Archive for October, 2011

Over the river – Road Trip

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Recently I went over the river on a road trip to visit my grandchildren who live three hours away.  My day of arrival was a beautiful, warm fall day so we headed to the park for Nature Camp.

“I Love Dirt” is a great book by Jennifer Ward.  I found it in our public library.  The book lists projects and activities that children or families can make and do in each season of the year.  I used activities from the Autumn section of the book.  Some I adapted, and others I used as they were presented.  Just see what we did.

I gave my grandson and granddaughter clipboards and pencils, and we set to work.

Animal Search – I made a checklist of animals we would look for in the park.  We found 5 out of 6 on the list – spider, ant, roly-poly, butterfly, bird, and cricket.  Can you guess what we couldn’t find?  A roly-poly.  We just couldn’t  find a damp area or a rock to turn over to reveal a roly-poly.

My grandson is working on his checklist.

Can you …

Also on the list were twinkle like a star, stomp like a bear, pull a worm from the ground like a robin, blow like a gentle breeze, and watch like an owl in a tree.

Here is my granddaughter hopping like a rabbit.

What can you find? On the walk to the park my grandson and granddaughter each picked up 4 gum balls that had fallen from sweet gum trees along the sidewalk.   I put the gum balls down to indicate the corners of a rectangle that was basically 18 X 24 inches. Each child had a rectangle to explore.  I told them to get down on their hands and knees and look to see what they could find in those grassy areas.  They each wrote their “finds” down.

My 6 year old grandson found clover, clover flowers, grass, dirt, roots, and a dead moth.  Then he smiled at me and asked me to stand in the middle of his rectangle.  I did and he wrote down on his list – Grandma.  Pretty cute!

My 9 year old granddaughter found an ant, leaves, clover, grass, wood chips, roots, dead grass, muddy leaves, and a little boy.  Little boy?  Yes, there was a toddler playing in the park.  He was attracted to my grandchildren down on the ground so he ran over to where they were.  He stopped right in the middle of my granddaughter’s search rectangle so she claimed him as being in her space.

Leaf Races  My grandchildren each selected some leaves for leaf races. They put their clipboards down on the sidewalk as the goal line.  Then they got down on their hands and knees and blew their leaves down toward the goal line.  Big problem of the day.  It was a windy day so the leaves went wherever they were blown by the wind, not by the children. They had fun trying and trying to get their leaves to the goal line.

Then we sat down in the sunshine and talked about birds.  Why are male cardinals red, but female cardinals are brown?  (The brown bird on a nest can be hidden by its coloring from predators who might try to take the eggs from the nest.)  What makes a bird, a bird?

My grandchildren were able to name several of the items on the list: feathers, wings, two legs, beaks, warm blooded AND my granddaughter even knew that birds have hollow bones.

We decided to head back home.  On the way my grandson and granddaughter picked up leaves and sticks and flowers to use for our next project.  Leaf People  When we were home and had fortified ourselves with a candy corn cookie, they brought out their craft supplies and made such creative people and even a butterfly.

My grandson made a leaf person with a leaf, gum ball head, stem extremeties, and yarn hair and features.

Notice that my grandson used tiny flowers for the hands on this leaf person. The head is a leaf and the features are tiny pieces of a darker leaf that he taped to the face.

My granddaughter made a leaf girl complete with a clover necklace.

And just look at this neat butterfly that my granddaughter made.

After projects were finished, I was ready to put my feet up, but my grandchildren were ready to go to the school yard to play soccer.  Guess who tripped on the soccer ball while trying to stop it and fell down?  Yes, me.  When we got home, my grandson gave me a band-aid to cover my scraped and bruised knee.  He said that I had to use a plain one because the Sponge Bob box was empty.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  My grandson who lives 20 minutes away will soon be having a birthday.  Next week I’ll share with you the cakes that I have made for him for his first five birthdays.  I hope you stop back again.

Candy Corn Cookies

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Halloween is coming.  A bowl of candy corn is on the table.  Nibble, nibble with each pass through the living room. 

What about candy corn cookies?  My grandchildren love them.  Actually their daddies, my little boys, like them, too. 

I found the recipe for this buttery cookie at  By the way I made 2 versions of this recipe – regular and vegan.  Both were yummy. 

Candy Corn Cookies


3/4 cup butter or vegan Earth Balance, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla                                             

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                    

1/4 teaspoon salt     

yellow and orange paste food coloring

Cream butter or Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy.  I used a stand mixer. Beat in vanilla.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Divide dough in half.  Tint one portion with yellow food paste.  It is easier to blend the color into the dough using the mixer.  Divide remaining dough into 2/3 and 1/3 portions.  Color the larger portion orange;  leave the smaller portion white.

Shape each portion of dough into an 8 inch log.

Flatten the top and push sides in at a slight angle.  Place the orange log atop the yellow log; push the sides in at a slight angle.  Top with the white log.  Round the edges of the yellow layer a little. 

Wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for 4 hours.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.  The cookies do spread so be sure you do place them 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set.  Remove sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then remove from the cookie sheets.  Yield is about 2 1/2  dozen.

Of course, the baker must eat one – or two.  A taste test is necessary, right?

Oh, so good.

