Splashy Spelling

Get kids C-L-E-A-N with this simple alphabet activity for your bathtub. Rubber ducky not included, but you shoud T-O-T-A-L-L-Y get one!

You’ll need:

  • Cellophane
  • Scissors
  • Bathtub or tub of water

The concept of this project is simple. Cut a bunch of alpahbet letters out of cellophane, then float them in the tub during your next bathtime. Gently moving the different letters around, you can spell CAT, RAT, BAT, MAT or whatever combination you would like to try!

And if you try SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS, definitly send me a pic.

Cellophane is notoriously crinkly, so two hints: 1) Draw the letter template on a sheet of paper, lay the cellophane piece on top, then cut both; 2) If your desk scissors are tearing the cellophabe, use fabric scissors (seen below).

As you can see from the image that started this post, the cellophane floats easily on the water, sinking a bit as the bath progresses and the waters shift. However! I learned that not all cellophanes act like this!

I ordered some rainbow cello sheets from Amazon, wanting to use a fun assortment of colors for the letters. Well, I put them in tub and they just curled and melted like some sort of Wicked Witch of the West. And when I grabbed them, they stained the water AND my fingers pink! Noooooooooooo!

Luckily, I had another roll of blue cellophane in the house, purchased from Michael’s Craft store. Nervous, I laid the cellophane letters on the water…it worked! Floating, no curling, no staining! So if you want a pretty sure bet for this project, head to Michael’s to pick up some cellophane rolls. And test a sample of your cello before putting them in the tub with your child. This activity can also be done in a convinient dishtub or kiddie pool.

Happy splashing and spelling!

Pocket Books

Looking for an inexpensive project that will keep youngsters busy for a bit? If you said YES empathically and in ALL CAPS, this post is for you! Today, we bring you pocket books, cool little books that can be created with stuff you find around home (or can easily acquire on your next shopping trip).

Pocket books have been around for ages, and today’s template will allow you to make a blank book that kids can turn into their own illustrated stories. The pockets not only add a cool 3D element, they also allow the artist to play with the various story pieces, then stash them neatly away!

You’ll need:

  • White poster board
  • Regular printer paper
  • Binder clips
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Below is what a finished, undecorated book looks like. The covers are poster board, the pages are regular printer paper, and everything is held together with binder clips. The important thing to notice in the photo below is the folded crease on the book’s cover:

This not only makes the book easier to open and close, it also allows you to mark the margins of the pages. Why do this? It’ll be MUCH easier for kids to work on a page if it’s flat and the cover isn’t constantly flopping over. So once the book is assembled, draw a margin line down each page, using the fold as a guide.

Then disasseble the book, and give your artist the flat marked pages to decorate!

How you proceed with the decorating depends on the age of the artist. You could, for example, add the pockets yourself, and they can write the story and make the illustrated objects to go in them. Or, you can write the story on the pages, and they can do the pockets and drawings. It can be a team effort, or they can do everything themselves!

I used a heavier patterned cardstock for the pockets, but plain poster board, construction paper, or regular printer paper works too! However, when it comes to the objects in the pockets, definitely use poster board. It’s sturdier, can hold up to lots of handling, and easier to push in and out of the pockets. For fun, try doubling the pockets per page!

When the pages are complete, reassemble the book and enjoy! I recommend whipping up a batch of blank books at one time, just in case your first book expands into an epic series.

Fudge, Part Deux

Today, Katie is broadcasting from our official blog test kitchen (which wow, looks remarkably like her own kitchen!). She’s tackling her old culinary frenemy…that cursed confection, sneaky sweet, diabolical dessert otherwise known as…FUDGE. Take it away, Katie!


It’s hard to believe it has been nearly six years since I tried and spectacularly failed at making Monsieur Bon-Bon’s Secret “Fooj” from the book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang by Ian Fleming. Six years! C’est impossible! But after six years, dear blog readers, it’s finally time. Let’s trying making fudge again.

I found a recipe in a charming book titled Peeny Butter Fudge, written by Toni Morrison, Slade Morrison,and illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Simon & Schuster, 2009 – read here by Sankofa Read Aloud). There’s nothing better than spending the afternoon with Nana. She adds love and extra excitement to play time, story time, even nap time! But the best part is helping Nana make her yummy, delicious fudge before Mom comes home.

With just five ingredients and clearer directions than the “fooj” recipe, my confidence was high. I carefully followed the instructions exactly as they were written. When it came time to let the milk/sugar/chocolate mixture boil for five minutes, I set a timer and pulled out my candy thermometer (purchased when I attempted to make acid drops from Harry Potter). I remember reading that fudge must reach a certain temperature to solidify and have the correct texture, so I watched the thermometer closely. I also admit I was a bit nervous when the mixture needed to boil for longer than five minutes before it made a tadpole shape when dropped into a glass of cold water.

While the pot was taking its cold-water bath in the kitchen sink, a series of unfortunate events drew my attention away from the task at hand. The pot must have rested in the sink for too long because when I tried to add the peanut butter, the fudge was hard. Absolutely rock hard. I frantically tried putting the mixture back on the stove to see if it would soften up as I mixed in the peanut butter, but the result was a colossal, clumpy mess. Fudge failure, yet again.

I wasn’t about to give up on Nana and her peanut butter fudge, so I started over from scratch. Armed with the knowledge from both of my failures, I focused wholly and completely on the fudge and finding the sweet spot of victory. And somehow, against all odds, I did it. I made fudge!

Peeny Butter Fudge is delightfully rich and provides the perfect flavor mixture of chocolate and peanut butter, which is one of my favorite dessert combinations. I provided samples for my teen son and his neighborhood friends to try, and all of them said “this is so good!” My son also said it tastes exactly like the filling in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Collectively we give Peeny Butter Fudge our official seal of tastiness approval.

There’s an art to making fudge. You must balance a fine line between delicious success and disastrous failure. I’m very grateful my third attempt was a charm. And though I still consider myself an amateur fudge maker, I’m definitely planning on making Nana’s fudge again.