Monday, December 23, 2013

Thanking 13 in 2013

thanking title2013 is quickly coming to an end. Many folks are gearing up to spend more time offline and to celebrate with family.  I'll be logging off myself soon-- but wanted to take a moment to say some thanks to a few bloggers that have been going above and beyond to keep this page afloat- even with my crazy inconsistencies in posting!

The blogging world is ever evolving, and I'm always learning as I go.  I know that our little childcare blog continues to grow, and I am making some changes to keep it moving forward.  Thankfully, there is an amazing support network of bloggers out there who keep this page from being a stagnant place! It seems like whenever real life gets too hectic to keep new posts coming- someone jumps in and shares some of our archives to keep our blog traffic afloat! I cannot adequately express in words how grateful I am for your continued support!

And to our faithful readers- thank you so much for continuing to come back and to get a glimpse into our busy days!

Now- If you have never visited these sites-

thanking 13

Please share the love, hop on over and check them out! These are the sites that have highlighted our activities and/or caused people (maybe even you!) to find us in our little corner of cyberspace:

Teach Preschool


Kids Activities Blog

Let the Children Play

Growing a Jeweled Rose

Mini eco

Fantastic Fun and Learning

Hands On As We Grow

PreK and K Sharing

Childhood 101

Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning

Modern Parents Messy Kids

Living Montessori Now

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I know that there are oodles of other sites and folks that rally around to spread the love and share. I do appreciate each and every one of you.  I wish you all an amazing finish to 2013, and I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring!

Oh, and if this list of inspiration leaves you wanting more- please hop on over and check out the Kid Blogger Network,  I can almost guarantee that you'll leave inspired!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Suncatcher Ornaments from Plastic Lids

plastic lid suncatchers

We have A LOT of plastic lids. We have been collecting them for all kinds of projects. (One of the biggest ones is the gigantic murals project we have under construction for our outdoor fence!)  Unlike our murals, this project utilizes clear lids.  We used 2 types this time around, the ones from baby food containers (rectangular)  and some from Crystal Light containers (oval) , but any plastic lid will do!

suncatcher ornaments 3

The whole purpose in this activity is to work on strengthening the muscles in the hand. - So in preparation I filled our glue bottles up and added some liquid watercolor to them.  The children helped to decide what colors to make.  (After you add a bit of the liquid watercolor to the bottle, shake it up good! You can add a marble to the bottle to help if you need.)

suncatcher ornament 2

This project is very much process based. Our ornaments are made by filling the lid with glue and then adding gems and sequins. You don't need to add the gems and sequins- the dried colored glue is sufficient-but the children like to add a little bit more of sparkle.

suncatcher ornaments

Know that the thickness of the glue makes this a long drying project. However- you can speed it up by adding the ornaments to the food dehydrator on the craft setting of 115 degrees.

suncatcher ornaments 5

If the children add too many sequins to the top, you can always add another layer of glue over the top to seal them in!  This is a prime example to illustrate the fact that children need to use too much before they learn to use just enough.

suncatcher ornaments 1


After a couple of hours/days... or a week of drying- you have fabulous suncatchers that can easily be make into ornaments. We drilled small holes in the top, added a bit of ribbon and Voila! Suncatcher Ornaments!  The glue dries semi-transparent and the sparkles glisten with the light. They look fabulous on the tree right in front of a light! They are also great any time of year in the window.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Spiral Beaded Ornaments

spiral beaded ornamentsSome of the children have been super excited about decorating for Christmas. I have been hearing all about the time they have been spending with their families, especially about their Christmas trees!

Earlier this week, I introduced the children to the idea that they can make their very own Christmas Ornaments -- and that has been the top response I have received from the children when asking them to help plan our day.  The first ornaments we made this year used our special "Christmas Clay Dough" - and are a great keepsake for the parents as the children created Fingerprint Ornaments.

beaded ornaments 4

Today, our focus switched to working on our fine motor skills while creating for the tree with our spiral beaded ornaments.  We used an assortment of beads (most of them are pony beads and have a larger hole than regular beads) and pipe cleaners/chenille stems.

beaded ornaments

If you are looking to purchase the supplies for this project- you can purchase them through our affiliate links:

beaded ornaments 6I have given the children these supplies for years to help build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I like to give them an opportunity to succeed, and the stiffness of the chenille stem (because it is made with wire) makes it easier for them to thread the beads. (String works too, but is more difficult for beginners to thread.)

beaded ornaments 3I love to watch the concentration as they diligently work to add the beads. I know that small beads can be a choking hazard, but I don't let that stop me from allowing the young toddlers to participate. In order to keep it safe, I work either one-on-one or in small groups. I allow the children to choose their own beads, but to only take one at a time.  Today, our group of children ranged in age from 16 months to almost 3 years.  NONE of the children even attempted to put the beads in their mouths.

beaded ornaments 2

Not all of the children had a finished product to display, but all of the children were highly engaged in the process of this activity. For one of the children, spending time putting the beads on the stem was quite rewarding, but being able to quickly slide them all off was just as fun! I was careful to remain close in order to support, but not to jump in to determine when the activity was "done" for that child.  Clearly, having a completed spiral ornament was not on his agenda- and I respected that.

