Afterschool Express: Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a memorable Christmas with their families!  We were very blessed to be able to celebrate with my husband's family this year in warm Florida while my family was in Colorado enjoying the snow.  Facetime, Yahoo and Skype were great for us all to be in touch with each other and not feel so far way.  

My daughter did this the day after Christmas and it just cracked me up.
 I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's now 364 days and counting down again. 

We're now getting back to normal life a little bit.  My 5 year old has been busy enjoying her new things from Christmas.  To my surprise her Hello Kitty Paint with Water was a big hit and has kept her very busy.  She's going to include them into her Thank you Cards for Christmas .  Now I've discovered you can make your own WaterColor Photos from I Can Teach My Child.  Think we  might be making some Valentine's this year with that idea in mind for our close friends.  Look for that post to come soon.

We've been working this week on getting ready to celebrate New Years.  I found a few cute sites about New Years Celebrations to share with you to help you prepare with your little ones. 

 Here's Emily playing the Graphing Dice Game from 2 Teaching Mommies

New Years Printables from 2 Teaching Mommies
New Years Mickey Mouse Party Printables from Disney Family 
News Years Countdown Ball from The Happy Home Fairy 
New Years Interview from 2 Teaching Mommies too
New Years Resolution Sheet from 30 Handmade Days
New Years Resolution Craft from Nurture Store 
New Years Countdown Goodie Bags from Hoosier Homemade

Thank you Cards from Recycled Wrapping Paper

We tried to use reusable gift wrap this year with gift bags or decorated gift boxes but we still ended up with a few wrapped.  We wanted a few wrapped with paper for our littlest one to experience opening up her first Christmas presents and the paper kept her entertained for quite some time.  We saved the used wrapping paper and my daughter cut out some of the cute pictures and used them for making crafts this week and thank you cards. 

 New Years Sign from Recycled Paper

We also used our used wrapping paper to create something new...  A 2012 New Years Sign.  We tried to find a paper with sparkle to save.  Then we had a little bit of leftover cardboard from new gifts so we reused them into making the numbers for 2012.  My daughter had lots of fun tearing and cutting the paper and gluing it onto the numbers.  Definitely kept her interested in the New Year and now knows the numbers in 2012!  Can't wait to hang it up for our New Year's Noon Party with her friends. 

Here are some fun photos from our NOON New Years Party Pictures

For your own 2012 PRINTABLE see this post!

Happy New Year to you and your family!  May the New year bring you much joy, happiness and amazing memories with your family! 

UPDATE:  Here's my post of Fun Family Games for your New Year's Party! 

The Afterschool Blog Hop is hosted by:
What Do We Do All Day?

New Year Day Celebrations at Amanda's House

We love New Year's Eve, but like to keep many of our family celebrations low key.  My favorite was last year when we were visiting my parents.  Elly requested to hang up a sign, so they hung up "Happy Retirement,"  a left over from my uncles celebration.  Gone is the last year - new things to come!  Just looking back at the photos make me smile!  Everyone laughed so hard during the decorating and we still say, "Happy Retirement," instead of Happy New Year as a family joke!  Sometimes it is the simple celebrations that end up being the most meaningful!  With all the adorable projects on the Internet, sometimes it is hard to remember that our kids just need us to enjoy the moment with them and not to stress about the little details. 
In the past, we have made brownies and frosted a clock with the hands at midnight.  12 cupcakes in a circle would be cute too! I've also made our bread sticks into the shape of  numbers in the new year.  I try to just make do with what we have!
Our friends are hosting a "Countdown to Noon" for the kids play date at the park, so the kids can ring in the noon-year with their friends.  We are all bringing one craft, snack, book, or activity to share that allows all of us to  keep with the "LOW STRESS" theme!  I saw this pinterst post and made a 2012, what I have on hand version of it.  Here is the template if you want to make one this weekend.

