Creating Little Worlds

The other day Princess happily entertained herself creating little play worlds sitting at the table.

She created a bedroom, complete with bed and some cups to drink from (though I wouldn’t recommend it).
And pets to play with and feed.

Do you ever just turn your kids loose to create their own worlds?  I loved listening to her play with them.

Childhood to do list: WATER FIGHT!

water fight
Step 1: Fill a large bucket (or cooler) full of water and sponges.  If you’re fancy make these from Inner Child Fun (what I originally bought the sponges for).

Step 2:  Grab as many water filled sponges as you can.
Step 3: Start throwing sponges as fast as you can.
You’re guaranteed to be told, “Did you know that you’re my best Mommy ever?”

Of course if you’re participating and trying to get pictures at the same time, that means you get lots of pictures like this:

And after all is said and done, take some time to build with the sponges and swing on your swing.

Muppet movie fun

I LOVE the Muppets.  Back when Jeff and I were first married I got the Muppet Show on DVD.  Every year at Christmas we watch the Muppet Christmas Carol.  I love ALMOST all of their movies (some of their more recent ones have not been kid appropriate, cough cough Muppet Wizard of Oz or that stupid Christmas movie a few years ago, cage dancing?).

But, I digress.  I picked up the movie, because I wanted it.  Then to bribe them I let them make Muppet sandiwches:
muppet sandwich


Supplies (we used): bread, crackers, coconut, peanut butter, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, cream cheese, sprinkles

Then I let them have at it.  There was much giggling and laughter to be had.

And in the end we got things that didn’t look so much like Muppets, but sugar delivery devices.

Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

learning ALL the time!!

Going on a ???????? hunt

learning laboratory at mama smiles
 Sometimes it’s fun to take a break from learning and have some fun that isn’t related to learning at all.

The other day we found these mysterious footprints.  What are they, who put them there?

“Oh no!”  said Superman (I really should have written down who it was when I first took these pictures).  “Some kind of scary animal has invaded our yard.”

“We will defend you from the terrible monster, Princess” her brothers declare.

So Princess happily played and rode her bike while her brothers hunted down the terrible monster.

They practiced sword fighting, so they could defeat it.  It was hard work.

Finally they found the viscous, viscous monster (I think that is spelled wrong, I think I’m spelling a different word than I intend……).
It lay there with its prey and dared them to come attack him.  They ran in and……

vanquished the poor thing.  He collapsed happily and demanded scratches and left the kingdom alone.


How to have a Carnival Party!

With some easy games and set up.

Step 1:  Order some bags and many chocolate and plastic coins from Oriental Trading Company, or similar place.

Step 2.  Collect an insane number of cans and paint them for the game.
Step 3: Set up knock the cans game down with coins, bean bags, and stack of cans.

Step 4:  Set up “basketball” or ball toss game.  You could also just cut holes in a cardboard box and decorate it.  Since we already had this, we used it.

Step 5: Set up catapult game with bowl of coins and rolled up sock ammunition.  If you don’t have a catapult, Family Fun has instructions for one.
Step 6: Set up “gimme game” of hopscotch, a guarantee of getting a coin.

Step 7: Set up, “Find the coin” game.

Step 8: Color bags.

Step 9: Play games and have fun.

Childhood to do list: Build a fort

Build a fort

I remember as a kid every fall my Dad would trim back the trees drastically and I’d build a fort out of all those branches.  It was quite a feat.



We were trimming the trees in our front yard the other day before the spring growth hits, and we had already completely filled one with branches, when I said, “New plan!  We’re making a FORT!”


The kids were now much more enthusiastic to help haul branches.



We filled the wagon and hauled branches back to the back corner of our yard.  It’s quite nicely tucked under our big huge trees, “The Mommy and Daddy trees,” as my kids say.


Then began the real work.


I don’t quite think they thought it was work.


And of course you need a photo shoot afterwards.  With lots of dramatic posing.

Don’t ever forget the dramatic posing.

fort dramatic posesphoto shootreal play

Everyone needs a tree fort sometime.  Maybe I’ll even dig through my Mom’s photo albums and find a picture of MY tree fort.

Spies in the American Revolution or Secret Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunt
This past week for our history coop we learned about spies and secret messages sent during the American Revolution.

To start off the younger kids decoded a simple symbol substitution, which was incredibly easy, but very much enjoyed.  For the older kids we did this worksheet, which was quite a bit harder.

While they were busy doing that I set out the secret messages.

To make the treasure hunt it’s very simple.  Decide the order of the clues, so I knew where it was being put I wrote on the back.  On the front I wrote the clue for where the next place was in pencil.

All of the kids enjoyed the treasure hunt, I’d show you a picture of the “treasure,” but they descended on it too fast and had devoured it before I got there.

Afterwards they got to have a try at writing in invisible ink (AKA lemon juice).  Later we’re going to try revealing what they wrote.  I’m hoping to be more successful than the last time we tried this.

It’s hopefully going to work well.

Great gift to give for a kid’s birthday party!