Plates of candy corn cookies have been delivered to all my grandchildren.  I even have some tucked in the freezer.  I pulled them out when friends stopped by today and offered them a cookie.  Two thumbs up as they munched.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I recently took a road trip to visit my grandchildren who live 3 hours away.  We spent a day outside having Nature Camp.  Please stop back to check out all the activities.

How many?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

In 2010 when the national census was being conducted I talked to my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away about it when I was at their house.  We had been working on numbers in Grandma School so I thought this might be a teaching moment.

I explained that U.S. Census Bureau wanted to count everyone who lived in the United States.  Their eyes got very big.  Everyone?  Every town?  What about Australia?  This is when the Wiggles were still a real favorite of my grandson.  I told him that the people in Australia would not be included in the census.

How can they count everyone, Grandma?  I explained that a paper was being mailed to every house and apartment to ask how many people lived there. 

What about pets, Grandma?  No, no pets were included.

They then said that the answer for their house was 4.  And the answer for my house would be one since my cats couldn’t be included.

I suggested that we could do a census of “things” in their house.  I asked what they would like to count.  My granddaughter collects stuffed giraffes.  She that they should be counted for their household  census.  Well, of course, my grandson wanted to count his Thomas the Tank Engines.

We came up with a list of items to count:  giraffes, American Girl dolls, Thomas the Tank engines, and teddy bears.  There was a pause so I got us on to a different track – windows.  Then we came up with a list of household items to count:  beds, fans, rooms, bathrooms, TVs, chairs.  There was some discussion as to whether a sofa could be chair.  And should a sofa count as more than one chair since more than one person can sit on it?  Simple tasks can become involved, but that did show that the children had their thinking caps on.

Then off they ran around the house counting and bringing me back totals.  There were a couple of disputes about totals so we all together counted those items.  Must have an accurate household census, right? 

Whew!  When we were finished, we sat down to look at the list and the totals.  We needed a snack after all that running around.

When their mommy came home at the end of the day, she was met with, “Mom, do you know how many windows are in the house?” 

Thanks for stopping by to visit Grandma in the Mailbox.  I am making candy corn cookies for my grandchildren since Halloween is approaching.  Please stop back to see how I made them and to get the recipe.

Halloween Postcards in the Mailbox

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Halloween is coming soon.  My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away have stopped by to decorate for the holiday.  They dressed the cat. (Not the real one)

I had cut out some ghosts and some pumpkins for them to decorate.  My granddaughter’s ghost had on a winter cap, boots, jeans, and a Carhartt jacket when she finished with the felt pens.  She said, “Grandma, sometimes it is really cold at Halloween.”  My grandson had a picture of pumpkins.  Two were jack o’lanterns that he said were his mommy and daddy.  Then he drew two square pumpkins to represent him and his sister.  He said that they are just like Spookley, the square pumpkin.

Do you know Spookley?  One of our favorite Halloween books is The Legend of Spookley, the Square Pumpkin by Joe Trioano.

After my grandchildren finished their decorations, we gathered on the sofa for snacks and some early Halloween stories.

My favorite is Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White.  Poor Rebecca Estelle didn’t like pumpkins, but she had a yard full.  I always get hungry for pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread when we read this book.  In addition to the books pictured we like to read Froggy’s Halloween by Jonathan London, T-Rex Trick-or-Treat by Lois G. Gorambling, and Max’s Halloween by Rosemary Wells.

We were not together long enough that day to watch any Halloween videos.  There are several that we think are fun to watch together.  Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit, Bugs Bunny’s Howl-Oween Special and Max and Ruby:  Perfect Pumpkin  are among our favorites.  When the children were fans of Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine and Angelina we would watch Halloween Spooktacular.   This video had Halloween cartoons about all their favorites.

Two years ago when I went out to spend the evening with my grandchildren I took along Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie.  My grandson had so liked Pooh’s Heffalump Movie that I thought he  would like to see Lumpy at Halloween.  Wrong!  The poor little guy was terrified.  He sat on my lap during the entire movie hiding his eyes during the majority of it.  He wanted to “watch” the entire movie.  When it was over, he said, “Grandma, please don’t bring this back until I am older.”  I asked when he would be older.  He looked at me and said very seriously, “12.”  Well, older has arrived.  He will be 6 in November, but has asked me if I would please bring Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie back.  He knows that he won’t be scared this time.

I shall be sending Halloween postcards to all my grandchildren with some riddles on them.  I purchased these cards at

I have selected some riddles from a book I found at our library, Spooky Creature Riddles, by Janet Nuzum Myers.

Why are spiders good at baseball?  They know how to catch flies.

Why do spiders eat corn?  So they can make cobwebs.

Why did the black cat order a computer?  She heard it came with a mouse.

What stories do black cats read to their kittens?  Furry tales.

What do you call a witch on the beach?  A sand-wich.

What do you call two witches sharing a house?  Broom-mates.

What has four legs and flies?  Two witches on a broom

I’ll write two riddles on each postcard and put them into the mailbox to travel to the mailboxes of my grandchildren for Halloween.

Thanks for stopping by.  In 2010 when the United States was conducting a census, I talked to my grandchildren about the census.  Then we had our own census.  Please stop back to learn all about it.