Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everything is Dangerous - Letter to a Home Town

Way Back in the 70's

Everything is Dangerous These Days

US Doctors Say Trampolines are a Danger toKidsUmmm ok. I have to wonder: Is there some new risk with trampolines that makes this newsworthy? Have strange trampolines started stalking our kids, following them home from school, offering them candy? Do doctors in Canada feel the same way? If more parents taught their kids the Five Little Monkeys song would fewer heads be bumped? Is anything considered safe these days?

Wow. I suddenly feel old. I am on the verge of one of those ‘Back in my day’ rants where the crazy old lady goes on about how when we were kids our parents let us roam like wild chickens, trusting that our pea sized brains would lead us back to roost at night. If I am not careful I will follow that up with a tale of how there was no crime and everyone was happy and fit and how it would still be that way if it wasn’t for the fact that Scooby Doo and those meddling kids quit going to church.

It is true that back my day I didn’t have a trampoline. I wasn’t allowed to jump on the beds either. (Strangely enough, I don’t remember being warned about hurting myself, just about breaking the bed.) When it came to finding means of potentially injury I was left to my own devices. I did things like tie a rope between two tree tops and try to scale across. I tested the thickness of ice by kicking through it. I was confident that bales of hay and stunt landing pads were interchangeable. I was a free range kid to the extreme and I survived for the most part unscathed. (As a parent I look back and wonder how).

Ideally our kids get the benefit of learning from our mistakes. In turn they get to make a whole new set of their own, thereby advancing into adulthood twice as mature and well adjusted as we did. (But wait… That would mean admitting to all that dumb stuff we did and they might tell our parents. Never mind.)

Left to their own device, the dumb stuff kids do has real world consequences, most of which are not a matter of life or death. Doing things and experiencing the consequences teaches how to navigate through fears and illustrates the difference between real and perceived risk. Fear has a lot of sway in the choices we make all through life, so this is a good skill to have.

Now my caveat: survival to spite youthful ignorance regarding the true danger of a given action is not good reason to let your own kids do the same dumb stuff. Kids, do not kick through ice to test its thickness. Trust me. Walking home in winter boots filled with water is no fun and I am glad I was close to the bank. Also, bales of hay are a close approximation to a stunt landing pad, but stuntmen have a lot of training (and an ambulance on site).

I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Apple Yogurt Whole Wheat Pancakes

Apple Yogurt Whole Wheat Pancakes
1c Vanilla or Apple or Maple or Plain Yogurt
1 Egg
2 Tablespoons Walnut Oil
2 Tablespoons Real Maple Syrup
Dash Cinnamon
1 t Baking Powder
1c Whole Wheat Flour
1 Large Apple Diced Up Small (Peal Optional)
A Bit of Butter for the Griddle
More Maple Syrup for Eating

Mix it all up in the order listed. Heat the griddle to medium, grease with a little butter then fry them up. Enjoy!

If batter seems too thick, add a couple of Tablespoons of milk - If it seems too thin add a couple tablespoons more flour
Single serve yogurt is often a few ounces shy of a cup so you’ll need to add a couple Tablespoons of milk
The walnut oil adds a subtle nutty flavor but vegetable oil works just fine
These cook best at a slightly lower temp than regular pancakes – too hot and the batter closest to the apple pieces won’t be fully cooked
Apple Butter is a nice topping for these - It is also less messy if you have anyone who believes that forks should be optional

A Joke Quackin' Duck - Toddler Art Project

A Joke Quackin' Duck

Age: 2 - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Ducks!

Books: Duck Sock Hop by Jane Kohuth, The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! By Mo Willems

Dark Yellow or Orange Construction Paper
Yellow copy paper
Star or Dot Or Heart or Other Shaped Stickers for Eyes
Glue sticks
Adult get to use Scissors

Prep: To make the duck bills, trace and cut a 6” circle from the construction paper then fold and cut into quarters. To prepare the puppets, fold a sheet of copy paper in apx. thirds long way (2-3/4 x 11). If the kids are very young you will also want to do the next steps: glue the edge closed, then fold the strip into quarters like an ‘M’ by folding in half, then folding the edges even with that fold.

Activity: Each child gets plain sheet of paper already folded into an ‘M’, a duck bill, a feather, a glue stick and some stickers. Glue the feather, then the bill onto the puppet (allowing the bill to overlap the feather will keep it from falling off easily in play). Add stickers for eyes, nostrils, beauty marks, etc. Test out your puppet then quack a joke!

Notes/Tips: The folded paper creates a pocket for fingers to go inside. Using the basic M fold, you can create other creatures by using different colored paper and features. This can become a big kid project by demonstrating the technique, then letting them design their own creatures.