When the children were done (which of course was not at the same time). I showed them a picture of the icicle ornaments I saw over at Happy Hooligans. Then I asked them if they wanted to help to spiral their stem into an ornament like the ones we looked it.  If they responded yes, I helped them to twirl it!

As I previously mentioned, we have been beading on pipe cleaners for years and we have made numerous ornaments in this manner, but I NEVER thought about simply turning them into a spiral until I saw Jackie's post of inspiration! Hop on over to check out her blog when you have a chance- she has an amazing array of ideas and inspiration! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finger Print Ornaments: 20 Days of a Kid Made Christmas

fingerprint ornaments 8

If you have been a long time reader of our blog, you know that we spend a lot of time with process based art activities. This project allowed the children to assist in making clay dough, and in addition to creating our ornaments the children spent quite a bit of time playing with the clay.

I don't do a lot of product orientated projects with the children, but sometimes I like to help them create a keepsake or a product for their parents. As much as I value the process, I also know that there is also significant value in giving children the opportunity to witness and participate in creating a product. You can read more about our philosophy of art by clicking here, and you can read about why Sometimes We Craft by clicking here.

Christmas Clay

Our ornaments started out with a simple clay recipe.  When the children knew that our clay was going to be made into Christmas ornaments, the clay was officially named "Christmas Clay Dough". (You can find the recipe for this dough in yesterday's post by clicking here). 

After the dough had cooled, we rolled it out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.  Then the children were given red and green ink pads.

finger print ornaments 3

They "carefully" began to add their finger prints to the clay cut outs. We used a more permanent ink for this project (scrapbooking ink pads), but I'm sure it would work with the washable ink as well. Even without using the washable ink it washed off of the children's fingers quite easily.

fingerprint ornaments 4

The children were allowed to add as many fingerprints as they liked and to make multiple ornaments- choosing from red, green, or white clay and a variety of shapes.  When the children were done adding their fingerprints the ornaments were ready to be dried. With the child's permission, I added their name, '13, and a small hole to each ornament with a sharp pencil.

fingerprint ornaments 10

This clay will air dry if you let it sit out. We weren't that patient, so I put our ornaments in the food dehydrator on the craft setting at 115 degrees Farenheit (46 degrees Celcius).

You will have to dry your ornaments based upon how thick they are. When they are dry, you can simply add a string and hang them on your tree! (Or if you want them to be a bit more shiny you can spray them with clear acrylic spray).

This post is part of the 20 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas: Ornaments hosted by Mama Miss


Would you like to join in on the fun too?!

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the landing page here, for this series that Melissa at Mama Miss is hosting.

  2. Just link a KID-MADE ornament you’ve created with your kiddos (limited to 2 a day).

  3. Add this pretty little ornament shaped button below to your blog post, or your sidebar, or somewhere on your beautiful blog letting me know you are joining in on the fun too!!


kidmadeornamentseries          4. Label the ornament button: 20 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas: Ornaments

          5. Link the ornament button to: the landing page for this series.

The link up will be open from December 1st until December 21st for all entries.

Make sure to pop by these other fabulous bloggers too, that are participating in this series…

December 1st

Mama Miss

Here Come the Girls

Creative World of Varya

December 2nd

Housing A Forest


December 3rd


Crystal's Tiny Treasures

December 4th

Mama Smiles

One Perfect Day

Play Trains!

December 5th

Feels Like Home

How Wee Learn

December 6th

My Little 3 and Me

Glittering Muffins

Teach Beside Me

December 7th

The Connection We Share

Scribble Doodle and Draw


December 8th

The Library Adventure

Something 2 Offer

Learn with Play at Home

December 9th

The Pleasantest Thing

The Eyes of a Boy

Edventures with Kids

December 10th

Nothing if Not Intentional

Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Me & Marie Learning

December 11th

The House of Hendrix

Child Central Station

Happiness is Homemade

December 12th

eLeMeNO-P Kids

Coffee Cups and Crayons

Living Montessori Now

December 13th

Teach me Mommy

Mum in The Mad House

The Craft Train

December 14th



Imprints From Tricia

December 15th

True Aim Education

Sugar Aunts

The Life of Jennifer Dawn

December 16th

Powerful Mothering

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Tutus & Tea Parties

December 17th

Teach Preschool

Plain Vanilla Mom


December 18th

P is for Preschooler

Discovering The World Through My Son's Eyes

Busy Kids = Happy Mom

December 19th

Mama Miss

Glittering Muffins

December 20th

Tips From a Typical Mom

Rockabye Butterfly

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Clay Dough!

