Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walk on Stilts Day

July 27, 2010 is

Walk on Stilts Day.

 The perfect way to celebrate this holiday is to learn the history of stilts and to make your own recycled cans version of stilts.

You don't see a lot of stilt walkers. Usually they are found in parades and at circuses.
Stilt-walking is an ancient art that only requires a pair of stilts and lots of practice.
Stilt-walking is said to have originated in Landes, France. Shepherds took up stilt-walking, as early as the 1800's,  as a way to not only save time getting to their scattered flocks but also to navigate areas that were sometimes treacherous.

According to Wikipedia:
Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a distance above the ground. Walking stilts are poles equipped with steps for the feet to stand on, or straps to attach them to the legs, for the purpose of walking while elevated above a normal height. In flood plains, and on beaches or unstable ground, buildings are often constructed on stilts to protect them from damage by water, waves or shifting soil or sand. Stilts have been used for many hundreds of years.

A few fun and amazing Stilt walking records
Most people to simultaneously walk on stilts: 1908. Doug Hunt and the North Park Collegiate HS students organized a mass stilt walk of 625 people walking 100 metres (328 ft) on 12” peg stilts.

Tallest stilts walked on: 56 feet 6 inches. Roy Maloy of Australia, while wearing an overhead safety wire, took five independent steps on 56 ft. 6 inch stilts weighing 50.6 lbs. each.

Longest stilt walk: 24 hours, 76.17 miles (122.58 km). Zdenek Jiruše of Czechoslovakia covered a distance of 76.17 miles (122.58 km) on stilts within 24 hours on 12 June 1992 in Pelhřimov.

 Why try stilt or can walking?

Because walking on Stilts/Cans builds a child's:
  • Balance and Coordination Skills and
  • Their Sense of Achievement and Self-esteem
 You can try you hand at making wooden stilts:
Stiltwalker.com has interesting information on stilts and stilt walking.  
But the  easiest way to start "stilt" walking is to make Tin Can Stilts.
 you'll need:
2 - one pound coffee cans or juice cans or even paint cans
String or rope or yarn plaited into a braid
A screwdriver or awl
Colorful electrical or duct tape, stickers (the foam one are fun)

  1. Turn the cans upside down, so that the open end is touching the ground (if using paint cans ,put the lids on them and use the handles to tie the rope onto)
  2. Then, use a screwdriver or awl to make two holes in each can, one on each side. (An adult should do this step.)
  3. String a piece of rope through the holes, and tie off the ends inside the can.This is a "handle" for your child to hold onto. It should be approximately waist high) 
  4. Decorate the cans
  5. Walk on your stilts

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! .....Tuesday Book Look

I chose this Tuesday's book because July is National Hot Dog Month and July 19th is National Hot Dog Day.
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! was written and illustrated by Mo Willems.
 Pigeon, the star of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and four other books, finds a yummy looking hot dog which he plans to eat all by himself. But a very cute, curious, annoying and tenacious duckling has other ideas.

While you may not know, author Mo Willems name, you very likely have seen his work. He was a writer and animator for Sesame Street, created two animated series for the Cartoon Network and was the head writer for their Codename: Kids Next Door series. Three of  his books have received Caldecott Honors and Mo Willems is the creator of the Knuffle Bunny Books.

Okay, I worked really hard trying to find interesting craft ideas for this book that were about more than just cooking hot dogs....I kinda succeeded , sorta, cooking is involved in these activities but they involve a lot of creativity, also.

Hot Dog People
To make Hot Dog people you'll need - hot dogs, plastic knives and a microwave
  1. give each child an uncooked hot dog and a knife 
  2. the kids then use the knife to make slices in the hotdog to resemble body parts (slices at the top for hair, a face, a slice on each side for arms and a slice in the middle of the bottom, to make two legs). 
  3. Then cook the hot dog in the microwave for about 25 - 30 seconds.  
  4. As the hot dog cooks, it should begin to look more like a person. 
Read or act out the story of the 3 Pigs and then make Pigs in a Blanket (recipe and story here)
Here's an easy recipe for a Hot Dog and Fries cake using a loaf cake, Twinkies and icing.

Make a Hot Dog Squid

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Book Look....Blueberries for Sal ( for Blueberry Month)

July is Blueberry Month. So, this Tuesday's Book Look is a classic "blueberry" book. Blueberries for Sal was written by Robert McCloskey in 1948. It was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1949 for it's illustrations.

"One day,  Little Sal went with her mother to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries." So starts the timeless story of Sal, her mother, a momma bear and a cub as they all pick or in the case of Sal and the bears, eat blueberries on Blueberry Hill.  I won't ruin the book for you but it's really cute and lots of fun. (A little hint: at some point Sal and the bear cub get mixed up and follow after the wrong mother but it all turns out well.)

The first activity I thought of for this book was, naturally, cooking with blueberries. But I decided to find at least one none eating activity. My crafts for Blueberries for Sal are making Dye from blueberries, making Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles and a really simple 4 ingredient recipe for Blueberry Cobbler.

How to Make Natural Dye from Blueberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 quart water
large enamel or stainless steel (not aluminum) pot
wooden or plastic stirring utensil
container to collect dye
material/items to dye

  1. Combine blueberries and water in the pot.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Crush berries and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Strain mixture and discard the berries.
  5. Add the material to be colored to the dye.
  6. Let the material soak in the dye until the desired color intensity is reached.
  7. Wash dyed item separately in cold water.

Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles
You'll need:
12 paper or foil baking cups, 2 1/2 inch size
Zest and juices of one small lemon
2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 pint blueberries
12 popsicle sticks

  1. Line twelve muffin pan cups with the paper or foil baking cups.
  2. In a bowl, blend the lemon zest, lemon juice, yogurt, and sugar until smooth.
  3. Stir in the blueberries.
  4. Divide the mixture amount the paper-lined muffin pan cups.
  5. Freeze for 1 1/2 hours, or until almost firm. Remove from the freezer, cover with plastic wrap and insert a popsiscle stick in the middle of each popsicle.
  6. Return to the freeze and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
  7. To serve, peel off the paper liners and let the popsicles stand at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly.

Easy Blueberry Cobbler
1 (21 oz.) can blueberry pie filling
1 (8 oz.) can unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
1 (9 oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 c. butter, melted

  1. Spoon pie filling into a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Spoon pineapple over pie filling.
  3. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pineapple.
  4. Drizzle butter over cake mix.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Musical Monday.....Teddy Bear's Picnic Day

"If you go into the woods today, you're in for a big surprise!"

Okay, maybe not today but July 10th is Teddy Bear's Picnic Day, so beware of teddy bears on the 10th. Or why not celebrate the holiday with your own Teddy and a few friends.

According to Wikipedia:
"Teddy Bears' Picnic" is a song consisting of a melody composed by John Walter Bratton in 1907 and lyrics added by British songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. It remains popular as a children's song, having been recorded by numerous artists over the decades.
In case you don't know the song, here's a really cute version.

If you go down in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Ev'ry teddy bear who's been good
Is sure of a treat today
There's lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play

Beneath the trees
Where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
That's the way the teddy bears have their picnic

Picnic time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today
Watch then, catch them unawares
And see them picnic on their holiday

See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout
They never have any cares

At six o' clock
Their mummies and daddies
Will take them home to bed
'Cause they're tired little teddy bears

Activities to Celebrate Teddy Bear's Picnic Day

Host a Teddy Bear's Picnic or Tea
Invite the children to bring their Teddy Bears or Significant Stuffed Other to a picnic or tea party
Menu Ideas:
  • Sandwiches:  Peanut Butter and Jelly Triangles (crusts off), Chicken Salad Finger Sandwiches, other Tea Sandwich ideas
  • a variety of Miniature Muffins
  • Animal Crackers
  • Gummi Bears
  • Slices of Pound and/or Angel cake that the children can decorate and eat with pieces of fresh fruit and fruit syrups
  • Drinks: Lemonade, Apple Juice, Herbal Sun Tea, Mint Tea Punch (the recipe is at the end of the blog)

Make Teddy Bear Puppets

Read about famous Teddy Bears: Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, Corduroy Bear, the Carebears

Learn the History of the Teddy Bear

Mint Tea Punch
8 mint tea bags
2 quarts boiling water
1 cup sugar
2 ½ cups pineapple juice
1 can (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 large sprigs fresh mint
  1. In a large glass bowl, steep tea bags and boiling water for 4 minutes. 
  2. Remove tea bags. Discard. 
  3. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool. 
  4. Add pineapple juice, mint leaves and lemonade. 
  5. Serve over ice in a punch bowl.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fabulous Fourth of July Crafts and Books

 The fourth of July is almost here.

Time to fire up the grill, grab some sparklers and , of course, make a few fun, fabulous and fast Fourth of July crafts!

Oh, and read a few books about the Fourth, also.( I've placed links to 9 interesting books about the Fourth of July ,appropriate for a variety of age levels, at the end of this blog.)

Let's get started on those crafts.....

Coffee Filter Fireworks - You need: Washable Markers, Coffee Filters, Spray Bottle (optional), Water - Flatten out the coffee filter; Spritz with water or sprinkle on water; only Dampen the filter DO NOT Soak it! ; Use the markers to draw on the damp filter; the water will cause the colors to spread and give a tie dye or fireworks effect

Sidewalk Water Balloon Firework Paint Splatters

Confetti Launcher

Patriotic Pom Poms

Fireworks Flowers

Make a Fireworks Tshirt - you'll need: a tshirt, glitter fabric paint, newspaper
To make your T-shirt - lay the shirt on a flat surface; place folded newspaper between the t-shirt layers to keep the paint from bleeding through; use the glitter paint to draw, free-hand, bursts of fireworks; follow manufacturers directions to dry and wash the t-shirt

Stars 'n' Stripes Hats

Bigger kids can actually Make Sparklers with adult assistance

Check out these books about the Fourth of July: