I don't know about you but I have a VERY hard time finding something that my kids will eat at home other than plain spaghetti noodles. I don't really know how this happened to me. As babies I made my own baby food and always made sure they had balanced meal options but now, they won't even eat macaroni and cheese! Every time I make them a meal I feel like a horrible mom because I either branch out with something new that they won't eat or I serve them the same meal of plain noodles some fruit and a yogurt over and over again! So, I decided to brainstorm and utilize pinterest to get some inspiration. I've come up with a quick reference guide that I plan on taping inside my pantry door. This way, when I go to prepare them something I can mix it up a bit while keeping within their VERY limited range of acceptable options. Hopefully it will help all of us get through the daily horror that is dinner time!
Due to all sorts of things including back to school, moving to a new home, my husband dislocating his shoulder and more, this is the final week of Mommy Camp for this summer! I prepared activities and planned on "visiting" China, India, South Africa and Australia but, things don't always go as planned. So, I will try to get to those countries at different points throughout the year when we find time. So, without further ado I present Russia!
I didn't really set up a dramatic play area for Russia this week because I couldn't think of anything but, I created a mural for decoration and grabbed both of their winter coats, an old Russian style fur hat, a set of Russian nesting dolls, fake currency and the books for the week. I also cut out some (pretty pitiful looking) snowflakes and stuck them on the wall. The mural turned out to be pretty neat looking and the kids had fun helping me color it.
Before we "flew" to Russia, we looked at our map and discussed where it was and their weather. Then we did our normal security check and airplane trip dramatic play.
Once we "arrived" we started off by learning about Fabergé eggs and reading a book called "Rechenka's Eggs". Then we made our own versions using egg shaped paper, glue and plastic gems. Both kids really enjoyed this craft and spent a good thirty minutes or more busily glueing their gems. Afterwards we learned about the Russian dance Kalinka and watched a video.
For lunch, I cooked pierogi which are one of my all-time favorite foods. But, I cheated and used frozen ones that I sautéed with some butter and herbs. I served it with a mixed greens salad and some pear. Lillian loved them and was a big fan. Arthur refused to even give it a try but, at least one of them liked it! For dessert I made Russian orange cream and it was sooooo good and super simple. You can get the recipe here in my original summer mommy camp post.
Our next activity was learning about the Russian artist Kandinsky and creating our own versions of his art. However, neither kid was super into it and the projects never reached completion. You win some, you lose some. I think with all of our crazy things going on they were preoccupied. We read "The Noisy Paintbox" to go along with the Kandinsky lesson because he suffered from synesthesia. It's a great book and the kids really enjoyed it.
After the failed Kandinsky projects we learned about dymkovo toys and tried to create our own. I found a tutorial in Russian and we tried our best but they didn't really whistle like they were supposed to. However, they kids had fun making them using air dry clay and paint.
For dinner one of the nights I made borscht and piroshki. Borscht is a beet and vegetable soup and piroshki are basically meat buns. They were both really good and I even made the dough for the meat buns from scratch! The kids wanted absolutely nothing to do with it but Derek and I really enjoyed it.
We ended the week with chocolate filled Russian pancakes. They weren't my favorite recipe for pancakes because they used ricotta cheese and were a bit wet and dense. The kids didn't like them either.
After a somewhat disappointing breakfast we talked about Russian nesting dolls and made our own paper version as well as reading the book, We also talked about the famous Russian ballet, watched a video for a mini dance lesson and read the book "When Stravinsky met Nijinsky"
We had a great final week of Mommy Camp! Check back soon to see the weeks we didn't have time for as well as all sorts of other crazy things that I decide to get into like planning my daughter's 6th birthday. She wants a mermaid theme! Oh and here are my silly photoshopped pics of us in Russia!
Wow! I've been ridiculously busy with all sorts of things that have kept me from posting for a bit. We listed our home for sale and sold it within two weeks! We then had to find ourselves a new home that met the needs of our growing family. We've been dealing with all of the technicalities involved with selling and buying homes along with packing and planning. Oh, and my husband dislocated his shoulder being a big kid with our son. He decided to head down a tube slide on his belly and the end result was a hefty bill, pain meds and three doctors who worked for forty-five minutes to put everything back where it belongs. So now, we're quite a pair with him having only one functional arm and me being almost 7 months pregnant. But, we've hired a moving company and are actually moving in today!
Between all of those things going on, I did manage to complete two weeks of Mommy Camp but have unfortunately fallen behind my goal and will probably not make it to the last few countries for a bit. But, in the rest of this post you can find out about all of the fun we had learning about The U.K.!
We kicked off the U.K. on the week of the 4th of July which I thought fit nicely in regards to gaining our independence. After a very fun evening with friends, fireworks and ribs, we began our week with a trip in the chunnel, the underground and water tunnel connecting France to Great Britain. To simulate the Chunnel, I covered our dining table with a blanket and had them board the Chunnel and take a ride under the water. Being clever kids they even devised a way to store their luggage in the "overhead compartment" using the clamps for extending the leaf of the table. We also watched a bit of the show Modern Marvels about the building of the chunnel and a few videos of people riding it.
Upon arrival, the kids had a blast playing in a diy cardboard castle that I managed to whip up in only 15 minutes! I was really pleased with the result and am excited to share it with you!
To create the diy cardboard castle all you need is a large box (I purchased a new one from home depot for about $2.), some scissors and/or an exacto knife, some silver duct tape and large popsicle sticks. To begin, I cut one fold of the box all the way down so that it was no longer a box but instead, a large flat piece of cardboard. Then, I cut about four inch sections down from the top to the first fold all the way across and folded down every other one to denote the stone structure found at the top of many castles. I used hot glue (you could just use duct tape) to secure the folded flaps. Then I drew an arch shape across the center part of my cardboard and cut it out to create the entrance. Afterwards I realized that cutting the entrance compromised the stability and had to reinforce sections with popsicle sticks to make it sturdy enough to stand on its' own. I then took the silver duct tape and taped the sticky sides of two pieces together to create a metallic looking hanging gate at the arch entrance. That's it! It stands on its own, folds flat and the kids love it! I placed it near a corner to create a closed feel and added some prince/princess dramatic play items, table and chairs and tea set to complete the play area. Later that day I even made cucumber sandwiches and we had afternoon tea inside the castle. It was pretty awesome and definitely kept both kids busy for a while.
Because the U.K. is comprised of multiple, distinct places like Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain, we focused on a different one each day. We started with Great Britain by discussing the role of a king and queen and watching a short video about visiting London and read the book "Katie in London". We also listened to The Beatles for a while and I did a small reading activity using the lyrics from the classic song, "Here Comes the Sun" to analyze and find sight words.We also talked about double decker buses and completed a bus craft. After that we learned about Big Ben by watching this great video and drawing a picture. We ended the day with some fish and chips!
After learning about Great Britain we journeyed to Scotland by watching this video and reading about castles in the book "Castle Life". After reading about and looking at castles, we drew our own using black construction paper and white crayon. Then we listened to some bagpipe music and created our own bagpipes using a ziplock bag, tape and party blowers. To make them you cut the tip off of each end of the bag, insert one party blower in each corner (one blower in and one blower out) and taped them to seal it. These were a huge hit but didn't stand the test of time and were quickly destroyed.
After the bagpipes we learned about the legend of the loch ness monster and watched this cute video after reading the book "Nessie the Loch Ness Monster". Then we created our own Nessie's with this free printable. For dinner I made shepard's pie. The kids wouldn't touch it but my husband and I were both pretty pleased.
We ended the week discussing Ireland. (I had plans for Wales but there wasn't much and the kids were not interested in the few activities I had so, fail.) We read an Irish folk tale called "Finn Maccoul and His Fearless Wife" and I made potato pancakes for breakfast. As usual, the kids had zero interest in eating them but my husband and I thought they were delish. After breakfast we watched some Irish dancing and a tutorial on a few basic steps. Then we made Irish harps out of cardboard, duct tape, and stretchy string. (It called for rubber bands which I thought I had. I was wrong and had to come up with a substitution.)
It was a fun week and I hope you found something inspirational to do with your kiddos!
Our trip to France was full of art projects and fun! We learned about three major French artists, ate a little French fare, attempted a few ballet moves and had fun with our dramatic play bakery!
As with each week of MC Around the World, first we had to "travel" to our focus country. Last week we ended our travels in Rome, Italy so, we looked at the map and discussed how we would travel from Rome to Paris. We decided to fly and then looked at the weather in Paris to make sure we had the right clothes. Then we went through airport security and boarded our plane. Upon arrival they each handed their passports over for checking and stamping. Once we arrived we took a quick tour of the city by watching this video and then visited the main attraction, The Eiffel Tower. We learned about it by watching this video and then we did some tape resist painting art to create our own mini Eiffel Towers.
After the long flight and fun at the tower, we needed a break and stopped for a baked treat at a French café. The kids played with this forever and loved taking my order using free printables from here, here and here that I laminated. We used things we already had from the play kitchen and I pulled out the diy doctor's window that I made last summer to be transformed into the bakery storefront. To add to the fun we made some play dough using this quick recipe (and used some store bought I had on hand) and created custom play dough cupcakes complete with their own cupcake liners!
I had a hard time finding French food that I thought the kids would even attempt to try. So, I ended up making crepes for breakfast one day. We actually make them quite often so my kids are not strangers to them. Lilly enjoys peanut butter on hers and Arthur likes jelly/jam like me. The only other French item that was made was for breakfast over the weekend. My husband made Croque Madam which is kind of like a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich with a super yummy mustard based cream sauce and it was fantastic. The kids outright refused and had cinnamon toast crunch instead.
Even though they may have had limited exposure to French cuisine, they learned a lot about art! We discussed the Impressionist art movement which began in France and learned a little about a few major players including Van Gogh and Degas. To begin, we read a book about each artist for Van Gogh we read "The Starry Night" which was a made up story but gave some great info about the artist, his style and his art. For Degas we read "Chasing Degas" and I really enjoyed this one! It followed a ballerina in search of Degas throughout the city of Paris where she ran into many other famous Impressionists. We also read "Katie Meets the Impressionists" which gave more great info using a fictional tale.
In addition to reading about the artists, we also watched a few videos including more "Art with Mati and Dada" about both Degas and Van Gogh. We also watched this cute video of a 5 year old teaching how to paint like Van Gogh. Lilly was really into it and then created her own version of "The Starry Night". I was super impressed. For more Degas knowledge we watched this short video and also had a mini ballet lesson using this video to get us in the ballerina spirit before learning how to draw our own ballerinas.
In addition to the focus on learning about art, we focused a little on the French language by reading an adorable book called "Everybody Bonjours" and watching several videos that taught a few key French phrases like hello, thank you, please and numbers as well as some classic French songs like "Alouette" and "Frére Jacques".
As always, here are my horrible but fun photo shopped pics of our trip!
We had fun and are ready to visit the U.K. next week! See you soon!
We had a blast on our "trip" to Italy! We had fun with a dramatic play pizza shop, learned about opera, drew like Michelangelo and made some yummy Italian food!
Just like the previous weeks, we had to get to Italy first! This week we discussed train travel and I used a train tent that we already had as our transportation. They were both issued train tickets (you can find your own printable train tickets here), grabbed their suitcases and boarded the train! We also looked at the map and discussed how far away Barcelona, Spain and Venice, Italy are and why we decided to take the train instead of fly.
Once we "arrived" in Italy we started with a dramatic play pizza kitchen. I created a pizza oven and pizza using a cardboard box, brown craft paper, paint, a sponge, felt and an electric tea light. To make the oven I folded one side of the box in on itself and cut out the bottom. Then I wrapped it in brown paper and used a sponge and red paint to make faux bricks. For the fire element, I used a piece of the box that I cut out and drew a flame shape and painted it. Then I hot-glued it to a longer strip of cardboard and glued it to the inside on the bottom of the box. Then I placed an electric tea light behind the flame. I think the effect was really great and it only took about 15 minutes to make!
For the pizza I took various pieces and colors of felt and cut out shapes to look like different toppings, crust and sauce. I used tan cut into a circle to create the crust and red cut into a circle for the sauce. The toppings I made matched the order form that I found here for free! For the pineapple I cut yellow felt into semi triangles and added a few lines to make it look segmented. For the purple onion I cut crescent shapes out of purple felt. For pepperoni I cut smaller circles out of red and did the same for ham but used pink. I used black circles without centers for black olives, pink with red lines cut into rectangles for bacon and green squiggle circle shapes without centers for green bell pepper. For the cheese I used cream colored yarn cut into 3 inch pieces. I also made spaghetti and sauce using cream yarn for noodles and red for sauce. I grabbed a few containers and quickly drew labels for the lids to store each topping. Then collected a few plates, bowls, utensils, aprons and a chef's hat from the play kitchen, made a quick sign stating "Arthur and Lillian's Pizza Joint" out of craft paper and, Voila! Dramatic play pizza kitchen! This was a major hit! They played for hours off and on throughout the week and the best part is that now it is a permanent addition to their current play kitchen so, they'll get to continue enjoying it!
For breakfast one day I made zepoli which are kind of like donuts but actually a little more nutritious as they contain ricotta cheese. It may not seem like a big deal to you but, I actually fried something! I usually avoid it like the plague. However, I decided these sounded so yummy that I would go for it. I thought they were fantastic and actually easy but the kids weren't as enthusiastic. I think they're crazy. Lillian ate one and Arthur just licked the powdered sugar off before declaring they were "ucky". Ugh! Seriously?! Kids! Whatever, more for me! (I actually had a playdate with a friend and let her try them. She thought they were awesome too. So, I'm not crazy, just my kids.) You can find the recipe in the MC recipe book here.
To finish out the day we discussed the city of Venice by watching a this video, making a gondola craft using this free printable and reading the book "Olivia Goes to Venice" and "This is Venice". Both were big hits and were read multiple times throughout the week.
After learning about Venice, we discussed the city of Pisa and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We watched this video and then we made a craft version for ourselves using an empty toilet paper roll, white paint, paper, black marker and green crayon. Surprisingly, they really enjoyed this simple craft and were very proud of their creations. To make them lean, I cut an small portion from the bottom of the roll at an angle and taped it to the paper.
For lunch we made our own pizza. It was pretty simple using pre-made pillsbury pizza crust, a jar of pizza sauce, fresh and shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and I added basil from our garden and black olives to my portion. Yum!
Our next focus was on opera since it's a pretty big deal in Italy. We watched quite a few videos on youtube to get a good idea of what it is including the following: "What is Opera", "Sesame Street: People in Your Neighborhood Opera Singer", "Sesame Street: Marilyn Sings C is for Cookie"and "Zoom: A Soup Opera" Once we had a good idea of what opera was, we watched "Mozart's Magic Flute: An animated plot summary" to learn about a popular opera story line and then watched these segments from a performance of that opera: "Metropolitan Opera: The Magic Flute" and "Erika Miklosa: Queen of the Night". I actually thought I had really worn out the opera thing and that they were both totally over it but, Lilly said she would like to watch a whole opera in real life and at various points throughout the day I caught her singing about her actions in an operatic style. Including a point when she sang, "Arthur has a poopy!" in a very dramatic, Queen of the Night manner. It was pretty hilarious and let me know that she got something out of the whole lesson.
After learning about opera we discussed Michelangelo and watched this video about him. Then we practiced creating art like he did when he painted the Sistine Chapel after looking at pictures of the ceiling located there. I taped paper to the underside of our piano bench and gave them a bucket of crayons. At first they weren't really into it but in the end they each created multiple masterpieces and spent about 30 minutes or more drawing. I call that a win!
We finished the week by creating laurel crowns using paper plates, glue and green construction paper. I prepped the plates by cutting the center out and cut out leaf shapes from the green paper. We discussed how in ancient Italy, they were often given to scholars upon completion of schooling and, since we finished learning about Italy they got to wear them! I was super impressed with Arthur and his focus on this craft. He spent at least 30 minutes and actually completed the crown. He did insist on looking fabulous with Lillian's sun hat while working which made it even more adorable. It even looked pretty ok for a two year old! I was, however, unable to capture a good photo as the apple sauce was more important at the time. Lilly was into though.
We wrapped up the week by making ravioli from scratch. I purchased this handy ravioli press, we made the dough and mixed up the filling and boom! Ravioli! We made a bacon, basil, cream sauce to go with them and boy was it delicious! You can get the recipe from the MC Recipe book here. I also made the Roman Apple Cake recipe found in the book. It was ok, but not my favorite. It may fave been because I ran out of flour and had to use coconut flour instead.
Finally, here are my horrible photo shopped pics from our "trip" to Italy. So silly!
It was a fun week and I'm ready for our next country, France! See you soon!
Week two of Mommy Camp focused on a country close to my heart, Spain! As a Spanish teacher and past visitor to the beautiful country, I was pretty excited to share a little of it's culture and color with my kids. We learned about bullfighting and flamenco. Got crafty with some culture based projects. Made some delicious food and got inspired by Picasso, Miró and Gaudí.
Before we could experience Spain we had to "fly" there first! We got the dramatic play airport items and travel stuff. The kids were issued new tickets from Brazil to Spain (Brazil was last week) and took a plane ride. It was just as fun this week as the first when we travelled to Brazil. You can see how I created all of the dramatic play airport items in this post.
Once we "landed" the kids were able to enter the area I set up to represent Spain. I created a mural of sorts using brown butcher paper and oil pastels. On their table I placed the books for the week, two Spanish fans, some fake euros and castanets. We also looked at the map to discuss where we travelled and the weather there versus the weather where we live. Then we watched this video about Madrid.
Once we had "landed" it was time for breakfast. We made magdalenas which are a very eggy lemon muffin that is popular in Barcelona. You can find the recipe in my original MC post that includes ALL of the recipes! (I had planned to make something different and save these for later when we focused on Barcelona but these were quick and we were hungry!) After eating we learned about Miró and his art, watched this video and created Miró inspired art by looking at google images.
After all of that fun we learned a little about bull fighting by reading the book "The Story of Ferdinand" and then watching the cartoon. We discussed how the practice of bull fighting is not nice even though it is a popular element in Spanish culture. Then we created a toilet paper tube bull using a free printable from crayola. We also watched a video of men in Spain doing the Corrida or bull fighting dance. Before nap we also had a blast playing a popular hand clapping game called "Mariposa" we literally spent at least 40 minutes doing this over and over again. They loved it!
Once we finished learning about bull fighting, we focused on flamenco. We started out by reading the book "Lola's Fandango". We also listened to it using the CD that came with the book. Then we played with some flamenco dancer finger puppets that I made, colored a worksheet, made castanets and Spanish fans and even attempted to learn a few flamenco steps using this video.
We ended the day with breakfast for dinner by making Spanish tortilla and churro waffles. Both recipes can be found at my original MC post. Let me say, those churro waffles were Ah-May-Zing! Lilly helped with making them and everyone had seconds!
Our final focus was on famous artists from Spain. First we discussed Picasso and looked at some of his art. Then we created our own Picasso inspired cubist portrait paper bag costumes inspired by this website. They literally spent at least 20 minutes walking around with paper bags on their heads and giggling whenever they ran into anything. It was hilarious! We also had a Spanish inspired lunch of bocadillos which is just a fun way of saying sandwiches. We ended our Spain week by learning about Antoní Gaudí. We watched this fantastic video for kids about him and then worked on our own mosaic animals. Lilian, however, got a bit bored with the detail required to complete it and ended up coloring a large portion of her unicorn yellow. She is only 5 so coloring any portion with "tiles" was good with me. Arthur wanted nothing to do with it and was promptly put down for a nap after writhing in the floor in protest.
And here are my horrible photoshopped pics of our trip!
We had a great time on our "visit" to Spain! Next week we're off to Italy! There'll be a dramatic play italian restaurant, lessons about the opera and so much more! I can't wait!
In my last MC post I detailed all of the fun we had on our first day "visiting" Brazil. In this post, I'll let you know about all of the other fun activities, crafts and craziness that we completed including our very own Carnaval celebration, more yummy treat tasting and learning about the rainforest!
We started off by learning about the rainforest and discussing it's four layers. We watched this video about the layers and then we made a diagram demonstrating them. We also learned about some of the animals found in the rainforest like the morpho butterfly which is found in both Central and South America, the toucan and snakes and watched this video. After that we made some pretty adorable paper plate butterfly collages with tissue paper, learned how to draw a toucan and made a spiral snake craft that was both easy and cool! We also learned about how chocolate is made and where it comes from by watching this video before making a chocolaty snack called brigadieros (chocolate fudge balls). Then we read a few books including "The Umbrella" and "The Great Kapok Tree". After reading "The Great Kapok Tree" we did a little learning comprehension using a free worksheet and game. We rounded it all out with a fun jungle dance video!
Let's talk about the fun we had with food! We made all sorts of Brazilian deliciousness including Brazilian lemonade, empanadas, Abacaxi com Hortela (pineapple mint juice), Macarronda com Requeijao (macaroni and cheese), brigadiers (chocolate fudge balls), Páo de Queijo (cheesy bread) and brazilian ham and cheese rolls. All of the recipes can be found in my first post about this summer's mommy camp here.
After learning about the rainforest, we learned about the city of Rio de Janeiro. We watched a video about the city and then talked about where it was located. After that we learned about Carnaval! We watched this video of carnaval dancers, tried to learn the Samba with this video and then made our own Carnaval themed headdresses, arm/leg bands and tambourines! Finally, we held our own Carnaval parade. They both had a ton of fun
We ended by discussing a the popular artist, Romero Britto, from Brazil. We watched a video about his work and then looked at some of his art using google images. Then, Lilly created her own Britto inspired art with a sharpie and markers.
As a close to our first week of MC, we filled out our travel journal. I created the journal and you can download it here. It was a great way to reflect on what we learned as well as get in a little reading and writing practice.
Just for fun, I did some really quick and not super impressive but very fun photoshopping to make us look like we actually visited Brazil. Goofy, I know. I did it all on my phone using the free adobe photoshop app.
It was a great start to our Mommy Camp for the summer and I can't wait until our next week when we travel to Spain!
We're all guilty of it, pinning till our fingers are blue and brains are numb with new and exciting ideas for our eventual free-time but, when that free-time comes we manage to find other things to do and those pins remain unattempted on our numerous cutely named boards. Well, I was inspired to actually complete one of these long forgotten pins today in preparation for a mini-trip to my Dad's house with both kids.
Usually when we stay with my Dad, Arthur sleeps in the pack-n-play and we create a hodgepodge of pillows, blankets and a foam mat for camping for Lillian. I always feel kinda bad because she's basically sleeping on hardwood floor and I don't think she sleeps as well or for as long when we're there. So, I was going to buy her a collapsible kid cot. But, I dilly dallied and didn't order one in time. So, Pinterest it was! I found this adorable project that even though it involved sewing I figured I could manage a few straight lines. (I was actually taught to sew by my German grandmother who used to work for the famous design houses in Germany. But, she was very particular and made me rip out every seam that was not perfect which was pretty often. So, I have a bit of a complex about my sewing ability. I'm also just not patient enough.)
So, I headed to Wal-Mart and purchased two sets of their cheap pillowcases for about $5 per set and grabbed three pillows for less than $3 a piece. When I got home I dragged my sewing machine from the dark depths of the garage and set it up. It actually took me longer to remember how to thread the bobbin and get the machine functional that it did to actually sew the cases together. Once I was ready, I pinned the cases together long wise and sewed two straight lines. Voila! Done! I decided to pull out my trusty silhouette machine and created a glittery custom iron-on complete with unicorns to make it extra special.
Hopefully she'll sleep better and if nothing else I know that I tried to make her more comfy and the mom guilt will abate. It was a super easy thing to create and I recommend it if you need or want a nap mat for your kid that doesn't cost a fortune.
We started our MC journey this summer by flying south to Brazil! You can see how I made all of the airplane dramatic play items in this post. Before our "trip" we learned about airplanes and read the book "The Noisy Airplane Ride". They showed me their plane tickets (I discuss how I made them here.) , went through airport security with their luggage (described here) and piloted the plane with this handy control panel. We even had an airplane themed treat! The flight there was fun but it was just beginning!
In preparation I created all of the dramatic play airplane stuff and you can read about it here. We also decorated our "suitcases". I had lots of different ideas for how we would create the suitcases but ended up buying two unpainted wooden boxes with hardware already attached from Hobby Lobby for about $6 each. I let Lillian choose her colors and we purchased fun, travel themed stickers for decorating. Then we painted them, let them dry and applied the stickers. I didn't realize how much of a hit these little boxes would be but, each kid carries them around all day. Arthur even wanted to sleep with his!
Once we landed, I stamped their passports (You can find the document for your own passport and stamps here.) and we discussed the journey by looking at a map. Then, we explored our new surroundings. I hung green streamers from the light fixture, added a plant, tropical themed stuffed animals and some green pillows on the floor, and hung a raffia door curtain with green streamers in the doorway. Then I placed safari hats, the books for the week about Brazil and binoculars on the table along with some fake Brazilian Reales, and the items from the Raiforest Toob. I also placed lizards around the room and placed Lilly's bug jar and plastic bugs on the table.
It was a pretty fun day and a great way to kick off our 2nd Annual Summer Mommy Camp. As always there were several things we didn't get to but, I'm sure I can work them in on a different day in the future. You can see my lesson plan including all of the things I didn't get to here. Have fun and thanks for visiting!
I always prep for each week of MC on the week leading up to it and/or the night before. It really depends on the amount of craziness I've decided to undertake as well as how tired I am after the craziness of each day. I kicked off MC today but, because we had friends over last night I didn't feel like doing anything once they left. So, I set it all up today during Arthur's nap. So, in the span of about two hours I created my pretend airplane, baggage check, plane control panel and transformed the dining room into a halfway Brazilian rainforest. Not too shabby! Below you can learn how I created the airplane dramatic play stuff and see the end result of it all!
To create the airplane I purchased 4 foam boards from the dollar store, utilized a sharpie and some clear packing tape. It was really easy and probably only took about 10 minutes! Plus, I designed it to be foldable! I plan on using it every week as the intro to each country by "flying" there and didn't want a gigantic airplane cut-out that had to be stored. So, with my design, you can simply fold it up and it takes up significantly less space.
First, I laid three of my foam boards on the table and sketched an airplane onto them using a pencil. Then I made sure I liked what I had and made any necessary corrections. Then, I traced over my pencil with a sharpie. After that, I spaced the panels about a centimeter apart and applied clear tape to each side, creating a hinge of sorts. I only placed tape in two places between each board so, I used eight small pieces of clear packing tape. I then made sure that you could actually fold it up.
Once I knew it folded like I had imagined, I used my fourth piece of foam board to sketch and cut out a wing and applied it to the rest of the plane using the same process with the clear packing tape as I did to hinge the three plane parts. An added bonus to the hinge effect is that it can also stand on it's own if you slightly bend the three sides! I'm sure you could go crazy with your airplane design and drawing wise but, I'm not going to. The kids actually loved it as is and I'm glad I didn't spend more time fussing over the details. Now just add a few chairs behind it and the super cool and easy control panel I detail below and you have yourself a pretty fantastic and cheap airplane!
Creating the airplane control panel was also pretty easy and basically free. I used a small box for the panel, cardboard and popsicle sticks for the steering wheel, puree/squeezie applesauce lids and pipe cleaners for the knobs and google eyes covered in silver ducttape for the buttons. I also added a few stickers for buttons and two mirrors from the dollar store (They came in one pack so, they were .50 each.) If you have cool looking tech stuff that can be sacrificed for the project you can make your panel even cooler with things like a calculator or light switch. I didn't want to buy anything extra but, my kids like it just fine.
