Friday, September 27, 2013

Cloud Gazing with Daddy

Pointing up at the clouds

I had to share these great pictures of my two handsome men. My husband came home early from work today, and he and Luke spent some time together outside playing. Luke thought laying beside Daddy outside was really something. He kept laughing and looking up at Lee and smiling.

You might notice the red on Luke's shirt. That is paint from our apple printing project (see previous post). Luke had a very fun-filled day today.

Apple Fun for Toddlers

Apple lacing card

Apple activities and units have been popping up on my Pinterest home page in the last couple of weeks, so I decided to create some materials and do some activities with Luke.  Luke had a play date with three other toddlers today (ages 22 mos., 2 years, and 3 years), so I threw a few apple activities into the mix. They had fun, and I felt like Supermom. Haven't felt like Supermom in a while, so that was very nice.  The mom who hosted the play date made some homemade applesauce, and that was a big hit with everyone and a wonderful way to end our apple-themed morning.  In a not-so-related-note, she also had homemade ketchup from her own homegrown tomatoes (maybe I don't feel like Supermom).  The ketchup was awesome. I must get the recipe and make some.  I'll be sure to share when I do.

I started by making a large felt tree and a felt board as the support.  For the felt board, I simply wrapped white felt around one of my old canvasses and attached it to the back of the canvas with a staple gun. Amazingly, Hancock fabrics had a sale on felt when I went to buy it. Yay!

To make the tree, I just went to cutting.  I didn't make a template or draw my design on the felt (although I have used chalk on darker felt once before to draw objects before cutting them out). As this project was meant for young ones, I tried not to worry too much about perfection.  I'm amazed that everything is still in good condition after its first use with four toddlers.

Tree in progress

I cut out the tree trunk, and then I began cutting cloud-like shapes out of dark green felt for the top of the tree.  I cut one large piece for the top as well, but I liked the idea of the kiddos being able to create the tree themselves and make it different each time. I am quite pleased with the results.  This tree can be an apple tree, pear tree, orange tree, etc...

Completed felt tree

Then I needed some apples.  I found an apple image online and created red, yellow, and green apples for the tree.  I printed them, cut them out, laminated them, and then I attached  Velcro stickers to the backs so they would stick to the felt tree.  I also created a cute little apple basket.

Apple tree
(large piece of green felt used here instead of the smaller pieces)
This morning I let the kiddos help me put the tree on the felt board and attach the apples.  I did some songs and chants about apples as they played.  We worked on color recognition as we put all of the red apples in the basket. We talked about how some apples are sweet and some apples are sour. We also did some counting with the apples.  Here are some of the songs and chants I used:

I'm a Little Apple
(to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a little apple, short and round.
I make a munchy, crunchy sound.
If you bite into me you will see...
I'm delicious as can be!

I sang the above song to the kiddos as we began our "lesson". I showed them a real apple as I sang the song. It can be found here along with some other activities.

Here are two chants that I threw in as they were building the tree:

Apples Juicy

Apples juicy, apples round.
On the tree or on the ground.
Apples yellow, apples red.
Apple pie and juice and bread.
Apples crunchy, apples sweet.
Apples are so good to eat!

As I said the above chant, I pointed to the apples "on the tree" and those "on the ground".  I also pointed to the "apples yellow" and "apples red." This chant, along with some other apple activities, can be found here.

This next chant can be found here along with some printables.

Apples, Apples

Apples, apples, one, two, three.
Apples for you, apples for me.
Apples big, apples small.
Apple trees tiny, apple trees tall.
Apples sour, apples sweet.
Apples, apples are nice to eat!

As I sang this next song, I placed apples one at a time onto the tree.

Ten Little Apples

One little, two little, three little apples,
Four little, five little, six little apples,
Seven little, eight little, nine little apples, 
Ten little apples in an apple tree.

Apple prints

This afternoon once we got home, Luke and I made some apple prints. I cut open the apple and showed him the seeds inside, and then we painted them and stamped them on white poster board. This activity was a big hit with Luke. He is really into painting right now. We used washable kid paint, so I just got out the garden house and washed us and everything around us down a bit when we were finished.

Luke also got his first lacing card today. I don't know if it will be noticeable to anyone else, but he has such a look of concentration on his face in the picture below. Today is the first time I have seen that look on his face.

Concentrating really hard on his apple lacing card

As part of our apple fun today, the kiddos also got to play with a real basket and some large, red pom poms.  I threw these in with Luke's John Deer tractor/farm set and just let the kids play. Luke had fun with this once we were home as well.

He loves his vehicles

Below are some free printables that I created in case you want to do some of these activities with your little ones.

Apples for the tree and a basket ( I cut mine out, laminated them, and then I attached Velcro stickers to the backs):

And an apple for a lacing card (I cut mine out, laminated it, and then I used a hole puncher to add holes around the outside edge of the apple):

The original apple image I used can be found here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homemade Eggplant and Salami Pizza

Well, sort of homemade. I start with a refrigerated dough (Pillsbury-brand thin crust). This is always so yummy. I don't know why I don't make this more often, because it is not difficult and not that time consuming.

For some reason that I can't remember, my husband and I started putting eggplant on our pizzas at home. Thinly sliced zucchini is good as well, but I just love the taste of eggplant.  Eggplant and tomatoes are always a good combination.  Add in some cheese and you've got a winning combo.

The best part of my homemade pizza is probably the sauce:

(I'm an add this and that sort of cook, so I rarely measure)

Splash of extra virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 onion (white or yellow), chopped
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste
Roasted red peppers (I buy jars of already roasted peppers...cheaper and quicker), chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt/freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they are translucent.  Add in some tomato sauce and paste and stir well and bring to a slight boil.  Add in the roasted red peppers, pepper flakes, and salt/pepper.  Boil for a minute or so and then lower heat and allow it to simmer for a few minutes.

Puree mixture and keep it warm until you are ready to add it to your pizza.

I like my sauce a little spicy. I think it works well since the pizza crust I buy has a slightly sweet taste.

For the pizza in the picture, I made half with eggplant and half with salami.

I baked the sliced/peeled the eggplant and then sprinkled it with salt and left it in a large colander for 15-30 minutes.  I rinsed it off well and then baked it and the salami in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes before cooking the pizza crust.  I wanted the salami a bit crispy and the eggplant to be cooked through (the pizza once assembled doesn't bake very long).

The crust pre-bakes for a few minutes, and then you pull it out of the oven and add your toppings. I put down the sauce, a little cheese (Italian blend), the vegetables/meat and then more cheese.  I added mozzarella on top of the eggplant and feta on top of the salami.

You can also sprinkle red pepper flakes on top of the vegetable/meat instead of (or in addition to) putting them in the sauce.