Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Activity #15: Making Applesauce

We had some apples left from our apple picking, but they were getting a little wrinkly and soft so we made applesauce with them. Eli helped cut the apples and Sadie put my cut apples into the pot. They also helped measure out the spices. I deviated from our usual applesauce recipe and we were all a little disappointed. It sounds good on paper, but is much too rich to eat plain, though I thought it would be really good on icecream. Eli wouldn't eat any, but Sadie ate two bowls full.

Chunky Chai Applesauce from Cooking Light (November 2008)
1/2 cup apple cider
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine cider and apples in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients; simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick. Cover and chill.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Activity #14: Halloween Counting Books

We got some cute little Halloween stamps from the Target One Spot (which is one of my favorite places to shop) and Eli wanted to stamp all over everything. I decided that it would be a great time to make an easy counting book. I took three half-sheets of paper, folded them in half, and stapled the edges to make a book. I named it a really original name "My Halloween Counting Book" and left a space so Eli could write his name. Then, on the next pages Eli picked the stamp he wanted to use and I wrote the number and whatever was on the stamp: 1 skeleton, 2 pumpkins, 3 ghosts, 4 cats, and 5 aliens. Eli stamped the corresponding number of stamps onto the page:When he was finished, he had a book that he could read all by himself. Plus, he got to do a little math: one-to-one correspondence with numbers, and number recognition. Yea!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Activity #13: Homemade Puzzles

1. Google "Halloween Coloring Page" to find a coloring page. Print the coloring page onto card stock.
2. Color the picture.
3. Cut the picture into puzzle size pieces. This could be 3 or it could be 20 depending on ability.
4. Assemble the puzzle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Activity #12: Popcorn Cake

Before I post the activity for the day, I have so say that today is Sadie's birthday. #2 is two today. Sadie is a such a sweet little girl. No one enjoys life as much as she does. She warms my heart with her beautiful smile, great sense of humor, and independent spirit. Every day is a joy! I'll post more about her birthday party later, when I don't have "fall activities" to post about!
My mom used to make popcorn cake in the fall when I was growing up. I had kind of forgotten about it until I had a craving for popcorn balls which is basically made out of the same ingredients only is much more time consuming because you actually have to make balls instead of just dumping the ingredients into a bundt cake pan. This recipe is very satisfying. It's sweet and salty and gooey. The perfect treat.

Popcorn Cake

1/4 cup vegetable oil 12 cups popped popcorn (plain, unsalted and unbuttered), about 1 cup unpopped kernels
2 cups M & M candies
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 stick unsalted butter
1 pound marshmallows

1. Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with butter and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M & M candies and the peanuts.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, 1/4 cup of oil, and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally or just put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine.

4. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist and let rest until firm, at least one hour.

5. To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large cake plate or platter. Shake gently to release. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Activity #11: Paper Bag Monsters

Do you want to know how to scare your dad when he gets home from work? Put on one of these scary paper bag monster masks that you made and jump out from behind the door and yell "BOO!" really really loud. I promise it will work. Honest. Your dad will be really really scared.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Activity #10: Rattlin' Bones

We've been reading a Halloween book called Shake Dem Halloween Bones by W. Nikola-Lisa. My children love this rhythmic book especially because they get to hear their mom turn on her white-girl Eminem rappin' skills. I'm that good. Word. What would my rapping name be? Eminemma? Ha ha ha...
Anyways, we made these bone shakers to shake along with the book. I drew a bone shape on a piece of cardstock and cut out two of the same shape. I stapled around the bone leaving some space so we could fill them, the kids helped me fill them with rice (Yes. I'm a hypocrite.), and I stapled them closed.
Even if you don't have the book, you could sing some "piggyback" Halloween songs (that's fancy teacher talk, for a made-up song that's sung to a familiar tune.) found here or here and shake dem bones along with the rhythm. "I'm gonna shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake shake dem bones now. Shake dem Halloween bones." Shooby-dooby-do-wah. Yeah!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Activity #9: Ghost Cookies

My kids dig cookies like every American kid should. And these cookies are pretty darn good. While the kids did help make these cookies, I must admit that it drives me crazy and my patience is normally gone about 10 minutes into the process. If I was smart, I would do most of the work myself and have them do the decorating. Instead, I let them help me: make the dough, roll out the dough, press the cookies and decorate them. This usually means that flour gets all over the floor, something gets spilled, egg shells fall into the batter, they fight over the cookie cutters, and I end up thinking that I will never ever make cookies with my children again. **sigh** Then they end up loving it so much that they run to their dad the moment he gets home from work and say, "We made cookies shaped liked ghosts. Do you want one?" Well, how could I not make cookies with them again? Next time, they can just decorate them.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Activity #8: Lantern Ghosts

I know we just made ghosts yesterday, but I'm going with the theme here. This is an activity for the older kids as there is a lot of straight line cutting. You will need: 1 piece of white construction paper/cardstock, white streamers, 1 white pipe cleaner, scissors, glue, and googly eyes (optional), ruler and a pencil.
1.Fold your paper in half so it is now roughly 4 1/4 x 11. Using a ruler, from the fold in, draw lines about a ruler's width apart stopping about 1/2 inch from the other side.
2. Cut on the lines you just made, making sure you do not cut all the way across.
3. Unfold the paper and connect the long sides of the paper forming a cylinder. Either glue or staple the sides together.
4. Add eyes by drawing them on or you can glue on googly eyes.
5. Glue about 5 streamers along the bottom of the cylinder.
6. Attach the pipe cleaner at the top to make a handle.
You can also use the same lantern shape to make a skull or a pumpkin as seen here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Activity #7: Paper Plate Ghosts

I admit these ghosts look a little like an octopus, but they really are ghosts. This project is easy enough for a not even two year old to do. All you need is a white paper plate, white streamers, googly eyes and a glue stick. Quick and easy, what more could a mom ask for?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Activity #6: Apple (and other fruit and vegetable) Prints

Did you know that if you cut an apple through the middle (versus through the stem and bottom part) that there is a little star hidden inside? Somewhere there is a story about that... Let me find it... Here it is. Using the apples we picked, I showed the kids the star inside the apple without telling them the story, because I just remembered that now (obviously)! We used the apples as stamps: dunked them into paint and printed them on big sheets of paper (that my husband very wisely pulled from the trash). Because I was making fajitas for supper, they also used pepper tops, lime and onion and some Indian corn (not that I put that into the fajitas) to make prints. My kids love this kind of activity most of all. They don't have to think too creatively, yet it looks kind of cool and they can make a huge mess.I just have to mention something that bothers me with projects like this and others that involve food (sorting beans, stringing Cheerios, etc.). I feel so guilty using food as a manipulative, art supply or toy. While I use food because it is inexpensive and readily available I also know that somewhere in the world (maybe even in my neighborhood) someone would love to be eating what I let my child play with. I wonder what the hidden message is that I'm sending my children? That it's ok to waste food? That food is to be played with? I guess I don't have any answers. It's just something I think about. Sorry to be such a downer. Just makes you want to do apple prints doesn't it!?!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Activity #5: Apple Picking and Apple Pie

This time of year the apples are perfect for picking and the kids love to get in on the action. We pick at a local orchard called Lynd's that has a variety of apples to pick during September and October as well as pumpkins and pears. We went when we could pick Melrose and Suncrisp. The Suncrisp apples are yellow and tart and are perfect for eating and making pies. The kids did not help me make the pie, but they did help me eat it. Apple Pie with Crumb Crust
For single pie crust crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp. salt
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

Roll out and put in a 9" pie plate.

For Filling:
6-8 tart apples (6 cups), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Combine and spoon on top of the pie dough.

