Autumn – What’s Your Favorite Family Tradition

Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially when I was living on the East coast. I always enjoyed seeing the leaves change color and picking apples. That was something we did every year with my family as they were growing up. We would make a day out of it because it was some distance away.

Now that my daughter is grown and has children of her own she wants to continue the tradition with her family. Where we live in Northern California, Apple Hill isn’t very far away. My daughter and her family spent the day there at different apple orchards, picking apples, and eating some yummy pie. We didn’t get a chance to go with them this year, but we hope to next year.

Besides eating the apples whole, we enjoyed peeling, coring, and slicing the apples with the gadget we had that did this. The children also helped in making desserts with the apples.

What is your favorite family tradition?


Carpet Squares – What to do with them?

A few weeks ago I was at a carpet store and asked if they had any carpet squares to give away. They said they had some by the front door and I could take what I wanted.

Being a former preschool teacher and also owning my own preschool I have used carpet squares a lot. They are not really squares but most of them are rectangular. They are great for when you are doing circle time and you want each child to have their own space.

Carpet squares can also be used for playing games – hopping/jumping from one carpet square to another, using it for color recognition/sorting, or just having it around in the book corner.

I got some carpet squares for my grandchildren. I got one for each of them so if my daughter was doing circle/story time they could each sit on a carpet square. As you can see in the pictures they had other ideas.

C and H playing with the carpet squares.

C and H playing with the carpet squares.

C trying to decide what to do with the carpet squares.

C trying to decide what to do with the carpet squares.

Some other things that you can do with carpet squares – get enough to make a hopscotch game, can be their own playing area, build on it with blocks or legoes, take outside to sit on if you don’t have a blanket available.

What would you use the carpet squares for?

Sponge Bullseye

When I was planning fun activities to do with my grandchildren I wanted to do one with water. At I came across this fun activity using wet sponges.

I stopped off at the Dollar Store and I picked up a pack of sponges and some sidewalk chalk. I already had a dishpan that I could fill with water for their sponges.

I drew a target on their patio with chalk and assigned point values for each circle. Of course the bullseye got the most points. We then drew lines on the patio where the children would be standing to throw the wet sponges.

We decided to play until 21 points was reached. We kept score on the patio with different color chalk. This was good for the older one to practice keeping score using tally marks.

I forgot to take pictures of this, so next time we do that I will.

Remember to supervise children under 3 when playing with water.

Shaving Cream – What Else Can You Do With It?

A few weeks ago I planned some fun activities to do with my grandchildren. I like to do things frugally when I can, so I purchased a can of shaving cream at the Dollar Store. Shaving cream is a great sensory product for children who don’t put things in their mouth.

Before I let the grandchildren play with the shaving cream, I got a dish pan(from the Dollar Store) and filled it  half way with water. I also had some towels available. I do this to make clean up easier. I did this activity outside but it could also be done in the house.

Shaving Cream Fun

Shaving Cream Fun

They had a small child size picnic table that we used. I squirted the shaving cream on the table and let them at it. After a little while, I asked my eight year old grandson if he wanted to play tic tac toe in the shaving cream. He thought it was a cool idea. I had him look for a couple of sticks to use as our writing instrument. We could have also used our finger.

Tic Tac Toe and Shaving Cream

Tic Tac Toe and Shaving Cream

For those children who may not want to touch the shaving cream or they still put things in their mouth, you can put some shaving cream in a ziplock bag and seal it. Let them play with it and squish it.

What does your child like to do with shaving cream?

Homemade Pretzels

Ingredients: Buy 1-2 cans biscuit dough(depending on number of people eating it)(found in the refrigerated section). Beaten egg yolk, coarse salt.

Procedure: Give each child two pieces of dough and have them shape it into a pretzel. They also could make it the shape of their inital. Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake as directed on the package.

Before baking the pretzels, put parchment paper down on the baking sheet. You can write their names down by their creations so you know whose pretzel is whose.

If you want a sweeter version, spread melted butter on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake as directed on the package.

Stuffed Animal Parade

You can have a stuffed animal parade with one child or twenty children or any number in between. When I use to own a preschool we would have a stuffed animal parade day. The children were able to bring their favorite stuffed animal.

The children can share with others about what they brought. They could also talk about the different kinds of stuffed animals as well as various sizes.

The children could make hats for their stuffed animals and also themselves. Prior to this, collect some boxes that the children could put their stuffed animals in and parade around the house or class. The boxes can also be decorated. You can also use wagons or strollers to pull the stuffed animals around in.

Potato Faces

This is a fun activity that the children can do.

Materials: 1 potato per child, grass seeds, container or cup to hold potato

Procedure: Cut the top off of a potato and hollow out about 1/4 inch down. Have the children sprinkle grass seed in the hollowed part. Set upright for 3-4 days. The potato will soon have a growth of green “hair”. The children may then decorate a face. The moisture in the potato waters the grass.

Home Made Sand

Are you looking for a different sensory material to make? Do you love coffee? This recipe has a great feel to it and it uses dried coffee grounds. If you don’t drink coffee or have access to anyone who does drink it, check with Starbucks or a local coffee shop to get some of their used coffee grounds.


4 cups dried used coffee grounds

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt


Mix ingredients together. Put in sand or water table for scooping, pouring, measuring, feeling, and smelling. Keep in Ziploc bag or covered plastic container.

To dry coffee grounds: 

Place in shallow tray or box and let air dry. You can also leave it out in the sun for several hours to dry.


Yogurt and Orange Juice Popsicles

In my book Summertime Sanity for You & the Kids(A variety of activities for preschoolers thru elementary) I share 15 almost healthy snacks for children.

Another favorite snack that I like to make, especially in the summer is a yogurt and orange juice popsicle. It remids me of the creamsicles I use to have when I was little.

Ingredients: frozen orange juice, vanilla yogurt

Procedure: Mix several tablespoons of frozen orange juice into the vanilla yogurt. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can put some in  paper cups and freeze( add popsicle sticks after about an hour).

This also taste great without freezing.


“Creation Station”

Last month our church had a Kid’s Camp for three days, where I had a class for them called “Creation Station”. The children were able to come in during their free time and create whatever they wanted to. Sometimes there would be between 15 and 20 1st and 2nd graders. During that time I didn’t have any behavior problems.

What is the “Creation Station”? It was a room with a variety of materials(mostly recycled things) where they can create things. We provided tape, glue, scissors, markers, crayons,  and magnets. We didn’t provide any paint or glitter but the children didn’t seem to mind.

Prior to Kid’s Camp, for the past three months we had people save boxes, egg cartons, material, paper, paper towel tubes, foam pieces, and anything else we thought would be good for creating. We also had metal washers, coffee cans, toothpicks, straws, pipecleaners, cottonballs, and q-tips.

If the child wasn’t done with their project they could keep it in the room and work on it the next day. The children made robots, tanks, a solar system, lollipop garden, and a blanket for their stuffed animal to name just a few. I was quite impressed of things that the children created.

You too can have your own “Creation Station”. Start saving a variety of things and pick a couple of days when you want your child to create. Just provide the materials and let them go at it. For younger children they may need more help or some ideas of what to make.

What recycled things do you like to use?