Monday, June 28, 2010

Jump Frog Jump

This month, we have been attending a family story time each Monday and Wednesday morning. It's taught by Mr. One's preschool teacher and another preschool teacher.  We have loved all of the stories, activities, crafts and fun.

Frog day was one of our favorites.  We read lots of fun frog books, sang "Five Little Speckled Frogs", made puppets to act out the song, then made this little game.  We had so much fun playing it at home, I thought I'd share it with you, along with two frog book recommendations.

Jump, Frog, Jump!

You will need:

one game board (I laminated mine for extra durability) 
four different colored frogs (or another colored manipulative of your choice, just make sure you have four different colors, such as four bear counters)
one die

To make your game board, create a grid on cardstock.  You will need 4 boxes across and six boxes down.  Bold the line under your first row of boxes and your last row of boxes.  Write "Finish Line" across the last row of boxes to indicate your ending point.  Laminate for durability.

You can find a template to make your own die here.   Color a circle of color that corresponds to the colors of your manipulative colors on four of the sides of your die.  Write "Roll Again" on the other two sides.  For our game, we had a blue, green, pink and yellow frog, so our die had blue, green, pink, and yellow circles and two "Roll Again" spaces.

Place all of your frogs in the top boxes, behind the bold line.  This is the start.

Each player takes a turn rolling the die and moving the corresponding colored frog one space.

If a player rolls a "Roll Again" then they roll until they get a color.

Take turns rolling and hopping the frogs until one reaches the finish space.

I love this game for several reasons.  First, it is non-competitive.  No person is a winner or loser.  Everyone plays together to see what frog reaches the finish line first.  It is simple enough for my two year old to play and short enough to keep his attention.  It is easily adaptable to other themes.  You could race bears, or ocean animals, etc.  by just changing your die and your manipulative.  An added bonus is being able to chant "Jump frog jump!"  each time we move a frog!

Speaking of Jump, Frog, Jump!...

Read the book, by Robert Kalan

This is a simple story with the refrain "Jump, frog, jump" throughout the book.  Find out what Frog must jump from.

Frogs by Nic Bishop

This book has amazing photographs of frogs from all over the world, from the jungles to the deserts, exotic and rare to the common bullfrogs.  This is a more wordy read, too long for the younger preschoolers, but full of fascinating facts.  At the end is a two page explanation from the author about his work that is just as interesting as the frog facts.

"Hoppy" reading and playing!
*book images from

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Someone's in the Kitchen with Grammy

The boys had a cooking date at Grammy's house earlier this week.  They made Peanut Butter Cookie Cups and made sure they brought their new aprons.

Spread the cookie dough.

Smooth on the peanut butter.

Sample the layers.

Drizzle the chocolate.

Mr. One's idea of washing up.

Mr. Two's idea of washing up.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Mr. Three is not happy to be on the sideline. Maybe next time, when you're not on a liquid diet...

Thank you Grammy for a fun afternoon!

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

1 tube chocolate chip cookie dough
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 or 4 tablespoons water
1 cup chocolate chips
cupcake holders

Place cupcake holders on a cookie sheet, or in a muffin tin.  Into bottom of each, put a small amount of cookie dough.  Bake at 350 degrees until slightly browned and puffy (about 9 minutes for mini cups, 13 minutes for large cups).   After taking them out of the oven, bang them softly on the counter or floor to flatten the cookie.  In the meantime, mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and enough water to make a creamy mixture (with a frosting-like consistency).  When the cookies are cooled, spread a layer of peanut butter on each.  Melt the chocolate chips in a Ziploc baggie in the microwave.  Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and draw a little zigzag of chocolate on the top of each cookie cup.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tender Mercies- The Minivan Edition Continued

Our van was totaled on a Tuesday.  We started fretting about how in the world we were going to find another car.  In our budget.  Quickly. We got confirmation it was a total loss on a Friday.  We received a check to cover the van and the three car seats the next Wednesday.   We purchased our new van the following Monday.

