New Year Eve Sign with Wrapping Paper

New Year's Sign from Wrapping Paper from The Educators' Spin On It

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

PRINTABLES FOR NEW YEARS




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! 

New Year's Interview and Printables from The Educators' Spin On It

CLICK HERE to purchase a 2015 New Year's Interview 

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
Christmas Cooking with Kids featuring recipes that are fun to make 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!

Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids


Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids

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!


Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids 


Snowmen Candy Bars Make Great Teacher Gifts


Snowman Candy Bar Gift Idea for Teachers and Neighbors


 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!


Create Your Own Snowman Candy Bars 

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
=$21
And now my 2 year old will have a hand-made present to unwrap on Christmas Day.  I can't wait!!!!!!!!

DIY Handmade Gifts for toddlers are as easy as 123!

Handmade gifts can be as easy as 1-2-3!  To keep costs to a minimum try to make projects using the materials you already have on hand.

 Handmade Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers from The Educators' Spin On It

Handmade Gift Ideas for Kids 

A DIY Christmas on a budget - a Funky Christmas Tree Painting

It's that time of year again when I try to close the workshop from my little helpers.  I am not a napping crafter year round because I truly believe in the benefits of crafting with my children.  At 5, my daughter is hand sewing her own projects and at 2 my son is cutting, pinning and starting to sew as well.  This time of year though, I am trying to finish all my hand-made Christmas gifts behind closed doors.  They seem to know it too, because no matter what time of day, they are trying to get into Santa's my workshop.  STOP KNOCKING!!!!!  You know that although I try to keep you out, your pleas to help me sew and craft are irresistible and I will give in and let you come to our crafting area!! I know, I am a push over when it comes to kids helping me craft - but, oh well.  You can't be great at everything =)

This week I will show you some things that I have made with (and without helpers) for a DIY Christmas (On a Budget!

Today is the Funky Christmas Tree Painting

Materials Needed:
Canvas ( I re-used one that already had a painting on)
Acrylic Paint
Brushes
Glitter Glue
1. Start by painting your canvas in shades of blues.
2. When your toddler figures out what you are doing, let him sponge paint white to look like snow on the blue.
3. Add the snowy bottom and the green tree
4. Wait (or get a blow dryer out to speed things up)
5.  Add lights (I used the end of my brush to stamp yellow)
6.  Add a bunch of circle ornaments.  To make them funky, keep adding circles of colors.
7. Add presents to the bottom of the tree.
8.  When all is dry, use your kids glitter glue to add sparkles!
Hang up and let your kids enjoy! "See mom - I painted that with you" 

Afterschool Express - Writing Continues

It is that time of year again when life starts to get a little hectic and busy, but there are many opportunities for our children to write.  We try and make sure that Elly spends at least 20 minutes a day writing.  Some days I provide prompts or ask her to help write lists and letters, but she mostly figures out what to write on her own.  I have to admit, that I printed my writing rubrics and started focusing on word choice and conventions, but haven't finished our book that we have been working on and didn't officially use the rubrics like I wrote about in this post. My goal is to take a writing sample of Elly's each month and save it in a file, using the rubrics to guide my scoring and future instruction. In reality, I am just snapping pictures of my favorite writing and including them with my pictures for my family blog.  Every year I print out a book of that blog, so at least the writing samples will be on record somewhere!

There are some absolutely adorable holiday writing prompts and crafts on the web right now! 
If you haven't stopped by First Grade Blue Sky's yet, she has some great ideas for grade school age children.  These are two of my favorite seasonal writing crafts and prompts of hers. She sells the templates for the elf here.
 
Little Wonder Days is SUPER organized with the cutest writing supplies and orchestrated a Santa writing party to use them - what an amazing ideas!  A basket with adorable pencils and bright colored stickers make ME want to spend an afternoon writing!!!
Superheroes and Princess loved this idea too - here is her spin on it!

One of our favorite things to do is to use the fronts of old Christmas Cards as a writing prompt.  This is my 5 year olds writing sample from yesterday.  It says (in grown up spelling) "When the prince marries Snow Write, the Dwarfs are happy to see that Snow White was in love.  The prince brings Snow White to his castle."  We have a huge stack of cards just waiting to be written about.  When she competed this page she asked if she could write another.  "Maybe tomorrow." I answered as if this activity was in limited supply. =) I am hoping to keep the motivation for this activity so that there are many more Christmas Card free writing days in our upcoming week!
Last, but not least, I just adore these baby doll headbands over at Mama Smiles that her daughter made!  Giving a purpose to writing or changing the way you use or display writing can be highly motivating. My 5 year old would think this is really neat.  I am going to suggest her to make some December Holiday themed ones this week.

What have you been up to?  We'd love to have you join us in sharing your writing, reading, and other activities that you are doing with your grade school children!

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





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