Thursday, September 26, 2013

Letter of the Week {Uu}

By Tiffany Rudd
Incase you missed A-T, you can find the entire Letter of the Week Series {here}!

Snack Ideas: 
      * Snacking Under the Table: U is another letter with not many (or really any?) food names. I always just picked a snack and let my students eat it Under the table! Any snack or meal is more fun when eaten this way...

Favorite Books:
      * Underwear by Mary Elisa Monsell - This one always leads to the best laughs! 
      * The Umbrella by Jan Brett
      *  Upside Down, Under the Table Art - All you need for this activity are some markers, paper, and tape. Just tape the paper underneath a low table or chair and let your child enjoy some unusual drawing. It always leaves my kids giggling.
      *How cute is this Umbrella Art made out of cupcake liners and pipe cleaners?! 

       * I love this Umbrella Counting Activity from The Iowa Farmer's Wife. 
       * U Toss! I love this idea from A Mom With a Lesson Plan. So fun and easy to put together with items you already have!
      * Click on the photos below to print out your Uu Flash Card and Writing Practice Worksheet.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disneyland Surprise 10 Day Countdown

By Tiffany Rudd

When we finally decided to take our kids to Disneyland for the first time, I wanted it to be a big deal. I wanted to milk the experience for all the excitement and fun I possibly could. I also, REALLY didn't want to hear "how much longer?" for a month before hand. :)

So, I decided to surprise the kids by telling them 10 days before we left. Just enough time to enjoy the excitement and anticipating, not so long that it became tainted with the difficulty of waiting SO long for something so fun. 

I created this fun 10 gift countdown and it turned our 4 day vacation into a 2 week long party! I would highly recommend it if you have a Disneyland vacation coming up. I'll tell you all about the gifts I included and your can print the tags for free by clicking on the photos below.

Here are the gifts all wrapped, tagged, and ready to go. You'll notice that I included numbers for the older kids and the correlating amount of Mickey Mouse pictures on each for my 2 year old. 

Of course you can use any 10 gifts you want. Most of mine came from clearance deals I kept my eyes out for since we scheduled our trip. Many of them were also things I would have purchased for the trip anyway, so really no extra cost. Here is what mine were...

10. The giant box full of all the gifts plus a big bunch of balloons and the first sign. This was how we revealed the fun surprise!
9. Mickey Mouse drawstring bags for holding car snacks.
8. New movies for watching in the car during the long drive.
7. Travel games.
6. Character notebook and pencil packs.
5. Disney giftcards I bought at Target. I got these with my redcard for 5% off and they were a great way to give each child a spending limit once in the park.
4. Minnie Mouse Dresses my mom made for the girls and Mickey t-shirts for the boys.
3. Photo mats and sharpie markers - for the characters to sign.
2. Reusable sticker pads for the car.
1. Car snacks.

The SURPRISE in photos...

 Reading the note...
 The reaction...
 There was actual jumping up and down...
 And awesome surprised faces...

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

{DIY} Halloween Scarecrow Story

I made this cute Halloween story to tell the kids in our church Nursery today. We were talking about how God has given us our bodies. This story was perfect because the kids were able to add the different body parts to the scarecrow as we talked about each one. The pieces were made from felt. I had attached magnet strips to the back of each piece so I could attach them to this metal serving tray. I like magnets better than flannel boards because they pieces stay in place more securely and don't fall off in the middle of the story.

(Note: My mom told us this story when we were little. I am sorry that I can't give the original author credit.)

Once upon a time there was a farmer. He had planted a beautiful garden filled with corn and wheat and pumpkins and tomatoes. There was just one problem. The crows kept flying into his garden and eating all of his food. So he decided that he needed to build a scarecrow to scare away the crows.

First he added the scarecrow's legs in his blue pants.

Next he added the scarecrows arms in his red shirt.

 Then the farmer added the scarecrows' feet in his black boots.

The next thing the farmer added was the scarecrows' hands in his white gloves.

Then the farmer added the scarecrow's head with his eyes, his nose and his mouth.

The farmer still wasn't done. He added the scarecrow's hair made from yellow straw.

The last thing the farmer added to the scarecrow was his brown hat. The scarecrow was finally complete. The farmer waited in the garden to see what would happen.

Oh no! The crows were not scared of the scarecrow. They came and landed on his arms and pulled at his straw hair. The crows even carried off his brown hat. By now, it was almost time for Halloween. The farmer had an idea. He picked a pumpkin out of his garden. He carved a scary Halloween face in the pumpkin and he put the finished Jack o' Lantern on top of the post in place of the scarecrow's head.

The farmer hid and waited to see what would happen. The crows flew by the scarecrow. As soon as they got close and saw the scary pumpkin face, the crows started to screech, "Caw, Caw!" and they turned around flew away. The scary scarecrow had worked! All the vegetables in the farmer's garden were safe.

The first time I told the story, I simply placed all the pieces on the serving tray one at a time. The second time, I gave each child a piece of the scarecrow to add themselves. One cute little 2-year-old girl was scared of my Jack o'Lantern face. She kept shaking her head "No" every time I added him to the scarecrow. So I quickly replaced the pumpkin with our happy scarecrow face. The kids are so adorable in our class!

They wanted me to repeat the story again and again. It was a huge hit! I am afraid I don't have a pattern for my felt pieces but they were easy to cut out freehand. You can tell this story to your child's play group, nursery, or preschool class. Or just make it for your child to play with and rearrange again and again. Happy Fall!

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Super Hero Family Photo

My daughter was bemoaning the fact that none of our family photos actually captured who we were as a family. In a recent family photo shoot, we looked stiff and formal and in some of the photos it didn't even look like like we were happy or that we liked each other.

What is it about family photos that brings out the grouchy in everyone?

So she decided that we needed to have some fun and do a theme photo. Each of us dressed up according to our favorite super hero. 

We took some liberty with the term "super hero" since one daughter came in Harry Potter attire and another daughter came in her Dr. Who apparel. We ended up having so much fun! 

Even though one daughter's face is covered by her Batman mask, I love these pictures. I love the fun backgrounds and embellishments that my artistic daughter has added. I think they capture us as a family. Can tell that we love movies and that we laugh a lot? We can be goofy when we are together and I am so glad that these photos reflect that. 

What kind of fun photo shoot would capture your family? 

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Harry Potter Party: Honeydukes Sweet Shop and Flue Powder

No party is complete without some Butter Beer, Cauldron Cakes and a trip to Honeydukes Sweet Shop! 

This is the final post in a series about our Harry Potter Birthday Party. You can read our other posts at the links below:
The Hogwarts Acceptance Letter
Invitation and Costumes
The Guests Arrive
Diagon Alley
Potions Class

Or just read all our party posts here.

After our quidditch game, we served our guests Butter Beer. 

I used this fantastic and simple recipe from Bakingdom. We have been to Harry Potter World and had the real thing and we thought that this came pretty close. 

Then we had cauldron cakes. I used this recipe from Sugar Bean Bakers. They were a little bit involved but very delicious. If I were to do this party over, I think I would have just stuck some licorice in some chocolate frosted cupcakes, but the cream filling was to die for. If you make this recipe, I do have one tip. I made the cupcakes ahead of time and stored them in the fridge. When I opened the fridge after the cupcakes had been in there overnight, the chocolate licorice handles had broken in half so I had to rush to the store to buy more handles before the party started. I don't know why this happened! But if you want to make them ahead of time, add the licorice at the last moment. 

After the guests had eaten their cauldron cakes and ice cream, we opened presents. Then we unveiled Honeydukes. It has been in the dining room the whole time but covered with a table cloth. 

We uncovered the hutch and let the guests use the rest of the their galleons to choose some treats to take home. 

I had planned it so that each girl would be able to buy a chocolate frog and an edible wand and a few other fun items. We just looked for the most unusual candy that we could find at our Dollar Store and local grocery store. 

We had a special Fill-A-Box section for our Bertie Botts Beans, Lemon Drops, and Cry Baby Candy. We had made cute boxes out of scrapbook paper. We used this pattern from Easy Paper Crafts. 

Then the girls were able to fill the box with Bertie Botts and Lemon Drops for just one galleon. 

I had purchased real Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans here but then I mixed a few boxes of the real stuff with some Jelly Belly's in the jar so we would have more yummy flavors and less crazy ones. And it was less expensive. 

We made the boxes for our Chocolate Frogs using this template from Harry Potter Paraphernalia. 

We bought our frog mold here. We also used the Chocolate Frog cards from the amazing Harry Potter Paraphernalia site. 
The frogs were probably my favorite part of Honeydukes. 

The edible wands were made with pretzel rods covered in white chocolate and then rolled in Pop Rocks. 

I think every one loved Honeydukes! Each guest added her candy stash to the gift bags that they had received at the beginning of the party when they bought supplies in Diagon Alley. 

After two hours of festivities, it was almost time to go home. We took everyone back into the backyard to use our special flue powder to send them home. 

We had purchased magic fire changing powder here

Unfortunately our first year guests were too young to travel by the flue network, and they didn't actually disappear when they shouted their destination. But we still had fun watching the green flames and letting every guest try! 

Before they traveled home via Muggle Vehicle we took some last group photos at the front of Hogwarts. Here are the party guests.... 

and here are the Party Planners and Hogwarts Staff. 

This is how we all felt after the party was over....

Exhausted and Crazy.... 

But happy for having had such a fun and memorable time together. I am glad that I have captured it all here for future reference. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our magical adventure and will be inspired to create a special once-in-a-lifetime party of your own. It was worth it! 

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