Friday, April 29, 2011

Volunteer Month!

April is National Volunteer Month!
For the past two years Matthew has been taking a community service and leadership class.  This class is a wonderful educational class for Matthew and is true to his heart.  He has so much fun helping others.  Several times this year, he has volunteered his time to help feed homeless.  He has also created a book that was sent to children in Afghanistan who are learning English.  He is currently involved in the March of Dimes.  He constructed created his own email to send to family and friends to ask if they would donate and he has been outside of stores with his class asking if anyone would like to contribute to this great cause.  He will be walking in May this year in order to help the March of Dimes.  Fun and Facts with Kids as a group, volunteered ourselves to help plant over 1000 trees in our neighborhood this weekend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tell a Story Day with kids!

Who, what, when, where and why should we tell stories? Storytelling is one of our oldest art forms and is an incredible way to help children and adults gain an appreciation for words. We believe that reading, writing, listening to and telling stories are all important aspects of any person’s education. Anyone of any age can tell a story.

Stories are used today for all sorts of things. Babysitters and nannies can tell stories to keep kids entertained, family gatherings, summer camping, picnics, and slumber parties are just some of the times where storytelling is popular today. We believe that you can take any part of you day and turn it into a story. If you are in your backyard and you and your children see a spider and watch where it goes and what it does you can (with your children) create a story about the spider. You can get the kids to decide on a lesson the spider will learn or just a story on what he is doing. You can create a story using only pictures or actually writing it down. if the children are young you can have them tell you the story and you can write it down putting each sentence or complete thought on the top of a piece of paper and have the children illustrate the story. We actually have many stories in our house done this way from when the children were younger. We find ourselves, from time to time, reading older stories the kids wrote over the years. The kids particularly, enjoy their own stories and illustrations and usually end up laughing hysterically at their own work.

Today with the kids we will focus on Folk Tales and Folk Storytellers. How stories have passed down from generation to generation even without books and conveniences we use today. How stories have withstood the tests of time and influence cultures. We will focus on how storytellers use body language and voice pitching to create the mood of the story being told and how these affect the persons listening and watching the storyteller. The 3 folk tales we think are fun for today are:

Black Snake and the Eggs
Click HERE for Tale              
Click HERE for Power Play (children can act the story out)

The Chief  Who Was No Fool
Click HERE for Tale            
Click HERE for Power Play (children can act the story out)

Spider and the Honey Tree
Click HERE for Tale             
Click HERE for Power Play (children can act the story out)

We will each choose one of the stories and decide how we want to present the story.  Whether we want to just read the story from the pages or whether we want to create props and tell the story in our own words to the listeners.
This will be fun family evening as the kids present the stories to each other after dinner

Remember to ask your children "WHAT stories can you tell?" today and have fun with it!

Telling Stories:
Encourages the development of a better understanding of self, others, and people of the world
Internalizes the sense of story form
Improves comprehension
Improves self-esteem, builds confidence and poise
Improves expressive language skills and stimulates inventive thinking

Visit this site HERE for some inspiration on Story Telling.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Pretzel Day with kids!

Our Pretzel Day banner we made last year!
Today is National Pretzel Day!
Last year we held a Pretzel Making Fun Day and the kids LOVED it so much that its now an annual request!  We have been busy with so many other educational fun days that we will not be celebrating this day today. The kids will have fun with pretzel making in days to come.  We will be visiting a local pretzel making factory so the kids can see and learn how pretzels are made.

You can check out last year's Pretzel Day post by clicking HERE and HERE.  Try to get out there today and get your free pretzel at your own local pretzel store!  You can download or print out our favorite recipe HERE or click on link below image below.  Also at the bottom of this post, we provided Pretzel Company that are giving away FREE pretzels today!
Pretzel Recipe

We made the directional placemats!

Here is a list of Pretzel companies giving away FREE pretzels today:

If you live on the East Coast you can try to find a local Philly Pretzel store to recieve a FREE Pretzel today!  Click HERE for their website

Pretzel Maker is giving away free pretzels - Click HERE to find a store near you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Zucchini Bread Day!

We found this recipe last year when we were searching for baking ideas for Blueberries.  Now that we know there is actually a day dedicated to Zucchini Bread we wanted to share it with you!

