November 2009

Christmas Tree Bows

In honour of Katrina's 1st Birthday, I decided to make pink bows for our Christmas tree. We're going to make this a tradition since her birthday is in early December. This way, I can get Christmas decorations up early without feeling like it's "taking over" her birthday. We'll have a pink tree for a week or so, until her birthday, and then we'll start decorating it for Christmas :)

I looked up how to tie a simple bow, on the Martha Stewart website, here. (It's funny- I can tie a nice bow in a sash, but when the ribbon wasn't already attached to something, I had to google the right method, to get it right!). Then I threaded a twist tie through the back of each bow, to secure it onto the tree.

I was really happy with the result! I think I may have to buy some nice Christmas ribbon for the tree during Christmas time, because I really like the way bows look on the tree!

Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to how much ribbon I bought- just that I got two spools... not sure how much was on each one! (And I didn't get the back corner of the tree completed, but you can't tell anyway ;)

I would definitely recommend using ribbon with some good wire on the edges, to keep the shape of the bow!

Christmas Trees

Talia made a couple of Christmas trees today:
I cut out a Christmas Tree shape from a cereal box-type of cardboard, and Talia
- painted it green
- painted the stump pink/red
- realized mixing red with green made brown, and experimented - decorated the tree with stickers and sequins
- made it "rain" sequins
- spent FOREVER cleaning up the sequins
I also made a little green paper cone out of construction paper for her (I got the idea from Ikat, through The Crafty Crow, where you can find a bunch of cute advent ideas here) and let her decorate it
- she loved using pom poms because she saw them days ago & has been waiting for her chance to use them! Here's what Katrina got to do while Talia was painting (I tried letting her at the finger paint at first, but it went in her mouth so fast, I quickly changed the plan & let her at some babyfood instead! :)
I have a feeling that cardboard tree will continue to get more and more decorated as the days go on. I'm also planning to make a larger version of it with her as we get closer to Christmas.

Me, Sew??

I cannot tell you how much Ikat's blog makes me wish I sewed!

My friend, Cheryl, recently made a Black Apple Doll (you can find the pattern here, on the Martha Stewart Website) for her daughter, and I am dying to make one!

I didn't think I would ever be interested in sewing, and maybe I won't be interested in sewing clothing, but I am definitely starting to feel interested in sewing other things!!

Because a post is more interesting with a photo, here's a picture of one thing I have sewn, for Talia when she was closer to Katrina's age:

It's a "touchy feely blanket" that I made out of fun-feeling fabrics. Katrina loves it now, but unfortunately the fringe tends to unravel, so I don't feel like it's the safest toy! If I ever make another, I'll be more careful about what I use.

Almost every item I have ever sewn has been with the help or guidance of my mom who is a talented seamstress :)

Paper Puppet Christmas Pageant

My parents were recently getting rid of a ton of "The Friend" magazines that they had collected over the years. I gladly accepted a box full of them, to use for pictures to cut out for different projects with Talia.

They came in handy this week for another use, as well! I started searching the internet for some fun, religious, Christmas activities to do with Talia. It was hard to find good ones! (If you have any, or any links to a good resource, please point me to them in the comments!!)
So, I searched through the box of magazines and pulled out all of the December issues. I found today's activity in the December 1995 issue! While you can find that issue online, the illustrations aren't available that far back. However, you can find illustrations and activities to print out in the more recent issues if you go to this website (they're organized by date).

Here's what we did:

- I glued the pages onto cardstock
- I cut the pictures out
- I laminated them
- I cut them out
- I used a gluegun to glue the sticks on
- We discussed the story of Jesus' birth
- Talia played!
I'm glad I decided to laminate them, because I'm hoping they'll last long enough to actually pack them away with the Christmas stuff and use them again next year!

Here's Talia, finding new & exciting uses for the popsicle sticks while waiting for me to finish my part in the craft... note: the dye used for popsicle sticks WILL come off when moistened... ahem.

Here are some scriptures that can be used for Family Home Evening, if you want to do a Puppet Christmas Pageant:

- Christmas in America
Helaman 14:1-5, 3 Nephi 1:4-21
- The Birth of Jesus Christ
Luke 2:1-7
- Glad Tidings of Great Joy
Luke 2:8-20
- Wise Men from the East
Matthew 2:1-12

Wrapping CDs

As mentioned in one of the wrapping paper posts, we are wrapping Christmas CDs this year, to open one each day as Christmas gets closer.

It's a great advent-ish thing to do, and lets your kids open something before Christmas.
I hope to be able to do this with Christmas books one year when we have enough of them! (We wrapped a few this time).

Bubble Wrapping Paper

The second way that we made wrapping paper was a lot of fun! It's a neat effect, and it's pretty easy to do with what you have on hand at home. (And what preschooler doesn't love blowing bubbles with a straw???!)

What You'll Need:

- shallow dish
- cup of water
- food colouring
- tsp. of dishsoap
- straw
- white paper

What To Do:

pour water, colouring, and soap into dish. Stir.

