Tag Archives: mini-theme

Groundhog Day!

Since winter is in full swing where we are (and all over the U.S. for that matter) I figured I could be a little late in posting our ground-hog day activities.

This was a really fun mini-theme because the snug was able to do almost everything by herself. Obviously I helped, but you could see how fulfilling it was for her to be able to do most everything alone.

Here are the books we read.

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Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub and Kristin Sorra- this adorable little tale features an overwhelmed groundhog trying to appease the frustration felt continually from his localized weather reports. He recruits, trains, and posts more groundhogs to help create more accurate weather reports.

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The Groundhog day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old- This longer more in-depth book, tells all about the seasons, why they actually change, whether groundhogs are proper advocates for changing weather conditions and how this tradition came to be.

IMG_7451Who Will See Their Shadows This Year? by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki- This fun and simple book is easy enough for the beginning reader to master. Strange things happen when other animals try to see their shadow to bring about spring.

Besides books, we had a little treat for this mini-theme. Some print offs! I really like activity village for many of our holiday activity sheets.

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Another super cute craft we saw floating around the internet was a ground-hog puppet. The puppet from Buzzmills was our favorite! Though she had some awesome clear directions, we made a modified version that the snug could do herself.

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The main shaft is a toilet paper tube. The snug measured and cute out the felt herself, though I did help with the shape of the groundhog and I hot glued everything, because hot glue burns are stupid. I get one every time I use a hot glue gun, without fail.

The snug sewed the groundhog by herself. I threaded the needle and tied the first and last knot and that was it. Definitely very cool.

Last was the food.

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That’s a groundhog pancake, by the way. Not the prettiest, but recognizable and more importantly edible.

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Next were those adorable groundhog cupcakes that have been floating around on pinterest. The original ones look amazing. Ours look more like something you’d find on pinterest fail sites. This point of the activity and the reason I love ours is because, again, the snug did this herself. She helped make everything, but frosted the cupcakes and decorated the cookies alone. (Those round things on top are ears).

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Groundhog cupcakes only a mother and child could love, right?

They were delicious by the way. Yellow cupcakes with strawberry frosting and butterscotch cookies. A mash-up of wonderful flavors. Everything was homemade, obviously.

Happy Winter!!

P.S. Did you know narwhals do have the ability to sense changes in weather??

Flag mini-theme!

Our flag day theme started with a recipe. A cheesecake recipe. This one in particular. I had been wanting to make it for a while, but I can’t do cheesecake in the winter. It just doesn’t work for me. I need cheesecake in the summer, with fruit. So since berries were on sale and flag day was coming up and it was June, I decided we might as well make a theme of it, because then we would just HAVE to make these cheesecakes!

Delicious!!! Snug did such a great job decorating them. See for yourself..

The Books:

I wonder Why Countries Fly Flags by Clause Steele- The “I wonder why” series is a very neat little series of books, covering a mass amount of topics. Written in a simple question & answer format, a ton of information is given on each page, in simple sentences with tons of pictures. Snug really liked it, but it was a little long and took a couple of days to get through the whole book.

State Flags by Sue R. Brandt- This book was fantastic and so descriptive. For each state there was a page and a flag, obviously, then a description of the flag and why it looked the way it did, when it was established, and other general information. We only looked at a few, but it was very interesting to read. I doubt Snug took too much information from it though, but we aren’t here to memorize facts.

DK Handbooks: Flags by William G. Crampton- This book was cool! It had so so many flags in it. Flags from every place around the world imaginable. Snug had a great time pointing out the similarities of some of the flags. It is out of date though, from 1999, but it was what our library had and it works for exemplifying flags.

Activities!

Coloring: We don’t like to color in our house, by we, I of course mean Snug. I like to color, I think it is relaxing, Snug does not think it is relaxing, she thinks it is work. Work too hard and frustrating for her. She likes to cut instead and can cut almost anything out. No coloring though.

However, just because we don’t like to color doesn’t mean we shouldn’t occasionally practice it. So here are my attempts at getting Snug to color.

#1. Copy Cat Coloring- I color my picture like this and you color your picture like mine.

This works great, for lines. Not for big spaces. She did a great job though.

#2. Instructional coloring- this is where you look in the book to see what the colors are supposed to be and tell her what to color in. This can also be called the helping hand coloring, given she did great coloring an inch or two and then gave up.

Since I am trying to avoid Tigress mothering when it comes to her learning how to color, I gave in and gave her a helping hand to fill in the rest of the space.

#3 Project Manager Coloring- this is Snug’s favorite coloring, she tells me what colors to use and where they should go and I coloring them in. She likes to sit and watch and get the next color ready.

Do you think Betsy Ross would have worn that shade of pink? Hard to say.

We got most, if not all of our coloring pages from USA-printables.

Our next activities where a ton of fun!

Make your own Flag!

First after talking about flags and their significance (community, identity, fun, etc). We decided to make our own, thankfully my mom found some Snoopy stencils at Wendy’s, unfortunately for Snug, making a flag meant more coloring.

We made a couple of different ones. I don’t remember what they mean, but I am sure I asked Snug for an explanation of the symbols and what they meant to her country.

Flag letters and symbols!

Our next and last activity, was seeing flags as symbols, I stumbled upon this. The International maritime signal flags. So after reading a little about the flags and why they are used, sending messages to ships from ships, for ships, by ships, ships, ships, ships. We looked up a copy of the flags and got to work.

Here is the copy we used.

I drew out all the flags and we colored them. Then we picked our favorites letters, I liked Z and N, Snug thought F and Y were pretty cool.

Then we did some flag spelling. Snug, mom, dad, Goose (our cat).

