Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 60
November 29, 2003

Hello magical people!  I hope everything in your corner of the world is warm and wonderful, or at least not too crazy-making.  For those in the states, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

We're stranded at home for a week due to a rather rude head gasket on our van and we're going a bit stir crazy.  It doesn't help that it's been Absolute Zero outside this week.  <G>  Nonetheless, I'm excited about the start of the holiday season.  It's such a magical time of year.

I'm putting together a mini-newsletter Holiday Issue.  Look for that in the next week or two.  In the meantime, let's get on with this one!


"You can't imagine the degree of joy and love that's available until you have a kid.
I literally feel as though I didn't have a life before."

-- Johnny Depp, father of Lily-Rose (4) and Jack (1)


Mosaic Munchies!

Here's a fun craft you can eat when you're finished.  Use sweet ingredients for a tasty dessert or make it a meal with healthier ingredients.

You need:

~ Several graham crackers, large cookies, pita bread, french toast or other "canvas"

~ Peanut butter, frosting, spreadable cream cheese or other "glue"

~ Small, edible treats in many colors such as M&Ms, white chocolate chips, dried fruit bits, real fruit, candies, chopped veggies, etc. for mosaic pieces.  Try to have a good assortment of colors, in roughly similar sizes.

Let each child spread a canvas with goop and then make a design, mosaic style, from the assorted treats.  Encourage the kids to cover every bit of the canvas.  If you like, you can sketch out suggested designs (flower, happy face, geometric pattern) on pieces of paper for ideas beforehand and even trace the design with a toothpick in the goop.  Fill in, admire and eat!


I made up this list for a local social service agency and thought I'd share it here. Obviously, these are things that moms, mentors, grandparents & others can do with kids too!

25 Fun Things Dads can do with kids

1.  Build with legos or other building blocks.
2.  Go to a matinee.
3.  Play basketball.
4.  Make a birdhouse or other woodworking project together.
5.  Have a "dad & me" supper night where kids and dad are in charge of cooking (very little kids can help stir, cut herbs with safety scissors and such).
6.  Go for a walk or bike ride.
7.  Read favorite books from dad's childhood.
8.  Go rock hunting for fossils and other cool rocks.
9.  Visit a park you haven't been to before.
10. Go for a drive and talk about life when you were a kid.
11. Go looking for animal tracks.
12. Take a free class together at a home improvement store.
13. Go to a neighborhood ball game.
14. Volunteer together at a nature center, humane society or other organization.
15. Build a fort out of appliance boxes.
16. Teach the kids something -- from how to play golf to how to play guitar to how to make Grandma's famous spaghetti sauce.
17. Do home improvement & maintenance projects together.  Even raking leaves can be fun if you do it with dad.
18. Build or paint models together.
19. Play catch.
20. Go mini golfing.  No course nearby?  Make one in the back yard or living room.
21. Draw or paint, even finger paint.
22. Go hiking.  Carry little ones in a back carrier or by piggy back.
23. Do magic, and then teach the kids how to do almost all of the tricks (save one or two for mysteries).  Libraries and book stores carry lots of magic books.
24. Make paper airplanes.  Forget how?  Look it up online to find lots of great model plans for free.
25. Just sit and talk.


Here's flylady's list of clutter free gifts for grandparents:


Hmmm...... Here's a thought to whip you into shape.

"Children begin by loving their parents;
as they grow older they judge them;
sometimes they forgive them."

~Oscar Wilde

When our kids are little it almost seems like they love us too much sometimes and it can feel smothering.  It's sobering to think of how soon they'll "grow out" of it, though.  Here's to doing our best to earn that adoration they heap on us and keeping it as long as possible!


If little ones are having a hard time remembering the difference between a b and a d, teach them this trick. Make a bed.  Hold your hands in fists with the thumbs pointing up and knuckles touching.  Tell the kids this is the bed and show them that the first fist looks like a b and the second like a d.

If kids need help remembering how many days are in a certain month, here's a trick I learned from my mom.  Count the months on your knuckles.  Start with your first knuckle on either hand (January) and then count off the months, going from each knuckle to the valley between as you count... knuckle, down, knuckle, down.

The knuckle months are 31, while the valley months are 30 (or 28/29 for February).  It works out that when you get to July (31) and switch hands to the next knuckle, you get another knuckle for August (31) and can keep counting all the way to December getting it right.

Clear as mud?  :)  Just try it!


"So you see, imagination needs moodling -
long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."

~ Brenda Ueland


This site has some beautiful fall art projects beyond the usual construction paper types.  Children can make twig looms, Gods Eyes and more.
Click on the apple at the bottom of the page to see more great art ideas!


