March 18th, 2008

Tie Dye Easter Eggs

Easter eggs don’t all have to be dyed using those store bought kits. One of the things I want to try this year is a tie dye appearance for our eggs. I found these instructions for them on another site. We have some crayon shavings already, which I think we’ll use. They were going to be for a project making new crayons until I remembered this.

Boil the eggs as usual. As they boil, get out several paper plates (no plastic or styrofoam). Spread out the crayon shavings, with just a couple colors for each plate, according to the combinations you want on the eggs.

Do not cool the eggs. Instead, roll them in the crayon shavings and put back into the egg cartons to dry.

I love this idea since it means no need to buy an egg dye kit. The kids love to sharpen crayons, so crayon shavings are something we have plenty of. Obviously, you want the crayons to be of the non-toxic variety, which I think they generally are anyhow, if your kids will want to eat the eggs.

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December 22nd, 2007

Graham Cracker House

I mentioned yesterday and the day before that I was going to help my kids make a graham cracker house this year before Christmas. It’s finally done and I thought I would share how we did it.

powdered sugar and egg white

Ingredients:

graham crackers
assorted candies such as gum, spice drops, Spree, whatever you want to put on it
royal icing

Here’s the recipe for the royal icing:

1 egg white
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp lemon extract (or vanilla extract, but lemon leaves the mix whiter)

Beat egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and lemon extract until completely blended.

crackers cut into triangles

I made one batch of this to assemble the house the first day, and a double batch the next for attaching the candy. How much you need depends on how extensive you let the decorating get.

I covered two cookie sheets with wax paper. Only needed one for building the house, but for making the walls I needed two.

Next I took one graham cracker and cut it into triangles using a butcher knife. One nice firm hit with the heel of my hand to break the crackers in a fairly straight line. Probably any knife long enough with an uncurved blade will do for the job.

graham cracker house sides

Because I knew the kids would want a big house, I used the icing to connect two crackers for each side, and used the triangles to make points to support the roof. I was pretty heavy handed with the icing. I forgot to borrow my mother’s cake decorating supplies to make this easier and neater. But I figured the excess would help to strengthen the crackers once it dried.

A cracker and a half made each of the roof panels. I measured along the triangles to figure that out.

I kept the royal icing in the fridge, covered lightly with a damp paper towel while these dried.

Once they were dry enough, I assembled the house. Without the right tools this was pretty difficult. I used a plastic baggie with a corner cut off to direct the icing as best I could. Not as good as regular cake decorating tips would do, but it helped to get the job done. (Note to self: Next time don’t forget to borrow the cake decorating tools!)

partially assembled graham cracker house

One roof segment cracked when I was trying to attach it, and by that point I had too little icing to do more than fix it. Not enough to save for reattaching it. So I fixed it and decided to reattach it today.

All that was yesterday. I wanted the icing very strong before I let the kids anywhere near anything.

This morning I reattached the roof, then coated it with frosting and shingled it with Necco wafers. This was the point at which I wondered if it would have been smarter to add them yesterday, before assembly. I had to hold them in place for several minutes to keep all the shingles from sliding down, off the roof.

This did later generate the thought that maybe decorating the sides in general would be easier to do as they lay flat on the wax paper. Only thing I don’t know is how that would impact the assembly of the house. Might have too many things in the way then.

Next I covered the surrounding wax paper with the royal icing and let the kids go at it. I did the decorating of the house itself, since the kids didn’t have the patience to hold the candies in one place long enough to do anything on the walls. But they did have a lot of fun placing candies and asking if they could eat another piece yet.

The pine tree and snowman made from spice drops were probably the most difficult. Dratted things took incredibly long to dry. I had to keep a hand on them for at least 15-20 minutes. The snowman was particularly stubborn.

Then I decided to add a little chocolate. I had decided early on that that would be the easiest way to give the snowman a face. So I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave, grabbed a toothpick and went to work. Then I added more chocolate to the house just because I could, and it was chocolate. Who needs more reason than that?

With everything finished, there was still more icing available. I decided that the last bits could be poured over the roof to make something of a snow effect. It was that or throw it out, and that just seemed like more fun.

All in all, I think it turned out rather well:

graham cracker house

[tags]christmas recipes,graham cracker house,candy[/tags]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

July 11th, 2007

Encouraging Your Kids in Science

Young children love to learn. The preschool and elementary school years are a great time to build an interest in science that will last through their educational career and perhaps beyond.

Don’t be intimidated by whatever knowledge you may have of science. You don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to be advanced in your understanding. At this level, you’re promoting interest in the topic and teaching the early foundations, not doing the math. It’s something you can do even if you didn’t enjoy science classes yourself.

There are many simple experiments you can do from home, and most don’t require anything special. You will often have the supplies you need in the kitchen, and if you don’t, they are often available at your local grocery store.

Cooking can be used to help teach basic concepts. When you cook with your kids, they can help you measure things out, learning about what makes a half cup half of a cup. Simple things like that which you understand, you can teach. Read the rest of this entry »

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 7th, 2007

Thursday Thirteen – 13 of My Kids’ Favorite Projects and Activities

My kids love to do projects. My daughter is old enough to come up with some ideas of her own, but she also enjoys ones that I help her with. And since we got a start today by doing a project, I thought I would share.

  1. Today’s project: Play Dough. And here’s the recipe:
    2-1/2 cups flour
    1/2 cup salt
    1 tbs cream of tartar (optional but helpful)
    1-1/2 cups hot water
    3 tbs cooking oil
    Food coloring
    glitter (optional but pretty)
    Mix dry ingredients together. Separate into containers if you want to do multiple colors. Add oil and food coloring to each batch. If you’ve separated colors, estimate the right amount of oil for each. Add hot water slowly and mix until the consistency is right. Too much water makes dough gooey and less fun to play with.
    We like this recipe because it lasts a long time. Seal it into a container and store.
  2. Slime
  3. Painting – Finally have my son trained to keep the paint on the paper, rather than himself.
  4. Carbon dioxide bubbles
  5. Yeast experiments
  6. Paper plate masks
  7. Random craft inventions
  8. Gardening, especially watering the garden
  9. Beads
  10. Drawing
  11. Helping me cook. My 2 year old gets mad any time I don’t let him help, including when I’m stirring something hot on the stove. It can be a bit of a challenge keeping him safe because he is so intensely interested.
  12. Decorating various items. We’ve done sun visors and pinecones.
  13. Inventing games that make no sense to parents, such as who can ram their head into the back couch cushion the hardest.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 19th, 2007

Today's Experiment – Yeast

Every here and there Ariel demands an experiment. We go online and find something we have the supplies for on hand. Hence today’s experiment with yeast.

This is probably the most basic thing you can do with yeast. Feed it and watch it grow.

yeast

You’ll need:

1 package yeast (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
Medium or large bowl

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in the bowl. Give a bit of a stir, then allow to sit for 10 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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