All you need: paper mache dollhouse found at Hobby Lobby or most craft stores (I’m fairly sure I’ve also seen it at Michael’s), various scraps of scrapbook paper, popsicle sticks for added touches, peg dolls (I get mine at Casey’s Wood products), and a bottle of glue.

Here’s the price break down, more or less

house- between $2-5 depending on size you buy, that’s full price.  I time the sales and get it 50% off
peg dolls- if bought at Casey’s Wood Products $0.15-$0.30 per figure plus shipping, if bought at craft store, about $3-4 for 10 or so
scrapbook paper- 5 for a $1 on sale, otherwise 4 for a $1, or on hand
popsicle sticks- can be bought for a huge box for about $5 or small pack of 50 or so for a dollar at the dollar store, as could the paper
glue bottle- bought at back to school sales for $0.03, otherwise about a $1

Now you have an instant craft kit that is loads of fun, can provide hours of entertainment, first deocrating the house, then the dolls, and finally playing with your dolls.

For those without a Hobby Lobby, I just checked and it is available on Amazon: Paper Mache Box with Windows Small.

edited to add: link for houses and pricing

  learning laboratory at mama smilesabc buttonKatie's Nesting Spot

We Play

Science Sunday: Pumpkin and other fruit science

Science Sunday

Though now that I think about it, I’m not sure that a pumpkin is a fruit………


I got this unit from Currclick, and was going to do all of the projects, but just ran out of time between going out of town and Superman being sick this past week, we only got to the pumpkin one…….


It has 5 experiments for the price of 35 cents, that’s right less than a dollar.  This is where I start having a hard time paying a lot for things, between the freebies on blogs and deals like this………. By the by click on the picture to go to the product.


Well, the pumpkin one, was the traditional “does the pumpkin float” experiment, and measuring it with a nice little printable.  We did that a few years ago, and I was curious to see if they remembered the results.  They did, so the wow factor was kinda gone……


But, there’s a twist:


Based off what you learned from the pumpkin, will the other fruits (and vegetables if you’ve got them easily findable) float?




They had a suggested list, but I forgot to get all of the things they suggested, so instead we tried: apple, orange, and tomato as well.


We did an initial guess and they decided the orange and pumpkin would float.




Once we got to actually recording our predictions they changed their hypothesis about what would float.


They ended up predicting that all of them would float.  This was also a great opportunity for me to review the terms hypothesis, theory, and prediction with them.



No pictures of the actual floating Afterwards we drew a picture to show what actually happened.  SURPRISE they all floated!


Have you ever repeated an experiment with your kids?  Did they remember the first time you did it?

Book review: Rhythm of Family

I was very intrigued when I was asked to review “The Rhythm of Family.”  (sigh there are just some times that Amazon widgets are more trouble than they’re worth, and tonight is one of those) I like the idea of slowing down and enjoying our families and nature.

And then I got the book, and I saw it was broken down month by month and there were snow pictures.  Immediately I thought (before reading it), “Oh no, here’s another book that I can’t use for 6 months of the year because I’ve never heard of snow.”

And then I actually read the book.

And yes, there are pictures of snow, but instead it’s suggestions of things you can do inside when you’re trapped by bad weather.  Immediately I thought, “oh I can do this in July when it’s hotter than heck and nobody in their right mind goes outside.”

I really enjoyed the author’s layout and look forward to rereading the chapters as I come up to each month. First there’s a segment from Mom’s point of view, then the Dad’s, and then a few nature-inspired craft projects that are seasonal (but not necessarily snow related) but not limited to that season, and then a recipe to try for that month

For us the rhythm of our family as it nears October is to become insanely obsessed with Halloween and costumes. Okay, maybe that’s just my boys and somewhat the girl.  They’ve been talking about it coming for MONTHS!

So, we started setting up for it this week.


Some of you may remember this from last year, we slowly added projects to our Halloween mural as we made them.  We’ve gotten started already and made our first one yesterday.
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These are the Halloween books we plan to make projects for (with links to previous projects).

Spookley the Square Pumpkin– super cute book about how we all are helpful no matter how different we are.

Skeleton Meets Mummy- how two Halloween monsters get scared when they meet

Ten Timid Ghosts– a countdown book where the witch scares the ghosts out

Clifford’s Halloween– Clifford needs to decide on a costume.

Going on a Ghost Hunt– Kids go through the “spooky” woods to find a ghost.

Skeleton Hiccups- we read this last year, but no project.  Skeleton is trying to get rid of his hiccups and tries all of the usual cures.

The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything- I lost our copy last year, and hope to find it again this year………

Whoooo’s Haunting Tiny Ghost- Tiny Ghost learns how to be brave at school and then has to remember what he learns when he goes home to a scary house

Halloween Hats- library book about Halloween costumes, I haven’t read it yet…….

Old Devil Wind- I loved this one for choral reading as a teacher great repetition, rather like “The House that Jack built.”

So, that’s the rhythm of our family this month.  We’re going to be planning lots of fun Halloween activities.

If anyone is interested and still reading at this point, here’s my pinterest board for Halloween.

Favorite Resource This Week

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of Rhythm of Family for review, I was not paid for my review and other legal mumbo jumbo for me to write which I’m not remembering at this time of night.