T Is For (Christmas) Tree

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My intention this month was to focus on the artist Brian Kershisnik, but “the best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray”.   Although one of the art projects was in part inspired by  a Kershisnik painting, “Pruners”,  have I talked about Brian Kershisnik, or showed the children any of his artwork? No. Sigh… Luckily, there is always next week!  And I think that is the wonderful thing about life, there is always a new day and a new opportunity to be just a little bit better.

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Quite a few people have asked me for the sources that I have used as the background to my Gospel Doctrine lessons.  I thought that I would list them on my blog as I read them.  So, check back periodically through the week leading up to my lesson as I will put up links to different articles and also the titles of the books that I am reading.  I will also post the outline that I use to teach the class.

For those of you who subscribe to my blog who are not Mormon, feel free to enjoy these articles as I post them, or to skip them, but please, no anti-Mormon bashing.

Books:

The Sin Of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs by Peter Enns

Nothing New Under the Sun: A Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes by Adam S. Miller

The Lectures On Faith by Joseph Smith

Miracles Of The Book Of Mormon:  A Guide To The Symbolic Messages  by Alonzo Gaskill

Podcasts & Speeches:

The Sin of Certainty, with Peter Enns

Audacious Faith-Brett G. Scharffs

Articles:

Getting Cain and Gain

“To Stir Them Up in the Ways of Remembrance”: Lamanites and Memory in the Book of Mormon

Jaredite Zion Societies: Hope For A Better World

“Secret Combinations”: A Legal Analysis

Hiding The Plates

Weak Things Made Strong

A Very Big Mistake!

In an attempt, dear readers, to be very thrifty and clever, I have daftly deleted many of the pictures on this blog.  Needless to say, I am very peeved at myself for being such a techno-dummy, but (sigh) there you have it.  I will be working this next week to restore the pictures.  My one consolation is that my linen apron that I have been sewing is almost done.  It will be a most happy thing to wear and I will post pictures of it and work very hard not to delete them in another attempt at cleverness…

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Here is my work-in-progress apron.  It is a Japanese-style linen apron.  I am trying to decide whether to make a linen lining or just make a seam binding for the edges.  You can see Maxie chasing his blue balloon, which is peeking out from under the right-hand side of my apron.  I will post pictures of the finished product.

B Is For Birds

His bill an auger is,
His head, a cap and frill,
He laboreth at every tree,–
A worm his utmost goal
~Emily Dickinson

Usually I have some sort of an “invitation to play or create” on the table in the preschool room.  The children are free to explore if they choose.  This week however, on Monday and Tuesday the littles, the littlest littles, and I made recycled bird feeders out of toilet paper tubes.  I placed bowls of peanut butter on the table and butter knives.  It was really good small motor practice for the littles to practice spreading the peanut butter onto the tubes.  (Quite a lot went into their mouths too!) Then, they rolled the tubes in birdseed.  I strung a loop of twine through the tube so that the children could hang them up for the birds when they got home.  I heard oodles of gleeful glad tidings of great joy over the course of the next few days about how the birds had indeed enjoyed their treats.

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High Altitude Sugar Cookies

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Since I live at over 5600 feet above sea level, all baked goods need to be adjusted for the altitude.  If you don’t, then you will have cookies that spread out and are flat, and cakes that overflow their pan and then sink.  Counterintuitively, the trick is usually in adjusting the amount of leavening–to less than the recipe calls for!  I have a really good cookbook, that I have had for quite some time called Pie In The Sky by Susan Purdy.  This is the sugar cookie recipe that I always use and it is from that cookbook.

High Altitude Sugar Cookies

12 Tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened ( I hardly ever use unsalted butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (I almost always use almond)
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven to 350º.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the baking powder and salt.  Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.  Form into a ball.  (if too sticky ad 1-2 Tbsp. more of flour.)
Work with about one-third of the dough at a time and keep the rest refrigerated.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place on greased baking sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes or until they are slightly golden around the edge.  Cool completely on wire racks and then decorate.

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 Tbsp. cream of evaporated milk
2 tsp. vanilla or flavoring of choice
1/4 tsp salt

With an electric mixer whip the butter until creamy.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Add the cream or evaporated milk and mix until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and salt.

Halloween Fun

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Invitation To Play

For our Tuesday and Wednesday invitations, I made Goblin Goo.  In a medium-sized bowl I mixed together 1 cup of cornstarch and about 1/2 cup of water. I added a few drops of green food coloring and then stirred the whole concoction scraping the cornstarch up from the bottom of the bowl.  It was a bit stiff and difficult to stir, so in the end I just dug in and mixed with my hands!  This will make what is known as a non-Newtonian fluid.  When you roll it into a ball, it acts like a solid.  When you let it drip through your fingers, it acts like a liquid.  I threw in a few black plastic spiders to complete the spooky effect!  The kids had a lot of fun exploring this, but be forewarned: it is a bit messy!

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F is for Farm

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My grandpa and grandma had a dairy farm in Michigan.  My cousin Carla and her husband Chris run it now.  Some of my happiest childhood memories involve “the farm”.  Because my Dad was in the Air Force, the farm was a place of stability for me–it was always there, filled with people that I loved.  I loved the white farmhouse with the barn red shutters where my grandma and grandpa lived.  I loved to go up to my dad’s old room and imagine him there.  I loved to walk down to my great-grandma’s brick house–the house that she had been born in.  I loved to eat breakfast with her on her screen porch in the summers.  I loved to look at the old velvet photo albums with pictures of solemn looking men and women.  Carla and her family live in the brick house now and that makes me happy.  So farms are very near and dear to my heart.

Invitation To Play:

My invitation to play this week was simple, but the children loved it.  I filled a wooden box with wheat kernels and put in farm animals and tractors.   I also had some play dough that I made out of whole wheat.  I used the Pumpkin Spice Playdough recipe that can be found here.  However, this time I made the playdough with whole wheat flour.  The littles rolled tractors in the playdough, stuck animals in the playdough and of course put wheat into the playdough.  One thing that I really need to be better about is taking pictures of my invitations to play!

Circle Time:

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For circle time, we sang the classic farm song, “Old McDonald Had a Farm”.  I had a little flannel board picture of a barn and barnyard and gave each child two felt pictures of farm animals.  As we sang about each animal, the child who had that picture got to place their animal on the flannel board.  We discussed the different animals that live on a farm.  Then I told them the story of The Little Red Hen.  As I was telling them the story the children shook a jar that had cream in it.  By the time that we finished the story, that had made butter!  When I unscrewed the lid of the jar and they were able to see the lump of butter they were astonished!   Next we ground wheat into flour.  They really enjoyed turning the handle of the flour mill and clamored for a turn…and then another turn…and then another!

We also weighed wheat and hay.  I have a small balance scale and I showed the children a big handful of hay and about a 1/4 of a cup of wheat and asked which one they thought would weigh the most.  They thought the hay, because it looked like there was so much more.  They were surprised when the wheat weighed more.  We talked about why that was so and then removed some of the wheat kernels until we were able to make our scale balance.

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Art Projects:

1.Milk Painting.  The idea for this project came from an article on Babble Dabble Do.  For this art project you will need milk, dishwashing liquid, food coloring. cotton swabs and watercolor paper.  Pour enough milk into a shallow tray to cover the bottom of the tray.  Squeeze drops of food coloring onto the milk.  I used green, blue and yellow food coloring.  Then I asked a child to dip their cotton swab into a shallow dish of dishwashing liquid.  Then I told the child to touch the cotton swab to the dots of food coloring.  When you do this the food coloring will burst away from the cotton swab in a sort of starburst.  The littles thought that it looked like fireworks!  Working quickly, lay the watercolor paper on top of the milk and gently press it down. Then lift it out, turn it over and lay it aside to dry.

2.  Pumpkin Art With Plastic Wrap.  For this art project, I printed pumpkin shapes onto white cardstock and then cut them out.  I squirted dollops of yellow and orange paint onto the pumpkins and then laid plastic wrap over the pumpkins.  Then I let the littles squish the paint around using the plastic wrap to paint their pumpkins.  This gave a wonderful textured look to the finished paintings.  The inspiration for this art project came from Teaching Two and Three Year Olds

3.  Painting With Straw Paintbrushes.  I found this idea on Twodaloo.  Take a bunch of raffia about 10 inches long.  Fold the raffia in half and wrap a pipe cleaner about two inches from the top.  Trim the ends of the raffia and your “straw paintbrush” is finished.  I gave the children purple, yellow and orange paint to use and a sheet of white drawing paper.  They loved the feel painting with these paintbrushes and the design and texture that the raffia created.

4.  Toilet Paper Roll Sheep Craft.  The inspiration for this came from a great website called Red Ted Art.  Ahead of time I cut out the sheep heads and legs out of black paper following the picture posted on the Red Ted website.  I gave each child a toilet paper roll and some white wool roving.  The child is going to glue to wool roving on to the toilet paper roll.  (I find that the easiest way for the child to use glue is to pour a little into a small container and give them a paintbrush to paint the glue onto a surface.  I have special paintbrushes that I use only for glue.  Wash them with warm water and a little dish soap when the child is finished using the paintbrush.)  Once the wool roving was glued on, I helped the children attach the sheep head.  Then I showed the children how to glue on the legs to their sheep.  We glued a little bit of wool roving onto the top of the sheep’s head as a finishing touch.

A Birthday

This week we celebrated our first birthday of the year.  Attie-Mae turned 5!  I always make the children a birthday gift and this year’s gifts are Waldorf-style wool felt birthday crowns.

Unstructured Outdoor Play

 

 

 

S Is For Sunflowers

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“Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious, to believe that the world could still change for the better.  And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold that one is tempted to say, ‘What do I care if there is a summer; its warmth is no help to me now.’  Yes, evil often seems to surpass good.  But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes, at last an end to the bitter frosts.  One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw.  And so I must still have hope.” ~Vincent van Gogh

I think that this is why I teach small children–because they give me hope. Continue reading