Thursday, January 31, 2013

Octonauts Finger Puppet and Puppet Theater

When I saw the Octonaut finger puppets by Glittering Muffins I knew this was something my son would love! However, I didn't have much time to get around to it until I was home for two days with a sick child. So guess what? Plenty of time on my hands!  

He loves the Octonauts, and it's one of his favorite shows. To cheer him up (since he was gloomy) I told him I'd make some Octonaut finger puppets for him.  Valerie from Glittering Muffins has graciously uploaded a template for us to use! So I had hubby print the template, and I started working on them. I used googly eyes, and permanent markers for the details.  (The template available is for five of the main characters: Dashi, Peso, Kwazii, Captain Barnacles, and Shellington). 

After I finished, my son was super happy then he starts counting them, and says that "some" were missing? He names all of them, and I'm like OK.  I used the basic "body" templates to make the  Tunips, Professor, and Tweak.  Then I started cutting out the rest of the pieces for the puppets. 

Oh my, my son was beyond excited, and happy!!! Then he asked if I could make a puppet theater. In my mind, I was like "are you serious?" ... he's sick, but this child can really ask for stuff! LOL  I started looking around the house for something small enough to make the puppet theater.  It had to be simple, and easy.  I found a white box lid, and bingo! All I had to do was draw the Octopod on it, and have him color it. I then cut out the windows for the finger puppets. 

He spent hours playing with the finger puppets, and he even went to bed with them!  

Would love to read your comments! Please like, share or pin! Thank you!

This post has been linked to Crafty Moms Share, Mom Endeavors Let's Hear it for the boy - week #2 and Weekly Kid's Co-Op.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cultural Playdate: "Celebrating 中國新年 (Chinese New Year)"

Living in a small town doesn't provide much opportunity for cultural diversity. With that in mind I have organized a fun way to learn and play through a cultural play date: Celebrating Chinese New Year with story time and crafts! 


Chinese New Year is celebrated on Sunday, February 10th, and it is also known as the Spring Festival. It is China's biggest traditional holiday of the year, and celebrated in other countries and territories with significant Chinese populations. This is a big event in China, houses are cleaned out for the new year, and they decorate their houses with red paper decorations stating wishes of prosperity, good luck, happiness, good fortune, wealth, and longevity for the coming year. Red represents power happiness, vitality (and scares away monsters). Gold represents wealth and good fortune. The dragon is another popular symbol for Chinese New Year. It is a symbol of strength, goodness, and good luck, and supernatural forces.

Looking for ways to bring diversity into our home, I read a blog post from Becky at Kid World Citizen suggesting to contact the international offices of a local university to host an exchange student. So I figured, I can contact our local university to have someone come to our cultural play date! I was beyond excited, when I was put in contact with a young lady from China through the university's international program. 

Miss Huang, is a graduate student at our local university and was just as excited as I was to share her culture with us.  She had lots of ideas, and suggestions.  We had story time, and crafts for our cultural play date. 

Prior to beginning story time, Ms. Huang talked about China, and asked for a volunteer to show her where the continent of Asia was on the earth globe. (I was so proud when little one stood up to show her). She then showed them where she lived. 

For story time she read Happy Chinese New Year, Kai Lan! to the kids, and shared how she celebrates the Chinese New Year.  In the book, Kai Lan and her friends are getting ready for the celebration of the new year. Kai Lan and her friends are assigned numbers to carry the dragon for the parade; but one of her friends was not happy with his assigned number.  Kai Lan tells him of the importance of having that number, and team work.  Then off they go to the parade to celebrate!   

The numbers in the book are in both English and  in Chinese in the book. Miss Huang would say the numbers in Chinese and had the children repeat the numbers. In the book  Kai Lan talks about the importance of the color red.  So Miss Huang translates the word red in Chinese. She had the children repeat it, and after a while she'd ask: "How do you say red in ....?" She had not finished asking her question when my son quickly responded, "Rojo!" (Ha ha that's the Spanish word for red!). Again, I was proud of my son (though he didn't respond in Chinese he did have the Spanish word wired to his brain. :)  OK, now back to Kai Lan's book on celebrating Chinese New Year. 

This is a great book for preschoolers to learn about Chinese New Year. The best part of this book is that it has an English/Chinese pronunciation reference at the back.


Before craft time, Miss Huang showed the children a PowerPoint presentation on Chinese dragons, and played a traditional Chinese New Year song.  She showed them lots of pictures of different dragons, and the importance of them for warding off monsters. 

I made copies of the dragon face from a book "Celebrate the Winter Holidays!: Sensational Activities & Background Information That Help Kids Learn about and Appreciate Five Important Holidays" that I purchased and glued in on card stock paper, making sure  I left a piece of paper at the top so it can be folded in the back, and I taped jumbo popsicle sticks. Then I had crayons, and streamers to decorate the dragon's face. 




Miss Huang also prepared to have a craft session on Chinese knotting with the adults. One of the mommies present in the play date took advantage of this session, and  made a beautiful dragon fly Chinese knot.  




This was indeed a great cultural play date! The children had the opportunity to learn about China, and their New Year's celebration. I have to say it was a learning experience for both adults and children.  Did I forget to mention, I also had Chinese fortune cookies for them to snack on during the play date. 


Miss Huang made this play date even more fun, as she interacted, played, and colored with the children. She has a wealth of information on her culture, and was  more than willing to share it with us!  Thank you    Miss Huang! 



Do you celebrate Chinese New Year's? This was our first time, and it was awesome!  Please let me know your thoughts, comment, share, like or pin!   

中國新年快樂! (Happy Chinese New Year!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentine's Day: Cookies and Cards

This past Sunday we decided to get ready for Valentine's Day! We're making cookies and cards.  I gathered up different shapes & designs of scrapbook paper, some red construction paper, glitter, and stickers (not pictured), some heart cookie cutters, and a sugar cookie baking mix that I found on clearance (after Christmas sale! Gotta love them!). I had some chenille stems, but didn't use them. 


We started off our Sunday morning with making cookies. Little one was very excited to start baking the cookies. I mixed the ingredients, and placed the dough on the wax paper. I gave little one the rolling pin and he had a ball!  He enjoyed rolling, and cutting out the cookies with the cookie cutter. 
Little one was very excited to decorate the cookies, and had lots of fun.  He decorated the cookies to his heart's content. We used icing, and sugar sprinkles. We had the "food markers" but that didn't work out too well. 
Cookies decorated and ready to eat! He was so proud of his baking and decorating skills. :) 


Later in the afternoon, we started working on our Valentine's day card. I cut the hearts out of scrap book papers, and gave him pieces of paper, and the hearts for him to layer with glue. He wanted to put stickers on them, and once we finished we placed them on the table to decorate with glitter! 



We'll be using these cards for a Valentine's Day exchange that we're participating in, and for him to give to his friends at school. We'll be making more for family. :)
Look at the beautiful collection of Valentine's Day cards. They are beautiful, and my son was so proud. He said, "Mommy I like them a lot! Do you think my friends will like them, too?" I told him, "Of course, they will! They are beautiful!" 

Here's to wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day with your loved ones. 

Would love to hear from you! Please comment, like, share or pin!  Thank you for stopping by! 

This post is being linked at:  Kid's Co-Op at Glittering MuffinsCrafty Mom's Share,   and JDaniels4's Mom: Valentine's Day Tradition Link-Up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fritura de Puerto Rico: Relleno de Papas Con Un Toque de Japón

** For my English speaking readers, please click on the "Translate" found on the right side of this post. However, please note that some words may not be correctly translated. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate in asking via the comment box.  Thank you!** 

Si hay algo que extraño de mi isla bonita Puerto Rico,  ¡son las frituras! Si, si yo sé que no son saludables,  que si la grasa,  etc., etc.,  pero te diré que no hay nada como comerse una fritura de un chinchorro en Isla Verde, o de una guaguita estacionadas al borde de la costa entrando por Cataño (si más no recuerdo antes de mudarme para Estados Unidos ya se habían eliminado); pero siempre uno se encuentra una guaguita o chinchorro que las vende por aquí o por allá. Me encantaría poder tener la oportunidad de compartir esta experiencia con mi hijo y esposo:  ordenar una fritura (bacalaíto, alcapurría, un sorrullo, o lo que se me antoja ahora relleno de papa), y para bajarla un malta bien friiiiiiiiiiiiiia, ¡no tiene precio!  Mi gente Boricua puede entender esto. :) 

En fin, mientras sueño con estar en Puerto Rico, me conformaré con hacerlas yo misma acá en los Estados Unidos. Para la carne que va adentro de los rellenos de papa que se me antojaba,  encontré una receta de picadillo muy similar a la que mi santa madre hacía y la receta la puedes encontrar aquí.   

Ahora bien, muchas recetas de relleno de papas que encontré en la internet son con papas instantáneas (pero si quieres algo rápido y sencillo ver la receta aquí); pero para mi receta yo cociné papas, papas de verdad, nada de procesada. :)  
Las papas fueron majadas con mi majador de papas (recuerdo cuando me críaba que Mami tenía uno). Luego sazoné las papas a mi gusto, las moldee con una cuchara y adentro de la papa coloque una cucharada de picadillo. Luego con más papa por encima las hice en bolitas.  

Antes de freír el relleno de papas se envuelven en harina de trigo o maizena para que no se desmorone al freírlas. Pero yo usé "Panko" son migajas de pan rallado de Japón (para hacer las migajas de pan rallado utilizan corriente eléctrica a través de la masa para que se hornee sin la corteza, creando así migajas de pan rallado más crujientes y no absorben tanta grasa cuando se fríe).  El resultado final: relleno de papa con un toque de Japón que son crujientes por fuera, blanditas por dentro y súper deliciosas.    ¡Se derriten en tu boca...riquísimas! 

La primera vez que probé algo envuelto y frito con Panko fueron los tomates verdes como los que ven en la foto.  Esto es un plato típico Sureño y puedes leer más sobre esto aquí


¿Cuéntame sobre tu comida típica favorita? ¿Es algo que solamente puedes comer en tu país o puedes hacerla en tu casa? 

Agradeceré comentes, compartas o dale "me gusta" a mi publicación.  ¡Gracias anticipadas!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Celebrating International Book Giving Day


international book giving day poster by priya kuriyan

Did you know that February 14th Valentine's Day is also International Book Giving Day?  It's a day dedicated to giving a book to a child either used, new or borrowed.   This is a 100% volunteer initiative organized by bloggers across the world in the hopes of getting more books in the hands of children.  I was blown away to read that this holiday was the brainchild of a 6 yr. old boy! The son of a mom blogger at Delightful Children's Book,  who is also responsible of making her son's wish come true.  Can you say, wow! 

As an avid reader, and book lover I have been reading to my 4 yr. old even before he was born; and after he was born it became second nature to us. He loves for me to read to him, and he “reads” too (he’s memorized the whole story, and retells it). I know in my heart that I have already planted the seed for the love of books, and he will enjoy reading books as he gets older.  This very thought of loving books is why I'm sharing with you such an important holiday:  International Book Giving Day. Add this to your calendar, this is definitely a holiday worth celebrating and sharing with others!  

This is a great way to spread the love of reading books to children! This Valentine's Day instead of gifting sweets, gift a book!   Head on over here to share how you will celebrate International Book Giving Day! I've already signed up, and we're going to give a book to both a friend and a relative. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Friends for Life: Fostering Childhood Friendship

This post was inspired by a picture I took of my son with his best friend during a play date at the zoo.  I posted it on Facebook, and had some positive comments; but the one that really resonated with me  was  my husband's comments:  "Looks like friends for life!"

I know they will be friends for life, as a matter of fact they are best friends!  I smiled, and felt truly and immensely happy! You're wondering what's the big deal about that? Continue to read, and I will tell you why. :)

When I met my husband, married him and decided to start a new home & family in a place that I knew nothing of, and knew no one at all was a huge leap of faith; and needless to say a struggle. It's hard to be an outcast, and stand out because you're not from "here"; even smiling at someone from your same culture (because you can relate to them); and not getting a smile back was even harder.