I sketched a steering wheel onto a piece of cardboard and then cut it out using a rotary cutter. Afterwards, I spray painted it black along with the box I was using white. To make the steering wheel sturdy I added popsicle sticks to the back. Then, to make it able to rotate, I used a squeezie pouch top with a pipe cleaner woven through it. To make that work I simply wove a pipe cleaner through both sides and twisted it together. Then I pushed it through a hole in the box and put duct tape over it on the inside of the box to secure it. It works beautifully.
The buttons were made with googly eyes of varying sizes wrapped with silver duct tape and then hot glued to the box. It works nicely because they are pushable and make a unsound to boot!
To make the baggage check x-ray machine, I spray-painted a box black and then cut a portion out of each smaller side for the passage. Then I took silver duct tape and then taped two strips together creating a double sided silver strip. Then I cut each strip into two almost all the way and taped it into the inside of the box. Boom! Dramatic play security check-point. They really enjoyed this and ran their suitcases through several times each. To see how we made our suitcases you can check out my post about our first day of Mommy Camp! You can also read more about the activities and prep that we completed on day one of our Brazil week in the same post.
I hope you found my ideas helpful and inspiring. Until next time!
I'm sorry it's been awhile since my last post! I've been busily finishing up the school year with my Spanish classes and feverishly working on my Mommy Camp plans for this summer. I think I'm finally finished with all of my MC planning, printing, purchasing and laminating and am ready to share my super detailed plan with the world!
The plan is to "visit" ten different countries, dedicating one week to each. We will be learning about Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, The U.K., Russia, China, India, South Africa and Australia. Each week will include crafts, music, art and food from each country and we will "fly" or travel by "train" to each one using our imaginations, a few printables and some cleverly created crafts.
travel dramatic play
To begin, both of my kids will be given their own "passports" and tickets for the trip. I created the passports and you can download your own version by clicking the links beneath the photo above. I used this free site to generate the plane tickets. I created one ticket for each child that goes to each country we will visit and we will have fun with dramatic play and "boarding" the plane each week.
I plan on creating a baggage check area with an "x-ray" machine similar to this one, an airplane prop using foam board and my drawing skills and diy cardboard suitcases which I haven't quite figured out yet. I'll link to that once I've actually made those items.
So, the first day of each week will be dedicated to "flying" to the country, learning a bit of basic info, discussing geography and even focusing on airplanes and trains. There is at least one week where we will be "traveling" by train. For example, Paris to London on the chunnel. These weeks they will be given a train ticket and we will pretend to ride a train instead of the plane. They will also get a "passport stamp" each week (you can find my passport stamps in the passport file above).
While we are "in" The U.K. we will also "ride" a double-decker bus and they will be given a bus ticket. You can get your own by clicking on the above images!
I also created this nifty travel journal for my daughter to fill out (with my help) after we "visit" each country. It will give her a little more focus on reading and writing to keep her fresh and ready for Kindergarten this fall. Plus, it will create a really fantastic keep-sake of our adventures this summer. You can download your own Mommy Camp travel journal by clicking on the first image above!
Now that we've covered all of the fun introductory stuff for MC, let's get to the meat and potatoes of this whole crazy thing! The lesson plans! I've created a lesson page for each week that looks similar to the one above. Each page has links to the project, video or content that I plan on using. When I created my MC folder, I simply went through and clicked on each link (unless it was a video link) to make sure I had printed out any templates or directions that I might need to complete each project. All of the links are also pinned to my MC pinterest board for easy reference this summer. You can download my lesson plans by clicking the photo above!
You may notice the "food" column and all of the links to recipes for each country. I'm determined to get my picky kids to broaden their horizons this summer. Plain spaghetti noodles and pb&j are not going to be the only things that they eat! So, I've decided that we will learn about the food of each country and give it a try. I selected the least offensive items I could find to make it as kid-friendly as possible and, to make it easier for myself I went ahead and compiled all of the recipe links into a cookbook file! So, instead of having to go to the web every time I'm ready to get cookin', I can simply pull out my handy dandy cookbook arranged with each country in order! So much better! You can get your own copy of my cookbook and the cover art by clicking the photos above! Pretty awesome right?! You know...that's how I do.
Finally, after all of that planning and the massive amount of things I am planning on achieving, I decided to make a materials list for each week, a grocery shopping list for each week to cover all of the recipes and a photo reference sheet to remind me what the craft projects should look like. (This way I don't have to run to pinterest each time I read the craft project for the day but can't remember what it's supposed to be.) You can also download those files by clicking the pictures above!
