Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!


Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag


For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!

Fun and Yummy Learning: Marshmallow Shapes

marshmallow-shapes

Ben knows how to sing his ABC song, count to 10 in Hebrew and English, and parts of his body in Hebrew.  Now I’m trying to teach him shapes and colors.  This is a really simple and fun evening family time activity.  I used kids’ straws from Daiso and small marshmallows to build basic geometric shapes.  We talked about the names of the shapes: triangle, rectangle, square.  We talked about the colors of the straws.  Ben asked for help to build which I was happy to hear.

I would rather he ask me or an adult for help than be frustrated and give up.  Too often as a teacher students didn’t ask for help and misunderstood parts of my lesson.  Asking for help is crucial in learning and kids should be taught to.

The activity was a hit with boys.  Adam ate all the marshmallows!  The next night they were at it again with their “Aba” who taught them the names of the shapes and colors in Hebrew.  So not only was this a math lesson, it was sculpture, and it was language development!  I’ve seen on Pinterest people use toothpicks instead of the straws.  I liked that the straws were less pointy for my littles, but for older kids toothpicks would definitely work.  This is also a great busy bag idea!

Shakshuka Pizza with a Beer Bread Crust

shakshouka pizza.jpg

One thing about cooking is that I like to use an ingredient or leftovers to make something new. Last week I shared with you my recipe for matbucha.  Which you can find here. You will need to make it in order to complete this recipe-as it becomes the sauce for my pizza.

Shakshuka is basically matbucha with basted eggs on top.  It’s a really popular breakfast food in Israel. Every restaurant has their own version and it’s incredibly delicious along with some pita bread or some Israeli salad.  I saw a video last year on how to make this pizza but they just used tomato paste, onion, and some spices. Tomato paste has such a strong flavor and such a richness that I think it would be overwhelming. I believe using the leftover matbucha makes for more complex flavor.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. of flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough

1 c. beer

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. salt

6 tbsp. matbucha

2 c. feta cheese crumbles

4 eggs

Directions:  Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with either a standalone mixer or hand mixer on medium for a minute.  Pour in a cup of beer and mix until a dough is formed on medium, scraping the sides down. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer onto a baking sheet.  Spread the matbucha out over the dough and crack four eggs over different areas of the pizza, nesting the eggs throughout. Then sprinkle your feta crumbles all over.  Bake for 25 minutes and enjoy!!!

Adam’s DIY New Year’s Day First Birthday Party

Having lived in Las Vegas for over a decade now, I’ve had some pretty memorable New Year’s Eves.  Last year took the cake, though.  I went into labor on 12/31/15 at 1:40AM which continued for another 28 hours.  Adam was born on New Year’s Day and while last year’s celebration took the cake, I literally made cake this year while watching the ball drop.

I have a philosophy: anything I didn’t do with Ben, I’ll do with Adam.  For example: I didn’t do those monthly pictures Ben’s first year with the sticker that goes on the onesie.  So I did that this year for Adam, or tried to-  often forgetting and posting on Facebook the second or third day of the month, so goes the life of a mom with little multiples. For Ben’s first birthday I was in the middle of my first trimester of pregnancy with Adam so I purchased everything: cake, decorations, etc.  The party went fine, but I thought it was missing that personal touch.

This year I decided to do everything myself.  I started looking on Pinterest three months ago and decided on a theme: black, white, chalkboard, and gold.  I would mix the birthday with New Year’s and have it on New Year’s Day as no one with littles goes out anyways.  I found a lot of chalkboard printables on Pinterest to use for the party.

 

Free printable chalkboard style thank you gift tags which you can personalise and give to guests when they leave the wedding, saves having to send out thank you cards.:


I taped these thank you tags to my party favors which were simply velvet coloring posters that came with markers.  I got them for $1 at Party City.  These tags can be customized to have your name or your family’s name and the date of the party printed on them.  Thy’re free, so are all the printables I used.

These free printable chalkboard banner letters, A-Z, are super versatile. Perfect for parties, seasonal and regular decor, classrooms, and so much more.:


This chalkboard banner was used for the bunting that hung from Adam’s highchair.  I spelled out ONE with it and threaded it through with twine.  On another piece of twine I knotted black, white, and gold ribbons and tulle.  I also made a simple Happy Birthday Adam banner that hung over my fireplace.

084bb308a2a76842d285b286506c6fb2.jpg (564×1600):

I used this chalkboard bunting to spell out ADAM over his birthday cake. I attached it with kitchen twine and bamboo skewers.  It really added a lot to my homemade cake.

I am not a baker.  I would like to be.  I strive for perfection.  So nothing could be worse than a burnt cake at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve!  I still had to clean and decorate the next day!  I used my cake leveller to trim off the burnt bottom and iced my layers.  Once the cake was layered I cut around the rest of the burnt edges.  Then I iced.  Crumbs from the chocolate cake were getting mixed into my bourbon vanilla buttercream frosting!  Ugh.  Thankfully I bought a crazy amount of gold and white sprinkles and viewed a lot of tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest on simple sprinkle decorating.  I managed to make the cake look decent and cover the ugly mixed up buttercream completely.  The cake turned out to be delicious.  Everyone was in shock that it was my first time baking a big cake.  The smash cake and cupcakes went much more smoothly.  I used Dollar Tree champagne glasses to house the cupcakes with black and white M &M’s.  Below is a picture of the pin I used with a link attached.

cupcakes in dollar store champagne flutes:

I had another disaster that night as well.  The Oreo sprinkle pops.  The idea seemed simple enough.  Push a lollipop stick into the cream center of the oreo and dip in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle and cool on wax paper.  The oreos fell apart every time!  I gave up on it and focused on cake instead.
Quick and easy sprinkle Oreo pops DIY, perfect for party favors, a dessert table, or Valentine's Day treats! See more party ideas and party crafts at CatchMyParty.com.:

The next day we decorated and cleaned.  I was so relieved to have my parents to help.  My husband hung all the balloons and I organized the hot cocoa station.  The photos are below.  Everyone had a great time and the party went off without a hitch!  I set up a crafting station for the kids, the toddlers that attended enjoyed the cupcake craft and decorating party hats.  My family wore New Year’s party hats I picked up at Party City in gold and white.  Adam smashed away at his cake and celebrated turning 1 on 1/1.