Saturday, February 28, 2009

Coffee filter butterflies

This easy little preschool art & craft's project uses coffee filters and pipe cleaners to make fun & colorful butterflies.

First, we decorated the coffee filters. My little one experimented with paint, which made the filters stiff but still able to work with, or you could use markers or watercolors. With the markers, draw your design and then mist with a spray bottle (1 or 2 mists worked best for us). After the filters dry, bunch up the center and tie with a pipe cleaner.

:: On our nature table

:: Above our art table with a print from Melissa Sweet's set, "Seasons on a Farm." There is also a sweet little book illustrated by Melissa Sweet entitled, "It's Spring" by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko. It is a favorite in our house and it goes...

In April the robin began to sing
to tell the rabbit it was spring.
The rabbit hopped and thumped his feet
to tell the deer the air smelled sweet.
The little deer ran with the bunny
to tell the duck the sky was sunny.
The duck swam off and gave a quack
to tell the cow, "The leaves are back!"
The cow let out a long moooo
to tell the horse that flowers grew.
The horse went trotting down the lane
to tell the rooster, "Watch for rain!"
The rooster gave a mighty crow
to tell the mouse, "There's no more snow!"
The mouse just made a tiny peep
to tell the birds to start to cheep.
Then all the birds began to sing
to tell the bears, "Wake up, it's spring!"

Monarchs and milkweed

A little drawing time with my little one. Monarch caterpillars filled our paper. We have yet to see a monarch caterpillar in our garden, despite our establishment of swamp milkweed. So, up on our list this year will be to add more varieties of milkweed. 'The Life Cycles of Butterflies' by Judy Burris & Wayne Richards proves to be a great resource.

:: Swamp Milkweed in our garden

:: A sweet little pic from the summer

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2 weeks and counting

I have 2 weeks until my due date and of course we all know the date is sooooo unpredictable. I could go any day and that's so exciting!!! I think I should pack my bags now. I am not sure why I am putting this off, but I have.

The baby was so active the other day and completely changed positions. Everyone had fun seeing and feeling my stomach morphing. But now in an occiput posterior position, my midwife wants me to work on rock back and forth in a leaning forward position, to help the baby get into a better position for the labor. I keep hearing how this labor will go faster - with 7 pushes with my first child, I can not image it being faster. 7 pushes or less sounds wonderful, but I am preparing my mind for a completely different experience, as I know it will be how it was meant to be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A year of activities

Over the last year, we have captured parts of our day and parts of our journey. I hope to capture more throughout this year, as we provide our little one with opportunities to explore, discover, create, imagine and experience through nature, art, music and hands-on discovery. Wow - it's fun to see all the different things we've experienced. Whatcha think Dad??? (who likes to read our blog)

Winter nature study & activities

Winter birds & animals
- observe winter birds
- build bird feeder
- make pine cone feeders
- find abandoned bird's nest
- observe squirrels & deer
- discover animal tracks
- make snow tracks

Biology study
- collection caddy
- discover dried flowers and weeds
- nature wreath
- bark investigation of birch & cedar
- study conifers & cones
- study evergreens leaves & berries
- plan garden

Winter sky
star gaze
- identify constellations
- observe length of daylight
- observe weather patterns
- observe moon phases

Earth science
- crystal & rock study
- fossil study

Natural science
- freeze water
- melt ice
- make ice suncatcher
- make ice ornaments or ice votives

Nature Study for kinesthetic learners

Kinetic Learners do well with hands-on activities and experiments, art projects, nature walks and acting out stories. This is my little one. She needs to touch and feel everything, she loves making up stories and songs, and loves doing nature, science and art projects. She loves her music class and her nature classes. In her music class, she is most involved and present for lap rides, movement around the class with scarves, changing the words to familiar songs, and parachute play.

As her music class has ended, I will get together some songs, verses, and fingerplays for a little circle time with her. I also think a nature study will be great for her age - almost 5. To get started, we will pack up some field guides focusing on local trees, birds, insects and wildflowers. Also, we'll pack up some pencils, a sketch pad, some containers and head out for a nature walk. We'll take notes of anything that interests us and make home a specimen to observe more closely. At home, we could find more about the specimen.

