Food Fun Friday: 4th of July Pie Crust Cookies

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4th of july Pie Crust Cookies

This time of year always has me feeling patriotic. I was trying to think of something fun I could make with the kids that would help us celebrate the 4th. When I looked through my refrigerator I noticed some pre-made pie crust that would be expiring soon. I was in no mood to make a pie so I turned to faithful pinterest and typed in "pie crust." Most of the images that came up were actually for pies - go figure - but one on Stick to Your Hips was for pie crust cookies. Hmmmm... 
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Fun with Magnet Letters and a Cookie Tray

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Some people ask me where I get my ideas. I get inspired in a variety of places but the very best inspiration comes from my three daughters. The other day I noticed them huddled around a cookie tray and some magnetic letters. 
Magnet letters and a cookie tray
I am very excited to share my kids' idea with you all today. Who knows, maybe this is the start of the future blog of the Mess For Less kids.
You will need:
  • Magnetic letters
  • Cookie sheet
Observant readers of Mess For Less might remember our cookie sheet from I Did It All For The Cookie Tray. I bought it at the dollar store and the kids have had so much fun serving "cookies" on it. Little did I know that they would re-purpose the tray into a magnet board. Okay, I must admit it was A who led the charge and discovered that the magnet letters would stick to the tray. At first she was sitting with the tray and put one letter on it and asked her sisters "what is the letter of the day?" A thinks she is a preschool teacher already.

Eventually she came up with the idea of putting six random letters on the tray and taking one away and seeing if her sisters could figure out which one was missing. That was a great idea, but was not a big   hit with her two and three year old sisters. It was too hard for them to remember all the random letters. 

I loved A's idea for the missing letter game but thought that it might be easier for little ones if we used consecutive letters. So we found the letters A-F and placed them on our tray.

Next, two kids turned their backs and one child removed a letter. 

Then we had the children turn back around and try and guess which letter was missing. To make the guessing a little easier, I hid the missing letter among a few other random letters. When someone found the missing letter, they got to place it on the tray in the correct spot, and they got to be the next person to remove a letter.

Magnet letter game

The letters being in alphabetical order made it simple for even my youngest to recite the alphabet and figure out which letter was missing.

Soon the kids decided they could place ALL the magnet letters on the tray in alphabetical order. This led to a fun game where they hunted for the missing letters around the house and then ran back to place them on their tray. 

All done!

So what do you think of their idea? I love the simplicity of it and how you can do so many things with letters and a cookie tray. However, if this keeps up I may have to put these kids on the payroll.

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Popsicle Stick Patterns

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Popsicle Stick Patterns

Here is a fun way to get your kids to practice copying and creating patterns and the best part is that it only requires a few basic supplies. You can tell that our family has just been through a move since one of the items I consider a "basic supply" is packing tape.

You will need:
  • Colored Popsicle sticks
  • Clear packing tape

The first thing I wanted the kids to do was replicate a pattern I made with colored Popsicles sticks. I created a pattern by lining up four colors of sticks. Then I cut a length of packing take and stuck it down the middle of my pattern.
Colored Popsicle sticks pattern

You can see a little better in this photo where I put the tape. The shiny stuff in the middle is the tape.

I then gave the kids a supply of Popsicle sticks and asked them if they could copy the pattern they saw. My three year olds had no trouble doing this.

Child making pattern

My two year old is not as skilled with patterns yet, but she does know her colors. I helped her out by telling her which color came next and she was happy finding the colored stick and placing it in the line.

The kids now wanted to make their own patterns. "A" noticed that she could make a pattern using two yellows and two reds.

"B" got quite interested in creating a yellow and red pattern. She used all the yellow and red Popsicle sticks that weren't already being used by her sisters.

I then put a piece of packing tape over her pattern so she could lift it and move it around.

"B" thought her pattern looked like train tracks so she used a green Popsicle stick as a train. All aboard!

Pattern making with kids

As an extension of this activity you can use the Popsicle sticks to create pictures and designs. "A" started out with a square and added two more sticks to make a house.

She then added even more sticks to create a rocket ship.

I think this whole activity travels quite well too. All you need is a little table space. The taped patterns can fold up easily and be stored in a plastic bag along with your loose Popsicle sticks. You can then pull them out at a restaurant, at Grandmas, etc...
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Food Fun Friday: Fruity Popsicles

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It was pretty hot here in Northern California this past week and I was looking for ways to cool off. I was also unpacking as we just moved into our new home. I happened to unpack a Popsicle mold that I had bought a while ago but never used. I decided to try to make healthier Popsicle than you find at the grocery store. 

You will need:
  • Popsicle mold
  • Fruit juice
  • Cut fruit
Making fruity popsicles

You can use whatever fruit juice you have on hand and any fruit that strikes your fancy. We used fruit punch and strawberries. I always water down my fruit juice so I used one juice box and split it among 4 Popsicles. The juice box filled each mold about halfway and I added water until each were filled almost to the top. You will want to be sure to leave some room since the juice level will rise when you add the fruit.

