Friday, December 16, 2011

Fun Nativities for Kids

Do you have one of those Nativity sets that your kids are NOT allowed to touch? I do, not so much that it is expensive but that it has already been broken several times and repaired (the poor shepherd lost his foot again this year). I've always wanted to have a nativity that my kids could play with and handle, so here are some great ideas for just that!

A Printable Nativity (you can print the colored one, or the coloring book version one and let your kids decorate it themselves, thats what we did).

If you knit you could make this adorable soft knitted nativity (I'm in the midst of making this, it probably won't get finished this Christmas).

How about a gingerbread nativity!

Like Veggie Tales? There are also some pretty neat Lego and Play school plastic toy nativity sets.

Do your kids have their own Nativity? Mine do now!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make It Monday: Homemade Mac and Cheese!

Mac and Cheese is one of those great comfort foods, that warms your insides on a cold day! The benefits to making your own from scratch are that you can avoid the sodium and preservatives that the boxed brands have. You can also glam it up a bit by using different types of cheeses for different flavors. This recipe is the bare minimum technique for making a creamy mac and cheese sauce.

1 lb macaroni (elbows or penne works)
2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar for traditional, you can use any flavor you like).
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 c milk (whole makes it creamy)
2 T butter
2 T flour

Fill large pot with water and prepare pasta, to a little under done about 6-7 minutes. (*if you aren't going to bake the pasta at the end you can prepare the pasta to done, about 10 minutes).

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. With a fork or whisk mix in the flour. Let this cook for about 2 minutes, this is called a roux and it will thicken your sauce.

Here is the most important part, TURN OFF THE HEAT before you stir in your milk (it will curdle... :P).  pour in two cups of milk, stirring the whole time. Turn the heat back on to medium, stirring frequently until it starts to thicken.  Once the sauce begins to thicken add the cheese and keep stirring. Once all the cheese is melted your sauce is done.

Drain the pasta and pour the sauce over. Place in a greased 13x9 inch pan. You can add more grated cheese on top, or bread crumbs for a little crunch.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 375F or until your cheese on top is brown and bubbly!

This recipe is so versatile you can add all kinds of extras to make it your own.

Ideas for extras:
  • chopped ham
  • spinach and artichokes
  • saute garlic or onions in the roux
  • Parsley, oregano, basil or your favorite herb
  • Puree veggies like carrots to add extra nutrition, add to the sauce

Friday, December 9, 2011

What We Did This Week: Space!

This week our theme was Space! I have to say it was one of the boy's favorites from the first half of the year. As usual we got some books from the library, our two favorite books were:
  • I can read about Planets, by Darrow Schecter
  • Space Shuttles, by Gregory L. Vogt
My kids are pretty young, 5 and 3 so we tried to keep it simple. We learned about planets and did some coloring worksheets from, and we used a string to learn about orbit, I'll explain below!

On the day we learned about the space shuttle, we painted a picture of a rocket with sparkly stars!

Lately, instead of getting W to practice writing his ABC's I've been getting him to write out words that are part of the theme from that week. He is doing great and getting some sight learning in as well!

Check out some of these great videos from You Tube that we watched about the space shuttle! I just went to the site and typed in Space Shuttle

Here is a fun activity we did to learn about a planet's orbit!  All you need is a string and two people. One person stands still and will be the "sun" or "planted" that is being circled. The other person takes the string and holding onto the other end walks around the other person. This shows how an orbit always stays the same (for the most part).

If your kids are a little older you could make a planet mobile and experiment with a flashlight and ball to show day and night.

Have fun!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Make it Monday! Fajita Seasoning Mix

Fajita Seasoning Mix
Image courtesy of
2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 t dried oregano (optional).

a pinch of red pepper flakes (for some heat, also optional)

If you like a really thick sauce you can add 1 T cornstarch to the mix. You can also prepare a large batch of this ahead of time. This recipe is so versatile! My friend's daughter had a food allergy to garlic when she was small, all you have to do is omit the garlic powder! You also avoid the preservatives and sodium that are in most store bought seasoning packages.

You can use it for fajitas, or as a steak rub, or even in a spicy chili!

Friday, December 2, 2011

School Magnet Board

You can thank Pinterest once again for this idea! This is our "school board".  It is a place that we can display our work for the week, without having to stick things to the wall!

I purchased an oil drip pan from a local auto parts store, it was about $10. Basically it is like a great big cookie sheet! I mounted it to the wall with some 3M Command Damage free hanging strips. They are like Velcro, one part sticks to the wall, one to the board and you Velcro it to the wall! We just grabbed some magnets that were on the fridge, but I am hoping to make some with the boy's initials on them. They think it's great and they get to show Daddy all the things they did that day when he gets home from work!

I also used my handy dandy laminator and made a dry erase sign that we could write our theme of the week on. It's mounted on the top of the board.

How do you display your kids school work??