Last, but not least, I've always loved the pictures of kids that are in the same place at different times throughout the year.  I am not the best photographer, but would like to keep up with my yearly every other year photo opportunity on New Year's Day.  For some reason, I do think that I took one last year, but cannot find it =)  My hope is that we will someday be able to look back on our family photos taken on New Years Day and remember all the good times we had together! For the last 6 or 7 years, we take a family walk together and talk about our year goals as a family on New Years Day. I am a bit of a traditionalist and am trying create healthy versions of our "new" family traditions.
I'd love to say I have all these great things planned for this weekend, but we are just planning on blowing up a few balloons, having a huge sea food dinner and toasting to our good health, happiness, and prosperity. I'd love to get our 2012 picture taken and our nice New Year's Day stroll done too. 
I'm hoping that no matter how big or small your planned celebration is, that you are able to enjoy your friends and family too!

Kim's Favorite "Spin On" Things by Amanda in 2011

I'll be the first to admit that this has been so much fun venturing into the blogging world with one of my best friends, Amanda.  She is one of those friends that encourages you to become a better person, mom, wife, daughter and friend.  I think in part that is why we both have chosen to take on this new adventure in our lives.  This blog was designed to help us and our followers become accountable for all the adventures we take and that our children take us on daily as we work on the art of being a stay at home Mom.  And hopefully we make it a little bit easier for you to make sure your little ones are learning all they need to know to prepare them for successful learning and a well balanced life. 

As the New Year approaches, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how you too can easily and creatively put your "Own Spin" on things as we have this year.  I can't wait to see what 2012 brings to our lives and into your homes.  

Here are my Favorite Picks from Amanda's Spin On  things in 2011.   

Handmade Gifts for Toddler
This was such an adorable gift that my little one received from Amanda for her 1st birthday.  She's been playing with them nonstop.  I can't wait to see her begin to count with them too.  

Owl Apron Tutorial
All I did was mention we're learning about Owls in Cooking class and her daughter shows up with an owl apron for class that she quickly created that day.  

Owl Costume Tutorial
Playing dress up up is such a treasure of childhood and one that inspires so much creativity from your little ones.  Whoooo wouldn't want to be an owl? There's even made a You Tube sewing tutorial to make it super easy for you!  

Snowman Candy Bar Treats 
Thinking of others is something we're always trying to teach our little ones.  Here's a great lesson in the art of giving and creating at the same time.  

Outdoor Play 
What a great idea to create a cut an old tree into 1inch rounds to allow your children to create all sorts of ideas with in that backyard.  Woodfloors, jumping logs the ideas are endless! 

We've truly found how much we have in common this year by creating our Pinterest Account together.  We've found ourselves pinning the same things a multitude of times, it's actually kind of funny how similiar we think at times.  If you haven't had a chance check out our Boards, here's the Link.  We have a multitude of boards created to help us and you with ideas.  We're always spinning our Ideas together and I've truly enjoyed seeing what Amanda finds on the world wide web and how she "Spins It" into her own ideas and usually very eco and economically friendly!  On top of it she has made some helpful videos on our youtube channel.  Check our our Educators' Spin On It Channel!  One of my goals this new year is to get more ideas on there for our followers.    

Amanda has been inspiring me to work with my little Bilingual Babiesto get outside and start Gardening with Children  and to create Natural Playscapes  in my yard.  I can't wait to get my littlest one started on some of your Tot School Ideas now that she's One.  Most importantly she's inspiring me to create a Print Rich home by Building Literacy with my children on a daily basis by setting up a great foundation.  I can't wait to see the books you are getting ready to publish and make available to our followers! 

Thanks Amanda for putting your "Spin On Things" and inspiring me to teach my little ones!  Hope you all get a chance to check out all the links I provided to some of her adorable and helpful ideas for your little ones!  

Holiday Cooking - Kale Pizza Trees, Snowman Pizza, Breads, Candy Cane Popcorn and MORE!

Christmas Cooking with Kids

As I am the self proclaimed "Kale Queen," I must find many creative ways to use it!  Many of you probably already have a large holiday feast planned, but just in case you need a quick, healthy lunch - I thought I'd share our treeza -pizzas! 

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas and Tree Topper Craft

Guess what!  My daughter got fantastic package in the mail!!!!  "WOW, This is really for me? NEAT!" She said.

 Thanks to Pen Pals & Picture Books, we received the book "Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas," written by Jane O'Conner and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and a themed craft project to go with it!

