Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grandparents... and Guest Bloggers!

My parents arrive today for a visit. We are definitely blessed by all the grandparents in our lives. Today's suggested activity is either to meet up with your grandparents (if you're lucky enough to live close to them.) If you don't live near them, write a letter, draw a picture, make a video for them today!

We plan to make like tourists for about a week, so I've asked a few friends to guest blog for me here on Turkey Pie. I hope you enjoy them... I know I always do.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Craft Kits


The craft queen loves herself a craft kit. This one she got for her birthday from her grandparents. It's like a sticker-by-number situation with sparkles and jewels. What's not to like?

Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, the Dollar Store, and of course, Oriental Trading all have craft kits. I'm not sure what to do with all the crafts afterwards, but we sure like making them!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Treasure Hunt!

Hi friends! We've been busy this morning going on a treasure hunt. It was a big hit.

A Treasure Hunt? Fun!

Maybe I should have gotten them dressed and cleaned the house before taking pictures... but hey -- we're all about keeping it real around here. It's 11 a.m. and what you see is the truth, the real truth, and nothing but the truth.

I gave them the first clue... a drawing of Syd's bed with an X in the "cave" underneath it. They figured it out quickly (if you aren't into drawing, plan ahead a bit more and take pictures of the next place, but the drawings added a little, since a few of them they had to pause to think about.)

Check in the cave, S!
I see it!

Some of our clues were on the fridge, the van (in the garage), our storage shed/playhouse, a bench in the backyard, the garden tub, the fireplace... .

And the last clue led them to B's bed... where they found (after searching a little)... a Pringles can with a treasure inside!

Which we split in half and enjoyed immediately. Preschool happy hour.

Currently, S is downstairs drawing pictures and hiding treasures for B to find. This was a fun activity. For older kids, you could come up with rhymes or riddles about different places in your house. That would also make this a reading activity. You could also hide the clues better. Ours were right out in the open. Probably best to write all your clues on the same kind of paper, so they know what they are looking for. I can already tell they'll be asking for another treasure hunt again soon. Next time, I'll probably do it first thing in the morning and have the treasure be a certificate for an outing, which we would then go on.

Okay, this is pretty darn cute. Here are the clues S made for B. From left to right: the bathroom sink, the rug by B's bed, and under her bed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sea Monkeys

A classic of childhood for sure -- we are on Day 5 of our Sea Monkey adventure. Little dudes are too tiny to capture on film, but we can see them wriggling around in there.



We had a grand old time wandering around in Toys R Us looking around the other day. There were tons of toys out that I remembered from my childhood. Rainbow Brite. Pound Puppies. Sea Monkeys.

And we also found this...

Anybody have a good idea for this, besides the obvious "play store"? It has credit cards, coupons, cash and coins. Maybe a little Dave Ramsey seminar? You'd have to throw out the credit cards though. ;-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I am so grateful for a playroom -- but it can turn into a disaster area in about 5 minutes. A few days ago, I spent some time rearranging all the toys, re-situating the shelving, and re-sorting all the little pieces of everything into their correct containers.

The kids were glad to have me in their midst as they played (we're in a big "PLEASE PLAY BY YOURSELF, Mommy needs some mommy time." phase. ) They made the sorting a little harder, as they kept running off with random things. But in the end...

S & B did help a little with the sorting. Ex. "Please pick up all the dinosaurs you see and put them in the green bin!" But yeah, mostly they played.

Someone messaged me the idea the other day to rotate toys in and out of your play areas. This works well for curing toy boredom, if you have storage space to do it.

Another thing I did this time, was rearrange so that some of the on-the-floor toys were up to eye level, where they would attract more attention:

And the playroom was perfect at last, for 5 minutes. Then I rounded the corner again and found this:
Oh well, as long as they're playing!

Oh, and we also rearranged S's room a little, placing the trundle bed against the opposite wall, which leaves a perfect cave for playing in.

Tell me how you mix it up at your house... leave tips for organizing play areas or toys in the comments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010



Ignore the terrible angle on this photo and focus on the utter joy on S's face. This is because I have agreed to read all 6 of her unicorn books in a row. I have read all of those books so often I am sick of them, so we are always bargaining. "I will read you 5 books, but only one unicorn book."

Today, sit down with the kiddos on your comfy couch or chair, or sprawl out on the floor on your tummies and read until they've had their fill. For extra fun, leave a comment with your child's favorite book so we can all expand our library lists.

You can NEVER read to your child too much.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Count With Me

Here's an activity idea for Unicorn School (see post below) that seems too simple to work, but did.

I'm sure all of you have a basket or bin of odds and ends. We have a few. I pulled one out for this activity, and also found some felt numbers I have from a felt set purchased at a teacher store. If you don't have felt numbers, write the numbers 1-10 on squares of paper. Or higher numbers, if your kids are older.


Have the kids take turns counting out items from the bins to correspond to your numbers.

Our bins of odds and ends was running low, so S counted out 5 ponies and lined them up. You could also not use a bin of things, just have them draw a number, and find that number of things in the room or the house (5 squares of toilet paper? 1 big yellow dog?)


Unicorn School

The idea for Unicorn School was born while visiting Tanya (T, you're getting famous on the internet!). It is always an adventure with her boys and my girls underfoot. One evening around dinner time, the crazy was rampant. I took all the kids to the playroom during dinner preparations and the genius of Unicorn school came to me.

The idea is centered around the circle time idea that preschool teachers everywhere use. Gather the kids around you and remember:
1. It's all about them being interested in what might come next. Keep your "lessons" short and you can gear them to the age of the specific child, even if the ages of your group members vary.

2. Always start with show and tell. Most preschoolers, especially in their own homes, love to have the floor and the attention concentrated on them. Tell them to choose a show and tell item and give each child a minute to talk about whatever toy or object they find to bring to the circle. Ask the other kids if they have any questions about the item. Try to think of a couple of questions yourself, "OH, this is your puppy Pepper? Can Pepper do any tricks?" "What a beautiful My Little Pony. What is her name? What do ponies eat? What's her favorite thing to do?" Keep it short. Then move to the next child.

3. After show and tell, choose a subject. Math? Say, "When I say go, go and find 3 small toys and come right back to your place!" Have each child count their toys for the "class" and when everyone is done, say, "I will count to five. Put your toys back where you found them and hurry back to your seat!" Then switch to colors. "Everyone find something blue when I say go and then bring it back to our circle." The pace of this game is the key. You don't want to work them into a frenzy, but you want to keep them moving. Moving fast enough that they don't have time to ponder if they actually like this game. Which, by the way, they will. Preschoolers love to show that they know how to do something. Plus, practicing following directions is so important. You could do senses (find something that smells, something that feels soft, something that makes noise), shapes, favorites (find something that is your favorite color, your favorite thing to play with, your favorite book)... almost anything works.

4. Moving along, circle time is now over. Announce, "Now it is time for our school work. I will give each of you something important to do. You can practice what I give you and then I will come around to see how you are doing." Then you give a puzzle, playset, bin of blocks or whatever you have around to each child, preferably in different corners of the room. I like to play a children's CD softly during this time. Adds to the ambiance. After about 4 minutes of them playing and you observing each of them, pick up the toys and distribute different things. Again, keep the time short. OR you can have them rotate, "S, come to this area. A, it is your turn to..."

5. Return to the carpet or circle area for a few kid songs and a story. Go around to each child and ask what their favorite part of unicorn school was today. Then "dismiss" unicorn school. Keep them wanting more. It's all about the novelty.

Some of you are laughing thinking "This will NEVER work at my house." I urge you to try it. It works with kids of all ages and for groups with varying ages. We call it "Unicorn School" because my oldest child is obsessed with unicorns and rarely will agree to do anything that doesn't have to do with unicorns. Unicorn school has nothing to do with unicorns (unless that's what she brings to show and tell) but the name draws her in. You might have "Train School" at your house. Or "Super Hero" school. Or "Princess School." Or "School of Rock." Or "Bug Hunter" school. Or "Dog School." You could even throw in a subject-related activity if you want.

But remember: whatever you do... keep it short. Keep their interest. And if you do, Unicorn School will serve you well in the months and years to come. We do it at least once a week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Tape

Today's tip: use wide painter's tape (sold in all different colors at Wal-Mart) or even wide plain masking tape to make roads or runways on your carpet. Then get out your hotwheels and matchbox cars and planes and have fun! You can even make a whole town, complete with lego or block houses.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The girls are taking gymnastics this summer. It's a nice, non-competitive environment and bonus -- both girls go at the same time, while I sit in the parents' area and read my Kindle.



Last summer, S took an art class at her preschool which she adored, and it started her love of drawing. We've also tried soccer - she may have been too young. It wasn't a hit. I totally plan to remedy this at a later date. Ballet and tap class was a HUGE hit. We have also done swimming lessons, but I have yet to find something that fits in our schedule here.

Speaking of schedules, we like to do one class at a time, or at the most, 2.

What fun classes are your kids signed up for this summer?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wildlife Wonder

You never know what you might find if you're paying attention. We recently found a bird's nest in the hanging plant on our front porch.


The plant's in sad shape, by the way. We are scared to give it a proper watering, seeing as how these little guys are now occupying it.

Spend 5 minutes watching out a window or perched on chairs on your patio. Make notes (or draw pictures) about what wildlife you see in that time period. You might see a squirrel burying something that you can go out and find later. Or maybe you'll see a nest too! Or some caterpillars eating your tomato plants. It's all interesting to the kids.

My friend Tanya reports that her little guys are obsessed with finding bugs in the backyard. If yours are too, you might be interested in what the girls and I found at Toys R Us this morning, for A's birthday...

Hope A. doesn't read my blog. He's pretty amazing on the computer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Plants & Collages

Today we're going to start sweet potato plants in jars... GO HERE .... in between dentist visits for the girls and gymnastics class. So no pictures, but still a fun idea!

And if we have time later, we will cut out things we like from a stack of magazines I've been saving and glue the pictures to sheets of construction paper for collages. We always like to practice cutting. Remember -- thumbs on tops and points away from the tummy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Homemade Playdough

I like playdough and I've rarely met a child who doesn't. The stuff in the little canisters will work, but homemade is infinitely better.... and lasts for quite some time in a big ziploc bag.

Playdough Recipe


1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 c. water
1 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring (a few drops at a time)


1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring until a ball forms.

2. Add food coloring and mix thoroughly until desired color.

3. Cool on foil. Store in covered container.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge!

Need a getaway? I strongly recommend Great Wolf Lodge. With slides for all ages and excitement levels, pools and fountains, great rooms and yummy food, it's a win-win. It is a little pricey, but worth it to me to have all that entertainment under one roof that makes my whole family happy. We've made many great memories there and especially loving going with a group of friends.

Military families: be sure to call to make your reservation and ask for the military rate/discount. It's the only way to get it.

Things I like: key-less/cashless in the whole hotel. Your wristbands will open your room doors and the adults' bracelets can be scanned to charge things to your room. That means you can leave your purse in the safe in your room and have fun all day without worrying about keeping track of everything.

They supply the towels. Have a great craft area and other kid-friendly activities. An arcade. A virtual treasure hunt with magic wands.... I could go on and on.

Try it! You'll like it!

Also, it has this effect on your kids:

Get out the photo albums!

Today's simple idea: show your kids what you looked like when you were their age.


Spend some time talking about when you were younger and the things you liked to do. Maybe even do some of those things!
And don't forget the wedding pictures. Esp. moms of girls! "I told you mommy was a queen!" :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bean Art

My friend Theresa who lives in Texas sent in this idea:

"Gabrielle LOVES to use construction paper, beans, and Elmer's glue to spell our names and draw shapes."


Sounds nice and easy to me! Thanks, Theresa and Gabi!