Category Archives: Activity Implementation

Painting a Starry Night

We had a blast painting our own “Starry Night” masterpieces to go with our “Solar System and Pluto” theme last week.  I set the kids up with some poster board type ‘canvases’ to start and we moved on to construction paper.  We used plain brushes and washable kid paint.

The beginning of Lala’s masterpiece…

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Tbear creating a beautiful painting…

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Lala experimenting with mixing colors..

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Two beautiful works in progress…

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Running out of steam…

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A wonderful interpretation by Tbear…

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Tbear’s second masterpiece…

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Another colorful representation by Lala…

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Lala’s gorgeous creation…

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I even got in on the fun and painted one of my own.  I had such a great time!  I can’t remember the last time I painted my own picture!

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Check out van Gogh’s original painting at the Google Cultural Institute.  I found a couple other great resources for art lessons related to Starry Night also… (Links will open in new tabs.)

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #PlayfulPreschool! via The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Van Gogh’s Painting Style Lesson Plan: Painting for Kids via KinderArt

I hope you will consider trying a little painting with your crew.  You can get the supplies fairly inexpensively.  We used the following (Amazon affiliate links.  If you use these links to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.):

We used paper we already had around the house. When we use up what we have, I am considering getting some of this (Amazon affiliate link):

I purchased the little paint trays at Dollar Tree…

Unlocking a little creativity through painting was very refreshing to me and the kids greatly enjoyed it!  Lala often says painting is her favorite activity.  I see more painting in our future!

Whirling With the Wind… Building an Anemometer!

We finally made our anemometer today!

I started with these awesome instructions on Instructables using paper cups, straws, a pencil, and a push pin…  Check it out: Paper Cup Anemometer.  Of course, as usual… our finished product turned out a little different…  hehehe

Here are the supplies…

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I decided to use a hole punch to put the holes in the sides of the cups….  The kids had fun with that part!  Four holes in the base cup…

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Base cup with straws inserted to form the cross pieces…

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Had to use the scissors for the hole in the bottom of the base cup…

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Base cup with pencil through the bottom hole and pushpin through the straws (where they cross) and into the eraser of the pencil…

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Side cups with two holes each…

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Anemometer assembled!

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Our cups were bigger than the ones called for in the original instructions and the straws were too short to fit all the way through them… so we used a couple of staples to keep everything in place correctly….  😉

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Side view of the anemometer…

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Angled view…

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Bottom view…

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The kids had fun blowing on it, trying to make it spin…  Daddy had enough ‘wind’ to make it spin really fast!  It was cool to watch it whirl when the wind picked up.  At this point, I had thought about discussing measuring wind speed (Why let an opportunity for a math lesson slip by?!?  😉 ), but after hassling me over all the supplies and tools for the project, helping punch the holes, supervising the assembly, and testing the final product…  the kids wandered off to other pursuits on the other side of the yard.  Attention spans only last so long…  😉  This was a great project for our windy weather!

Making Mini Books for Aspiring Authors!

I realized yesterday that I still hadn’t posted about the mini alphabet and number books we made in co-op several weeks ago…  We had so much fun making them and they were pretty easy to put together!

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I started with a bag of random sized squares of scrapbooking paper that was lurking in the cabinet…  I pulled out and put together bundles of pieces of the same size – 14 for the alphabet books and 6 for the numbers.

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Using a hole punch, Mic helped prep by putting a hole in the upper corner of the pages. I found a package of book rings at Dollar Tree. The rings went through the holes and… The books were ready for their authors!

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I gave each kid a set of alphabet stickers and number stickers.

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Mic and I also put together sticker dots for the kids to add to their number books.

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They also had crayons available to decorate their books.

The kids got the chance to be both authors and illustrators!

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Tbear enjoyed putting the sticker dots right on top of the numbers in his book!

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Lala’s Number Book in progress…

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We put each child’s name on the front cover, with the ‘title’ of the books.

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This project is a great letter and number activity, as well as a fun opportunity to help kids understand the concept of creating their own books…  being an author!  One never knows what might light the spark of creativity!

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Supplies List
I used items I had around the house or found at Dollar Tree for this project.  For convenience, a supply list with affiliate links to similar items on Amazon appears below.  (If you use these links to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.  Links will open in new tabs.)

Paper – “Sn@p! Color Vibe Collection Paper Pad 6″”X6″” 36 Sheets-“
Hole punch – Swingline 1-Hole Punch, 1/4″ Holes, 5 Sheets (A7074005)
Book rings – S.P. Richards Company Book Ring, 1 1/2-Inch Diameter, 100 per Box, Silver (SPR01438)
Letter and number stickers – Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection – Alphabet and Numbers
Sticker dots – Avery Round Color Coding Labels, 0.75 Inch, Assorted, Removable,Pack of 315 (6733)

Fevers, Flashes, and Spinning Flowers… AKA Sick Kid, Thundershowers, and Pinwheels…

We had planned to go out today, but Lala started running a fever last night and is still a little warm with a cough…  So we are chillin’ around the house.  I should have guessed something was up when she took a nap yesterday afternoon…  That NEVER happens anymore.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen again today…  😉

A pretty awesome thundershower blew through for a while this afternoon.  It poured and boomed for a while.  We definitely need the rain!  And the blustery weather is perfect for more ‘wind’ activities!

