Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Farm Animal Sensory "Mud" Play for Kids

During my maternity leave, I discovered just how much time my youngest boys could spend playing with sensory bins. Since so much of that two weeks was devoted to nursing and newborn care, I found that setting up simple sensory bins made life much more enjoyable for my preschoolers (and kept them from constantly asking for their favorite television shows!).

This sensory experience, in particular, was a huge hit!  The kids loved the squishy mud play and even loved cleaning up with our bin of soapy water.
Farm Animal Sensory "Mud" Play - only 3 ingredients!  {Mamas Like Me}

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fabric Sparklers for Kids

We made these fabric sparklers for July 4th and I just never got around to sharing them with you. They were a great alternative to regular sparklers that can be dangerous for young children. My kids loved them and were thrilled to wave them at the 4th of July parades and celebrations, and they gave my 5-year-old some extra practice for that first step of shoe-tying!
Fabric Sparklers for Kids - Mamas Like Me #4thofJuly #patrioticcrafts #memorialday
For this project we used:
Chopsticks (Thank you Pei Wei)
Patriotic Fabric Scraps
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Baby Food/Applesauce Tops

My mother-in-law is a wonderful seamstress and quilter.  I have no idea how to use our sewing machine, but I do benefit from all of her leftover fabrics and those that she decides not to use.  After making a Patriotic rag wreath with some fabric she gave me, I realized that I still had a lot of fabric leftover and decided to make these for the kids.

I cut the fabric into strips for the younger kids.  My older sons were able to cut their own strips.

Then, each of the kids selected their favorite prints and created a pattern (face-down) of the strips.  I put a stripe of glue along the center and attached the chopstick to the center.

The kids tied each of the strips together.  This was a great fine-motor skill activity!

We attached an applesauce top to each of the sparklers to add an extra "pop" of color and to help protect the kids from poking each other with the chopsticks.  Of course, my kids still ended up using them as light sabers and swords!  Boys will be boys!

I packed them away for next year so we can take them to the 4th of July parade and keep the little ones happy!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

DIY Hair Bow Holder

Have I mentioned how much I love having a baby girl?  After four boys, this world of pink, and tutus, and hair bows is like a breath of fresh air (literally, because my older boys really stink after playing outside now!).  I will admit that I may be going a little overboard with her wardrobe and accessories, but I'm not the only one.  My husband is just as guilty of coming home with adorable pink outfits.  Even her big brothers are obsessed with how "cute" she is!

A dear friend of mine ran her own hair bow and tutu business and gifted us with a TON of bows and headbands to start Kate's collection.  As any mom with a little girl can tell you, these things quickly take on a life of their own. Within minutes, I had bows all over my house.  I'm pretty sure her brothers can be blamed for that....and so the quest began to find a way to organize all those adorable bows.
DIY Hair Bow Holder - Mamas Like Me

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Easy Homemade Butter with Kids

This is one of those classic activities that everyone needs to try with their children at least once (or many, many times).  As part of our farm theme, we read The Little Red Hen and made adorable handprint hens to go along with it.  Then, we made our own bread and what goes best with homemade bread?  Why, homemade butter, that's what!
Easy Homemade Butter with Kids - Mamas Like Me
This activity is great for introducing science investigation of solids and liquids with young kids.

For this activity, you'll need:
Heavy cream
Baby Food Jars
Homemade Butter Supplies
We let our cream sit on the counter for a bit to bring it to room temperature.  This saved the kids from having to shake too long!

We filled our jars about 2/3 full of cream and made sure the lids were on tight.  (This is important!)
Easy Homemade Butter with Kids - Mamas Like Me
Then, the kids got to work shaking their jars.  I found it best to fill a few jars and let the kids pass them around.  That way, no one had to shake for too long and they still got excited when it was their turn to shake.
Easy Homemade Butter with Kids - Mamas Like Me
After about 10 minutes, the cream turned into butter (solid) with buttermilk (liquid) on top.  You can pour off the liquid or save it to use later.  We just poured ours off into the sink.  Then, I took a spoon to squeeze out any extra liquid and stir the butter into a nice creamy consistency.
Easy Homemade Butter with Kids - Mamas Like Me
Then, we added just a pinch of salt to our jars and stirred up the butter.

Seriously, this was the best-tasting butter I have ever had!  The kids loved it and couldn't wait to try it on our cinnamon raisin bread.  This would also be good in a classroom with just plain crackers or toast.
Easy Homemade Butter with Kids - Mamas Like Me
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Little Red Hen Handprint Craft & Activity

Whenever I start planning a unit for the Daycare kids, I come up with a list of books and try to come up with activities and crafts to go with those books.  One of our favorite crafts with the Farm Theme books was this handprint hen with our reading of The Little Red Hen.  I love this book because it teaches kids that it's important to help out with work and that everyone can enjoy the rewards if everyone pitches in.  This is something we review every day at clean-up time!
The Little Red Hen Handprint Paper Plate Craft - Mamas Like Me

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kid-Friendly Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Summer at our house means fresh veggies straight from the garden. One day I hope that it will be our garden, but right now we're busy raising babies and I just haven't figured out a way to do both. In the meantime, we're blessed with wonderful family and neighbors that keep us supplied with all the extras from their gardens.

After getting a bunch of zucchini from my cousin, I couldn't wait to try out some muffin recipes with the kids.  They have decided that they will no longer eat my fabulous chocolate zucchini bread unless its in muffin form, which I'm fully convinced is because it looks more like a chocolate cupcake.  Since I aim to please, I've taken to making all my bread recipes as muffins (and mini muffins) to keep the little ones happy and chomping away.

These muffins freeze beautifully and are perfect for busy school mornings.  Plus, I feel better because I'm squeezing just a little more veggies into their day!  I've made these a couple times and I always double the recipe so we have enough for a few weeks.  I've also included extra modifications that I made for one of my daycare kids that has a soy and nut allergy, just in case you're interested.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I've also used Canola oil in an attempt to make these soy free)
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips (You can also purchase soy free, nut free chips for this)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with olive oil cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl, stir together first set of dry ingredients (from flour to salt).
3.  In a separate bowl, blend together second set of ingredients (from egg to vanilla).
4.  Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended.
5.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.
6.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool completely before freezing.

Makes 1 dozen muffins.
Kid-Friendly Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins - Mamas Like Me
 My kids ask for these all the time for snacks and breakfast!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Surviving the First 2 Weeks of Breastfeeding

As I type this (one-handed), my 3-week old is nursing happily, propped up by my arm and a Boppy Pillow.  With my first child, I never could have managed this.  In fact, I gave up nursing my first child shortly after he came home from the hospital.  Here are some things they don't tell you about having a newborn:

1.  It's HARD! - Everyone tells you how cute and cuddly newborns are, but no one really tells you how your life will be consumed with an endless cycle of feeding, burping, and diaper changing for the next few months.  Oh yes, and they'll sleep some in there too, but most of that will occur during daylight hours when your other children are awake and you have a million other things to accomplish.

2.  It's EXHAUSTING! - In case you missed it, that precious bundle will probably being doing most of their sleeping during the day and partying the night away.  Even if they are sleeping at night, they'll be expecting a feeding every couple hours.  That means you will not be getting enough sleep, not by a long shot!  And, you will soon begin resembling one of those zombies in Night of the Living Dead (and that's AFTER you manage to put on some concealer!)

And, then we add in BREASTFEEDING!
Breastfeeding the First Few Weeks - Mamas Like Me