Tipped Tractor Birthday Cake

I've been revisiting some of the birthday themes we have had for our eldest, Connor.  His 3rd birthday was the first birthday I got a little creative and catered the party entirely around his love at that time - Pixar Cars.  Connor's favorite scene was when Mater and McQueen went tractor tipping.
When I was browsing birthday cake ideas I had seen a picture of a John Deere tractor and figured if I just frosted it brown, gave it eyes, and tipped it - then I'd have the perfect Pixar cake for Connor.
The front tire was made with prunes attached with a toothpick.  The smokestack was a black licorice.  The rear tires were tractor tire donuts.
For snacks we had:
Fillmore's Organic Fruit Salad
Luigi's Tower of Tires (little chocolate donuts, stacked)
Flo's Fuel (a drink)
Red's fire hoses (pretzel sticks) 
I did simple decorations of little printed road signs.
Have you ever done a quirky and/or fun birthday theme to cater to your child's passion?

The Duchess Bakes a Cake {FIAR}

We are slowly making our way through Five in a Row's volume 3 book this year (and also volumes 1 & 2 we've never done).  February is a busy birthday month for us so we started it out with The Duchess Bakes a Cake, by Virginia Kahl. 

This is a title our library didn't have so we purchased it and I am ever so glad we did!  All three kids (ages 8, 5 and 3) piled onto the couch with me to listen to this story daily.  It is just so fun!


Since it was such a busy time for us we started our week with science play.  The palace guards use a catapult to try to get the Duchess down so we made a pencil catapult.  I couldn't find instructions so just had looked at a picture and duplicated it with rubberbands and a plastic spoon.  We started out shooting marshmallows but it was a disaster (tons of fighting and tears over eating them), so we switched to pom poms.   

The Duchess puts yeast in her cake - 6 times for good measure!   We did a simple little yeast experiment with a pop bottle and balloon.  This is one where I goofed.  I was expecting immediate results.  Our little "Pop Bottle Science" book didn't mention a time or anything, just said what to do then we stood there and stared at it and were underwhelmed.  I got impatient and switched to a new pop bottle and balloon and still nothing.  So we left it.  Hours later we walked into the kitchen and got a nice little surprise, and a decent lesson in patience.

Math/Critical Thinking

I've been looking at this castle game, Camelot Junior, and thought now would be a perfect time to do it.  It was a bit cheaper at a local store (Chapters Indigo), so we got it there.  The kids loved this game.  The only complaint came from my eldest.  He did not like that the Knight has to be rescued sometimes too - made him so angry.  ha!!  I love that it isn't just the girl in need of help.

I also had the 8 year old build a castle of his imagination from Lego bricks.  I was quite pleased with his efforts.

Fun Extras

I made some playdough (pink for Valentine's Day) and played with the youngest singing the Pat-a-Cake nursery rhyme.  He also decided to build a birthday cake and play at blowing the candles out and serving slices.

We read lots of fun birthday themed books and plenty of medieval and/or castle themed books.  (just whatever I liked from our library in the juvenile non-fiction section 940.1)


Favorite Winter Books

Now that the snow is finally starting to get serious this season, I thought it'd be fun to share our most favorite children's winter books.

What happens with snowmen once you fall asleep?  This book will let us in on the mischief snowmen get into.  My 8 year old thought the story and illustrations were hysterical.

Millions of Snowflakes is a sweet counting book for toddlers and preschoolers.  This was always a favorite with my 2/3 year olds.  I got it out again this year for my (now) 3 year old and his big sister came running over, "Oh!  I remember this book!"

Snow, by P.D. Eastman, is a classic beginning reader.   This was a favorite when I was a girl and I now own a copy to pass on the story of the fun snow play these siblings get into.

The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats is a story of a little boy that sets out for adventure in the newly fallen snow. 

All you Need for a Snowman is a current favorite with my 5 year old.   A poetic story of young friends gathering together to help one another build the best snowman ever.

Making a Friend, by Alison McGhee, is probably my personal favorite winter book of the bunch.  The book just captures young innocence so very much.  A boy and his beloved snowman, who has to leave him every spring.   My favorite line:  "What you love will always be with you."

What are your favorite wintertime books?


I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God {book review}

Recently the kids and I have had the opportunity to spend our morning devotional time with a wonderful children's book from Thomas Nelson called "I Am:  40 Reasons to Trust God", by Diane Stortz.  In this children's devotional you'll learn 40 of the many different names, or titles, the Bible uses for God, starting with Genesis and ending in Revelations. 
Each devotion begins with a name, or title, of God such as "I Am", followed by a story based on the bible - which in this example of "I Am" is Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3-4).  Following the short story is a quick devotion explaining what the bible story means.  Next is "little extras" that tell where else you can learn more in the bible on the same topic, and a little prayer is also given for you and your child to say together.
The illustrations are just simply delightful.  They are bright, colorful, and realistic.
I would recommend this for anyone looking for a great family devotional for small children, ages 4-8.
Title:  I Am:  40 Reasons to Trust God
Author:  Diane Stortz
ISBN:  9780529120663
Price:  16.99 (USD)
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Publication Date:  Feb 2, 2016
Pages:  224
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Little Nino's Pizzeria {FIAR}

This week we had a blast with Little Nino's Pizzeria by Karen Barbour.  Here are some of the things we did with a 3rd grader, Kinder, and a preschooler - outside of the FIAR manual (volume 3).
Social Studies
  • We studied Italy and a few eating manners that are different than ours.
  • We learned the flag of Italy
  • We ate homemade Panna Cotta for dessert
  • We ate pizza for dinner
  • We played pizza shop
Language Arts
  • Just with the youngest, we matched pepperoni letters to the matching pizza letter, from Pizza Preschool Pack
  • My 3rd grader read "Nothing Beats a Pizza", a poetry book with little challenges to create your own art or poetry.  He loved "Backwards Me & You" the best

Fun extra reading
  • Secret Pizza Party, a funny story about a raccoon who loves pizza
  • The pizza that we made by Joan Holub
  • Young Cam Jansen and the pizza shop mystery
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