In the winter, the MOMS Club contributes to two holiday tree events.
The Festival of (Giving) Trees is a four day family event, designed to be a holiday activity. Chosen organizations donate a artificial tree decorated with a theme. The MOMS Club was chosen to contribute a tree. Trees are raffled. The mission is to raise money to help the Silent Spring Institute, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and the Cancer Center at Harrington Hospital to fight the battle against breast cancer and to help fund cancer research. Over the past fourteen years, the Festival of (Giving) Trees has raised and donated over $390,000 to these beneficiaries.
The theme we’ve chosen for this tree is yarn and color. We score Pinterest for simple, colorful yarn ornament ideas that families can do together.
wrap yarn around a wire shape
finger knit garland
The town’s Conservation Commission organizes a Winter Tree Scavenger Hunt. The object of the hunt is to find 8-10 decorated trees, take your photo with each tree and email all photos to the Conservation Commission between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The Scavenger Tree will be sticks and stones: Nature’s Best Toys Ever! Approved by the MOMS Club of Sturbridge.
We paint sticks,
color on hot stones,
and modge modge magazine bits onto stones too.
We set up a morning at the local basement of the Federated Church for MOMS and kids to play with yarn. We share project ideas on the MOMS Club Facebook page and set up goodie bags with supplies people can take home to work on the ornaments on their own time.
We will meet at the church to decorate the yarn and color tree.
We will meet in the woods to pick a tree and hang sticks and stones.
1. Carve your pumpkin outdoors or cover work area with newspaper for easy clean up.
2. If kids don’t like to feel the insides with their bare hands, use a garden, rubber, or winter glove to remove pulp.
3. Dry the pumpkin with a cloth before drawing a face with Sharpie.
4. Talk to your kids about the parts of the face and let them draw and carve it themselves to the best of their ability. (Parent supervision and help is a given.)
5. Don’t dump seeds in the compost or you’ll have a surprise pumpkin patch in the spring when you use your soil for the garden. (I say this from personal experience.)
6. Roast the seeds in your oven or dry them in the sun for next year’s harvest. We’re doing both.
Three Great Pumkiny, Halloweeny Books
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell, tells the story of a little boy, who’s leftover decomposing pumpkin, plants seeds for the next jack o lantern.
Halloween by Harry Behn, Halloween poetry paired with beautiful illustrations of children out on Halloween night.
Pumpkin Moon by Tim Preston, tells the magical story of pumpkins on Halloween night after the trick or treating is over.
We often make snack mixes to satisfy our gnawing cravings for chips and other salty, crunchy delicious nibbles that aren’t so good for us. Snack mixes are a little healthier, fun and different every time because we throw in whatever we have on hand.
These are some of the fun snacks we put into our mixes:
tortilla chips (sweet potato or flax seed)
dry fruit: cranberries, cherries, mango
cereal: puffins, O’s, Fruity O’s
chocolate chips or m&ms
yogurt covered raisins
veggie sticks (we found some cinnamon apple ones at Trader Joe’s)
(you can add nuts, but we have a nut allergy, so we don’t.)
We’re headed to a fun Mama and Kid potluck brunch this morning for our local MOMS Club. Usually, families bring little egg casseroles or their favorite sweet bread or a fruit mix. Today, we want to share our snack mix, but to make it even more special, we decide to also pack the tools needed to make the snack into an edible necklace.
To string the cereal, we use a snipped piece of pipe cleaner tied to yarn. We tie off a piece of cereal to the end of the yarn to stop the other pieces from falling off. The moms and kids work on stringing cereal. Some of us make patterns, some put pieces on randomly, all snack while they’re working. Friend A strings a piece of cereal and promptly eats it off the sting.
Lily stalks are really fun and satisfying to snip with scissors.
For the younger kids, this may be too hard for their little hand muscles, but it’s a great challenge for the older kids.
I’ll warn you, the pieces pop up when they are cut and can be a hazard to those Betty Davis eyes, so hold it away from you as you snip.
I snatch up some interesting cardboard from our stash and some of our colored glue, arranging it all on the cement porch, right next to our lily patch.
The kids busy themselves, snipping and gluing.
This is the second post in the after school cool down series. This is my attempt to find some great child driven and process focused activities to help the kids transition back into the home after school…instead of us all running around manically screaming, grabbing, pushing, teasing and melting down.
I have a great collection of caps, saved from milk jugs, water and juice bottles, and fruit sauce crushers. We’ve just made playdough with my favorite playdough recipe, and I think, how cool to combine the two. We’ve never done that before.
I flatten two colors on the table to make a very large slab. I put some of the caps in a pretty box and set some rolling pins on the side. I leave this at the table for the kids to discover.
Playdough is always a nice option for calming free play. Making the dough, manipulating the dough with the small muscles in hands, playing pretend food or roads with playdough and adding objects to the table, like cars, kitchen tools or recycled materials.
My predition: The kids will asthetically arrange the plastic objects around the slab and make up stories while they work.
What happens: They use the caps like cookie cutters and stamp out shapes collecting the pieces on the side.
My little guy is very tired and therefore wired, sensitive, needy and impatient when he gets off the bus after a full day of school. It’s only been one week of school so far. We’ve adjusted his bedtime, we offer super healthy choices for meals and snacks, we give him lots of love and try our best to be patient…
and we also realize he needs a cool down time, unstructured, open-ended, free time.
