Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 36
April 7, 2002

(3/24/2002)  Hi guys!  It's late Sunday night as I start tossing stuff together for you.  I just finished watching the Oscars with Annalee and was so touched by some of the tributes.  I'm glad to see the color barrier seems to finally be coming down too.  And it was fun to see everybody playing dress up.  :)

I took my own advice and pampered myself last week with a trip to the hairdresser and my first ever dye job (professional, at least).  I'm probably the first blonde in history to dye her hair brown but I felt like a change and really love my new look.  I kind of feel like I'm playing dress up too lately!

Of course being a mom, it got highlighted with some blue paint by the end of the first day but that wasn't a bad look either...  Always the jokester, Daryl had to pick up some green goop and change his hair color too but the joke was on him when Victoria asked him tonight "Daddy, why do you have green spots on your head?" and he found out it hadn't all washed out.  Good thing he's tall!  Goof.

It is STILL cold and snowy in our little part of the world.  I hope it's warm and green where you are, but please don't write and tell me.  The only thing I have that's warm and green is in the other room watching TV.  ;)  And now, on with the newsletter.......


And that's as far as I got.  Snort.  We are now trying it again, over one week later (now two!).  Egads, this has been the week of guilt.

I feel guilty for not getting the newsletter out.

I feel guilty for being behind on our pen pal greeting cards.

I feel guilty for being so cranky lately.

I feel guilty for the way the house looks like a mob of hyperactive, angry rodents attacked the place with a leaf blower, several mallets and 10 pounds of shredded craft projects.

I feel guilty for not doing enough with the kids or my husband and..... well, you get the idea.  And I'm usually one of those people who says the whole notion of guilt is silly.

I've been particularly leveled by my CFS lately and also have been fighting a major case of blues, so I put everything on the back burner other than family and worked on getting better.

So, sorry for being so late and rest assured I didn't forget about y'all.  :)  I'd like to say that to make up for the long break between newsletters this one is the best ever, but if I did that it would take even longer to get out!

And now, really, I swear, on with the newsletter.......


My fabulous friend Meghan has amassed tons of really neat butterfly ideas.
Here are a few of my favorites:

Children can wrap each other in toilet paper (excluding their head) so they can feel what it would be like to be a caterpillar in a cocoon.  Have them close their eyes and imagine that they are about to become butterflies.  Have them stretch their "wings" and tear through the toilet paper cocoons.  Recycle toilet paper to be used with a different project!   (I'd have them hold colorful scarves to make it especially butterly-ish)

This cake is both simple and pretty. Bake a vanilla cake mix into two round layer pans. (you will only need one of the layers for this cake - enjoy the other layer with your family). Cut the cooled, round layer in half and turn the curved edge of the halves of the cake towards one another so that the curved parts are touching. (this will form the wings of the butterfly) Then place a Twinkie in the center of the cake right where the curves touch (this will form the body of the butterfly) Stick two pieces of long licorice in the top of the Twinkie to make an antenna. Then ice the entire cake with your favorite frosting. Decorate
with M&Ms, or any other colorful candy. The children just LOVE this and it makes a wonderful treat for a Spring party.


Pretty Butterfly...
(to the tune of Up on the House Top)

First comes a butterfly and lays an egg,
Out comes the caterpillar with many legs.
Oh, see the caterpillar spin and spin,
A little cocoon (chrysalis) to sleep in.
Oh, oh, oh, look and see
Oh, oh, oh, look and see
Out of the cocoon (chrysalis) my, oh, my
Out comes a pretty butterfly.
Caterpillar Song
(To the tune of the Addams Family theme song)

My tummy is fat (snap! snap!)
I like it like that (snap! snap!)
I wiggle around,
I jiggle around,
It's fun being fat. (snap! snap!)
Oh, I'm a fat caterpillar,
Such a fuzzy feller.
I like to eat and eat,
This leaf is such a treat.
(repeat from beginning)
Roly-poly caterpillar (wiggle right pointer finger)
Into a corner crept, (place right pointer finger in left cupped hand)
Spun around himself a blanket (spin around)
Then for a long time slept. (place head on folded hands)

Roly-poly caterpillar (wiggle right pointer finger)
Wakening by and by, ("stretch" right pointer finger)
Found himself with beautiful wings
Changed to a butterfly. (flutter arms like wings)


Items Required:
cup cake liners
pipe cleaners

1. Flatten out cupcake liners and color with markers or crayons.
2. Pinch liners in the center and wrap with pipe cleaners using the left over to make antennae.

Two great butterfly web sites recommended by magical mama Jackie:  has lots of butterfly crafts, printouts, etc. has info on different types of butterflies that are in different US regions, how to attract them to your garden and more.

More art projects with caterpillars...

Y'all know that I favor crafts that are cheap and involve most of the work being done by the kids instead of prep time by parents and teachers so here's a couple I came up with.

~Give the kids some round stickers (you can even use those sticky hole protectors for binders or old tag sale color coded stickers) and some paper.  Show them how to arrange the stickers in a row to make a caterpillar and then have them draw a scene around them and add eyes, antennae, etc.

~In a small cup, mix some glue with some green paint.  Ask the kids to cut out small shapes (good for fine motor skills for little ones) or punch holes with a hole puncher.  Tell them the glue/paint is to paint a giant leaf on their paper and then have them arrange the shapes or dots into caterpillars on the leaf.  The paper will stick to the gluey leaf so they don't have to individually glue each dot.  When it's dry they can use a pen to add features and details if they're so inclined.

~Cut a piece of paper into a butterfly shape and ask your child to decorate it.  When he's done, show him how to roll it into a tube and put it into a tube sock to make a caterpillar.  He can scoot the caterpillar around and then wrap it in a cloth cocoon before reaching in to reveal the transformed butterfly inside.

