Archive for the ‘books and movies’ Category

Let’s Go Outside to Play

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

When my grandchildren come to visit during the summer, it is always fun to go outside to play.  Those indoor toys and games will still be there on rainy days or when the snow is falling.

When the cousins have a play date at my house during the summer, we frequently walk over to the nearby school to play.  Sometimes we play hide and go seek in my yard.

I decided that this year we needed some new games to play in the yard so I headed off to the library for help.  I came home with two books that gave me several suggestions that I think will be lots of fun.


Tag, Toss and Run is a recently published book of lawn games.  It was written by Paul Tukey and Victoria Rowell.

The cover states that there are 40 classic lawn games – with variations.

I think that Crab Soccer looks like fun.  The basic idea is to score goals while moving like a crab.  It is for ages 5 and up and at least three players are required.  (I find that the information about Ages and Players is very helpful in weeding out games that won’t work for my group.)  The players scuttle around on feet and hands with bellies up, in a “crab walk” fashion.  I think if I tried this position, a call to 911 would be required.  The participants cannot touch the ball with their hands, except for the goalie.  A large ball, the bigger the better, is kicked toward the goal.

Wheelbarrow Races – I had forgotten all about trying these back when I was young.  Ages 4 and up.  Players 4 and more.   The person being the wheelbarrow walks on his hands while a partner holds his or her legs.  It is a race to the finish line.

Another book I found at the library is Mom’s Handy Book of Backyard Games by Pete Cava.  The book was published in 2000, but these 101 games don’t go out of style.

Multiple indices are an interesting feature of this book.  One index lists the games by age level.  Another lists games that require no special equipment.  The final index lists games requiring equipment by the equipment required.  These allow you to navigate the book more quickly.

Sardines is a game I know we will try.  It is for ages 5 and up.  This is Hide and Seek in reverse.  One person is It.  The other players count to 20 while IT finds a  place and hides.  When a player find It, he doesn’t say anything, but hides with It.  The rest of the players do likewise until the hiding place becomes packed – like a can of sardines.  The game continues until the last player finds the hiding place.

Marbles Baseball for ages 7 and up.  Two players are required.  The game requires a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk.  The players  mark off a large square and then a smaller square in each corner.  The square in the lower left-hand and right-hand corners are marked “single.”  The upper right-hand corner is marked “double” and the upper left-hand corner is marked “triple.”  A circle between the two upper squares is marked “home run.”

Players take turns “batting.”  Kneeling about 3 feet from the playing surface, the batter rolls a marble or a small ball onto one of the squares or the circle.  Anything that lands outside the square or circle is an out.  Whoever scores the most runs is the winner.

Walk the Plank is for ages 3 and up.  Two players are  required.  The equipment needed is a rope or tape and children’s binoculars.  To play,  the players lay the 20-foot rope or tape in a straight line.  One at a time, the players take the binoculars and, looking through them the wrong way, try to walk the length of the rope.

Someone trying to walk while gauging distance through the wrong end of binoculars can be a hilarious spectacle for other players.

There are many other games in these books that might be just right for your grandchildren to play.

I’m all set for the upcoming play date with these and other games tucked in the pages of these helpful books.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon it will be time to celebrate the birthday of the United States.  I have some 4th of July postcards that will be traveling to my grandchildren’s mailboxes.  I hope you stop back to look at the postcards.




Do you like The Wiggles?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

I recall the first time I heard The Wiggles.  I was riding in the car on a visit over the river to my son’s house.  My granddaughter who was about 4 at the time asked her daddy to play a particular CD in the car stereo.  I could not understand what she was asking.  It sounded something like “wiggle.”

My son pushed PLAY, and the car was filled with a group of Aussie voices AND my granddaughter AND my son belting out “Rock-a-bye Your Bear.”  The song was followed by another.  I had a concert all the way to the grocery.  That was my introduction to The Wiggles.

I suppose you have heard that 3 of the group are planning to retire – Greg, Murray, and Jeff.  (No more “wake up, Jeff?”)  They will be replaced by new Wiggles who have in the past played the parts of Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword, and Wags the Dog.

