Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer Reading with Activities at the Back of the Book - Day 3: Cardboard Tube Horses

In Carolyn Keene's Pony Problems - volume three of the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series, eight year old Nancy and friends set out to solve the mystery of a pony's nightly escape from a local petting zoo.

There are instructions at the back of the book for making a cork and toothpick pony.

As usual, we switched things around a little.  We have corks, but they're on the small side, and part of our science supplies, so we opted for cardboard tubes (which we always seem to have in abundance), and craft sticks.

For each of our horses, we gathered glue, scissors, and tape plus:

* Two empty cardboard tubes
* About a dozen, or so, 10'' pieces of yarn.
* 6 craft sticks
* 2 googly eyes
* and 2 small, brown paper arches (for ears)

We shortened one of the tubes, by cutting off about a quarter of the length.

Then, I sketched quick cutting lines for the girls, centered, on one end of both tubes (for neck slits), and punched a hole, on the opposite end, but the same side, of the longer tube (for the tail).

I also rolled the longer tube over, and sketched out two lines on both ends, for leg slits (keep paging down, and it should begin to make sense).

The girls cut the marked slits...

...and then slipped craft sticks into them (beginning with the legs)...

...taping the open end of the slit shut, to secure the sticks (a little, anyway).

Once they had the four legs in place, and adjusted, so the horses could stand...

...they slipped their last craft stick through the neck slit of the long tube (taping it the same as with the legs)...

...finally slipping the shorter tube onto the other end of the neck stick.

Then, all they had to do was glue on eyes (slightly to the sides on the head)...

...add a mane (by tying the pieces of yarn onto the neck stick, within and below the head area)...

...then, tie on a tail (through the hole in the back)...

...and glue on ears.

For a final touch, they trimmed the manes and tails to make them even, and pulled one piece of yarn forward, to fray out for "bangs".

C (age 8) chose a more whimsical color of yarn, and cut an extra slit at the top of the head, so the neck stick could slide all the way through, changing her horse into a unicorn...

...which didn't quite go along with Carolyn Keene's story line, but pleased C immensely, nonetheless.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rainy Day Boredom Buster - Paper Towel Templates

We've just emerged from a week so rainy it would make Seattle seem dry.  Naturally, I've been keeping my eye out for easy, and inexpensive boredom busters to ward off cabin fever, while we've all been stuck inside - like this great idea from Maman...je sais pas quoi faire!!!, for coloring in the dotted designs on paper towels.

While I was out at the grocery store this weekend, I made sure to grab a cheap roll of paper towels, with an interesting design.  Of course, then we woke up to a beautiful sunny day today (not that I'm complaining).  It turns out though, that coloring in the little dotted patterns is also a great way to keep hands busy during long, family read-aloud sessions(we should have another book to review, shortly).

Our markers weren't as fine as the ones they used over at Maman...je sais pas quoi faire!!!, so our designs were a little messier, but that was okay...

...because we quickly discovered...

...that if we taped the towels down (to keep them from slipping around) over white paper...

...they turned into fantastic templates for designs on the paper underneath...

...which we thought was pretty nifty.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer Reading with Activities at the Back of the Book - Day 2: Thermal Coffee Mug Ice Cream

The girls (ages 8 and 10) finished off the second book in the Nancy and the Clue Crew series, building steam into their summer reading.

This time the go-along activity included at the back of the book was "Nancy, Bess, and George's Coffee-Can Ice Cream", which made sense for a title like "Scream for Ice Cream".

We've made coffee-can ice cream before, but usually when the weather is warm enough to get outside to roll the cans around by foot, like a soccer ball.

Today was cold and rainy.  It was barely an ice cream kind of day, much less a make-ice-cream-oustide kind of day.  And on top of that, we didn't have any empty coffee cans, or plastic containers, handy.

But, the whole point of picking a book series for summer reading, with activities at the back of each book, is to actually do the activities at the back of the books, so the girls will want to read more of the books.  So, we switched gears a little, and changed from coffee cans to thermal coffee mugs (keeping with the coffee theme, but using what we could find in our kitchen), and pressed on.

Instead of pouring the ingredients (just milk, sugar and vanilla) into a small can, we filled quart-sized freezer bags, draped inside of cups, so they'd stand.

Once the ingredients were added, the girls pressed out the extra air, and sealed the bags.

Then, they added crushed ice and table salt (we didn't really measure) to the bottom of thermal mugs (the type you take in the car)...

...followed by the bags...

...with more ice and salt on top, to almost fill the mugs.  Finally, we taped the lids closed...

...and shook them vigorously for ten minutes (like Phys-Ed in a cup)...

...before removing the bags (carefully) from the melting ice, to open...

...and drape back over the cups...

...for ease of eating. While I gave the thermal mugs a quick rinse (to remove the salt), the girls enjoyed their treat, and shared the details of the story with me, so I'd know what making ice-cream had to do with the plot, in the first place (a sneaky reading comprehension quiz).

As it turns out, thermal mugs work nicely as ice-cream makers.  They keep the cold inside, so you don't freeze your hands while trying to shake them (like with bag-in-a-bag method), and the lids, designed to prevent spills, keep salty ice water from dripping out all over the kitchen floor.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A's Baptism.

Romans 6: 3-11 (NIV)
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kicking off Summer Reading - Easy Chapter Books with Craft Instructions Included at the Back

We kicked off our summer reading today, or at least C (age 8) and E (age 10) did, with the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series.  Of course, I realize it's not quite summer yet, but we found the series today, and it's perfect for summer reading, so we're calling it a kick-off.

The short chapter books, by Carolyn Keene, are light, entertaining, and easy reading. They are geared for ages 6-9, so maybe a little too easy for E, but there are a lot of them (40 so far), and the girls loved the first story (E said it was better than Ivy and Bean - which is quite a compliment).

Best of all though, each book has instructions at the back for a quick craft or snacktivity to go along with the story.  That makes 40, simple, boredom buster crafts ready to go, bringing the books to life, and adding a bonus incentive for the girls to make it to the end of each story.  I've got a couple of series like this, in mind, for the girls to check out over the summer (more on the others later).

Today, while they read "Sleepover Sleuths", the first book in the series, on their Kindles (before we decided to make a run to the library to pick up as many as they had on hand)...

...I gathered the supplies for the craft so we'd be all set...

...to cut...


...and decorate, paper plate crowns, as soon as the girls finished the story.

There were also instructions for making paper bag "tea" hats for themselves, or their dolls, but the girls decided they were happy enough with the paper crowns for today.