Then everything changed when I had my child. I was determined not to be an outcast anymore, and I certainly wasn't going to allow my multiracial child to feel that way either. I was in desperate need of friends, and I wanted my child to have friends, too. I searched on-line for a local mommy play date group, and lo and behold I found one! This group has been a blessing in disguise! I've made some really good friends here, and our children are friends, best friends, and even buddies! We've been to plenty of birthdays, outings, parties, and lots of play dates, and it has been a joy to see my child make friendships.

Rainbow of friends! 
My son has had the opportunity to interact with children of all ages, and races; therefore helping him develop emotionally and socially. His friendships also fosters diversity, and acceptance of each child's individuality. I especially love to see how they play, bond, and learn from each other. 

There are so many benefits of children having friends, needless to say adults need friends, too! You as a parent, can help foster childhood friendship (adapted from here) by: 

  1. Leading by example. Your children will emulate your social skills when interacting with others. 
  2. Provide opportunities for your child to spend time with other children: play dates, library story time, etc.! 
  3. Sign your child up for a sports, or learn a new game: soccer is a great team sport, or ballet dancing. 
  4. Teach your child how to act or behave in different social situations. 
  5. Set ground rules: manners, boundaries, etc. 
As I mentioned earlier in my post, I am truly happy for my child. Not only for my child and his friends, but because I too, have friends! I no longer feel like an outcast, but part of a wonderful circle of friends! I also know in my heart that my son too will have life long friends.

***This blog post is dedicated to the my mommy friends, and their children :) Thank you for your friendship, and for our children's friendship as well!***

What ways do you foster childhood friendships? I would really love to hear your comments. Please pin, like or share.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fun with Chalks & Macaroni Pasta {Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts}

With so much to do, and so little time we decided to have two fun activities today instead of our usual one! Weather was beautiful so out the door we headed with chalks in hand.  Little one was excited to see what he can create, and make on the cement ground on our car port. He was pretending to be the teacher, and giving me instructions on what I needed to draw.  He was taking his "job" very seriously because he gave me the "look" when I drew a line where I wasn't supposed to. :)  He drew a machine, a house, amongst other things. His imagination soared, he was being creative, and we got a good dose of fresh air! 
After dinner we decided to have a sensory math skills with numbers activity. I gave him measuring cups, and a box full of dry macaroni pasta.  He filled the cups with macaroni pasta, then I had him place them from smallest to largest by the numbers written on the index cards. He then played with the macaroni pasta, while I drew the numbers for him on colorful construction paper. He had fun putting white glue on them, and dumping the macaroni on the paper to see the end result.  We both played with the numbers, and counted macaroni pasta up to 100!  I love it when he has fun learning through play. :)  
What fun learning activities do you have with your children? I love to hear from you! Please comment, share and/or like! Until our next Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts. :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monster Truck Jam Sensory Bin

On the morning of January 6th little one received gifts from "Los Reyes Magos" (Three Kings), and he loved all of them! However, he was most excited about the two Hot Wheel Monster Trucks that he received.  He could not believe that the Three Kings brought him this, since we had been talking about going to Monster Jam event next month! 


We had been watching YouTube videos of past Monster Jam events, and of course little one wanted to "recreate" what he had seen in the videos. So, what better way to recreate it by making a Monster Truck Jam Sensory Bin especially for him! I immediately transformed his dinosaur and butterfly sensory bin, into a Monster Truck Jam one. 

All we needed for the transformation was some sand, big rocks, his monster trucks, and his collection of cars. :) (The bin already has small pebbles).  After we finished his sensory bin truly looked like a real monster jam arena! Cars upside down, stacked up, and monster trucks riding all over them! 




 

Sensory bins are great for hours on end of fun, and play. This is also a great outlet for little one to let his imagination soar! He spent a good two hours playing all by himself, except when he'd call me to show me the car under the sand, or that he wanted a picture! Check out the picture below, what a cutie! :)  


You can check out his other sensory bins here and here.   Do you have sensory bins for your children? Please share, like or comment. ¡Gracias!

This post has been linked up at the Weekly Kids Co-Op: Trucks! Link-Up + Play from The Good Long Road, and Mom Endeavors Let's Hear it for the boy - week #2.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Picture Snowman {Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts}

Today during our Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts we did some homework. At the beginning of the month, little one comes home with a monthly homework calendar from pre-school. One of his homework assignments for this week was to make a snow man by cutting out 3 white circles, and putting his face on it.  We gathered the following materials to make the snow man: White paper,  blue foam, fake frosty snow flakes, glue, buttons, a picture, and white chicken wire.  