This week, HappyLittleMesses will be focused on some simple, process and child driven activities that might help kids unwind, decompress and settle down. There will also be a new category called, “after school cool down.”
First up in this series: Ant House
We leave a little piece of corn muffin on the driveway. An hour later we return to find a line of ants taking it away, crumb by crumb. We follow the line of ants and find the hole in the pavement where they must reside.
After playing bug bingo at nature camp, Little J and K get a prize of some little plastic ants. We think it’s a great idea to build them a little habitat. With leftover snack, we leave a trail of crumbs and line up the plastic marching ants.
The boys gather small twigs and build a square around the food crumbs. I teach them how to build upwards, alternating sticks, like you would in the game Jenga. Little J covers the building with a flat twig roof.
My little guy is a bit sensitive, probably pretty average for a 5 year old going to full day school for the first time, but I know he has anxieties about starting in a new school with new teachers. I don’t blame him. New situations and change can get me pretty charged up too.
To ease some of this anxiety for Little J and for myself, I make a little stuffed heart for him to keep in his pocket. This idea is from CurlyBirds. CurlyBirds made hearts for every child in their childrens’ classroom.
I put some of my love in it, cuddles and kisses, and Big K does too. If Little J feels sad or misses us while at school, he can take out the heart for a little home made love.
Here’s what you need:
cozy material, I used felt
needle and thread
I cut heart shapes out of two pieces of fabric…cut them together so the shape of the pieces match up. I use Little J’s two favorite colors, and didn’t try to be perfect because the more funky the shape, the more character the heart will have. Little J says he likes it that way because it’s like a snowflake, no two are alike.
Sew the edges of the heart together using the blanket stitch, or any other stitch you like, making sure to leave an opening to stuff the heart. I used a contrasting color thread to show the stitches.
It helps to craft with friends. Our little guys have been in a playgroup together since they were 1 year olds, and they will all be starting this new Kindergarden adventure together.
Two great books to go along with idea are:
The boys and I are hard at work today, switching up what was the tool workshop.
It will now be a grocery store, with cart, wallets, babies, shelves full of products, bags for food, a register and walkie talkies.
The pretend food and accessories have been put away since the winter holidays when we dressed up this space with tools and assembly maps. Before that it was a pretend kitchen.
The first project inspired by this new arrangement is making play money.
The boys cut out rectangles of paper that I’ve drawn out for them, and they decorate them with sharpie markers. I find some up-cycled milk caps, the boys decorate these too, and we use these as coins.
The cash register we use originally came with play money, but that’s all long lost under couches and who knows where else. Making money is a fun project, we can talk and practice writing our numbers, discuss the value of money, and the play paper and plastic money is disposable. If we lose this money, which I’m sure we will, we can always make more.
Warning: I’m not suggesting you hand over your favorite chopping knife to your children.
Starting at 3, I began to carefully supervise my oldest as he cut his own food with a real knife.
I think for every parent and every child, there is a different age that feels comfortable.
I often cut up Little J’s food right at the table, and of course, he expressed his curiosity.
When my kids are genuinely and sincerely curious about a thing, I can trust them to be focused and careful.
When a child is having fun and learning, there’s not a lot of room for destructive behavior, which usually stems from boredom or unmet needs.
Little E and Miss L have joined us for many lunches this summer. Their parents own a restaurant and cooking, baking is a frequently practiced language at their home. One day, I bring cheese, cucumber, apple, pretzels and hummus to the table. They all proclaim their desire to cut up their own food. A while back I bought some really colorful paring knives with covers, specifically to have them for the kids to use. They are real knives and would cause a wound if used improperly, and I warn them of this, teaching them how to hold a knife and which part is sharp.
4 kids sit around the lunch table and slice up their own lunch, the fifth child is 2 and wants to use a knife too. I give him a pumpkin carving knife, strong enough to do the job, but unable to cut his precious little digits. This is probably the most peaceful lunch I have ever sat through with a group of children.
I’m already lamenting the fact that it’s probably frowned upon to pack a knife in Little J’s kindergarten lunch box so he can enjoy the prep of his own foods. The thought of him with a knife at school sends chills up my spine, an example of how the illusion of making kids “safe” deprives them of important life lessons.
Friend H is at camp when we have our library crafternoon, so I bring home some supplies that will allow her to have a chance with the sharpies, rubbing alcohol and pillow case.
I give her a little demo, I show her SunScholar’s version of the project and we set to work, her and I. I wanted to make one too. Friend A wants to join in, so I he joins me at my pillow case. The pillow case that he worked on at the library is at his home.
I do a little bit of directing this time because I want my pillow case to look a certain way. Friend A helps me make dots in circular patterns all over the pillow case. He makes lines of dots all over the fabric, saying that he’s making a map of the London subway system, the Underground. I can see the picture of a subway map in front of me, full of different colored dots and I understand his vision and go along with it.
The kids also sharpie some t-shirts. Friend A discovers that when you try to draw a straight line on material, it will make dash marks.
I add rubbing alcohol later with Little J and K and the colors blend and slowly explode on the fabric. It’s pretty awesome.