You'll notice in the weekly materials list that I plan on creating a dramatic play area/scene for each country. They vary and some will include restaurant style dramatic play. I couldn't find any freebies that I liked for some of the restaurants so I created my own! You can download your own Indian restaurant and Chinese restaurant menus by clicking the photos above! The other dramatic play printables I used are linked in the lesson plan document and the things I plan on creating i.e. felt food, are also linked in the document.
So, there you have it! My summer Mommy Camp plans in full! I will be posting weekly about our amazing adventures and how I manage to do everything so stay tuned all summer and enjoy!
I always like to do a small gift for my children's teachers at the end of the year. This year my daughter helped pick out some soaps and lotions from Bath & Body Works and I created a cute tag to go with them. You can download the tags by clicking on the photo. I 100% forgot to snap a photo of the end result as I made them at the very last minute but, it was really cute. Trust me. Enjoy!
When roaming the isles of Home Depot, I found that you can buy sheets of chalkboard in the lumber section. This set my brain to work and I instantly thought it would be perfect for the backyard fence! We bought one sheet for about $10 and headed home. The sheet fit perfectly between the braces for the fence and we installed it with a few all-weather screws. Voila! In less than 5 minutes we had an outdoor chalkboard for the kids! Super easy, cheap and awesome!
Picking this blog back-up with renewed vigor inspired me to also begin writing again. When I was a kid I was always writing stories and it continued to college, where I wrote for the campus newspaper. Since then I've been busy with lesson planning, kids and life and haven't written much. So, I've submitted several articles to various sites and two have been accepted so far! One was just published on bluntMoms and the other has been published on The Good Mother Project. It is a very rewarding feeling to have had two articles accepted in one month and I hope the trend continues. If not, I'll be posting more articles here. Writing is very cathartic for me and whether they are published on bigger sites or not, I will still enjoy the process. You can check out my two articles titled: "Mean Girls: High School Isn't the End" and "Mother-in-Law: Not Always a Nemesis". Enjoy!
This past weekend my husband went on a camping trip with a bunch of friends and the kids stayed with their grandparents. This meant that I had an ENTIRE weekend all to myself. I can't remember the last time I was alone for that long and it was glorious! I was not only able to complete several projects that I've been dying to get to but, I also had plenty of time to veg out in front of the t.v., hang with a girlfriend and even hit the mall!
The first project I tackled, after cleaning up a bit, was to put labels on my son's closet drawers and my daughters play area storage. I've had them created for awhile but just hadn't had the time to cut and apply them. Now, it is easy to find and put away his clothes and easy to clean up her toys. Plus it looks adorable! I used my silhouette machine to create and cut them. I've included the cut files below!
I also used my silhouette cameo to create some decorative vinyl decals for my bathroom and vanity. I made "get naked" for my glass shower door and "be awesome" for my vanity mirror. In addition to creating the vinyl decals I upgraded my vanity light to make it easier to apply my makeup in the mornings. Before I was using a lamp that cast odd shadows. I'm pretty excited about how bright it is now except I can see all of my facial flaws so that's a bit depressing.
Sounds like enough right? Nope! I also made two pregnancy t-shirt decals and applied them AND created a decorative banner to place above Arthurs bed. I'm fixing his room up with a dinosaur theme so his knight themed mobile and king arthur wall decal had to go. I've also ordered him dinosaur bedding and hung two poster sized photographs of the amazingly fun images from the book "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A very messy adventure". So, it's still a work in progress until the bedding arrives and I can change the curtains. I'll post about it when it's all finished so, ignore his mismatched crib bedding for now.
My final projects were to do a little gardening. Now that the weather is nice we'll be spending most of our afternoons outside and I needed some color to freshen up the somewhat dreary backyard. I always enjoy planting herbs and chose sage, cilantro and basil. I also purchased some bright turquoise pots for only $1.50 at Home Depot that are self-watering to plant them in. I planted some bright red flowers (I can't remember their name.) in a pedestal pot for my front porch as well as Lilly's flower garden. And also planted a purple flower in her garden since it's her favorite color. Her garden already had mint, lemon balm and strawberries that came back from last year so it looks nice and lively now. Finally, I purchased a new door mat for our front porch to brighten the space. Our old one had become faded and drab.
It was so nice to have time alone. Of course I missed my husband and kids but, it was very cathartic to have only myself to answer to. Plus, finishing all of those projects will give me the ability to be more present with everyone since I don't have nearly as many things that I want to get done. Although, I'm sure I'll find some. I'm the kind of person who gets bored easily and is always looking for something fun and exciting to do or make. In fact, I didn't finish everything I wanted to get done. I still plan on painting a new piece of art for my staircase. My goal is to create something that looks like the picture below. I guess that will have to wait until next time! But, when I get around to it I'll share it with you!
Rachel is a mother of two, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.