Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Cookies!!

Here is a fun Thanksgiving dessert for kids to make AND eat! This is the second year I made these and they are fun and cute and delicious and EASY! Turkey Cookies!!
This year I made two dozen refrigerator sugar cookies just bought from the store. Feel free to make your own... or see my picture below from last year for a slightly different variation. Bake the cookies as directed and let them cool. Spread some frosting onto one cookie and add another cookie on top to make a sandwich. We made some of ours with vanilla frosting and some with chocolate frosting!

Next, use some fresh candy corn and poke four in a row to make the tail feathers. The frosting will hold them in as they dry! Then I added a smudge of vanilla frosting for the face. Molly (4) had her special job of sticking on two chocolate chips for the eyes, a candy corn for the beak, and a red hot candy for the waddle. You can also use colored M&Ms for the face, like I did last year - it just depends on what you have on hand! For the beaks, I like to dig through and find candy corn pieces without any white on them. Another option is to just dip each piece into frosting so you don’t have extra frosting showing; I just thought it would be easier for Molly if I spread it first.
Last year I made these turkey cookies for Molly’s preschool Thanksgiving party. Instead of making my own cookies and frosting, I just used vanilla Oreo Cakesters. It was the easiest thing in the world to stick on a few candy corns and bam! Cutie Turkey Treat!
(Here's a picture of last year's. They looked a little cleaner because I didn't spread frosting for the face; used Oreo Cakesters; and made them myself instead of having my little helper!)
P.S. This year I am thankful for my schedule allowing me to be with my kids almost all day everyday. I am thankful for this blog for keeping me busy with my kids most of those days and most of all, I am thankful for my amazing kids!!!!Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chalk Outline Pictures - Fall Leaves!

Molly(4) had a little friend over today so I wanted to try a quick and simple art project! I found this one in an AWESOME library book around Halloween time, called Fun-To-Make Crafts for Halloween by Tom Daning. There were so many great ideas in this book, and many of them good not just for Halloween! The one we did today was originally supposed to be ghosts but I made it leaves instead so it would be appropriate for Fall.

First, I cut out some leaf shapes from a paper grocery sack (the book called for poster board but I used what I had, in my usual fashion!). I just drew mine out and cut them, but one fun idea to extend this project in warmer weather is to gather some leaves from a nature walk or your neighborhood and trace them on your paper to cut them out! Next, I had the kids draw on the leaf shapes with chalk and try to fill the whole thing up. You kinda need to use a lot of chalk for this.Finally, place the shapes on plain paper (we used white but this would look really cool on black construction paper!) and hold them in place!! Use a wadded up paper towel and rub from the center of your shape out onto your paper. When you've gone all around your shape, lift it up and what's left is a neat outline!

To keep the chalk from rubbing off when you're done, lightly spray it with hair spray. It dries super fast.

Reasons this project was so fun for the kids: they get to wad up a paper towel; they get to scribble hard all over the shapes; and I also let them tear up the paper we used as a table protector afterward! ;O) My son, Ben (1) got to participate in this project quite a bit, too! Although he mainly chose to take the chalk out of the container.... and put it back in.... then tear up the paper. LOL!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

[not too] Messy Activities for Kids

I am not afraid of making a mess. I admit I'm pretty messy myself and always have been. You just have to be prepared to clean up a bit. Well, sometimes a lot. But for me, the time I get and the fun my kids have is WORTH the time and energy to clean up after them! Here are a couple messy projects I let my kids do that I think are not really that messy, but my kids think they're great!

About once a month or so, we bust out the markers and COLOR ON THE WINDOWS! I have two great picture windows in my living room and they are always decorated with holiday or seasonal pictures drawn by my favorite artists: my kids! You can buy special Window Markers by Crayola but we also just use our regular markers because they wash off so easy! This is a fun project for both my kids - ages 1 and 4. The best part? My 4-year old loves to help me clean the window afterward! NOTE: neither of my kids try to write on the walls after the windows so don't be afraid of trying this!

Another fun and messy activity I love is mostly for my one-year old. I give him a large plastic container of uncooked rice to dig in! He digs with a couple plastic mixing spoons and loves to transfer rice from the big container to smaller ones. Ben has always been good about not trying to eat things - never tried to put sand or dirt in his mouth, so he knows the rice is for playing with and not eating! You might want to wait until your child is closer to 18 months to try this if they are more likely to put things in their mouth though. Also, set down a plastic tablecloth beforehand so it catches the loose rice. Afterward its easy to fold the tablecloth in half and dump the rice back into your container or just in the trash. This is a great activity for the kitchen while you're trying to cook dinner!!

Finally, the messiest activity is making "potions" or fake cooking! I set out the same tablecloth and give each of my kids a big plastic bowl filled with some flour. They each get a spoon and I set out a variety of old cooking spices in plastic jars. Parsley is our favorite because it's so visible! I let them sprinkle and mix to their little heart's content. Ben likes an extra little bowl so he can transfer his concoction just like the rice. Molly makes potions and will even make up stories about what they'll do if you eat them, like turn you into a frog!! Same with the rice, just fold the tablecloth and dump the spilled ingredients into the trash. This is a great activity for the kitchen during your meal prep too!

Turkey Napkin Holder

We all have empty toilet paper rolls - and if you don't have one now, then you'll have one in a day or two! Here's a little something to make with them for Thanksgiving with your kids - napkin holders!

This is a project we made last year and have saved to re-use again this Thanksgiving. First cut your tp rolls into smaller pieces - one roll can probably make three napkin rings. We painted ours brown, but you can skip this step if you want. Next we painted some craft sticks with fall colors. I cut them myself and Molly (4) glued them onto the tp turkey as a tail in back, and a neck and head in front. Add two little eyes and some red pipe cleaner (or marker or paper) for a waddle. I hot-glued ours on for good measure.

Now you have a cute and special napkin holder! Make one for everyone at your Thanksgiving table and you can also write their names on the turkey as a place card too. Hopefully talking about your toilet paper roll turkey is the only "potty talk" at your big family dinner this year!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Candy Centerpiece

Did your child get too many suckers for Halloween? Or maybe there's suckers on clearance that you can grab. Either way, ignore your sweet tooth and use those suckers for this super fun, kid-friendly project!!

Here's what you need:
Lots of suckers!!! I bought mine from Dollar Tree. I got five bags with 33 pops in each bag. Little ones like "Dum Dums" probably will work the best. We used about 140 total.
A 9" foam ring, like for floral projects. I found mine at Dollar Tree also (score!)

My job was to cut the sticks so they were about 2-3 inches long. Molly's job (age: 4) was to poke them into the foam ring and create a masterpiece! Keep the suckers close together so there's no gaps in color. We kept the wrappers on because I thought the clear cellophane looked cute with the colors showing through. You don't have to keep them on though - but if you do take them off, spray the final product with a few coats of lacquer so it will last.

Our foam ring actually broke at one point, so I just hot glued it back together. You might want to find a thicker one from a real store. LOL! After all the suckers were in, I gently pulled on each one to make sure they were snug. A few were loose because they had bigger holes, so I put a dab of hot glue on those sticks and pressed them back in. Voila! A beautiful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table!

This project was inspired by a wreath craft I found in the October 2011 issue of Taste Of Home Magazine. They hot glued all the candy on their wreath, but I wanted ours to be kid-friendly. I also think ours was too heavy to be a wreath so we modified it that way, too. ;O)

Thanksgiving Tree Topper - Party Cup Turkey!

Yes, we have a holiday tree in my house year 'round! We decorate it for each holiday - just about something new every month. For November it's covered in lots of gourds and one turkey made out of jingle bells. What our tree was lacking though, was a tree topper! I came up with this cute and easy craft for my daughter (4) to make and add to the top of our tree. Of course, you don't have to have a holiday tree to make this one - your paper cup turkey can rest anywhere!

Here's what you need:
Party Cup (we used a clear one, but yours could be any color - especially brown would be nice!)
Construction paper - white like we used or different colors
Googly Eyes

First, I drew templates on construction paper for my daughter to color and cut out. I used all white paper but you can certainly use colored construction paper to take away one of the steps. I drew several feathers in two different sizes, a waddle, two wings, two feet, and a diamond to fold in half and become the 3D beak. At first Molly cut out the feathers by herself, but after a while I took over when her hands got tired.

Next we glued all the pieces onto our cup, being careful to place the feathers on so the color showed in the front! We happened to have sticky googly eyes so that was a fun touch, but you could glue on paper ones too. Finally, since all I had was a clear plastic cup to use, we stuffed the inside with a piece of wadded-up brown paper bag. Otherwise, you could use a brown cup, color your cup brown, or cover your cup with brown construction paper.

Our Party Cup Turkey sits atop our holiday tree, but yours could sit on the edge of a shelf with his little legs dangling over!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

FUN and DONE! Quickie Thanksgiving activities

Today can be a collection of small things we've done at our house the past few days! Nothing big, but enough to mention I hope. :O)

As we put away our Halloween decorations, we discovered there's not a lot of Thanksgiving decor around the house. My daughter (4) put it upon herself to draw a WONDERFUL turkey that she cut out to hang up in our bathroom. I LOVE IT!

