Friday, December 14, 2012

SMMART ART: Gingerbread Playdough

My youngest daughter came home from preschool this week with a baggie full of GINGERBREAD PLAYDOUGH! 

Miss Marissa's Renaissance Preschool is where we got this fun holiday treat!  She said,
"I made 4 batches for 23 kids to have an individual ball, but even for just a family night, I would suggest doubling it for 3-4 kids to have plenty to play with. It is one of my favorite homemade doughs that I have ever used for preschool, both for smell and texture! Have fun!" (
Gingerbread Playdough
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp orange extract {optional}
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water, oil, and orange extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Monday, November 26, 2012

SMMART MATH: Advent Holiday Calendar

Whatever holiday you celebrate in the month of can create an advent calendar to count down the days until THE BIG DAY(s)!
A special idea that I've heard from several sources revolves around creating your own advent calendar of traditions. Might be fun to write each day's holiday activity on a snowflake, folded up and tucked into your advent creation.

Advent Calendar ideas:
-You can decorate 24 little boxes with your children and fill each box with a piece of paper that tells the day's activity.

-24 Gifts-Wrap up 24 little boxes and each day your child can open one to discover the day's activity.
-Craft 24 little "poppers" or "crac kers" filled with a holiday activity each day. Check out these rocket poppers: (

...might be fun to make Holiday poppers and every day confetti, treats and an activity fall down on your child in a snow flurry...could create holiday snow chimes (without the rocket top)and wrap 24 toilet paper rolls in holiday scrapbook paper, fill, number and hang up by their strings...Tons of Fun!)
-Make a pop-up window calendar (cut windows out of one sheet of cardstock that your child has decorated... and paste onto a piece of paper where all of the ideas written out under each window)

-Egg Carton Advent (poke holes into the bottom of two cartons and attach them to a piece of cardboard. Wiggle a small strip of paper into each hole and each day your child can pull out that day's strip of paper with the activity for the day. Be sure to let your child decorate the cartons ahead of time.)
Here is a list of ideas that my good friends Arianne and Melanie (and family fun magazine) helped me come up with-some ideas are local to our area.

Advent Calendar…Christmas Tradition Ideas

Make your own Snowman Pizza (complete with olive buttons and mouth)
Cut out and decorate SNOWFLAKES, then hang them from your child's ceiling
Make cookies
Watch a nativity Christmas movie
Visit (temple square) lights
Act out the nativity

Go ice skating
Host a Christmas (princess) party for your child’s friends
Surprise a neighbor by doing something for them
Deliver neighbor gifts
Go to see decorated Christmas Trees (Festival of trees)
Decorate gingerbread houses

Decorate Christmas tree
Visit Santa
Attend the Nutcracker
Observe ice sculpture contest
Attend a (ward) Christmas party

Visit a live nativity

Watch a Christmas movie
Christmas craft

Let your child pick an angel from an “angel tree” Write Christmas cards
Make gifts for your child’s friends
Play in the snow
Make Snow Ice cream

Watch The First Presidency Devotional (
Make ice ornaments

Make bird seed crackers 
Read scriptural account of Jesus’ birth
Attend Christmas Concert/play

Write a Christmas Story
Read Greatest Christmas Pageant EVER
Zoo lights
“This is the Place” Christmas village

Play a holiday game

Draw your own nativity
Make a gift for your teacher
Wrap friend gifts and deliver them
Go to the library/craft time
Paint everybody's toenails in Christmas colours.
Make Christmas cards.
Make Christmas ornaments.
Set up the Christmas tree.
Make gift tags.
Bake Christmas cookies and decorate them.
Purchase a present to give to charity/Take food to food bank
Have a picnic for dinner.
Go out to look at Christmas lights after dark. (make a gift “award” to present to the house that your family likes the most)
Write a letter to Santa.
Make gifts for teachers and bus drivers.
Hold a family disco.
Go out somewhere special for dinner.
Eat fancy ice creams after dinner.
Watch a Christmas movie before bed.
Visit the grave of loved one

Create and deliver holiday party invites for a holiday party you host
Make a snowscape with shaving cream and action figures (in the bathtub or on a cookie sheet)
Blindfold your kids and have them  guess holiday scents and spices
Write a Christmas Story together
Write a letter to someone in the armed forces
Play secret santa to your neighbor
Act out a Christmas story
At dinner describe what you love about each family member

Hot cocoa taste testing
String popcorn and cranberry garland for an outdoor tree
Happy Holiday Memory Making!
Advent Calendar

Monday, November 19, 2012

SMMART ART (craft): Thanksgiving Pilgrim and Wampanoag Placecards

 Shhhhhhh!  These are a secret!  They are going to be the life of the party for Thanksgiving Dinner!  These cute little Pilgrims and Wampanoag will be tucked under a twine bow and secured to a dinner napkin to indicate where everyone should sit at the table on Thursday. 

Pilgrims need a pilgrim hat or bonnet and a large collar.  Wampanoag puppets can be decked out with a feather atop the head and some fringe somewhere.  Some puppets are holding corn, a cornucopia or a turkey leg for extra humor.

Afterwards, the kiddos can use these as puppets to create their own Thanksgiving stories.  You can bring a Mayflower and a turkey puppet, and maybe an ear of corn puppet to add to the play props.

These did take a lot of work, but you could also find a Pilgrim and Wampanoag clipart figure and just paste on people's faces.  I love how these turned are two of my favorites...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

SMMART Giveaway Family Review: Disney on Ice

A HUGE thank you to SMMART ideas for the Disney on Ice tickets. I took my six year old daughter and she LOVED it! She didn't move the entire show, she was captivated by all the Disney characters and the amazing ice dancing. I have seen several of the Disney on Ice shows over the past few years, but I think this one was my favorite, it took me back to my childhood. I loved the way they did some of the older Disney shows like "Pinocchio" and "Beauty and the Beast". But my overall favorite part was when the stage transformed into my favorite childhood Disneyland ride, "It's a Small World". I also loved the way the characters brought the audience to life as they asked us to clap, dance and even sing a long. The grand finale made you feel like the end of a magical day at Disneyland, with the fireworks going off over the castle and all the characters waving good bye to the children. When it was over I turned to my daughter and asked her if she liked it, with a huge grin on her face she said, "Yeah!" and gave me a big hug.
Thanks to our SMMART ideas reader giveaway winner for writing this review of the show!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012


This is another fun way to explore how water can be in a liquid state and an solid state when it's frozen! (

We poured water into cute little ice molds (from IKEA) and put a drop of food coloring in each one.  We observed the food coloring diffuse through the clear water.

When the water was frozen into its solid state, we headed outside.  Each girl had a waterbottle with a squirt top. 
Stack the ice cubes and pour a little water onto the top of an ice cube as you stack your tower.  The water freezes the two cubes together and acts like glue. 

Heads up...this was messier than I thought it would be.  The food coloring did get on the girls' gloves and coats(they're in the wash now).  Also, the girls couldn't hold the tiny cubes well with their thick gloves and ended up taking them off...which made for cold fingers.  The outcome was pretty though!

SMMART ART (craft): Thankful Turkey Legs

My daughter found this little Thanksgiving craft in the recent FamilyFun Magazine.  The girls had fun stuffing their paper sacks with grocery bags.  Then they twisted the bottoms and we wrapped masking tape all around the bottom.  The magazine suggested you put a napkin around the bottom, and they made the top part look more like a turkey leg...but our version was probably easier with just using the masking tape.

Then the girls wanted to write and draw some things that they were grateful for on the turkey legs.  They had fun hiding their turkey legs and having their sisters try to find them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SMMART TIME-OUT: Halloween Safety

Halloween is right around the corner. We just put the finishing touches on our front porch (orange lights, black lights in our sconces, cobwebs, spiders and pumpkins).

Here are some great safety tips word-for-word from:

Halloween Costume Safety Tips:
Wear flame retardant costumes.

Make sure your Halloween costume is colorfast so the color doesn't run onto your other clothes if it rains.

Try on costumes before Halloween to allow time for altering.

Hem your costumes so you don't trip and fall.

Apply reflective tape to your Halloween costumes.

Avoid cumbersome masks. Use make-up instead.

Make-up should be hypoallergenic and non-toxic.

Wear comfortable, practical shoes.

Double tie your shoelaces so you don't trip.

Keep your costume and wig away from candles.

Don't carry fake swords, guns, knives or similar accessories that look authentic. Make sure they're flexible and cannot harm anyone.

Trick-or-Treating Tips:
Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries after dark.

Take along a cell phone.

Wear identification that's easy to read.

Always trick or treat in groups, accompanied by an adult.

Follow a curfew and take a watch with a backlight.

Plan your route ahead of time.

Stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets. Cross only at intersections and designated crosswalks.

Walk. No running.

Don't trample through flower beds and gardens.

Watch out for open flames in jack-o-Lanterns.

Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods.

Walk with your head up and be aware of your surroundings.

Only visit well lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses.

Don't enter any houses unless you know the people.

Carry a spare Halloween bag -- in case yours breaks or you fill your original one.

Don't approach unfamiliar pets and animals.

Don't cut across yards and stay out of back yards.

Follow traffic signals and don't jaywalk.

Always watch for cars backing up or turning.

Review the "stop, drop and roll" procedure in case your costume catches on fire.

Never accept rides from strangers.

Respect other people and their property.

Be polite and say "thank you."

Don't eat any candy until it's inspected for tampering under bright lights.

Avoid candy that has loose wrappings, is unwrapped, has puncture holes, or is homemade.

Small children should not be allowed hard candy they may choke on.

Report any suspicious or criminal activity to an adult or the police.

Consider having a party instead of Trick or Treating.

Happy Trick-or-Treating!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

SMMART ART: Body Creations

Four high school summers, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Summer Institute for the Arts, focusing on drama.  Our instructors shared many activities to help us young students learn to control our bodies and become very comfortable in moving them. 

In this activity, your child will use his imagination as he molds his body to create different objects.  If there are siblings, pile them on for more eleaborate body creations.  

Make a space for your child to move and to lie on the ground to recreate shapes.  "Make a black cat."  "Become a pumpkin."  "Create a haunted house".  Take photos with your digital camera and show your children their body creations afterwards.

The choreographer for Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic (in Salt Lake Nov. 14-18) helped to choreograph the ice skating part of the 2002 Winter Olympics...right here in Salt Lake City!  She says “It’s always interesting to try and create new shapes within the skating language. You can only do that through experimentation.”  This makes me think of the elaborate formations they create using so many ice skaters.  Think about creating elaborate shapes as you photograph your childrens' body creations.

The on-ice work of Emmy® Award-winning and Olympic choreographer Sarah Kawahara takes audiences on an unforgettable, imaginative journey down a memory lane of classic and new Disney stories in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic. Produced by Feld Entertainment, this show highlights Kawahara’s clever, innovative and evocative style, which ranges from romantic and playful to dramatic and heroic.
Kawahara, who won two Emmy® Awards for the skating segments in the 2002 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies and Scott Hamilton: Upside Down,defines choreography for figure skating as “the fusion of music with interpretive movement and the technical elements of skating. It is more than just skating. You define what you want to say and how you want to say it.”Indeed, she takes great pride in her work and has a very clear vision of what she wants each of her projects to accomplish.
Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Kawahara expressed her creativity through piano, violin, ballet, jazz, drama and figure skating. Today, her curiosity, openness and holistic approach can be seen in all aspects of her work. For example, Kawahara feels it is vital to meld the basic components of costume, set, lights, music and skating so they come together seamlessly as a whole experience.
She is also keenly observant and nurturing when working with her impressive roster of international figure skaters. “I really work off the talent of the individual skater to tap into the inner sense of who they are and their own body rhythms,” she explains. “I blend what I have with their strengths and arrive at a new and different place for both of us.”
Kawahara is known for incorporating set pieces into her choreography. “I like to have skaters go in or through the props rather than just working in front of a set. It gives the production more dimension,” she explains.
Speaking about the broad spectrum of her art, Kawahara says, “It’s always interesting to try and create new shapes within the skating language. You can only do that through experimentation.” She adds, “You must grab and hold the attention of the audience…take them with you on a fantastic journey.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

SMMART SCIENCE: Orange Hissing Cat Spit spit.  But very cool for Halloween!
This is a Halloween twist on a fun idea that my friend, Julie, had for the new Science Club that we have started up at our childrens' elementary school.  I'll have to tell you about that fun venture soon!

Pour out and smooth out some baking soda onto a plate, pie pan or cookie sheet.

Give your child a teeny cup of vinegar and drop a few drops of food coloring into the vinegar.  Let your child use an eye dropper, or a syringe to suck up a little colored vinegar.  You can even teach your child how to dip a straw into the vinegar and cap the straw with a finger to trap a little vinegar in the straw. 

Release the little bit of colored vinegar into the plate of baking soda... and observe!

Inevitably, the question was asked, "What happens if I pour the baking soda into the vinegar cup?"
Hissss! Hisssss!  Hisssss!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


DISNEY ON ICE CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF MAGIC in a One-of-a-Kind Skating Spectacular

Featuring More Than 60 Disney Characters Including the Stars of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo
Winner: 3Chickapens said...
I would give it the family raising money for their 4 year old daughter with cancer, or let my kids buy groceries and pass it out to someone who could use it.  
(Email me at to reply within 24 hrs!)
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends from Disney’s Mulan, The Lion King and Pinocchio, and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story, take to the ice for a grand celebration in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic. Produced by Feld Entertainment, this fanfare production features more than 60 unforgettable Disney stars that span the decades, a sing-along score of award-winning Disney music, stunning choreography, elaborate sets and beautiful costumes.
With Mickey and Minnie leading the fun, audiences enjoy breathtaking production numbers choreographed by Emmy Award®-winner Sarah Kawahara. Kawahara previously worked with Michelle Kwan and choreographed the skating segment for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Complementing Kawahara’s fabulous skate sequences are the memorable tunes compiled by music directors Art Kempel and Stan Beard that bring the wonderful memories of Disney to life on ice. Scenic Designer David Potts and Lighting Designer LeRoy Bennett create the mood and settings that showcase extraordinary Disney moments.
Outfitting this cast of more than 60 characters was the challenge facing Costume Designer Scott Lane. His dazzling designs range from Mickey’s Marching Band, to the “It’s a Small World” dolls, to the stars of Mulan and Finding Nemo. The bright colors and minimal structure in the Nemo costumes allow the characters to move freely in order to mimic the natural movement in water. Renowned designer Bob Mackie also lends his talents to a red sequined evening gown worn by Minnie.
Scenic Designer David Potts, who has worked on numerous Broadway productions, creates a theatrical atmosphere on ice. Skaters weave around and enliven the “It's a Small World” sequence amidst sparkling floats that turn into a radiant light parade; a blanket of snow and an avalanche fall as Mulan battles the Huns; and a giant present is opened to reveal Buzz Lightyear as he’s first introduced to that favorite toy cowboy, Woody and his pal Jessie.
Disney on ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic is going to be in Salt Lake City's Energy Solutions Arena from November 14-18. 

WHEN:           November 14 - 18, 2012
Wednesday, Nov. 14    7:00 PM
                           Thursday, Nov. 15    7:00 PM
Friday, Nov. 16          11:30 AM & 7:00 PM
Saturday, Nov. 17      11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, Nov. 18        3:30 PM & 5:30 PM
WHERE:         Energy Solutions Arena – 301 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT  84101

TICKETS:       Ticket price levels are $16, $23, $37 (VIP) and $50 (Front Row).  Opening Night tickets available for only $12 each (not valid on premium seating). All seats are reserved; tickets are available from the EnergySolutions Box Office and all SmithTix locations, charge by phone at 801-355-SEAT or 800-888-TIXX and online at or

WIN TWO VOUCHERS!  (Redeem for Wednesday Nov.14 at 7:00pm, Thursday Nov.15 at 7:00pm or Friday Nov.16 at 3:00pm)
ENTER to Win 2 vouchers:
1) First Entry: Leave a comment below this post with your name (first, last initial) and email and tell me...since we don't all have 100 years of magic, if you had $100 how would you use it to bless others' lives?  (Have your children collect school supplies for less fortunate students, Watch your kids randomly hand out 100 helium balloons...)
2) Second Entry, if you so desire: Leave a comment below this post with your name (first, last initial) and email and Tell me that you "FOLLOW" my blog. (See those little face thumbnails to the right? Click "Join This Site") I sure would appreciate your support!

Winner will be notified Friday, October 26th~ I will email you and you will have 24 hours to get back to me or I'll choose another winner. Good Luck! If you win, I would love to have you write a review about the performance to post on my blog! 
FYI-I was originally approached to receive 4 passes for myself and my family in exchange for getting information out to my readers and writing a review after...But, I asked if they would also donate 4 passes for a SMMART giveaway...and they agreed! 

                  (The Walt Disney Company is neither a sponsor nor endorser of this sweepstakes.  I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SMMART Art: Kabooky Heads

Well, that's what we call them...Kabooky heads... little shrunken heads for Halloween.

So, we made our fabulous dried apple heads, adorned with beads and hair and hung them up over our porch front entrance.  They looked fabulous...until the yellow jackets decided to LOVE them, carve them out like a cave and reside in them.  I tied a grocery bag around each head to trap in the yellow jackets, then cut the string they hung on and tossed them into the yard til the swarms of yellow jackets died.  YIKES!
This was another attempt at Kabooky Heads..certain to not be bothered by pests!
Stuff a pantyhose sock with a handful of cottonballs.  Tie off the top. Then use thread and needle to pucker sew in eyeballs.  Just sew a little bunch of pantyhose and cotttonball and then send the needle to the back of the head and pull taught and make a knot.  The eyeball will sink into the head.  Then stitch on a mouth.  Tug at the cottonballs to make the nose protrude a bit.  There you have your Kabooky Head.

Now, let your darlings decorate and adorn the scary little heads with beads and jewels and yarn hair.

Monday, October 1, 2012

SMMART SCIENCE: Dried Apple Witches

Perfect!  I remember doing this as a little girl when I lived in Germany!  I saw this idea again at  They made darling little dried apple witch faces.  I remember making little old lady faces.
Peel apples and soak them in lemon and salt water for about 5 minutes.  Use kid knives to cut out mouths, poke out eye holes and carve out noses and ears.
Let the apples sit out on a rack to dry for a few days.  Beside the peeled apples, set out an apple that has its peel still on.

When the apples are dry, use tacky glue to dress up your witch.  Add hair, maybe a little witch hat.  Some beads in the eye holes and permanent marker to enhance the witch lips.

Ask your child why the apple looks different from a newly peeled apple.  Why did the apple shrivel up? (Water evaporated from the apple).  Observe the difference between the apple that still had its peel on and the apple that was peeled.  How does the peel protect the apple?

Monday, September 24, 2012

SMMART SCIENCE:Negative Space Ice Sculpture

My middle daughter is waaaaaaay into "making ice" lately.  Fortunately, there have been no spills yet.

She fills a glass with water and pops it into the freezer.  Then she comes back to check on it periodically to check the progress. She loves when there is just a thin film of ice over the top and the water is still liquid underneath.  She breaks through the ice and eats off the thin shards.

My favorite is when she leaves it just long enough for all of the sides and top to freeze, leaving liquid inside of the icy shell.  When she lifts the ice shell, the liquid water drains and a beautiful negative space ice sculpture remains.

A fun way to talk about the many phases (liquid to solid) that water undergoes.  Have you seen the many silicone molds that IKEA has?  Those are super fun to make ice!

Monday, September 17, 2012

SMMART READING: Popcorn letters

We were eating popcorn...again!...a favorite snack around here.   Some of the popcorn spilled onto the table.  Before I knew it, my little daughter exclaimed, "Look, 'O'!"  She had fashioned the spill into a letter.

Good reminder to make letters and practice letter sounds with whatever snack we are eating!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SMMART SCIENCE: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Globe of Steel

In the new "Dragons" Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, eight members of the Torres Family taunt death as they speed their motorcycles around and around in the Globe of Steel.  "Once locked inside a 16-foot steel globe, all together they will orbit at an unprecedented 65 miles per hour within inches of each other. "

This is INSANE!  If you have ever seen this exhibition, it's a heart stopper.  I catch myself holding my breath as they whiz around and around each other.  It seems almost fake, like there is no way they can attempt this feat and not run into each other...yet, each real person goes into the Globe, rocks his bike in ready stance and zooms up into the controlled chaos!  Amazing!  Really, one of the most talented groups that Barnum and Bailey Circus showcases.

 The riders zoom on their bikes upside down in the globe and don't fall downward into each other.  How do their wheels stay on the steel, no matter what direction they proceed?  Even upside down?  This is a display of daring centrifugal force.  explains that "Centrifugal force is a fictitious force associated with a rotating system, such as a merry-go-round on a playground. When the system stops rotating, the force seems to disappear. Another way to understand this force is to consider Isaac Newton’s First Law, “that an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by another force.” When you are pressed against a car door as the car goes around a curve, you may feel pushed outward, much as you would on a merry-go-round. Really, there is no force pushing you outward. Your body wants to go in a straight line, but the car holds you in, acting as the other force to make you go in a curved line. On the merry-go-round, you are holding yourself onto the ride, exerting a force that keeps you from flying off to travel in a straight line."  (

It goes on further to share the experience of riding in a car that is going fast.  Your body wants to continue in the straight line forward.  When the car turns around a corner, your wanting-to-go-straight-body presses against the side of the car.  The car is pulling you with it in the direction it is going, even though your body wants to go straight.  So there is this "fictitious force".

Now for the fun hands on activity to demonstrate that speed is necessary to keep people sitting in a roller coaster, and the Torres family motorcycle wheels on the steel.

Tie a piece of twine to the handle of a small bucket or sand pail.  Place a ball or penny into the bucket and have your child spin the bucket in a circle so the bucket goes upside down.  If your child spins quickly enough, the ball and penny will stay on the bottom of the bucket.  Ask your child if the penny will stay in the bucket if you swing more slowly? Have your child swing the bucket slowly.  What happens?  In order to swing the bucket in a circle at all, you will have enough speed that the penny stays in the bucket.  Ask your child what would happen if you turned the cup upside down? (The penny falls out.)

Let your child try swinging around some other objects.

Lets get daring.  Fill the bucket with a bit of water and ask your child if he thinks that the water would stay at the bottom of the bucket when he swings it over his head in a circle. (It doesn't matter if it's liquid, it will still experience centrifugal force.)


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