Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

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As a child I loved to cook. Most of the things I made came from my imagination, and I’m sure they were actually pretty terrible. I did however have this one cook book that I liked to cook from, Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cook Book. When my mom was visiting for Thanksgiving she brought Big B my old copy.

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

I have vivid memories of making some of these recipes, so I thought it might be fun to do some of them with Big B, starting with my favorite one of all… Elephant Ears!

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears


  • 1/4 Cup of Butter
  • 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 5 Tablespoons of Sugar and an Additional Sprinkle
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

Start by heating your oven to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet

Melt butter and set aside.

Stir together flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt into a bowl

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Stir in milk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter until dough forms.

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Sprinkle a surface lightly with flour. Knead and roll dough out onto the floured surface. Shape dough into a 9×5 inch rectangle.

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Brush with the remaining melted butter.

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Sprinkle with remaining sugar and cinnamon

Cooking With Your Kids: Elephant Ears

Roll up dough, beginning at the narrow end. Pinch edge to seal the roll. Cut into 4 equal pieces with sharp knife. Place onto the cookie sheet cut side up and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

The Huge Family Holiday Gift Guide: Top 10 Educational Toys for Preschoolers

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The wonderful blogging network (Kid Blogger Network) that I am a part of has put together a holiday gift idea series. There is something for everyone! Links to all of the other gift guides can be found at the bottom of this post.

Top 10 Educational Toys for Preschoolers

For my part of the Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids series I have compiled my top 10 favorite educational toys for preschool children. These toys are favorites of my son Big B. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we have.


    1. Melissa & Doug Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle: This puzzle played a large role in teaching Big B the order of the ABC’s. He received this toy for his 1st birthday and still plays with it 2 years later.
    2. LEGO Duplo My First Set (5416): This was one of my husband’s picks. Big B loves blocks of all kinds. He spent a year and half playing with mega blocks, and we have now moved on to duplos. These are great for developing mechanical skills.
    3. Battat Take Apart Airplane: This awesome little plane allows your child to put it together and take it apart using little nuts, bolts and a drill. There are several different vehicles to choose from.
    4. Melissa & Doug Band in a Box: I am a huge fan of Melissa & Doug. The quality of these instruments are great and they are wonderful for helping children build an interest in music.
    5. Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Binoculars: These are a great addition to your nature walks. Big B has a pair of binoculars that he loves to carry around with him so he can “see the birds.”
    6. eeboo Pre-School NUMBERS MEMORY GAME: We have several different memory games. This particular one also teaches numbers.
    7. Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera – Blue: This is one of Big B’s favorite toys of all time. Educationally we use it for photo scavenger hunts (like our fall scavenger hunt) and documenting nature walks.
    8. LeapFrog TAG Reading System, Green: Don’t say anything, but this is one of Big B’s Christmas presents for us this year. We opted for the Tag Reading System rather than the Tag Junior because you can use the Tag Reader on both Tag and Tag Junior books. It’s a great way to get kids interested in reading and there are other educational games that you can purchase for use with this system.
    9. Playskool Alphie: I had an Alphie growing up, and Big B got one from his Papa for Christmas last year. He has really started getting into it in the last few months, and he has learned so much. You can purchase different booster packs to expand the learning.
    10. LeapFrog My Own Leaptop: This toy was one of the best tools when it came to teaching Big B his alphabet. In the “animal” mode I would ask him to find a particular animal and tell him what letter it started with, he would then search the keyboard for that letter and the animal would appear on the screen when he pressed the key. You can also program the toy to say the child’s name and enter personalized emails for them to check.

All of these toys are big hits in our house! I hope you enjoy them as well!

Fun Gifts Beyond Toys by No Twiddle Twaddle

Book + Toy Companion Gifts by What Do We Do All Day?

Best Art Supplies for Kids by To Train Up a Child

Gifts to Inspire the Imagination by The Pleasantest Thing 

Gifts for Your Backyard Explorer/ Gifts for Your Animal Lover by Blog Me Mom

Educational Games by True Aim Education

Basic/Traditional Toys by Creative Playhouse

Therapeutic and Fun Gift Ideas for Child Development by Creative Learning Fun

Top Toys for Babies by B-InspiredMama

Top Toys for Curious Kids by KC Edventures

Educational/ Headache Free Toys for Christmas and Hanukkah by CAUTION: Twins at Play

4 Gift Ideas for Everyone: Want, Wear, Need, and Read by Home Learning Journey

Gifts that Inspire Pretend Play by Connecting Family and Seoul

My Favorite Books and Toys for Preschoolers by Mama Miss

Educational Toys for Preschoolers by The Freckled Homeschooler

Montessori Inspired Toys by Smiling Like Sunshine

Gift Ideas for Older Kids (9-12) by Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Toys for the Classroom by Teach Preschool

Gift Ideas for Budding Readers by Mom 2 to Posh Lil Dives

Stocking Stuffers: A Teacher’s Top 10 by Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers

Book Ideas for Everyone on Your List by Pragmatic Mom

Toys that Stand the Test of Time by Mamas Like Me

Top Board Games for Kids and Families by Coffee Cups and Crayons

Home Made Gifts Children Can Make by How to Run a Home Daycare

  1. You may link up as many relevant Family gift guide from your blog as you like
  2. Please add The Huge Holiday Family Gift Guide button or a link to your post or blog
  3. Commercial and off-topic links will be deleted


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Smash Painting

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The smash painting is the third project in a series of painting projects that Big B and I are trying out. I think this one is the best so far!!

For the smash painting I decided that finger paint would be the best choice. It’s been a while since we finger painted and I am still trying to encourage Big B to “think outside the paint brush.” I squeezed some finger paint out on a plate and folded a piece of paper in half. I showed Big B the crease down the center of the paper and instructed him to only paint on one half.

Smash Painting

After he completed his painting I asked him to fold the paper in half and smash the two pieces together.

Smash Painting

When he pulled the paper apart again, and he saw what he had created, his reaction to his art was a very enthusiastic “Whoa!” It hit me that I knew what to expect from the painting, but that this was a completely new experience for him. It’s easy take little things, like the results of a smash painting, for granted as adults.

Smash Painting

Big B was very pleased with his results… as was I. Isn’t it beautiful?

Smash Painting

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

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Last week I mentioned that I was going to be doing a series of different painting techniques with Big B. Painting with kitchen utensils is the second project in that series. Big B loves to paint, and I am trying to expand his creativity and imagination when it comes to his art.

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

This past weekend I collected a bunch of kitchen utensils that I thought would make fun painting tools and I laid them in a pile in front of Big B. He frowned his brow and gave me look like “what am I suppose to do with this?” I simply told him that he needed to use them to paint, nothing more. I wanted to see what he did on his own.

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

He picked up the pasta cutter first and rolled it in the paint, then he said “now what?” I told him he needed to use the tools to get the paint onto the paper, like with a paint brush

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

Some of the utensils required more imagination than others, but in the end he was able to come up with a way to use each one.

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

Painting with Kitchen Utensils

Big B completed two paintings, then asked for his paint brushes. I think the project was a success, but apparently the paint brush is still the painting tool of choice in our house.


Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Adjusting to New Animals on the Farm

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Our farm, like most farms, is in a constant state of change. New animals move in or are born, seasons change, there is a time to plant and a time to harvest, all of these things change your chores and routine and for young children this can be jarring.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Adjusting to New Animals

Bringing a new animal onto the farm is much like bringing home a new baby, especially if it is a whole new species of animal. New routines need to be established, and the animals needs to be introduced to any person or animal that they will come in contact with often. It’s an adjustment for the farm’s human and animal residents… new and old.

