Friday, February 18, 2011


This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count! It is a great activity for parents to do with kids of all ages and it's taking place this weekend! Just look for birds in your yard or neighborhood or right out your living room window and keep track of which ones you see (and submit the results if you want.) Birding is a great year-round activity for families. In honor of the bird count I made this coloring page of common birds you might find at your feeder if you live in New England.

the printable:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snow: Yellow Snow Cones

Who says you can't eat yellow snow? I wish I had thought of it sooner but I decided to give snow cone syrup a go before we're out of snow (right about now, that seems pretty impossible, but spring is on its way!). I've heard you can make it with Kool-Aid but I didn't have any and I don't like making anything if I don't already have the stuff on hand (but it's on my grocery list because I want to try it!). I had on hand lemon and vanilla extracts so that's what I used and I am sure if you had orange extract you could use that instead or forgo the vanilla altogether. Besides that, all you need is sugar and water, a saucepan and a stove.

Here's what you need:

1.5 cups of white sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
yellow food coloring if desired.

Here's what you do:

Boil in saucepan the water and white sugar, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 15 more minutes, until syruppy. Remove from heat. Stir in extracts and 10 drops of yellow food coloring (This was Spiff's color choice and I thought it funny, so why not?). Then cool in refrigerator for a while. (I was in a rush so I put mine in the freezer for a bit and then in the fridge.). Scoop up a cup of clean white snow. Dribble on 2-5 tbsp of the syrup. This recipe makes 1.5 cups of syrup or 12 2 tbsp servings.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paper Octopus

This morning we made paper octopuses. Just cut out the octopus head from the printable below and either color and use that as the head or use it as a template on a piece of construction paper. Then cut 8 strips length-wise out of another piece of construction paper. These are the octopus's arms. Use paint dabbers (do-a-dot, etc.) to make suction pads on the arms. (I actually folded the paper into eighths first and then had the kids dab the paint before cutting them, easier for them.) Twirl the arms around a pencil so they're nice and spirally and glue the ends onto the back of the head so that they are dangling down. Voila. Octopus. Spiff deemed these "Silly AND cool!" and then he was off to feed them some of Squidgee's toy fish.

Variation: Use a balloon instead of the paper head.

The printable:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow: A Great Blank Canvas.

It was a whopping 45 degrees here today and sunny- practically spring! Except our yard is covered in feet of snow. So we did the only thing that made sense- we gave our snow a little spring color- and spray-dyed a rainbow. It's a fun and unusual (dare I say funusual?) snow activity and, more important, easy! It's also a great way for kids to learn about mixing colors in a nontraditional way.

Here's what you do:

Get 3 clean and empty spray bottles- old cleaning bottles or plant spray bottles.
Add some water and several drops of food coloring. Red in one, yellow in another, blue in the last.
Go to town on that white canvas- SNOW!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cut-and-Color Printable: Fishbowl

It's a cold, wet day here today and since we're pretty much stuck inside as a result, it kind of put me in mind of a fishbowl. Just color in the picture, cut on the dotted lines and paste the pieces onto the bowl and enjoy a happy scene.

the Printable: