Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recent Projects

Recent projects have basically sucked up all of my available time lately (so sorry!). Which means I haven't had a chance to blog about them! But my list is half done and you will start seeing them pop up on the blog in the coming weeks. Some will have to wait until after Christmas, because they are gifts for people who read my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise! Look forward to cross stitches, felt play mats, and more unique felt boards!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Decoding Messages Scavenger Hunt - On Beyond Zombie Linky Party #10

Black Widow is a super spy and sometimes Nick Fury has to send her on Top Secret Missions. So one of the fun superhero inspired activities that we love to do is to decode messages and go on scavenger hunts.  I often spring scavenger hunts on my kids spontaneously. For instance, my son has been sick for four days now and my daughter is feeling pretty bummed about not having a play buddy again. So each day I have found an activity for my daughter that keeps her busy and lets her enjoy some independent time. So I surprised her with a scavenger hunt. 

Ours are still fairly simple, as I gear them more towards preschoolers and problems that my children can easily work out, although some are still challenging. We always create our scavenger hunts from scratch and I tailor them to each child. So sometimes I'll split the clues in half, so each has a set of their own. Today's set was made specifically for Bean. 

I started off our game with some reading lessons, which got her in the mood to decode. I simply wrote out the words in black marker with an underline for each letter. The missing letters are written in white crayon on white paper. Use a light colored marker to uncover the letter. Typically we will sound out the letters and then look at the available letters and match the letters to the empty space. Then they can color in the space to see if they are correct. 

Another option is to write the words and have the available letters nearby to draw a line to match them. We would normally write a message, but in this case we were just practicing to read a handful of words. Once again we wrote in the missing letters in white crayon, which is almost invisible unless you look at the paper from a certain angle.

Draw a line to the letter you believe belongs there.

And check your answers. 

For the scavenger hunt I wrote questions and riddles similar to this one. We write the answer in white crayon somewhere on the slip of paper (either on the back, under the question or riddle, or on a flap that you fold back). 

The answers were written in a fairly simple code that consists of shapes and symbols. The answers are usually one word, but occasionally two. It's nothing fancy, but it's unique each time we create a scavenger hunt, so Bean never knows what to except. And you can definitely write themed riddles, but I usually write riddles that I know they will understand. The prize is what fits the overall theme.  

The first clue was found behind the clock! See, it has hands that can't lift anything... Also I totally failed because I forgot this clock actually has a third hand when all our other clocks only have two. Luckily Bean did not notice!

You can ring this outside and hear it inside. The doorbell! Ours is electric, so the plug on the bottom is actually our doorbell. Bean found it easily.

There was no need to find the clues in any particular order, so I just left them in a bowl and let Bean choose which one she wanted next. There were eight total and each one led to a clue. The clues each had one letter. The letters were scrambled, so she had to unscramble them to find the answer. That answer led to the hidden prize.

I wrote the first letter of each word in uppercase and the rest of the letters in lowercase. She knew that the letters formed two words. "Under Map" was the answer. When she realized this, she ran into the living room and checked under our wall map (which is cloth and lifts easily). She found a Ziploc of goodies for her! Inside was a new comic book, a packet of superhero stickers, printed coloring pages of her favorite heroes, and a temporary tattoo of Black Widow. 

While there were only eight clues to find, this whole scavenger hunt took about an hour to complete. It was really fun for Bean to complete the scavenger hunt on her own and she loved the prize! I helped her by reading the questions and riddles and if she didn't know the answer, she could decode the answer and then go find the clue. Sure, I can't imagine Black Widow goes on crazy scavenger hunts like this, but it's still fun to pretend to go on super secret spy missions!

Here are my feature's from last weeks' linky party:

Lego Math from The Science Kiddo
75 Of The Best Stocking Stuffers for Book Lovers (Readers) from Inspiring 2 N.H. Kids

It's not required to follow your hosts, though we appreciate your Likes and Follows!

Suzy Homeschooler
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Munchkin and Bean
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2 Dorks in Love 

Here's where YOU come in!

Link up your geeky or nerdy posts below! Comics, superheroes, LEGO, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, Magic the Gathering, math, science, STEM, video games, table top games, mythology, dragons, books, outer space, Star Wars, Star Trek, robotics, and any other geeky or nerdy activity you want to share!

Don't have a blog, but you want to share an activity idea or photo? Add it to the comments or email me at MunchkinandBean(at)yahoo(dot)com and I will do my best to include it as a Reader Idea in my next On Beyond Zombie Linky Party post!

