Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

Dry Ice Volcano Cake

Monday, September 4th, 2017

dry-ice-volcano-cake

Look at this super cool dry ice volcano cake we had for my son’s natural disasters themed birthday party! I was brainstorming different ways to make a volcano cake, and I’ve never seen this done before, so I thought it would be fun to make. I wasn’t disappointed, and it was fairly easy to make!

Start by baking two cake boxes, for a total of four round cakes. Cool the cakes and place them in the fridge.

Put foil on a square piece of wood or cardboard, and tape the back. Up-end one round cake onto the center of the foil. Grab a chemistry flask and cut a circle with a knife around the edge of the flask. Remove the small circle of cake, and place the flask inside.

inside-volcano-cake

Cut circles into the other cakes, and slide them like stacking rings on top of the flask until the entire flask is hidden. If you have a taller flask, you will have to bake more cakes. This will result in a taller volcano.

chocolate-volcano

Place the entire stack in the fridge to cool. Then you are ready to sculpt the volcano. Look at the video demonstration to see how I shaped it:

You can do whatever you want with the scraps of chocolate cake that you cut off the volcano. At this point, you want to place the cake back into the fridge before frosting it.

carving-volcano-cake

Frost the cake with chocolate frosting, spinning the cake to get the icing to be smooth. You can cover up any mistakes you made with the icing.

frosting-volcano-cake

Feel free to poke in plastic palm trees at the bottom of your volcano to add authenticity. This was my husband’s idea, since they were left over from a Hawaiian themed party we did for my daughter years ago. You can buy plastic palm trees at a party store.

make-a-volcano-cake

Pour hot water into the volcano. Plop dry ice chunks into the volcano. (You can buy dry ice at most grocery stores, and it’s inexpensive.) Now you will see the volcano smoking downward in an incredible way!

erupting-volcano-cake

Make sure to watch the video above to see how cool this dry ice volcano cake turned out!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Re-enactment!)

Monday, February 27th, 2017

the-very-hungry-caterpillar

My kids and the small red-headed girl next door re-enacted the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You can make a simple caterpillar sock puppet by hot gluing some google eyes onto a sock. Then have your kids draw, color, and cut out the many foods that the caterpillar eats throughout the book.

One of my sons filmed and edited the video. The small red-headed girl next door read the story, and my daughter played the part of the caterpillar puppet that chewed through lots of food because it was so hungry. At last the caterpillar became a cocoon, and then he emerged as a butterfly!

Take a look at our cute re-enactment of this classic children’s story:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Unit Study

If you are making this into a unit study, you can also do the following hands-on activities:

  • Make a tissue paper butterfly craft (with free printable)
  • Create stained glass window bowls
  • Tie dye coffee filter butterflies
  • Read other books about butterflies
  • Chase butterflies with a butterfly net and identify them
  • Watch a butterfly drink nectar from a flower

You can find instructions on how to make each of these crafts here:

spring-picture-books

Army Tank Cake

Monday, January 16th, 2017

tank-cake

We created a fabulous tank cake to celebrate modern history. We lit it up with a sparkler in the barrel of the tank. It looked cool all lit up! This army party was perfect for my teen son’s birthday.

How to Make an Army Tank Cake

  1. We baked three rectangular cakes because we wanted the wheels to be the height of Oreo cookies. It depends what recipe you use for your cake, but we used two regular cake mixes for the base of the tank, stacking them after they were cooled off. Then we cut a square out of the third cake and placed it on the top of the tank.
  2. We frosted the whole thing with chocolate frosting. I’m sure we used at least two tubs of frosting from the grocery store. Don’t scrimp on the frosting.
  3. We placed Fruit Roll-ups along the sides of the tank cake, to make the tracks. Then the Oreo cookies were placed on both sides, on the edge. The barrel was a Pirouette. I wanted to be able to stick a sparkler into the barrel, which is why we didn’t use a Twix chocolate bar like we originally brainstormed. If you are not lighting the barrel with a sparkler, you could easily use a Twix chocolate bar.

army-party

How to Create a Centerpiece for an Army Party

I threw down a black bed sheet onto the table and sprinkled some sand in the middle of the table. I placed a LEGO tank in the sand, and I sprinkled toy soldiers around like confetti. For more instructions on how to make this centerpiece, watch my tutorial: LEGO Tanks of World War II.

tank-centerpiece

Grenade Balloons for Decorations

We decorated the room with grenade balloons, which I must say were extremely difficult to blow up. That’s because they were water balloons! If you are celebrating this army party in the summer, you could have outdoor activities involving grenade water balloons.

You can have your guests dress in camouflage if you want to make the experience even more authentic.

grenade-balloons

Tank Piñata

We also found a tank piñata, which was the reason my son chose this theme. (He saw this tank piñata hanging at the party store and wanted it.) Whacking a tank is very satisfying, especially for boys, making this a fun activity to end this army party!

tank-pinata

For more hands-on activities for modern history, check out my modern history unit study!

The Gingerbread Man: Hands-on Activities

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

the-gingerbread-man-hands-on-activities

One of my daughter’s favorite books is The Gingerbread Man, so we decided to do some hands-on activities to bring this book to life! We decorated gingerbread men, put on a goofy stick puppet show, made a little pillow and a flip book, and ate some pancakes in the shape of the gingerbread man.

the-gingerbread-man-activities

Decorate gingerbread cookies:

First we decorated gingerbread cookies. This activity is great for all ages. You can bake the cookies yourself, or you can buy a set of gingerbread cookies already made at the store. You will need white icing, which you can dye several colors with egg dye. You will also want to decorate with chocolate chips and any other small candies. You can often find kits around Christmastime that include the cookies, the icing, and the embellishments all in one box. (You can decorate a gingerbread house, too, where the little old woman and the little old man can live!)

the-gingerbread-man-puppet-show

Put on a goofy stick puppet show:

Using the cookie that you decorated as the main character, re-enact The Gingerbread Man story. My daughter used table place mats for the backgrounds for her show. She also drew the little old woman, the little old man, and the gentle brown cow on some stiff white card stock paper. She taped popsicle sticks to the backs of her stick puppets.

She grabbed a small bear from her room and a gray wolf puppet to play the part of the red fox. We were going to make a river out of a blue blanket but forgot. You can see for yourself how much fun we had re-enacting this fun story:

Make a small pillow of the gingerbread man:

You will need brown felt, brown thread, and some buttons. This is a simple sewing activity that small children can enjoy. You will find instructions on how to make this fun project here:

gingerbread-man-pillow

Make a gingerbread man flip book:

Staple some pages together, and use gold or brown construction paper to make your flip book. You can have your child re-tell the story either in words or in drawings on the pages. For more information on how to make this booklet, go here:

gingerbread-man-flip-book

Make shaped pancakes:

Why not finish your Gingerbread Man unit study with a fun pancake meal? You can use a cookie cutter in the shape of a gingerbread man to cut out the shape from large pancakes. Use chocolate chips for eyes and buttons, and use chocolate syrup for the mouth and background. For more instructions on this activity, go here:

gingerbread-man-pancake

I hope you enjoyed all our hands-on ideas for bringing this book to life!

decorating-gingerbread-men

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