Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Homemade Playdough

About twice a year I'll make up some playdough at home and bring it for a craft.When the kids are done playing with it, they put their pieces in plastic bags and take it home. It's very easy to make, and cheap, but you do have to have cream of tartar to make the chemical reaction work. You can find it in the grocery store with the spices. It's a white powder used in baking.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Playdough

2 cups water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
few drops of food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Add the food coloring to the water if you are making one color of playdough. If you want to make more than one color, mix in the food coloring after it is cooked, when you knead it. Heat ingredients on medium setting, stirring constantly. It will set up quickly. Playdough is done when it holds together and pulls away from the side of the pan. Turn it out on a plate or cutting board to cool. Knead when cool enough to handle, and have fun!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Journey to Japan

Today for after-school storytime we went on a journey to Japan and learned how the Japanese celebrate their biggest holiday of the year---New Year's Day.

This year is the Year of the Rabbit. How did the years get their animal names? There is a story that explains how there was a race between the animals that decided the order of the animal zodiac cycle.

It's a Chinese story known throughout Asia. Rather than a book, my version is on story cards known as kamishibai. This was actually the first time that I have used kamishibai. I don't have a wooden theater to slide the cards into, I just hold them on my lap. Each card has part of the story on the back, so that the storyteller can read the story while the children look at the card. It worked very well.

We talked about New Year's customs in Japan, including this fellow---he's a daruma. A daruma is the image of a famous old monk, the founderof Zen Buddhism. He sat so long in meditation that he lost the use of his legs, and developed such great wisdom and virtue that he became a buddha, and can answer prayers. A daruma doll comes with his eyes blank. It is customary to buy a daruma at the beginning of the year, make a wish or set a goal, and paint in one eye. Then when the goal is accomplished, or the wish granted, the other eye is painted in.

Finally, as an activity, we did some origami. We folded paper balloons, a traditional origami model. It was kind of hard for most of the kids, since they were mostly under 6, but with some help from the moms they all ended up with a balloon to blow up and take home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stories and Songs for a Rainy Day

Well, it's not really raining outside right now, but it did yesterday and it will tomorrow.

We read Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, which is a simple. repetitive doggy book, and In the Rain with Baby Duck, a sweet and satisfying story about a little duck who doesn't like the rain, until she gets boots and an umbrella.

We sang a bunch of songs: Five Little Sausages, Two Little Blackbirds, Hands on Shoulders, and Shake My Sillies. We sang Pop Goes the Weasel with flannelboard pictures.

I meant to sing Rain Is Falling All Around, but forgot. But it's a good one for a rainy day, and can easily be changed to "sun is shining," "leaves are falling," etc. Here it is on YouTube:

This little video has nice pictures, but doesn't show the actions for the song. But the actions just follow the words. Wiggle your fingers while you drop your hands down for "rain is falling." Form a roof with your arms for "on the housetops," and bend right over for "on the ground."  You get the picture.

Rain is falling all around,
On the housetops, on the ground.
Rain is falling on my nose,
On my head, an hands and toes.

YouTube is exceedingly useful when it comes to children's songs and fingerplays. If you only have the words for a song and don't know the tune, or don't know the actions, YouTube may well have it. 

Our craft was umbrella pictures. I got the idea from, one of my favorite sites for kids' crafts. This one is really easy---just cupcake liners, pipecleaners, paper, and glue.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welsummer eggs

My two Welsummer hens are laying this winter, since we put a light out in their henhouse. The light---just a 60 watt incandescent bulb---is on a timer, and goes on 5:00-7:00 a.m. and p.m. This keeps the chickens laying one or two of these lovely brown speckled eggs a day.

One of the hens lays lighter colored eggs than the other, and one is named Kit and the other Felicity, but I don't know which is laying which.
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