Chasing Cheerios

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shaving Cream and Food Coloring Prints

During our "Art on the Beach" week, the girls had a great time mixing food coloring into a tub of shaving cream.

After they played with the shaving cream for a while, we placed a piece of white cardstock onto the shaving cream to make a print. This creates a pretty marbleized print (after you scrape the shaving cream off the paper).

The girls enjoyed the shaving cream so much that we did a variation of the same activity the next day. This time we used powdered tempera paint instead of food coloring. It turns out that blue and yellow don't necessarily make green!

We didn't make any prints this time. They just enjoyed the sensory experience of smearing themselves in shaving cream and then washing it off in the lake.

Painting with Colored Ice Cubes

My girls had a FANTASTIC time painting with colored ice cubes yesterday afternoon!

To make the colored ice cubes, I filled an ice tray with water and added food coloring (a lot of it!) to each cube of water before freezing the cubes. We painted on white cardstock since the paper needs to be thick in order to prevent holes from all of the water.

O loved painting a sheet just one color until the ice cube melted, and E loved painting with all of the colors. I also really enjoyed painting with the ice cubes, and I was surprised by how well it worked (we did this when O was almost 3, and I don't remember it working this well).

O said this was her favorite art project that we've done all summer (we've done a lot...I just haven't found the time to write about them yet). She and E would have painted all night if the ice cubes hadn't melted. Luckily, I refroze them so we can use them another day!

Btw, our hands are stained, but I think it will wear off in a day or 2.

Cultural Exchange

No more US participants, please! I don't want to put more than one US participant in a group, but I may have to at this rate. Also, there are LOTS of people that I haven't heard from with regard to the group number...I need this info so I can start dividing you into groups. I'd like to do this tomorrow (or maybe even start tonight). If you want to be involved, but have not contacted me, you may have another opportunity...if this works (without causing me too much gray hair!), I'd love to do it again. I'm super excited about the possiblities, but I am a little worried about people committing to participate and then never actually sending out any packages.

Attention...Cultural Package Exchange Participants PLEASE Read!

I've realized that instead of emailing each of you individually, it will be MUCH more time efficient for me to just put any instructions/directions on the blog. At the last count, almost 70 people have emailed me wanting to participate in this exchange. Since I have a hard time telling people no, I am going to divide the exchange into several groups.

I need each participant to email me with the following information:

1) Do you want to exchange with 1 person, 6 people, or a group of 12?

Please keep in mind that shipping may get expensive, and once you commit to being a part of a group, you MUST follow through with it.

2) Your child/children's names and ages

3) The country that you will be representing (several people who live in the US will be representing their home countries).

4) Your full name and mailing address

5) Please put "Cultural Exchange" in the subject line of your email

Please keep in mind that you must email me with this information to be a part of this exchange. I need this information as soon as possible in order to set up groups.

Here is what I expect from each participant...PLEASE read and be sure that you will be able to comply with the instructions before committing to be a part of this exchange.

1) If you sign up for a group of 12, you MUST send a package to each of your 12 group members! I do not want anyone to send out more packages than they get in return.

2) Each package should include a letter to the child/children of the participant you are sending it to...for example, the letters to me should be sent to O and E.

3) The letters should be written as if from a child. Although, parents may write the letters with input from their children if the children are unable to write letters. The letters should include relevant cultural information...holidays, traditions, your child's favorite foods and pasttimes. Basically, I want my children to be able to vividly imagine what it would be like to live in your country. I want them to have enough information that we can pretend to travel to your country and be children in your country. Be as descriptive and provide as much information as possible. Remember that you are reaching children around the world...what do you want them to know about your country???

4) You must include at least 1 picture of your child. I plan to put a huge map on our our wall, and we will attach the picture of the child to his/her home country. This will make our cultural/geography study more relevant and exciting!

5) You must include at least include at least 3 items in addition to the letter and pictures. These items could be coins, bills, stamps, artwork by your children, a small handmade toy, a recipe card with your favorite child friendly recipe, a small flag from your country, candy, small souvenir or trinket, postcards, examples of your language, stickers, small musical instrument, etc. Everything will need to be small and lightweight in order to minimize shipping cost.

6) All packages need to be sent out at roughly the same time...don't send one this month, the next 6 months from now, etc. I will not be sending my packages until the end of August or beginning of September. I want to be able to gather souvenirs while we are on vacation, and I want to have plenty of time plan our letter. Others of you have indicated that it may be several months before you can send your packages...ALL packages need to be sent by October (unless you contact me ahead of time and let me know...I need to know this information before I set up the groups).

