Wednesday, August 21, 2013

4 Easy Ways to Keep A Preschooler Busy (While Trying to School or Otherwise Engage an Older Child)

As my homeschooling journey begins, (my Kindergartner starts next week), so does my very stressful journey of trying to keep my preschooler happily engaged while I am paying attention to her older sister.  Weeks ago, I started hoarding items from the Dollar Store (foam stickers, pipe cleaners, foam puzzles, googlie eyes, etc.) and scouring Pinterest for ideas.  Aside from the obvious Dollar Store item activities, (painting, sticking stickers on anything and everything, playing with foam puzzles,) below are my top 4 activities for keeping a preschooler busy - they are easy on you, fun for the kid, and most importantly, are not going to cause a mess that will only give you more work at the end of the day!  I hope your preschooler enjoys them, and that they provide you with whine- and cry-free time with an older child :).

1.) Homemade Flubber

Make it in advance, provide a few props (I use Playdoh dishes, molds and cutters) and let them go to town!  This stuff keeps my preschooler busy for up to an hour on some days.  The recipe can be found on this website.

2.) Color Sorting Activity

All you need to make this activity are multicolored pom poms from the Dollar Store, 4 old jars, and red, yellow, blue and green paint or tape.  Paint the lids of the jars and a stripe around the middle of the jars, (or paint the whole jars if you're feeling crafty).  You can also use colored tape (I used tape for the green one because I didn't have any green paint on hand).  Then have the preschooler sort the pom poms into the jar of the proper color.

3.) Build-Your-Own Felt Cupcake

I saw this on Pinterest, but it didn't have any instructions.  It intrigued me, though, because my preschooler plays the "Build-Your-Own Cupcake" app on my husband's iPhone all the time.  So, I used some felt and other items that I had on hand to make the cupcakes (sorry, I know they're sad -I'm not very crafty - and I only had about 30 minutes to make them!).  All I did was print out some cupcake and candy templates online and glue them to a piece of thin cardboard.  I then cut them out and used a hot glue gun to attach the felt.  I happened to have a strip of Velcro with an adhesive side lying around, so I cut it into pieces and attached only the rough side to the cupcake "decorations".  They stuck very nicely to the felt, and the girls had fun building with them. 
4.) Scissor Cutting and Tracing Exercises

I found this printable scissor cutting exercise (and a BUNCH more of them) on this website.  There are also some quality, printable tracing exercises on this website.  What preschooler doesn't want to play with scissors?!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Easy Garlic Cayenne Oxymel Recipe For Cold & Flu Season (Start Preparing Early!)

What, you may be asking, is an oxymel??  According to herbalist Rosalee de la Foret,

"Oxymels are herbal preparations that date back as far as the ancient Greeks. They are made by combining herbs with both honey and vinegar.  These sweet and sour preparations are specific to the respiratory system and can be used for bronchial complaints, especially when there is a lot of mucous present - such as coughs that are thick with mucous.  I learned from herbalist Paul Bergner that William Cook, a Physiomedicalist of the 1800s preferred vinegar as a menstruum for issues of the respiratory system. He felt that it concentrated the herb’s actions to the respiratory system.  Honey in itself offers us a wide range of benefits for coughs and sore throats. It’s anti-microbial, inhibiting the growth of pathogens as well as slightly expectorant. As most of us know, a spoonful of honey can soothe a sore throat."

Now that you know what an oxymel is, this recipe is a quicker version than most others, which usually include the infusion of the herbs in the vinegar for several days or weeks.  As a result, this recipe probably produces a somewhat weaker end product, but let me tell you, it doesn't taste that way!  Just a half teaspoon cleared my sinuses right up!  This is most likely not a preparation that you will be able to get your kids to take, (while I was making it, my kids covered their noses and wouldn't come near the kitchen,) but it's definitely worth having on hand for cold and flu season.  Plus, I think it would make a yummy salad dressing.

Without further ado...

Easy Garlic Cayenne Oxymel

4 ounces apple cider vinegar (with the "mother", if possible)   5 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup fresh sage*
a few sprigs of fresh thyme*
a small handful of fresh rosemary*
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
5 ounces raw honey
*Note:  When substituting dried herbs for fresh, use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount.  Dried herbs are always stronger.*

Heat apple cider vinegar to a boil.  (Make sure the garlic is pressed and the herbs are roughly chopped at this point).  Remove from heat and add all ingredients but the honey.  Stir and let steep with lid on for 15 minutes.  Strain through a coffee filter or cheese cloth.  Add honey and reheat ON LOW until just combined - not too much or the honey will begin to lose enzymes.  Pour into a glass jar with a plastic lid (or make sure there is some type of cloth or plastic wrap between the oxymel and a metal lid due to the vinegar content), and place in the fridge.  Will keep for up to one year.  Dosage is approximately 1 tablespoon as needed for colds or congestion.  Can also be mixed into a cup of tea.

*This recipe is from this website with slight alterations

***Keep an eye out for an Elderberry Elixir recipe for cold and flu season, which is a more "adult" version of my Elderberry Syrup recipe, coming soon!!***