Indiana: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy

Did you know these cute dolls were first made in Indiana?  I didn’t either until I started looking up facts on the state.

That of course requires reading one of their stories.  This particular one is the story of how they found their friend who had been stolen and rescue her from pirates.  Very saccharine sweet. Widgets


My kids didn’t quite think this was a requirement, they wanted to get to the craft project.



Not that you can tell from Princess’ sour face.  She was not in a good mood that day.


I found a paper doll template on Kidley, I think it was one of the first blogs I discovered, and sadly it’s not writing anymore.

Then I turned them loose with a box of crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue, and a box of scrapbook paper.  Their only instruction was to make a boy doll and a girl doll, an unpopular instruction with everyone.


And here’s what I got:


I love the look on the boy’s face in the top picture, that really is his personality.  My kids never gave me a chance to get a picture of them with their pictures.  I love the variety, from the all colored to the some colored some paper.  All of them were unique.


The bottom right corner is one of my boys’ pictures.  I’d guess Superman from the one guy being all blue.

Shibley Smiles

Louisiana: Mardi Gras


“Mardi Gras” is a great book about the holiday and how it is celebrate particularly in New Orleans.


It approaches this holiday at a kid level and gives a fair amount of background.  I loved how well it covered how New Orleans celebrates it and I learned all sorts of things.  It made me want to go to New Orleans to see Mardi Gras, and then the other mom who was with me burst my bubble.  Apparently it’s a higher crime rate then and most locals just stay off the streets as much as possible.


I guess I always picture it sort of like this:

Well, after reading the book we made our own Mardi Gras masks in the traditional colors of purple, green, and yellow.


I found these great masks at First Palette and printed them off on cardstock.

Then I turned them loose to make it.

Mardi Gras masksMardi Gras masks008

All we need to add now is a ribbon to tie it on.  I also want to applaud myself for not making it too over the top in effort and overthinking it.


At the time of picture taking Princess didn’t have hers done, but she’s since gotten it done.


Oh, and in case you’re wondering the boys masks are superhero masks.

Kid Craft: Make a road map

We’ve made lots of blue tape roads all over our floor, and I saw a super cool idea over on Quirky Momma, and knew I wanted to make it.

Besides it made a great distraction for the boys who didn’t have a friend over while Princess did.

And while I had great plans of multi-level ones on our stairs, my boys wanted flat folders they could fold up and carry around.
But, Quirky Momma really has a much cooler one, so you should go check it out.

I’m clearing through some drafts, and saw this one.  It’s definitely an instance where I had grand plans and the boys just weren’t inspired by the craft.  Do you ever have crafts or activities like that?  “The best laid plans” and all that?

Bible Alive: Creation!

If this seems like a familiar topic it’s because I’ve taught it a couple of times before.  First because we did My Father’s World, and then because of Mystery of History.  This time it’s because we’re starting a 2 year trek through the Bible with our Sunday School class and my kids get to be the guinea pigs for activities.



For whatever reason I decided it’d be a brilliant idea to make a game of “Sort the days of Creation bean bag” toss.


So, I sat there and ironed on about 90 transfers onto squares and made insanely large numbers of bean bags.

Materials for book: creation printables, jello, index cards

Materials for bean bags: creation printables, fabric, iron on transfers, stuffing of some sort


Then I took seven index cards and had the kids make a cheat sheet about the days of creation.  I printed off smaller version of the same pictures and made jello stickers (my counter and tables were covered in these sheets for days as they dried).


They happily licked their way through the days of creation, and finally drew a picture of “God taking a nap.”


And there’s their books to help them play the game.


And there we played the game.  There were 3 different colors of bean bags, and I just so happen to have 3 kids.  Coincidence?  I think not…….

Decorating a doll house

Princess got a gorgeous doll house built by her Granddad when she was two.  She played with it a little bit earlier, but she’s really starting to get into it now.  She’s also putting stickers on it.  So, I’m trying to turn her creative bent in a constructive non-destructive way.


To forestall the complete stickering of the dollhouse I offered to help decorate one room.

We had to ride for a long time to get the supplies.  A very long time.


And then we got to work “making it pretty.”  First we cut some pink flannel for a carpet.  Princess insisted it needed to be taped down, so it is well and thoroughly taped.  Then we got some very fuzzy pink fabric (not sure what it is, maybe  fleece) and cut it into small blankets and pillows.


Mac checked out our work and declared we needed something on the walls, and some knick knacks.  So we took another long ride and picked up some scrapbooking paper and some flower buttons to strew about the room.

And finally after hours of work it was done:

There are extra blankets and pillows for all of the visiting dolls.  The pet dragon has a lovely pink pillow for his bed.  Now, I’m just wondering how long before the boys demand I first build something like this for their  rooms, and then how long before it needs to be “decorated.”


And finally after all that hard work we were tuckered out, and took a nap.  Oh wait, that only happened in my dreams.

learning laboratory at mama smiles

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:


Last Thursday was Laura Numeroff’s birthday, and I thought it’d be fun to read her seminal book: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  I did a quick Google search and found a story sequencing activity to use with the kids.


And then I saw a post over at ABC and 123 that reminded me of an activity they’d done over at Superheroes and Princesses, so I went there only to be reminded that she was given the idea from a post over at Almost Unschoolers.  Wow, what a chain of links…….  each one leads to more great ideas.


jello stickers

So, I printed out the sequencing activity I found, and while the kids were making their own cards to make into stickers I very quickly painted the back and waited for them to dry.


Amusingly enough only Princess was willing to try and make stickers.   The boys outright refused.


jello stickers


Then while I read the story they quite happily licked their stickers and put them on in order.


There was a bit of grumbling from the boys at first, but eventually they got into it as well.


