Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 13
July 23, 2001

(Sunday night)

Hi folks!  It's miserably hot and I need to do something to take my mind off things, so I thought I'd send out another issue.

This week, out of the blue, I found my long-lost father's side of the family.  My mother left my father when I was two, and I never saw him again.  When I grew up, I tried to find him.  With my mom's help I finally did, but it was too late.  He'd died of cancer when I was 18.

Now for the first time in my life I'm finding out about this other half of my own history.  The hardest things to find out have been that he was such a neat person and that he kept calling out for me before he died.  I have so many questions, but I've only talked to a cousin so far and am awaiting an e-mail from another cousin.  It's been a long night.  :)

There's nothing I can do to make up for my own childhood or what might have been.  All I can do is make sure my own kids get the best that I can do.  Hard as that is, that's just the way it is.

It's late at night here, dark and sticky hot.  Our girls just fell asleep, after a long day of various messy adventures.  I should be cleaning or catching up on sleep, but typing to you all about fun stuff sounds much better for me.  <G>

Thanks for being out there and being there in the lives of the children you love.  :)  Give them a squeeze for me and remember the things that really matter.

Okay, now, there are so many neat things to share with you this time............



Keepsake Hand Prints

We've all seen the kits to preserve our kids' hand prints (and we all have a set we did for our own mothers years ago).  Here's a recipe I found to do your own.  I haven't tried it yet, but the person who gave it to me said it turned out very nicely.

1/2 cup water
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch (+extra)
large circle  shape to cut with - slightly bigger than child's hand

Mix 3 ingredients together over low heat, stirring with wooden  spoon until it becomes thick (several minutes). Remove onto rolling surface coated with cornstarch and knead until it feels  like bread dough (add extra cornstarch as required). Place dough on surface such as a cookie sheet.

Roll out to about 1/2" - 1" thick and help child press hand in deep enough to make a good print (help them press fingers down as needed). Cut around hand print to make a paperweight. Let dry for a few days.


Here's a project I came up with that incorporates arts, crafts, learning and nature for toddlers, preschoolers, and up.  You can stretch it over several days if you like, and tailor it to work for different ages.

PART ONE:  Butterfly art

Gather up construction paper or typing paper, and whatever art supplies you want to use.  You can use crayons, markers, paint or a combination.

Draw freehand butterflies on the paper by folding it in half and drawing the outline of a butterfly wing.  Cut them out so that both sides match.  You can make these large or you can put several on a page.  It's all up to you!  Older kids can draw their own butterfly outlines.  Have each outline's shape be a little bit different (for instance, have pointy wings on one, a fatter bottom on one, etc.).

For older kids, talk about what symmetrical means-- that both sides are the same.  Illustrate how if you fold the butterflies the sides match up.  Talk about what else is symmetrical.  Are bodies?  What about squares?  Can they find something that's not symmetrical?

Now have the kids decorate their butterflies.  Ask them to make both sides of each butterfly match.  Explain a little bit of what "match" means to little ones.  Gather up your finished butterflies.

STEP TWO:  Matching game

Cut each butterfly in half, straight down the middle.  Place the butterflies, decorated side up, on a table or floor.  Have little kids pick which wings match to make completed butterflies.

For older kids, turn the butterflies upside down so that only the plain sides show.  Have them match up the butterflies by the differences in the shapes of the wings.

If you wanted to do this with even older kids, you could have them research real butterflies and decorate each one as a different species.

When finished, tape the butterflies to a window for a fun display.  :)


Water Limbo!

I can't remember where I read this idea, but I love it.  Have kids play limbo in the backyard, under a stream of water!  It sounds like a marvelous way to get cool on a hot summer day.  They also suggested playing Water Hurdle, where you leap over the stream of water and raise it higher and higher.  Either way, it sounds like a hoot.  :)


Magical mama Jackie sent in this quote.....

"It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for  something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what  we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and  love to the lonely."

Leo F. Buscaglia


Miss Rumphius!

I realized the other day that I don't think I've ever raved about this book to you all.  ;)  This is the sort of book that every child should have.  It's just beautiful.  It's about the speaker's aunt and her full life, and how one thing her grandfather told her she must do is to do something to make the world more beautiful.  She does, in a lovely way.  It's just a wonderful story, and it's beautifully illustrated.  It's exactly the sort of message I try to bring my girls up with!

For specifics-- it's by Barbara Cooney and is available as a hardcover and in an inexpensive soft cover version.  Actually, I believe it's even available on audiocassette and in Spanish.  I'm not the only one who loves it.  :)


Here's a darling craft project for kids to make-- a teacup pincushion!  The site will keep you busy for way too long browsing other ideas too.  ;)


Kids don't eat their veggies?  Try what we do.... when I'm cooking dinner, I generally chop up some veggies of one sort or another.  Early on, Victoria and I developed a game where she would come and "snatch" one of my cut veggies from the pile.  I pretend to be shocked and holler "Oh no! someone's snatching my mushrooms!" or whatever it is, and she erupts with giggles and runs off to eat her forbidden veggie.  She comes back again and again, to the point where I have to chop up twice as many veggies to account for the thievery, but I love the sneaky way I'm loading her up with veggies before supper.  Annalee gets in on the action too now-- though she takes one bite from each piece and carefully sticks the Anna-bitten wedges of zucchini or whatever back up by the pile.  Snort!

I generally give Victoria the idea by loudly humming nonchalantly and saying things like "Hmm... hope nobody comes and snatches these fresh carrots I'm cutting up!" and she's over there like a shot with a grin.  ;)  Annalee, of course, mimics whatever her big sister does.  Works like a charm.

Veggies that my kids will snatch include green peppers, squash, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, scallions, .... and onions only once per time.  <G>


Need some art for a blank wall?  Get a pad of art paper and some small bottles of paints that match the colors in your room-- for example:  dark blue, teal and beige.  Now let your little ones paint a half dozen paintings.  Frame your favorites (add a mat if you want to make it look more professional).  Presto!  You have whimsical art that coordinates perfectly with your room, AND it was made with love by your own little Picasso.


Homemade Butter

Here's a fun way to learn a little about dairy and make a little magic.  Pour some heavy whipping cream into a plastic jar and hand it to your kids. All they have to do is shake the jar and with a little effort the cream will turn into fabulous homemade butter.

To establish a rhythm, try the chant "Shake, shake, shake, butter we will make."



1 teaspoon baking soda
Red food coloring
1/2 cup vinegar

Place baking soda inside a cup. In a separate container mix food coloring and vinegar. When you want your volcano to erupt, pour the vinegar into the cup and stand back!


Auntie Barb sends in this idea:

There's an improv structure that maybe you could modify into a kid's game. It's called What Are You Doing?

The idea, improv-wise, is to combine fast non-linear thinking with movement. For kids, the idea might be just to be as silly as possible. It's done with two people in improv, but any number could do it, I suppose.

One person starts by doing an action (i.e. moving somehow, like you're pretending you're doing something, like raking the lawn, or just moving anything, jumping up and down or waving your hands, anything).

The other person asks "What are you doing?"

Then the first person who's moving has to say what they're doing that isn't anything like what it looks like they're doing. So someone marching in place might say "I'm washing an elephant". Someone with their arms out like an airplane might say "I'm cooking spaghetti".

That's it, then you switch.

A lot of improv exercises make good games, especially word games for car trips.


"Genius is found more often in a cracked pot than in a whole one."

~ E. B. White


And with that, this crackpot is signing off.  ;)

Till next time........


A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer

A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and those who love them.  To subscribe, send a message to  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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