Heavenly Father answers prayers.

We found a new van.  It's another 2004 silver Honda Odyssey.  It's a bit nicer than the one we had before.  We found it on Craig's List (thank you Garrett for the tip!) being sold by the original owner.  She had just posted it when Mike went on the computer to look and it was right in our price range.  We took a test drive the next day, and made an offer.  We are so blessed and so grateful that this stressful situation actually turned into a blessing.

Now we just need to come up with a name for our new vehicle.  I think I shall call her Minnie.  Or maybe it's a he.  How about Homer?  You know, since it's an Odyssey.  Hmmm......

Friday, June 18, 2010

Play Date and Kids Aprons

This Tuesday, my boys and I had a play date.

Mr. One's preschool has been such a blessing in many ways, including the opportunity to make some new friends.  For me as well as him.  Tuesday, we headed over to one of our preschool friends' home for a play date with another preschool mommy and her boys also.  The kids played and ate lunch and the ladies got to craft, chat and eat.  What's not to love?

We made 6 child sized aprons for our kiddos.  Here is a link to the pattern we used.  It took all day, but they turned out adorable.  Really, the pattern is so simple, it shouldn't take very long. I love the velcro on the sides so that the kids can put them on themselves.  We added a little front pocket, because every apron needs a pocket.  With a bit of couponing and luck finding some very inexpensive clearance fabric, these darlings cost about 2 dollars a piece.  You can't beat that price!

When you have eight little boys under the age of eight to keep track of, you are thrilled to get anything complete.

Here's a list of what we accomplished during our day:

fed eight boys a balanced lunch
took care of one very explosive and messy diaper (thank you Mr. Three...)
cleaned one poopy car seat and a kitchen floor
coaxed a difficult sewing machine into behaving (thankfully not my machine)
stopped for our own lunch
helped clean a massive toy mess
played referee to a few slight skirmishes
finished four aprons and almost finished two more for a total of six
got a few new book recommendations
bounced and pacified a fussy baby and toddler
talked and laughed
took home some happy and tired kiddos

The boys love their aprons and are excited to help cook.  I can't wait for our next play date!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Buggy Book List

We have been very relaxed lately with our learning activities, but we've been reading bunches.  My boys are ready to move on to new things, but I thought I'd at least do a book post for our favorites from our bug themed learning.  Here are a few of my favorite bug books.

You cannot do a great bug unit without including at least one Eric Carle book.  He has so many great ones.  Each one has the familiar colorful illustrations, some repetitive text, and most have additional learning objectives embedded as well.

The Grouchy Ladybug tells the story of a very grouchy ladybug who more interested in picking a fight than in sharing.  This is the perfect book for time telling practice as well as size comparison.

The Clumsy Click Beetle reinforces the importance of practice and believing in yourself.

The Hungry Caterpillar not only chronicles the life cycle of a butterfly, but has counting practice embedded as well.

The Very Busy Spider has farm animals that speak their corresponding sounds and raised, touch-me spider webs for a sensory experience.

Icky Bug Shapes by Jerry Pallotta

This book follows a group of leafcutter ants as they carry their leaves to their home.  It not only gives information about the leafcutters, but shows examples of the basic shapes that occur in the bug world.  For example, the grasshopper's eye is an oval and the praying mantis has a triangular head.

The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn and Jack Tickle
This ladybug is so lazy, she doesn't want to fly.  She hops from one animal to another, hoping to find a new napping place.  A simple story, great for the young preschool set.

Ladybug at Orchard Avenue by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

This is a fantastic nonfiction ladybug book.  It tells the "story" of a day in a ladybug's life while weaving interesting facts throughout.  Lots of ladybug information with detailed illustrations.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman

This greedy bee finds himself in a serious conundrum as he greedily sips from flower to flower and finds himself too fat to fly and all alone.  A cute story that teaches the importance of sharing and helping others.