Afterschool Express: Holiday Fun

There are so many great ideas that have been posted with activities to do for the holidays!  We have a large zip-lock bag that I fill with the activities I have printed or made.  Since the kids were 2, I have saved these activities and used them every December.  More is added to the collection each year and we adapt the activities to meet the current needs and academic abilities.  This way, I am able to re-use projects and do not feel so wasteful when I print things.  I store them with all my Christmas decorations so that I know exactly where they are!

Here are some of our favorites.
1+1+1=1 Christmas Printable Collection
Confessions of a Homeschooler - Preschool Pack
Ready Set Read to Me
Hands On: As We Grow
A Collective Collection of 24 Bloggers
Little Wonder Days Christmas

Here are some great resources we've found and wanted to share with you.  As you know we're always putting our "Own Spin" on creative ideas we see. 

Here's what we've Pinned for you to do your own spin on too for Handmade Ornaments. 

Here's our Pinterest board for Holidays Ideas

We are both especially looking forward to having our Kindergartners home with us to have fun doing all these holiday activities together.  We've been working on a few over the past week that we wanted to share. 

Homemade Christmas Cards
Give your little one some holiday stamps and let the fun begin!  My daughter and her friends exchange cards each year in the mail to get a special surprise during the holidays in the mail.  You should see how excited my daughter gets when a letter arrives for her. 

Here’s a quick way to make your own cards.  We just buy a premade pack from the Craft Store of blank cards and envelopes to keep throughout the year.  Then we use some black, green and red ink to create her cards.  I have her write her name and then she gets to stamp away.  This year she decided to even stamp out her friends name which is a great way to personalize each card.  (Think we might be stamping out sight words over holiday break to keep us learning, look for that post soon)

Gingerbread Man

Using some sewing scraps we created an adorable little Gingerbread Man from  brown construction paper.  There is a terrific Gingerbread Unit on 1+1+1=1 that I printed some things from too. 

Amanda made this adorable Gingerbread Man  too to hang from the tree or attach to gifts. 

Gingerbread Playdough
Making Gingerbread cookies is a tradition in our family but we only do it once during the season.  Here’s a great way for my daughter to make them over and over again all on her own.    This play dough also makes an awesome goody bag treat for holiday parties.  It is non-sugary, delicious smelling, can be used over and over again, and encourages play!

Kids learn so much by spending time with you in the kitchen. It is math, reading, science, and lovey time all in one!  We have made several batches of cookies this past week.  Elly really enjoyed the snickerdoodles. She not only helped me read the recipe and put the ingredients together, but also rolled the dough into balls and rolled the balls in the sugar.  Other great cookies to make are Spritz with the cookie press! More cooking to come this week in posts -  Stay tuned! {update: Candy Cane Popcorn, Xmas Tree Pizza & More! }

Nativity Scene
This is a great fine motor activity for your little ones.  Of course you need to make sure your child knows the proper way to use a push pin for safety.  You take a Nativity Scene and have them use the push pin all around the outside of it to create and outline and then hang it into your window. 
Here’s a cute flag tutorial for outside too. 

Here's a Nativity Snack to go along with your craft.

May you have an enjoyable week with your children! We'd love to see what you are doing with your children!  
- Kim and Amanda

The Afterschool Blog Hop is hosted by:
What Do We Do All Day?

Snowmen Candy Bars Make Great Teacher Gifts

 Last year, I saw these (well, Martha's version of these) in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Instructions are online here. We made them last year, and again this year for teacher (and neighbor) gifts.  Inside is a yummy chocolate.   Martha recommends an organic fair trade variety, but she just doesn't understand that we have a lot of teachers to shop for and are on a budget!  I picked up the Giradelli Peppermint Bars on sale.  If you bought more than $10 worth, you got a coupon for $3 off the next visit.  So it ended up less than $2.00 for a home-made, edible, and CUTE gift!
 While I wrapper the computer paper around the candy bars, Elly cut out carrot noses.

 She stamped the mouths and buttons with a pencil eraser.  I stamped the eyes with a marker cap and colored them in with a black marker. She then glued the noses on.  We cut some red fleece for the scarves, but almost any fabric scrap or ribbon would work. If you are talented - you could pre-print a message on the computer paper before wrapping too.

She delivered them to her teachers this morning saying, "I made this especially for you!"  It was very sweet.