Here are some other suggestions:
  1. Information from first-hand observation the child has done themselves (not things they've learned from "teaching" or in the classroom).
  2. Drawings of leaves, flowers, birds, insects or anything else discovered by the child in it's natural setting.
  3. Labels for their drawings---both English and Latin names if applicable.
  4. Notations on where the object was found.
  5. Notations about the temperature or weather conditions, dates, etc.
  6. Life cycles of plants. Draw the bare tree in Winter; the Spring buds; the Summer blooms; the Fall colors and seed pods. Or in a backyard garden you could draw a seed; draw the sprouting seedling; draw the full grown plant; draw the stem, leaves, flower, etc.; draw the fruit, vegetable or flower; draw the new seeds for starting the cycle again.
  7. Draw and describe an ant hill or a bee's nest.
  8. Take out a hand-held high-power magnifying glass and draw the intricate details of a bee's wing, or whatever else might be fascinating viewed through a magnifying lens.
  9. Science experiments the child has actually performed. Set-up, observations, results, etc.
  10. Pressing and mounting leaves or dried flowers.
  11. Samples of different types of leaves: divided, heart-shaped, fluted, needles, etc.
  12. Samples or drawings of different types of seeds: nuts; seed pods; seeds that fall to the ground; seeds that float through the air; etc.
  13. Parts of the flower: petal, sepal, stamen, etc.
  14. Sketches of animal tracks.
  15. Sketches of the life cycles of animals. Caterpillar to cocoon (or chrysalis) to moth (or butterfly); or egg to tadpole to frog (or salamander).
  16. Nature-related poems or quotes. The poems can be ones found during the child's reading time, or poems composed by the child.
  17. Expand your study to cloud observation and cloud type, astronomy, star gazing at night, storms, soil, rocks, and weather patterns, etc.
  18. In Winter months, look at weather, rocks, evergreens, birch & cedar trees, abandoned bird's nest, dry plants and weeds, tracking and identifying animals by their prints, and watching the place of the sunset move as the days shortened.
Off to scout out some books.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Banana Pancakes

We had some extra bananas this week and decided to make some pancakes with them. This recipe for Banana (Pecan, we did not have) Pancakes by Tyler Florence looked pretty good. I think the extra egg and butter made these pancakes very moist and so yummy, the best I've had. Next time, I'll have to make it with whole wheat & flax seed flour and less butter, but then again maybe we will just indulge ourselves. These were wonderful!!!


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • (1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground (not chopped))
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 bananas, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch circles
  • Maple Butter, recipe follows
  • Confectioners' sugar, to garnish
  • Candied Pecans, to garnish


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together so they are well combined. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir with a spoon to get rid of the lumps. Fold in the pecans, most of the melted butter and whisk until batter is smooth. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium low heat and swirl around a little melted butter to keep the pancakes from sticking. Using a ladle pour the batter into the pan, see Cook's note*

Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they are set and then lightly press the bananas into the batter. When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer pancakes to a warming plate in the oven while you make the rest.

To serve, slice the maple-honey butter, layer it between the stack of pancakes and place in the oven to melt for 1 1/2 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and candied pecans.

*Cook's note: The trick to perfect round pancakes is pouring all the batter in the same spot and letting it roll out to a complete circle.

Maple Butter

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 piece parchment or greaseproof paper

In a mixing bowl, using a spatula mash the butter with the maple syrup and honey until well blended. Roll it up in the paper, like a tube and twist the ends. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring songs, verses, and fingerplay for children

Pussy Willow
I know a pussy willow
Her fur is pearly gray
She lives down in the meadow
Not very far away
She'll always be a pussy
She'll never be a cat
For she's a pussy willow
Now what do you think of that?

What the robin told
The wind told the grasses
And the grasses told the trees.
The trees told the bushes,
And the bushes told the bees.
The bees told the robin,
And the robin sang out clear:
Wake up! Wake up!
Spring is here!

The Caterpillar
The fuzzy little caterpillar went up into a tree (act like you're climbing)
Spun his cocoon and then (yawn) went to sleep (spin hands)
While he was sleeping he dreamt that he could fly (making flying motion)
When he woke up (loud & excited) he was a butterfly!

Butterfly Song
First comes a butterfly and lays an egg.
Out comes a caterpillar with so many legs.
Oh see the caterpillar spin and spin and spin,
A little chrysalis to sleep in.

Oh, oh, oh, wait and see
Oh, oh, oh, wait and see
Out of the chrysalis, my oh my,
Out comes a beautiful butterfly!

Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly
Flutter, flutter, butterfly
Floating in the summer sky
Floating by for all to see
Floating by so merrily
Flutter, flutter, butterfly
Beautiful colors in the summer sky.

Buzzing Bees
Bees, bees, bees, bees
Buzzing in bushes and buzzing in trees
Buzzing around, wherever they please
There's nothing so sweet
As sweet as a honey bee.