Then we did some out loud spelling. My husband and I would say and slowly spell a word and Snug would find the letters.

Very good! We had a ton of fun with this! You can do lots of things with flags, at one time I had tried to explain what elections in democratic nations were using flags for examples. It did not go as planned though.

Me: “Okay Snug, it is almost election time, that means people get to vote. Since we live in a democratic nation, we vote and choose what changes we want. For example, say you and me and daddy were going to vote for a family flag. We all had different ideas for what our flag would be. Daddy’s flag is blue,”

Snug: “Daddy’s flag should have a snake on it.”

Me: “Alright, Daddy’s flag is blue with a snake, my flag would be green with an S on it and your flag..”

Snug: “My flag would be pink…with a cat in the middle…and and and”

Me: “Well that is good pink with a cat, so anyway we would all draw our flags and..”

Snug: “My flag is pink with the cat right? I think it should have a princess too.”

Me: “Fine, that’s really good, pink with cat and princess. So we take our flags and we decide which is the best one.”

Snug: “My flag is the best, it is pink with a cat and princesses and other things too.”

Me: “But Snug we would have to vote which flag we think is the best.”

Snug: “My flag is definitely the best. But I think dad’s should also have _____ and then mine should have more stuff on it……”

This is where I gave up, she continued to make plans for her flag long after my attempt to explain democracy to her had failed. Another day. The point is there are always so many opportunities to talk about the importance and significance of flags.

Also not hiding behind your flag, it would be good to explain about that too.

Happy Themeing!

Mini-Theme Composting!

Right now we are in the chilly fall season the ground is starting to be consistently frozen and winter is well on its way. Back in the spring through the ground was nice and soft and summer was literally just around the corner. We had just moved back to Colorado and were staying with my mom. Finally we were in a place where someone actually owns the house and the yard, we were ready to compost! My mom however, wasn’t as ready. Especially not a small/big or any size of compost pile. Especially given all the coyotes in the neighborhood. So we had to look for other options. We could buy a composter, I liked the ones that rolled, but wanted the ones with worms. We would have to bring the worms in for the winter, so that was a definite no. So we looked at our rolling options, while there were many very cool, very different ones, they were all very expensive. Well very expensive for us.

So we did the only other thing we could find online, we made our own container barrel composter. It works great, but it took a while. While we were making it though, we figured we would teach the snug about composting. Thus started the mini-themes. Simple projects that we would continue to learn about as they develop.

The first thing we did was learn as much as we could about composting. I couldn’t find any book at our library for kids, which was a bummer. There are some good composting books out there, but that is the fun challenge of themeing, learning all you can with the resources you have.

While I had a ton of adult access to information about composting, I wanted something more for kids, so I found this.

Kids Composting Education Link.

It is simple and easy and perfect for understanding the basics of composting. It is even great for people just trying to understand composting. As simple as composting turns out to be, it is a little intimidating to start with.

After we went through the whole slide show, we had a better understanding together about what we needed in order to have a successful compost pile. But we still needed a container. So we found this, an instructional video about turning a garbage can into a compost bin.

So we went out and got a cheap garbage bin, since we didn’t have one to spare. In the video it says to put holes in the sides with a hammer and a nail. This didn’t work for ours, the nail kept slipping. The snug did not help with this part, we took this opportunity for her to gather the ingredients we needed. We ended up using a power drill instead.

It worked great. We put evenly spaced holes all over the bin.

You can use any size nail or drill bit, but you don’t want it too big that stuff starts falling out or too small so that air is unable to circulate.

So while my husband, handsomely drilled hole after hole into our garbage bin, snug and I got busy collecting.

We have our water, lots of brown items (items that have lots of carbon), leaves, twigs, shredded newspaper, then some green items (these are high in nitrogen). Leftover vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, we also used some dirt too, not pictured. While we have a pretty even number here of brown and green stuff, you want more carbon, so either more brown items or brown items that have a higher carbon content.  I am still trying to figure out what has what.

SO you add the brown stuff first.

We had to break the big twigs apart.

There is the start of it, lots of brown. Leaves, newspapers, twigs, a little dirt.

Coffee grounds next, because we weren’t sure whether it was a brown or green ingredient.

Now lots of green. This is when all those weeds in your yard become really handy.

Looking pretty good. Not a lot, but we didn’t want to fill the bin up right away. That is one of the bummers about composting in a garbage bin, you have to be slightly restrictive about what you put in. Not all of the green things you go through in your house will be able to fit and you have to smash down the brown stuff to be able to put more in.

Next comes the hard part. Or at  least hard for me. You have to add water, enough so that it is like a lightly damp sponge. You don’t want it to get it too wet or it won’t do anything, just sit there and smell bad. We learned the hard way about that. So if this is your first attempt at barrel composting, I would say less water is more. As long as it is not absolutely, completely dried out.

Now is the fun part. Rolling the barrel all over the yard to get everything nice and mixed up.

We did this once a week. While adding things occasionally. It mainly takes a lot of experimenting. At one point about a month after we made the composter, it got way way too wet!! It smelled terrible! We had to dump it out, spray the bin out and try again. We put a ton of the stuff back, but added a ton of brown stuff and stayed away from green for a while. Then we just let it sit, for  a couple of months, rolling it occasionally, but not adding any water. It was doing great by the time winter arrived. While we haven’t gotten any dirt out of it yet, it isn’t overflowing, no matter how much we add. Which means it is working and that is the beauty of composting. Things are going to decompose no matter what you do, so even if you keep messing up your bin, if you leave it alone for long enough it will work itself out.

Snug had a lot of fun with this. She enjoyed adding things throughout the entire summer and we are very excited for the spring when we can have nice healthy compost to add to our garden.