Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Easter Celebration at Daycare

First ever outdoor egg hunt (at this house). The kids had a great time!

We did a lot of Easter activities throughout last week at daycare. While most of the celebrating was done on Friday, we started our week dying eggs naturally, which the kids had a lot of questions about. The rest of the week we also did a parent pleasing craft, spring time sensory goop and baking soda snow, and a simple Seder plate to learn a bit about Passover. Friday was our day to eat bunny cake, do an egg hunt in the backyard, play games, and do one last craft. In the past, I've tried to fit a lot in in one day (see a past Easter Party here), but I've learned the kids have a better time if we go slow and spread out our fun.

The kids really got involved in the natural egg dying process. This is my favorite way to dye eggs now. Read more about it here.

Our Easter/spring time craft: carrots with hand prints for the stem. We call these Parent Pleasers (those crafts that are cute and memorabilia), but the kids enjoyed doing these too. They were excellent when I traced their hands and they loved gluing the orange pieces of paper to the carrot. 

These kiddos love sensory activities! The mud kitchen is a favorite outdoors, but since it was a rainy day, we brought our mess indoors. I made goop (cornstarch, water, and bright green food coloring) and baking soda "snow" (baking soda, cold water, purple food coloring). The kids played with it for the last hour and a half of the day. Even the littlest daycare kiddo got to play too! What I love about both of these sensory activities is that they vacuum out of carpet really well!

Thursday was our day to do TWO Seder meals, one with the littles right before lunch and the second with the bigs after school. I had our Seder plate set and each child had their own plate with items to try it. One of my daycare families made unleavened bread and brought it to share. Without a doubt, the hit of the day was the Matzo. Hearing the kids ask, "can I have more matzah please?" was the cutest thing ever. While they sampled the various things on the Seder plate and drank sparkling grape juice, I told a kid friendly version of Passover (I found this site to be extremely helpful in telling the story).

Friday morning we kicked off our Easter bunny themed celebrations with the annual bunny cake.

Our next activity was a egg toss game. The kids had to stand behind the pink bucket (filled with eggs) and toss them into the Easter baskets. If they made one in, there was excessive cheering. If they didn't, there was still plenty of cheering, excitement, and encouragement. All kids got to pick a prize from the prize bucket. There was plenty to choose from too: beads, whistles, stampers, rubber ducks, silly string. I decided not to do gift baggies this year and go for the prize bucket instead. The kids seemed to love picking out their own goodies.
Now, the biggest thing with this egg toss game is that we used the colored hard boiled eggs we made earlier in the week! The kids thought I was legit crazy for letting them use the "real eggs." Sure most were cracked, but it made for a memorable game!

Another memorable activity: an egg hunt! The eggs weren't filled at all (I let the kids pick out another prize after the egg hunt), but that didn't bother the kids one bit. As soon as I said "go!" they were off and found all 170 eggs hidden around the backyard. I put a giant Easter basket out on a chair in the yard that they put the eggs in when their hands got too full. We'll definitely be doing this again!

Our movies for the afternoon: Charlie Brown Easter and The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town. The second is kinda creepy, but the kids enjoy it every year.

To end the day, the kids decorated "Easter eggs" with crayons, markers, colored pencils, glitter glue, and anything else they dug out of the art supplies. The kids absolutely love "arting" (as they call it). Now that I have a group of (mostly) preschoolers, it's fun to get out out glue, scissors, and the like and not have to worry about anyone hurting themselves.

I really enjoyed the 'celebrating all week' rather than just one day. I'll have to remember that for next year.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Weekend of Play

Wow, a full weekend to do as we wished! Sure, a sick mini was involved, but we got to do things when we wanted and didn't have to make time for a thing. It was very refreshing. The minis requested a Friday night slumber party in the living room. I couldn't think of one good reason why not, so we ordered pizza and I made Peeps Rice Krispie Treats for the occasion. 

I could have easily slept in Saturday morning, but instead we got up early and moving. We dropped off supplies and helped set up the Museum for the weekend (and week's) activities. The minis got in some playing and we were in and out in no time.

This piece of art work is amazing! Last year, for the Museum's 1st birthday party, we had local artists come and help the kids make leaf imprints. They then took those leaves and made them part of this piece, which is now hanging in the Museum. It's absolutely amazing! I love how me and my whole family has been a part of the Des Moines Children's Museum from it's early beginnings. We will have such great memories and it's been such a great learning experience for us all.

We tried Chu Chu donuts for the first time. Omg! Donut Hut is still my favorite, but these were amazing. Softest donuts I've ever had in my life and so incredibly filling. Usually if the minis have donuts for breakfast, they're hungry an hour after eating. Somehow, these kept them filled up for a few hours. After donuts we made a stop at Caribou's drive thru. I splurged from my regular black coffee and tried the malted mocha. Another winner for the day! I loved this so much I actually got another one Sunday night to end the weekend.

I had my heart set on hiking. The minis weren't completely on board, but I talked them into going to Jester Park. We first enjoyed the Nature Center, then went to our favorite hiking trail. We were shocked to see part of the trail completely under water! I can't believe the Park was still flooded. The minis did get to enjoy the playscape before we went to another trail head. We made it maybe half of a mile before we ran into the flooded areas. We got some hiking in so I call it a win!

Elizabeth: "Um, mom. There's dead turkeys down there." Hunters Association meeting started just as we arrived at the Nature Center. The minis were a bit upset. Oops!

A mom and dad break while the minis ran around the Nature Center play area.

We ran into a bit of a shock (another one) when we arrived at the mini's favorite stream to cross. It appears they're putting in steps or some kind of crossing at the stream. We worked around it and made it to the other side easily.

I had to time them running across the bridge.

Of course they had to check out the flood waters and damage. I love how curious and fearless they are.

The nest/tee pee is still standing!

We came across A LOT of animal tracks! Deer, beaver, ducks. The wet mud where the water had been was perfect for spotting footprints.

We tried out natural egg dying to end our busy day. Read more about that here.

Sunday was simple. I got sleep I didn't know I needed quite so bad. I woke up refreshed after 12 hours of sleep. Then I cleaned, did laundry, spent time playing basketball with the minis, Hubs worked on building sensory tables for the Museum, grocery shopping, and we ended the day and weekend with a family dinner at our house. The only bummer for the day is that the littlest mini (Elizabeth) wasn't feeling well. What we thought was just a headache, turned into the stomach flu and days of sleeping.

Sunday snuggles.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Natural Egg Dying

Each year we do some kind of egg dying for Easter. Some people hide these eggs around the house, but ours are just for eating (the hard boiled egg at least). My minis have only done the from a box (or as I say traditional because that's what I grew up with) egg dying once in their lives. I tend to find new ways of dying eggs each year. Last year was whipped cream and food coloring (read a bit about it here), but we've also done painting the eggs, coloring them, using Kool Aid to dye them, and many other ways (if you're looking for a good list of different ways to dye your eggs, check this out).

As with many things we try, I've never had kids be completely entertained with egg dying. My kids and daycare kids tend to lose interest quickly. Plus, not many of them enjoy hard boiled eggs. Yet I keep dying eggs year after year because, well, tradition for the time of year. This year I was pretty gun hoe about trying a natural method of egg dying. I felt as though we've tried a lot of other ways, so let's do it this way.

I did a bit of research (i.e. not much, just a gander about the best foods to use) and purchased veggies and frozen fruit from Walmart on our way home after hiking over the weekend. I didn't exactly read how to do it, but I knew we had to leave the egg soaking overnight. Just after dinnertime, I began cutting up the veggies and let the blueberries and raspberries thaw for a bit before mashing them.

Frozen raspberries and blueberries, yellow onions (the skins only), turmeric, beets, and red cabbage.

I added warm water and 2 tbsp of vinegar to each bowl before I had the kids color the eggs with crayon before dropping them in the bowls. Then, we waited.....

And waited. And waited some more. We left them in the veggie/fruit, water, and vinegar mixes for 16 hours. Now, to be fair, I couldn't fit all of these in my refrigerator because it was full. So I added ice to each bowl to keep the eggs cold.
I mashed the blueberries and raspberries and chopped the cabbage, beets, and onion skins.

My favorite party was checking on the eggs throughout the evening and next morning. It was quickly apparent which veggies and fruits worked and which didn't (raspberries, I'm lookin' at you).

For our first round, the blueberries, beets, and turmeric worked great! The onion skins left the eggs a faint yellow (which confused me because supposedly onion skins worked really well for others but more on that later), the raspberries did nothing, and the cabbage was a faint pinkish color. I'm perplexed by the cabbage, but I was honestly so pleased with the other colors that I wasn't overly concerned about getting the cabbage to work.

Now, I was happy with how the eggs turned out, but I was more pleased with how the minis were incredibly interested in the egg dying process this way! Not only did they continually check on the eggs with me, they asked many, many questions. Once they saw the food dying the eggs they started brainstorming other fruits, vegetables, and spices we could use. It always flabbergasts me what piques kids' interests and what doesn't.

This definitely deserved a second round with daycare kiddos! So, the next day we soaked our eggs in blueberries, beets, turmeric, and onion skin. But I learned from round 1 and fine tuned our technique for round 2.

I didn't use any vinegar in the water the second time around. Mostly because I forgot, but somehow the eggs turned out brighter. At the suggestion of a Facebook follower (who commented on The Kidsperts photo of the eggs), I put the onion skins in right after the water finished boiling. The water instantly turned a brown/golden yellow. Once I noticed the water had changed colors, I put an egg right back in the hot water and left it sitting for 3 hours. The result was the orangish-brown egg (far left in the picture below). The blueberries, beets, and turmeric turned out brighter without the vinegar as well. We left the eggs in the water for 12 hours and voila!

Just as my three did, the daycare kids really enjoyed this as well,! It was more than just an activity for the day. This got the questions flowing about how fruits and vegetables can dye eggs. Plus, we've got some awesome colored eggs out of the whole thing too.