Want an easy way to teach parts of speech and have fun with your kids?  Forget the drills and worksheets.  Get some Mad Libs!

Remember those?  We just got our first book and both girls are effortlessly learning verbs, nouns, adverbs and more by making up silly stories.  You can buy books, find some online or just make up your own by crossing out words from any encyclopedia entry, newspaper article or fairy tale.  It's even fun to rework poetry that way.

For a fun twist, take a nursery rhyme and mad lib it...

Hey diddle diddle, the (animal) and the (musical instrument)
The (farm animal) jumped over the (noun)
The (adjective) (noun) (verb, past tense)
To see such (noun)
And the (noun) ran away with the (noun)

Have fun!


"To repeat what others have said, requires education;
to challenge it, requires brains."

--Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938


Sensory Integration corner...

Getting baby Jack to sleep the other day, it struck me how the same motions that SI experts tell us kids need are the ones babies naturally crave and get-- rocking, spinning, bouncing and sucking.  We all need the same type of sensory input.  We just fulfill it in different ways as we grow.

Babies love to be held and twirled back and forth.  Children spin themselves till they fall down.  We adults spin around and back in our office chairs.

Babies love to be rocked.  Children rock themselves back in their chairs in class and swing on swings.  Other children rock themselves to self soothe when they're stressed.  Adults rock in rocking chairs and porch swings.

Babies nurse, use pacifiers and put everything in their mouths.  Kids chew on gum, their hair, their Barbie doll's feet, their pencil erasers and everything else they can get their hands on.  Adults smoke, snack and sip coffee and pop.

We all have the same needs and we keep them all of our lives.  We just fulfill them in new ways.  But sometimes our kids get shortchanged on those needs because we don't realize how important they are.

At the SI conference I attended, the presenter showed a picture of the U.S. House of Representatives-- more specifically, of their chairs and tables.  The chairs were large, padded chairs with wheels.  She explained that when they had late vote nights, staff put out pretzels and ice water to keep the representatives awake & alert.  The chairs rolled and spun.  They had things to munch on and cold water to help them concentrate.  This makes sense to anybody who's ever been in a long, boring meeting.  Why don't we provide the same for our kids in school?

Why is it that even adults get to fulfill their sensory needs in places as official as the U.S. House of Representatives, but we expect small children to sit still, not eat or drink, and pay attention?  Something to think about.....


Here are some wonderful FREE classroom kits on tolerance for teachers and homeschoolers.  There are music CD's, pamphlets, lesson plans and more on lots of fascinating topics.


10 Ways to Make Today Magical.....

1.  String popcorn and wind the strings around bushes and tree limbs as treats for the birds.  You can alternate cranberries, raisins and even bread cubes for other tasty, healthy options.

2.  Mix washable tempera paint with a little dish soap and paint winter or holiday scenes on the windows.  For little ones, cut sponges into holiday shapes like trees, ornaments, dreidels and bells and let them stamp the paint on.  It'll wash right off with water and a sponge later.  To make clean-up easier, you can decorate the outside of the windows, though it won't be waterproof, of course.

3.  Have the kids draw with markers or crayons just using their feet.  It may help to tape down the paper on the floor.

4.  Tape a length of string at net level, blow up a balloon, and have a family game of volleyball inside.

5.  Take up altered books.  Find a couple of big old books that nobody loves and turn them into your own personal scrapbooks, journals & art projects.  My girls and I spend hours working in ours.  You can use paint, markers, crayons, oil pastels, scrapbook papers, stamps, stickers, hole punches, glitter, shoe polish, magazine cut-outs, anything you can think of.  Cut slits in a page and weave strips of paper through.  Cover the front with mosaics, fabric, spray paint, you name it.  There are no rules, it costs next to nothing and there's nothing to lose.  Google "altered books" to find a zillion wonderful examples of the kind of creativity people use with theirs.  (Note: an article with photos is coming soon in the crafts section of the web site.)

6.  Have a picnic supper on a sheet on the living room floor.

7.  Paint the kids' faces.  For an easy face paint substitute, use fun colors of lipstick and a small paintbrush.

8.  Tape strips of crepe paper (or toilet paper) from the ceiling in part of their room to make a mini hideaway for a day.

9.  Go to a craft store and take a free class together.

10. Go on a Whimsy Walk.  Get dressed up in something fun and grab whatever props you can find-- bubbles, ribbon wands (tie a long ribbon to a stick to make your own), crowns, tambourines, maracas, you name it.  Bring extras for families who might join you as you go.


With that, I'm off to tackle the next 20 things on my to-do list!  :)  Have a wonderful week.  Don't forget to take care of you!


A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2003, 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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