9.30.2013

General Conference Store!

 Hey everybody!  I hope you all had a great weekend!

Today I wanted to share what we did last year to make the most out of our General Conference experience with our children.  I have to say...I got this wonderful idea from my sister-in-law, so ALL the credit goes to her!  I have tried a bunch of different things to keep my kids quiet and attentive during conference and so far, this has been the best!  They don't end up all hyped up on candy, and they are listening with intent...win-win for everyone!

Last April we opened up our very own General Conference Store!


To get started I found 4 buckets I had laying around, and using chalkboard signs I labeled them with individual topics.  I let my older kids pick out a subject that they were hoping they would hear about and filled in the rest.  Then I filled each bucket with tickets I got at the dollar store.

As we listened to conference each time the kids would hear one of our words, they could get one ticket out of the bucket.  I loved this so much more than getting candy...we tried that the year before and they got a little wild by the end ;)

By the end of conference all the kids had buckets full of tickets and couldn't wait to spend them!  I loved my sisters idea of having her kids wait to use their tickets until Family Home Evening the next night, so we did the same thing.


The next night I set out our same buckets, but this time filled them with different items I had purchased earlier in the week.  Each bucket had a different ticket value on it depending on what was in the bucket.  I went to some local stores like Seagull Book and Deseret Book and picked out a bunch of things for the kids to choose from.  Some of the things we had were:
Scripture Pencils
CTR rings
Coloring Books
Article of Faith Cards
Matching Games
Gum
Fruit Snacks

I loved that the prizes they were able to buy were things that (mostly) would encourage them to continue to grow in the gospel.

I am so grateful to my sister Camille for this wonderful idea!  The kids are so excited for our conference store this year, and I could not be more ready to receive counsel and guidance from our latter day Prophets! :)

9.27.2013

Hand Print Sheep Craft {Farm Week}

 Today I am sharing with you guys a fun, simple farm craft you and your little ones will love!  This was great for my kids because they could all participate, the 2-year old up to the 6-year old.

Here's how you make a Handprint Sheep!


All we needed to make these darling, fuzzy sheep was some black construction paper, glue, googly eyes, and White Poms sent to us by our friends at CraftProjectIdeas.com.  I love their pack of white Poms because it comes with a bunch of different sized poms.  They work wonderfully because you have different sizes you can use to fill in smaller spaces :)

So to start off you help your kids trace those cute little hands!


Once you have your hands either cut them out or let your kids work on those scissor skills a little bit ;)

Once you have your hands cut out let your kids go to town gluing poms all over the palm of the hand cut-out.  Make sure they don't cover any fingers or thumb.




Finally let your kids pick out their favorite googly eye and stick it right on the thumb, finishing off your cute, cuddly sheep!


I LOVED how these cute sheep turned out and had a blast making them with my kids!  Thanks so much for checking out all of our Farm Week fun and have a wonderful weekend!!

9.26.2013

Homemade Butter {Farm Week}

Hello everyone!  Today we did a really fun activity that not only provided fun and learning...but a yummy snack too!

After visiting the farm earlier we learned all about cows and milk.  I thought it would be fun to take it a step further and make some homemade butter with the kiddies and they absolutely loved it!


This was such a simple activity, but the kids thought it was so cool!


All you need to make your own butter is a glass jar and a carton of heavy whipping cream.  We filled our jar about 3/4 of the way full and then made sure our lid was on SUPER tight!


Once you have your jar ready to go let your kids go crazy shaking that thing!


Now this does take a little bit if time.  As you keep shaking you will see the cream start to get really foamy.  At that point I had to dump a little it out so we could keep shaking.  A few minutes after that it really started to separate and our butter was almost ready!


All that liquid left over is totally normal.  I dumped it out but you could save it and use it as buttermilk in any number of yummy recipes :). At this point you can also add a little bit of salt for flavor and preservation.  We like it just fine without it, but if you make a lot you will probably want to add a bit.


Then comes the fun part...eating it!!

The kids thought it was so neat that the liquid cream had turned into a soft butter perfect for spreading!  We happened to have a delicious loaf of homemade bread handy and BOY was it all tasty!!


I would definitely try this fun activity out with your kids!  It's quick and simple, plus it helps kids learn and experience a fun and yummy aspect of farms :)

Thanks so much for visiting Blue Skies Ahead today, check back tomorrow for a sheep craft and maybe another fun snack too ;)

9.24.2013

Printable Farm Scavenger Hunt!

 Today we are kicking off Farm Week with some simple printables to make your visit to the farm a little more educational and fun for your kids!

First up I made this printable for my 1st and 3rd graders.  Since they can get a little bored quicker than the younger kids I wanted to encourage them to learn something new :). Next to each animal they wrote down one new fact they learned.  This is also a great way for my girls to practice their writing and spelling. 




For my 2 and 4 year old I wanted something much more simple, so they would just circle each animal as they saw it.  We also talked about what letter each animal starts with and what they say :)




I always try to laminate these and stick them on clipboards to make it as simple as possible :). 

The kids loved their scavenger hunts and I think even learned something new!

9.23.2013

3 ways to make the MOST of your Family Home Evenings!

 
Hello friends!  Today I wanted to share with you 3 simple tips that have made all the difference in our Family Home Evenings and have helped me focus as I prepare and seek inspiration for the things my family needs to learn.

Now, I am certainly no expert, but I did want to share the 3 things that I think have been the most effective in our home...with 5 kids 8 and under ;)  The great thing about these tips is you can change them up to use in whatever way works BEST for your family!  Not into the cutesy FHE's?  No problem!  The point is receiving inspiration for YOUR family and focusing on what will bless them the most.  So...lets get started!!

First up, tip #1


As with any thing we want to teach our children, repetition is the key!!  For me, that means that we focus on the theme of our FHE all week long.  I have a magnet board next to our dining table, so every week I whip up a printable that has a quote or scripture from our lesson and I hang it up before family night.  That way every morning at breakfast or as we eat dinner together it is simple and natural to tie our lesson into our every day lives when we see our little reminder :)

Tip #2


I can only speak for myself here, but my kids don't have the longest attention spans :)  If I expect them to listen to a lesson, I need to give them an opportunity to not only listen...but experience some things as well.  Kids need to touch and smell and see things to have them stick sometimes!  When we learned about King Benjamin, we all sat in a tent and listened to a conference talk.  When we delved into the Anti-Nephi-Lehis burying their weapons of war, we physically went into the backyard and buried our own weapons.  As we spoke of Nephi's courage in obtaining the brass plates the kids completed Nephi's Courage Course...an obstacle course that represented some of the trials Nephi faced.  Getting your kids physically involved helps them take an active part in Family Home Evening and it creates experiences that will help them remember the precious lessons they have learned.  

Finally, Tip #3

I am passionate about helping my children understand how the scriptures apply to THEM!  It is so easy to get caught up in the big words and the stories we have heard a thousand times, and forget that these words were written for US.  We need to teach our children these are not just stories from a different time with weird words...these are messages our Heavenly Father preserved for US...to learn from and model our lives after.  As we spoke about Jonah and obedience, it was simply to give the kids real life experiences where THEIR obedience has been tested.  When we learned about Enos and talked about the power of prayer, it was natural to help the kids come up with things we can be more grateful for in our prayers to Heavenly Father.  A parable about Skittles was a kid-friendly approach to helping children see the importance of paying an honest tithe, and when we talked about Nephi and his broken bow we talked about times we had to trust Heavenly Father...even when things seemed scary.  As we teach our kids that the scriptures are meant for them, I think they are so much more likely to seek out the scriptures when problems or questions arise.

So there you have it!  My 3 tips to making the most of FHE's with young kids!  I hope these provided a little bit of help and as always...I would LOVE to hear anything you do at your home that has been successful, so comment away ;)



9.19.2013

Fresh Apple Cider Floats

 Yesterday the kiddies and I took off after school to a local farm to pick our own apples.  We especially love this particular farm because they also have their very own cider mill...and man is the cider delicious!!  


The kids had a blast walking up and down through the orchard, trying to find the perfect apples.  Farnsworth Farms is really a great place.  The people there are so kind and helpful, helping to make it a great experience for everyone. 


The kids had so much fun filling up their bags with Golden Delicious apples, even Avrie got in on the action ;)


The little playground they had behind the peach trees didn't hurt either :)


As I mentioned, Farnsworth Farms makes their very own cider on sight, and it the best cider I have ever had.  We picked up a gallon while we were there and on the way home I thought to myself...if anything could make this cider eve better, its GOT to be ice cream :)

So after dinner we concocted our very own Fresh Apple Cider Floats!


I kid you not, these were amazing!!  The cider adds a little bit of tartness that mixes with the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream perfectly.  I threw in some cinnamon sticks to add just a touch of spice and we all gobbled them down.  A perfect way to end our lovely fall, fruit-picking day :)

If you are a Utah local and are looking for a fun place to take your kids to pick some fruit, Farnsworth Farms is located at 11228 S 700 E in Sandy, UT.  This is not a sponsored post by any means, we have just had a great time every year that we go there and I LOVE to support local businesses that are out there doing good things :)  While you're there, make sure you pick up some cider...you won't regret it!!


9.18.2013

Hand Print Apple Tree Craft

 Apple week rolls on at Blue Skies Ahead today!

We did a very simple and cute craft the preschoolers will enjoy and moms will love :)

I always say, there is NOTHING better than a good hand print craft.  I love having these little treasures to remind me of my children's sweet little hands and the fun times we spend together.  

Today we made Hand Print Apple Trees and the kids had a great time!



First up, you get your green paint on a plate and some construction paper.  Then you let your little ones go to town using their entire hand to make several hand prints to form your apple tree.


Then you quickly rush your child to wash their hands before they touch ANYTHING :)


After we had the top of our tree done, we used sparkly pom-poms in red, green and yellow for our apples.  The kids loved sticking them on their trees and it was a good chance to do some simple color sorting and recognition with my 2 year old as well.


Once you are done not only do you have an adorable picture but you have an adorable little face to go along with it! ;)


I had a great time today getting messy with my little ones...have you ever done any fun apple-themed crafts at your home?!  If so, please share in the comments, I would love to check them out!  


9.16.2013

Apple Math and Reading Activities!

 Happy Monday everyone!

We did not get to even HALF of the fun apple activities we had planned last week, so we are continuing our apple fun today with some really simple math and reading activities!


First up we read one of our favorite Dr. Seuss books, Ten Apples up on Top.

As we read each page, I would have my kids get out the number of apples the animals had on their head and we would try to balance them :)  It was a great way to work on reading comprehension...reading a story while acting it out!
 

We were only able to get to two on our heads...but we sure had fun trying!  ;)  I love the look of pure concentration on Britton's face :)

After we finished reading we got our apples and worked on lots of different math skills.


For my 2-year old we focused on basic counting.


For my 4-year old we spend a lot of time on addition and subtraction.  I would give him a certain number of apples and he would count how many.  The I would either add some or take some away and he would count again and then repeat the whole equation.  We did this for almost 30 minutes...my little guy loved it!


Finally we worked on sorting more and less piles.  I would put two piles of apples in front of the kids and they would tell me which one had more or which one had less.  REALLY simple stuff, but a fun way to spend time with the kiddies and learn a little something too! :)

Thanks so much for coming by Blue Skies Ahead today!  Check in later this week for a fun apple craft and may a recipe or two :)

9.10.2013

Homemade Apple Butter

 Hello my long lost friends!!  How are you all doing?!  I don't even know if anyone looks at this thing anymore...it has been 2 months since my last post ;)

I have been surprised at what a change it has been adjusting from 4 kids to 5 at our house.  You wouldn't think one sweet, mellow, all-night sleeping babe would make things feel so much crazier...but it certainly has felt a little crazy!  As with any change in life you have to take a look at your priorities and evaluate if you are really spending your time the best way possible.  As I was adjusting to one more child and figuring out how to best run our house a few things had to go...and obviously blogging was at the top of the list ;)

Now don't think for one second that since I am blogging today I have it magically figured out...not even close ;)  However, my big girls are in school all day and my little man is in preschool 3 days a week.  We are getting into our school time routine and everyone is doing great.  I have found a few spare moments here and there and have felt like I may want to attempt this whole blogging thing some more.  I may be sporadic and unorganized, and I can't promise you when the next post will be, but I would love to get back to sharing some fun things that are helping us find the good in every day!

This week we are getting back into having a weekly theme, and what better theme to start with than APPLES!!

Today I wanted to share a great recipe that my sister-in-law shared with me years ago!  It is now a family favorite and the perfect way to welcome fall...

Homemade Apple Butter!


To get started you need a bunch of apples (I used gala)
2 C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

Oh yes...your house is going to smell yummy!


Now, if you have one of these awesome peeler, slicer, corer things you are set!  My little guy loved taking care of all of the apples for me :)  If not, just make sure you peel your apples and core them.


Once that's done chop up your apples and put them in your crockpot until it is 2/3 of the way full.  Add the rest of your ingredients and mix well.  Then put your crockpot on low for 6-8 hours and let them cook away!


When they are done cooking I like to mash them with a potato masher to get it nice and smooth...although it will still have some chunks.

Throw this on some homemade bread or pancakes...delicious!  Or put it in a mason jar with some twine and a cupcake liner...you have the perfect gift for neighbors and friends :)


Thank you SO much for stopping by today!  And if you want to follow along with our weekly themes here are some fun apple activities from years past: