that's all.  So how long will it take me to make this bed if all I have is a hand saw, a glue gun and some emery boards?

For Christmas, she made my girls the cutest puzzle.  She bought a short picture book (she picked the story of Cinderella) and selected 6 pages to depict the story.  Then she cut the pictures into pieces that would fit on the 16 blocks (that she had sanded, probably with her belt sander) and used matte finish Modge Podge to secure them to the blocks.  Here's how it turned out!

 Puzzle 1: Cinderella doing all the cleaning
(She also numbered the puzzle pieces so that all pieces with the number 1 go together, all pieces with the number 2 go together, etc, etc.  She's a smart little cookie!)

 Puzzle 2: Cinderella meets her Fairy Godmother

  Puzzle 3: Cinderella meets Prince Charming

  Puzzle 4: The clock strikes 12; Cinderella looses her glass slipper

  Puzzle 5: Prince Charming tries the glass slipper on Cinderella's foot

  Puzzle 6: Everyone lives happily ever after

I found these wooden blocks on Kiwi Crate's website for $8.95:

My girls love the puzzles, especially Ava (5).  Sidney (3) generally uses the blocks to stack the up and make castles, but that has proven to be a lot of fun too!  Thanks Aunt Rebecca!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 St. Louis Summer Fun Guide

A - Z Guide for Summer Fun in St. Louis

Based on the popularity of this post, I've decided to created a Weekend Wish List post each week that will capture all the weekend activities.  I'll try to get it up on my blog by Thursday night.  Thanks for your interest!

It's finally starting to feel like summer in St. Louis.  Time to start loading up your calendar with all the fun stuff to do in St. Louis.  This was by far one of my most popular posts in 2012 so I've updated it for 2013!

ABC Chefs Cooking Academy – Lots of fun summer cooking camps for kids.
Amtrak Trip  Kids love trains!  Start at the Kirkwood station and take a day trip.  The train stops in Washington, MO, Jefferson City, MO, Lee's Summit, MO, Independence, MO and Kansas City, MO.
Arch – In addition to going to the top of the Arch, the website offers lots of other fun things to do around the Arch grounds.
Art Fairs Let them Eat Art is scheduled for July 12th in Maplewood.  The St. Louis Art Fair and Art Outside will be held the first weekend in September.
Art Hill Outdoor Music & Film Series – Come and enjoy free music and movies Fridays in July on Art Hill.
Boathouse Boat Rental – Rent a 4-person paddle boat for $15 an hour.  Also, the boat house has live music most Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7pm throughout the summer.
Bob Kramer's Marionnettes - The Summer Follies puppet show runs from June 15 - September 8.
Budweiser Brewery Tour – Everyone is invited (even kids!) to a complimentary tour of the brewery.  Come on Clydesdale Camera Day to get a picture of your family with the Budweiser Clydesdales!
Butterfly House – Come to see the butterflies and check their calendar for special events.  The Butterfly House is located in Faust Park with the Carousel and a fun playground.
Cardinals at Busch Stadium – Come see a game with the whole family.  Check their website for the special promotions.
Carriage ride at Tower Grove Park – You can rent a 3 0r 4 person carriage and see the park.
Children’s Garden Club – This is a free club focused on getting kids interested in gardening.  Click on "Calendar of Events" to see what's going on.
Circus Flora – The circus is in town!  Hurry, it's only here in June!
City Garden – Come on a warm day with a change of clothes and plan to get wet.
City Museum – The best kids museum in town and it's fun for adults too.
COCA Family Theater Series – Sign up for a summer camp or just enjoy the shows.
Cooking Classes - Schnucks and Dierbergs both offer cooking classes for kids.
Crown Candy Kitchen – Opened in 1913, they are famous for their candy, but also serve lunch and dinner.  They also have the oldest soda fountain in St. Louis!
Dramatic License Productions – Now offering plays for kids as well as summer drama camps.
Drive-In Movies @ Skyview – This may be the only drive-in theater left near St. Louis.
Eckert’s Farm –  Visit one of their 3 locations to pick your own fruit this summer.
Fair St. Louis  Celebrate the Fourth of July in St. Louis!  Sign up for the one mile Family Fun Run to kick off the holiday.
Family Musical Theater – Come see a show with the whole family.
Family Theater Series – There are lots of great family shows starting in November.
Farmers Markets – Visit one of the many farmers markets around St. Louis for some fresh food straight from the farm.
Faust Park  Olden Days of Summer will be held on June 5th, June 16th and July 17th from 10am - 1pm.  There will be demonstrations of blacksmithing, candle dipping, rope making and other crafts, along with face painting and a petting zoo. $10 admission includes free carousel rides.  Click here for the 2013 Summer Brochure.
Faust Park’s St. Louis Carousel – This carousel was built in 1920 and nearly lost to a fire in 1963, but it still operates today for $2 a ride.  Also, check the website for special events and summer camps.
Festival of the Little Hills – This festival will be held August 16-18 along Historic Main Street in St. Charles.
Festival of Nations  The festival will be held August 24-25 at Tower Grove Park.
Fox Theater – The shows continue through the summer.  You can also take a 1.5 hour backstage tour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:30am.
Forest Park – Pack a picnic lunch and explore all the park has to offer.
Frisco Train Store - The kids can play with the trains in their free play area while you shop.
Gateway Grizzlies - Come watch a minor league ball game with your family in Illinois.
Grafton Zipline Adventures – 9 zip lines cover 1.75 miles!  Call to reserve your 2 hour tour.
Grant’s Farm – Admission is FREE!  Come see the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables, feed the goats and enjoy complimentary samples of Anheuser-Busch beer (21 and older of course!).
Hot Air Balloon Race at Forest Park – The 41st annual balloon race is September 21st.  And come to Balloon Glow on September 20th to see the inflated balloons up close.  
Innsbrook Institute Music Festival – Enjoy Innsbrook and a concert.  The musicians come from all over the US to perform at Innsbrook. 
Innsbrook Summer Camps – Summer camp opportunities are open to kids and grandkids of Innsbrook property owners aged 6-15.
Jewel Box – Located in Forest Park, the Jewel Box is open after a $3.5M renovation.
Katy Trail – Bike the Katy Trail and stop by a winery or two along the way.
Kirkwood Peach Festival  Enjoy peach samples from local farmers as well as peach related treats and menu items at Kirkwood Farmers' Market starting at 8am on July 13th.
Language Camp  French, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish language camps are offered for kids ages 5-10.
Laumeier Sculpture Park – Entrance to the park is free and open year round.
Learn to Swim at the YMCALittle Fishes Swim School or ASP Kirkwood – Feel more safe with your kids in the pool all summer by enrolling in swim lessons.  I've heard good things about these programs.
Lone Elk Park & World Bird Sanctuary – The World Bird Sanctuary is located within Lone Elk Park where you can see bison, turkey, elk, deer and other wildlife.
Lydia Buder Park - Come watch model airplanes take flight.  The park is also located near the World Bird Sanctuary and Lone Elk Park if you have time to visit.
Magic House – The first interactive children's museum opened in 1979 and has grown substantially since.  Check their website for special events.  International Picnic Day is on June 18th from 11am - 1pm.  They also have free days!
Meramec Caverns – You can take a cave tour or relax on a riverboat among many other things.  They also have a zip line tour.
Missouri Botanical Garden – Visit their website for a list of summer events and classes for kids.  Don't forget to check out the Children's Garden while you're there.
Missouri History Museum – Check their website for the Summer Family Fun Series FREE events.
Missouri Wine Country – Most wineries have live music on the weekends starting around 1:00pm - the perfect time to enjoy a picnic lunch with some wine.
Muny Opera – Their summer shows include Shrek the Musical and Mary Poppins.
Museum of Transportation – Kids 5 and under will love visiting the Creation Station.  You can also explore trains and ride on the Miniature Train.  Check the website for train riding hours.
Myseum - This is like West County's smaller version of the Magic House.
Nascar Speedpark – Enjoy go-cart racing, mini-golf, laser tag, rock wall climbing, bumper boats, arcade games, and lots more activities.
Old Webster Community Days  Celebrate the Fourth of July in Old Webster.  Visit their website for a schedule of events.
Outdoor Concerts – Outdoor concerts are offered all over St. Louis.  And they are FREE!
Outdoor Summer Movie Series at the Chesterfield Amphitheater – This new amphitheater is showing a free movie each month of the summer.
Peabody Opera House - The Wiggles! are coming on September 18th.  Check their website for other family-friendly events throughout the year.
Piper Palm House Children's Concert Series - Free interactive concerts for kids on Wednesdays at 9:30am.
Purina Farms – Animal lovers can get up close and personal with barnyard animals and everyday pets.  They also have animal shows.
Playgrounds and Water Parks – This website has a great, comprehensive list of playgrounds and water parks throughout St. Louis with pictures.
Playhouse Productions  Check their website for their summer show schedule.
Pick Your Own Fruit – You can find all the local farms in your area that offer fruit picking.
Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center – Explore the interactive exhibits in the Nature Center then hike along the many trails.
Queeny Park – There is a fun playground and lots of hiking trails that are paved and good for strollers.
Ringling Bros. Circus - The circus is coming to the Scottrade Center in October.
Riverboat Rides – Enjoy a guided tour on a replica 19th-century paddle-wheel boat.
River City Rascals - Come watch a fun minor league ball game with your family in O'Fallon. 
RockShow Academy Summer Camp – Check out the website for summer camps for musical kids.
Science Center – Fun for kids of all ages and admission is free.
Shaw Nature Reserve – The Nature Explore Classroom and the Whitmire Wildflower Garden are perfect for kids.  There are also lots of hiking trails to explore.
The Sheldon - The Sheldon has arts and crafts projects for kids in the galleries from June 27 - August 10 ($3/child donation).
Spraygrounds  Spraygrounds are a fun way to cool off and are great for little ones and big kids. 
St. Louis Art Museum – The new East Building is opening June 29th!
St. Louis Symphony Family Concerts – The Family Concert series starts in September.  Check the website for more info on purchasing tickets.  Click here for the 2013/2014 Family Concert Series brochure.
Stages – Purchase tickets to see  Cinderella June 19 - 30.
Story Time at PBK, the Library and Whole Foods – It's so nice that there are so many options for free story time for kids.
Suson Park and Animal Farm – Farm Fridays start in May from 10am-1pm.  Admission is $8 for kids under 12 (adults free).  Hayrides, pony rides, barn tours and games for kids!
Ted Drewes – Perfecting frozen custard since 1929.
The Hill – Enjoy the many bakeries and gelaterias as you tour this historic Italian village.  You can even play Bocce ball!
Union Station – Sample fudge from The Fudgery, play mini-golf, visit the Memories Museum or take a ride on a paddle boat.  There is also live music on select Thursday nights.
University City Loop – See the St. Louis Walk of Fame, listen to live music at Blueberry Hill, browse the shops and enjoy the food.
Variety St. Louis – Visit the website for information on camps and events for kids with physical and mental disabilities.
Vintage Baseball  See baseball as it was played in the 1880s as the Perfectos play the St. Louis Brown Stockings.
Wabash, Frisco and Pacific Railroad – Take a 30 minute ride on a live steam railroad on Sundays.
World Aquarium – Explore the wonders of water at the World Aquarium, located within City Museum.
Weherenberg Theater Family Summer Series – See 10 great films for free this summer on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10am.
XCEL Gymnastics – Lot of fun camps for kids are offered in the summer.
YMCA Book Fair  The 35th annual book fair will be held August 16-21 at the Kennedy Recreation Center.
YMCA Summer Camp – Visit the website for a list of summer camp options for kids.
Zoo – Summer activities include Camp KangaZoo, North Star Summer Zoo Weekends and Jungle Boogie.

Have a fun summer in St. Louis!

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