Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Learning about the Alphabet: B is for Baking

Learning about the Alphabet: B is for Baking; course logo from and A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; background photo of cookies

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toddler baking cookies
Baking shortbread cookies

Over the course of twenty-six posts, I will introduce my own simple lessons for the letters of the alphabet. I will provide enough ideas and suggestions for a week's worth of activities.

For the letter B we focused on baking.

Coloring Pages

Super Coloring's Baker Coloring Page 
First-School Preschool Activities and Craft's Baker Coloring Page 
DLTK's Coloring Pages' Chef Coloring Pages

Baking Projects

Letter B as a Baker Craft
B is for Baker craft's ABC: What Will I Be offers a great lesson on B is for Baker. ABC: What Will I Be? Course logo

Baking Cookies

Getting into the kitchen and baking cookies with your preschooler is a wonderful way to share family time and incorporate education into your day. Your child can help gather ingredients, read the recipe, measure ingredients, and prepare the cookies for the oven.

Learning About the Alphabet: B is for Baking; mixing ingredients; course logoSafety first! Please keep in mind that the oven is very hot and your child should be supervised at all times near an oven. Do NOT allow them to handle items going in and out of the oven. Use your due diligence to prevent injuries. Allow trays and cookies to cool after baking before allowing children to touch them again.

I have to admit that I love using the pre-measured cookie mixes like those sold by Betty Crocker.  They make it very easy when you need to make cookies quickly for an event. We have used the following mixes with good results: Sugar Cookie Mix, Salted Caramel (which is a limited edition mix), Rainbow Chocolate Candy, and the Pumpkin Spice (which is also a limited edition mix).

The 36th Avenue's Christmas Cookies - Funfetti Cookies 
This recipe calls for red and green sprinkles and M&M's but you can use other colors for the rest of the year, too.


There are so many books out there teaching how to bake or cook with children. Visit the library or use one of the links below to learn about some of the books available.

Featured Shapes - Circle and Sphere

What better shapes are there than circles and spheres when you are taking about baking? So many cookie recipes ask you to roll your cookies into balls (or spheres) and then press flat (creating a circle shape).

One great way to incorporate a painting activity is with circles. Gather materials around your house that have a circular shape that could act as a stamp. For example, plastic cup, plastic lid, empty and clean yogurt container. Let your child use them as stamps with paint and a large sheet of paper.


Imagination Time: Play food

While talking about baking, allow your children to cook you a pretend dinner. In our household, we love the products from Learning Resources. They have such a variety of kits from fruit salads to healthy dinner baskets. They even have a baking set!


Visit a bakery

child watching older brother pick out rolls for dinner
Watching older brother
pick out rolls for dinner
rolls at bakery
Rolls at our local bakery
Take the time to visit a bakery with your children. We are fortunate enough that we have bakeries that specialize in sweets and bread within driving distance of our home.

Clay Play

Use old cookie cutters and clay to let your children pretend to bake cookies. (Remind them not to put the clay in their mouths!)

Other 'B' Topics

I Heart Crafty Things' 15 Adorable Bee Crafts for Kids 
Included in this roundup of crafts are those that incorporate a variety of materials including paper bags, paper plates, paint, glue, craft sticks, and tissue paper among other items.

Ms. Barbara's Bees: A Preschool Study 
This includes many lessons to incorporate the study of bees into your preschool or homeschool including a really cool beehive created with egg cartons.


butterfly children's book

Fireflies + Mudpies' Coffee Filter Butterfly Craft 
This is a great craft for a warm day outside. We used to make similar butterfly crafts when I taught workshops at the zoo. Kids love seeing the marker colors spread and combine when spraying water on the filter.

Fun Learning for Kids' Butterfly Collage 
I always love the idea of giving kids materials and letting them create their own art project. Here is one you can do with butterflies as the base.

Parenting Chaos' b is for Butterfly Letter of the Week Craft 
This offers the lowercase letter b for the butterfly craft.

Mommies Reviews' Homeschooling Craft B is for Butterfly
Cute art craft using pasta to create a butterfly picture.

Birds - Bird Feeder

There are lots of interesting bird crafts that could accompany the letter B. And you can also make a bird feeder to hang outside allowing for some nature watching time. Please visit my Crafts - Animals Pinterest Board for more bird craft ideas.

The Resourceful Mama's Peanut Butter Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder 
We used to make these when I taught at the zoo. They were an easy way to prepare a bird feeder with just a few supplies.

Kitchen Counter Chronicles' Cookie Cutter Bird Feeders
These bird feeders use gelatin as the 'sticking' agent instead of peanut butter. Great if you (or a loved one) have a food allergy. They also allow for creativity and experimentation, if you and your children want to try different shapes than just the heart suggested.


First-School Preschool Activities and Craft's Alphabet Letter B Baker Theme
MPM School Supplies B is for Literacy Center Craftivity 
Sight and Sound Reading's Letter B Crafts 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Crafts: Butterfly Metamorphosis

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Butterfly Life Cycle

In conjunction with our art studies lesson from, we studied caterpillars and butterflies. To help reinforce the idea of metamorphosis, we made our own butterfly life cycle picture.

Learn about metamorphosis! clipart of a butterfly



This time, I tried something new with my children. I modeled what they would be doing on their own paper by drawing it out on a small whiteboard.

1. Gather all your materials. I pre-cut all my shapes for my children but depending on the age and skill of your children, you can have them help you or do it for themselves.

materials needed to make the craft Butterfly Life Cycle

2. Glue on your small pom-poms as eggs.

Butterfly Life Cycle - eggs drawn on a white boarddrawing eggs for butterflies

Butterflies usually lay their eggs on the bottom of leaves or on/near food for the hatching caterpillars.

3. Glue on the caterpillar. Glue on or draw on stripes. We talked about why the caterpillar had stripes for camouflage purposes.

Butterfly Life Cycle caterpillar on a whiteboard

adding caterpillar to the craft

Caterpillars eat and grow. This stage is all about getting bigger so they shed their skins several times as they grow. They usually have stripes to aid in hiding from predators.

4.  Glue on the tree or tree branch, leaves, and chrysalis.

adding on a tree to the metamorphosis craft

When the caterpillar is done growing, it forms a cocoon or chrysalis so it can undergo a transformation to become a butterfly. They might be inside the chrysalis from ten to fourteen days until they hatch.

5. Glue your butterfly onto your paper. You can create a butterfly in a number of ways. We had one made of tissue paper, construction paper, and googly eyes along with hand drawn antennae.

adding on the butterfly to the craft

When a butterfly is ready to hatch, it slowly breaks out of its chrysalis. After about an hour or two, the butterfly's wings are dry and it can fly. The life cycle will begin again as the butterfly finds a mate and then lays eggs.

6. Draw arrows to connect the different steps.

Butterfly Life Cycle drawn on a white board

7. After the picture is dry, display proudly in your home.

Butterfly Life Cycle book and completed craft


To find out more information, you can visit the following sites. Remember to review any site before allowing your children to visit it without you.

butterfly book

National Geographic Kids' The Butterfly Life Cycle Page 
The Academy of Natural Sciences' Butterfly Life Cycle Page 
The Children's Butterfly Site's Life Cycle of Butterflies and Moths 

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Ten Favorite Films

Text: 10: Ten Favorite Films of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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Most people have favorite movies; movies that make them laugh or cry. We talk about movies with our friends, families, co-workers, and strangers.

These are my ten favorite movies (in no particular order).

Text: Ten Favorite Films; A Mom's Quest to Teach; photo of some movie DVDs

Warning - There will probably be spoilers!


I have enjoyed the movie Clue from the first time I saw it. I did not get a chance to see it in the theaters so the only times I have seen it have been when it was shown on television or via VHS -- with all three endings combined together. I still have almost all the lines memorized. The actors and actresses in the movie are such a great ensemble cast.

We also had the original Clue game and then the deluxe version. My mom even purchased the VHS game that we played many times and we had the Alfred Hitchcock edition of Clue as well.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 

"We named the dog, Indiana"

I have seen almost every Harrison Ford film and while this may not be my favorite Ford movie, it is my favorite Indiana Jones movie. In fact, it is the only one I saw in the movie theater. I love the humor and history incorporated into it. Ford and Sean Connery are great together as father and son. Following along with Indiana Jones as he looks for his father and the Holy Grail, he finally finds both but must make a difficult decision.


