Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'Lucky Clover Patch'

Happy LEAP YEAR!  We didn't do anything to honor it this year, as I thought Mags a bit young to understand the concept, but next year, I'm thinking a frog theme.  Stay tuned.  Anyway, moving on to today's activities, all things St. Patrick's Day (plus one activity for the letter Nn) ...

An interesting fact about St. Patrick: He used the shamrock to illustrate to people the concept of the Holy Trinity.  Each of the leaves are separate, but a part of one whole, like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I got the idea for our first craft today from the Oriental Trading Company catalog, to illustrate that concept as St. Patrick did all those years ago.  (As I've stated before, since we only need one craft, and OTC tends to sell in bulk, I try to recreate the crafts I like in their catalog at home, so I don't have to buy 12.)  For the same, we used large shamrocks cut out of green paper (I liked the idea of making them looked layered, one different shade of green on top of another), glue, a ribbon, and little tags I made for 'Father,' 'Son,' and 'Holy Spirit.'  I also included the rhyme that OTC had in their catalog to go with the craft, a bit altered.  :)  (Scroll down for a closer picture of the rhyme.)
Be sure to punch a hole in the corner of your rhyme and at the top of your largest shamrock for hanging later.
 Then, it was only a matter of gluing the pieces together.  I read her the rhyme and we discussed how God, the Father, is at the top of the shamrock, Jesus, the Son, is to His right, and the remaining leaf is for the Holy Spirit.
 Lastly, we attached our ribbon and the tag (she also wanted to add a cross sticker to the 'Son'), and hung it in her room for the holiday.
I got today's snack idea from http://saraweaver.blogspot.com/2009/03/its-not-easy-being-green.html, using pretzel twists, Hershey kisses, green M&Ms, and green icing.  (For the icing, I simply added a couple of drops of green food coloring to a bit of white frosting, mixed, and placed in a Ziploc bag for easy piping.)
 Here is our icing, ready to pipe!
 First, after preheating your oven to 200 degrees, lay your pretzel twists, face up, onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  Then, place your unwrapped kisses onto the center of each pretzel, like Maggie is doing here.
 Place in your heated oven until the chocolate is just soft and gooey.
 Once the pretzels are out of the oven, insert your green M&Ms (three to each pretzel), 'M'-side down, into the soft chocolate.  Cool in the fridge until the chocolate is hard again.  (Important note: Keep your pretzels on the waxed paper for cooling, so the chocolate does not stick to your surface when hardening again.)
Once the chocolate is hardened, you can pipe some of your green icing onto your candy, to look like a stem.
 Cute!
 And delicious!
After our snack, for her journal entry, I asked her, 'What's your favorite thing about St. Patrick's Day?'  She answered, 'Shamrocks.'  This is her drawing of some shamrocks and a couple of pesky leprechauns!
After our journal entry was complete, we did some Nn review work, including making the letters out of nuts.
 Nn is for nuts!
We did our next craft, a 'Lucky Clover Patch,' from an idea that we got at http://lisastorms.typepad.com/lisa-storms/2011/03/st-patricks-day-continued.html, using a styrofoam brick, green toothpicks (I found them at Walmart in a multi-colored bunch called 'Party Picks'), a piece of green tissue paper, about 8-15 shamrocks cut from green paper (I used a cookie cutter as a template), 4 pieces of green paper, cut to fit one side of your cube and fringed at the top to look like grass, glue, tape, and a little paper rainbow, made from different colored pieces of paper, with a white paper cloud on one end, reading, 'I am lucky because ...'  (As you can tell, this craft will take some prep time for you.)
 The first step in this craft is to brainstorm with your child all the reasons why he/she is lucky.  Write each one on one of your shamrocks, like we did, below.
 Next, cover your styrofoam cube with the tissue paper, using tape, in the same way you would wrap a present.
 Then, with your glue, adhere your grassy paper pieces to each side of your cube, like below, and bend the blades of grass to make them look realistic.
 Attach your rainbow to the front of one side of your cube, like Mags did here.
The next thing you want to do is turn your shamrocks over, and adhere your green toothpicks to the back, using your tape, like below.
 Finally, carefully push your shamrocks' toothpick 'stems' into the top of your cube, being sure the writing on each shamrock is facing forward.
 Looking good, Mags!  :)
 All done!  A 'Lucky Clover Patch' of blessings!
Thanks for checking in!  We're off to pottery class!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pancakes, shamrocks, and tooth fairies, oh my!

Happy National Pancake Day!  Oh, and Happy National Tooth Fairy Day, too!  Today we packed it in, honoring both observances, as well as continuing our Lenten study and moving on to the letter Nn for our letter review.  Here's the rundown ...

