Preschool Phonics Learning Game

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This is Hopkins. I made him for a preschool group to help them learn letter sounds. If you can’t tell, he is supposed to look like a frog. I made him out of a shoebox, some paper, and some green paint. I spend a out half an hour making him from supplies I had on hand so Hopkins was basically free. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t take pictures while making him to share with all of you….sorry.

Here is a short recap of how I made him. I took the papers from inside the shoe box, balled them up and masking taped them on top to form the bumps up for the eyes. Next I covered him all over with brown packing paper. Then painted him bright green. While it dried, I used construction paper to cut out legs, spots, and a tongue. Regular white paper and a Sharpie formed the eyes. A little glue, and Hopkins was complete.

Next I printed off some bug clip art (I only had a free bee picture, a fly would probably have been better). Our printer is black and white so that gave me the opportunity to add some fun colors by hand. I laminated the sheets and then cut them out. This allows me to write letters on the back of the bugs with a dry erase marker.

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 So, how do you play? Well, Hopkins, of course, eats bugs but he is a bit picky and will only eat bugs that make a certain sound that day. So the kids pull bugs out of a bag, figure out what letter they have and what sound it makes. Then they either feed Hopkins or discard the bug in another box.

So far the preschoolers have seemed to really enjoy it, and the learning possibilities are endless with this. I can even see using it with kindergarteners or first graders. It could be used for learning numbers, sight words, even basic addition problems or having Hopkins eat words that are the specific part of sentence like verbs.

This is a ToDoLady original pattern. Please feel free to copy this idea, however, I am not liable for any accidents or issues you may encounter while engaging in this activity. 

Olive Oil

Do you use Olive Oil? Years ago I switched over to only using light olive oil and no other vegetable oils. I prefer the Bertolli Extra Light and typically it is less expensive at Sam’s club.

So when we make a trip to Sam’s, I stock up. The last time I was there I was surprised to find a special offer for a free cookbook  when you purchase 2 containers at Sam’s. I was stocking up anyway, so it was perfect. I’m always looking for new recipes to throw in with our standard meals every so often.

Anyway, if you like olive oil and need to stock up you may want to check it out. The special cookbook offer runs through the end of this year. I know there are millions of recipe ideas online, but to me there is still something comforting and nice about having the actual cook books.

This post is completely my own opinions, and my opinions are not necessarily those of any other person or business. I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.

To Do Tuesday – Dried Apples

Welcome to To Do Tuesday where I tell you about something I have recently crossed off my “To Do” List.

To Do: Dried Apples

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I recently got a new food dehydrator, and I really like it! The first thing I dried in it was some rosemary from the garden. Rosemary is super expensive so drying some will save me a fair bit of money this winter. However, after seeing how long it takes to dry and how much it shrinks, I have a new appreciation for how much work goes into the tiny expensive bottles of rosemary. After my success with Rosemary, Dried Apples was the next thing to go on my To Do List. I’ve tried it before both in the oven and on a borrowed dehydrator. For me the dehydrator worked faster and better.

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This is the dehydrator I got and so far I think I made the right choice. Making the dried apples is super simple. Some people have special types of apples they like for different things. I usually just use whatever I have or can get which was Gala and Yellow Delicious this time. All you need to do is cut slices. I don’t have an apple peeler/slicer so I just do mine by hand. The slices aren’t always the most even or uniform, but the kids eat them so fast they don’t have time to look at them anyway.

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After the trays are all full of apple slices, I turn on my dehydrator around 135 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then just wait for them to dry. For me it seems to take about 4 or 5 hours. Then I bag the apples for eating later. I like to store them in the freezer to keep them just a little while longer than the average shelf life.

This year I made about 8 quarts of dried apples, and I’m confident they will disappear faster than the time it took to make them. However, I don’t have any more time I can spend on dried apples this year. So this To Do Item is crossed off my list till next year.

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Do you have a dehydrator or do you use another drying method? what is your favorite thing to dry?

Great Kids Book – Stormy’s Hat


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Stormy’s Hat by Eric A. Kimmel is a wonderful new book we just discovered, and I wish we had discovered it sooner! It is all about a railroad man and how he needs to find a hat that is just right for him. The best part is that it is based on a true story. If you have or know of kids that love anything to do with trains this would be a fun book to read. Do you have any kids book recommendations? Feel free to comment.

