Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Star Wars Sugar Cookies Without Buying Another Set of Cookie Cutters.

We (mainly meaning I) wanted a batch of Star Wars themed cookies for today.  What I didn't want, was to have to buy another set of specialty cookie cutters.  It's not so much that I mind buying cookie cutters.  In fact, I'm rather fond of them. But, our cookie cutter drawer is full, and beginning to overflow into a second drawer, and at some point the madness just has to stop.

However, since we already have so many cookie cutters, I reasoned one or two of them would have to do for the job.  And sure enough, with a little bit (a very little bit) of squishing and pinching of the dough to suggest heads other than a bear (or a gingerbread man's if a bear had not been available)...

...and some careful piping (or as careful as can be when piping from a corner snipped sandwich bag full of frosting) following pictures accompany the proper cutters ...

...we turned out a batch of classic, Star Wars themed, chocolate sugar cookies (dough recipe here) good enough to eat (and make my day at the same time - so double bonus). 

Plus, the teens, who helped with the frosting, thought they could probably come up with a better choice of cookie cutters, to get an even better shape to the cookies for frosting.  So, as soon as time allows, I think we've got a Star Wars themed, cookie smack down in the works.  Triple bonus!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Color-Your-Own Star Wars Themed Weeble Wobble-type Craft - May the 4th be With You

I pulled up a craft from our past (homemade weeble wobble-type toys) to combine with a Star Wars themed tutorial from Frugal Fun for Boys, as a craft for tomorrow's festivities (May the 4th be with you).

To start, I turned a few of our left-over plastic eggs into blank, weeble wobbly type guys (they wobble around but don't fall down - like their name sake), by filling the bottom of the eggs with non-drying clay...

...snapping them closed, and covering them paper mache-style in a couple of layers (first newspaper, and then white) of paper strips dipped in watered down glue, smoothing the paper out as much as possible while it was still wet.

I left them to dry (turning them over a few times) balanced on top of an egg carton.

When they were completely dry, I penciled an outline of our favorite Star Wars characters onto each wobbly egg (following the Frugal Fun for Boys patterns) for the children to use as a guide, and placed them out on the counter with a pack of permanent markers (for ease of coloring, and so the color won't come off on hands once dry)...

...ready to be part of tomorrows fun.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 - Cookies and Crochet

We joined friends today, going to see Kung Fu Panda 3, as a sort of impromptu birthday party for their daughter.  It was last minute, but there was just enough warning for me to attempt a quick crochet Po for the birthday girl.

I couldn't find a Po pattern, and so muddled through modifying a free crochet panda pattern from Angie's Art Studio.  The original pattern was a breeze to follow, by the way.  And, just so I don't forget myself - the modifications were: changing colors for the legs, and bottom of the body, to make pants, adding yellow stitches (sewn on) and then looping through red string for the belt, adding an extra round of stitching to the muzzle, and two extra stitches and an extra round to the belly (making 32 instead of 30 stitches in the middle), removing one round of stitches from the ears to make them smaller, and crocheting rounds similar to the ears for the eye patches, with white felt sewn on top.

All the changes made the pattern a little fussier than I would have liked, and the shortness of time meant I had to settle for how it turned out the first time through.  I wasn't completely happy with the results, though now that I look back at the original bear - this one does look more Po-ish.  My children liked him anyway, and the birthday girl held him on her lap to watch the movie, so I guess that makes him a success.

Personally, I had a lot more fun trying to piece together Oreo cookie and M&M pandas for a post movie snack.  They didn't turn out looking anything like Po either...

...but I think he would have appreciated the attempt to craft (and eat) to our potential.

 "If you only do what you can do, you'll never be more that you are now." (Shifu, Kung Fu Panda 3)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Q-bitz Inspired Cookies - Game Night Snacks

We hosted a game night for a group of our friends, on the weekend.  As I was planning out a few snacks and goodies for people to munch on, I decided it might be fun to bake up a batch of puzzle themed sugar cookies (it's been a while since I've had a sugar cookie project to work on).

Drawing inspiration from our Q-bitz game, I mixed one batch of sugar cookie dough, making half vanilla and half chocolate (recipe here), and cut a quick 4''x4'' square of paper...

...and then wax paper, to use as a template...

...for cutting six chocolate and six vanilla squares...

...marked off and...

...cut into one inch squares...

...which could be quickly cut diagonally...

...or punched out in the center with a frosting tip, to mix and match the colors according to the patterns on the sides of the Q-bitz cubes (making enough flat sides to make the patterns for two sets worth of cubes)

I let them bake together, and then cut them apart while they were still hot out of the oven.

Then, once they had cooled completely, I placed like sides into containers on the counter, along with the pattern cards from the game, and one completed "puzzle" as an example.

The only thing I wish I had thought to add, was a short written instruction, so people circulating through the kitchen could have easily understood the purpose of the cookies.  Not everyone is as use to playing with their food as we are.  However, I had a great time putting puzzles together, and munching on the left-overs the next day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sunday School Snack - Mark 2:1-12, Four Friends Carry a Paralyzed Man to Jesus.

Pipe four blops of frosting onto each plate (practice ahead with using the corners of a graham cracker to measure off the placement of the frosting).  Let children stand four Teddy Grahams in the frosting, for the four friends.

Balance a graham cracker "mat" across the top of the Teddy Grahams.

Give the children one more Teddy Graham each, to carefully place on the mats, as the paralyzed man.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.  They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,  “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?  Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man,  “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (NIV) emphasis added for the snack.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

John the Baptist - Preschool Sunday School

As our lesson today was on John the Baptist, we started out with a quick, clothespin  grasshopper/locust craft, during the busy-time, as the children arrived.  There are several different versions of this craft in Google images alone.  In fact, Ticia over at Adventures in Mommydom made one using a plastic spoon, instead of a clothespin, for her own lesson on John the Baptist.

I thought I'd share our method, since it worked nicely with the 4-5 yr old crowd.  I gave the children clothespins (which they colored green with markers, on top of paper towels), pre-cut pipe cleaners for legs and antennae, and let them choose from a selection of different sized googly eyes.

After they had finished coloring their clothespins, I placed a piece of clear tape, sticky side up on the table, and helped them press the leg sticks across the tape...

...and then the clothespin on top of that.  I snipped and folded the tape around onto the sides of the clothespins, and showed the children how they could gently bend the legs to make feet, so the bugs would stand.

Then, they slipped the shorter antennae pieces through the hole in their clothespins...

...and I twisted the ends together around the top for them, and added dots of glue for the eyes.

I reminded the children about the story of Mary going to see Elizabeth, that we had studied during the Christmas season, and asked them if they remembered the name of Elizabeth's baby (which happily, they did).

We watched a quick clip about John the Baptist from What's in the Bible volume 10.

And then, I gave the children coloring sheets printed from the What's in the Bible website, for them to glue camel's hair (brown yarn) to his outfit (an idea from Dannielle's Place)

I found an idea from the Watermark Church website for making paper chains with the children, by asking them who had told them about Jesus, and then adding a strip for each person that had either told them about Jesus, or who they could tell about Jesus.

I used this idea to go along with our verse snippet - "John told others about Jesus. Luke 3:18" by writing the words onto strips ahead of time, then as we made our chains, we were reminded that John told others about Jesus, and so can we we.

Finally, we ended our lesson by talking about John baptizing people, after they turned away from their sins - preparing them to meet Jesus, and how he ultimately baptized Jesus too, initiating the active portion of His ministry, illustrated by a blue frosted graham cracker and teddy graham snack, which they loved putting together (though now I can't find where that one came from).

A word of caution to the wise:  when giving children, dressed in church clothes, blue frosting to slathering onto graham crackers, painting smocks might not be a bad idea.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Engineering for Children, Part 2 - Compression, Tension, and Friction?

Last winter we experimented with cardboard tubes in an effort to better understand the forces of compression and tension in construction.  We found that by simply draping a length of toilet paper, from a fresh roll, across the tops of the bottom layer of a cardboard tube pyramid, we could build the pyramid much higher than if we built it with nothing between the tubes. 

We attributed this to tension provided by the paper (much like a girder in a building) providing horizontal force to counteract the downward force of the compression from the tubes.

This morning, we received a comment suggesting that friction between the paper and the tubes was also at play.  I mentioned that to the children at breakfast, and they agreed we needed to experiment further - this time with friction and tension in mind.

First we rebuilt a tower, just high enough to get it to collapse.

Then, tried again on the carpeting, thinking that the carpet would provide more friction than the table, right off the bat, and might be enough to hold the pyramid in place.  But, the pyramid collapsed just as it had on the table.

I asked the children if there might be a way to reduce the friction between our "girder" and the tubes, so we could see if the tension still held.  They suggested draping a strip of slippery, wax paper across the tubes, in place of the toilet paper.

It worked perfectly.  There was a completely different feel to the tower as it rose.  The wax paper held everything sturdily in place just as the toilet paper had in our previous experiments.

Not quite ready to give up on the friction concept though, we wrapped the bottom tubes in toilet paper, and tried rebuilding the pyramid.

It collapsed just as when built with unwrapped tubes.  A(age14) was able to get it to stand briefly, by adding side supports (upright tubes) and stacking the tubes very gently.

Her tower even continued to stand for a few seconds after she removed the side supports.  But then, gradually, the gaps between the tubes widened until the whole thing collapsed.

The tower with the wax paper continued to stand until we finally dismantled it to clean up for lunch, leaving us with similar conclusions to last year - the compression force of the tubes pushing down either side of each tube in the bottom layer, creates a counteracting, horizontal pull on the paper, that keeps the next layer of tubes from pushing on down into the gaps between the bottom tubes.

What do think?  Are we missing something?