So we had gotten some old boards from a friend who knew I love to make things. Two of the boards were a dark mossy green that I loved. They are beaten up and have old nails in them but I think it adds to the charm . Read the rest of this entry
Out of a desire to make my own chicken stock, I began researching (asking mom friends, my mom and online research). I finally have a recipe of my own that I love and thought I would share it with my readers. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it makes 1-2 meals worth of chicken for my family and then 8-10 cups of chicken stock for use in other recipes (like my favorite meal Chicken and Dumplings). Read the rest of this entry
Tis the season for all the beautiful lawn furniture to make an appearance at all the major retailers right next to all the gardening stuff. I love gardening so I spend lots of time in this section, in the Spring. I usually look through the furniture and wish we could afford a nice outdoor set, well this year I decided to attempt to make what we have look better instead. Read the rest of this entry
So I’ve been implementing sensory activities into the kids daily schedule for a long time without even realizing what I was doing. Then I came across an article about the importance of intentionally giving your children sensory activities to help them develop and grow through their five senses. There are even therapists who work with children through sensory toys and activities to help with disabilities like autism. This sparked my interest since my bachelor’s degree is in counseling, I also took every disabilities course available since I have a heart for the disabled, and last but not least I have 3 young children in some important years of their development.
Many of the sites I found about how to help your kids learn and explore through sensory activities that a good tool to have is a sensory table. This is usually a short table (kid height) with a hole cut out of the middle that a plastic tub sits down inside. You can fill it with all kinds of things for the kids to play with and do. After doing some research the first thing I decided to do was to go out and get a long plastic tote, as I found out buying a sensory table is super expensive. I found one at our K-mart for 8 dollars and its a good brand and is heavy-duty. I think it’s about 2 1/2 ft long and 2 ft wide and about 10 in deep. I chose one that was clear so once its fitted into a table we can use different colors of lights under it to shine through clear objects (like in the pic above). It also has a pretty strong lip around the top so Eric is working on building a table for it to sit down in, but for now the kids and I just set it on the kitchen table for activities. One of the first things we did was get the gel water balls from the dollar tree floral section and filled the tub with them and I put things inside like funnels, measuring cups, small cups, plastic utensils from their play kitchen, etc. They had a blast and giggled and played and learned a lot. We use our sensory tub (soon to be table I hope) about 3-4 times a week. I’ve seen other moms fill it with cooked spaghetti noodles boiled in food coloring for fun colors. I’ve done colored rice, fake snow, dirt, shredded paper and more.
A few posts back I posted about our time out bottles that we use, this is a sensory activity itself. Just a more calming one, because punishment was becoming too crazy with yelling and kicking and angry kids. It is a calming sensory input device that really works for my kids. They focus on the glitter slowly falling instead of screaming or being mad and too much going on around them. I’ve seen a major change in how they react to punishment and deal with their angry emotions.
Here are just a few of the activities I’ve gathered from my friends, family and online that we like and have used with our children to provide intentional opportunities for sensory input:
1. Let your kids “paint” on the table with shaving cream or pudding
2. Use paper towel or toilet paper tubes to play a game of “I spy” and have them describe what they see
3. Let your kids help you bake or cook (safely) testing ingredients, stirring, smelling, feeling and describing what they feel. One way to incorporate listening into it is when using a wire whisk or when vinegar hit baking soda
4. Grow an herb garden together, let the kids help you plant and water the herbs. As they watch them grow discuss the different shapes of leaves and let them pick a leaf and crush it to smell the different herbs.
5. Jello is another fun activity, make jigglers with cookie cutters and let them feel the smooth texture and the taste of different colors
6. Have children move ice cubes from one container to another using different utensils like tongs, a spoon, a fork, a ladle
7. Sing! Nursery rhymes, preschool songs, church songs, the alphabet
8. Play with play dough (even make it! there are tons of great online recipes) I like to even add smell to ours like mint, or cinnamon
9. Take a texture walk, let each child bring a bag along for their texture finds. Leaves, sticks, pinecones, rocks, and anything you find as you walk (I do have a no living things rule )
10. Let your child bang on pots and pans! Give them different things to use to bang to make different noises (wooden spoon, metal spoon, plastic tongs)
11. Tactile glue painting, let your child make dots or shapes on paper. Let it dry and then feel the textures that they created
12. Make a texture book, use a three-ring binder and hole punch card stock to make pages and then let your child fill the pages with different textures they find. Tape to a page crinkled tin foil, tape to another page a smooth piece of plastic, on another a sticker upside down so the stick part is out, etc
13. Put on some fun music and dance with your child! It gets the wiggles out and teaches them to listen for a beat. Give them ribbons tied to an old plastic lid from butter or cool whip hole punched for the ribbons to tie to, they can dance with the ribbons
14. Water play, encourage bath time play with cups to pour water from one to another, bath tub paint, glow sticks in the water with the lights out, foam cut outs stick to the walls of the tub or tile with water, color pellets for the water (I’ve found them cheap at Walmart), let them play with a colander to see how the water pours through the holes, use bubble bath for bubble texture fun. I use bath play time as my clean the bathroom while they play where I’m within arms reach, or play with them while we sing teaching songs like the alphabet or the books of the bible
15. Help them learn animal sounds, a game we play is I will call out an animal and they will make the sound for that animal
16. Give them open-ended sensory time by placing some items with a lot of texture in your sensory tub. like a small ball, a toilet paper roll, wax paper crumpled, cotton balls, a cork, a feather, rock, etc
17. Look for opportunities everywhere you go with the child (store, park, backyard) I love going to my local craft store for instance and every time I’m in the fabric section looking for some fabric for a new project I take some time to let my kids feel different types of fabric and describe how they feel (except my baby who just feels and giggles) like tulle, wool, fleece, silk, etc.
Some Holiday sensory ideas:
Easter – Let them play with Easter grass, egg dying, plastic egg hiding around the house or yard. Make resurrection rolls by wrapping crescent rolls around a marshmallow rolled in butter and cinnamon sugar then baked and when they come out they are empty the marshmallow is gone like Jesus was from the tomb
4th of July – make fruit juice or pudding pops with them, use their hands dipped in white paint for stars on blue construction paper and then glue it to a white poster board then dip their feet in red paint to make stripes on the white poster board (a sensory flag to hang in your home)
Halloween – Embrace the gooey mess and let your kids dig out the insides of a pumpkin and play with it, use different textures when making or picking out a costume for the kids, discuss what ones they like or don’t like, bake a pumpkin pie together, let them taste and smell the spices
Thanksgiving – lots of opportunities for helping in the kitchen and tasting, smelling, feeling lots of textures, also let them help decorate the table after a nature walk with pinecones, leaves and acorns
Christmas - get “fake snow” and put it in the sensory table for the kids to play in, let them help pick out the tree if you do a real tree and let them feel it and break off a few needles to break and smell the pine smell, make gingerbread houses and let them taste and place the frosting and candies, play with a toy nativity scene and act out the story of Jesus’ birth, make snowflakes out of coffee filters and hang on windows, let them help you pick out and wrap gifts (get over the messiness of the wrapping) to give to others, take them caroling to the elderly
So here was my night in pics I had a gingerbread house decorating party for my teen girls small group. We had a blast and A LOT of sugar! Oh and I let my two girls join in, they begged and I’m a sucker for their sweet faces… enjoy
OK that was my night with some great girls! Hope this inspires you to have a gingerbread house decorating party too It was so much fun! Thanks for stopping by
I love to read about different family’s Christmas Traditions and how they Celebrate this special season. Since Christmas is so close I thought it would be fun to share a few traditions our little family likes to keep each year. I love family traditions and growing up with a family rich in tradition I know these will be good memories for years to come for my sweet children.
