When I Love You At Christmas {a book review}

When I Love You At Christmas:  a book review at RoamingRosie.com

Really, to be perfectly honest, I could talk about books every day.  But today I wanted to share with you a Christmas book that we’ve been reading quite a bit, because, you know … it’s Christmas!  :)

The picture book When I Love You At Christmas, written by David Bedford and illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, with its brief but charming text and adorable paintings is a delightful read for young children.

It’s a cute story narrated by a stuffed lamb telling us about how much he loves his little girl.  He goes through all of the activities that the little girl engages in around Christmastime, such as when she is wrapping presents, baking cookies, writing out Christmas cards, acting in a nativity play, and getting excited about Christmas day.

The double-page spreads are decorated with bright watercolor artwork and the text itself if very simple, but also very sweet.

One of the aspects I love about the story is how the girl gets so excited about Christmas, but she’s always thinking of others.  The book demonstrates things that are sharing activities, like wrapping presents, baking cookies, and sending out Christmas cards.  Things that emphasize a spirit of love and giving.

Even though the girl has trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve because she’s anticipating the big day, and even though she rushes quickly to find her own presents on Christmas morning, she takes the time to share a present with her stuffed lamb, too.

The lyrical text is short enough to hold the attention of toddlers and preschoolers, the illustrations are detailed enough to give their eyes plenty to explore, and the underlying message is subtle but lovely.

My girls, who are about 2-1/2 and 4-1/2-years-old, love it … but so do I!  This is definitely going to be a regular for us around Christmas, but is still worth a read throughout the rest of the year, too.

*Update:  I know the picture says you can get the book from my Usborne site, but it has been discontinued.  There are, however, sometimes copies available on Amazon.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Pretend Play: Raking Autumn Leaves

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

This is such a wonderful fall activity!

My girls have had – and are still having – so much fun with this Pretend Play activity of Raking Leaves.

And it’s so simple, too!

I bought 3 bags of 50 leaves each at the dollar store, and we already had the rakes – although I think we bought them at the dollar store in the spring.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

I do suggest using plastic rakes because they’re safer for indoors.  We also have metal and wooden rakes, but plastic worked best for this.

Also, I prefer doing this activity on the carpet, but it does work on the tile and wood floors.  To be honest, though, I found raking the leaves up on carpet with the plastic rake to be somewhat soothing.  Meditative, even.

To store the leave we use a basket that we already had, but you could also use a plastic baggy.  {That’s what I plan to store them in at the end of fall.}

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

Another thing these leaves are perfect for is throwing.

Rake up a pile and toss them into the air!

Seriously:  these are made of fabric, so they kind of flutter down gently.  The whole reason I decided to do this with my kids is because they adore the Elefun Game so much.  And, really, the Elefun game isn’t perfect.  The butterflies/fireflies come out too quickly and there aren’t enough of them, but my girls still love catching them AND collecting them afterwards.

But that’s why I bought 150 leaves for this activity – so there would be enough to entertain both of them.  Plenty to keep them busy with raking and throwing.

And organizing.

My 4yo would make piles of the leaves, sorting them by color and counting them.  And my 2yo made piles that were her “birds nests.”

The options are limitless.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

And, like I said, this activity can be extremely affordable.  I already had the rakes and the basket, and I bought the 3 bags of leaves for a buck a piece at the Dollar Tree.  The plastic rakes can also be found in the outdoor toy section or garden section of places like Target or Kmart even Walgreens – at certain times of the year.

BUT, if you’re having trouble finding the items you need, here are some Decorative Fall Leaves and a Gardening Tool Set from Amazon:

Decorative Fabric Fall LeavesPlastic Gardening Tool Set for Kids

And please let me know if your Little Ones enjoy it – and if they come up with any games of their own!

And check out these other Pretend Play ideas, too:

Pretend Play:  Makeup

Pretend Play:  Post Office and Mail Carrier

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Felt Lacing Pumpkins

Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillow Craft for Fall / Halloween / Thanksgiving

These Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillows are so cute, and my girls really enjoy them.

And I say “enjoy them” in the present tense instead of “enjoyed making them” in the past tense, because they’re still playing with them.