If I think of anything else that I need, I will post it here. I will only send your names and addresses to the people who are in your group. I will never post personal information online. However, I will post info about the packages we receive along with links to your blog if you would like for me to.

Thanks for reading and participating in this (hopefully!) fun, educational, fantastic, wonderful, and phenomenal exchange!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More on the Cultural Package Exchange

Due to the tremendous response (in less than 24 hours!), I think I may have to divide this into groups. Also, I've had several people from the USA express an interest, so I'll open it up to you as well (I'd love to have participants from Alaska & Hawaii). (However, the South is covered, and I only need a few more from the US, so let me know quickly if you want in on this).

I'm going to wait a couple more days (maybe Friday). Then I will count the countries and participants from each and divide it into groups. I'll email everyone to see if you want to be a part of a large group, small group, or if you just want to send/receive a package to my girls.

I'd like for you to send all of the packages at one time rather than one a month since it will be really easy to get sidetracked and forget to send it (I know that I don't want to have to think about and try to remember this every month for the next year!). I don't want anyone to send out 12 packages and only get 7 or 8 back! So, if you want to do this, make sure you'll REALLY do it :)

There are a few specific things that I want included in each package...the key component is that it is a letter from your child to another child. Many children are too young to write letters (mine are), so I'll have O help me, but I will actually write the letter (although, I will write it as if I am O). The fun part about this for the kids is to actually get letters from other kids. Also, I would like for you to include at least one pic of your child. Other ideas include coins, stamps, postcards, candy or snack, small toy or trinket, etc. In order to keep the cost of shipping down, everything will need to be small and lightweight. I'm planning to send out large envelopes, not boxes, so all of our items will be small.

Since we have several vacations coming up and I want to gather souvenirs and postcards while on vacation, I won't be compiling and sending my packages until late August. I'm going to start working on my letter with O, but will not actually send the packages until I gather everything that I need to include in them. I think we may go on a few extra road trips just to have more stuff to include! So, the timeline is kind of loose...just within the next 3 months or so.

So, I still need people from Africa, Russia, the Middle East, India, etc. I know you are out there because I checked the map in my sidebar (and was amazed!) :)

Make sure to email me at if you are interested!

Wow! What a Response!

Thank you ALL so much for the wonderful responses to the cultural exchange!!! Here are the countries that are covered so far:

New Zealand
So, here is my plan...I'll wait a few more days for responses. Then I will email everyone to find out if you would like to participate in the group exchange or just exchange with me. Since I have had responses from more than one person from several countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, etc), I will include the first responder from each country in the group swap (if you choose the group swap). However, I will be happy to send & receive packages from everyone (as long as I don't get a hundred responses!).

Thank you again SO much! I'll be getting in touch with everyone via email, and please email me if you'd like to participate at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

International Readers...I Need Your Help!

So, I have an idea that's been brewing for a while, and I'm going to need some help to make it happen...are you in???

I read about Little Passports a few months ago (it's a monthly subscription to a package from a different country), and I thought about subscribing for my girls. Then (of course) I thought "I could just make that." I thought about it for a while...buying country specific items from Fair Trade websites and World Market, writing letters as if I were in another country, etc. I realized it would end up being VERY expensive and maybe not so great. Then my current idea emerged...

Wouldn't it be cool (and fun, educational, exciting, interesting, phenomenal, etc) for my kids (and yours!) to receive a package each month from a REAL child from another country???

Here is my proposal...

I (with O's help) will write a letter to your child. In the letter, we will talk about our country specific holidays (July 4th, Thanksgiving, etc) and traditions. We will discuss the things we do for fun, the food we eat, the places we travel, etc. I will include postcards, pics of the kids doing fun things in scenic places (water skiing, walking under waterfalls, hiking in the mnts, running on the beach, visiting a lighthouse, visiting Disneyworld, etc.), coins, a dollar bill, a recipe, and other small, lightweight, and fun souvenirs. If you will agree to send a similar package to me, I will send one to you! Also, if many people are interested in sending out several packages, then I'll coordinate addresses and get you the info, so that you can receive packages from other people as well as myself.

Ideally, I would like to receive at least 12 packages from 12 different countries. My plan is to give the girls a smartglobe for Christmas along with a "subscription" to a country package from a REAL family that they will get each month. Since the packages will probably all come in at about the same time, I will save them and then put one in the mailbox at the beginning of each month.

So, are you in? Doesn't this sound like SO much fun? I know that my girls will LOVE it...if it works. And another perk is that O can take her packages to her Montessori school when they are studying the different countries! If you are interested in participating, please email me ASAP at THANK YOU!!!

Edit to add: The emails are rolling in, so if you are interested in participating let me know ASAP. So far, I have particpants from Trinidad, Brazil, New Zealand, British Columbia (Canada), and Quebec (Canada). I am SO excited! Thank you ALL so much!

Monday, June 27, 2011

O's Beautiful Mermaid Birthday Cake

O(4) started decorating her own birthday cakes when she turned 3 years old, and she LOVES doing this! I think it's one of her favorite things about having a birthday. When we were discussing ideas for her decorations a couple of months ago, I suggested using her personalized paper doll on the cake. She LOVED this idea and wanted her paper doll to be dressed as a mermaid.

O had fun choosing her decorations, and she had even more fun decorating her cake. She used green jelly beans for seaweed and Swedish fish, gummy octupuses, and chocolate rocks to make it look beachy. She said "I can't believe I have a BEACH cake!"

She was SO proud of her cake!

e is for elephant & egg

I recently paired E(1)'s sandpaper "e" with a basket of "e" elephant and an egg. We say "eh, eh, eh" as we hold the objects and trace the "e." We also point to E, of course, while we are tracing the letter and saying the sound :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Plaster, Shells, Sand, & Rocks Mask

The girls and I used plaster of paris, shells, and rocks to make a mask on the beach last week during our "Art on the Beach" week.

First, we dug a hole in the sand. Then O(4), E(1), and I looked for shells and rocks to use to make the face. O and E arranged the rocks and shells in the hole.

Then we mixed up the plaster of paris. We didn't have as much as we needed, but it still worked out fine.

We poured the plaster into the hole and let it sit for more than an hour. Then I lifted out our mask. We were very pleased with the end result.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Montessori on the Beach...Landforms

The girls and I had a great time making landforms on the beach last week! I laminated the landforms sheet from Montessori at Home and took it, along with a large aluminum container, out to our tiny beach (this would work just as well at a sandbox). We chose a landform to make and got to work!

We made lakes and islands on the first day.

On the next day, I remembered to take blue food coloring and small plastic animals with us to the beach which made this activity even more fun!

We made a bay on the 2nd day. I drew the outline with a twig, and the girls dug it out.

We then slowly poured the water into the container. This was a good lesson on erosion because when O(4) poured the water too fast, the land eroded away.

After playing with the bay for a while, O turned it into an island.

We all really enjoyed making landforms, and I think this is something we'll do often this summer! (and I'm so glad that I didn't go to the trouble of making model magic landforms like I planned to years ago...this was much much more fun and engaging for the girls than having premade landforms)

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Decorate Your Own Cupcake" Activity

O(4) went with me to Special Events' Day (similar to Special Olympics) at my school a few months ago, and she was able to go around with a class to do all of the activities. Her favorite activity was decorating her own cupcake at the snack stand, and she said she really wanted to have a "decorate your own cupcake" activity at her 5th birthday party.

We had O's 5th birthday party (a month early so our friends who are moving to Costa Rica soon could attend), and the "decorate your own cupcake" activity was the highlight of the party! We typically don't have many sugary snacks or snacks with artificial colors in our house, but we broke that rule (big time!) for O's party!

When we went shopping, she chose blue sugar sprinkles, color sprinkles, color marshmallows, jelly beans, chocolate rocks, etc. She used all of these things to decorate her own birthday cake, and then we also used them for the cupcake activity. Fun times!

Animals & An Ice Cube Tray

Here is another simple activity to build one-to-one correspondence skills! I gave E(1) an empty ice tray and a bowl of mini animals. There were just enough animals for one animal to go into each space in the tray. E loved putting the animals in the tray. While I was showing her the activity, she kept saying "my turn, my turn!" Then after she had her turn, she said "mommy turn."

She completed this activity several times in a row, and she especially liked the mini cats.

She put 3 cats in one space, and I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from correcting her. She stared at the tray for a couple of seconds, and then corrected herself by putting one cat in each space. It was fun to watch her expression as she thought about it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Art on the Beach" Week...Handprint Canvas

The girls and I have had "Art on the Beach" Week this week, and it's been lots of fun. In fact, I think that we'll continue with daily art projects on the beach throughout the summer, since we've all enjoyed it so much.

One of our projects was to make a handprint canvas for their daddy for Father's Day. The girls decided to paint the canvas blue (blue is O's favorite color). The painted the whole canvas blue using tempera paint.

After the canvas was covered, we pressed their hands onto it to make handprints. We've done this several times in the past, but it's been almost 2 years since the last time, so I thought we needed updated handprints!

Getting the squirmy toddler's hanpdrint was not easy and took several tries...she kept moving her fingers when they were on the canvas. We are all happy with the final result, and we hope Elliott will love it!