Celebrate Ground Hog’s Day With…Shadow Fun.

It’s always fun to get into the spirit of Ground Hog’s Day and wait to see whether Phil will see his shadow.  Why wait?  Get in on the fun by making shadows of your own.  All you need is a blank wall, a dark room and a flashlight.  Take turns making shadow creatures.  Have a shadow puppet show, or make some old-fashioned silhouettes by tracing facial shadow profiles onto clean, white paper.  Cut out carefully, then transfer them to a sheet of black construction paper, trace, and cut out the dark image.  You can mount this to white paper and hang up a gallery of family silhouettes.

Enjoy some shadow fun…even if there may be six more weeks of winter!

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Fast, Easy and Healthy Guacamole

With another Super Bowl weekend on its way, instead of loading up on greasy wings and fried everything, try a delicious alternative: SUPER BOWL GUACAMOLE.  This recipe is an easy one for the kids to make, and even picky eaters should like its mild taste. The following recipe ingredients are for ONE ripe avocado, which will serve two people. Double, triple or quadruple the amounts based on how many people will be sharing.

Peel one ripe avocado and remove the pit. Mash the avocado in a medium sized bowl until chunky.  Mince 1T of onion (or sprinkle onion powder if you don’t like raw onions), and 2T of chopped fresh tomato.  I used cherry tomatoes in the photo. Squeeze a dash of fresh lemon and just a light sprinkle of salt. Mix together.   (See photo)   guacamole recipe

Serve it with corn chips, tortilla chips or like brushetta…with toasted slices of french bread brushed with garlic. This is sooo good, you can even use it as a spread for a turkey sandwich or wrap.

It’s filling, nutritious, and tasty.  Be sure to have some extra avocados on hand.  Ever time I make this, people ask for seconds.  Feel free to experiment with adding a splash of hot sauce or diced pepper if you like to kick things up a bit.  What makes this recipe so good, is that you can add lots of things to the avocado without ruining the flavor.  Taste as you go so you don’t over do it.

Happy Super Bowl eating.

Don’t Throw Anything Away Until You Read This Book

If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint or just wish to reuse some of the containers and packaging you bring into the house, I have the perfect book for you.

LOOK WHAT YOU CAN MAKE WITH DOZENS OF HOUSEHOLD ITEMS (Boyds Mills Press 1998) edited by Kathy Ross is a treasure trove of crafts that use everyday household items to create one of a kind masterpieces.

The book is divided into eight sections as follows:  Paper Bags,
Tubes, Paper Plates, Egg Cartons, Craft Sticks, Newspapers and Magazines, and Plastic Bottles and Tubs. You can create everything from animals, dolls, furniture, buildings, vehicles, picture frames, flowers, musical instruments, monsters, and much, much more.

craft bookThe pictures are in color and provide easy, step-by-step directions for each craft.  There are also lists of what is needed to complete each project.  There are more than 500 projects to choose from.

So, don’t let cold, rain, sleet or snow make you feel “stuck” in the house with nothing to do.  Get out the cereal boxes, egg cartons, paper bags,   glue, scissors, and markers and make something.

Celebrate the New Year…Chinese Style!

While the start of the Chinese New Year begins on February 10th, there are all sorts of books, activities, and recipes you and your children can try to get into the spirit.  Since 2013 is the Year of The Snake, visit the reptile section of the zoo to get inspired.  You can take photos of the snakes on display and then draw pictures of your own in wild colors and shapes.  Read stories about snakes and make up some of your own. NickJr. has recipes for Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds, Chinese Lantern Cakes, and Candied Fruit, among many others. http://www.nickjr.com

Visit the International School in China to learn the customs and read about the holiday. http://www.istianjin.org.

Finally, check out all the books, coloring pages, and activities to celebrate Chinese New Year at Gail Terp’s blog: http://www.gailterp.com

500 + Things Kids Like

My writing and blogging friend TARA LAZAR has collected a wonderful list of things that kids like.  http://taralazar.wordpress.com  There’s everything from ALIENS to WATERMELON  and ZOOS all listed alphabetically. The list is perfect to use for generating stories, activities or even for buying age-appropriate toys and books. Here are SEVEN other ideas for using the list:

1. Halloween Costumes.  There are some great ones.

2. Play Games:  How many from the list can you eat?  How many are animals? How many have wheels?  etc.

3. Use parts of the list for a SCAVENGER HUNT at a party or after school activity.

4. When your kids are bored, let them find 10 items from the list. Whoever gathers up the items the fastest, wins an extra treat or extra time doing a favorite activity.

5. Pick 5 random words from the list and make stick puppets out of them for a puppet show. So what if it’s talking candy?  The funnier the better.

6. Draw pictures of the things you like best.

7. Have an “Eat the List” Day where you only eat foods that are on the list.

This list is so wonderful, I am sure you’ll be able to think of many more ways to use it.  Thanks Tara!

Let it Snow.

Now that the holidays are behind us, children look forward to some winter-time fun.  When snow arrives, head outside and make the most of the slippery white stuff before it disappears.  In addition to snow angels, skating, sledding and snowball fights, there’s building men  – and beasts  – out of snow. Be creative and go beyond the usual snow man. Try farm animals like the snow pig below.  Or make sea creatures, dinosaurs, whatever catches your fancy.  Don’t forget to take pictures of these snow sculptures before they melt.   snow pig

No snow?  Try making the stick snowman craft below.   All you need are craft sticks, white and black  acrylic paints, tacky glue, googly eyes, dry beans or buttons for the mouth and a piece of pipe cleaner for a nose.  Let them hang in the windows until winter is done.

Whether you make snow creatures indoors or out, finish off the day with a warm cup of hot cocoa and some cookies.  You’ll be making memories of the best kind.

craft stick snowman

craft stick snowman

RICE CAKE FACES

RICE CAKE FACES

 You need:  Rice Cakes, butter knife for spreading, Peanut or almond butter, cream cheese, food items for making the faces. Here are some suggestions: Eyes and nose: Cheerios, raisins, dried cherries, mini marshmallows. Mouth:  Peanuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, apple slices.  Hair: Shredded carrots or coconut.

1. Spread rice cake with your topping of choice. This will be the “glue” that holds the facial features. Use whatever foods you like to decorate your rice cake.

2.  Eat and enjoy!                                                                            rice cake faces photo

Variation:  To make Pizza Faces, use English muffins spread with tomato sauce and cheese. Then add olives, pepperoni, pepper slices, mushrooms or whatever desired garnishes. Sprinkle extra shredded cheese for hair and bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts. (Ask an adult to help with the baking and use of the oven).

Note:  Enclosed photo shows two possible variations of an endless variety of faces.