While Tbear napped, we worked on making a pinwheel…  One of our ‘wind’ projects for the week.  I started with these great directions from Shirley’s Preschool Activities for Pinwheel Paper Craft.  I am finding fairly often though that I end up improvising these projects with my own ideas…

I had a package of brightly-colored, square scrapbooking paper, so we picked out a few colors.

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I set Lala up with some colored pencils.  She colored for a bit, but didn’t want to focus on it for long since she isn’t feeling well.

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A few of the pencils were pretty dull, so she got a kick out of using the pencil sharpener…

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I folded the colored square on the diagonals and cut on the folds to about 1.5 inches from the center of the square.  Then the improvisation began…  I first tried a map pin, but finally decided it wasn’t long enough…  It did help with putting a small hole in each point though…  It was actually fairly challenging to fold and overlap the cut edges and put a pin through them…  I’m sure it would have been quite amusing to watch me struggling with a little blue piece of paper….  🙂  I finally grabbed a paper clip and straightened out one side…

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I also intended to use a small wooden dowel, but couldn’t get the pin to stick into it.  I thought about using the eraser end of a pencil, but decided on a straw instead…  After I switched to the paper clip, I added a spare mechanical pencil eraser to the straightened end of the clip to keep everything together…  hehehe

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It was a strange creative process, but the pinwheel works!  Mic is so much better at projects like this than I am!  I’ll have to let him have a go at making one when he gets home.  😉

Here is the finished product:

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I got a chuckle out of it… and Lala and I had fun, so that’s all that matters in my book!  😉

Time For Telling Time… and Puzzles…

I sat down with the kids on Monday to play ‘telling time.’  Lala has started asking pretty regularly, ‘What time is it?’  A while back I ordered a Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter Clock and decided to get it out.  It was a hit with both kids!

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Tbear loved pulling all the blocks out and mixing them up…  I showed Lala the ‘digital clock’ on my phone and the app that will switch between ‘digital’ and ‘analog’…  We talked about 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute (because there was a second hand on the smart phone clock…)  I showed her how the hour and minute hands work and we discussed how you have to go all the way around the clock with the hour hand twice to measure time for a whole day…

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Needless to say, that was a lot of information for a four year old…  She thought it was fun to ‘set’ the clock and have me tell her the time.

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I really like this clock as a learning tool.  (Affiliate link – If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)  (All links in this post will open in a new tab.)

I also found a lot of online clock games.  We’ll look at those in the future…  I think kids aren’t taught to tell time in school until first grade or later…  I’ll follow Lala’s lead….

We played with the clock for a while and then Lala wanted to do a puzzle…  This book and puzzle set was a birthday present earlier this year.

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After reading the book, we put the puzzle together.

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It is really a challenge to put together a puzzle with the help of a two year old…  😉

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The finished product!

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(Affiliate link – If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page)

The kids wanted to do some more puzzles, so we got out a couple others…

I love our stacking block tower from Melissa and Doug…

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Tbear kept knocking the stack over as quickly as I could build it….  not letting me get a picture…  😉

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After knocking the tower down a few times, Tbear started trying to stack it back up himself…  I find it fascinating to ‘watch’ my kids’ minds work!

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We have a lot of fun with these stacking boxes! (Affiliate link)

The only thing I didn’t consider is that occasionally the kids try to stomp them… We have had to repair a couple of them… I should have gotten these wooden ones… (Affiliate link)

Lala put together a whole bunch of little puzzles.

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It looks like this puzzle set has been discontinued…  I actually got it at the JBF Sale last year.

I am so tempted to get this for the kids…  (Affiliate link)

Learning about telling time, turned into a fun puzzle and block building time…  And then it was time for Tbear’s nap…  🙂

Binding a Book of Numbers

I love my book binder!  A while back, I splurged and bought myself a little binding machine…

I remember debating about purchasing it for quite a while before I finally took the plunge…  I just went and looked up the purchase…  It was nearly 2 years ago (where does the time go?!?) and I actually paid more for it than I remembered (selective memory loss!)…  But, I have to say I think it was money well spent.  It has already seen a lot of use and with homeschooling, it is going to see a lot more…  🙂

I used it today to put together a book for Lala…  I printed out these awesome 0-20 Number Coloring Pages from 3Dinosaurs and bound them into a book…  (All links in this post will open in new tabs.)  All it takes is punching some holes, putting the pages in the spine, and closing it up.

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Easy and fun!  My kids love having their own books!  Lala quickly took off with it (and a highlighter from my desk) to quietly color…

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I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I use books like this for all my own planning, note taking, and other writing these days…  Kids are amazing mimics…  😉  I have bought all different sorts of planners, notebooks, and journals over the years…  My homemade ones are officially my favorites now!  I can include just blank pages or anything else I want: calendar pages, templates, colored dividers, anything…

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Anyways, I just wanted to share my geeky joy of making a book for Lala this afternoon with you…  🙂

If you’d like to check out the binding machine for yourself, here is the Amazon affiliate link (If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page):

R is for Rain…

The weather where we live has been rainy and unsettled the last couple of weeks. Since we live in the desert, rain is fairly unusual. 🙂 It has worked out well that we didn’t get our ‘rain’ activities done when R was the letter of the week…  We have made a Rain Stick and did a Rain Clouds experiment.  We had fun with both projects!

Rain Stick

I found these cool sensory bottles over at In Lieu of Preschool.  Check out their DIY Sensory Bottles: Rain Stick instructions.

This project only requires a few simple items:

  • Tall plastic bottle
  • Skewers
  • Toothpicks
  • Rice

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We put the skewers in the bottle, on the angle as much as possible…

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Then we added toothpicks… I started with a small box…

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And had to go search around for a BIG box to finish filling the bottle…

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Then we added the rice…

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Here is the final product…  It’s generally best to ‘seal’ the lid on with hot glue or something similar…  To avoid a mess…  😉

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It doesn’t make the sound I expected it to…  The kids enjoy shaking it, but I’m not sure if we need a taller bottle or what…  Anyways, it was a fun project and is definitely a great noise maker!

Rain Clouds

We got the inspiration for this experiment from Teach Preschool.  Check out their post: Clouds in jars and on the table top too!  

It requires:

  • A couple of jars
  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • Cups (1 for each color you want to use)
    • I used a craft stick to mix the water and food coloring in each cup…
  • Eye dropper
  • Paper towels are recommended too!  😉
    • And I did put plates under the jars, just in case…

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We put a little water in the cups and added the food coloring…  We used liquid food coloring, but ran out of blue and red, so those colors weren’t as dark…

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We did this activity while Tbear was sleeping…  I felt a little bad he didn’t get to participate, but he is still so grabby it would have made the project nearly impossible…  Daddy was home to help us though!

We started with one jar…

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Lala added green and yellow food coloring with the eye dropper…

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After a few squirts of color, the ‘rain’ started to ‘fall’ in the jar…  🙂

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I think I am a geek…  I thought watching the color ‘shoot’ down toward the bottom of the jar was cool!

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Going and going…

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Lala kept adding colors as we watched the ‘rain fall’ in the jar…

We decided to try the blue and red in the second jar…

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She kept adding color, but…

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Rather than ‘rain,’ a ‘haze’ developed right under the ‘cloud’…

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The shaving cream in this jar responded totally differently than in the first jar!

Three distinct layers…

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Lala wandered off after a while, but Mic had fun playing with the ‘rain’ for a bit longer!  What a fascinating experiment!

We have been enjoying both the rain and these ‘rain’ activities!  There is a chance of more rain today. Yay!  We really need it!

Messing With “Mother’s Day” Crafts… :)

On Mother’s Day, Mic and the kids surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of ‘flowers’…

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I was so delighted with such a beautiful and creative gift!  He got the idea from this post – Make A Bouquet of Flower Cards for Mother’s Day – from Handmade Charlotte.  (All links in this post will open in new tabs.)

Though these flowers and the other projects below are certainly not reserved just for moms, we put several of them together in our homeschool co-op preschool classes for the kids to give to their moms…  Everyone had a lot of fun making these cool gifts!

‘Lanterns’ – We created ‘lanterns’ using toilet paper rolls and LED tea lights… and a few other things…

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Mic found an old train conductor punch in the garage that made perfect “stars” for the light to escape from the cardboard roll…

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The plan had been to color coffee filters with markers and then spray them with water to ‘mix’ the colors and create a beautiful ‘stained glass’ design, but…  It snowed the day we did this project (gotta love May weather!) and the first couple of filters we did were taking way too long to dry without the sunshine to help…  So, we skipped the water piece and just put them over one end of the toilet paper rolls after applying glue to the sides with a glue stick.

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We gave the kids some stickers to add for additional decoration.  Then we placed some left-over ‘Easter’ grass on the plates, added an LED tea light, and placed the ‘lantern’ over the light.  Voila!

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Most of the supplies for this project came from Dollar Tree or Walmart.  For convenience, a list of the supplies with Amazon affiliate links appears below.  (If you use these links to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page)

Upcycled vases using tissue paper and stickers – Don’t laugh too hard at the bottles we used as the starting point for the vases…

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These cans are aluminum, so they are lightweight, but not fragile…  I thought they would be perfect!  And Mic was happy to help prepare them for use…  😉

Add in some glue, a tray with foam brushes, and some tissue paper…

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We coated the exterior of the bottles with glue and then applied tissue paper (ripped into smaller pieces) and stickers.  A little extra glue helped with adding a few layers of paper for effect…

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And they look beautiful with flowers in them!  😉

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(And yes…  I recently purchased a gallon jug of glue…  I figured we would be needing some for all the crafts and projects we will be doing…)  Here is what I ordered from Amazon (Affiliate link – If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page):

At the time of this writing though, this looks to be cheaper…  It is interesting to watch prices change…  Shop wisely!  🙂  (Affiliate link)

(You could certainly also order tissue paper, brushes, trays, and stickers from Amazon as well…  but I am guessing that you may have some of those things around the house… or some stickers left over if you made the ‘Lanterns’ detailed above 🙂 )  The tissue paper and trays for the glue came from Dollar Tree.  This multi-pack of foam brushes is pretty neat for fun projects though… (Affiliate link)

For convenience, here are Amazon affiliate links to some supplies that should work well for this project (If you use these links to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)

Air dry clay hand prints – I really loved this activity…  I am a sucker for any sort of hand or foot print crafts…  🙂  And this one was so easy!

We squished some clay on to a paper plate and smoothed it down (a rolling pin or similar tool would have been helpful for this part), then I gently pressed the kids’ hands into the clay.  We set them in a ‘safe’ spot for a few days to let them dry.

Lala’s print…

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Tbear’s print…

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We used this clay (Affiliate link – If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.):

But it looks like (at the time of this writing), Amazon is offering a better deal on this… (Affiliate link)

I’m still debating whether to paint the handprints or just write the kids’ names and the date on them…  I probably missed a stroke by not adding a hole at the top for hanging…  Live and learn!  Next time!

The kids (and moms and dads!) had a blast with these projects!  We hope you do too!

Squishy, Tactile, Yummy Bird Feeders

One of our “tree-related” projects this week was to make bird feeders…  Birds live in trees, right?  😉

The kids had a great time making the feeders.  I used this activity at co-op and with my kids at home.  We made two different kinds.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

I’ve seen several variations on this feeder, but we used pine cones, lard, and mixed bird seed.  I had been thinking about doing this activity for a while and wondered where to get pine cones.  Then we visited Grandma and Grandpa…  I forgot they have tons of pine cones all around their house.  Score!

You need something fairly thick and sticky to put into the pine cones.  I’ve seen it done with peanut butter, but I didn’t want to take peanut butter anywhere near the co-op, so…  we used lard.  Good, old-fashioned lard.  I don’t think I had ever bought any before…

Here are the materials:

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Plus birdseed…

Let the fun begin!  First, we cut a piece of twine about 2 feet long and tied to on to the pine cone.  Then, we used large craft sticks to apply the lard.

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I poured some birdseed into an aluminum foil roasting pan… (We saved these from a catered luncheon…  I figured I was just being silly keeping something that should have been recycled…  But we have used them so much for projects!)  And we rolled the lard-coated pine cones in the seed…

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Lala wanted to pick it up and pour it on to the cones…  It feels really neat to run your hands through the seed…  Great tactile experience!

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Here are the finished products…  Ready to be hung in trees for the birds!

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Pipe Cleaner Bird Feeders

Thanks to Happy Hooligans for the idea for this one.  Check out their post on 32 Homemade Bird Feeders to Make With Kids This Winter. (Links will open in new tabs.)

This feeder requires 3 pipe cleaners, some toasted O’s cereal, and a piece of twine or string.

I bought a box of toasted O’s cereal and put it into individual bags for the kids for simplicity…  Of course, no kid could resist eating a little of the bird feeder material…

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As you thread the O’s on to the pipe cleaners, leave 1-2 inches on each end empty…  You will need that ‘open space’ to assemble the feeder…

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Once the pipe cleaners were ‘loaded,’ we twisted two of them together to form a misshapen circle…

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Then put one across the middle…

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Added the string and voilà…

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Here are two we made…  I love how simple these are!

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These feeders were so much fun to make!  I hope the birds enjoy them too!

 

Wandering, Wondering, Leaf Walk

We wandered off on a leaf walk…  and discovered that although we live in an arid environment… since our house is in a neighborhood in town, there are an amazing plethora of different kinds of trees within just a few blocks of our home!   I am completely out of my depth in identifying most of them!  I have been left wondering what they are…

Any tree experts out there?  🙂

I had no idea I was so clueless about trees!  I think I will have to get a tree identification field guide…