Blow bubbles with straw until they come above top of dish.

Touch paper to bubbles, repeat until paper is covered.

Let bubbles pop & let paper dry.


Homemade Wrapping Paper

In my blog-searching, I came across the idea to wrap up all of your Christmas books and put them under your tree. Then your kids get to choose one book to unwrap each day leading up to Christmas, and you read a book each day.

I think this is a great idea, because it lets your kids unwrap things before Christmas! It also adds a little more excitement to reading the books. Unfortunately, we don't have very many Christmas books! However, we do have quite a few Christmas CDs, so I'm going to try this with music this year.

So, this morning I rolled out our big paper (a roll we got at Ikea for $10- it has come in SO handy, SO many times!) and we decorated it with red and green crayons, Christmas stickers, etc. We're going to use it to wrap the CDs later.

Making Chocolate Truffles

While Talia worked on her computer games, I got a truffle recipe started. We worked on another activity (post coming soon on this) and played with Katrina while waiting for the mixture to stiffin in the fridge, and then we worked on rolling the truffles into balls and coating them in cocoa, cinnamon, and icing sugar :)

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it yourself:

1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
10 oz semi-sweet choc. chips
1 cup cocoa for coating (can also use icing sugar, cinnamon, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, etc.)

1. Combine cream, sugar & salt in saucepan over low heat. When bubbles form around edges of pan, turn off heat. Don't boil. Let steep for 5 min.

2. Stir in choc. chips until melted & smooth. Transfer chocolate mixture to container, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

3. Sift cocoa onto a plate. Using cool hands (this is important- we had to keep washing our hands in cool water to keep from making the balls all mucky!), shape chocolate into small balls, roll in cocoa to coat. Transfer to parchment paper-lined baking tray and refrigerate until firm.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

p.s. This post was featured on ABC & 123'a Christmas Baking with kids post!

Starfall Computer Games

A friend of mine posted on her family blog about a website called Starfall that has educational computer games on it for young kids. I checked it out this morning & shared it with Talia.

She thought it was great, & so did I! She tried out a bunch of the ABCs activities this morning and had a great time! (Maybe a little too much time... by the end of it, she told me her feet were falling asleep, "because they feel all twinkly" ;) lol

So, we'll definitely be revisiting Starfall, but next time, with the timer set, so we don't get too engrossed in all of the alphabet and early reading fun! :)

Calendar (separating the weeks)

One of my first posts on this blog was about making our October Calendar.

I determined after that experience that we needed to separate the weeks to demonstrate which order the squares/days go in.

Here is our December calendar:

We made it on construction paper like last time, but this time I cut out the weeks & we glued them onto a 12x12 piece of cardstock, leaving a bit of space between each week.

It was a lot easier to explain the days of the week to Talia this way. She can recognize the first letter of each of the days of the week, and can usually tell me what day of the week any particular day/square is when I point to it. Progress! :)

(You may notice we have yet to mark things with stickers on this calendar- we'll get there ;)

Homemade Advent Calendar

Today we made ourselves an advent calendar!!

I got the idea from Filth Wizardry, and posted about it in my Christmas Ideas post a few days ago.


-On Saturday, Talia & I went to a local restaurant supply store and picked up some plastic shot glasses.
-Over the last couple of days, we've been making paper snowflakes.


1. I cut a piece of tinfoil for Talia to wrap around a piece of cardboard.
2. Together, we taped it onto the back
3. I cut a piece of blue construction paper, Talia covered one side with glue, I stuck it to our shiny board.
4. We decorated with some of our previously made paper snowflakes (we took turns gluing- she was getting tired of it, but wanted to direct my placement ;).
5. I glue gunned the cups to the paper
6. We took some computer time and we decided who she wanted to make Christmas cards for this year. I told her how to spell their names, she typed them out. We printed the page, I cut the names out. She folded the names & put them in the cups.

7. We got a chocolate advent calendar and had fun opening all of the doors in one shot, to get the chocolates out and put them in our own calendar :)

8. While she napped, I stamped the tissue paper with numbers and glued it onto the tops of the cups, so that she could break the tissue paper with her finger and get out the candy and the name each day of December.
(The plan is to make one Christmas card each day, so that she doesn't get sick of making a bunch in a row.)


I also thought of putting a paper in each cup listing the activity for the day, but I can guess that we'll end up switching things around, so for us, that wasn't the best choice :)

I have seen this idea used as a way to put left over Hallowe'en candy to use as well. You can use it for the month of November if you're doing that, or make a giant one that goes from Hallowe'en to Christmas!

Paper Snowflakes

We've been making these paper snowflakes over the last couple of days.

It has been fun to do with Talia- she can make them herself, with a little help.

And when she gets tired of cutting, she likes me to cut them, and then she unfolds them to reveal the finished product.