I saw the original (and the sequel) in the movie theater. When the first one was released, our local one-screen movie theater would run movies for two showings each night. If you attended the first one, you could stay for the second showing. I remember sitting through this movie multiple times during the week that it was playing at that theater. And you always had to stay for the end for Slimer's appearance.

One of my favorite Huey Lewis
and the News albums 
Back to the Future

This movie introduced me to Huey Lewis and the News. From "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud," to "Great Scott!" to "Better get used to these bars, kid," the dialogue is packed with memorable and quotable lines. Of the three movies, this one is definitely my favorite (although isn't that usually the way it is with a movie series: the first is the best?). Having loved every minute of the movie, I joined the Back to Future Fan Club.  I still have my DeLorean key chain and an Outtatime license plate from Universal Studios. Did you get a chance to ride Back to the Future at Universal Studios? What a great experience for fans of the movie.

Disney's cartoon Beauty and the Beast

One of my all-time favorite Disney cartoons is Beauty and the Beast.  I think because Belle is so fond of books, like me, I connected with her best of all the Disney heroines in their movies. And the music from this cartoon is fantastic.  I was very excited when they included "Human Again" with the 2002 release because after seeing it on stage on Broadway. I couldn't imagine the story without that number.

Wild Wild West

I saw this movie at least four times in the theater. It combined two favorite actors (Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh) and history. I never watched the television series but I thoroughly enjoyed Kline, Branagh, and Will Smith in this big screen version. Kline playing two roles - that of the agent and president - is great. And the chemistry between the entire cast is also such that the jokes seem effortless.


Arsenic and Old Lace

If you asked me, "What is your favorite Cary Grant movie?" I think this would be the first to come to mind. While I do enjoy many of his other movies, I always watch this one at least once a year (around Halloween). Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who discovers that his aunts are murderers shortly after marrying his girlfriend, Elaine Harper. The parts of the aunts and uncle are reprised by the actresses and actor who originally portrayed them on Broadway. The role of Jonathan Brewster, who is said to look like Boris Karloff, is played in the movie by Raymond Massey because Karloff could not leave his role of Jonathan in the stage production. To round out the cast of main characters, Peter Lorre (who happens to appear in a lot of my favorite Vincent Price movies) portrays Dr. Einstein, Jonathan's accomplice. Murder and mayhem are the theme throughout the entire movie but in a humorous way.

The Time Machine

The novel, The Time Machine, was published in 1895 by H.G. Wells. I think I probably saw the movie The Time Machine (1960) with Rod Taylor before reading the book but both are favorites. One of the things that stands out for me is the Oscar-winning time-lapse photographic effects that illustrate the passage of time. For example, images that remain with me are the changing of the food and flowers in his workshop and the mannequin changing clothes. The portrayal of the narrator's friends by Alan Young and Sebastian Cabot also adds to the enjoyment of this particular movie.

Calamity Jane

Two of my favorites of the 1950s-1960s musicals are Doris Day and Howard Keel who star in Calamity Jane. Day portrays Calamity Jane, an American frontierswoman, and Keel portrays Wild Bill Hickock, who is remembered for being a scout, gunfighter, and frontiersman. The movie is primarily set in Deadwood, South Dakota with a few scenes in the Windy City of Chicago.  Such notable songs as "I Can Do Without You," "The Black Hills of Dakota," and "Secret Love," which topped the Billboard charts at number one, help bring the story to life as we learn more about Calamity Jane and her love of Wild Bill.

Star Wars

I did not get to see the first release of Star Wars in the theater but the Star Wars Saga has always been a favorite. I still have almost all my original toys from Kenner and my stepson, son, and daughter now have their own growing collections of toys, books, and plushes from the originals, prequels, and sequels.  While I may not enjoy some of the new movies as much as the original, they still hold a special place for me as they bring me back to my childhood and many hours of fighting battles with Luke, Leia, and Han.

Do we share any favorites? Are you a fan of silent films?  Do you like musicals?  Or is horror your go-to movie choice? Do you have recommendations for me?

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