Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homemade Play Dough

My sister-in-law, Sharlee, in her comment in the last post mentioned making play dough for her son. Isn't play dough the greatest invention for kids? My son sure loves it, especially as of late. His imagination goes wild, and sometimes I spy on him while he's playing and laugh to myself at his make believe. The things he says are so funny, and sometimes his snakes he makes have names. Like, one day he named one after his cousin, Tevya. So cute! I love it when I see him use his imagination, and I think that's when kids learn the most.

Homemade play dough is sooooo much better than store bought. It's super easy to make, hardly costs a thing, makes a lot, and lasts for along time (provided your son puts it away when he's done! I've gotten mad at him enough times now that he's much better about it). So, just in case there are any of you who have never made your own play dough, I'm providing a recipe. It's a really good one (granted, it's the only I've tried).

2 1/2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup salt (I discovered the hard way what happens if you forget the salt!)
1 Tablespoon alum or cream of tartar (I have no clue what alum is)
2 cups boiling water
Food coloring

Stir ingredients until mixed. Add food coloring (I add a lot because I like the color to be vibrant) and mix with your hands (It gets pretty hot. You can use gloves or tough it out- your hands get used to it). Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container and it will last a long time.

Happy play dough making and sculpting!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Being More Spontaneous

One of my goals is to be more spontaneous with my kids. By that I mean that I want to be more willing to put down whatever it is I'm doing and sit down and play with my kids if they ask me to or even if they don't ask me to. I am convinced more and more that one of the best ways to teach your kids is to simply play with them. There are always teaching opportunities in play time, but the most important lesson kids learn is that they are loved. I see that in N all the time. On days when I'm more concerned about all the things I need to get done, he's more grumpy and less inclined to do things I ask him to do. But on days when I take time to give him my time, it's the complete opposite.

It's hard sometimes to set aside the many tasks ahead of me so that I can play with my kids. But the second I do I immediately feel the blessings for doing so. I recently learned a poem that has often come to my mind and reminded me of what's really important in life. Here it is:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow,
For babies grow up, I've learned, to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Here Come the 1, 2, 3s

We have a new favorite thing at our house. I didn't have any fun educational kids music, so I got on Amazon and did some browsing. I found a CD made by They Might Be Giants called "Here Come the 1, 2, 3s." It got great reviews by everyone. I like the band, so I thought I'd give it a try. Plus, it was a good deal because it came with a DVD too.

First, we tried out the CD on a long drive. It was an immediate hit for me because the songs have a fun beat and the words are clever and funny (kind of random but that's how that band tends to be).

Then, we tried out the DVD, and it was an even bigger hit with all of us! It's just plain fun, and some of the songs are down right hilarious. My son really likes it. In fact, a couple days ago I was having singing time with him and he requested we sing the "Zero Song." And, after watching the movie and hearing the songs only a handful of times, my son is already better at his numbers. I highly recommend this CD/DVD. They also have one that's called "Here Come the ABCs," which I'm sure is equally great.

For those of you that watch the Disney Channel (we're kind of in the dark ages- we only use TV for movies) you might already know about these songs. I think that's where they originate from. At any rate, they're really fun and a good educational resource.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Teaching Kids to Love Music

Growing up, my parents listened to nothing else but classical music. My dad's favorites are Rachmaninoff and Debussy. I can remember dancing around the room like a ballerina while my dad listened to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. From my infancy, I was exposed to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Copland, etc. My parents never pushed it on me. They didn't force me to sit and listen. They just had it on at home or in the car while we went about our daily activities. By doing that simple thing, I grew to love that music as much or more than they did.

So, I decided I would do the same in my home. I don't play music constantly (sometimes silence is nice too), but now and then, I'll put on a classical CD. Not only am I exposing them to good music, but it also helps our home feel more peaceful. The other day we were driving around, and I put in a CD of Strauss Waltzes. Pretty soon my 4 year old started talking about a movie, and I realized he was talking about the Baby Neptune movie by Baby Einstein where the duck dances in the water to the music of Beautiful Danube. He also made other connections with other songs on the CD. I thought that was interesting that he would be able to recognize the music that quickly. That tells me that kids listen better than we think they do, and they learn quicker than we think too.

I don't have that big of a classical collection. So, I decided that every month I'd buy a new CD. I went on Amazon and found some CDs by some of the greats and put them on wish list. If you'd like to start building your collection but you don't know where to start, here are some of my favorites: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Copland, Tchaikovsky. You could start by getting a compilation CD with the artist's greatest works. Hope this helps!

If you have anything to add please share in the comments!

High Hopes

I'm so excited for this new little project of mine! I hope I'm not the only who will enjoy it. I hope it will be useful to at least one other person.