Monday, July 23, 2012

Erupting Play dough Volcano

All the kindergarten classes at my son's school celebrated the end of the year with a fun luau party, so I asked a few other bloggers what they thought the easiest way to make an erupting volcano was (I didn't feel like making one out of paper-mache even though this one by Zing Zing Tree looks pretty awesome).  And I loved the idea of making a volcano out of dirt, however I didn't think the school would be too happy with me digging or adding dirt to their yard.

So Toddler Approved, Growing a Jeweled Rose and Mommy and Me Book Club all recommended we make one out of play dough.  I ended up following the directions off of Create-kids-crafts website.  I didn't take pictures of the volcanoes I made for my son's school, however I promised my son's friend I would make him a volcano over the summer.  ;-)  So here it is:

-Homemade play dough: water, flour, salt, cream of tartar, oil and food coloring (click here for recipe)
-Baking sheet (I used a jelly roll pan)
-Water bottle
-Tin foil
-Baking soda
-Food coloring (optional)

First cut the water bottle in half.

Place the water bottle on the baking tray and start wrapping aluminum foil over the rim of the bottle.  You want to create the shape of the volcano. I think I used about 5 strips to shape this volcano, and then I trimmed a bit off the base.

Take the play dough that you made and roll it out.   Cut off a big piece and wrap it around the tin foil.  Make sure you lay it gently on the foil so it doesn't collapse the volcano.

Roll out the play dough again and continue to cover the volcano.  I covered the volcano in 3 sections of play dough.

Here's how it looks finished.  I added a few dinosaurs and some red food coloring for fun.

Next take about 2 tablespoons of baking soda and place it into the mouth of the water bottle.

I premixed about 4 cups of vinegar with red food coloring.  And then I poured some vinegar into a smaller measuring cup for the kids.  They will need about 1/2 cup -1 cup to make their volcanoes erupt.

Have the kids add the colored vinegar into the mouth of the volcano to watch it erupt!

The kids will love it and want to do it over and over again. ;-)

Once the kids are done with it, just toss it in the trash.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club - Don and Audrey Wood

There are so many great Don and Audrey Wood books, but the one that caught our eye this time around was Birdsong by Audrey Wood.

This book is beautifully illustrated by Robert Florczak and introduces a variety of birds and their habitats. What my kids loved most about the book was hearing what each bird's "birdsong" was.  We decided to craft our own birds (a craft we found on create names for them, and come up with what their birdsong might be if they were real birds.

I just had to post this picture.  My son, is so used to me taking photos for my blog, that he now thinks it's hilarious to make weird faces while he is working on his craft.  Anyways, we were having a little chuckle about him making faces and I snapped this photo while we were talking.  I just love his smile.

-Paper plate
-Tissue paper
-Curly ribbon
-Construction paper

First fold your paper plate in half and then apply glue to the back side of the plate.  I ended up helping both my kids apply a thin layer of glue over the entire paper plate.  This way they didn't have to keep applying a dab of glue for each piece of tissue paper. We were trying to be efficient. ;-)

Then let your kid(s) apply various colors of tissue paper onto the plate.  I bought tissue paper at the craft store that were already cut up into small squares, but you can easily cut out or tear pieces from a sheet (it will just add an extra step).

Next we took orange construction paper and cut out a triangle and then folded it in half.  Here is an example of both (folded and unfolded).  This is the beak of the bird.

Still hard at work, applying tissue paper to her bird.

Next, have your child pick their favorite color construction paper for the wings.  Fold it accordion style.  You will want to fold it along the longer side of the paper, so that the wings are nice and long.

Take some white construction paper and cut out two circles for the eyes.  Draw a black dot in each circle for the pupil.

Fold your paper plate in half and glue an eye on each side of the plate.  Next, take your beak and glue the fold of the beak into the fold of the paper plate.

You might want to use an X-Acto knife for this next part.  I just poked my scissors through the plate, but be careful not to tear it since it is still damp from the glue.  You want to cut a slit big enough for the construction paper (the wing) to slide through.  And make the same cut, in the same location on the other side.  (This is where the X-Acto knife might come in more handy).  Once you are done cutting both sides, slide your wing into the slit.

And finally, take some curly ribbon, and cut about 10 long strands for the tail.  I let the kids choose the colors and how many they wanted.  I tied all of them together at the end and then stapled this end into the fold of the paper plate.  I then glued one more piece of tissue paper over the staple, so that it couldn't be seen.

Here are the finished birds.  My kids named their birds and came up with what sound their birds would make.  My daughter (who is 3) named her bird Winger.  She said her bird would sing "Tweet, tweet, tweet".  And my son (who is 6) named his bird Fire Wing.  He said his bird would whistle "Ffeeeeew, Ffeeeeew, Ffeeeew" (I hope I translated that whistle correctly) ;-)

This was the only photo I could get of my kids playing with these birds. They loved this craft so much they played with them for a good straight hour after we finished making them  They continued playing with them  later that night and into the next day.  So you're probably wondering...if they played with it so long, how come this was the only photo you got?  Well, I gave up after a while...the kids were running around the house flying their birds up into the air, that I just couldn't capture a good one.  ;-)  This mommy was tired.


The Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids is a place for bloggers/parents/teachers, etc. to explore some fabulous authors and new books! Each month we will study a new author and each participant will choose a book (or more than one) to share on their blog by that author. Each month we will have a link up where we can share any book-related activities, projects, etc.
Here are the authors for this summer and linky dates:
June 18th- Mo Willems
July 16th- Don and Audrey Wood
August 20th- Kevin Henkes

We hope you enjoyed our post! If you've done a Don and Audrey Wood activity, join the fun and link up with us and all these other wonderful bloggers!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids: July

We are getting ready for our next Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids series that will showcase Don & Audrey Wood books on Monday, July 16th.  What are your favorite Don & Audrey Wood books?  There are so many great books to choose from:  The Napping House, Piggies, A Dog Needs a Bone, Quick as a Cricket, and the Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.  The list goes on and on!

If you missed our June post, featuring Mo Willems, be sure and check it out and the many other wonderful posts that are linked up to it.

Come join the fun with us! 

All you have to do is:

1. Pick your favorite book by Don & Audrey Wood and read it with your child.

2. Create an activity, project, craft, cooking project, etc. related to the book and do it!

3. Come back and share it with us as part of a big Don & Audrey Wood Blog Hop on Monday, July 16th!

4.  Be sure to become a fan of our Facebook page Virtual Book Club for Kids.

Looking forward to seeing everyone's creations! ;-)

Be sure and stop by these other fabulous blogs, who are participating in this Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids as well!

Toddler Approved

Monday, July 9, 2012

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Japan: Somen

As we continue our travels around the world in our Around the World in 12 Dishes wasn't too difficult for my kids to decide what dish we should prepare for this month's country, Japan.  Since I am half Japanese, from time to time I cook Japanese foods for them.  Currently, their favorite dish is somen, which was a perfect choice, because it is a traditional summertime dish in Japan.  It's also one of the quickest Japanese dishes you can probably make.  If my kids had a choice, they would eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

-Somen noodles
-Somen Tsuyu (dipping sauce)
-Boiling water
-Ice cubes
-Green scallions (optional)

First cook the somen according to the package instructions.  The instructions are usually the same for most brands.

 For the brand we said to boil a pot of water.

Gently add somen to the boiling water.

Then let it boil for 3 minutes.

Drain somen in colander and cool under running cold water.

Fill a bowl with water and add some ice cubes to chill somen.  This keeps it nice a cold for those hot summer days.

In smaller serving bowls, pour a little bit of somen dipping sauce and add a few green scallions (optional).

Then say "Itadakimasu"!  Which is a phrase everyone says before eating a meal in Japan.  There really is no English equivalent for this word, but it means "I humbly receive".  Then take some somen and put it into your bowl and enjoy!

I bought these cute training chopsticks for my kids, and they are pretty simple to use. In case you were wondering, they are called Pororo Edison Training Chopsticks for Children.

After you are done eating, Japanese people say "Gochisousama".  Again, no real English equivalent for this word, but it roughly translates into "Thank you for this delicious meal".


Please check out all the other wonderful bloggers who are taking this journey with us!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Japan: Tanabata

Tanabata 七夕 is a Japanese holiday that is celebrated on July 7th every year. (Although in some places in Japan it is celebrated in August).  This holiday came about because of a romantic story that was created based on the stars Vega and Altair who are closest to each other on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.

There are many versions of this story,  but the main gist of the story is:

A long long time ago there lived a beautiful princess named Orihime (Vega). She could weave very beautiful cloth and worked very hard, so hard that she couldn't meet anyone to fall in love with.  Her father felt sorry for her, so he introduced her to Hikoboshi (Altair, he is also known as Kengyu), a cow herdsman who lived on the other side of the Amanogawa River (known as the Milky Way).

It was love at first sight for Orihime and Kengyuu, and they spent so much time together that they neglected their responsibilities.  Orihime's father, Tenkou, the god of the sky, became so angry that he separated them by taking Orihime back across the Amanogawa  River.  This made the two lovers very sad, and so Tenkou decided that he would allow them to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month.  However if it is raining on that day, the river (milky way) is too flooded to cross, so they must wait another year to meet.

According to Tsuku blog "A strange turning point in the history of Tanabata was surely the adoption of the western calendar by the Meiji Government after 1868. The seventh month is August according to the lunar calendar, but is July in the new calendar. These days the 7th day of the 7th month is NOT the time when Vega and Altair meet. This occurs in August. And more to this, the beginning of July is still the rainy season and stars can rarely be seen at all! Sounds ridiculous, but it is true. The festival is celebrated a month too early.  The great Sendai Festival, however sticks with the correct timing, as do the festivals in Yamaguchi City and Oita. For major NEW CALENDAR events (I mean in July) head for the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival in Kanagawa."

To celebrate Tanabata, people write their wishes on paper (tanzaku) and hang them from bamboo branches along with other decorations-it really can be beautiful!  When I was a child, we celebrated Tanabata on July 7th, but since there are many cities that celebrate in August, it's not too late to make your own wish tree.  Here's how you can celebrate Tanabata:


-Bamboo branch (if not available, use any tree branch, or perhaps they have artificial bamboo branches at the craft store).
-Origami paper (or other colorful scrapbook paper)
-Hole punch
-String (we used curly ribbon)


First go to this great Origami website that will teach you how to make beautiful decorations for your Tanabata tree.  (It's in English)  The difficulty level is rated by the stars below, so the easier decorations have one star and the hardest one has four stars.

My son is making a simple ring chain.  He was excited about making this because he already knew how to make them from his Kindergarten class.

Here he is hanging his finished decoration.

Here is a lantern that I made.

Next, cut your origami into rectangular strips.  These are called tanzaku and people use them to write their wishes.  Kind of like the wishes you make when you throw a coin into a fountain.

One of my son's wishes  was....."I wish my life would last forever"and one of my daughter's wishes was..... "I wish for a new camera".

After you are done writing your wishes (one wish per tanzaku), punch a hole at the top, cut a long piece of string and pull it through the hole of the tanzaku.  Tie a knot at one end, and then hang it on the tree.

When there is a summer festival in Japan, girls & women dress up in a yukata, which is a light cotton kimono, that is ideal for the hot, humid weather Japan has during the summer.  I don't have a yukata for my daughter, so I dressed her up in a beautiful kimono that belonged to her grandmother (my mother) when she was a child.  

What kind of wishes will you write on your Tanzaku?

We hope that  you enjoyed our Tanabata celebration.  Please check out the other links below for more fun ways to discover Japan.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Japan

Welcome to "Around The World in 12 Dishes". We will be taking you on a journey around the world, (loosely) following in Phileas Fogg's footsteps, exploring 12 different countries with our children, by cooking 12 dishes with them. One for each country visited.

The world is such a wonderfully diverse and colorful place. Our children see maps, flags and books. They see postcards and maybe they see films about the world.. but let's really bring it to life through food! Taste and smell don't often get explored, we think this would be wonderfully fun and interesting for you and your children.

Not only is it an exciting and different way to learn about cultures, but cooking with children brings a host of benefits - from numeracy to science. How can you beat that?

Adventures In Mommydom, Creative Family Fun, Glittering Muffins, Juggling with Kids, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Make, Do & Friends, Mermaids' Makings, Mom 2 Posh Little Divas, Montessori Tidbits, Mummymummymum, The Educators' Spin On It and The Usual Mayhem have come together to help you on your food journey and will each cook a dish with our children and post about it - to help inspire you to have a go! Then go out there, cook, blog, and join in the linky fun! Check out the other great posts as well!

Around the World in 12 Dishes

We had started our journey the same way Phileas Fogg did in London, UK, and Stockholm, Sweden continued on to Moscow in Russia. Now our next stop is New Delhi, capital of the exotic sub-continent of India!
Japanese Post Box
This is me standing in front of
Hiroshima's Atomic Bomb Dome.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion) Zen Temple in Kyoto.
Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima

 How to join the fun!

  • The only mandatory part is the dish, the rest is all up to you, we just thought it would be fun and more concrete to the kids as to why we are making a unusual dish.
  • Cook a dish from Japan: The goal is to explore this country through FOOD and activities if you wish. Make a typical dish (sweet or savoury) from the country with the kids, take photos and have fun!
  • Typical dishes: Sushi, Okonomiyaki, Chicken Yakitori, Gyoza, Sukiyaki, Yakisoba.
  • Print your passport: Click here to download, comes with space for a photo of the child with the dish. Here is a little cover for it if you wish :)
  • Color a placemat: Once colored/painted or whatever other way you want to do this, you can laminate it or put it between clear contact paper to use it over and over. Great conversation piece for you and your kids. Click here to download it.
  • Make a craft: you can make a country related craft with the kids [optional!]
  • Read a book: We recommend "K is for Kabuki".
  • Fun fact: Many of the western style toilets in Japan have a built-in bidet system for spraying your backside.
  • Share with us: Our Japan challenge starts on July 1st and will remain open for a year, so attach a link to your blog to enter the linky party or go to the comment section and post a photo together with what you did together with your child(ren).
  • Pinterest: We will add your photos to a "Around the World in 12 Dishes" Pinterest Boards (one for the dishes, one for the crafts) you will be a great source of inspiration for everyone :)
  • Are you a blogger? Let your fans know about the challenge and grab our cute lil’ button to share it on your blog.
Around the World in 12 Dishes
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Around the world in 12 Dishes" width="125" height="125" /></a>
If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it to us or post it on our Facebook page. We’d love to do a Facebook album, a Pinterest board and a page of your creations :)
Please link up your Japanese dish and/or craft in our linky below, we would love to see it!