Counting Caterpiller - Counting by 10s Game

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My twins, who are three and a half, have recently become interested in counting by 10s. Before I put away the plastic Easter eggs for the season, I made them a game where they could practice counting by 10. Here's how you can make a Counting Caterpillar of your own.

Supplies you will need:
  • 11 plastic Easter eggs
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Permanent marker

I used similar sized eggs for this game. I picked the sides that were more flat since it would be easier to write the numbers on them. I managed to find an egg that had a side with two holes in it, which were perfect for some cute antennae.

Simply cut your pipe cleaner so that you can thread it through the holes and the bend it.

Next, the Counting Caterpillar needs a face. After I drew mine with a permanent marker, I realized maybe orange wasn't the best color egg to use as it looked a bit like a jack o'lantern. Oh well, the kids never noticed.

Write the numbers, counting by 10s, up to one hundred on the remaining eggs.

I didn't want all the pieces getting lost, so I just labeled a small bag.

I was happy to see the girls taking turns with the game.

Lil C isn't counting by 10s yet, but she always loves being part of the action. Her sisters helped point to the number that was coming next and C added it to the caterpillar.

When they were done they checked their work.

If you still have any plastic eggs lying around, this is a great way to use them and create a fun learning game at the same time.

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Food Fun Friday: Homemade Mini Baked Donuts

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About a year ago I got this mini donut pan from Crate and Barrel. We had gotten a gift card and most things there were over the amount we had on the card, so we ended up with the mini donut pan. I had visions of making freshly baked donuts all the time. Well, it's been a year and I am packing up for our move and come across the UNUSED donut pan. So we made some donuts. 

I found a recipe for baked cake donuts on I made a few tweaks and they turned out yummy, especially just out of the oven. This will make approximately 48 mini donuts.

Ingredients you will need:

2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of salt
3/4 cup of milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs of butter

For glaze:
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
2 Tbs of hot water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your donut pan. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.

Stir in milk, eggs, vanilla and butter. Beat together until blended well.

Fill each donut hole halfway full. This was the trickiest part for me. Mine ended up being filled more than halfway and they turned out bigger than I would have liked. The batter will be thicker than your normal cake/cupcake batter. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.

Here they are just out of the oven. I overfilled mine so some of the holes were almost closed.

Pop them out of the pan and they are ready to decorate.

We made three varieties of donuts: cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, and glazed with sprinkles. I mixed up some white sugar and cinnamon in a bag and coated the donut with a little bit of cooking spray. Next I dropped the donut in the bag and the kids shook it around.

B makes a powdered donut using the same method.

To make the glaze, simply mix the confectioner's sugar with the hot water until it is no longer lumpy. Dip the top of the donut in the glaze and shake on some sprinkles.

The kids were excited to try the donuts they created. They loved them and I loved how they are way healthier than regular donuts. 

Our yummy creations!

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Sea Life Action Cards - Guest Post from lil Mop Top

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Today I would like to introduce you to Jen from lil Mop Top. Jen is a mom of two precious boys and a former teacher. She has so many wonderful ideas for kids activities and projects, plus she also dabbles in crafts and throws fantastic parties. Can you see why I am so excited to have her guest posting here today. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi readers of Mess for Less! I am thrilled and honored to be guest posting today! I am in the middle of moving. Well, to be accurate, I sold my house but don't have a new one to move into so we are in bit of limbo. So, most of my crafty stuff is all packed up temporarily (which is why my blog, lil Mop Top, is a little more quiet than usual).

So I tried to think of something I could put together to share with you today. Our family is taking our FIRST family vacation to Sea World in San Antonio next month (SO EXCITED!!!) I decided to try to incorporate something that goes along with the theme of 'oceans' or 'sea' so I could use it with the boys to get them excited for the trip and I could use it during tot school when we get settled into our new house.

I made these action cards (finding clipart through google images) and let the boys play with them after breakfast one morning.