~Last year I cut up an old sheet into big wing shapes and had them color them with markers.  I loosely stitched it in a few places to some old shirts and let them "fly" around the back yard as butterflies.  They loved it!

Order butterfly kits for around $20 from 1-800-live-bug and your kids can watch the transformation themselves and then release the butterflies.  Alternately, see if any nature centers in your area are doing something similar.  We're taking part in a butterfly activity at a local nature center next weekend and for $9 we'll be taking home a habitat with 4 or 5 cocoons that will eventually become butterflies for us to release.  Some zoos and gardens have butterfly exhibits too.


Too many ratty stuffed animals?

I've been meaning to try this for years and finally got around to it.  I read in The Tightwad Gazette or someplace similar that one mom cut the feet off her children's old stuffed animals and made free puppets.  The girls and I did it last week and it was a big success.  Instead of cutting off their feet we just cut a slit in the back and removed the stuffing.  The hole was big enough for a hand to work the feet or legs.  This is a great craft to do with 10 cent garage sale animals, especially considering how much puppets cost!  (See the picture at the end of the newsletter to see one of ours)


Here are some wonderful hands-on science activities for every age
from preschool to high school, broken down by grade level.


Magical mama Lonni recommended this page with marvelously messy toddler cooking ideas.


"When we are polite to children, we show in the most simple and direct way possible
that we value them as people and care about their feelings."

- Dr. David Elkind


I'm devoting the next issue entirely to spring and garden ideas.
Many of you have written in with some great books and activities.
If you have anything you'd like to share feel free to send it in!


The knotted bones experiment at the bottom of this one looks like such fun!
Now I need to figure out where to get some bones.  This is trickier in a vegetarian house.  :)


Here's details on where the planets will be all month, how bright they'll be,
a comet that's around now, and the best nights to spot stuff.

The next meteor shower is the Lyrids,
April 16- 25, (peak Sat, April 20).


Reading readiness games and fun

Victoria started reading a few months ago.  I wanted to help her continue to learn in a more fun way than typical reading programs.  Here are some reading games and activities that I came up with to teach early letters, phonics and reading...

-- Use a heavy, dark pen to print words (if the child can write letters, dictate words to her) onto post-it notes.  Use the names of objects all around the house:  door, refrigerator, drawer, floor, cup, mom (I believe in much silliness so I'd probably have them cover me with notes about ears and such, G), etc.  Then help them read the words and stick them to objects.  Leave them there a day or two to really get a feeling for the words if you can.  This will increase the child's "sight word" vocabulary-- the words she will know by heart and not have to sound out in order to read.

-- Alphabet hopscotch: Use chalk to make a big grid on a short-napped dark rug or a floor or sidewalk.  Put a different letter in each grid.  Take a small sock and fill it with dried beans, gravel or rice to use as a bean bag. Have the child lob the bag onto the grid and then say the sound of whatever letter he lands on and a word that starts with that letter. If it lands between two letters, think of a word that uses both.  Take turns and keep it light hearted.  If he's still learning the sounds of letters, just say them with him so there is no pressure.

-- Trace words when you read to him and occasionally stop to point out how the words are put together (for instance, point out the ing on the end of words and what it sounds like).

-- Gather up a whole bunch of rocks and use a marker to write letters and letter combinations (like oo, ed, ing, sh) on them.  Practice putting the rocks together to make words.  It may help to use a paint pen so he can feel the letters too.  After making a word, write it down and say it out loud, to help cement it all.  Be silly and play games where you try to make up silly words by drawing the rocks out of a hat, for instance.

-- Let her use the computer in a word processor and dictate a letter to a loved one.  She can write it and you show her where the letters are.  Print out the letter and read it together.

-- At the grocery store, give her coupons and ask her to find those brand names.  Regularly ask her to get you things by name (i.e. "Can you bring me the tomato sauce from the pantry?  It's spelled t-o-m....).

-- Do art projects with foam letters and paint to let kids stamp out words, or use alphabet pasta and glue, or make up homemade dough and form letters and bake.

And of course, read, read, read.  :)

If your child is late in learning to read, please don't worry.  Studies show that kids learn at very different ages, but within a few years they tend to be at the same level.  It's better to let them progress at their own speeds than turn them off to reading or convince them they're no good at it.  It'll come!


10 Ways to make today magical

1.  Write letters to famous characters from history.
2.  Take the afternoon off and visit an art museum together.
3.  Tie long ribbons to a couple of sticks and do ribbon dancing in the backyard.
4.  Grab some old hats and decorate them with scraps, scarves, flowers and anything you can find to make them as outlandish as possible.
5.  Gather up some rocks from your yard and help the kids use a marker to write words on them like love, believe, dream and yes.  Then travel around and leave the rocks, word side down, in places for people to someday discover them.  Daydream with the kids about who might find them and how it might affect those people.
6.  Help the kids make up a list of 50 things they love about daddy, mom or another loved one for a wonderful surprise.
7.  Have the kids use crayons or colored pencils to draw a picture on the back of each bill as you mail it in, plus decorate the envelope and write something cheerful.  You might make someone else's day magical as well.
8.  Find someplace in the community to volunteer together.
9.  Check a book of magic tricks out of the library and help them put together a magic show.
10. Help the birds get their nests ready by leaving lengths of yarn, dryer lint (yes, it's safe) and even hair from hairbrushes on your bushes and trees.  Later take walks and see if you can spot nests from your gifts to the birds.


And now I'm off to read our new library books and do a caterpillar craft with my kiddos.  Happy spring!  Don't forget to take care of you!






A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2002, 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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