I soon fell in love with The Wiggles.  Both sets of grandchildren loved them.  When I had Grandma School with my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away, almost every week we would watch part of a DVD from a Wiggles concert and we would dance along to “Can You Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist” or “Hot Potato.”   We always had “bend and stretch” time in Grandma School and sometimes it was while we lisened to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

Before lunch we listened to “Fruit Salad” and then went into the kitchen and got out all the ingredients so that we could have fruit salad – yummy, yummy – for lunch.  I searched the internet and came up with a recipe for “Crunchy, Munchy Honeycakes” that we baked together one afternoon.  (I have included the recipe below.)

Oh, my, the Wiggles toys that each family had –  so many officially licensed Wiggles toys – Sing and Dance Guitar, Sing-with-Me Microphone, finger puppets, tee shirts, books, CDs and DVDs.  I recall one day the Jeff finger puppet was missing.  It was a nap time favorite of my grandson.  We looked high and we looked low for Jeff.  If Jeff wasn’t found, tears would follow.  Under the sofa Jeff was hiding.

Alas, my grandchildren are growing up and their tastes in music and entertainment have changed.  I would happily watch “The Wiggles Movie” in which Wally steals Greg’s magic wand when he is trying to become a better magician, but my grandchildren veto that and suggest a Pixar flick instead.

Both sets of children went to see the Wiggles perform.  The grandchildren talked for days about the concerts.  We had to reinact some of the songs and dances.  And now the last round of  United States concerts for the original Wiggles is taking place.  My grandchildren aren’t interested, but I am. I would love to see the Wiggles in person.  I checked and learned they are performing in Rosemont, IL in July.  Alas, there is no way I would drive the mad house of Chicago expressways to get to Rosemont to see the Wiggles.  Guess I’ll have to check out the CD of the final concert and some evening I’ll stir up a batch of Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes, watch it, and sing along to “Dorothy the Dinosaur” or “Shaky Shaky” or “Wiggly Party.”

Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes

3 cups muesli flakes (some varieties have raisins – if your crew doesn’t like raisins in cookies, look for the plain version)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup self rising flour (or 1 cup regular flour + 1and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

8 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons honey

3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine muesli flakes, sugar, coconut and flour in a bowl and mix well.  Heat butter, honey and milk until butter is melted.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on parchment. paper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Yield:  30 cookies.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  All the grandchildren will be at my house in a few weeks.  I found some great books at the library with lawn games and fun activities for the out of doors.  Ever hear of crab soccer?  I’ll tell you about the game and others next week.  I hope you stop back again.

I have joined two book clubs.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I had never been a member of a bookclub – ever.  Now I am a member of TWO bookclubs.  Each of my granddaughters and I have started granddaugher/grandma bookclubs.

The book club with my 9 year old granddaughter is named the Missouri/Illinois Stars.  We have meetings during grandma visits and via telephone calls.  (My 7 year old granddaughter and I only started our club a few weeks ago so you will hear more about it at a later date.)

The first book I read in the Stars book club was one I came upon when visiting. I found myself awake while the household slept.  I spied a book that my granddaughter had been reading.  The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu so I picked it up and read a few chapters.  Boy, it was good.

My granddaughter loves Greek mythology; as a former Latin teacher, I favor Roman mythology.  She and I like to compare our gods and goddesses.  This book is a tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead.  Charlotte Mielswetzski (pronounced Meals. Wet. Ski.) and her cousin Zachary (nicknamed Zee) are trying to save the children.  Charlotte and Zee had to go to Hades to save the children.  How does one find the entrance to Hades – down a nondescript corridor in the Mall of America and through a nondescript door with a nondescript sign NO ADMITTANCE.

My granddaughter and I talked about what each of us liked in the book.  Then she said, “Grandma, you need to read the next books.  This is a series.”  That’s right it is – The Cronus Chronicles, three books about the adventures of Charlotte and  Zee.

