Monday, October 29, 2012

in {her} shoes...Heather

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have you ever read a blog that just warms you up inside and puts that small smile on your face?  that was me the first time i visted the Little Moments blog.  Heather has a way of writing that just takes you in.  Some of my favorite posts are: Puddle Hunting, Legos are Meant to Be Broken, and Pretending to Read = Learning to Read.

Hello fellow Crayon Freckles readers!  I'm Heather and I write over at Little Moments.  I share topics on child development, activities, behavior, and everything in between.  Through snapshots of our life in a household with two boys, I've been inspired to share my passion for early childhood, and how little moments can have a lasting impact on children.  My boys have a bit of an age gap between them, Aidan will be five years old on Halloween, and Devin is almost seven months.  Age doesn't matter though because they are brothers and I love watching their growing bond.

To be in my shoes wouldn't require any shoes at this point in my life.  I live in central Florida and I go barefoot quite a bit.  Otherwise you can still see my toes in a pair of one of my many flip flops when I'm not running or biking outside...I like to keep my feet protected from the occasional fire ant!

The most challenging part of being the type of mom I am are the battles I have over the many versions of myself.
  • I'm a stay at home mom, but I still have the urge to go back to work and do the other thing I love.
  • I'm a mom with a husband in the military, but I don't want my husband's career to define who I am.
  • I'm a little bit of a free-range mom, but I still find myself restricting certain activities.  One example; I don't let Aidan go to the pond a few houses down during alligator mating season with the neighbor boys because I think one is less likely to show up during any other time of the year...I think I may be overreacting to this one a little.
  • I'm a breastfeeding mom, and I don't love every minute of it.
  • I'm a positive discipline mom, but despite how hard I work at using it I still struggle. 
  • I'm a mom who prefers simple open-ended materials when it comes to toys and art.  With all the technology being injected into toys I sometimes have a hard time letting my son have them. I hate hearing my son say, "what does it do?" if he's looking at a toy that has no buttons.  
  • I'm a get outside and play kind of mom, but there are days when we don't because we just don't feel like it, and then we go stir crazy.
The most rewarding part of being the types of mom I am, is realizing the moment when my hard work has paid off.
  • Being at home allows me to see the growth and accomplishments my boys make first hand, and I also feel less stressed about spending time with them.
  • Being part of a military family has great community benefits and has supported me as a mother.  The opportunity to see and try things we may not have had access to otherwise is wonderful.
  • Seeing Aidan's confidence in achieving something, and the look on his face when he realizes he can do it, is why I let him try things others may perceive as "dangerous."
  • Despite the few downsides for me, the bonding and health benefits of my choice to breastfeed my baby are all I need...and the extra snuggles!
  • I have learned a lot about myself, as well as my older son, in the process of embracing positive discipline.
  • I've realized a few toys that can only be used in one way will not ruin my son's imagination or critical thinking skills.  He surprises me every day and has embraced things he's not as comfortable with because I've modeled that I will try and do the same.
  • Watching Devin stare into trees at the billowing leaves and chirping birds make me smile. Witnessing Aidan protect a lizard or frog from getting hurt or picking up litter is a reward for me.  I love that he utilizes what I've been teaching him about caring for where we live, even if we don't enjoy it every day. 
The most important value I feel others can instill in their children is to love learning.  If you love learning you are more likely to seek answers to ideas or better understand issues and other people you are not familiar with.  One of my favorite quotes explains why I feel this way...

Since we cannot know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance.  Instead we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.     -Holt

If my children could describe me in three words I think Devin would say food, love, and fun.  I don't think further explanation is needed for someone who is still a baby!  I asked Aidan this question and he described me as, "nice, fair, and plays."  I thought fair was an interesting word choice and I have no idea what prompted him to choose it.  But if he thinks I'm fair I must be doing something right.

I am very thankful to be in my shoes, and I appreciate the time you took to walk with me.

Like Little Moments Facebook Page to stay up to date on all our moments and more!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fingerpaint Fail from the Fit Kids Clubhouse

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Ms. Liz from the Fit Kids Clubhouse always puts a smile on my face.  i'm not sure why that is... there's just this overall happy feel to her blog.  here are a few of the my favorite clubhouse kids activities: Clubhouse Mail: Hugs for GrandmaClubhouse Bubbles: Just Exhale, and Clubhouse Tray: 3D Art.

Today I am totally honored to be writing up a guest post for Crayon Freckles. They call me Ms. Liz over at the Fit Kids Clubhouse, which is not only the name of where I blog, but also the homeschooling preschool where I spend my days with a bunch of amazing Clubhouse Kids. I still feel so incredibly new to this whole blogging thing that when “keep thinking outside the crayon box, andie” said I could post here, I immediately tried to come up with some amazingly creative preschool activity that would be deemed worthy.
I found an *all new* washable finger paint recipe online, and printed out some darling little empty tree templates. We were all ready to whip up a fantastic batch of brilliant Fall colors they could dip their little Clubhouse fingers into to add lovely Autumn leaves to their trees. Oh it was definitely going to result in a Pinterest perfect post.
Instead we got this.

We followed the finger paint recipe perfectly.
No really, we did.
I think.
Maybe I was supposed to stir faster while adding the corn starch. Maybe the heat was too low. Maybe my measuring cup leaked. There goes the perfect finger paint for pretty Fall leaves. No way could we use this mushy slop to paint a thing.
The Clubhouse Kids laughed when they saw what we had created. We’ve made a lot of paint around here, they were not fooled.
“Ms. Liz, that’s not paint!”
Instead of throwing the entire substance in the trash and expecting a group of 3-4 year olds to be patient while we attempted it again, I plopped the pile of “finger paint” onto our work table.
“What do we do now Ms. Liz?”
What do you think we could do?
Our ingredients were still on hand, and so they quickly got to work spreading corn starch on top of the paint pile and mashing it in.
It was warm and pliable. They kneaded and rolled in more corn starch until they created a much doughier substance.
We may have not made proper finger paint, but they started making finger prints anyways.
Turns out they had a lot of fun taking the sloppy pile of cornstarch, water, sugar and dish soap (in case you were wondering what was in the original recipe), and making it something all their own.
I wasn’t going to post about this at all, much less use it as a guest post on a blog that I adore. Then I realized something. If I always scrap the failed recipes, botched activities, and less than stellar results, it may appear as though everything in my blog land is picture perfect. That I have perfectly planned activities, create perfect recipes, and take perfect photos.
What I do have is fun. A lot of fun. We laugh at our messes. We talk about where we may have gone wrong. We work with what we have.
We don’t always execute a planned activity perfectly, but we always plan to enjoy whatever activity we do end up with.
The Clubhouse Kids thoroughly enjoyed the “soap dough” they made, having named it so because it smelled of dish soap.
I could totally make up a new recipe here, crediting the Clubhouse Kids for their creation. Maybe I will.
Today though, today I wanted to share that although everything looks perfect on Pinterest,
sometimes if you let them be,
the fails are the most fun!
I’m just speaking for me though, I’m sure that Andie never has a fail :)
Thanks for letting me share a day at the Clubhouse. If you’d like to read more of our Clubhouse Adventures (sometimes we do get the recipes right, I promise), head on over and visit the Clubhouse at our blog, or on our Facebook page.
Yes, we will still have trees with no leaves... for now ;)
Ms. Liz 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

halloween candy buyback

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i just know that my little lego pirate is going to rake in tons of candy this year.  there's no way we're eating all of it.  but what do you do with it?

simple. visit  Halloween Candy Buy Back and find a dentist near you that's participating in a buyback program.  that's where you give them your candy and they give your kiddo a prize of some sort.  the candy is then packaged up and sent to troops overseas as part of Operation Gratitude.  (more on this amazing program coming soon!) 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Halloween Candy Buyback or Operation Gratitude.
just some tips from this momma to you :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Lacing from Inspiration Laboratories

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Does your child love pumpkins as much as my son does? Every time he sees a pumpkin, he points it out. I decided to use his love for pumpkins in a fine motor activity. Pumpkin lacing was born.
pumpkin lacing  


  • orange, green, and black felt (I purchased one piece of each color for 23 cents each. Other fabric would work - I chose felt because it doesn't fray.)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • yarn (or string or shoe laces)
  • tape
  • cotton balls

How to Create the Pumpkins

1. Cut the orange felt into four equal pieces. (Fold in half. Cut. Fold in half again and cut.)
2. Draw a pumpkin shape onto the felt. (I stacked two pieces together to make sure they would match
3. Cut out your pumpkin shape.

4. Punch holes around the outside of your pumpkin. Be careful not to punch holes too closely to the edge. If you pull too hard on the yarn, you can easily tear the felt. I punched two layers of felt at a time to make sure the holes would match up. My hole punch didn't do a great job of punching the entire circle out, so I had to use scissors to remove the rest of the circle.

5. Cut a small strip of black felt. Then, cut out different shapes for the eyes, nose, and mouth of your pumpkin. (triangles, squares, rectangles, etc.)

6. Cut out the stem of the pumpkin in green (or brown) felt.
7. Cut a length of yarn long enough to go around the pumpkin plus some.
8. You may want to add tape to the end of the yarn to make it easier to pass through the holes.

How to Assemble the Pumpkins

Now you are ready to give the pumpkin pieces and yarn to your child. A lesson in how to lace may be in order. For my son (he's almost 3), I had to hold the pumpkin at first. I showed him how to push the yarn through one hole. We flipped over the pumpkin and passed it through the next hole. After a while, he could do this by himself. Sometimes he would miss a hole or pull the string all the way through. That's okay. I fixed it, or we just started over. If you child is enjoying this activity, let him keep at it as long as he is interested. If your child seems frustrated or upset because it's not going well, give support and encouragement. Help her see it's okay to work on this another day if she chooses.

Leave a few holes open at the top, and you can stuff the pumpkin with cotton balls. Hole punch the bottom of your stem. Add it to the top of your pumpkin, and finish lacing. Aiden didn't want to lace the top. He was done with the activity by that time, so I finished the last few holes. Tie off the yarn, and now you have a stuffed pumpkin!

Play with the Pumpkins

Place your black pieces of felt on your stuffed pumpkins to create a jack o'lantern. Felt sticks to felt, so you can rearrange the faces as much as you like. Try different shapes for parts of the face to see how it changes the expression and feel of the pumpkin.

While I was cutting out and hole punching, I gave Aiden the other pumpkin-shaped felt pieces, black shapes, and green stems. He enjoyed making faces for his non-stuffed pumpkins, too!

Thanks for letting me share our pumpkin fun with you!
Would you like to see more ideas for toddlers/preschoolers from me? Here are a few of my favorites. What Can you Learn from a Cardboard Tube? A to Z Science Series: A is for Apple Tree Investigation Are You My Mother? Storytelling Using Props Trisha is a stay at home mom to her almost 3-year old son, Aiden. She writes about their adventures at Inspiration Laboratories, a blog dedicated to encouraging learning through creativity and play. Trisha is an educator with a passion for science literacy. It is never too early to start encouraging science learning (or any kind of learning for that matter). Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Monday, October 22, 2012

in {her} shoes...Susan

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In Her Shoes with Breast Cancer Awareness Kid Bloggers Go Pink Blog Hop
Why Pink? Find out below.
What is the most challenging part of being the type of mom you are?  I never thought I’d give birth to a child. After years of infertility, several surgeries, and a miscarriage, Sarah was born as I turned forty. She was seven weeks premature weighing 3 lbs. 6 oz. Sarah is developmentally delayed and has a seizure disorder – yet she is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
I had a dream before I knew I was pregnant. In the dream I saw a baby with a tiny tuft of hair on her head. A few weeks later, I decided to take a home pregnancy test. My husband and I were amazed that it tested positive. After Sarah was born, I realized that she was the baby in my dream. My Heavenly Father was letting me know that I was pregnant and a gift was on the way.
What is the most rewarding?   These are the gifts my daughter gives me: Hugs, kisses, numerous trips to zoos, many zoo train rides, swimming even though I don’t look great in a suit, swinging in the park as a senior citizen, pausing to appreciate simple things in life like homemade waffles, decorating cookies, reading scriptures together, going to bed early not worrying where she is or what she is doing, hearing “I love you” every night after we say our prayers, sliding down a water park slide, wearing Halloween costumes, meeting other moms of special needs people forming a support group of friendship, years of learning about animals, too many pets to count, puzzles, working in the church nursery alongside Sarah, patience, devotion, empathy, compassion and achieving dreams (being an mother, teacher and author).

What do you think are the most important value(s) parents can instill in their children?
Knowledge that we are all Heavenly Father's children and he loves each and every one of us. I’m so blessed that my daughter loves to read the scriptures and faithfully goes to church with us. She is welcomed with open arms and compliments every Sunday.
If your child could describe you in 3 words, what would they be? 
I asked my Sweet Sarah how she would describe me. She hesitated a long time. I began to worry. Then, she said,  “as a lovin’ momma".  Whew. My husband would describe me as: busy, One-Who-Doesn’t-Handle-Stress-Well, and an Animal, Nature and Zoo Lover



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Toilet Paper Halloween Pumpkin Buddies

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When my oldest was in elementary school, I was a room mother.  For holiday parties, I always got to have fun planning the craft.  This is what we made for her Halloween craft in 5th grade.  Aren't they cute?  They're made out of toilet paper!!! So I thought we'd resurrect the project and make some more toilet paper Halloween buddies in pumpkin and monster varieties.

They're super easy to make.  Here are the supplies we used:
10x10 pieces of colored fabric
Colored felt
Colored craft foam sheets
Googly eyes
Craft glue

After cutting the colored fabric into 10x10 pieces, sit the roll of toilet paper in the middle of the square and shove the fabric into the hole on top of the roll.

toilet paper halloween craft

When Bear was done with the pumpkin, he rolled up a piece of brown cardstock and stuck it in the hole as the stem. 

Not sure why I didn't take any shots of him making the frankenstein....  But it was fun to watch him put the witch together... Especially dealing with all the pieces of rick-rack for her hair.

Here are the end results
(pardon the wet glue on the witch's hat)

Which one is your favorite Halloween toilet paper buddy?

Follow Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding Letters in Nature from at The Pleasantest Thing

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Carolyn from The Pleasantest Thing has so many great ideas that can be done inside and out, but she has some of the best nature-based activities that i've found.  her blog has a wonderfully fresh feel to it that instantly makes me smile.  find some of her great fall posts here: Fall Sensory Bin: Squirrel Play, Fall Guess Bags, and Apple Tasting.

Hi! I am happy to be guest posting here at Crayon Freckles. Thank you for having. Today I'm going to share an activity we often do on our nature walks. Finding Letters In Nature On walks, we sometimes play a game where we try to find letters formed in nature. A tree knot is an "o", a dandelion an "i", branches often form "y" or "k." Once you start doing it, you and your child find letters almost anywhere.
Forming Letters Ourselves We also use what we find on our walks to create our own letters- leaves, pine cones, stones, acorns, sticks. Depending on the complexity, sometimes I form the letters, sometimes my 4 1/2 year old forms them, or we do it together. In the pictures below, I made the B and my 4 year old made the N.

Fill In The Line I draw a letter, with a stick or my fingers, and my son fills in the lines. We did this a lot when he was younger and still learning his letters. It's a very good fine motor skill activity. This is something we do a lot at the beach- it's fun drawing a line in the sand and finding shells and stones to fill it.

This is an activity that can be done any number of ways, and easily modified for different ages. We've also looked letters in clouds, or looked for shapes in nature. It's a fun way to add a little something new to your walks.

Carolyn is a mom to two boys, ages 4 1/2 and 1. She believes play is critical to child development, and her blog, The Pleasantest Thing, focuses on play-based learning, books, nature, and fun. You can also join in the fun by following her blog on Facebook.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Toddler Sensory Bottles from Two Big Two Little

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i can relate to tricia from Two Big Two Little in that she's the mother of mixed ages.  i have a preschooler and a teen, which can cause chaos at times.  it's neat for me to be able to see another mom do the same activity with both children, despite the age gap.  see what i mean in her Baking Soda and Vinegar Play post. 
I’m Tricia from Two Big Two Little, where I share crafts and activities that I do with my children. My kids range in age from 1 to 15, so we usually have a variety of end results to everything :) I’m very excited to be guest posting here at Crayon Freckles today :)
Sensory bottles
With the girls back at school now, it's just me and Austin home during the day. I've been looking for something fun to do with him and as soon as I saw these Sensory Bottles from The Iowa Farmer's Wife , I knew what I wanted to make for him to play with. Last Christmas, I found these great little round Coca-Cola bottles and bought a lot of them. I knew I what eventually find a use for them. These bottles worked great for my sensory bottles.
sensory bottles

I decided to try and make up a variety of bottles for Austin to play with.
  1. I used baby oil and sparkly pom poms. I love how slowly the pom poms move around in the oil.
  2. I used half water and half baby oil with big and little rhinestone gems, buttons and beads. This one looks really cool, as everything in there floats in the water but not in the oil, so they all sit right about the middle of the bottle.
  3. I used a couple squirts of dish soap, water, blue liquid water colour and blue glitter for this bottle.
  4. For this bottle I used hair gel and sliver glitter. This bottle is a bit of a dud, as the gel is so thick that the glitter doesn't move around and neither does the gel :(
  5. This bottle has cooking oil and gold glitter. The glitter moves around in this one, but still slowly. It looks so cool to watch the glitter slowly sink.
  6. This bottle has half green water, baby oil, googly eyes and green pom poms. It almost looks like a liquid monster creature put into a bottle lol
  7. This is Austin's favourite bottle. It has a little bit of water, blue liquid water colour and clear water beads. I coloured the water, put in a handful of dehydrated water beads and let it sit over night. When the water beads were fully grown, I poured out most of the water.
Once I had made all the bottles and was sure that I didn't want to change or add anything else to them, I used my glue gun to hot glue the lids on. I then gave the bottles to Austin to see what he would do with them.
sensory bottles
He wasn't sure what to do with them at first. Then he picked one up and looked at, turned it around and started shaking it :)
sensory bottles
After that, he had to pick each one up and explore it a bit before putting it down and moving onto the next one :) I love the look of concentration on his face as he explores each bottle.
sensory bottles
These sensory bottles are a huge hit, even with the bigger kids. They all had to have a turn at looking, shaking and playing with each bottle :) I think I may make some more of these sensory bottles. Maybe some with dry ingredients or different liquids.
Tricia from Two Big Two Little
Tricia is a stay at home mom to 4 great kids, two big kids aged 15 & 13 and two little kids aged 4 and 1. She shares craft, activities and some DIY posts that she does mainly with her girls, one big and one little, although every once in a while the big and little boys join in on the fun :) Her blog is Two Big Two Little and you can also find her at her Facebook page, and Pinterest boards. She is also a newcomer to Twitter

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monster Cookies for Kids

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Want a simple way to make a fun treat for Halloween? Look no further! Cooking with kids allows an opportunity to explore math and have fun. Making these monster cookies does just that, while offering time for bonding and a yummy treat afterward.
My kids love monster books (and pretending to be monsters.)  Some of our favorites are Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Go Away, Big Green Monster, and The Monster at the End of This Book.

The other day we were making a batch of chocolate-chocolate chip cookies using chocolate cake mix and adding a cup of chocolate chips.  I had lots of edible eyes and also some miniature marshmallows in the cupboard, so we made our cookies into monster cookies.
We added the edible eyes and marshmallow teeth while the cookies were still warm but not too hot to touch.  The thing that makes this perfect for preschoolers is there's no wrong way to do it.  How can a monster have too many eyes? Or teeth?

So head to the kitchen and cook up some Halloween fun with this activity!


Lorie from Reading Confetti is a reading specialist turned SAHM who blogs about activities and crafts inspired by children's literature. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for new and exciting ways bring books to life with your kids.

Monday, October 15, 2012

in {her} shoes...Joyce

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today's guest blogger is one of my bestest friends in the whole, wide, rotating sphere that we call earth.  i mean.  seriously.  she's pure awesomeness.  if you haven't been to her blog, Childhood Beckons, here are a few of her posts that are my faves: 30 Jokes Your Kids Will Love, Chuckin' Pumpkin Painting, and Eat or Be Eaten Turkey Toss.

Hi! I'm Joyce, a stay at home mom and the writer behind Childhood Beckons. I mostly blog about simple childhood activities and learning through play. I believe that continuously working on connecting with your child is very important, and that is the basis for my blog name. Childhood is beckoning us as parents! I like to remind myself of this fact often.

R is five and we are beginning our first official year of homeschool. We are both incredibly excited and can't wait to see where the year takes us. Okay. I could probably wait. Time flies by far too quickly. Which leads me back to that "childhood is beckoning" thing.

What is the most challenging part of being the type of mom that you are?
The most challenging thing for me is finding balance. By far. I often say that I wish I could find this magical (and obviously secret) formula for motherhood. I'm constantly finding myself swinging too far in one direction and having to correct myself again. Which leads to over-correction and swinging too far the other way. When I want my house to look nicer, that's seemingly all I can focus on at the time. Obviously, I still love my son and we do things during this time, but I find myself saying "no" more when I should be finding the balance between doing the dishes and playing another board game. My thinking and goals shift when I realize, all over again, that childhood is fleeting. And I find myself spending all of my time playing. I haven't found that magical formula yet, but a general schedule for myself is helping.

What is the most rewarding?

It's really hard for me to narrow down the most rewarding thing. I find a lot of pride and joy in motherhood. I love watching my son grow and learn. I love knowing that I am fostering his love for knowledge. I adore being able to see the world through my son's eyes. I'm amazed at how much he teaches me. And now I'm teary thinking about it all.

What do you think are the most important values parents can instill in their child?

There are so many values that I hope to instill before R reaches adulthood. I think integrity is important to have. As well as compassion. I would also like for him to be generous, both with himself and others.

If your child could describe you in three words, what would they be?

I asked R to describe me in three words and he said that I was beautiful, loving, and kind. He's a sweetheart, and I hope he still thinks that way ten years from now!

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