Spray Paint Valentine’s Cards


Part of the joy of creating art is the process. In fact, the process IS the joy and the whole purpose in much of the preschool art experience. Exploring materials, experimenting with different techniques -- this is where the excitement is at! Here’s our take on a process oriented Valentine.


An interesting "costume"

This is what happens when you don't give your three year old enough crackers for her hummus:


Tugging on Heart Strings

I hope no one is getting tired of all our Valentine’s crafts – I have a few more to post! This idea came from the Feb 2011 issue of Family Fun (great magazine, I dog-ear at least 10 pages each issue which is my criteria for keeping a magazine subscription).
I did run into some issues with the cornstarch glue. It seems I’m not the only one – at least Kim from Life of a Modern Mom had the good sense to jump ship and move on to the Elmer’s glue. I was trying to reach “translucency” with a bunch of white goop in my pot that seemed ready to solidify. I took the mixture out of the pan and found the perfect solution…


Howdy Folks!

Welcome to those folks coming over from Apartment Therapy's OhDeeDoh -- how exciting to get a mention on one of my favorite websites! I hope you enjoy the Valentine's Day Apple Chips and visit for a while. Thanks for stopping by!

For more Valentine's Day ideas check out the wreath my craft toddler made and our heart shaped bird-seed ornaments (because our feathered friends need love too).


Lil’ Letter Caper

I strongly believe play is the most important learning a three year old can be doing. That said, I have a kid who is endlessly curious about letters and writing (and books obviously). Claire quickly learned all the sounds in our alphabet over the summer (short sounds for the vowels) and now I’ve introduced the letter names. I didn't follow any formal program -- I just wrote a few letters on the board before breakfast and pointed to them while speaking their sounds. That's it! Our phonics approach seems to be working because we were goofing around with some stick-on letters and I found this:


Through Her Eyes

I wrote shortly after Christmas about Claire’s excitement after receiving a digital camera for Christmas from her Aunt Nikki and Uncle Matt. I finally got around to taking a look at what she’s been photographing and I laughed out loud at many of the images and marveled over the beauty of the “everyday” she captured. I’d like to think I was looking through her eyes at things that are important to her: family, friends, animals, her special toys and favorite places in our home…

Claire Camera Pics1

I'm glimpsing happiness as she smooshed her face close to ours to fill her camera’s frame, excitement as she stalked her grandparents’ kitties, pride in a stack of clean dishes after lunch...


Tech for Tots: Evolution of the Oregon Trail

>>> Regina has cholera. Would you like to push on or rest for three days?

If you're a child of the 80's, I'm sure this game has a place in your heart. I remember vying for computer time amongst my fellow classmates intent on guiding my wagon full of family west to the promised land. I was so excited to purchase the newer version complete with primary source material scanned in for my students back in 2004. The graphics had improved immensely, although I admit the original had a charm all its own.

Here's a great read about the unlikely start and success of this educational software, and the efforts of its creators to make it historically accurate: THE OREGON TRAIL: HOW 3 MINNESOTANS FORGED ITS PATH

Do you remember this game? What was your chosen field - farmer, banker, carpenter? Did you join a wagon train or rough it alone? And most importantly -- would you push on or let me rest as I suffer from cholera?!


Family Portrait

Claire has been drawing these fantastic people for a couple of weeks and I just had to share this family portrait she did. I especially love her mohawk hairstyles and the carefully chosen hair colors. Can you tell that we are all wearing shoes? I (on the left there) am even wearing my glasses! I'll have to post more of these, they are just cracking me up!

What are your children drawing nowadays? Any tips on displaying a prolific little artist's creations?


How to Make Homemade HEART Apple Chips


January 2011

 Yummy! A crunchy, sweet Valentine’s Day treat that won’t earn your kids a trip to the dentist – what a delicious, simple and healthy afternoon treat these were! Package ‘em up pretty and I think they’ll make a lovely gift for someone special. Apple chips are about a gazillion dollars per bag at my grocery store so this is a super frugal snack to boot!


How to get your kid to LOVE nature: Ornithology 101


What do you get when you combine a snowy morning, tons of sunflower seeds and our very first non-fiction book checked out from kiddie section at the library?


Valentine's Day Wreath Toddler Style

Tissue Paper Valentine Wreath

Crafty Claire strikes again, there is a poofy, pink and very glittery wreath on my front door. It's fab.
Did I mention the glitter?

I'm thinking everyone needs a wreath like this on their front door. And I'm sure this is proof that I've been sniffing too much polyurethane while finishing our staircase.

Three stairs down and at eleven to go...I'm sure there will be lots of crafty goodness to share in the coming weeks as this home improvement project wraps up (or as I get tired of sanding). I've got to keep this kid occupied so while I'm slaving away, Claire's been whipping up some Valentine's Day decorations.

I cut out a bunch of hearts from some heavy duty watercolor paper and Claire went to town painting them and liberally sprinkling them with glitter. And I mean LIBERALLY...the whole wreath is a-glowin' and I'm just glad it's hanging on the outside of the house.

Claire enjoyed using the stapler for the first time. We counted out four sheets or so per flower and alternated between accordion folds and poofing and just stapling tissue paper straight to the wreath.

I hesitated introducing the stapler since I once stapled my sister's fingers together. We were terrified to tell my mother so I pried them apart and told her to suck it up. She managed to play flute and oboe just fine so I'm sure there was no lasting damage. Heh heh, I'm a great big sister ;-) Love ya, Laurie.

Love the nose scunch in this photo
My plan was to weave some tissue paper flowers through a wire wreath form (leftover from Christmas). That proved rather tough so I improvised:

At least I didn't use the greasy side. The pizza aroma just adds to the experience, trust me. 
And here is the finished project in all its glittery, pink glory:

Tissue Paper Valentine Wreath

Be sure to let me know if you tackle this project, I love to feature other mums and their blogs! Upload your images to our facebook page for some virtual pats on the back.

Want to see more Valentine's projects? Don't miss the V-day recipe for sweet and crunchy heart apple chips, a DIY project for heart stamps using building blocks and our spray painted Valentine's!


Saturday Snapshot

Claire and her new favorite game, "Singing Contest." She croons from her bed while Dan and I sit in chairs and bop along. Most of the songs consist of one word (princess, penguin, instrument or alphabet are recent favorites) repeated over and over (and over) in different monotone rhythms. She seems to have her grandmother's "gift" for pitch.

We clap as directed and smile, lots of smiling.


On Going Outside


Originally published Jan 2010 - the large swarth of the US covered in snow got me thinking about this post. We're enjoying our own snow with mini-snowmen and copious amounts of cocoa.

DSC_0003 Want to know my thoughts on outdoor play? I consider it an absolute necessity for all children (and adults!) I read a great article recently about “Nature Deficit Disorder” and couldn’t agree more with the author Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) that kids today are disconnected from nature and spending way too much time in front of the boob tube and computer screen. It’s an interesting conundrum for me, as a school’s technology coordinator - I’m always encouraging teacher’s to find ways to integrate technology into their curriculum, but is that sometimes at the expense of the child? The former park ranger in me wants to boot those kids out of their desks and send them into the field to collect data and THEN use the computer to interpret the results. But, I digress…

Back to my current life as chief teacher of a 2 year old…

Outdoors everyday. Even in the cold.


Technology for Tots: Fonts


My name is Regina and I have a slight font obession.

Some women collect shoes, I collect fonts...upwards of 300 and counting. I can't seem to help myself - the files are tiny, I LOVE each and every one. I tell myself it's totally normal to have so many choices of type (and I'm hoping you'll tell me too).

My latest finds are font sets to use with Claire. Check this out:

Wouldn't this make for fantastic coloring pages or an alphabet chart? I wish I was this clever and artistic! Or maybe you can try something like this:

Both fonts are FREE! Snag them at Click here for the Pictograph front and here for the tracing one. There are a plethroa of fonts on this site, I've downloaded a gazillion and have yet to clog up my hard drive. Happy browsing!


After many requests here are 8.5x11 printables of the picture above. 

Here's the link to the full sized landscape version of the alphabet chart:

And here's the link to the full sized portrait version of the alphabet chart:

By the way - I didn't watermark this because what kid is going to want to color all over something labeled "Chalk In My Pocket" but I'd love if you'd link back or email me if you share this somewhere.


This one's for the birds!

We just read "The Big Snow" by Elmer Hader and (if possible) Claire has become even more obsessed with birds. Having lots of wintry weather here like in the story, it was the perfect time to provide some sustenance to our feathered friends. Claire said I looked just like the old lady in the story when I through the remnants of the suet cakes in the, thanks sweetie.

I house all sorts of experiments in my fridge (both intentional and unintentional, green shrimp, anyone?) but this hodgepodge of lard, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, cheese and bird seed was a success, both in "cutifying" our backyard and keeping my three year old occupied. If birds could talk I'm sure they would be raving about this recipe, our feeding stations were swarming with visitors and the birdie cakes were the hottest thing there.

There are lots of tutorials for DIY bird suet on the web but I liked this one for two reasons, I had the ingredients on hand and the recipe came from reputed wildlife organization so I figured we wouldn't accidentally harm any wildlife.

The cast of characters, do NOT melt the lard. 

There are no ingredient ratios, so I randomly lopped everything into the bowl. The basic goal is to get everything to gel together in a firm enough package to mold, the freezer will take care of the rest. I wasn't sure how birds felt about Parmesan cheese so there's only a bit of that.