John the rabbit
(a call and response song)
Oh, John the Rabbit! (Oh yes!)
Oh, John the Rabbit! (Oh yes!)
You have a mighty bad habbit (Oh yes!)
Of jumping in my garden (Oh yes!)
And eating all my cabbage. (Oh yes!)
You ate my totatoes (Oh yes!)
And sweet potatoes (Oh yes!)
And if I live (Oh yes!)
To see next fall (Oh yes!)
I won't plant (Oh yes!)
A garden at all. (Oh yes!)

The bunny
Here is a bunny with ears so funny (hold one hand face up and with other hand have fingers hop up and down)
Here is his hole in the ground (join thumb and index finger to make O)
At the first sound he hears
He pricks up his ears (hold up index finger and middle finger to make V)
And jumps to his hole in the ground. (V jumps into O)

In the Springtime by Clifford Monks
In the springtime bunny rabbits go hop hop
In the sunshine little birdies go chirp chirp
Daisies nod to daffodils
Little children run up hills
and fall down in the springtime

Spring rain by M. T. Schunemann from Sing a Song of Seasons
Pitter patter, pitter patter, listen to the rain
Knocking on the window sill and on the window pane
Slowly creeping snail, the grass the flowers the grain
The birds up in the treetops
The frogs upon his lilly pad
Gree-dip gree-dip, gree-dip
And the children love the rain
Splashing in puddles
Splashy, splashy, wet
Splashing in the puddles
How wet can we get
All the earth loves the rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter
Listen to the rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter
Pitter patter, pitter patter
The sun comes out again

My Garden
This is my garden, I'll rake it with care
And then some flower seeds I'll plant there.
The sun will shine
The rain will fall
And my garden will blossom and grow big and tall.

The Gardening Song
First you take a shovel, a rake, and a hoe
Plant a little garden, plant seeds in a row
Water them and weed them through all the summer heat
And then you'll have some flowers or vegetables to eat

A little garden flower
A little garden flower is lying in its bed
A warm Spring sun is shining overhead.
Down came the raindrops dancing to and fro -
The little flower wakens and then begins to grow.

At Easter time
At Easter time, we color eggs,
Shades of yellow, red and blue.
We make them pretty as can be,
We'll make some for you and some for me

The Seed
I plant a little see in the dark, dark ground.
Out comes the sun so big and round.
Down comes the cool rain, soft and slow.
Up comes the little seed, grow, grow, GROW!

Flowers Grow
This is the way the flowers sleep,
Through the winter long.
This is the way the flowers grow,
When they hear the robin's song.

Spring surprises

Pussy willows are one of those spring surprises that brings you back to your childhood. A bundle from the CT Flower Show, gets some wonderful morning light. A nice spot to enjoy a cup of coffee. Our crystals always bring a smile with a brilliant display of colors throughout our house.

Pussy Willow
I know a pussy willow
Her fur is pearly grey
She lives down in the meadow
Not very far away
She'll always be a pussy
She'll never be a cat
For she's a pussy willow
Now what do you think of that?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pantry art

The different textures of beans, seeds & grains make for an interesting art project. Anything will work here, so grab some supplies out of your pantry and have some fun.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Self-esteem in young girls

I had a discussion regarding teenager girls and self-esteem with a mother of two teenage daughters. During our discussion, the mother mentioned cosmetic surgery. While, I think it can be great for someone to do something they feel will make themselves feel better, I see that it can greatly effect how their daughter may feel about themselves consequently. Say if you both share the same nose and the mother chooses to have a nose job. How might her daughter feel about her nose when she looks in the mirror?

On the Today Show, they discussed mothers being the #1 role model for a daughter's sense of self and developing body image. So many times we hear people talk about dieting and diets and it is better to talk about being healthy & active. They specifically recommend saying, "I want to be healthy. I want to be active. I want us to feel good about ourselves."

The show featured some alarming statistics.
58% of girls describe themselves in a negative manner
40% of girls see flaws when they look in mirror
4 in 10 girls engage in unhealthy eating habits
25% would consider plastic surgery

Being a mother of a little girl, I know I have to stay conscious of what I say and what I do regarding my body, health and lifestyle choices, especially as she grows older. For me, I felt it necessary for her to know about healthy choices. We talk about giving our bodies energy, feeding our minds, vitamins, minerals, healthy snacks, walking our dogs, and eating a rainbow of colors (very fun for the family to play at dinner time).

As a teenager and young adult, I was too aware of appearance and body size. I would not even run and get a coffee without putting makeup on and body size was more stressed that health. Through the years I have found clarity. While, I think it is important to feel good about oneself, I overtly spend little time on my hair, clothing choice, seldom wear make-up or spend time in the mirror. After seeing those statistics, I feel my job to ensure a positive and healthy self-esteem in my little girl is one of importance.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Healthy rhythms

In these last few weeks before I welcome my new baby, I am trying to work on maintaining a healthy rhythm for myself and my family. Allowing myself a balance of rest, mental activity, and physical activity. These days there is a little more rest and more mental activity than physical activity, for walking up the stairs can leave me winded.

