Friday, September 28, 2012

Preschool Art and Literacy Club - Apples

When two mamas with some fun ideas come together, you end up with a fabulous new creation - if I do say so myself! My friend Kristin approached me on wanting to host a preschool art club and I immediately thought we could combine the arts and literacy into a fun filled educational opportunity for our preschoolers. As soon as we agreed to combine forces the ideas started flowing and now we have 3+ months of themes, books, activities, songs, and more planned for our new group.

We had our first meeting today at my home. However, our plan is to host our bimonthly events at the library's community room - no distraction of toys and the playroom - and NO mess for me to clean up!  Sounds like a win-win for everyone!

Our goal is to create a program where we center around one theme which will integrate the arts and literacy.  We will have a story, song and/or movement activity, two art projects, theme appropriate snack, a take home activity  and either a bound book or a printed book for home.  In order to make this all happen we do need to charge $5 per child 2+ years old.

Today's theme was APPLES.

We started off with an apple collage activity.  After the little ones cut the top of their apple tree out they placed it in a zip lock bag with some paint and went to work squishing and painting it! What a perfect way to "paint" without the mess!

We also traced the arm and hand of each child onto brown paper.  This will be the trunk of the tree.  Kids were able to add some texture to the bark with brown crayons.  While our tree tops were drying we went and read our book.

Apple Farmer Annie is a great book with bold, bright illustrations.  It is perfect as a springboard for an apple discussion with preschoolers.  Not only did we all enjoy the book, but we were able to share our apple knowledge with each other as well.  This group sure has a lot of apple schema!!

After all this sitting Ms. Kristin lead the group in an apple poem and movement activity. She based her activity on the following poem:

Apple Tree

Way up in the apple tree,
Two little apples were smiling at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
And down came the apples and boy were they good.

After a snack of pretzels and apple juice we headed back to our art projects.

The little ones were able to add all sorts of red objects ( buttons, felt circles, sequins, and pompoms) to their trees to make the apples.

And they were pretty proud of their final product:

Kristin also came up with a great apple printing activity.  Apple print picture frames.  Of course my good friend Pinterest taught me a neat way to cut handles into the apples, which make them much more user friendly for little hands. It's genius, why did I never think of that?

The kids were able to securely hold on and printed away on their frame!

Now all this frame needs is a picture from a trip to an apple orchard, which shouldn't be hard considering we're lucky enough to live in an area with lots of orchards to choose from!

Lastly, everyone went home with a printed our book from that they can color and read at home with mom or dad.

It was a great morning of friends, stories and art for both little ones and mamas alike.  Our next session is in two weeks, our theme: LEAVES.  Looking forward to it! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sensory Bottles

I've been wanting to try making sensory bottles for awhile now.  They have been popping up all over Pinterest  lately and look like a lot of fun.  I knew it would be great fine motor work to make the bottles and some great sensory fun to play with them afterwards.  

First things first was to collect what we would need:

 Empty water bottles - we used single serve bottles ( thanks Megan!) but I have seen these done with  bottles up to 2.0 liters.


 Measuring Cup and Funnel

 Craft Objects - sequins, pipe cleaners, pom poms, pony beads, googly eyes, buttons, curled ribbon - I just rummaged around my craft area and found lots of options.

 Glitter and Food Coloring ( Optional) 

We filled our bottles half way with water.

Owl had a good gripe on this.  Sassy Sis was a bit over zealous and her first try resulted in more water on the table then in the bottle.

However, with the help of big brother she was able to figure it out.

We then filled our bottles with all of the fun craft items.

Then topped off the bottles with water.

After the little ones were happy with their finished product I simply put a ring of hit glue around the inside of the lid before I twisted it on one final time.

And here are the colorful, sparkly finished products!  What an easy fun project, that uses items around the house and works on so many fine motor skills while involving sensory play!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free Fun at Bretton Woods

We are always on the lookout for fun, outdoor activities and one that is FREE is even better!  During our week in the White Mountains we headed up to Bretton Woods ski area. During the summer, 6/23 - 9/23 Bretton Woods offers complimentary rides on their quad ski lift. More information can be found here.  

The lift brings you to their restaurant Lattitude 44, which serves lunch daily.  Normally I would bring a picnic lunch, but our traveling companion convinced me that eating at the restaurant was part of the experience.  The food was good ( hot dogs, grilled veggie sandwich, burgers, etc.) but pricey - well it is operated by the Mt. Washington Resort! There was no children's menu so my two shared an $8 hotdog!  Now, in defense of the hotdog, it had to be a one-pounder and was perfect for them to share and you couldn't beat the view you had with your meal.

After lunch my two loved exploring the summit while we soaked up the sunshine and the amazing views. I love watching my two enjoying the simple things - running, enjoying being outside, and entertaining themselves.

It was a gorgeous day to just enjoy the day and this special place.

I really think the time exploring at the summit - running free and finding natural treasures was even more enjoyed then the actual chair life ride up and down.  After a couple of hours up top we had sun-kissed happy children.

On our ride back down the mountain we noticed Kinderwoods Playground - a fabulous area for little ones- at the base near the lodge.  I was surprised my two still had more energy to explore!  They loved the gondola, child size zip line and large wooden play structure.  It was a fabulous summer day exploring a new area - and doing it for FREE!

Now we'll have to come back when the  snow is falling for a winter adventure too!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sherman Farm - Fall Fun!

Fall is my favorite time of year!  I love the cool crisp air, outdoor activities, the harvest, pumpkin picking, tractor rides and all the fun that comes with the season.  Sherman Farm has managed to take everything fall and compile it into their farm courtyard with corn maze.

The farm offers, easily, 2+ hours of family fun.  We spent 3.5 hours there this past weekend and only left to fit in that ever so important nap time!  Normally, we travel the 1.5 hours to visit however (totally worth it)  however,since we've been in the area for a week this year we lucked out with only a 15 minute drive. 

Admission is $6 for the courtyard, $9 for courtyard and large maze.  Children 2 and under are free.  We opt for the courtyard only.  There is more than enough to do and it includes a mini maze which is perfect for our little two.

This year's newest attraction was the jumping pillow - the little ones loved it! It was just like jumping on a bed - even adults can take a try!

A favorite was the cow train ride.  I can remember the first year we came and the OWL was only 13 months old.  My poor DH had to wedge himself in with the OWL to ride.

The corn cannon was a big hit with not only OWL, but also the DH.  With admission we each received a token which was good for 3 shots - normally these are 3 shots for a $1.00.  Even though the DH was VERY focused and VERY serious about his corn cannon skills, it was the OWL who hit a target and won a prize!

Another new adventure is the gravy train.  This tractor ride goes around the farm with no stops - a perfect option for those that want to avoid the pumpkin patch. 

Of course, if you want to hit the pumpkin patch ( pumpkins are 45/55 cents per lb depending on weight) the big tractor ride is for you!

And there are plenty of pumpkins, of all sizes, to pick from!

One of the simplest activities, but one loved the most is the corn bin.  There are two - one for babies/toddlers and one for older kids.  My two loved pouring, scooping, and burying each other!

A farm visit isn't a farm visit without a petting zoo!  Feed is available (25 cents) to feed the cows, goats, and pigs!

There are also lots of great photo spots while on the farm!

Of course, all of this outdoor fun is sure to make you hungry!  There are plenty of picnic tables to either enjoy your own lunch or to purchase some of the yummy food the farm has to offer.  This year they had kettle corn, cider doughnuts, burgers, hotdogs, fries, chicken tenders and more to choose from!

So, whether you're five minutes away or have a longer drive, the trip to Sherman Farms is well worth it.  It is well cared for, well organized place that is fall fun for the whole family! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Felt Food Exchange

We held our second felt food with mamas from our mother's group. After the success of our first exchange we were excited to get a second one on the books.  My two little ones have LOVED all of their felt food and I love that I only have to master one food, but receive 9 different kinds in return.  The possibilities for felt food are endless and luckily there are many tutorials online to help.  I've posted many felt food ideas on my Pinterest board.

We had the same rules of our last swap and again we had another successful swap.
Not all of us are sewers - some of us sew with a machine, some "sew" with hot glue, and then there are the few who are amazing hand stitches, but at the end of the day we all produce fun food, made with love.

This month's felt food selections:
  1. Smores ( chocolate, graham crackers, and melted marshmallows)
  2. Mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows
  3. Pirouette cookies
  4. Cinnamon rolls, fried eggs, and bacon
  5. Sandwich fixings
  6. Hotdogs with buns

7. Soup can with saltines
8. Potato, carrot, and peapod
9. Cupcakes with additional toppings
10. Pretzels
11. Condiment Packets - Ketchup, Mayo, and Mustard.
12. Sushi Set

Before the swap was over we were already planning our next felt food swap!  We have one planned prior to Christmas - felt food will make fabulous gifts!  We also decided to host a felt activity where mamas can make any learning activity as long as it is created from felt.  I can't wait to see everyone's  creation.  We may be going felt crazy here!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Franklin Falls Dam Hike

Now that the weather is cooler, we've started up our weekly hikes with friends.  Luckily, we live in an area that is full of great places to hike with little ones.  This week we explored the Franklin Falls Dam area.

 We parked by the ranger station, which is past the first parking lot and through the gate.  Across from the ranger station is a good sized playground with many picnic tables and bathrooms!

 Originally my thought was to hike the Piney Point Trail. However, after talking to the rangers I  decided to save this for another day.  We had a large group hiking with many new children ( many 2 -3 years old) and I didn't want to tackle more then we could handle.  The Piney Point Trail is just about 2 miles long and has a steep decline ( which you need to make back up at the end!!) before it levels off.

We decided to venture down the Coleman Road - a wide logging road to the start of the Whaleback Trail.  The Whaleback Trail was a fabulous trail for the little ones.  It meandered through the woods, was level and free of trail obstacles ( ie. rocks, roots, etc.).

It did have some large rock outcroppings that the little ones loved stopping at for a snack and then using it as a natural slide. 

 Once at the end we returned, via Coleman Road back to the playground area for lunch and some more play time!

The Park Rangers had also suggested Sniper Trail as a good suggestion for our little ones.  It has a bit more of an elevation ( read some uphills and downhills).  We really enjoyed this area and it proved to be a fun morning out for us, so we may have to give Sniper Trail a try next time.

Of course, before you leave the area, be sure to drive past the Ranger Station and over the dam. My two loved that.  There are even picnic tables on the other side of the dam.