For more Gift Ideas from The Educators' Spin On It Click HERE

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Tot School - Holiday Learning Activities

This week, I brought out the holiday stamps for my toddler.  He has stamped before and knew exactly what to do!

We  I also worked on putting numbers in order. He is not at that learning stage yet.  Then, I would take away one snowman and give it to him.  I would ask, "Where does the number __ go?"  We would start at number one and count up until we found the space for the missing snowman. "That's right, that is where the number __ goes." I would say.  My son still only counts up to 2 on his own, but he isn't very verbal in general, so I am hoping his skills will shine soon! These snowman came in a huge pack at Michael's.  A friend gave them to us for crafting and we had some leftover, so I made this activity up.  I am planning on going back and changing the number of buttons the snowman has using white out or permanent marker to represent the written to help with number sense as well as number recognition and order.

He did love this matching activity.  I would put on letter box up, say the letter and the sound and ask him to find the match.  He did this very well and repeated the letter names and sounds!  I think this activity was from one of my Mailbox Magazines.  When my daughter was 2 we printed up and made a whole bunch of Christmas "learning games" and activities.  I put them in a huge zip-lock bag in my Christmas boxes and have pulled them out every year.  She has outgrown them, but my little one hasn't.  It was like winning the lottery when I pulled out all the things I had already made.  I haven't had to make or print much this year at all!
We've played with and in boxes a ton this week!  They are great for developing imagination and creative play.

We also made macaroni ornaments by gluing uncooked noodles onto shapes.  When the glue is dry, I spray them with gold spray paint and the kids hang them on the tree.  We also made these trees and talked about longest and shortest!

I hope your learning week was as delightful as ours!
Tot School

For More Info on how to create Handmade Ornaments for Christmas

DIY Gingerbread Man Ornament - Christmas Kid Craft

DIY Gingerbread Man Ornament - Christmas Kid Craft

So these little gingerbread ornaments have been in our lives for many, many years.  A retired teacher I know showed me hers and I have tweaked it and have made a class set each year for my students and children. They make sweet little parents or grandparents gift, even package toppers! The above picture is my sample.

Monster Quilt!

cute quilt for kids

 Budget Friendly DIY Monster Quilt! 

 Earlier this week I said that I was going to share with you some of my handmade gifts on a budget.  WARNING - usually, quilting and budget friendly do not go hand in hand.  Making your own quilt is often very expensive in addition to time consuming.  This quilt was not =)  In fact, my quilting buddy Andrea and I made most of our Monster Squares together for a girls night in Saturday night which didn't feel like a lot of time at all!  She also let me raid her stash of great texture fabrics!!! Using the kids clothing they have outgrown and shopping thrift stores for next textured and fun colored clothing is great for quilting on a budget (and eco-friendly).  I can find hideous 25 cent clothes that would make great monsters!!! 

To begin this project, I started with purchasing 1 yard of the adorable blue monster fabric and went through my own fabric stashes for the other square backgrounds to again, save on costs.  Each square was cut 9"x9".
 Each monster was created by me and machine assembled!  It was fun to make them with a friend, because we could share ideas.  She loved my green monster with lots of legs and added a ton of legs to the one she was working on.  I really liked her one-eyed monster and made one of my own! I also found this quilt on the Internet and loved the way the guy on the rights feet hung down, so one of mine got feet that hung down too!

Each square features a different texture - but all are washable and soft for snuggling with!

My mom gave me a little less than a yard of yellow with white poke-a-dot fabric and I used this as the sashing so the quilt would be a little smaller than a twin, but bigger than a toddler quilt.  I used every last millimeter and had to piece the outside edges (that's what happens when your are trying to save money)

 I didn't take a picture of it, but the backing is an orange with white poke-a-dot fabric that I bought on Black Saturday for $1.99 a yard.  They only had  1 and 3/4 yard of it left which matched the size of my quilt perfectly.  I also buy the bigger Cotton batting (for Queen size) when they are 50% off and make 2 kids quilts with them.  All in all, my total cost for the project was...
Blue Monster Flannel Yard - $5
Orange Backing - $4
Thread - $2
Batting - $10
And now my 2 year old will have a hand-made present to unwrap on Christmas Day.  I can't wait!!!!!!!!

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