I cut the three circles from a white scrapbook paper, and used a blue foam as the background. Then I had little one spread the glue stick on each circle, and sprinkle "snow flakes" on it. He then put some buttons, and chicken wire for his arms. 

I thought this was too cute not to share, plus this was such a simple and easy craft!  The best part is that little one had fun, and enjoyed himself. 

What simple crafts have you created with your children lately? Would love to hear from you, please comment, like or share. ¡Gracias!

"Celebrating Los Tres Reyes Magos" Guest Post on Multicultural Familia

Today, in many Latin American homes across the world they are celebrating "Los Tres Reyes Magos" (Three Kings Day), and I'm super excited to have my blog post on how we celebrate Los Tres Reyes Magos here in the U.S.A. featured on Multicultural Familia


A special thanks to Chantilly from Multicultural Familia, and Feliz Día de Reyes!

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Learn and Play" Through Culture Packages

A wonderful way of showing our son how to appreciate other cultures is by participating in a Worldwide Culture Swap. This past summer we participated in two culture swaps, and have received swap packages from other families across the globe! Our packages came from families from England,  Norway and South Africa!

Participating is a fun and tangible way of  learning to appreciate other cultures through the items we have received.   The packages vary by country and the ones that we have received have included items such as,  stamps, coins, sweets, pictures, flags, stickers, coins, a home-made DVD, pressed flowers, pencils and even sand with shells!  The letters that the families include in their packages gives us a better understanding of their culture, and we learn so much from them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cultural Playdate: "Three Kings Day" Story Time and Crafts

Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus; and Three Kings display. 
As a multicultural family we celebrate The Epiphany of the Three Kings or how we call it in Puerto Rico: Día de Reyes. This year, I wanted to share with little one's friends our Latino culture, and customs.  What better way than to have a cultural play date with story time and crafts? For the play date we had books, and craft materials: Markers, crayons, stickers, glue, and glitter!  Empty toilet paper rolls cut off like crowns (I got the idea here), and empty shoe boxes to decorate. 
Empty toilet paper rolls cut up as crowns for the children to decorate with glitter. 
Empty shoe boxes, and brown paper for them to wrap. Crayons, markers, and stickers to decorate the box. 
I also had these cute little king crowns that I found on Nick Jr. last year, that I had saved. (They have a different one now that you can actually color.)  Once the children arrived I had them put on their crowns to get into the spirit of our Three Kings Day play date!  
King's hat to wear during the story time. 
Oh so excited to start story time! 
The Twelve Days of Christmas begins on December 25th and goes on until the 12th night which falls on the eve of January 5, followed by the Feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day). 

To begin our play date we had story time. I read to them A Piñata in a Pine Tree: Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora. It's a beautifully illustrated book, fun and with catchy Spanish words that we sang along to the "12 Days of Christmas" tune! Story time was followed by the The Visit of the Wise Men by Martha Jander, and to incorporate our culture in the play date I read to them Los Tres Reyes (a caballo)

Story time books: Los Tres Reyes, A Piñata in a Pine Tree, and The Visit of the Three Wise Men. 
As I read to them I asked about who was born on Christmas day? Why were the three wise men following the star? I also shared with them our Three Kings Day tradition of putting grass in a shoe box for the king's camels. For more information on this tradition you can read here.  Following story time, we had crafts! 

Glitter, glitter everywhere! They had glue, and glitter to decorate the crowns. 
Glitter was all over the place. 
A wonderful mommy helping her girls decorate the tp roll crown. 

Craft fun! 
They even colored the inside of the shoe boxes. 

What fun traditions do you still have with your family? Please share, like and/or comment. ¡Gracias!
The kids were excited, and had lots of fun! We had our cultural play date a few days before Three Kings Day, so we didn't go out to get grass for the camels. However, on January 5th we will go out with little one to get some grass for the camels, and set a bowl for water, too. The camels may be thirsty, too you know. :) 

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