Also, finding a little time for myself has been important. It gives me a chance to refresh and to come back to my family with more energy, more patience, and more of myself. This has been something I have struggled with for the entire time I have been home with my little one (almost 5 years.) It is hard not to feel guilty, but, when I come return from some Mommy time, I have much more to give.

I feel staying conscious of my little one's rhythm is going to be very important as our family dynamic will be changing. A healthy rhythm will provide her with comfort and security. While, I may not be able to control what time the new baby wakes the house up, I will be going back to a weekly rhythm. Maybe a seasonal nature/science activity, baking,
painting, drawing, gardening and cleaning. I will also be planning more seasonal songs, finger play and verses, as my little one has graduated from her music class. This will also give us a chance to have some time together, just her and I. I'll be getting a list of spring songs, verses, and fingerplays together. What are some of your Spring favorites??

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The building blocks

:: The morning light lit up my little one's play area and as the morning light shifted, a rainbow pleasantly surprised us.


We have a few things sprouting these days - some garlic, an avocado seed and some little grape hyacinth bulbs the fairies left my little one. Yes, the fairies seem to come by at least once a week, here and here and here and a few others that I did not mention. The last thing my little one left the fairy was a curved paperwhite leaf and 2 twigs, which of course, was a boat for the fairies. (sigh... Love that imagination!) Aside from my daughter's love of fairies, she absolutely loves the book, The Story of the Root Children by Sybille von Olffers.

It's a delightful story about Mother Earth awakening the little root children, who have been asleep all winter, deep underground. When spring comes, they make their flower dresses and paint the ladybirds and beetles. They spend all summer playing in the ponds, meadows, and fields before returning to Mother Earth in the autumn. Now is a perfect time to incorporate this story with the changes we notice outside into our seasonal nature table.

The snow is melting, exposing the earth and moss (if your lucky) and it's a great time to go outside exploring for some treasures.
My little one is completely involved in bring her discoveries to our nature table and adding to our scene. Our nature table continues to be a very special spot in our house. I think a seasonal nature table is an invaluable way of making young children aware of the changing cycles of the year and upcoming holidays.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A sweet morning

Oh, what a sweet morning we had. Dad made his girls breakfast and had a heart shaped home fry on each of our plates. I loved that he planned that!

My little one discovered a few little gifts. A little hunt for valentine's chocolates made the morning extra fun for her.

:: My little one just started drawing hearts. So sweet!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The early bird catches the worm

I actually went to bed rather late last night with so many thoughts swirling about. My husband has a late schedule and his first thoughts when he saw me still up late was that I had something for him to do. I could have but I figured we would get an early start for tomorrow. Well, I'm up.... off we go.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Officially nesting

With my first child, the irresistible urge to prepare for my little one came at 8 or 9 pm at night and I absolutely had to put the baby's crib together that night. Then, I did some reorganizing and more reorganizing until the last week.

This time, it took me a while to figure it out, maybe 5 or so loads of laundry to realize that, yes, I am officially nesting. My husband had a hunch earlier today as I had him bringing down boxes of baby things from the attic and then started compiling another list for him for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Many years ago, while combing the beach for sea shells, I searched for the most perfect of shells. Pure white sea shells with absolutely no cracks or chips. I was very particular for sure and not just about sea shells. About life.

Through the lessons that only a child can teach you and some personal growth (and therapy,) the shells I most admire and treasure now are completely imperfect in their own way.
They are chipped and cracked, they have holes and are worn by the elements. To me, that is the true beauty of life and living.

and shells.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sea shells

So this is really not a necessity to organizing my house, but my decorative vases put a smile on my face. I think they help to create a peaceful mood as I visualize the ocean and beach and the waves and the sparkling blue waters....

I just love groups of things in glass vases and I especially enjoy putting seasonal items in the vases. With our baby on the way,
who knows when I'll find the time to fiddle around with them again. I am finally taking out the Christmas ornaments.

:: My little one's basket of sea shells in her playstand "workshop". She has always enjoyed sorting and organizing and playing with them. Her basket of shells comes out everyday. We even had some fun this summer painting some shells.

:: With some books from the library, especially, A First Look at Seashells by Millicent E. Selsam and Joyce Hunt, we are getting help learning how to identify seashells. This book was perfect for my 4-1/2 year old. Here's a closer look.


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