If You Give a Mouse a CookieIf You Give a mouse a cookieif you give a mouse a cookie


As you can see eventually they all thought it was a fun project.  Even if they had to be convinced of it……


The boys now have a whole list of flavors they want to try.

I already have a whole slew of books to try this with in mind…….  So much fun to try!

Maryland: Billie Holiday

I found a few famous people who were from Maryland, and being a Jazz fan I decided to spotlight Billie Holiday.  I wanted to do something for Jim Henson as well, but I’m still brainstorming that one.



Tiny’s Hat is a super cute story about Billie Holiday as a girl and how much she loves her Daddy, but he goes away.  It’s rather sad and bitter sweet, but ends on a happy note.


I loved the chalk illustrations on this book and thought it’d be fun to let the kids try drawing with chalk.


003SUPPLIES: chalk (I found a box at Michael’s for a dollar), black construction paper


The kids happily experimented with drawing in chalk, for a while, and I left them with the paper and chalk and took turns having the kids read to me.


I returned to discover they’d left my planned project and started their own



I don’t have a picture of Princess’ bat, using black construction paper, a plastic lid, and 10 pounds of blue tape, but it was impressive.


And now I’m going to actually remember to hit publish!

Shibley Smiles

Maryland: Baltimore fires

As I go further and further into my state studies I find better and better books.  No really, for Delaware I found like 3…….  Maryland, 15.  Okay a lot of them were about the Star Spangled Banner, but still. This is a great book about a horse that helped save Baltimore from the great fire that enveloped it at the turn of the century (1900), and how the firefighters worked for hours to save the city.

 Well, since it seems determined to not show the text with this picture, I guess I’ll write it again…..  Growl.  So, they happily colored, cut, glued their way through a happy recreation of the story using a scanned picture of Goliath.  Sigh, imagine a much more pithy set of instructions, but I don’t want to retype it for the millioneth time…….
After reading the book we made a pop-up scene from the book using a scan of the horse and some cardstock.  The kids happily colored their background, cut and glued to their hearts content.


My boys found the idea that soldiers and firemen from all over came down to stop the buildings absolutely fascinating, so they drew in the soldiers who came down to help.

All in all, I highly recommend the book.  As you can see from the scanned pictures the book has gorgeous illustrations, and the story is very touching.  And, of course the horse survives.  An animal story is just no good if the animal dies.

And now, our geography co-op is officially on break as 1/3 of the families is now in Latvia.  I’m eagerly looking forward to their getting back.  Not just because they’re good friends, but also because they’re going to teach us all about Latvia!

stART: We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt

Thus starts the long line of cool Halloween activities I’m thinking about doing.




We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt is written in the style of “Going on a Bear Hunt,” but what I like about this one, is the twist at the end, did it really happen or was it their imagination?


Way too cute for words.


My boys have been after me forever to let them paint a “Big painting Mommy, one that takes up the whole room.”  Well, we’d finally bought a new roll of paper for their easels, and it wasn’t installed yet, so we did just that.


Supplies:  butcher paper, art paper or something else big; markers, paint.




First, to get them thinking about their pictures before they started in painting I had them sketch out a little bit of what they wanted.


They decided they wanted a haunted house, a ghost, and a few other things.  Oh, and a road.





Then they started painting.




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And painting.

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And painting.


And, I hung their masterpiece up on the wall.  You wouldn’t believe how proud they were.  This also handily hides the marks from years of kids running their hands across the wall, right at that height.

My plan is to add some further creations to this.




This is probably my favorite part.  Here’s Batman’s description, “This is a haunted house, that’s the ghosts looking out the windows.  The goblins put legs on it, and a head so it looks like a beetle.  Those are the antenna.”  Then he gestured to show me them.  I have no idea where he learned about goblins, but it amused me.



Of course Iron Man has to be on hand to protect the trick-or-treaters from any potential danger.




And his best friend Blue Arrow is also there to help out.  I think Blue Arrow also has a gun right here.  Maybe.



For more great ideas on books head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures.

North Carolina and airplanes…..


So, since North Carolina is the state of flight, we tried out paper airplanes, I went to paper airplane design  to find all of our different ideas and then we had fun…….


Only, it didn’t quite go as planned.  I carefully chose planes they said would fly very far.  I had them all makes guesses, and then here’s what happened with our planes.





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In case you can’t tell, the picture on the left is my plane up on the roof.  As far as I know it’s still there.  The kids planes all went straight down.  You can kind of see one in the bushes.

004Batman checking out what happened.  This was not the amazing experiment I was hoping for.  Undaunted we tried again, this time not from our balcony, which I was so sure would give that extra UMPH to the experiment, and make me the SUPER COOL MOM who let her kids throw paper airplanes off the balcony.


So, we tried again from the front porch.  Again, the planes didn’t go so far, like maybe to the end of that little walkway, and all three of the different styles went about the same distance.  Which is almost nowhere.



And here’s the science behind it.   Really, this didn’t go as well as I was hoping for.  I told Jeff when he left for work that the kids were going to be talking about it when he came home from work.  We went to lunch with him and they barely remembered doing it.  With a little prodding they told him about it, instead they told him all about how they drew and that they got to paint, and who knows what else, but airplanes, not a whit.


Oh well, maybe with our study of Asia and China we’ll blow something up next week, that’ll be interesting, right?  They’ll remember it enough to talk about it to Jeff that night…..  That’s my theory.  I mean if the weather had cooperated we could have flown kites and compared those to our planes.


Sigh, hopefully soon we’ll be off this unsuccessful science streak it feels like we’re in.  So, I know you’ve told me before how your experiments didn’t go well either, but this one really felt disappointing.  We didn’t even get to recover by eating ice cream.

So link up, encourage me with your successes or entertaining stories.  And then after you’ve linked up go over and give yourself another entry for my CSN giveaway