They loved it, which means my pictures are extremely blurry. Sorry about that! Here are a couple of the least blurry ones..

crawling like a crab:

reading the cards:

waddle like a penquin:

chomp like a shark:

body surf like a manatee:

even monkey jumped like a sea horse with us!:

As you can see, this is an easy activity (print and cut!) and your kiddos will love it! Be sure to also check out my other posts like other 'O is for Ocean' activities, birthday parties like the Christmas themed one for my son in which Santa visited us, and baby showers like the Build-A-Library Baby Shower. I would love for you to stop by and say hi!

Thanks again to Mess for Less for having me today! It was so fun to take over your blog today. :)

Thank you Jen! I love how all this activity requires is a computer and a printer. Can it get any easier? This is a great gross motor activity for little ones. At this point I usually mention a few of my favorite posts from the guest poster. Jen has mentioned some great ones you can check out above, but I can't resist adding one more. Looking for a great idea for some fun with friends? Check out Jen's Favorite Things Mom's Night In

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Counting Bead Fun

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I love the twins' preschool teachers. They are always so creative and come up with many fun learning activities for the kids. I am often inspired by things they have done in the classroom and try and come up with a way to extend them at home. "A" recently came home with a paper numbered from 1-5 with pipe cleaners and beads taped to it. I loved this idea for counting and it reminded me of the You Can Count on Me math activity we had done in the past. 

Only A's small group did the activity, so B did not have a chance to try it. It looked very simple to make, so I made one and extended the numbers to 10 for a more of a challenge.

Supplies you will need:
  • Paper (I used two sheets of copy paper taped together)
  • Tape
  • Pipe cleaners cut in half
  • Beads

Once you have taped the two pieces of paper together, write the numbers 1-10 on top. Next, tape the  halved pipe cleaners under each number. Be sure you just tape the top of the pipe cleaner to the paper so your child can still lift it up to insert the beads. Fill up a small cup with the some beads and instruct the kids to place the appropriate number of beads on each pipe cleaner. 

Besides helping with counting, this activity also strengthens fine motor skills as little ones work hard to grasp the beads and string them on the pipe cleaner.

Little C didn't quite get the concept behind the activity, but she did enjoy putting beads on the pipe cleaner. This kept her quite busy, as you can see by the concentrated look on her face.

When A was done stringing her beads, she was careful to count each bead and check her work.She was so pleased that she got them all correct!

B displays her completed activity!

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Food Fun Friday - Yummy Breakfast Dish

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I had a MOPS meeting today and I signed up to bring a hot dish. I had no idea what to make so I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I typed in "MOPS" and saw lots of ideas for great breakfast dishes. I stumbled upon one that looked simple and I had already had the ingredients on hand. I think we have a winner!

I found the recipe for Mimi's Christmas Breakfast on Confessions of a Former Couch Potato. I am so happy to have discovered this blog. She has so many yummy recipes and great ideas. Please stop by and see for yourself.

Here is my version of of Mimi's Christmas Breakfast.

Ingredients you will need:

  • 7 slices of wheat bread with the crusts cut off (you can use white as well)
  • 10 oz of a mix of shredded monterey jack and cheddar cheese (Costco sells this in a big bag)
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups of 2 % milk
  • 4 oz of crumbled bacon


1. Spray the bottom of a 9-13 glass dish with cooking spray.

2. Line the dish with the bread with the cut off crusts. 6 pieces just fit and then I cut up the 7th piece to fill in the gaps.

3. Spread the cheese evenly over the bread.

4. Mix the milk with the beaten eggs and pour slowly over all of the bread and cheese.

Hubby helped with this step.

5. Sprinkle crumbled bacon over the top.

6. Refrigerate overnight, then in the morning bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until cooked through and the top has risen. My only took 45 minutes, but oven cook times vary.

I pulled this out of the oven, popped a lid on it, put it in my Anchor carrier and left. This was at 8:30 AM. It was served an hour later at the MOPS meeting, still warm and yummy. 

What did people think of it? You tell me. This is what I brought home. I am kinda sad because it was SO GOOD that I wanted to have more. Guess I will just have to make it again. 

This would be great to bring to a potluck, a meeting, or just for a special breakfast at home. I just love that you can make it the night before and just pop it in the oven. Thanks to Liz at Confessions of a Former Couch Potato for the inspiration!

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