My husband has been asking me for months to make a Cherpumple for the youth group Chili Cookoff and Baked Goods Auction at church. I said, “No way!” many many times, but I just love him so darn much… So yesterday I attempted baking my very first Cherpumple. First of all, you may be asking what is a Cherpumple? Well from my research, it was invented by a man named Charles Phoenix for Thanksgiving. As a solution to the problem of different people wanting many different types of desserts. So he created a cake with three layers of different flavors with three different flavor pies baked into each, then stacked and iced with cream cheese frosting. Strange, yes. Funny, yes. Gross, maybe. Genius, since so many are making it… probably.
I spent a good 6 hours or so making this, so before you take this on know that it will take a very long time. Next important fact is that it is best made with store bought pies and boxed cake mixes. They withstand the process much better than homemade. So we bought a cherry, pumpkin, and apple pie from the local grocery store and choose 3 that seemed the sturdiest. Then bought a chocolate, yellow, and spice boxed cake mix. Also 3 cans of cream cheese icing.
One tip I came up with on my own after seeing many others failures and complaints online is that I lessened the liquids. I lessened the water and oil by about 1/8 of a cup each, and kept the eggs the same as the box called for. I did this because I saw many cakes fell apart due to being too moist and soft. So by reducing the liquids I came up with a more dense and firm cake to uphold the pies inside.
So I began with my first layer of chocolate cake and a cherry pie inside. For each layer I sprayed my 10″ round cake pan with cooking spray and placed a piece of parchment paper that I traced and cut out into the bottom and then sprayed that with cooking spray also.
After my chocolate cake mix was mixed I put 1/3 of the cake batter into the pan and then carefully slid the cherry pie out of its tin and into the middle of the pan on top of the cake batter. Next I covered the cherry pie with the remaining 2/3 of chocolate cake batter.
Then baked that at 350 degrees for about an hour, I just kept checking with a toothpick until it came out clean. When I removed it I let it cool for about 5 min and then flipped out of the pan onto a cooling rack to cool down. After about 25 minutes I put it in the deep freezer to quick cool for about 30 minutes before crumb coating it with the cream cheese icing.
I repeated this process with the apple pie in the yellow cake, and the pumpkin pie in the spice cake. I froze each layer, the freezer was my friend when it came to keeping my cake stable.
After the final layer of icing I decorated and let freeze a bit longer. We had to take it to church without my cake carrier because it just wouldn’t fit.
This is a picture of what it looked like when it was cut into.
I wont say it was a big hit because it wasn’t, it didn’t go for very much. Only had one bidder (a man who loves me like a granddaughter) and even he split it up and passed it out so he didn’t have to take it all home. I only had one single comment about it and that was from the winner, “you’re trying to kill me” (said with love of course). Not the hit my sweet hubby had hoped it would be for sure. Or the conversation piece others I read online found it to be. So while it was a fun challenge to make and its nice to say I’ve done it, I guess it wasn’t that great and I probably wont do it again.
I really enjoy making fun meals with my kiddos. We always end up laughing, making memories and a mess! This is something my mom did with me and stuck with me as important bonding time and made me feel important to her. I hope my kids remember it the same someday. Being October, I usually make all homemade pizzas pumpkin-shaped.
Yesterday for lunch though I decided to make individual deep dish pumpkin-shaped pizzas and it went over so well with my kids I thought I would share.
My recipe for pizza dough that never fails me is:
2 Cups of warm water
1 Pkg of rapid rise yeast
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 Tablespoon of salt
5-6 Cups of all purpose flour
Mix the first four ingredients and let sit for 5 min. then mix the flour in slowly and knead until smooth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 min to an hour).
After the first rising I shape the individual dough balls (my recipe made 8 mini pizzas) into the pizza shapes and then let the girls spread the sauce on each one with a spoon. Then I let them sprinkle each one with shredded mozzarella first and then shredded cheddar (to look more orange like a pumpkin). Next we arranged the olives like eyes, nose and a mouth. We left 2 with just cheese for my husband who really dislikes the olives. I usually do his pizzas with pepperoni but didn’t have any, I think the new mini pepperoni would be adorable on these pizzas.
We had a blast making and eating these and they tasted great! Thanks for stopping by