Of the pancake books we read to honor National Pancake Day, this was one of our favorites: Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle; and ...
... Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola.  Both books gave some instruction on how pancakes are made, too!  Maggie enjoyed them thoroughly!
After our reading, we went to IHOP for their National Pancake Day deal ... a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes in exchange for a donation to Children's Miracle Network.
 Mags, with her mouth full of pancake!  We did more with pancakes later, but we'll get back to that ...
Once we got back home, we continued our ongoing study of Lent by making a craft inspired by a kit I saw in our Oriental Trading Company catalog.  For the same, we used a regular-sized and large craft (Popsicle) stick, a brown marker, green play dough, tacky glue, and felt pieces in purple (for the scarf for the cross, as purple symbolizes penance), and other pastels for flowers.  
 First, using our marker, we colored our sticks brown.  Then, we attached them in the shape of a cross using some of our tacky glue.
 After our cross was assembled, we mounded our green play dough, like earth, pushing our cross through, and glued our flower pieces onto the same.  Finally, we laid our felt scarf over the cross.  Here is ours, drying.
 Our scarf kept sliding off, though, so I used paperclips to hold everything in place until the glue dried.
'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.'  -- John 3:16
Later, in our study of St. Patrick's Day, we read a few books on the same, including Green Shamrocks by Eve Bunting, a cute read, and great for our craft project to follow (a shamrock necklace), as the bunny in the book also sports one.
I got the idea for our shamrock necklace at http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Lucky-Charm-Necklace.html.    For the same, I had cut out some shamrocks from green paper using a template I had, then punched holes in the center of each.  (If you don't have a template, a cookie cutter works great, too, or you can find a template online.)
 For our necklace, we also used noodles with large holes, a Ziploc bag, green food coloring, wax paper, and a green ribbon.
  First, we prepared our 'beads' (noodles).  We put our noodles in the Ziploc bag, along with a teaspoon of water and about 7 drops of green food coloring.  Then, we sealed the bag and shook it until all of our noodles were bright green.
 Next, we laid our dyed noodles on the wax paper to dry, about 30 minutes.
Once dry, lace your 'beads' and shamrocks onto your ribbon, and tie.  
All done!  And very cute!
Next, it was time for our snack.  We decided to try our hand at the 'Scallion Pancakes' recipe we found in an old issue of Family Fun magazine, February 2010, pages 88-90, using only five ingredients: 3 cups flour, plus more for kneading, 3/4 teaspoon salt, water, 1 bunch chopped scallions (3-4), and vegetable oil.  (The recipe can also be found at their website, at http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/scallion-pancakes-828557/, but be warned that I had to change things a bit to make the recipe work for us.)  The result was tasty, but the kitchen was a mess.  It's also wise to get your child out of the room when you're actually cooking them in the pan.  It's up to you whether or not you want to take this one on!
 First, stir together in a large bowl, your 3 cups flour and salt.  Once mixed, mound the mixture in the center of your bowl, then push a deep well into your mound using your spoon.  In this well, pour 1 cup water, drizzling any extra that the well won't hold around the sides of your bowl.  Carefully combine all, until you get a 'soft, raggedy dough.'  Add more water at a tablespoonful at a time, as needed, up to 4 tablespoons to get the right consistency.
 Place your dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.  With floured hands, knead until 'smooth and springy,' about 2 minutes.  Shape it back into a ball and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
 Next, separate your dough into 6 equal pieces.  With each separate piece, roll out flat, to about 1/4-inch thick.  Then (and this is the part that differs from the site's suggestion), add only about 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to your dough, spreading it evenly over the same.  (I tried a full tablespoon as suggested, and it was just too wet.)  Then, add about two tablespoons of your scallions to that, being sure to leave the border free about 1 inch around your pancake.
 Roll your pancake into a log, then wrap your log into a spiral, tucking the edge under, like below.  Once spiraled, flour lightly and using your rolling pin, roll again into a pancake about 6 inches in diameter.  (This process gets the scallions mixed in well so they don't fall off the pancake when you flip it in the pan.)  Repeat with your remaining five pieces of dough.
 Next, heat a skillet to medium and drop in about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of your oil.  (This is the second thing I did differently than the original recipe suggests, as they suggest medium-high heat.  It just proved too hot for us.  Our cakes were burning and oil was splattering everywhere.)  Carefully place one of your prepared cakes in the oil (this is a parent's job), and let cook about 2 minutes, or until the sides are getting puffy and the bottom is lightly browned.
 Then, flip your cake over to cook on the other side, adding a little more oil if necessary.  Once cooked on both sides, remove from the pan and place on paper towels to remove any excess grease.  Repeat with your remaining five cakes.
 I then cut each cake into fourths, like below.  They were quite good, but my only other suggestion is to roll them a bit thinner than mine here.  
 Yum! 
Then, it was time to honor National Tooth Fairy Day.  For the same, we read the following books:  Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson;
Moose's Loose Tooth by Jacqueline A. Clarke; and 
The Tooth Witch by Nurit Karlin.  All are great reads!
 After that, we did a craft to teach the importance of flossing, which I had found at http://www.teaching-tiny-tots.com/floss-those-teeth-kids-oral-hygiene-craft.html, using none other than gum squares, like this Trident gum in foil packaging.
In addition to the gum, we also used 2 pieces of cardboard, both cut in the shape of a jaw (cut an oval in half), 2 pieces of pink craft foam, cut to fit on the cardboard, but just slightly smaller, 2 pom pom balls, 2 googly eyes, tacky glue, and a glue gun.
After attaching both pieces of foam to your pieces of cardboard with your tacky glue, attach the googly eyes to your pom pom balls, then attach those to the top of one of your 'jaws' (the side of the cardboard without the foam).  This will be the top of your 'Mouth Man.'
Using a spare strip of cardboard, fold into a 1-inch square, to separate your jaws at the back of your 'Mouth Man's' throat, like below.  Glue into place and let all your work dry before moving on to the teeth.
Finally, you will need to remove your gum from its package, keeping two pieces whole for the front teeth, and cutting the remaining pieces in half using sharp scissors.  (I used one entire pack of gum for this project.)  Using your glue gun, adhere the gum pieces into place, along the edge of both 'jaws' where the pink foam stops.
Here is our 'Mouth Man,' complete, and ready to floss!
And Mags LOVED flossing him!  
Great work, Mags!
Finally, I gifted her with this little 'Tooth Exchange Pouch' to put in her sock drawer, to use for when her own teeth start loosening.  (I actually found it at a scrapbooking store a few years ago, of all places!)
Happy crafting!  :)