Monday, October 11, 2010

More Letter L

We had so much fun with our letter L activities last week, we decided to continue with them this week.  We went for a nature walk and collected the first fall leaves of the season.  You have to grab them fast around here!  One day they're green, the next they're yellow, and the third day the wind has been blowing and they're all gone from the tree!

E helped me press the leaves (very carefully) with the iron, and then we strung them up into buntings for our windows.

We also did a falling leaves craft a la No Time for Flashcards (can you tell what my favorite go-to website for kids crafts is??)  I traced some of our fall cookie cutters for the leaves and let E paint them. 

Once the paint was dry, I cut them out and we glued them on a construction paper spiral.  It looks so neat hanging in our dining room, and it spins around when the wind blows throught the window.

I wanted to get to a couple more leaf activities, but there weren't enough leaves yet.  Perhaps this week we'll be able to get a few purple ash and maybe our maple tree will start turning!

As far as Montessori activities go, this was not an outstanding week.  E did not have much interest in doing work in the schoolroom.  She did decide to do some work with the geometric tiles and geometric solids.  I think one day she spent 40 minutes on one picture, putting tiles on and taking them off again.

She also figured out how to make the tiles stand up on the table, very exciting!

Linking up to Toddler Tuesday and Tot School.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Christmas Crafting in Progress!

I finally got to the craft store to pick up the yards and yards of felt I need for all of E's Christmas presents.  Can I just say right now that I LOVE felt?  Especially wool felt, but even the Eco-recycled stuff is good.  No finishing seams or hemming, no applique, and it stands up to play pretty darn well.  I've been working for the past two naptimes on E's card table playhouse.  I am discovering that our card table is pretty much on the tiny side - but I still think it's going to work out OK.  I am pretty much done with the front side.

There is the obvious, um, a door to get in and out, a plant (stuffed, and I plan to make flowers she can stick on it as well), and a mail box (the door opens and she will be able to drop mail into the house through the slot).  I also sewed a few "bricks" on there for ambiance.  All that is left is the edging for the top and to back it.  Not too bad for a couple hours work!

Other sides of the house will be a garden with an apple tree, a birdhouse, and at least one window.  Gotta have some light and air in that house, ya know?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Play: Pumpkin Spice Playdough

I finally got to making up a new batch of playdough for E last week.  We had been using the crumbs leftover from E's birthday party, um, 10 months ago.  Pathetic?  Yes.  And it was just the storebought stuff.  I made up a batch using my favorite playdough recipe, colored it orange, and added a little pumpkin pie spice.  Mmmmmm!  This stuff smells amazing!  I set out the playdough in a plastic container, along with a couple of pumpkin cookie cutters.  The first day I put it out, E played with it for an hour straight!  Ahhh, the peace of a child playing contentedly!  :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Freezer Cooking Resources

Recently, I've been asked a lot about my freezer cooking.  I LOVE how easy it makes my days.  I've had several questions about how it all works and I thought I'd write about a couple of good resources for freezer cooking that I have found.

Freezer cooking, once a month cooking, whatever you want to call it, is where you prepare meals in advance, freeze them, and they are ready to pull out and reheat when you need them.  With a busy 2 year old running around, and the fact that I work part time a few nights a week, means that I really appreciate NOT having to chop veggies or brown ground beef every night.  My husband (bless his heart) is also NOT a chef of any kind.  In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion he's actually afraid of my kitchen.  So I can't count on him to whip up a meal when I'm tired or at work for the evening.  Enter freezer cooking.  I plan and spend one day each month or so (usually about every 5-6 weeks) cooking ALL. DAY. LONG.  When I am done, I have a whole month's worth of meals in my freezer, ready to be reheated for a quick dinner.

I started freezer cooking with 30 Day Gourmet.  I like this method because it's very organized.  I got the book from my library and in the back are all kinds of worksheets and spreadsheets.  Worksheets make me happy.  There are also a lot of recipes online on their website.  I don't like this method because the recipes are not particularly healthy - heavy on "cream-of" soups and breadcrumbs.

I found a couple more books for freezer cooking by some local authors:
Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer.  I like this method because the recipes are healthier, and a bit more adventurous than plain old casseroles.  Things I don't like about it are that I've found some of the recipes don't really reheat all that well.

Most recently, I found, and I am really liking it.  The recipes are pretty healthy (with a few tweaks of my own) and easy to prepare.  I LOVE that all the planning work is done for me!  Every month there is a new menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The grocery list is done for me and the "game plan" so I know who needs to do what on our big cooking day (I usually cook with a friend).  The only thing I found is that the grocery list seemed to be off for this month.  We ended up with 2 huge bags of cheese left over and didn't have enough green chilis.  I think I'll do my own grocery list for next month.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Letter L Day

We had such a busy week this past week.  It always gets like that the week before I do my freezer cooking.  More on that later, but needless to say, not a lot of Montessori work got done.  We did have one good morning of work before we had to rush off to the library and dance class on Friday.  The highlight of E's Montessori work this week was all of the knobbed and knobbless cylinder work she chose to do.  I finally got around to making some cards for the knobless cylinders, and she really enjoyed using them. 

Our really fun day was Thursday, when we hosted another of our "Letter Playdates."  This week was Letter L.  We read Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino.  Then we moved to the kitchen to make our fridge letters.  I had a few options for the kiddos this time around:  leaf stickers, fabric leaves to glue on, or real leaves (from last year that I saved) to crumble over the glue.  I think ALL of the kiddos chose leaf stickers.  Their Letter L for Leaves turned out really nice!  And I was impressed that all the "big" girls could peel the backs of their own stickers. 

Then, for snacktime, we enjoyed some lovely "L" treats: lemon bread/cake, longjohns, and ladybugs!  E and I assembled the ladybugs the morning of the playdate out of strawberries, grapes, and mini chocolate chips.  They turned out really cute and E had a lot of fun making them! 

I am going to continue our letter L theme into this week with a few more L books (Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney and Leaf Man by Lois Elhert).  We are going to do a nature-collecting walk to get some leaves, and hopefully we will make our own leaf pictures like the Leaf Man book.  Has anyone done leaf preserving with Mod Podge?  I tried contact paper last year and wasn't impressed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday's Book Basket

Ok, so I'm posting this a bit late this week, but I haven't done one the past couple of weeks and we read a few really neat books that I wanted to share with you!

We love Jan Brett books around here.  I had a few when I was little and my Mom got some for E a while back.  This week we read Annie and the Wild Animals.  Annie can't find her cat anywhere, so she is looking for a new pet.  She makes corn cakes and leaves them at the edge of the forest.  A moose, a bear, and other forest animals come to eat the corn cakes, but Annie doesn't want them for a pet.  E loved this story.  She kept asking to read about the corn cakes.  Jan Brett uses the border illustrations to tell you what is coming up next, so I showed that to E and tried to get her to guess what animal Annie would meet next.

Another favorite this week was Max's Dragon by Kate Banks.  Max is looking for rhyming words, which E loves to do.  His wagon becomes his dragon and then it takes of into the sky as a cloud.  After reading this book we went outside and looked at the clouds.  Finding pictures in the clouds is a fun activity that really helps to develop imagination.  After that, E has been finding pictures in everything: leaves, her dinner, dust bunnies . . .

The last book I have to share with you is There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca and Adrian Emberly.  This is such a cute book, in the style of "There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly."  E wasn't sure she wanted to read a monster book, but once we got going and read about how she swallowed ants that had him "dancing in his pants" she was hooked.  I think there is a musical version of this book as well, but we haven't checked it out yet.

Happy Reading!