Monday, December 16, 2013

Gingerbread Men!

 I've been thinking for a while that it would be really fun to make and decorate gingerbread men with Erik. It occurred to me that it would be even more fun if we invited some friends to do this with us, so we invited our play group over to our house a few days ago and had a marvelous time decorating our gingerbread men. We used this recipe and it seemed to be a big hit with the kids and moms alike.
Now, I won’t pretend to have set up a tablescape worthy of Pinterest, but just in case you want to do something like this too, here’s the set up:
I made the frosting and the cookie dough the night before the activity so I wouldn't be so rushed in the morning. I waited until about an hour before the guests started arriving to actually bake the cookies so that when they arrived they were greeted by the smell of fresh warm gingerbread wafting out the front door. Yes, it would have been easier to have them baked a day in advance, but I knew that they would smell SO yummy and wanted to share that with our friends.
I covered my kitchen table with some craft paper to keep the mess somewhat contained. I put out a bowl of frosting, as well as a few squeeze bottles of frosting so that the kids had the option of either covering their whole cookie or just using the frosting as glue (I tripled the frosting recipe that came with the cookies so that there would be plenty to go around, and boy was I glad I did). Next I set out plates of candies and other goodies to use as decorations (gum drops, marshmallows, m&m’s, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc). Each child got a paper plate and a plastic butter knife at his seat, and I had plenty of cold milk on hand for those who wanted something to wash down all the sugar. I had planned on putting any cookies the kids wanted to take home on a paper plate with their name on it and then sliding those inside a plastic bag with a twist tie for easy transportation, but for the most part all the cookies got gobbled up LONG before everyone headed for home.
We had so much fun with this and the kids LOVED it! It was fun to see the different approaches the different age groups took to the creative process. Basically, the youngest ones didn't care what it looked like; they just wanted to shovel the cookies into their mouths as fast as mom would let them. Then there were the kids (Erik was in this group) who wanted to decorate their cookies, but not as much as they wanted to just chow down on the candies. The oldest actually took some time and thought about how to make their gingerbread men look nice before gobbling them up. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No-Sew Nativity Hand Puppets

I found these adorable NO SEW puppets on Pinterest last year and fell in love with them (original website and free pattern here). I made a set for myself and then attended a Relief Society meeting where all the ladies got to make a set for their own families. It was a lot of fun, and the puppets are so stinkin’ cute! In the hustle and bustle of the holidays though, I never did share these on here so you just barely get to see them now. Don’t worry though, there’s still time to make a set for your family before Christmas gets here!
When I made mine I used a hot glue gun to hold together the front and back pieces and to glue on the chunkier embellishments such as ribbons and beads, but I used Tacky Glue to put on everything else. If I were to make these again, I would definitely use the hot glue for everything as I've had to re-glue several of the smaller felt pieces this year as Erik plays with them.

I love that this is a way for Erik to really get involved when we talk about or read the Christmas story. He loves the bright colors and the soft felt. My favorite is when he mimics the face the angel is making; I wish I had a picture to share because it’s pretty funny! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Easy-to-Wash Bath Paints

Well, sometime in the last few weeks (while I've been busy doing nothing important and have only occasionally stopped by to see how things were going on here) my blog here passed the 10,000 views mark. Maybe to some big bloggers out there that's what you get each day, but for me it's a pretty major achievement. So, before I jump into today's activity I just want to offer a warm welcome to any new readers out there, and a cheery hello to all the old ones. Thanks for stopping by!
With baby number two on the way here, I've been having a hard time scraping up the energy to do anything, so poor Erik hasn't had too many new things to do lately. I'm starting to realize though, that I get just as much enjoyment out of working on preparing activities and typing up blog posts as he gets out of doing the things I come up with. I've been feeling bored the last week and realized today that I need to get back into the habit of doing fun new things around here more often. So, in the spirit of that realization, I hit my pinterest boards and found this recipe for bath paints. It's cold around here today and I thought that sitting in the warm bathroom to paint and then taking a nice warm bath would probably be really nice for Erik, so we went for it.
Now, you may remember that we've done bathtub painting before, so why bother with a new recipe? Well, the other one I've used in the past can be a bit hard to clean off once it's had a few minutes to dry, so I was hopeful that this would work a little better as far as clean up goes. It was quick and easy to mix up. I actually didn't really measure the ingredients, I just used the recipe as a basic guideline and mixed things in until I got a consistency I liked. Erik is really interested in colors these days, so this was a fun chance to talk about the different colors and for him to watch new colors form when I mixed them up.

 Erik helped mix up the paints and was WAY excited to give this a try. He had his clothes off in the blink of and eye, and was in that tub ready to go! He dove right in, and loved every second of his painting time!
It's been a long time since I've done something creative with him other than just handing him some colored pencils and some paper; it was fun to watch him experimenting with colors and ways of painting (brushes, hands, feet, etc).  

 When the paints had been enjoyed to their fullest potential and had become nothing more than a messy slipping hazard, I turned on the water, washed the worst of the mess down the drain, and then filled the tub with nice warm water and let Erik "swim" and help wash the tub. The paint washed right off of the walls with little to no scrubbing, hooray! I love things that let Erik make a mess and have some freedom, but that are contained and easy to clean. We will definitely be doing this one again!