Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pizza! Pizza!

Need a yummy plan for dinner? Having trouble cooking and entertaining your child at the same time? My solution yesterday was making pizza with pre-made dough from the store. We use either canned tomato paste or pizza sauce from a jar and add whatever toppings we have on hand. Yesterday it was what was left of the shredded mozarella (not much), roasted red peppers, mushrooms from our farm box, and pepperoni. Sawyer greased the pan, dumped and smeared the sauce (over the dough and the table), and put the cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms on.

It looked like a 2 year old made dinner, but it tasted great! We added a salad too and if he hadn't been distracted by daddy coming home, he might have washed the lettuce, dried it off, and torn it into pieces or cut it with a table knife.

We've made homemade dough in the past, which is a fun floury and sticky mess. It just takes more patience since you have to let it rise. But you can cook, take a play break, and cook some more. Here's one recipe for homemade dough from Cooking Light on myrecipes.com: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1227877

Monday, May 18, 2009

Painting with a Ball and Box

Yesterday we made some cool paintings using a box, golf ball, paint, paper, and a few pieces of tape. Tape the paper in the bottom of a box (it's best if the paper covers most of the bottom of the box). Let your child choose the colors of paint and put the paint on the paper. Have them place the ball in the box. Show them how to roll the box around so that the ball rolls through the paint and makes tracks all over the paper. Stop when your child thinks their masterpiece is complete. You'll want to have some wet paper towels handy to pick up the ball and wipe it clean, and then wipe any paint that is on the box sides and bottom once you remove the painting.

It was so tempting to take this project over. Let them make choices about the color combinations, the number of colors, how much paint (watch out with this one, we have one that is still drying), where to put the ball, whether to roll the ball with one color before adding another color or add all the colors of paint and then roll, and when it's finished. Resist the temptation to jump in and take over, empower their inner artist. I practically had to sit on my hands.

I was surprised that this activity held Sawyer's attention as long as it did. Four paintings in a row! You just never know what will capture their interest. We did one painting with a whiffle ball a few months ago and he was D-O-N-E after one. Sawyer's favorite part yesterday was choosing the colors he was going to use, lining them up, and unscrewing the lids. Oh, and he loved putting the paints back in the box when we were done so much he dumped them out and put them away again. Also, just so you know, I ended up doing quite a bit of the actual rolling, but I always let him roll first, then when he wanted me to roll I asked him to give me directions like "Where do you want the ball to go next?" and "Tell me when to stop."

Variations: You can make areas of white space by having your child cut out or just tape down some shapes with scraps of paper before adding paint and rolling. When it's dry, remove the shapes.

You can also paint with other things that will roll around in the box. What can your child find that will work? Rocks or pine cones? Marbles, whiffle balls, tennis balls? An orange, lemon, or avacado? And who says you can only put one thing in at a time? Let me know what you try!

One of our paintings is on it's way to dad's art wall at work, and I think two are headed for grandparents' mailboxes, that leaves one to tape to the pantry door since I'm out of fridge door space and magnets!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Solar S'mores Oven

I sure hope it's sunny tomorrow, because Sawyer and I are planning to make s'mores in a pizza box turned solar oven while we play outside. Like so, so, so many of my projects, I got this idea from Family Fun Magazine. See their directions for the project at http://jas.familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts?page=CraftDisplay&craftid=11954 or just go to their website and search for "solar s'mores". If you don't have an account with them, you might want to make one. It lets you save the directions for projects in your own "craft box" for future reference.

I cut the flap in the lid of the box tonight, so I won't have to use the forbidden sharp grownup scissors in front of my scissor loving boy. But I plan to have him glue the foil and black paper and help with the taping of the saran wrap. And of course, he'll be positioning the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. I'm envisioning a major tangle of saran wrap and tape. And some chocolatey goodness on our fingers and faces when we assemble and eat our s'mores.

So go to it, make a messy treat while you do whatever your kids like to do outside. We'll be kicking the ball, scooting the bike, and running the bases while we await the chocolatey melt down. As Sawyer would say, "Set, GO!"

Have you made a mess with your kids today?

I have a high tolerance for messiness. I've always been like that. Messy hair. Messy room. Messy house. Messy ideas for fun things to do with kids. Which is the real point of this blog.

As it turns out, being able to tolerate, and even celebrate the mess is a good quality to have as a mom! And while not every idea I share will be messy, they will be written in the spirit of recognizing that our kids, ALL KIDS, learn through playing with stuff, touching stuff, tasting stuff, creating with stuff, and that stuff is often messy. Dirt, flour, dough, paint, whatever it is, there is usually a way to make a mess. And if we can let go of worrying about whether our kids or their clothes, or our clothes or kitchen floor are getting messy and concentrate on the wonder of what our kids are experiencing instead of how long their hands are going to be dyed green, then we can enjoy parenting so much more!

Also, I'm full of ideas for adventures. Places to go, things to see and do that are out and about. While some of these outings are not messy outright, your house may remain messy longer than it would have if you had stayed home and tried to do chores and entertain your kids at the same time (more on this thought later).