Creepy Crawlies A to Z by Louisa Ainsworth

A buggy alphabet book with photographs of all things creepy crawly from a to z, some familiar, others more obscure.  Interesting facts and just enough text to keep kids engaged.

I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a beginning reader written by the author of Goodnight Moon and many other loved children's tales.  Mr. One can read this one by himself, so it's a favorite at our house.

Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman

A beautifully illustrated story of a little lightning bug with a lion inside of him, although he doesn't know it at first.  Leo is a lightning bug who cannot make his light work.  To make matters worse, others make fun of his efforts.  With a little practice, and some bravery, he learns how to make his light shine.  Reinforces the importance of having confidence in yourself and perseverance.

Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise

Charlie the Caterpillar just wants to play, but the other creatures want him to go away, just because he is an ugly caterpillar.  After becoming a butterfly, they suddenly want him for a playmate, but Charlie is looking for true friends.  Read to see who he finds.  A good message about looking on the inside of a person instead of just the outside.

Good Night, Sweet Butterflies by Dawn Bentley and Heather Cahoon

This colorful board book is a favorite of Mr. Two.  He can recite most of it by memory now.  Each page is dedicated to a color, as each of ten different colored butterflies finds a place to rest for the night.  Simple rhyming text and bright illustrations make a great bedtime read.

I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe

This is one of my favorite books.  A sad little cricket believes he is the ugliest creature in Swampswallow Pond, because the frog on the edge of the pond told him so.  He is so upset, he won't even fiddle with the other crickets and spends his day wishing he were a butterfly instead, complaining to the other creatures near the pond.  He cannot see the beauty in himself until a wise old friend helps him to discover it.  This book has fabulous, impressionistic illustrations and a poetic feeling text.  This one is a bit wordy for the really young crowd, but a worthwhile read for the older preschooler or elementary aged child.

Find a good spot for reading, and enjoy a buggy book or two!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tender Mercies- The Minivan Edition

 image from

I never saw myself as the Minivan Mom sort.

In fact, those of you that know me from way back when may recall a few "I will NEVER own a minivan" declarations.

Um, I am now officially eating a bit of crow.

With baby number three rapidly on his way, we started looking for a larger car for our growing family.  In February, we started the hunt in earnest, realizing that we were headed down the minivan path.  SUV's were out of our price range and guzzle too much gas.  We had outgrown our sedan, so the only choice we had was a minivan.  We found an '04 silver Honda Odyssey in our price range, and took the plunge.  I have to admit, it was actually fun to drive.  It handled so much like our Accord and it was easy to get the kids in and out of.  It had some little cosmetic blemishes, but it had decent fuel economy and a cold ac.  It wasn't perfect, but it met our needs.  Plus, it was silver and, apparently, we gravitate to used silver Hondas (this is silver Honda number three...).

With all three kids and husband in tow, we were headed to pick up our other silver Honda from the shop.  In the late-afternoon-heavy traffic, we were hit from behind by a large full size truck.  Hit with such force that we ran into the car in front of us, despite my attempt to slow and swerve out of the way.  We were in a car wreck sandwich.  After coming to a stop, Mike and I rushed to the back seats to check on our kids.  Thankfully, everyone was OK.  Mr. One and Mr. Three were a bit rattled, and Mr. Two kept right on sleeping.  My worst fear as a mother is to be in an accident with my children.  Relief rushed through me as I could see that everyone was just fine.

After moving our car to the roadside and having the fire department pry the sliding door open so we could get our children out of the car, I surveyed the damage.  It was not pretty.  The whole back end was crushed and part of the front end as well.

How very blessed we feel that we were protected.

And we know we most certainly were protected by our Heavenly Father.

Our car is totaled, but my family is safe.

I  never knew how truly grateful I'd feel to be a Minivan Mom.  Our minivan (and three properly installed carseats) helped save my family.

I will not take lightly again my petition to Heavenly Father to keep our family safe from harm.

Sometimes happiness is being a Minivan Mom.  Lesson learned.