PS. My top model decided she wanted to be on the other side of the camera for this project. The results were blurry but she got me!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mosaic Indian Corn – Toddler Art Project

Mosaic Indian Corn

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Fall, Vegetables

Books: Lunch by Denise Fleming and Market Day by Lois Ehlert

Brown or Green Tissue Paper
Assorted Colors of Construction Paper (This is a great way to use up scraps)
Yellow Construction Paper
Copy Paper
Glue sticks
Adults (& some kids) get to use Scissors

Prep: Cut out cob shapes out of yellow construction paper. I folded the sheet in quarters (3 x 9) and freehand cut them. If children are too young to use scissors at all then also prepare assorted color ‘kernels’ (pieces 1/2” or smaller). If the kids are old enough to use scissors, have them prepare kernels themselves.

Activity: Each child gets plain sheet of paper to use as a background, a cob, an assortment of ‘kernels’ and some tissue paper to rip up for the husk. Using the glue stick, glue the cob to the background, then the kernels to the cob. Rip 2 or more strips of tissue paper and glue along the sides of the corn.

Notes/Tips: I found it useful to describe the process as preparing corn in reverse – starting with the cob, adding the kernels and then the husk. This is a good activity to go along with cutting time for little ones who are just starting to use scissors because it makes use of the scraps they make.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yogurt, Apple & Summer Squash Muffins

Yogurt, Apple & Summer Squash Muffins

1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar

¾ cup Vanilla yogurt (you can use any complementary flavor or plain too)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups combined summer squash & apple shredded (I used a small yellow straight neck squash and a large Macintosh apple – you can use whatever variety of summer squash and apple you like)

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the muffin tins.
In a big bowl beat egg, sugar, oil, and yogurt. Fold in the summer squash and apple. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon then the flours.
Fill muffin cups about 2/3 of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Life as a 2 Year Old - Letter to a Home Town

This Letter was written about 6 months ago, but after a 40 minute stand-off regarding retrieval of some airborne art supplies earlier this week... It seems as timely as ever.

Life as a 2 Year Old

It is hard to believe, but the once Figlet about to turn two! Can it really be true?! It seems like just yesterday that I was thinking “What have I gotten myself into?!”  Now as soon as the house gets quiet I find myself wondering “What has she gotten herself into?!” Life before she came along was far from dull, but life with a 2 year old... I am being taken along on her ride through life in the impulse zone!  

To be 2 is to not be able to see even a few moments into the future. I am hungry and grumpy and you have served me food on the green plate. I wanted the blue plate and therefore this food must be emptied off the offending dinnerware. Where?! I don’t care! How about the floor! What do you mean there is no more? Can’t you see that I am hungry?

To be 2 is to always be moving on to the next best thing. Plink plunk on the piano keys. Belly flop on the beanbag chair. The baby doll needs shoes. Mom, help me put them on. I am going to chase the cat. Did you hear my 3 word sentence? I said “Cat knee ow!” Yes, I could use a mommy hug. Put me down now. I have to pee.

To be 2 is to have no modesty. Every day should be a no pants day! Why do you keep trying to put clothes on me?! My potty is in the kitchen, right where it should be. Every time I use it, you sing and dance for me! I follow you into the bathroom (when you will let me), and do a dance for you. Everyone should sing a happy song when they poo!

To be 2 is to discover what you want and how to say it. I like apples and oranges and I can ask for both by name. I like strawberries, but those I have to show you. I like cream of wheat. I call it ‘hot’ just like you do. When I say ‘chickies’ and bring you my shoes, you know that I want to go outside to play. When I say ‘Eee-eee ‘Orge’ I want to watch Curious Georges. I like him. He is a funny monkey like me. If you gave us typewriters we could write novels. Mine would be 5 words. His would be 3.

To be 2 is to take on life’s lessons – the ones that take a lifetime to learn. I am learning to share, learning to care, learning who I am and how to take care of me.  I am learning patience – with myself and others. I am learning that a smile keeps on going. I am learning that everyone is growing, or at least they could be, and they should be. I am also learning that if I ever want to find out what is in that drawer, I have to make just a little noise or you will wonder what I am getting into.

I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Alphabet Tree - Toddler Art Project

Alphabet Tree

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 - 15 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Alphabet

Books: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault,  Alphabet City by Stephen Johnson, or just pick your favorite ABC book
Green Construction Paper
Toilet Paper Tube(s)
Glue Sticks
Pre-printed Letters
Adults get to use Scissors and Computer/Printer

Prep: Cut out Tree leaves out of construction paper. Mine were cut freehand out of 1/6 sheets. (Fold the sheet into 1/3 then cutting along the fold lines to make 3” x 12” strips, then folded these in half to make 3” x 6”. Fold in half again and cut out leaves). To make letters, type out the alphabet (bold, 36pt), copy & paste until the sheet is full, then print & cut out. For the tree trunk, cut 4 slits about ½” deep into the top of the TP tube.                                                           

Activity: Each child gets 2 pre-cut leaves, an assortment of letters, a glue stick and a TP tube. Glue letters onto the leaves – and the trunk if you want too. Slide each leaf into two of the slits. Play with your tree!

Notes/Tips: Encourage older kids to put letters in order or spell out their name or other words with them. If you are up for the mess, paint the TP rolls first then while they are drying glue the letters to the leaves.
I first saw a version of this project here: