Magical Childhood Newsletter
December 31, 2006
I'm sorry to have gone gallivanting off for so long again. All is
good here. We have been very busy but with good stuff. I've been sick
for about 5 months now and hopefully will keep on being sick until
early May! We thought we were all done with babies but
apparently they weren't all done with us. We're thrilled and
overwhelmed. :) This pregnancy has been especially hard on me so I've
fallen especially behind in everything. I'm so sorry for being so
poky about getting this out.
Let's get on with it then!
Fun with a roll of tape...
Stuck inside and out of ideas to entertain the kiddos? Here's a few
things you can do with a simple roll of tape and a bare floor!
- Make ball mazes. Put down strips of
tape to make a path for a small bouncy ball or marble. Challenge kids
to maneuver their balls through the mazes and stay in the lines. This
requires a slow and steady hand. Have them start over if they cross
the lines. (Watch small children so they don't swallow the balls of
- Make a hopscotch grid.
- Make a town. Use tape to lay out the
roads and cut out houses and buildings from contact paper, construction
paper or more tape. Let the kids use their matchbox cars, tiny animals
and little people to bring the town to life.
- Make a giant tic tac toe grid. For
markers, fill two different colors of children's socks with dried beans
and tie shut or use beanie babies or bean bags. Now take turns tossing
the bean bags onto the grid. This develops motor skills and strategic
thinking, besides just being fun!
Magical mama CW shared this fun idea:
My daughter loves to use dry-erase markers on the sliding glass windows! We do math and spelling, too!
Here's a wonderful idea from www.make-stuff.com. It would be
especially fun to try for those who live where Jack Frost doesn't
pretty up the windows for you!
perfect to create privacy, such as in a bathroom, or for shielding an
ugly view. Make sure your windows are clean before you start.
4 heaping tablespoons of Epsom salts in one cup of beer. This
will foam. Let set for at least 30 minutes. The salt crystals will
Apply to window. This can be done with a 2 inch paint brush, but for a
nicer effect, dip a facial tissue or terry cloth in the liquid and wipe
over the window as if you were washing it. Then while the window is
still wet go back and dab and pat at the glass with the wet tissue.
Mixture dries to form beautiful crystals. This looks even better the
next day, and lasts a long time. It can be washed off with water and a
cloth and is easily reapplied.
Want to make your own colored rice or pasta
for crafts? Here's the easy recipe we use. We especially like the
results with cake & candy food coloring in the little jars (ours
are Wilson), since they have such concentrated colors and a great
assortment. If you use concentrated colors, adjust the measurements or
you get very dark pasta!
1 container with lid
(we use recycled jars)
1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol
6 drops food coloring
Put rubbing alcohol and food coloring into the container. Place the
objects to be dyed into the mixture, and secure the lid. Shake the
container gently for about 1 minute.
Kids are good at this part!
Spread the dyed objects on a paper towel to dry.
If you dye noodles with large openings, you can string them to make
necklaces, bracelets, etc. You can also dye rice for collages, salt or
sand for layered art, you name it.
Careful-- the dye can stain.
Center has compiled hundreds of lesson plans from teachers
on their web
site, available free. Subjects include language arts, math, science
and more. This site isn't glitzy but it's packed with ideas for
teachers and homeschoolers, all broken down by subject and grade range.
Some examples of lesson plans include making a card "slide" to learn to
read blends, using Jack and the Beanstalk to look at our legal system,
making Chinese kites, playing multiplication bingo and making
"metamorphic rock" pancakes.
Fun Finger Paints...
For an easy, sensory-filled fingerpaint
1. Wet fingerpaint paper or other smooth paper.
2. Sprinkle with 2 spoonfuls of jello or all-natural equivalent. Use
two colors to make it even
3. Let little ones spread it with fingers. It will be grainy at first
and then get slippery, then dry grainy again. And smell great!
We make tons of smoothies and slushies around here. They're
quick, easy, healthy and fun. Here's a few basic recipes that are hits
at our house.
Fill blender half full with ice and add a few big scoops of frozen 100%
juice concentrate. Pour in some water and blend, adding more water a
little at a time until it's the right consistency. Add more juice
concentrate to taste.
Follow the recipe above, but blend in 1 or 2 bananas. The banana adds
of smooth sweetness and some extra nutrition too.
Mix frozen strawberries, one banana and some juice, water or milk.
Add a touch of sugar or honey if your berries are on the sour side.
Mix 2 frozen bananas (chopped into chunks), one cup of vanilla yogurt
and one cup of frozen berries. Add a bit of milk or water to
get the right consistency and some frozen juice concentrate if desired
(it gives it more sweetness, flavor and color).
All of these can easily be adapted for vegans and
milk allergic kids too, by using ingredients like rice milk and soy
miserable outside, try bringing a small kiddie
pool inside. You can fill it with just an inch of water and
have the kids make boats to float on it or pools for dolls, fill it
with blankets and pillows for a cozy reading spot or "house," toss in
some ball pit balls or even make it a giant sensory bath with crumpled
paper balls, silky fabric or styrofoam peanuts. Put a sheet down
underneath to make clean-up easier.
discovered with great delight that one does not love one's
just because they are one's children
but because of the
friendship formed while raising them."