They make pretty nice Fall decorations, too… except that they keep walking off and getting lost in the baby doll’s beds…

Anyway, this is a great project to do with kids in autumn.  I made a step-by-step photo of how we made them {see below}.  I didn’t post any patterns or anything, since I did it all by hand.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 sheet of orange felt per pumpkin
brown yarn
scissors
hole punch

To make the pumpkin pillow:

1.  Fold the felt in half and cut it along the crease to make two pieces.  With the two felt sheets together, cut out a shape resembling a pumpkin.  Sort of an oval with a stem on top.

2.  Use a hole punch to make holes around the edge.  This may take a few minutes if you {like me} don’t own an ergonomic hole puncher with a cushioned grip.  Place the pumpkin with the holes on top of the pumpkin without the holes, and using a pen or marker, mark where each hole is, so that when you cut out the holes on the second pumpkin, they will line up with the first.

3.  Cut a piece of yarn about a yard long for each pumpkin.  Wrap some clear tape around one end of the yarn to make it sturdy enough to thread through the felt.

[I did steps 1 through 3 the night before, while my kids slept.  If your kids are a little older – and you have an easier-to-use hole punch than me – you may want to let your kids help with those steps.]

4.  Let your kids sew together the pumpkins, just like a lacing card, leaving a few holes {about a 1/4 of the pumpkin} open.  See the 4th photo below.

5.  Crumple up a sheet of tissue paper and stuff it inside the pumpkin.  Alternately, use cotton balls or a some cotton batting.

6.  Finish sewing up the pumpkin and tie off the yarn.

Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillows

It’s a pretty easy project, and the best part is if you don’t have any felt, you could always substitute construction paper!

Plus, we made ours before Halloween, but if that’s already passed, these look great for Thanksgiving, too!

Have fun!

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I Tell My Secrets to the Moon {ebook}

I Tell My Secrets to the Moon by Rosemary Lynn {book review at RoamingRosie.com}

I Tell My Secrets to the Moon is a tale reminiscent of old fables. The book is written in a soothing tone that is perfect for bedtime. The illustrations are simple but playful, and the text addresses deep emotions.

Little Brown Bear is walking through the woods one night, listening to the song of the Snowy Tree Cricket, when he comes upon a shy and sad rabbit. Rosy Rabbit is afraid to discuss her feelings with him, so Little Brown Bear convinces her to talk to the moon instead.

After some reassurance, Rosy Rabbit gathers her courage and sings a long, howling song to the moon. Her confidence grows and the moon twinkles back in response.

One of the reasons I wrote this story is because my girls love the moon.  We wave to it all the time, searching the early morning skies for it.  We read a lot of books with the moon as a character, and it’s something they really enjoy.

This particular story also embarks on a journey of emotion.  It tells kids that it’s okay to have strong feelings, and also that when those feelings are sad feelings, it’s a good idea to talk to someone.

I made the illustrations out of paper collages, combined with my sketches of the animals.

The book is available on the Kindle, but even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read it to your kids with the Free Kindle App on any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Check out the book on Amazon, where you can download a free preview or purchase it:  I Tell My Secrets to the Moon by Rosemary Lynn.

And if you like it, please rate it on Amazon and share it with your friends.

Don’t forget to check out my other picture books:  Alice’s African Alphabet Adventure and Hello Sun!

Happy Reading!

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Halloween Sensory Bath

Halloween Sensory Bath {RoamingRosie.com}

I wanted to do something special for Halloween, and settled on a sensory bath with orange, green, and purple noodles that would be mixed with black, creepy toys.

It was a hit.  But then, I knew it would be.

How could kids NOT love a sensory bin that you let them climb inside of?

Earlier this year we did an Ocean Sensory Play Bath.  My girls really enjoyed it and requested it again and again.

But this time we did a “creepy” version.

Seemed a good way to get into the Halloween spirit.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

I had the food coloring on hand, but the rest of the supplies I picked up at the dollar store.

You’ll need:

4 lbs. of spaghetti
Food coloring in orange, green, and purple
Various toy bugs

I got a package of 8 rubbery mice, 8 rubbery spiders, and a dozen plastic centipedes.

I thought about sticking with the traditional colors of orange and black, but eventually decided to throw in the green and purple, too.  They added a nice dimension to it.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

You need to cook the spaghetti ahead of time, but it can sit for awhile.  This is helpful, for example, if you want to take care of this part while your kids are sleeping or at school.

I put most of the 4 lbs. into one large pot with a big scoop of orange food color.  Then I put green and purple into two smaller pots with smaller amounts of spaghetti.