This is a kid friendly recipe, nothing to heat. I highly recommend limiting the distance from jar to bowl, or pouring the seed in. I was trying to make this project take up time on a cold morning and while Claire is very careful, there was still scattered seed from her scooping the seed little by little. Nothing intentional, but those little seeds kept rolling right off the spoon...maybe a scoop would work better?

 We tried a few different mixing options, of course hands won out. I had to dig in and help at this point because I intentionally left the lard pretty firm. We packed (squished might be a better description) the suet into cookie cutters, mini muffin tins and tupperware containers then froze for about 3 hours. I brought the tray of mini muffin bird cakes outsides and set them right in the snow with a cover to protect them from the squirrels. Easy peasy.

I know everyone else who blogged this project put little straws in to allow string to be passed through a hole after the were frozen. I found it just as effective to load a bit of the suet into the container and then have Claire put some yarn (birds love pink, it's a fact) in the center before loading the rest of the suet in. It might not be as cute, but we liked it just fine. The final product:


Our Nature Table

Children are natural collectors, and I'm guilty of the same thing myself, often arriving home with just as much "treasure" in my pockets as my daughter. Rather than discourage our little naturalist-in-training, I carved out some space on an end table to display whatever bounty Claire snags on our nature walks. We filled a few glass vases with some seed pods and birch trimmings (thank you Amanda, your leftover wedding goodies have been put to good use) and turned a really cool chunk of moss into the centerpiece of our nature table by putting it under glass. A handful of pine cones, some great rocks and 'voila!' a display that looks nice to adults and invites the kiddo over to explore. A magnifying glass is tucked into the pull-out drawer under the shelf and having a lamp on the table already was an added bonus. Our nature table has been in set up since late October and I've yet to see Claire abuse it. Other then stacking the birch trimmings on the floor for towers, everything has been gently examined on the table and returned to its rightful place. Leaves, acorns and the occasional dead bug have made an appearance - if you ask my mother, it's quite an upgrade from housing live millipedes in my cake stand. Study on little scientist, observation is an important part of the scientific method!


Learning Activity Round Up

I'm getting such great ideas from all the other parents at home with their "littles." Check out the  “Tot School” and “Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers” for more ideas and weekly wrap ups.
Here's a recap of our learning moments from the past week, be sure to click on the titles or pictures for full the full post and more photos.
DSC_0220 Healthy Eating

I love having Claire in the kitchen with me and concocting a healthy, yet sweet and crunchy sweet for Valentine’s Day was a major accomplishment this week. These apple chips were so simple, cheap and super cute.
Art Time: Family Portrait

I am beyond excited at Claire’s artistry. She just started drawing figures and I had to frame her first family portrait. The detail she’s putting into them (not always recognizable but always explained to me in great excitement) just cracks me up.

Art Time: Holiday Decorating

Crafty Claire strikes again! My front door is decked out in a glittery, poofy, pink wreath. Did I mention the glitter? There is no way Cupid will miss this house. We spent a lot of time with our liquid watercolors and heart shaped paper cutouts. This week I introduced the stapler and Claire had a ball stapling the tissue paper to the wreath. This is going to be a favorite (supervised) activity for sure.


Science and Nature

The last time Audubon's "Birds of America" hit the auction circuit, it fetched $10 million -- luckily Claire is happy with the free version from our library! This was our very first non-fiction checkout from the juvenile section. A very happy morning was spent observing the happy (fat!) birds at our feeder and finding their page in the guide book.


I came across a few great (and free) fonts to share. The “pictobet” is all caps and each letter is shaped into an artistic, yet totally readable picture. We’re still working on a proper pencil grasp, but I’m not pushing it because Claire is only 3. Coloring these pages has been tons of fun and if anyone would like some worksheets made with these, just give a holler!

In the Kitchen

To encourage the birds to gather at our feeding stations we whipped up some easy, no cook suet. Claire was excited to help gather all the ingredients and help “write” the recipe on the kitchen chalkboard (She traced my letters with her fingers). We molded the suet in tupperware, heart shaped silicone molds and free formed a bunch. Claire spent a nice morning hanging them throughout the yard. This tied in really nicely to the book we checked out of the library!

The Nature Table

I’ve been so inspired by nature tables throughout the blogosphere. We don’t have the room for a dedicated space, but this little corner is pleasing to all of us. Claire has been sorting all her collections and there have been some interesting games using the rocks and birch rounds…I’m not privy to all the rules but Claire tells me, “it’s rock ring around the rosy Mommy.” I’ve introduced the word “classify” and it seems to have stuck!

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Future Photographer?

Aunt Nikki and Uncle Matt gifted Claire a digital camera for her birthday and she couldn't love it more! We've been teaching her some photography techniques, first - get low and try to shoot at your subject's eye level. The tummy wriggle is especially effective when trying to creep next to the grandparent's elusive kitties.