To Do Tuesday – Ice Cream Cake

Welcome to To Do Tuesday where I tell you about something I have recently crossed off my “To Do” List.

To Do: Ice Cream Cake

For a couple of years now I have been saving various Ice Cream Cake recipes with the hopes of making one. It always seemed like they couldn’t be too hard to make and they seem pricey to buy. So, for a recent get together I finally got to cross “try making an ice cream cake” off of my To Do List!

I thought about the type with the ice cream sandwich base, but somehow that didn’t quite appeal to my traditionalist tendencies. Although, I have tasted those before and found them to be quite yummy. So I based my creation off of one from Brown Eyed Baker. By the way, if you havent been on her blog, check it out. I’ve gotten several yummy recipes from it!

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I wanted to do chocolate and peanut butter cake and I needed a big one so I started out with a 9×13 pan. I lightly oiled the pan, put in store-bought chocolate ice cream, and stuck it in the freezer to firm up for about half an hour. While waiting I warmed up some hot fudge so it would be spreadable, unwrapped peanut butter cups and had one of my kids cut them up into chunks. When I put on the hot fudge, it melted down into the chocolate ice cream a bit, but that was fine with me.

Base chocolate layer with hot fudge and chopped pb cups

Base chocolate layer with hot fudge and chopped pb cups

Back into the freezer it went. It stayed in longer this time. I was busy and I wanted that hot fudge to cool off. Later I put on the next layer. It was homemade peanut butter ice cream. It was SO yummy! Have you ever noticed in the store that plain pb ice cream is close to impossible to find? It has all sorts of nuts, fudge, or candy added….all great but not what I was looking for. I’ve made my own ice cream before so it wasn’t that big a deal to make up a batch. After that layer was on, once again back into the freezer! While it was in there I whipped a little heavy cream (about a cup) with a bit of vanilla and sugar. With that and the peanuts a kiddo crushed up for me I was all ready to decorate the top.

Starting to decorate

Starting to decorate

I put the whipped cream into a piping bag and started. I wanted to do a fairly simple design. I’m not a super talented decorator, but if I stick to a super simpler design, I’m usually happy with the outcome. I did two rows of whipped cream peaks around the outside and then put it back in the freezer so those peeks would firm up. I was nervous I would accidentally smash one of them. The next step was to sprinkle the crushed peanuts around in a ring just inside of the whipped cream peaks. I left the center empty of nuts on purpose…just in case there was a person who didn’t want nuts. To finish it off, I had been thinking about doing a chocolate syrup drizzle on top, but I was running low on time so I opted to dust a little chocolate cookie crumb over the whipped cream peaks instead. It wasn’t the cheapest cake to make, but it was definitely less expensive than buying one and the custom flavor was amazing. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

The finished cake

The finished cake

Taking Time to Relax

0919151608Take a moment to relax no matter what. your view is this week! That is what I am doing, and I must say my view is a nice one this week!

So many times I get so focused on my To Do Lists and getting the next thing done. I forget to just stop, relax, and enjoy a few moments of this wonderful life and beautiful world that God created for us.

Maybe I need to add relaxing to my To Do List. How about you? Do you schedule time to relax or does it seem totally weird to have a scheduled time to relax?

Product Review – Dove Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Beautiful plump blueberries covered in rich silky dark chocolate….sounds good! I’d try that, and I did. Chocolate is one of my most favorite things, so I would try almost anying covered in chocolate. Not chocolate covered bugs though! A girl has to draw the line somewhere.  😉

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Anyway, Dove chocolate covered blueberries were what I tried. I saw them in the store and thought “real” blueberries…that’s practically a serving of fruit! Well not really, but it is nice to dream.

I opened the bag.

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It looked good so far….well if you don’t look at all that empty air space in the top. Then I tasted them. They were good! Not amazing and I must buy them again good. I would be willing to buy them again sometime, but I’m not in love. The nice thing was, with the dark chocolate I tend to eat less than with a milk chocolate product. So I had my chocolate fix with fewer calories and some fruit too. 😉 That is a win in my book!

I was not paid or compensated for this post in any way. All of the opinions are strictly my opinions and do not reflect upon any other person or company.0819152039b