The next day, she was drawing pumpkins and all of a sudden traced her hand and made a turkey out of that!! I was so amazed that she remembered that project from when we made them LAST year!! We also made a mini one with Ben's hand (age: 1). Please use Washable Markers so they're easy to clean off! Here's what you do (so easy!) Trace your hand. Connect it at the bottom where your wrist would be. Color each finger a different color if you'd like to make feathers. Draw a beak, eyes, and gobble (that red thing!) on the thumb for your turkey's head. Then add legs at the bottom. Fun and done!

Today, we decorated our Holiday Tree -- a mini fake Christmas Tree I keep up in my house all year around that we decorate for each holiday. For November and Thanksgiving, we decorated it with little gourds I bought years ago at a store like Michael's. I also have some small pumpkins that were given to me from a friend and some neat gourd garland from a garage sale. In other words - just shop around for whatever will fit on your tree!

Here's an idea we'll use for next year: remember our Thankful Countdown Calendar? Each day we've each been adding one new thing we're thankful for on a strip of colored paper. I plan to keep those and hang them on the tree by punching holes in them and tying on ribbon. Too impatient to wait for next year? Write what you're thankful for on strips of ribbons you can tie on to branches of your own tree. OR you could draw pictures of what you're thankful for, or cut them from magazines like we did the other day, and attach those to your tree with ribbons too!

Also, we came up with the perfect post-Halloween snack: s'mores! I'm a mega fan of s'mores, in case you didn't already know... so why not make them out of leftover Halloween candy?? We made ours out of a mini Hershey Bar, but Hershey Kisses, Crunch Bars, KitKats, or anything chocolate will work! YUM! Build your s'more, minus the top graham cracker, on a cookie sheet covered with foil. Broil on low for about 2-3 minutes. Squish on the top layer and let cool. Enjoy!

Maybe the best part of today's blog? My new catchphrase I came up with: FUN and DONE!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thanksgiving Tray

Yesterday, Molly (4) and I looked through some old magazines and cut out pictures of things we were thankful for. We cut out some fun items and some meaningful ones, like a picture of a clock for time spent with family; a picture of a fan because I'm thankful for our new air conditioner and heater; and a picture of the beach because I'm thankful for our trip to Myrtle Beach this summer! I also was sure to cut out a few pictures for Ben (1) including a toy truck, toy train, and a picture of his toddler formula because I'm sure he's thankful for his "baba!" Molly mainly cut out pictures of animals that she liked, and I thought it was so smart that she cut out the captions too so we'd remember what they were - like a crowned lemur!

Molly decided that was enough work for one day, so we put it aside to finish later. Really it didn't take too long at all so you could easily finish it all in one day. Or take a break to play like we did and make it a two day project!

The next day, I cleaned up an old wooden tv tray whose legs had broken off and used it for our canvas. Molly liked painting it with decoupage glue and then helped me arrange our pictures into a collage on the tray. We used Aleene's Instant Decoupage, which is a water based glue, sealer, and finish - ours was a matte finish. After the collage was set, I painted over it again with the decoupage to seal it, which actually dried really super fast!

Even though our tray features a giant snake for no apparent reason, I love our special Thanksgiving Tray! I'm so proud to have something that Molly and I worked on together that we can now use every year at Thanksgiving - and we re-purposed something old instead of just throwing it away!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving

As you know, I always do a countdown calendar each year to Halloween and then Christmas, with a special activity or recipe planned for each day. I'd like to count down to Thanksgiving, but have always thought another calendar like my others would be too redundant. Happily, this year my friend gave me a great idea for a countdown to Thanksgiving!

Basically, everyday of November up until Thanksgiving, each person in your family writes down one thing they are thankful for and adds it to a pocket in the calendar! My friend made a homemade calendar to use that is so cute! You can read about hers on her blog:

Life Sprinkled With Glitter

I decided to use a pre-existing countdown calendar that my mom made for me a few years ago. It has an animal theme so we use it for any countdown we want, like birthdays and the first day of school. Ours has thirty pockets, so we just used some number stickers to label the ones we needed. This was a fun counting activity with my daughter, Molly (4). On the 24th pocket, we put a turkey sticker, and I let her decorate the top with more Thanksgiving themed stickers.

We cut construction paper into skinny strips, and chose a different color for each family member. My daughter loves using her scissors so I drew 23 lines on her paper for her to cut. Later, she decided to make hers into confetti so I just made a new set for her! We did a color for myself, Molly (4), Ben (1), and Daddy. Now each day we write down one thing we are thankful for and add it to our calendar. On Thanksgiving, we'll be able to read off everything we're thankful for! (I just choose things for Ben, such as his bottle and not being sick anymore!) THANK YOU, COLLEEN for such a great idea!!

Oh! Remember the confetti that Molly cut out? After having a mini celebration, and then making it snow in our living room, she used them like mosaics and made a picture!! I had to snap a picture and share it because I was so proud that my little 4-year old came up with such a great activity!