The second book was The Siren’s Song. Charlotte was ultramegagrounded by her parents when she returned from the Underworld.  An educational cruise along the eastern coast of the United States turned into an adventure in the Mediterranean Sea.  Charlotte took Poseidon’s trident and was saved by a giant squid while her parents were sleeping in a trance brought on by a siren’s song.

The 3rd book, The Immortal Fire, sends Charlotte and Zee to Mt. Olympus to save the world.  Charlotte has a chance to eavesdrop on a gathering of Olympian gods that included Apollo in gold lame shorts and tee shirt roller skating around Zeus’ palace and Athena engrossed in doing Sudokus.

These books were so good.  As an adult, I enjoyed the subtle humor that the author sprinkled throughout.  The books are long.  The final one was 500+ pages, but they go very fast and held the attention of this grandma as well as her granddaughter.

My granddaughter said that I really needed to read a Percy Jackson novel.  Since I like the Roman gods, I wanted to skip to that series by Rick Riordan; however, I was told that I really need to read the first one first.  Boy, such an orderly plan.  The Lightning Thief was really good.  I liked the part when oops, during a scuffle a hole gets ripped in the very top of the St. Louis Arch.  Percy had to jump into the river, but since he is the son of Poseidon (sorry to let you in on the secret), he was not harmed and didn’t even get wet in the water.

By the way I also watched the movie.  I liked the book better.

In our bookclub we do read a variety of books.  My granddaughter suggested Bloomability by Sharon Creech.  This is the story of Dinnie, a girl who goes to Switzerland with her aunt and uncle who run an international school.  She met many kids – different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs.  But deep down they were all the same.  Dinnie learned that life is full of bloomabilities – possibilities.  Everyone – granddaughters and grandmothers and everyone else has bloomabilities that can enhance and enrich their lives.   Since the setting was on the border of Switzerland and Italy, many people spoke Italian.  My granddaughter thought it was fun to learn the Italian phrases as Dinnie learned them also.

The next book my granddaughter recommended was 11 Birthdays by Wendy Moss.  Remember the movie Groundhog Day?  Well, the same concept is here.  Amanda and her friend Leo share the same birthday which they lived over and over until they learned how to break a spell they were under.

I found a terrific book that I have recommended for us to read.  It is The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone.

Much of the activity in this story takes place in the Art Institute in Chicago – in the Thorne Rooms which are in the children’s area.  In the book Ruthie and Jack find a small key.  When Ruthie holds it, she becomes 5 inches tall.  When she drops it, she returns to her original size.  Jack can only be made small if he holds on to Ruthie when she picks up the key.  They find ways to get into the miniature rooms to explore.  They even meet people from the pre-French Revolution days and from the Salem witch trials.

I took this book and a book about the Thorne Rooms with me when I last visited my granddaughter.  I was so excited about this book.  It was so much fun to read. I told my granddaughter about it.  She walked over to the book shelf in her bedroom and pulled a book from the shelf – The Sixty-Eight Rooms. She has the book.  Neat.  She said that a lady at the bookstore recommended it to her.  I am eager for her to read it so we can talk about it.

Her daddy told me that he thought she was planning to read A Tale of Two Cities next.  He was kidding, right?  Don’t you think he was?

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.

What is ON your refrigerator?  Over the years many different items have graced the front of my frig.  Now something so cute lives there.  I hope you stop by to check it out.





Welcoming the Year of the Dragon

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Recently I went over the river to visit my grandchildren who live 3 hours away.  We always have a craft activity when we get together.  Since Chinese New Year was just around the corner, I suggested that we could make dragon masks – masks for the whole family.

My 6 year old grandson was quite excited because his class was planning a parade for the Year of the Dragon.  He said that he would take his mask to school to wear it in the parade.

I found two really great dragon patterns on the internet.  Below you can see one of them.  Actually the masks were available in color or black and white.  Since we were going to color masks, I printed the black and white ones for my grandchildren to use.

dragon masks coloring 231x300 Chinese New Year Printable Craft: Dragon Animal Masks

I found the masks at:

We got down on the floor to work on the masks.  I had brought along felt pens, colored pencils, and crayons for the children to use.

My granddaughter used colored pencils.

My grandson liked the bright, bold colors of the markers for his masks.

They each colored two masks so everyone in the family would have a mask to wear.  We taped a soda straw at one side in the back of the mask to use to hold the mask when “wearing” it.

My grandchildren were eager to model their masks when they were finished.


In addition to the masks we made fortune cookies out of circles of felt.

How to Make a Fortune Cookie Craft

I found the instructions for the fortune cookies at:

The instructions suggest using a glue gun to put the cookies together.  I instead opted to use felt glue.  First, you fold the felt circle in half and glue the top, middle edges.  It took a few minutes for this to dry so the children had time to write fortunes to slip into the cookies.  I had brought along a list of fortunes if they were stumped for ideas.  However, they went right to work writing fortunes.  They also  included lucky numbers.  They had great ideas and funny fortunes.


The website shows a video for assembling the fortune cookies.  You slip in the fortune and then gently push up the center of the cookie while you pull the two ends down together and glue them.  This was not a simple process so Grandma got to do the final gluing of the cookie.  I had brought along snap clothes pins that I used to hold the ends together until the glue dried.

At the end of the afternoon when the whole family was together, my grandchildren distributed the masks and they sat for a Year of the Dragon portrait.

Then the fortune cookies were handed out and everyone pulled out a fortune and read it to the family.  Laughs and smiles.  We had only made 4 fortune cookies so I didn’t have one.  My granddaughter said that I needed a fortune anyway so she wrote a fortune and gave it to me.

My fortune:  If you take a picture of a mermaid and she winks at you, that is good luck.”  She also included my lucky numbers.  I won’t share those with you since I just might use them to play the Lotto.

Such a fun visit, but it was time for me to slip back into my car and go over the river and home again.   As I drove home, I smiled thinking of our craft time, of playing school, and of playing the board games Hungry Hippos and Dinosaurs Extinct.  My mouth watered as I remembered our trip to the coffee shop to pick up an assortment of bakery treats so that we could have a pastry buffet for breakfast as we watched Kung Fu Panda.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Back to thoughts of Valentine’s Day.  I hope you stop by again soon.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away recently came for a play date – one final chance to play with the Snow Village before it was tucked away until next year – and time to get ready for Valentine’s Day.

Of course, we had to dress the cat (not the real one.)

The cat did not come with a Valentine costume so my grandson made a blanket for the cat and my granddaughter made a hat and a bib.  All ready for the holiday.

I thought it would be fun to make a Valentine tree.  First, the tree -

With my trusty lopers I chopped off two branches from a viburnum bush and inserted them into a square of floral foam.  My cat Olivia is inspecting the tree to see if there are any good smells there.  As you can see, the tree is temporaily resting in the Snow Village that was about to be packed away.

My grandchildren were going to trim the tree for me.  Before they arrived, I had made heart shapes – many hearts in many sizes.  Of course, I learned when the children started working that I didn’t have nearly enough hearts and had to cut more as they worked.  There were hearts and stickers and markers and crayons and lace doilies.  Off they started to work on their creations.

My grandson decided to draw pictures on his Valentines.

He has a snowman with a Valentive love bubble; a train carrying a load of Valentines, a Wii bowling alley with hearts on each side and a Chicago Cub Valentine for my Cub gnome to wear.

My granddaughter drew colored hearts with doilies and embellishments.

Her Valentines graced the tree and the veteran cat plus my new cast iron cat.

Carefully, carefully they hung their Valentines on the tree.  Why carefully – well, the tree is not totally stable.  The cat had already tipped it over.  Presto, the tree was finished.  We stood looking at the tree with the tinsel they had draped on it and at each of the Valentines they had made.

Fun, fun, fun.

Time for lunch.  I had made a plate of pbj sandwiches and had bowls of fresh berries.  As we sat down for lunch, I brought out two of their favorite Valentine books.  I said I knew they could read the books themselves, but it was so much fun for me to read to them.  My granddaughter said, “I really like it when you read to us.”  SO I did.  I read The Night Before Valentine’s Day by Natasha Wing.

As we went through the book, one child or another pointed out something funny on each page – like when the envelope stuck to the boy’s tongue or the principal came into the classroom dressed as Cupid.

Then I read Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit.  We read this one every year.  My grandchildren like to watch as Anne Estelle adds more and more to her Valentine box, and they wait to see what she has forgotten to do.

Soon it was time for Mom to pick them up.  They ran to the door and told her to close her eyes.  They led her into the living room and placed her in front of the Valentine tree.  Then they told her to open her eyes.  Surprise.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope you visit next week when I show you the fun I had greeting the Year of the Dragon with my grandchildren.


This and That

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

A few things I have been thinking about -

Thank you postcards – If you have read a post or two in Grandma in the Mailbox, you might recall that I often send postcards to my grandchildren.  I have just mailed some off to thank them for my Christmas gifts.  I choose some of the colorful cards that I bought at For each child I selected his/her favorite animal – a card with kittens, a giraffe, a tiger, and, of course, a dinosaur. No riddles this time – simply thanks for the special gifts that they made for me for Christmas.

Birthday cake – I bake birthday cakes for grandchildren.  I also bake birthday cakes for my son who lives 20 minutes away. I have been doing this for – well, a lot of years.  His children like to consult with me about what Daddy’s cake should look like.  This year it was  between a Cub cake and a garden cake.  I actually wanted the Cub cake because it would have been so easy – “a piece of cake.”   The children opted for a garden cake since Daddy is a big time gardener.

The cake was topped with a variety of “plants” and even a rabbit barrier around some.  However, the rabbits seemed to be figuring out how to slip in for a munch of the plants.  The grandchildren thought it was just perfect, especially the peanuts M&Ms that were prominently featured.

Kitchen timer

I love my kitchen timer.  A most versatile and helpful apparatus.  Actually this is my replacement timer since I wore the first one out.

I naturally use it to time cookies and cakes as everyone else.  But I have a myriad of other uses for it.  I am not a fan of weeding the garden.  I tell myself that if I weed the garden for 30 minutes, then I can …..  The blank is always filled in with something much more fun.  Off I go to the garden to weed carrying my tools and my timer along.  The timer also helps me to clean the basement.  30 minutes of work in the basement means a big reward – a cookie maybe.

Sometimes in the afternoon I think a 15 minute nap is just what I need.  I fear that I might sleep too long and not be able to sleep at night so my trusty timer is set for 15 minutes.  Presto, I wake up ready to get busy again.

My timer is really handy when the grandchildren stop by for play dates.  Just the other day my grandson wanted to play with the Playmobile people.  My granddaughter wanted to play house.  Neither was willing to compromise and I could see a spat bubbling up.  Solution:  I said that we would play with the Playmobile people for 20 minutes; then we would play house for 20 minutes.

I set the timer.  When the beep, beep indicated Playmobile time was over,  no protest – no argument.  They were both ready to play house.  The beep of the timer is so much more effective than the voice of grandma saying, “time to stop.”

After we played house, the grandchildren wanted “free time.”  I said that we would have free time, and then we would make sundaes.  My granddaughter said, “Set the timer, Grandma.”  SO I did.

The book I am reading

When I last visited my grandchildren who live 3 hours away, I found myself awake while the household slept.  I spied a book that my 9 year old granddaughter had been reading.  The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu so I picked it up and read a few chapters.  Boy, it was good.

My granddaughter loves Greek mythology; as a former Latin teacher I favor Roman mythology.  She and I like to compare our gods and goddesses.  This book is a tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead.  Charlotte Mielswetzski (pronounced Meals. Wet. Ski.) and her cousin Zachary (nicknamed Zee) are trying to save the children.  The book is a long one for a 9 year to read, I thought, but it does go fast.  When I read it over lunch, Charlotte and Zee had just found the entry to Hades  down a nondescript corridor in the Mall of America.  They were about to enter the nondescript door with the nondescript sign NO ADMITTANCE.

If you know a child who likes mythology or the Rick Riordan books, this is a book that he/she would love.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mail Box.  I hope you stop back again.  I am going to be getting ready for Valentine’s Day soon.

