Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just add water!

This was originally post January 26, 2010.  With the twins now being 18 months, we have been rediscovering the magic of water!

I have a bunch of little boys in my family.  And I'm getting pretty good at recognizing the difference between deliberate naughtiness and boy curiousity.  This post actually goes for little girls too.

When one of my children has taken a full glass of milk, water, juice, what have you, and dumps it on the table, it is most likely to see the effect.  As a first time mother I was irritated when this would happen.  Now I know better.  My preschoolers and toddlers only get about an inch of drink in their cup at a time.  Sure, this helps keep the mess to a minimum but it doesn't satisfy their curiousity and encourage them to discover.

So I give them cups and buckets in the tub to dip and pour with.  The bathtub is a great place for learning.  This is how I taught my oldest to pour milk from a gallon.  He practiced in the tub.  I also occasionally shower with a little one and have given them a cup in the shower to fill up and pour with wonderment all over their head or on the shower door, or just a big splash on the shower floor. 

We live in California right now so the next tip we can benefit from on a near-daily basis.  Send them in the backyard to make their messes.  A big container of water on a plastic picnic table and a bunch of measuring cups and spoons.  You could also just set them in the grass.  Remember though, children can drown in as little as two inches of water.  Do not leave them unsupervised.   

If you live where there's snow, fill a spray bottle with water, add a few drops of food coloring and decorate the snow!

I love to also teach them to wash their hands.  We've taught them (repeatedly) at the bathroom sink.  We sing songs about it.  But every once in a while, like once a year, I bring out a dishpan of water and a bar of soap and we talk about it and all take turns washing. 

Water is a fun way to explore cause and effect, learn life lessons like cleanliness, learn about how healthy it is for our bodies, and more!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Granted, it's March. Most of us aren't ready for popsicles yet, but oh well!
I like homemade popsicles more than store-bought for many, many reasons.
1) they're much, much, MUCH cheaper, at about 30 cents a batch (maybe 1 dollar for juice ones) instead of 3 dollars.
2) The kids can help with it. These would be a good activity for learning solids/liquids, or hot/cold, or pouring, or mixing, or helping, following directions, etc.
3) They're not as huge as store bought popsicles. I can barely make it through a whole store-bought popsicle before it melts, and my kids don't stand a chance against the ticking time bomb that is room temperature. These little treats are small enough for even my 1 year old to get down before it turns into a major mess. If they want more, they can always have two!
To make homemade popsicles:

Kool-Aid Popsicles
1 package kool-aid, your favorite flavor
1 cup sugar
4 cups water

Mix together. Pour into ice-cube trays and put a stick of some sort in each spot; tooth-picks, popsicle sticks, chopsticks, or skewers all work. Freeze for about 3 hours or until solid. Pop out of the spots and enjoy.

If you're not a fan of Kool-Aid or want to make it healthier, try this recipe:

Juice Popsicles
1 frozen container (12 oz, I think, the tube kind that makes 2 quarts) juice: grape, cranberry, or apple work good
1/2 cup sugar (1 cup for cranberry or pineapple)
4 cups water

Mix together. Pour into ice-cube trays and put a stick of some sort in each spot; tooth-picks, popsicle sticks, chopsticks, or skewers all work. If desired, place a small piece of whole fruit in each cup too, like a tiny piece of apple, a frozen raspberry, or a slice of strawberry. Freeze for about 3 hours or until solid. Pop out of the spots and enjoy.

*Note: these recipes make about enough to fill 2 ice cube trays. If you want, you can freeze all the popsicles. Or, you can add enough water to double the leftover in volume (for example: if there's two cups of the leftover popsicle mix, add 2 more cups of water) and drink it like regular kool-aid. This does NOT work with the juice type, because you added sugar. It will be extra sweet if you try it.

Picture disclaimer: I know my son Lee is making some strange faces in these pictures. It's hard to smile at the camera when you're sucking on a cold popsicle!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Physical Activity

I've added a new (for me, at least) area of focus to my FAD lessons with my kids: Physical Activity.

This is coming from a person who has a lot of issues with physical activity; which is why I'm implementing it! I had a couple of bad experiences when I was a kid with exercising, and it has crippled me. I do not want the same thing for my children. So now, every day as part of our lessons, right along with music time and story time, we will have Physical Activity time. Right now it is snowy where I live. We stretched our bodies, ran in circles, danced, and laughed. It was a blast. The funnest thing was seeing my little one-year old trying to copy us too, and I gained immense satisfaction over the knowledge that my kids will be full of good physical experiences that will hopefully sustain them through the days where they don't get picked first to play kick-ball.

With childhood obesity rates on the rise, and not much help from the restaurant business, it is so important for us as parents to take charge of our kid's health. Since I've already blabbed away about food, this is the second part: keeping fit. I believe that kids that learn good physical habits in the home are at a great advantage in school.

Now, like always I ask you: any good ideas for fun physical activities for kids? Particularly indoor ones. I would love some more input for what has helped you or what you like.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Have a FAD button!

For smart kids!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Home Cleanliness: My Thoughts/Your Thoughts

First off, I'm asking for some advice. Please read the following and then give me your ideas.

With small kids, it seems like the cleaning in my home is endless. 98% of my house is carpeted (everywhere except the bathroom, including the kitchen). I have to vacuum at least 3 times weekly to keep the house looking decent; not even presentable. Every day I pick up toys, garbage, and laundry; except Thursday, which tends to be the day when I just can't take the constant hassle of cleaning, and it isn't yet the weekend when I can get out of the house/have my hubby's help to get the house back in shape.

My man and I have come up with a few things we do to help keep the house in a semi-orderly state, but I could really use a few more ideas.

Here are my successes:
1) There has to be some major compromising. I want my kids to have a creative, happy, open atmosphere to grow up in. I don't want their imaginations to feel restrained by anything--not super-strict cleanliness, but not awful messes either. I think either extreme is distracting for children. I aim for somewhere in the middle.

2) We keep all the toys under child lock. May sound a little extreme, but see the next few points.

3) In the morning, we let the kids pick 3 toys for the day to play with. If partway through the day they want to switch, that is totally fine. They put away the toys they're done with, and then take out new ones.

4) Right before dinner, the toys go to bed. They are put away for the night. Then the kids wash up for dinner, and we have our evening time together as a family, for playing games and reading books and maybe watching a movie.

Here are my struggles:

1) The kids LOVE the kitchen. They get out all my cooking utensils and take them all over the house. I have no clue where my biscuit cutter is at this moment because the kids played with it months ago. And considering the very central location of the kitchen in my house, and the metal cabinets that can't have child locks screwed into them, I'm not sure how to keep them out of there; yet I can't let them just have free reign, because some of the utensils are breakable, dangerous...or at best, will have to be cleaned after every play session.

2) I have a hard time motivating the kids to pick up after themselves. I have a 3 1/2 year old who I think is old enough to learn how to clean up, yet I'm not sure the way to go about it. Do I reward/bribe? Do I punish for disobedience? How much of the mess should I clean up as he's puttzing around putting away 1 or 2 toys? And how long can I wait before just finishing the job myself?

3) Lastly, I don't like picking up the same messes every single day, two or three times a day. Once a week? no problem. Twice a week? doable. Twelve times a week? kill me now! Any ideas on how to make it from day to day without pulling my hair out?

Thanks! ~Lisa


You can make errands a fun experience with your child. When you go to the post office, ask to see if you can show your child how they sort mail, or at the store show them what goes on there. It will become more fun, and an enjoyable experience for your child.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentine's Day Playdough

Valentine's Day Playdough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • about 4 drops of red food coloring drops
  • 2 Tbsp clear glitter (optional)

Add the food coloring to the water before mixing with dry ingredients. (I used 4 drops of red food coloring for this shade of pink). Mix all ingredients in a non-stick pan and heat on medium, stirring, until it forms a ball (It really will form a ball so keep stirring-- and it doesn't take long). Take out of pan and knead until it reaches desired consistency. Be careful. It will be hot.

While kneading, I added about 2 Tbsp. of clear glitter. I packaged the playdough in these take-n-toss containers from Wal-Mart (for my three oldest kids at the time) and stamped it with a small heart-shaped cookie cutter before putting the lid on. Also, cool completely before putting lid on. These were their prizes at the end of their Valentine's treasure hunt one year.

Happy Valentine's Day rolling and cutting and playing dough with your little ones for less than a buck!  Visit LifeAsMom for more Frugal Friday ideas that may or may not be kid-related.