I cooked them according to the package directions, then took the pots off the heat and allowed the noodles to sit in the colored water for 20 or 30 minutes.

You could also cook all the noodles in one big pot and then separate them into plastic baggies.  You can add the food color to the baggies and mix it all around to dye the noodles this way.

Sometimes I have issues with that method, so I used the dye-them-on-the-stove technique.  It takes very little time to wash the pots afterwards, and if you don’t have that many pots, you can always reuse the same one or make fewer colors.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

Once you’re ready to drain the pasta, make sure you rinse the noodles with cool water, too.

Rinse until the water that’s draining from the bottom of the colander runs clear.

Some of the food color that is in the spaghetti will still leak into the tub as the noodles steep, but rinsing helps eliminate as much color as possible beforehand.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

Here is a photo of the dyes spaghetti in one big bucket and all the creepy, crawly critters in a little dish.

I put these on the bathroom counter until we were ready to play.

As I mentioned, the spaghetti can sit for awhile.  We waited at least an hour, because my youngest was still napping.

And if you don’t have a bathtub {or just can’t imagine putting food in your tub}, you could always use something else.  For example, a kiddie pool.  Or, if you don’t want your kids sitting in the spaghetti, you could put it in a water table or large plastic bin instead, and let them play with it that way.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

Fill up the tub with just a few inches of water.

Then dump in the spaghetti and any toys.  Here you can see me and my daughter tossing in all the creepy vermin.

Swirl everything together with your hand or a small strainer.

We used the small mesh strainers to clean up afterwards, but also to play.  The girls used them to scoop up the toys.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

The orange faded from the spaghetti rather quickly.

Next time I would use more color and perhaps let it sit a little longer, since orange is such a light color.

And, as you can see, the green and purple did seep into the bathwater.  This makes it even creepier, though, and more of a challenge to find all the toys.  So not a total negative.

Plus, in case you’re wondering, my kids did not turn green and purple.

Halloween Sensory Bath  {RoamingRosie.com}

To clean up, we took out all the toys and scooped all of the noodles back into the bin.

We used both our hands and the mesh strainers to remove the pasta.  My kids have nearly as much fun with this part as they do with playing in the spaghetti.

Once all {or as much as I can find} of the noodles are out of the tub, I drain the water.  Then I make sure there’s no food coloring left in the tub and my kids get a real bath.

When the bath is over, I sprinkle a bunch of baking soda over the drain and rinse it down with white vinegar.  {This is my normal method of cleaning bathtub/sink drains.}  It is inevitable that some noodles will escape down the drain, and certainly some starch, so this extra step is important.

Have fun!

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Letter E: Alphabet Activities for Kids

Letter E:  Alphabet Activities for Kids at RoamingRosie.com

Welcome to Letter E Day!

If you haven’t read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities, you should start there.

Don’t forget to check out the Letter E:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids, too!

Letter Sorting:  E is for Easter Eggs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

For our letter sorting activity, I cut out two egg shapes and added some paper patterns that made them look like Easter eggs.

E is for Electric Eels  {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

For our next Letter E project, I cut out the letter for Eel in squiggly lines that were supposed to represent the animal.

Then my daughter glued them on the water-colored paper and drizzled on some glow-in-the-dark paint.

The glowing version didn’t photograph well, but it was a big hit in person.

E is for Elephants  {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

We made some elephants with grey paint.

My daughter dipped her hands in the paint, then made hand prints on paper.

While the paint was still wet, we added googly eyes and a paper oval ear.

E is for Eyes {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This is one of the worksheets I made that’s available on my Letter E:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids post.

We spread glue all over the letters and added googly eyes.

E is for Earth  {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

Our next project was a coffee filter craft:  E is for Earth.

The coffee filters were pretty big, so I cut it to fit the construction paper.  Then I outlined some shapes in green to roughly represent the continents.

Next, my daughter and I colored the continents and water with washable markers.  I helped a little because she hadn’t filled them all in completely and it looks best with a lot of color.

We took a spray bottle filled with water and squirted the coffee filter.  Make sure you have something underneath it {like newspaper} to soak up any colors that bleed through.  Don’t be afraid to squirt a lot of water of it, so that the colors will run.

Once it dried, we glued it to a piece of black construction paper with glitter to represent outer space and stars.

E is for Electric Eggs Hunt {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

My girls LOVED this.  And it’s very easy to do.

To set up an Electric Egg Hunt {which is also a great Easter activity}, you put bracelet-sized glow sticks inside of plastic Easter eggs.  Then hide them around the room and turn off the lights.

Below you can see my girls finding all the eggs.  One used a basket and the other just made a pile.

We hid them over and over again, so the activity lasted for quite awhile.

And has been requested many times since.

E is for Electric Eggs Hunt {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

E is for Electric Egg Hunt {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

E is for Scrambled Eggs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

These are scrambled egg Es.  I made some scrambled eggs in a pan and added in some cheese.  I let it sit near the end of cooking it, so that it had the consistency of an omelet instead of scrambled eggs {stuck together instead of falling apart.}

Then I slid it onto a plate and cut out letter Es with a cookie cutter.

E is for Chocolate Eggs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

These are really cute.

For these miniature eggs, I melted some white candy melts in a little baggy, snipped off the corner, and squeezed out the chocolate in oval shapes onto waxed paper.  Before the chocolate set, I put a yellow M&M on top.

It cools and sets in a few minutes, but they also stay fresh so you can make them days ahead of time, if you want.

E is for Green Eggs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

And since we also read Green Eggs and Ham for Letter E Day, I added green M&Ms to some of the chocolate eggs.  :)

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

E is for Easy Eclairs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

These were my take on eclairs.  I wanted to bake something, but something that would be really easy to make.

I didn’t post a printable recipe because I just combined a few things to make them.  I DID post a step-by-step photo below, though, to help explain it.

We started with some store-bought pie crust dough.  You can usually find this in the frozen or refrigerated section of the grocery store.  We cut out flower circles with a 2-inch cookie cutter and pressed the small circles of dough into greased mini cupcake pans.  After baking them according to the package directions and letting them fully cool, we spooned in some instant vanilla pudding.  Once that set, we drizzled chocolate fudge ice cream topping over them.

And to review, a list of the ingredients:  pie crust dough, vanilla pudding, fudge ice cream topping.

They might not exactly be eclairs in the traditional sense, but they still tasted pretty good.

E is for Easy Eclairs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

And here are some of the supplies I’ve mentioned in this post, including glow-in-the-dark paint, googly eyes, plastic eggs, glow sticks for the electric eggs, the cookie cutter set that I used for the scrambled eggs Es and the easy eclairs, and the fudge topping for the eclairs:

Glow in the Dark Paint Plastic Eggs

Glow Stick Bracelets Cookie Cutters Fudge Ice Cream Topping

I’d love for you to share if you’ve done any of these projects with your little ones!

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see my latest posts.

Have fun!

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DIY Fine Motor Skills Craft for Toddlers with Pipe Cleaners

DIY Fine Motor Skills Craft for Toddlers with Pipe Cleaners at RoamingRosie.com

I like to make homemade activities for my girls by recycling things we have around the house.

We use pipe cleaners {or chenille sticks} fairly often, so we’ve always got those on hand.  I usually get them at the dollar store.

For this project, I used 4 pipe cleaners and cut them into inch-long pieces with a pair of strong scissors.

Then, the goal was simply to put them into an old spice container.

This is the type of spice container that holds dried herbs, like parsley or oregano.  You’ll notice the top has only 6 large holes.

It’s a great way to work on fine motor skills and helps with prewriting skills.

The only drawback to this is that the metal inside the pipe cleaners can be a little sharp.  There are a couple of ways around this.  One:  ignore it.  And two:  use pliers to curve over the very ends of the metal pieces, making sure that the sticks still fit through the holes in the spice container.

We chose option one.

Really, it’s not terribly sharp and you can insert them without pushing the ends anyway if you manipulate the pieces by holding them on the fuzzy part.  Or pushing gently, which is what I showed my girls.

Or, if you’re really worried about it, you could just use pieces of yarn instead.

My favorite part is that all the little pieces fit inside the container, and, thus, it is self-contained and easy to store.

For more kid activities using items around the house, check out:

Practice Measuring with Rice

Painting With Chalk

Our Colorful Backyard: Color Matching Activity for Kids

Blustery Day Water Play

Free Kid Activity: Developing Fine Motor Skills with Crayons

Pretend Play: Makeup

Free Kid Activity: Chalk on Construction Paper

Free Kid Activity: Painting Newspaper

Make Your Own Color Shadows

Dirt Soup: In Contact With Creation

Have fun!

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