Getting Ready for Christmas

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house.

The cat (not the real one) is dressed for Christmas.  My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away stopped by recently to help me get holiday decorations out and up.

I had a list on the chalkboard in the playroom of our tasks for the afternoon.   First item was to dress the cat.  They enjoy taking turns crossing off the items on the list so that we can get down to the final item of snack time and book time.

They decorated the wreath in the kitchen with Christmas items.  Next was setting up my Advent Calendar.

Then it was Craft Time.  I had printed out some templates of Christmas trees and reindeer for them to color.  I thought they would put the individual items around the living room.  As they were working, my grandson asked if I had a sleigh they could color.  No, I didn’t.  “You can find a sleigh on the internet, can’t you?” he said.   Off to the computer and soon I was back with two sleighs.

The children decided they wanted to make a poster so did I have big pieces of construction paper they could glue their items on.  Yes, off to the basement.

My granddaughter thought it would be good to have a Santa to fit in the sleigh.  Back to the internet.  I suggested that I would print a Santa in color so they didn’t have to color it.  That sounded good to them.

Grandma wasn’t well prepared for this Craft Time.

Here is the poster my grandson made of Santa and the reindeer flying over a tall brown house.  Notice the fancy jeweled collars on the reindeer.

My granddaughter had requested a piece of black construction paper for her poster.  It is a little difficult to see the red house that Santa and Rudolph are preparing to visit.  I did ask her why she wanted black construction paper.  The answer – “Grandma, it is dark out.  It is night time.”  But, of course.

The children always look forward to decorating the “kids” tree with mini Disney books. There were also Dora ornaments, penguins, cats, snowmen, Care Bears and teddy bears.  My grandson divided the ornaments as they started – one for you and one for me.

Lunch time – While my grandchildren ate pbj’s and fruit, I read to them a few of their favorite Christmas books.

Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotten,  Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous  Christmas by  Jane O’Connor, Russell’s Christmas Magic by Rob Scotten, and A Merry Bunny Christmas by Rosemary Wells.  Another favorite is The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing.  Unfortunately it was checked out at the library.

All the items on our list have been checked off so let’s head to the Snow Village to play until time to go home.

Hopefully this year when they assign houses in the Snow Village, I won’t have to live in the hospital again.

Thanks for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon I’ll tell you about some gifts that I put together for my grandchildren in years past.  I hope you stop back to read about them.

Thanksgiving Postcards in the Mailbox

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Soon it will be Thanksgiving.  Time to cuddle up with grandchildren to read Thanksgiving stories and also to send postcards to their mailboxes.

We do have some favorite Thanksgiving stories that we like to read together.  “The Night Before Thanksgiving” by Natasha Wing, ” A Plump and Perky Turkey” by Teresa Bateman, “Give Thanks” by Jan and Mike Berenstain, and “Arthur’s Thanksgiving” by Marc Brown.

Recently my grandson who lives 20 minutes away spent the afternoon with me.  We stirred up a batch of “mix” (see recipes – July 19) and settled down on the sofa to read these books.

If you have visited in the past, you know that I send postcards to my grandchildren at holidays.  The postcards that I am sending for Thanksgiving came from, my favorite source of postcards.  I selected these to send.

After searching for riddles for the cards, I found some  really good ones at  There were many cute and funny ones.  Deciding which to use will be a challenge.

Why did the turkey cross the road?  It was the chicken’s day off.

What are unhappy cranberries called?  Blueberries.

Which side of a turkey has the most feathers?  The outside.

What is orange and falls off walls?  Humpty Pumpkin.

Why did the turkey eat his food in a hurry?  He was a gobbler.

How do you make a turkey float?  You need two scoops of ice cream, root beer, and a turkey.

Can a turkey jump higher than the St. Louis Arch?  Yes, the Arch can’t jump at all.

How many cranberries grow on a bush?  All of them.

What sound does a turkey’s phone make?  Wing, wing.

How are teddy bears like turkeys?  They both have stuffing.

Why did they let the turkey join the band?  He had drumsticks.

I know a drummer that the last riddle will be perfect for.

