Attention Snow Scrooges 2.0

Winter  Fun in Wisconsin

Spring in Wisconsin

It’s that time of year again when the snow scrooges start to howl. The first day of spring has come and gone, but the cold weather, and sometimes snow, is still hanging on. It’s like this nearly every year and yet every year we’re surprised it’s still cold and snowy in March and April. And every year the complaining about the ice, snow and cold temperatures goes on and on. In 2010 I posted about snow scrooges, begging them to try changing their point of view. To try seeing our very long winter as something beautiful. I will try again. Here goes nothing.

Another family member came to stay with us in March. He came during March to experience winter and snow. Something he had never seen before. We introduced him to all things Wisconsin- cheese, booyah, fish fries, beer, hockey, and of course, SNOW. Do you know what he enjoyed most? Snow! Playing, walking, sledding, driving, doing anything in the snow.

I wish I could capture his experience and have all the snow scrooges see it through new eyes again. See it like they did as children when they woke up to a snow day and absolutely could not get their snow-pants on fast enough. In fact, I challenge you to spend one day with an open mind. Can you do it? Can you find the beauty and wonder in our Wisconsin “spring”? Try it for a day and leave me a comment letting me know how it went. I’m willing to bet you’ll enjoy it. 😉

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

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How to create your own “Crack the Easter Code” Easter egg hunt

Crack the Easter Code Egg Hunt

up this code for awhile, but once I came up with the plan, executing it was pretty easy. I wanted it to be educational, but fun. It turned out to be super educational and FUN!

  1. Choose a hiding place– I chose the place to hide P’s Easter basket first so I could decide how many number/letter codes to make.
  2. Write the secret message– I used “Look under mom’s bed.” Five words I was fairly confident he could un-scramble and read (and not so many letters that he’d have to search all day for hidden eggs).
  3. Gather supplies– You’ll need as many eggs as you will have numbers/letters to decode, card-stock paper, and a glue stick, at the very least. I also bought a special Easter-themed pencil for P to work with while decoding and used some spare curling ribbon to tie up the letter.
  4. Make a decoder strip– I downloaded a super cute free font, PC Easter Egg and made a simple alphabet/number code strip in PowerPoint (so much more than a slide maker!).
  5. Make numbers– Using the decoder, I “spelled” out the message in numbers, making each word a different color so they’d be easier to sort and decode.
  6. Write a letter– Again, I used PowerPoint to create the basic letter, saved it as a jpg file and added details using picmonkey.Easter Egg Hunt Code Letter
  7. Print, cut and paste– I cut out the two sides of the decoder, used a glue stick to glue them together, and cut out each number.
  8. Hide the eggs!– I rolled up the decoder and put it in one of larger eggs, then filled the rest of the eggs with numbers and hid them.
  9. Set out the letter- I rolled P’s letter and tied it with curling ribbon. I attached a tag and his special Easter pencil with another piece of ribbon and set it on the coffee table for him to find first thing Easter morning.

Our son declared this Easter AWESOME and I have to agree. It was so much fun creating the egg hunt. It was even more fun watching P do the egg hunt. He’s already hiding the eggs again so we can have another hunt and I’m already dreaming up next year’s hunt…

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

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And the green grass grows all around

Grow Spring Grass
It’s 27 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but it’s definitely spring inside this morning! This is by far the easiest science activity we’ve done in a long time…with the fastest and best payoff.

Here are our 5 simple ingredients to growing SPRING.

  1. One Goodwill clearance wine glass from the 70s.
  2. Small pebbles or rocks.
  3. Soil
  4. Wheat-grass seeds soaked in water overnight.
  5. Cool frog mister from the Target dollar bins.

I couldn’t ask for a better spring activity. It’s P’s job to mist them daily and report on any new growth. He checks it first thing everyday and reports with wonder and amazement.

Grow grass indoors

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

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Easter Egg Hunt (or one more way to add stealth education to my son’s day)

Easter Egg Hunt
Before our son was old enough to read we hid his Easter basket and played “Hot or Cold” to help him find it. One year I drew a map of the house and an X marks the spot. The next year I made up clues- Each time he found a clue, I read it and he solved it, eventually leading to the big basket reveal in the tub. Last year I made it a little more difficult hiding plastic Easter eggs around the house and yard. No clues to find the egg this time- it was way too time consuming coming up with those (rhyming) clues. Each egg had a few jelly beans and one letter in it. Once he found all the eggs he had to unscramble the letters to figure out the location of his Easter basket. He loved it. Now he’s imagining what challenge the Easter Bunny has in store for him this year.

Easter Egg Hunt Hint

This year will be more challenging. I’m moving towards making the hunt for the basket what he looks forward to most, rather than the candy. What he remembers when he talks about Easters past are the hunts and the strange places he’s found the eggs and baskets. Last night I stayed up late working on the rough draft of Cracking the Easter Code 2013.  When he decodes the secret message at the end he’ll find in his basket a few bits of candy, healthier snacks, and an educational toy, but I think he’ll find the hunt the best part this year. What do you think?

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

Easter Egg Hunt Code Letter

Still needs tweaking, but this is the letter he’ll find Easter morning.

Categories: Activities, Holiday, Kids | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Birthday Cards

We’ve moved! Check out our new site, Life as a Field Trip and see what else we’re up to!

Homemade Birthday Card

P is off to another birthday party this morning. He avoided making the card something fierce, but really got into it once he started. He’s been making his own birthday cards since he could hold a crayon. Do you have your kids make their own birthday cards?

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Valentines are DONE!

Mad Libs Valentines

Another year, another educational valentine-making experience. For both of us. We LOVED Design Mom’s Mad Libs valentine idea and went for it. It started out easy enough. We bought valentine-themed Mad Libs, valentine pencils to wrap them around, and printed the awesome cards Design Mom provided on her website. Paolo printed his name on all the cards weeks ago. They sat in the art tray on the kitchen table for weeks.

Last night we ate our spinach and went at those valentines like Popeye. Getting my son interested in punching holes in each card was doable. Getting him to write all 25 of his classmates’ names on the cards, not so much. It took a lot of “reminding”, but he eventually got through them and I survived rolling the Mad Libs around a pencil. After carefully tying one valentine with embroidery thread to perfection, I decided rubber bands might not look as pretty, but first graders don’t care and rubber bands could be reused (if only to launch at each other). They aren’t as pretty as the originals we were working from, but they’re DONE. In the end, we had as much fun making them as we did filling in a few Mad Libs for family members’ valentines. Another educational, yet fun valentine craft is in the books.

Mad Lib for Dad

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Pinewood Derby

Pinewood Derby car decoration

I might not able to help build a car that can beat the competition, but I can help decorate the heck out of it. P is going for a Packers motif. He’s letting me help stencil the numbers, but drew the line at glitter Mod Podge. Rats!

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Four genius, but simple bath toys

Bath toys

Why are these things the best bath toys ever?  Because they are:

  • Free (or nearly- the funnel was a dollar)
  • Durable.
  • Encourage imaginative play
  • Fun! Who doesn’t love spraying and squirting water?!
  • Easy to clean AND verify there’s no mildew building up inside.

We’ve been using these for years. As he grows older, our son finds new ways to have fun with these in the tub and now in the shower. Without fail he resists getting in the tub, but once he’s there he won’t get out…He’s having too much fun with his ‘toys’.

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Baby, it’s cold outside…what’s there to do?! (1 Day later)


What’s there to do? Why, send your mother out in the bitter cold to light some candles, of course! Paolo and I agreed that the balloons we froze on Sunday would make great winter luminaries. We’d seen someone do something similar at his friend’s Grandmother’s house. His grandparents had filled ice cream buckets with water, set them outside to freeze, and then let candles burn so that the heat eventually melted out a hollow space. It created a neat lantern effect. We thought we’d do the same thing with our balloons. We had the perfect spot for tea lights where air pockets had formed. Paolo sent me out in my winter gear with the one tea light I could find and box of matches while he peered out from the blinds (in the nice, warm living room). Funny thing about candles, they’re not wind compatible. So I crouched and hovered and struck match after match until we had a flame going. I snapped a few photos as fast as I could, got a thumbs up from Paolo, and boogied back in the house.

We’ll be picking up more tea lights and watching the weather for warmer and less windy days. Until then, we have some pretty neat yard ornaments.

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Baby, it’s cold outside… What’s there to do?

Brrrrr! It’s -8 degrees fahrenheit this morning. Factoring in windchill, today’s temp will vary from -15 to -35. It’s not the worst we’ve had in Wisconsin, but it’s darn cold; too cold to play outside. Sunday, Paolo and I decided it would be a good time to try the Pinterest activity that seems to be everywhere- colored ice glass. Ironically, a family member (truly a big fan of winter) from Mexico actually sent us the idea and link to instructions.
Unfortunately, I didn’t read the instructions, preferring to wing it. Not only did we get food coloring all over the counters and sink, but I managed to lose control of one balloon, squirt colored water all over the kitchen, and soak myself while filling the balloons.
After we filled them, we put them outside on the patio table to freeze. One of them burst open before it was completely frozen. When we checked on them after a couple of hours, they were SOLID. There was a frozen pool of colored water on the table and one to match on the ground. And of course, we couldn’t remove all of the balloons (to exposed the frozen colored water) because they were frozen to the table. If you don’t look too closely you can’t see the hatchet job we did with the scissors. It was a great experiment and learning experience for both of us. I’ll definitely be reading the instructions next time!

Categories: Activities, Kids | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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