Star Cave

How about pulling out the Christmas decorations a little early this year? (My sister-in-law showed me this idea, and I think it is totally cool.)

What you need:

  • large cardboard box
  • pen
  • strand of Christmas lights

What you do:

  1. Take the pen (or paintbrush or something with a similar tip) and poke holes in the top of the box.
  2. Push the Christmas lights through the holes and tada! You have a star cave.

You can make it darker by covering the opening with a blanket and such. Feel free to get really creative and make actual constellations that you can find outside at night later!

Big thanks to Play at Home Mom for the original idea!

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Wikki Stix and Bendaroos

With school in full swing, here are a few ideas of activities to do with one of my favorite therapeutic tools:

  • Complete dot-to-dot activities
  • Trace simple shapes, pre-writing strokes, and letters using stix
  • Use your finger to trace created shapes to provide kinesthetic and tactile input during writing practice
  • Outline pictures to provide tactile boundaries when coloring
  • As an alternative to drawing pictures, use stix to illustrate stories/ideas
  • Place on lined paper to provide a raised  baseline and to improve letter orientation to baseline
  • Use as a fidget to provide a calming effect during instructional periods, which may help increase focus on classroom activities

Fortunately now, buying these are highly cost-effective and super easy. They’re called “Bendaroos” and can be found in the toy section of most toy stores (ie: Toys’R’Us, Walmart, etc.). I just bought a pack of 500 in a whole myriad of colors for only $10.

(As a short aside, my dad bought these for our neighbor kid for her birthday – talk about a proud daughter! I was SO happy that he was helping this child’s creativity and fine motor skills using a therapeutic tool that I use in OT quite often.)

More suggestions and printables available at Wikki Stix and Bendaroos.

All Saints’ Day Recipes

So, All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) are coming up, and I wanted to include some easy ideas that can be made at home to help celebrate a beautiful feast day on our Catholic tradition. It took some browsing, but I eventually found the following:

Holy Ghosts cookies

  • Nutter Butter cookies
  • almond bark (or white chocolate chips)
  • mini chocolate chips
  1. Melt the almond bark (or white chocolate chips) in a large bowl.
  2. Take the Nutter Butter cookies and dip them in melted almond bark.
  3. Use mini chocolate chips for the eyes. Let set on waxed paper.

Heavenly haystacks (to celebrate St. Isidore the farmer)

  • 1 large can of Chow Mein Noodles
  • 1 pkg Butterscotch morsels (melted)
  • 1/2 c peanuts
  1. Combine the can of chow mein noodles with the package of melted butterscotch morsels and peanuts.
  2. Drop into small haystacks on wax paper and let set.

Rose cupcakes (to celebrate St. Therese, the little flower)

  • 12 mini cupcakes (or as many as you want – bake as directed)
  • white frosting
  • scissors
  • 6 rolls of Fruit by the Foot (cherry or strawberry)
  • 1 roll of Fruit by the Foot (green)
  1. Bake cupcakes as directed and allow to cool.
  2. Frost cupcakes with white frosting.
  3. To make a rose, unroll a piece of the cherry or strawberry fruit leather and divide it in half along the wavy perforated middle line. (Note: If their isn’t a wavy perforated middle line, cut your own with either a pizza cutter or scissors.) 
  4. Take one of the halves and roll up about 5 inches to form the flower’s center.
  5. Set the rolled strip wavy side up in the middle of a cupcake.
  6. Continue to loosely wrap the remaining fruit leather around the center at a slight angle until the flower is completed.
  7. Cut leaf shapes from the wavy edge of the green strip, then tuck the leaves under the roses.

Soul cakes

A little history on this recipe/custom, first. Did you know that “trick-or-treating” actually began with Catholic children going around on “All Hallow’s Eve” (now known as “Halloween”) and asking for “soul cakes”? In return for the food, the children promised to pray for the deceased members of the household. Here are a couple of rhymes that the children sang as they went along their way:

“A soul cake, a soul cake,
Have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake.”

“Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven’t an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all.”

“Soul! soul! for a soul-cake!
I pray, good misses a soul-cake–
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.”

  • 1 c butter
  • 3 3/4 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 6 tbs milk
  • powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top
  1. Using a pastry blender cut 1 c. of butter into 3 3/4 cups of flour.
  2. Blend in the sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and allspice.
  3. In a separate bowl beat eggs, vinegar and milk together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Kneed thoroughly to form a stiff dough.
  6. Roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out 3 inch circles with a cookie cutter or glass.
  7. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

Also, don’t forget to thank God for and honor our Church Triumphant members by celebrating Mass this Tuesday!

Big thanks to Catholic Cuisine and Catholic Missionary Family for the recipes.

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