I’ll write two riddles on each postcard and they will be ready to send off in a few days to arrive at the homes of my grandchildren before Thanksgiving.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon I’ll show you the birthday cake that is under construction for my grandson.  I hope you stop back to see it.

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.

Grandma School – Learning Time

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

In Grandma School learning took place even when it was not Learning Time.  While the children were watching their morning TV shows, I would do the sudoku puzzle in the newspaper.  My granddaughter came over and asked what I was doing.  She saw that I was writing numbers in squares.  She asked if she could write numbers in the squares.  At that time she was just learning how to write her numbers so this looked like a “teaching moment.”  I would figure out a number and tell her which number should go into what square in the puzzle.  Sometimes she would become impatient while I tried to figure out which number came next.  Practice time for writing numbers and practice time for being patient while Grandma tried to think.

At Learning Time in Grandma School we would all take a chair around the little tikes table.  My grandchildren are a year apart so I would work on different skills with each child.  It was like a one room school with two classrooms at our table.

While I worked on something with one child, the other one would do a worksheet or a coloring page. 

We worked on writing letters and numbers, matching, identifying shapes, rhyming words, same and different, grouping items by size or color and many other primary concepts.  I had sets of plastic numbers and letters that we would use for counting or sorting. 

Variety was important – not the same worksheets or the same counting games each week.  Sometimes the children would surprise me and ask if they could do something next week that they had just done because it was so much fun.

I used websites to obtain free printable materials to use with my grandson and granddaughter.  Some of my favorites were:,,,

If it was Halloween and I wanted a Halloween coloring page, these sites would offer many options.  I found worksheets on matching, on which one doesn’t belong, hidden pictures – just about anything I wanted to work on.

I also purchased some decks of flashcards that we used in Learning Time.

These cards could be used in a variety of ways.  Those above gave the child a choice of “how many” there were.  Others in the deck had only the pictures of trucks or animals and the student then counted how many there were.  On the flip side of these cards there was a number that was the answer.  I would sometimes spread out several cards with only numbers showing and ask for someone to find a 2 or a 9 for me.

Each of these cards shows 6 items.  I would ask my grandchildren which objects were the same and which were different.  Sometimes I would put out an array of 6 cards and ask if anyone could find a green oval or a blue number 6. 

When it was time to put the cards away, we would count them as we put them back into the box.

We also used workbooks that I had purchased at Target – some in the $1 bins and at Barnes and Noble.   There were worksheets on letters, numbers, reading readiness skills and same and different.  Most of the books had perforated pages so I removed the worksheets that I wanted to take each week for Grandma School.  You know how much children love stickers.  Many books had stickers for the children to add  to their worksheets and also stickers for the “teacher” – Grandma – to put on their completed sheet.  Super.  Nice work.  You’re Top Banana.  Purrfect.  A sticker on a worksheet always brought a smile to their faces and a feeling of pride for having done a good job.

From Oriental Trading I purchased a set of Mix and Match Rhymes.  I would spread the puzzles pieces out and my grandchildren would look at the pictures and find two words that rhymed.  Then they would put the puzzles pieces together.  Taking turns led to a more peaceful activity. 

This was the most popular learning game.  I made a fishing pond for us using a small plastic bucket.  The poles were two dowel rods with yarn fishing line and magnets tied on for fishing hooks.  I cut fish out of construction paper and gave each one an eye and a letter that I had cut from a newspaper or magazine.  Paper clips were attached to the mouth of the fish and then they went into the bucket.

My grandchildren would take turn fishing.  Sometimes they would “catch” more than one fish; sometimes they would catch the bucket itself with the magnet locking on to the handle.  They would identify the letter on their fish and if they caught multiple fish, they would count how many.

My grandson often brought a pan from their play kitchen.  We would put our fish into the pan.  Then he and my granddaughter would take the fish into their play kitchen and “cook” them for our lunch.  Time out for pretend play.

As you can see, learning time was a fun part of our school day.

Thank you for visiting.  I’ll continue with Grandma School next trip talking about a few of our favorite craft activities.  I hope you’ll  stop by.