For Crumb Crust:
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
6 Tbsp. chilled butter

Combine until resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apple filling. Bake in a 350 degree oven on a rimmed cookie sheet for 50 minutes to an hour or until the top is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Activity #4: Painting Pumpkins

I never promised that these activities were going to be creative! But, well, there you have it: another activity to do with your kids when they are driving you up a wall from all of the loud screeching noises they seem to making lately. I think you could go crazy with this idea: big pumpkins, little pumpkins, stickers, ribbons, googly eyes, or glitter. My grandma taught me that there is no such thing as too much glitter!

By the way, natural cures for mosquito bites include: toothpaste, a paste of baking soda and water, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, ice, and meat tenderizer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Activity #3: Leaf Collage

With the leaves we collected from our Nature Walk, the kids assembled this collage by sticking the leaves onto Contact Paper. I suppose they could glue the leaves on paper, but for a 3year old and an almost 2 year old, this is definitely the easiest way to go! We hung it in the window and it is a very cool effect to see the sun shining through the leaves.Totally off subject, why are the mosquitoes so bad in Ohio in the fall? I don't notice mosquitoes all summer long, but now we can hardly go outside. Eli looks like he got into a fight with a hundred of them. He has about 20 bites all on his face, which makes his face swell. His eyes are swollen and he looks awful. I broke down and bought some bugspray yesterday, but I hate putting it on his face. I'm not fairing much better. I itch like crazy. I'm searching for relief. Anyone know of any natural remedies?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Activity #2: Nature Walk and Collection Necklace

Fall days in Columbus are so beautiful. I love this time of year. The weather is perfect: sunny, cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon. It's the perfect weather to take a little nature walk and explore the changing leaves, nuts, seeds and berries. We went to a local arboretum that is just a stones throw from our house and collected leaves (for a project I'll post tomorrow), seeds, acorns and whatever else they found to be interesting, but mostly berries. The kids love berries. I love this little collection necklace that we made by sewing two bowls together. Every time Sadie bent over she spilled everything out of her bowl, so we spent a lot of time picking up the spilled contents of her collection necklace. The necklace is very fragile. Do not wrestle while wearing the necklace. This picture was taken after said wrestling match; it looks a little smooshed and I had to staple it back together. In case you're concerned, Sadie does not have some sort of rash or infectious disease on her arm, she just stamped all over them!

Fall Activity #1: Fall Tree Handprint

Ummm.... Yeah. This is a little late. I meant to get this up yesterday but the forces were against me. After working the whole weekend, Dennis had the day off for Columbus Day so we had family time down in Hocking Hills. I had yoga last night. (yea, yoga!) Dennis was using the computer for school work and writing up job applications and he was up far past my bedtime. Excuses, excuses...
But, better late than never so here are directions for Fall Activity #1: Fall Tree Handprint. Paint brown paint on your child's hand and a little down her arm. Press her hand and arm onto a piece of paper. This makes the tree. Then, she dips her little fingertips into paint and puts small dots on the tree, in the air and on the groun for the leaves. Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm Back

Hi Two Cups of Coffee Readers! Sorry for the break. It got a little longer than I intended and I even contemplated not starting up again as it has been so nice to do activities with my kids and not have to worry about taking pictures! But, after much thought, and lots of "I never finish what I start" lectures to myself, I'm going to give it another go. As a way of making up for lost time, starting next Monday I'm pledging to do a fall/Halloween activity a day (Monday-Friday) through the month of October. That's 15 activities for you to do with your kiddos. Now, I'm not promising that these will be great, revolutionary activities, but they will be quick and easy! So, stop by often, the coffee's always on!

Also, thank you for your warm thoughts and prayers for my family. My grandfather passed away on September 18, but my grandmother is still holding strong. I'm so glad that I had the chance to visit with them both. It was a hard visit, as I've never seen either of them looking so sick, but it was worth it. My nephew, Reid, was also born while I was visiting. I'm so thankful I got to meet him. I'm his Godmother and was able to be there for the baptism. He's super cute and such a good baby. He even smiled while the priest was pouring water over his head during the baptism.