Next, I cup up some strawberries into small bite sized pieces.

Drop some strawberries into each mold. You will notice that they float near the top.

popsicles with fruit

I used a fork to push the berries down into the mold so they were more evenly dispersed throughout the Popsicle.

Pop the holders on and place in freezer until done. In my freezer this took 5 hours but your results will vary.

Not only did the kids love them, but I felt better giving them a healthier version of a Popsicle. 

Stay cool! 

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Painted Keyboard - Guest Post from Doodlecraft

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Hello Mess For Less readers! Today we have something i know you will love. Natalie from Doodlecraft is here and she will be sharing an awesome painted keyboard she made for her kiddies. You can find more kids crafts and projects on her blog along with recipes, sewing and general DIY goodness. Please visit and say hi!

Hi, I'm Natalie Shaw from Doodlecraft!
I am thrilled to be guest posting at Mess for Less!
As a mother of 3, I am constantly looking for fun activities, ways to teach
and things to make...all within my budget!
Here's a relatively simple project for hours of entertainment!

But here is where the inspiration came from:

When I was little, I loved to pretend to type...and keyboards
weren't around like they are today, so I would draw out 
squares onto a piece of cardboard and pretend I was typing.

I figured my kids would love the same thing.
But I awesome-ized it.

About 8 years ago...
I took a broken "got water dumped on it"
 keyboard and cut the cord off of it!

I used acrylic craft paint and painted that whole thing!
You could spray paint it...

 The base I did black, the keys multicolored...
Then I spent hours handpainting little things on each key!

You could paint or use small stickers!  You could write all the
letters and numbers on it to teach visual recognition.
You can use a sharpie marker and just draw right on the buttons (like my computer keyboard)

 I wanted to simulate the inside of a rocket, spaceship, or 
other machine that would require lots of blinking buttons! 
 Perfect for my little almost 2 year old boy!
I made gun buttons, graphs, people, food, animals, brakes, 
fuel and of course, The BIG RED BUTTON!
Silly things like fish, signs, animals, patterns, money, arrows...


 At the time I made this my first child was not 2...
so he didn't help much in the making department,
but he was instrumental in the testing!

It looked great the day I made it...and even
 though it is worn, it is still a favorite!
Could use some sprucing up...maybe.

Here is child #3 with it...8 years later!
(oh ya, child #2, my daughter, loved/loves it too!)
And it's a great fake when he doesn't get to play on the computer!


Oh my gosh, how talented is Natalie? I have saved an old keyboard and was just going to give it to the kids but now I see that would be a bit boring. Thank you so much Natalie for the inspiration! Here are some of my favorite posts from Doodlecraft:

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Ten Little Beasties Paper Craft: Guest Post from 3 Dinosaurs

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Today I am excited to introduce you to Cassie from 3 Dinosaurs. Cassie is a mom of 3 girls like me, so she has a special place in my heart. She does so many engaging projects and activities with her girls and she really tries to reinforce concepts they have learned at school. Cassie recently did a great extension of a favorite children's book and she is sharing it here today. Please welcome Cassie!

Hi, Mess For Less readers. I'm so excited to be here and show our latest book and craft!

For the craft what you need is: paper numbered up to 10, construction paper ripped into pieces, ten black construction pieces for the body, glue stick, and markers.

At our house we often follow up a book with a craft. This time we read Ten Little Beasties by Ed Emberley and Rebecca Emberley. The story counts up to ten and back down to one. As we read the book the girls started to yell the number and beasties. You can also get a copy of a song to sing while you read the book.

For the craft what you need is: paper numbered up to 10, construction paper ripped into pieces, ten black construction pieces for the body, glue stick, and markers.

I passed out the paper. We counted to ten all together. Then Rose counted down from ten because she wanted to. After counting we started gluing on the ten bodies. Mary and I counted the bodies as we put them on.

After we got the bodies on we went about adding arms, legs and heads. The girls got creative and had fun with the different beasties they were creating.

Amelia was checking out Rose making her beasties a different way. Rose completed each one fully before moving on to the next.

Mary put legs on her beasties and always colored all the numbers.

Mary also had a fun time using the glue stick to glue more things on her paper.

After their ten beasties were made we re-read the story and counted along with their own pictures.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post on Mess for Less. I hope you will stop over and see what else we are doing at 3 Dinosaurs. Cassie -

Thanks so much Cassie! I love how this idea not only offers children a chance to express themselves, but also reinforces the counting presenting in the book. We will be trying this one soon!

Here are some of my favorite posts from 3 Dinorsaurs:
The Falling Raindrop
ABC Gross Motor - Letter D
Torn Paper Flowers

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