Blueberry Zucchini Bread
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini-loaf pans. Add Crumb Topping if want
  3. Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Crumb Topping:
1 Stick of Softened Butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
mix altogether with hand and sprinkle all over the top of the loaves before baking

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

This year, for our Easter Craft Day; we were fortunate to have out of town relative’s visit us.  Although, this was premature of Easter; we decided to have our Easter Craft Day Party with all the kids together.  This was so much need to add something here because we actually received a lot more helping hands that offered not just help but lots more creativity!  The kids had a blast and some were really excited to join in on one of our "fun and facts craft days" for the first time!!

 Weeks prior, the kids planted grass seed in 3 plastic flats.  To dress them up for our tablescape we made our very own white picket fence from copier paper.  A wonderful sign was made out of paper circles with Happy Easter written on them and then each letter was placed on an egg shaped paper that was cut out of pastel colors. The flats of grass were then decorated with little chicks, eggs, jelly beans, and bunnies.  Most of the decorations were from crafts we have made through the years during our craft parties. 

The girls were given elastic string, large eyed sewing needle and large jellybeans to make their own jewelry to wear to the party.  They had a great time creating these pieces and they were overjoyed to wear their home made Easter jewelry all day.  We had some bunny ears from over the years and we had the kids create bunny tails using cardboard, yarn, glue and cotton balls. This was so cute and everyone completely enjoyed the props for the day. 

After the crafts were all made and the table was set, we sat down to enjoy a fun Easter treat.  We served Banana Punch (see recipe below) and handmade yellow chick cupcakes!  The kids loved them. 

Time to dye our eggs!  We had taken some toilet paper tubes and cute them into strips.  This served as our egg holders.  It was fun to watch everyone’s creativity shine through.  
All in all everyone had a fabulous day that was festive and certainly enjoyable.  What a wonderful time and fun memories for all of us.  Happy Easter to you all!

Banana Brunch Punch

60-70 ServingsPrep: 10 min. + freezing
 Banana Brunch Punch


  • 6 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 3/4 cup thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 3 cups warm water, divided
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 can (46 ounces) pineapple juice, chilled
  • 3 bottles (2 liters each) lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • Orange slices, optional


In a blender or food processor, cover and process the bananas, orange
juice and lemonade until smooth. Remove half of the mixture and set
aside. Add 1-1/2 cups warm water and 1 cup sugar to blender; blend
until smooth. Place in a large freezer container. Repeat with
remaining banana mixture, water and sugar; add to container. Cover
and freeze until solid.

One hour before serving, remove punch base from freezer. Just before
serving, place in a large punch bowl. Add pineapple juice and soda;
stir until well blended. Garnish with orange slices if desired.
Yield: 60-70 servings (10 quarts).
 *** We didn't freeze ours

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day with kids!

image from Anthropologie
Today is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.  So how has Earth Day changed our world?  Watch this quick video from ABC Good Morning America

We have been celebrating Earth Day all week by continuing the work on our paper tree.  This year, we have combined both Earth and Arbor Day together.  This is mainly because Arbor Day happens to fall on the same day as Easter Sunday.  Our tree, that is made from recycled products; has been a continuous art project this entire month.   We’ve added items like paper birds, cicadas, butterflies and even small Earth globes.   The kids are having a great time with it!

During the month, we have tried to do something small each day to do our part for the earth.   Matthew has made some beautiful newspaper beaded jewelry for us to wear on our Earth Day Craft Day.  He has now taken it upon himself to create a new recycle box so he can throw recycled items into it.  We have made newspaper origami pots for our seedlings we are starting this year.  This was surprisingly easy to do and the kids love planting things so now we are all set for this year.  Here is a video on how to make them - http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-fold-newspaper-pots-for-seedling-using-origami

Yesterday we visited our local park that has a creek and picked up some of the bottles and cans we found lying around and disposed of them properly. 

Going forward, the kids are excited to volunteer next Saturday to plants some trees in one of our nearby towns.  We are also using our recycled egg cartons that we now have from our egg dying party to make Egg Carton Flowers! 
This is a great month to add awareness of our planet and trees to the children’s growing education. 

Here are some internet freebies we found for Earth Day:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day Freebies!

Here is a round up on all the Earth Day freebies being giving out tomorrow and some are all week long!  

New - Free 12 page Earth Day Activities Book for Kids (PDF)

National Parks: FREE Park Admission all week!

A young park visitor scans upward with binoculars.
A young birdwatcher scans the skies at North Cascades National Park Complex, Washington.
April 16-24, 2011
Get out and discover something new about your 394 national parks. This year's focus, Healthy Parks, Healthy People, highlights the connection between human and environmental health and the vital role America's national parks play in both.
Whether you prefer a 20-mile backcountry hike in Yosemite or a leisurely stroll around Philadelphia's Independence Hall, moving outside is good for you and offers a chance to explore these places you own. Search the events calendar to find your National Park Week "must-dos," and share your national park experience on Facebook or Twitter.

Disney Store: FREE Reusable Bag on Earth Day 4/22!

Head over to the Disney Store 4/22 and receive a FREE Reusable Shopping Bag when you bring in and recycle 5 plastic bags. 
*Limit one bag per Guest, while supplies last.

Starbucks Store: FREE cup of coffee or tea on Earth Day 4/22!

Bring in a travel cup and receive a free coffee or tea at participating stores

Great video...

Target Store: FREE Reusable Bag starting 4/17!

Reusable. Stylish. And it’s free.

Earth Day exclusive: On April 17, 2011, we'll be giving
away free reusable bags in stores (with purchase) to our
first one million guests. Limit one per guest. Last year,
most stores ran out within a few hours. So get yours while
supplies last.
When you use a Target reusable bag ten times, you’ll
keep 25 plastic bags out of landfills. Start saving now,
and shop our exclusive collection of reusable bags.

Earth Day Freebie from Origins 4/22!

Earth Day 4/22 bring your empty cosmetic packaging –everything from bottles, tubes, jars, deodorant sticks and compacts
 regardless of the brand- into your local Origins store to be recycled and receive a free sample!  Here is the form - http://www.origins.com/cms/special_offers/in_store_trade_in_20110422.tmpl

Lowe's Store: FREE Tree on Earth Day 4/23!

Click on image for more info or to find a store
Other Earth Day events:
Before you throw away your old flip flops, donate them. Old Navy stores are collecting old flip flops from April 22 (Earth Day) through May 21. The flip flops will be recycled by a company called Terracycle, and used in playground equipment for children.

FREE Plant Earth's Planet Earth, Series 1 download from i-Tunes !   To download Planet Earth’s Planet Earth, Series 1, you need to have iTunes.  http://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/download/?id=285558902&AID=10480621&PID=2026489

Make sure you check back and we will continue to post any more freebies as they become available!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day!

Pineapple Upside down Cake Day -

          It seems like every day's a holiday in the foodie community, which isn't surprising since people generally celebrate holidays by eating.  The Pineapple Upside-down Cake is labeled as such because, while you pour the fruit into the bottom of the cake pan before covering it with batter, you later flip the cake onto a platter after baking and serve it upside-down (with the pineapple showing on top). This "topping" is often made from fresh pineapple rings with maraschino cherries in the center of each ring.
The glossy, fruity cake is suspected to date back to the 1920s, when the Maraschino cherry and pineapple were popular, readily available products to the American public. Thought to have been inspired by skillet cakes cooked on the stove by settlers lacking ovens, the pineapple upside-down cake was popularized by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later renamed Dole), when they published a series of ads featuring pineapple recipes in 1925 in numerous women's magazines.  Below are 2 recipes one from scratch and the other using cake mix.  You could also use a muffin pan and make individual cakes. 

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple
10 maraschino cherries
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix

Melt the butter over medium high heat in the iron skillet. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly to cover the butter. Next, arrange pineapple rings around the bottom of the pan, one layer deep. Place a maraschino cherry into the center of each pineapple ring. Prepare the cake mix as directed by the manufacturer, substitute some of the pineapple juice for some of the liquid in the directions. Pour the batter over the pineapple layer.
Bake as directed by the cake mix directions. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a plate. Do not let the cake cool too much or it will be stuck to the pan.


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
7 slices canned unsweetened pineapple (20-ounce can)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
19 maraschino cherries
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Have ready a 9×2-inch round cake pan. Drain pineapple and place in one layer on paper towels to absorb the excess juice.
2. Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in the cake pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt to coat all sides with butter. The extra butter will settle in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.
3. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it. Place the maraschino cherries in the center of each ring and in the spaces between them.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork.
5. In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons of buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium, or high if using a handheld mixer, and beat for exactly 1½ minutes. The batter will be stiff. Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for exactly 20 seconds and scraping the bowl after each addition. Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and tilt the pan in all directions to detach it from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before unmolding.
7. Invert a serving platter on top of the pan. Cover your hands with oven mitts and turn the cake onto the platter. Lift off the pan. If any fruit or cherry pieces are askew, use a fork to push them back into place. If any brown sugar is left in the pan, scrape it up and spoon it over the cake. Serve warm or cool.
(Source: Joy of Cookinghttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=broeyebak-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0743246268)

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