It's like magic when you open one up to see how it turned out! :)

"Topic of the Week" Showing Up in Our Daily Lives

The other day, Talia was playing outside and found a ladybug. She was happy to find it and had no qualms with picking it up and letting it crawl on her. I can see the benefits of our "Topic of the Week" library study already! Usually she freaks out when she sees a bug.

I don't think she'll be quite as friendly with bees anytime soon though... lately she has been re-telling the story of the time a bee stung her, to anyone she can get to listen to her, over the phone!

Water Tub Variations

After trying the sink/float experiment, I decided to involve Katrina (my 11 month old) in the process next time.

It wasn't long before the next time & Katrina LOVED it! She stayed interested just as long as Talia did, and even ended up climbing right in at the end! :)

This time since we weren't doing the sink/float experiment, I filled the tub with kitchen items and toys that are fun to use with water (a straw, a rubber duck, measuring cups, etc.)

Another day, Talia used the water tub again, but this time we filled it with soapy, bubbly water.

She loves playing with this tub! Now, if only I could figure out how to keep her from flooding the floor or attempting a spontaneous mini-bath....

Christmas Preparation

This year I really want to do a lot of Christmas activities with Talia leading up to Christmas. I love Christmas for so many reasons, and I want her to experience the joy of the season. From gift giving and service to decorating & creating the Christmas atmosphere in our home to the true meaning and story of Christmas.

So, I'm starting now to gather ideas for activities to do with her come December.

Ideas I've found surfing just three blogs that I hope to try this year are as follows:

From Chasing Cheerios:

- Jinglebell Bracelets
- Clove oranges

From Filth Wizardry:

- Salt dough ornaments
- newspaper/streamer wreaths
- homemade advent calendar
- tights snowman
- cardboard Christmas trees

Stained glass paper trees from Alphamom

Popsicle stick tree ornaments from A Homeschool Journey

Candy Cane Syrup from Storybook Woods

Pipecleaner/bead Ornaments from Make and Takes

Santa Claus Card from Tutus and Turtles

Sparkly Pinecone Ornaments from Mom in Madison

Reindeer Paperbag from Mommy's Little Helper

I'll be adding more ideas as I come across them!

Now, please, if you're reading this, and you have any ideas (or great blog resources!), please share them in the comments section!

Go Fish Feelings Game

Chasing Cheerios posted recently about an animal groups file folder game from File Folder Fun.

I had never tried "File Folder Games" although the name seemed familiar, so I checked out the website. I found some cool games there that I know Talia will love. We started right away by printing off the "Go Fish Feelings" game.

Talia loved watching the pages come out of the printer :) I cut the cards out (she put her hand on mine to "help me" cut them out, and then I laminated them.

Then we played & played! She "got" the rules of the game and caught on quickly, learning the names of the individual fish.

When we were finished, she even started making up her own card game with the cards! (If you don't get a match, you put the poppy on them- we got a poppy in the mail for Remembrance Day).

This was a definite success & I'm sure we'll enjoy the game many more times! I'm looking forward to exploring the File Folder website to see what else we might be able to use!

Sink/Float Tub

I've been meaning to do this with Talia for a long time, ever since I saw Emily post about sinking and floating on Learning Vicariously. Today we finally got the tub out and tried it.

I just filled the tub with water & we hunted around for toys & other items to put in, to see if they would sink or float. After we were done experimenting, Talia continued playing with things in the water for a good while. Then I dumped out the heavy tub while she mopped the floor with a towel (which she seemed to enjoy ;).

Things I Would Change:

Next time, I think I'll get out the tub with water & let Katrina get in on the fun, too.

Library Topic of the Week

We've been choosing topics to research at the library each week for a few weeks now and I think it will be a lasting thing!

Each week as we approach our library day, I announce that we need to pick something that we want to learn about from the library, and Talia chooses a topic. She will often make comments during the week like, "Oh, we should get a book about that!", or she'll ask questions about something and I'll suggest getting a book about it. It's been great!

Topics we've done so far:

- Insects
- Zoo Animals
- Birds
- Fruit
- Crocodiles & Alligators

This week is fruit, but she also wanted to know the difference between Crocodiles & Alligators, so we got a couple of books on that topic as well.

I'm sure we'll revisit each topic in a number of ways in the future as there is so much more to learn than we can cover in a few books. I'm still getting the hang of trying to incorporate more learning activities into our days, and I'm sure you could choose a topic of the week and have lots of learning activities and field trips and other experiences planned to help your preschooler to learn more. I've already discussed the Aviary with Talia and hope that we'll be able to visit sometime- she's been talking about how she'd like to go see the birds in real life :)

We've also used the library for craft ideas (we got out a book of ideas for crafts using pipe cleaners).

The library has been a wonderful resource for us!


Talia loves typing at the computer! We often pull up Notepad, set the font large, and let her go for it. Sometimes she types whatever she wants (she loves to use caps lock) and sometimes she asks me how to spell different people's names, and she types them. It's great for her letter recognition, and she often surprises me with the letters she remembers and can find on the keyboard!

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