Follow Caitlyn Stock (Suzy Homeschooler)'s board On Beyond Zombie on Pinterest.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Felt Gifts for Christmas

We love felt around here. Not only is it an incredibly versatile material to craft with, but it also kid-friendly! My children have been playing with felt since they were 6 months old. Between fine motor activities, like button snakes and pretend-play clothes lines, to felt boards and felt toys, they have grown up playing with their homemade felt toys. So today I'm going to share some of our favorite toys and games made out of felt! Some you can make at home (homemade gifts are the best!) and others you can purchase pre-made.

Here are a handful of my favorite shops on Etsy. They have some of the cutest felt crafts I have ever seen!

Ladybug On Chamomile has an amazing collection of felt fridge magnets! Everything from letters, to forest animals, to sea creatures! There's something for everyone and not only are they practical, but they will be so fun to play with on the fridge!

Tomomo Handmade has a bunch of beautiful pretend play felt food sets.

It's the small things made this adorable Christmas Gingerbread House Quiet Book page and also has a handful of others on sale too!

Sweet Juicy April has a ton of creative quiet book pages to choose from, including this musical one!

Box of Felt Food and desserts perfect for a tea party made by Bird Toast.

One of my favorite bloggers sells her patterns on Etsy: Imagine Our Life. She's a Montessori homeschooler and her quiet books are simply amazing! Her mini advent ornaments are the cutest!

Felted Soap from The Twisted Purl. These unique handmade soaps are perfect stocking stuffers. They are neat and help children use soap on their own. These felted soaps will actually prolong the life of your soap! (There's even a coal option!)

Floral Blossom has tons of printable PDF Sewing Patterns for adorable finger puppets (including this farm set!).

Winter holiday inspired Felt Cookies from decocarin.

Felt Vegetable Garden Farmer's Market Play Set by Franconia Ridge Studio. This set is absolutely perfect for a child who loves pretend play and wants to practice their gardening skills.

You may also find something you like at my own little Etsy shop: Felt Creations. :)

I know many moms love Melissa and Doug products for being well-made, educational and because they promote creative role play. I myself am a huge fan of Melissa and Doug's products and we have an entire shelf in our homeschool corner devoted to our Melissa and Doug toys and games. Some of our favorites are their felt food sets (which actually inspired us to begin making our own felt foods). I'm including these felt food sets because they are versatile and it's easy enough to add your own felt pieces to these sets. Check them out!

Melissa & Doug Felt Food - Sandwich Set Perfect for a pretend-play deli or restaurant. We have used this set many times to practice stacking and ordering. Children can practice taking orders and then making the sandwich according to the order.

Melissa & Doug Felt Food - Pizza Set I don't know a single kid who doesn't love pizza. They will love making up their own pizzas and setting up a pretend play pizza shop to serve the chef's best pizza.

Melissa & Doug Felt Food - Taco And Burrito Set This set is fantastic and can make both burritos and tacos. Kids will love how cute this set is!

Melissa & Doug Felt Food - Cookie Decorating Set This particular set is really neat because it comes with additional toys to play with, so you can create your own pretend-play bakery and practice with the tray and cookie cutters. Kids will love decorating their cookies!

The biggest factor that I love about these felt food sets is that they can easily pair with any felt foods that you make at home. Perhaps your favorite pizza is ham and pineapple -  you could just make some and add it to the pizza set. Or maybe the cookie set didn't have enough chocolate options - the patterns are easy enough to duplicate and make extra frosting choices.

For those of you more inclined to make your own felt crafts, I would recommend these felt craft books, either for yourself to use or to give to someone who loves crafting. These books are my usual go-to books for inspiration and have so many fantastic craft ideas that you will love making!

Big Little Felt Universe: Sew It, Stuff It, Squeeze It, Fun! I was self taught in the art of crafting with felt, but after a while I decided to branch off from felt boards and discovered a whole world of 3-D felt crafts. This book is bursting with cute crafts and has plenty of templates to help you!

Feltlicious: Needle-Felted Treats to Make & Give For the more ambitious crafter, needle-felting takes a wee bit more effort, but the effects are absolutely adorable and worth it! These felt foods are simply delicious looking and are perfect for pretend play!

Fa la la la Felt: 45 Handmade Holiday Decorations For those of you looking for holiday-inspired crafts, this book has a ton of great ideas! And I personally adore the woodland creatures!

Felt with Love: Felt Hearts, Flowers and Much More Simple and sweet designs and ideas. Great beginner book!

Super-cute Felt: 35 step-by-step projects to make and give This book is just full of adorable crafts and has really detailed directions, including types of stitches and techniques.

If you have any questions concerning felt or felt crafts, please don't hesitate to contact me! I would be happy to assist your crafty needs!

Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?'s board Gift Guides for Kids on Pinterest.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Game of the Month: Snake Oil - Party Potion {Review}

We received an awesome game called Snake Oil - Party Potion to review from Out of the Box Games. We're featuring it as our Game of the Month choice for a handful of reasons. Due to the highly fun nature of the game, it became an instant favorite, for both adults and children. Actually, the first time we tried it out, it was played by adults who all agreed that this game was amazing and incredibly fun. Since then we have tried it out with a couple of our cousins and my own children, who paired up with one of their older cousins to play.

Out of the Box Games Review

Cost: $14.99

Snake Oil - Party Potion can be played by children as young as 6, if they are reading, but is recommended for children ages 8 and up. This game is meant to be played by 3-6 players and each game lasts 20-30 minutes. Snake Oil only takes five minutes to learn to play and is easy to set up! You can add Party Potion to the original Snake Oil game to add more cards or play it by itself as a standalone game. Snake Oil - Elixir is the next expansion and will be released in 2015. Party Potion comes with 112 Word Cards and 14 Customer Cards (they are double-sided, so there are 28 Customers total). It's a great game to bring to a party, to play at home on a game night or to give as a gift.

Setting Up

The cards come in a nifty plastic tray that keep the cards organized. Remove the tray from the box and pick up the Word Cards that have the snake oil bottle on the back. These cards have rounded corners to help distinguish them from the Customer Cards. Shuffle the cards and place them in a stack on the table in reach of the other players. Do the same with the Customer Cards. 

Each player draws a hand of Six Word Cards.

Decide who will be the first customer and have them draw the top Customer Card. They can look at both sides of the card and decide which customer they want to be. 

How to Play

The first Customer announces their Customer Card and places it on the table in front of them.

The other players have to look at their cards and choose two, which will create a unique product specially made for the Customer. It could be something completely normal, like a Stress Test, or it could be weird, like a Ghost Massage. Who knows, perhaps your Customer really craves some Bacon Milk.

Go ahead and pitch your product to the Customer.

Once one player finishes their pitch, another player can jump in and pitch their product to the Customer. A Customer can cut off any pitch that lasts longer than 30 seconds, if they aren't sold or wish to know more.

After all the players are done with their pitches, the Customer picks the best item and gives their Customer Card to that player, which scores them a point.

Discard all of the Word Cards used that round and place them in the card tray. Each player, except the person who played the Customer, draws back up to six cards.

The player to the left of the current Customer is the new Customer and picks up the top card of the Customer deck and chooses their role.

Continue play until each player has played the Customer once. The player with the most Customer Cards wins! If there is a tie, play one more round with only those players choosing Word Cards. They will pitch their product to the other players and those players will vote to determine the winner. That player wins the game!

Feel free to role play the characters if you wish, it only adds more fun. Talk in funny voices or act silly. Kids really get into it (adults do too).

 If a younger player does not know the meaning of one of their cards, they can switch it out for a new card.

Here's what the first round might look like: The Customer Card is a Mad Scientist and one player has a hand of six Word Cards: Sled, Gorilla, Shampoo, Galaxy, Plunger and Pimple.

That player now has to decide what kind of product a Mad Scientist would want to buy. Disregard price, as it doesn't matter. What would a Mad Scientist absolutely HAVE to get their hands on? Choose two cards from your hand and prepare to sell the Mad Scientist your best product. In this case, it's a Galaxy Plunger! Seriously, what kind of Mad Scientist Would toss up a Galaxy Plunger? It's just too cool!

Another Customer might be a Toddler. Look at your options and choose which two cards would create a unique product that would appeal to a toddler.

The players chose "Dairy Rescue" (perhaps it's a product that stops bottles from hitting the floor or a super bottle that never leaks) and "Magic Nap" (which could be a one-time use of a perfect nap or maybe it's an outfit that the child wears to make sure they always have Magic Naps). The Customer will choose their favorite.

Who will be the best Snake Oil Salesperson? It will be a fun game to find out!

Besides being a fun game for casual play, you can also use it for fun educational activities. You can use this game to practice vocabulary (purchase the expansions for more word options). This game promotes creative learning and your child will enjoy practicing their communication skills while playing. Homeschoolers will especially love playing this educational game to work on linguistic skills!

We personally loved playing Snake Oil and can't wait to pick up the base game and the second expansion when it comes out! My kids haven't played it too much yet, apart from when they paired up to play it with their cousins, but I know it is a game they will love in a few years. They enjoy playing board games and are very entertained when they play Snake Oil with us. It's good practice to watch and learn. We highly recommend this game!

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