Christmas Clay


Did you notice that the blog looks a bit different?

I've been busy, working to move our blog and website. Revamping and getting ready to celebrate the changes coming in the new year!

This is my first post from the new platform, a test post of sorts as I learn to navigate and use Wordpress. I hope that our new site will be fully up and running in January, until then, bear with me as I work through the changes and glitches.

Now, on to today's post.  This morning- we made Christmas Clay Dough!

Christmas Clay Dough 2

This is one of my favorite recipes for clay, a very different texture from traditional play dough. You may remember that I have posted about this before. (We made Clay Dough ornaments last year).

To make our dough for crafting this year I adapted the recipe just a bit:

2 c. baking soda

1 c. corn starch

1 1/2 c. water

peppermint extract (optional)

food coloring (optional)

Put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, stir constantly on medium heat until the dough becomes the consistency of mashed potatoes. The dough will become more firm as it cools.

This dough will air dry, or you can use a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven to speed up the process. Hop on back over tomorrow to learn about the finger print ornaments we made with ours!

I couldn't remember where the idea to adapt this recipe came from, but then upon reading the comments from last year my mind was refreshed! Phyllis from All Things Beautiful mentioned that she added the extract when she made the dough! Hop on over to her blog -- you won't be disappointed! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GO OUTside and PLAY!

Playing outdoors can become challenging when the weather is less than perfect. Sometimes it is more difficult to get motivated to bring your little ones outside. No matter where you live, you deal with various challenges based upon the weather, but they can be overcome! Remember:
 "There is no such thing as bad weather, just improper clothing!" (unknown). 

Please join in with my co-hosts:

by participating in the GO OUTside and PLAY Bloghop and Linky!

Now, a little bit about our climate and outdoor fun!

We live in Northern Michigan, right near the shores of Lake Superior. We have quite a varied climate, as we experience all four seasons -- sometimes to an extreme. It is not unusual for us to measure our snow in feet or to find patches of snow on the ground into early June.

We have a saying around here... "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change......"

This time of year, we can expect snow, rain, sleet, sun.... all in the same day!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret....... I'm not a big fan of the cold. In fact, sometimes it is really hard to get motivated to get out and play. However, I know how important it is for the children in my care-- so sometimes I have to "fake it" until I "make it." I also make sure to bundle up!

Our winter can be super long.... but once we have enough snow, the children really don't care how cold it is.

 Mr. Allan creates our annual luge run, and we find dozens of ways to keep busy in the snow!

We often add paint to the snow to add some color to the landscape!

The children keep us motivated to keep getting outside, and our outdoor classroom provides a vast array of learning experiences for them when it is not covered in snow. 

The purpose of our hop and linky today is to give you a resource, a wide array of ideas to help keep you motivated when you need some inspiration to GO OUTside and PLAY! Please take a moment and visit all of the lovely co-hosts and to link up any of your own outdoor play posts! I'll be pinning the posts to my Outdoor Inspiration Pinterest Board and sharing via other social media. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Upcycled Art! #CreativityMatters

This post is inspired by Everyartist Live!, a national, collaborative art event with the goal of engaging a million elementary school children on November 21, 2013 – the largest art event in history. Want to get involved? Join us in our efforts to show that #creativitymatters. Sign up at

These "pinky" puppets are made by upcycling caps from old, dried up markers!

We recycle, reuse, repurpose... UPCYCLE around here all of the time!
One of the best things about finding a new use or looking at an item with a new perspective is how creative you can be. You don't have to see things for what they are, you can see them for what they could be....
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

I know a lot of programs struggle with budgets. There never seems to be enough money or resources to go around. Please, don't ever let that be an excuse to stop doing art! There are so many ways you can create art with very inexpensive or free materials! You can even make some of your own art supplies. You can hop on over to my post at PreKandKSharing and my Pinterest Board if you are looking for some recipes

Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. There are a lot of businesses and organizations that have materials to give away, end rolls or outdated posters/letterhead, you name it.  I honestly don't remember the last time we purchased paper for our art area. We have so many options for the children, and we even recycle scraps and make our own paper too! Not only is recycling paper a great art project, it is environmentally friendly and it helps to develop fine motor skills!
We recycle our scrap paper into homemade paper. All of our paper making is done by hand. The children absolutely love the entire process, and they really enjoy creating on the paper that they have made. 

Paper is not the only "canvas" you can encourage children to create upon. We have re-purposed sheets of Styrofoam, cardboard boxes, large plastic lids, and scraps of wood. Basically, we try to find a new purpose for just about anything before we opt to send it for recycling or tossing it in the trash!

Large plastic lids are a great canvas for painting on too! We used them to make "flowers" in our rock garden. 

We have been working hard to create bottle cap murals to add to our outdoor fence. Did you know that when plastic bottles are recycled, the caps are not. They are fantastic for creating murals and sculptures.

Some of the children work hard to make their creations look real, while other children work in a very abstract manner. Regardless of their approach, the caps make beautiful murals!  

Not only do we upcycle materials to create art, we also upcycle materials to make art supplies and tools!
Did you know that you can take your old, dried up markers and turn them into homemade liquid watercolor?

When we first started to do this, we would just put the markers upside down in a jar of water, now we take them apart with needle-nosed pliers. Then you can use the caps and tubes for other projects as well. 

We have also used old craft foam, Styrofoam take-out boxes and corks to create our own stamps:

Old Chalk stubs can be crushed and mixed with water to make chalk paint, or you can just pound it onto a wet sidewalk to create a masterpiece:

Old crayon stubs can be melted down together to make new crayons in various shapes, or you create melted crayon art by heating those stubs with a blow dryer:

We are ALWAYS finding ways to upcycle and re-purpose when it comes to art, If you need some more inspiration, feel free to browse our archives, check out the linky below, and my new Pinterest Board for Upcycled Art!


Hop on over to and sign up to participate!

Now, a bit more about

On November 21, 2013 Everyartist Live will launch with a goal of engaging one million elementary school aged children in a collaborative art event. When this succeeds (as I believe it will), It will be the largest art event in HISTORY!

"At, we believe fostering creativity is as important as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. It will better prepare our kids to transform our country, and the world, in their lifetime."
I hope you are as excited about this mission as I am- and that you will spread the word that #creativitymatters and sign up to participate today!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to
check a few other posts written to help promote Everyartist Live!:

Child Central Station: Creating an Art Station
Child Central Station: 101 Ways to Paint Without a Brush

24/7 Moms: How to Create That Art Spark in Your Kid
24/7 Moms; Sibling Bonding Through Art

Cool Cat Teacher: Join the Elementary Art Project That Will Help the World be More Grateful
Cool Cat Teacher: Creativity for Kids November 21 and Every Day with Creativity Matters

Do you have some inspiring ideas to jump start creativity with upcycled art? I'd love for you to link your posts below! Please share any post that is family friendly and upcycles materials for art (or craft).  (Any posts not family friendly and/or relevant to upcyling for art/craft will be deleted). Your participation in linking up gives permission for the link to be shared on a variety of social media platforms.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Easel Painting

Sometimes, I think we forget that we don't need to have an elaborate set of tools, or a thousand different options for young children. Sometimes simple is best- like paper, paint, and a paintbrush at the easel. 

We still give the children full artistic control. They choose the colors and the tools they will use. I often find it interesting at times though- for many children the choice of paper color or paint color isn't of major importance. They just want to paint- It is that constant reminder of process, process, process that continues to show through. They want to experience the process involved with moving the paint brush up and down- or covering their hands in paint.....  

It is interesting to observe the decision making process and the choices the children make. For instance on this occasion the first child to the easel decided to paint with dark blue paint- and all of the following children opted to take his lead - even though they all had the option to use the 10 color of paint we have available to them. I am noticing this a lot with our older toddlers and younger preschoolers. We often end up with the same or similar choices being made by each of the children. 

 Although this appears to be a very simple activity, the learning outcomes are magnificent! Using a vertical surface, such as an easel is fantastic for developing not only the muscles in your child's hand, but also for the child's posture, neck, and shoulders. Children are much more apt to have to use both hands and have an easier time developing their hand and eye coordination while upright.  It is sometimes easier to see as your child is at exactly the right height to do so!

 By giving children full artistic control, they are also experimenting with ways to paint, tools to use, colors, perspective..... you name it.....  

We have a number of easels in our program, but you don't need an easel. A wall or a fence work just great! Anything you can use to make the activity go up and down! The easel on our fence was made by a piece of treated plywood and connected to our fence by hinges. The easel on our porch and the one pictured here are from IKEA (I am not affiliated with IKEA in any way, although I do spend a lot of $$ there!).

Are you looking for an easel? or painting supplies? (I'm an Amazon Affiliate- Here are a few choices.) 

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 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...