Magical Childhood Newsletter
Volume 74
December 31, 2006

Hello Magical you! 

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!

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!

Duplicating Jack Frost....

Here's a wonderful idea from  It would be especially fun to try for those who live where Jack Frost doesn't pretty up the windows for you! 

This is perfect to create privacy, such as in a bathroom, or for shielding an ugly view. Make sure your windows are clean before you start.

Dissolve 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 partially dissolve.

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!

Decorative Dye

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.

Columbia Education 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 craft:

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 more fun.

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.

Fruit slushie
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. 

Banana-fruit slushie
Follow the recipe above, but blend in 1 or 2 bananas.  The banana adds a bit of smooth sweetness and some extra nutrition too.

Berry blast
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.

Yogurt smoothie
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 yogurt.


If the weather is 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.


"She discovered with great delight that one does not love one's children
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:


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 little research.

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 at home!

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: (this one has lots of neat info about snow!)

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 and eggnog.

Fruity Snow Cones~  Scoop clean snow into cups.  Drizzle with melted fruit juice concentrate.

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 fort.

Forget snowmen -- make snow beasts!  Challenge the kids to make up supernatural creatures, aliens, animals and other goofy critters.


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 Battles").  I'll be posting some fun educational stuff pretty soon too.  Looking for something in particular?  Let me know!


"Children require 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

This 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 do!

Find Anthony Ant by Lorna Philpot and Graham Philpot

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 Rankin
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 Child
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 facts...

"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 practice 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!

Thanks Liz!


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 trees.

5.  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 for more information.

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 scrapbook.


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 you!

Happy 2007!!!!!!

~ Alicia

A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2006, 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 or  We do not use ads.  It's not about money.  :)

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