-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
30 Fun ways to
practice your spelling words: http://www.gkestner.com/Spelling.html
Is it safe to eat snow?
For years, I've been hearing contradictory advice about whether or not
it's safe for kids to eat snow. Some folks say that it contains
pollutants from the atmosphere, while others say as long as it's fresh
it's fine. Since I live in an area with a lot of the white stuff and
my kids like concoctions like snow cones and snow ice cream, I did a
I found quite a few laypersons talking about not eating snow because of
pollutants, but many sites run by experts said the risk was negligible
and that as long as it's small amounts it should be fine. Obviously,
snow in the city will be more contaminated than snow in rural areas.
However, chemicals and pollution travel great distances to end up in
snow and rainwater in very rural parts of the world.
One clever teacher had her kids collect snow in two different glasses--
one from snow falling and one from clean looking snow scooped off the
ground. She found that once the snow melted, the kids were able to see
many particles in the water. She also reminded the students that some
contaminants are too small to see. Another teacher had her kids melt
the snow and pour it through a coffee filter to see how dirty it got
from the "white" snow. These would be great experiments to duplicate
The Canadian Food Safety Institute advises against letting kids eat
snow, saying it is "a
potential source of heavy metals, toxins, bacteria and viruses,"
particularly in urban areas. The American FDA warns not to let kids
eat snow or icicles in older neighborhoods where houses may have been
painted with lead based paint. Also, keep in mind that manufactured
snow at resorts and ski facilities may be made from reclaimed water and
is not safe to eat.
So what's the verdict? Most experts agree that snow in "wilderness
areas" is safe to eat in moderate quantities. The largest dangers seem
to be in urban areas, particularly where lead and other toxins may
contaminate it. In the end, even the experts disagree and it's one
more area where you just have to use your best judgment.
For more information, see these sites:
http://nsidc.org/snow/faq.html (this one has lots of neat info about
If you decide your snow is safe for munching, here's a few snow recipes
to try with the kids.
Snow Ice Cream~ Mix together 1/2 cup of
whipping cream or cream of choice, 1 TBS sugar and 2-3 drops vanilla.
Slowly stir in 1-3 cups of clean snow, a little at a time, till it's
the right consistency. You can adjust ingredients to suit your taste
and experiment with flavors like cinnamon, butterscotch, lemon extract
Fruity Snow Cones~
Scoop clean snow into cups. Drizzle with melted fruit juice
And if you want to skip eating it but have some fun playing in it,
here's a few other ways to enjoy snow...
Fill spray bottles with water and food coloring
and make spray art on the snow.
Use loaf pans as molds to make snow bricks and make a quick and easy
Forget snowmen -- make snow beasts! Challenge
the kids to make up supernatural creatures, aliens, animals and other
We've got a few new crafts in the Magical Childhood
website. Check out
the marbled paint jars if you want a
creative craft that doesn't
require much (paint & jars!) and the wacky
watercolors are very fun.
There's also instructions for making oobleck
if you haven't tried that
one yet. For those of you with little ones on
sleep strikes, I wrote
up a few sleep solutions in the article section ("Bedtime
I'll be posting some fun educational stuff
pretty soon too. Looking for something in particular? Let me know! www.magicalchildhood.com
guidance and sympathy far more than instruction."
-- Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
A few great books....
Here are some current favorites at our house.
That's not my Monster... by Fiona Watts,
illustrated by Rachel Wells
This delightful touchy-feely board book series from Usborne is a huge
hit with Jack (3) but even my big girls love it. Other titles in the
series include princesses, mermaids, robots and more.
Dog Food by Saxton Freymann, illustrated
by Joost Elffers
This goofy picture book is perfect for beginning readers since it is
both short and comical. It features wacky, darling and delightful dogs
made entirely out of foods like pears, radishes and cucumbers. Puns
and plays on words abound.
Nothing to Do by Douglas Wood, illustrated
by Wendy Halperin
picture book talks about those days when there is (gasp!) no school, no
soccer practice, no play rehearsal, and absolutely nothing planned.
The narrator talks about hearing stories of people who made mud pies,
watched clouds, made sailboats and so on. This is a great book for
kids on those lazy days when they need a little inspiration and also a
great source of ideas for us parents when we can't think of anything to
Find Anthony Ant by Lorna Philpot and
This variation of the "Ants go Marching" song follows Anthony ant and
his comrades as they go marching one by one, two by two and so on.
Each page has a set of flaps to lift so the child can choose what
Anthony ant stops to do. The pages also have an underground ant maze,
Anthony ant hidden somewhere on each page and other little nifties so
kids will discover something new each time.
There's a Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson,
illustrated by Joan
This delightfully illustrated book uses humor, repetition and counting
to delight little kids. I bring it when I have to read books aloud to
a group of kids because it's always a hit, and it's one I don't mind
reading again and again.
The Charlie and Lola series by Lauren
My girls love all the books in this series, and I must admit that I
adore them too. The author also has some darling chapter books that
Victoria devours and there are some softcover Charlie and Lola books
where kids are
encouraged to color, collage and add stickers, too.
Here's a great game for teaching addition
"I use playing cards to teach most of our math skills.
We don't use the tens, jacks, queens, or kings. The ace is one and we
use the cards 1-9. We play "Go Fish for Ten." Each child gets 5 cards,
then they choose a person to ask. It's important that they say, " I
have a 3.Do you have a 7?" so they
that combination. When they make a pair, they lay them face up in front
of everyone so all the kids can get the help they need. The kid with
the most pairs, wins. It's a great way to memorize the facts for 10."
~ Original author unknown
Magical Mama Tiffany
shared this wonderful, whimsical idea:
My father had some very good quality glow in the dark paint and
using an old
pool cue (!) applied it to the ceiling making various sized dots. The
bigger the blob, the "closer" the star seemed. You have to really put
lots on. During the day it can't be seen at all, but at night... oh
it's magical. If you do some on the walls too, it's as if the stars
are all around you.
Last year I shared the idea of using a liquor store
box for a Valentines mailbox
for large groups of kids. Simply place it on its side, decorate, and
designate one compartment for each child. Liz wrote in and shared
these great ideas:
In my daycare
home, I do something similar to your liquor store Valentine
mailbox--but I put a photograph of each child over each compartment, as
well as labeling it with a name, so that my non-readers can associate
each box to each person. And it's fun to see each child's smiling face
on his mail hole! The kids have been busy for two weeks crafting
homemade Valentines. They love to dress up in our postal uniform and
play mailperson. I save old stamps year-round and buy a large box of
envelopes for the craft table at this time!
10 Ways to
Make Today Magical...
1. Make nature confetti. Let kids duplicate the
fun of tossing confetti without the mess to clean up-- and help birds
and squirrels at the same time. In a large bowl, mix up bird seed,
dried corn, crumpled leaves, small dried fruits, flower petals and/or
any other natural materials you have on hand. Take the bowl outside
and encourage the kids to toss handfuls up in the air. They can shout
happy new year, offer up wishes for loved ones and so on as they toss.
2. Use sand molds to make a really whimsical
supper. Wash them really well and then use them to make mashed potato
castles (make it thick, oil the mold, pack it in and then very gently
unmold), sea creature ice cream shapes (soften ice cream and spoon into
molds, freeze and gently unmold by dipping the mold side quickly in hot
water) and so on. You can decorate the creations with fancy
toothpicks, blueberry eyes, peas and carrots, you name it.
3. Be detectives. Take the kids to any public
place and concoct a story together of what occurred there. The kids
can use clues as small as footprints or litter to figure out what kind
of people (or animals) were there and what they might have been doing.
Invent the rest of the story together and weave an exciting tale based
on the clues left behind.
4. Make ice ornaments and hang them outside.
Fill small dishes with colored water and small natural items, along
with a loop of yarn. Freeze outside overnight, then dip in warm water
for a moment to pop out of their containers. Hang on low bushes and
If you have snow in
your area, get the kids wondering what kind of visitors have been
poking about! Use carpet remnant, large pieces of cardboard or other
scrap materials to make some giant beast prints. Cut them out (an
exacto knife works well) and then poke two holes in each to tie them
onto a pair of shoes. Now go stomp around in the snow while the kids
are sleeping or away, and really get them wondering!
6. Go sledding or ice skating in the kitchen!
Pull little ones around on towels, or have them put on socks and slip
around the floor. Older kids can pull the little ones and accidentally
get some exercise in at the same time! If you're brave enough, give
them a bucket of warm soapy water and have them "mop" the floor with
their stocking feet. My girls used to love to do this, though it can
get pretty wet!
7. Start a backyard bird
count together. Commit
to spending 10 minutes just watching out the window or outside and
counting the birds you see. Have a bird guide handy so you can ID your
visitors. For each day, only count the largest number of each type of
bird you see (so if you see 12 blackbirds and 5 minutes later count 20
blackbirds you would write down 20 for the day). That way you won't
count the same birds again and again. Have the kids decorate the log
book and encourage them to draw pictures of the birds and so on. If
you want to participate on a bigger scale, your family can take part in
the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 16-19 for free and help
scientists too. See http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/ for more
8. Have your child use
magic markers or fabric
pens to alter a pair of old white tennies. Slip a bell onto each
shoelace so she can jingle when she walks.
9. Spend an afternoon
making Valentines together and then visit a senior citizens' center to
hand deliver them to residents.
10. Gather a few branches in a pot or heavy
vase. Give the kids strips of ribbon, small pieces of paper with a
hole punched for hanging, and a pen. Ask them to write wishes, prayers
or blessings for themselves and loved ones for the coming year. Tie
the wishes to the branches. Kids can decorate their blessing tree
throughout the year to match the season. At the end of the year, give
them another color of paper to write out thanks and record
accomplishments. The papers can be saved in a small container or
And with that, my dears, I'm off again. I'll try to
be back much sooner this time!
Hug your kiddos, count your blessings, and don't forget to take care of
2006, Alicia Bayer
A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something
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