For small children some animals can be intimating. This is a problem that we are running to with Big B and the goats. Big B has an extreme fear of large dogs. There was a large dog that lived at one of the houses in front of us last year. He was only a puppy, but he was huge, and would jump on people. At first the owner didn’t pin him, and after we complained the owner had terrible trouble keeping him pinned no matter how hard he tried, so the dog kept coming onto our property. Big B was terrified of the dog and for a long time, until the puppy went to live at a new home, Big B flat out refused to go outside. Now, almost a year later, Big B still has trouble with big dogs, and because of the goats’ size, he is also scared of the them. He wants to spend time with them. He loves feeding them and he asks daily if we can go “walk” the goats, which consists of walking around their pasture while they follow us, but once actually in the pasture, after a short time of having them in his face, he starts to get nervous and panics. We are working on it daily by exposing him to them in short spurts and having him interact with them from outside of the fence, but I can see that it’s going to be some time before he is completely comfortable with them. I also know this is only one of the many adjustments that Big B and Little B will have to make over the next few years.

Advice on Introducing Children to New Animals:

  • Children, especially young children, should be introduced to the new animals slowly. Don’t put them around the animal for long periods of time in the beginning. The animal needs time to get used to the child as well. Remember this is a change for the animal and they may behave out of character.
  • Allow there to be space (fence) between the child and animal for the first few interactions with livestock – See above
  • The child needs to be taught that they are still animals and can, at times, have wild tenancies. Establish a set of rules that promote safety (ie: Keep your face out of the chicken’s face, don’t get on the ground around the goats, wash your hands after being around the animals, etc)
  • Have the child feed the animal treats. Teach the child the proper way of feeding treats (with a flat hand) to avoid fingers being nibbled.
  • Demonstrate the proper way to deal with/handle the animal.
  • If your child is afraid allow them to see you interacting with the animal a few times a day. This will help the child to learn how to properly treat the animal, and gives them an idea of what to expect from the animal behavior wise.
  • Understand it may take time and don’t force the child into situations where they are truly uncomfortable.
Change is not easy for anyone but with time and work everyone can learn to live together.


Cooking With Your Kids: Apple Crumble

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To me the holidays are all about family and food, and the number one food item that is a must at every holiday event is apple pie. I’ve made apple pie from scratch before, but that’s a little to much to expect from a three year old. I found this simple recipe for apple crumble on the side of Kroger brand granola cereal box. It has the feel of apple pie, but is easy enough for a three year old to do.

Apple Crumble Recipe


  • 4 Medium Apples
  • 1 Cup of Granola
  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Melted Butter

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Peel and core 4 medium apples, and line them in a 8-inch square baking dish.

Apple Crumble Recipe

Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl

Apple Crumble Recipe

Apple Crumble Recipe

Apple Crumble Recipe

Layer the granola mixture over the apples

Apple Crumble Recipe

Cook the apple crumble for 30 minutes or until the apples are tender. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

We made this the night before Thanksgiving in hopes that it would make it to Thanksgiving dinner. The three of us each had a small bowl that night, but every time I turned around my husband was sneaking a spoonful. Only a little bit made it to Thanksgiving dessert, enough to give everyone a taste of Big B’s cooking. It was so good!

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

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Big B loves to paint. Almost everyday he asks if we can do a painting project, and although I am sure he can go weeks on end with just a plate full of paint and a paint brush I was starting to get bored. So, I decided to come up with a string of different painting projects to expand his creativity and imagination. I am starting today with a straw blown Thanksgiving turkey craft.

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft


  • Watercolor paint or watered down tempera or finger paints
  • Paper
  • Straws
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Bead or googly eye
  • Crayon or colored pencil

I am sure you have seen this technique before. You pile paint onto a piece of paper, and move it around by blowing into a straw. Since we are only a few days from Thanksgiving I thought we needed to make this one turkey themed.

We have watercolor paint but Big B is not really a fan of it at the moment. In order for this technique to work though the paint has to be watery and light, so I watered down his tempera paint.

I started by cutting the turkey’s body parts out of construction paper. With Big B watching I glued my pieces together, then give him his pieces so he could do his own. We then set it aside to dry.

Next, I dabbed a few piles of paint onto each of our papers and demonstrated how to move the paint around by blowing into the straw.

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Not too long into the project Big B started going a little crazy with the paint brush on his paper, so his is not completely straw blown.

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

When the paint dried we glue our turkey bodies onto the paper and drew legs. You can see I had as much fun with this project as Big B.

My example:

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Big B’s example:

Straw Blown Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Welcome Home Goats

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This past weekend was a big one on The Freckled Farm! We welcomed our first goats to the property, two nubian doelings. I have wanted goats most of my life, so it was a personal dream come true for me.

nubian goat doelings yearlings

Yesterday morning we left the kids with their Nana and traveled an hour to the farm where our two doelings were waiting for us. We got the girls tattooed, talked more in depth about feed portioning, had them weighed, then packed them in the camper shell in the back of the truck and brought them home.

As we got closer to home I called Nana to let her know that we were fifteen minutes away so the kids could meet us outside. When we pulled up Big B was sitting on the porch waiting for us. I stepped out of the truck and was greeted by a energetic three year old screaming “You got goats?”

Nubian goat doelings doe

Nubian goats doelings doe

We came around the back of the truck and opened up the camper shell so Big B could see the goats. He must have remembered them being smaller because he was surprised by how big they were. He was very tentative at first.

I love both the kid’s faces in this picture (that’s Nana with Little B):

We helped the girls down from the truck and they followed us right to the pin. We spent the next several hours walking them around the pasture, trying to get them used to their new home. There is so much pasture for two little doelings. They are almost dwarfed by all of the space. This wont always be the case, as we are adding two nubian kids in the spring, and will have the kids from our goats as we start breeding next fall.

Nubian doeling doe

Slowly but surely Big B got used to goats. He started by watching them from the other side of the fence. Eventually we were able to convince him to join us inside, and after walking around the pasture with them a while he got comfortable enough to feed them out of his hand. We had a lot of leaves that had blown into the pasture from the trees that line the back fence. He would offer each goat a leaf and was thrilled when they would take it and devour it within seconds.

Child feeding nubian doeling doe goat

Today when we went out to spend time with the goats Big B was once again showing hesitation. Part of it may be the fact that they are completely enamored with him, and no matter how hard I try to prevent it, as soon as I opened the gate they were out chasing him around he yard. About five minutes into our first visit though he was back to feeding them leaves and instructing them to follow him around the pasture.

Little B was completely facinated with the goats from the start. She has spent the last day smiling and “talking” to them. They will come up close to her, close enough for her to touch their noses, and she pets them then shrieks with delight. I was hesitate for her to be close to them, and still watch the interactions very closely, but so far I am happy with how gentle they are with her.

I am so excited to see where our farm goes over the next few years. It’s amazing sharing this as a family and I hope this will make for an amazing childhood for my children.

Cooking With Your Kids: Frozen Nutella Banana Dessert

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This week’s installment of “Cooking With Your Kids” features a recipe for a frozen nutella banana dessert… I mean, who doesn’t love nutella?

This recipe is so simple that Big B was able to do every step on his own and it has a super tasty result!


  • Banana(s)
  • Nutella
  • Granola Cereal

Cut the banana(s) into slices. This was Big B’s first time using a knife. We spent some time before hand discussing “knife rules.” We talked about how to use knives safely and how he still needs to stay away from steak and big knives. He was so proud that he was “big boy” enough to use a butter knife.

Line banana slices in a freezer safe container that is lined with wax or parchment paper.

Spread Nutella on the top of each banana slice

Sprinkle the granola cereal over the Nutella

Cover and put into freezer. Keep in the freezer for at least an hour or until the dessert is frozen.