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Christmas Pies

December 13, 2011

Every year at Christmas time, I make several pies for my family.  For some reason, I don’t make these all year- I don’t know why not, because they are easy and delicious!  Enjoy these recipes!


1 graham cracker crust

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 can cherry pie filling

Using an electric mixer, blend cream cheese, Eagle brand, and lemon juice until smooth.  Pour into graham cracker crust and chill several hours or overnight.  Top with cherry pie filling before serving.


These are my favorites!

2 pie crusts, baked

3 bananas

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 pkg Dream Whip.  (Dream Whip is a powdered whipped topping mix- you mix it with milk in an electric mixer.  You can also make these with half a tub of Cool whip, and I’m sure you could use whipped cream if you added a bit more sugar)

1 can blueberry pie filling

Slice the bananas into the bottom of the pie crusts, set aside.   The way I do it:  I prepare the Dream Whip according to the package directions, and then just add the cream cheese,  sugar and  vanilla and mix until smooth.  The way you are supposed to do it:  cream the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, then mix in the prepared whipped topping (and I would do it this way if using Cool Whip or whipped cream.)   It all turns out fine.  Divide between the two pie crusts, chill overnight, and top with blueberry pie filling before serving.  Mmmmm good.


Countdown to Christmas- Cinnamon Ornaments

December 12, 2011

Every year we offer  a variety of Christmas themed art classes for toddlers.  One of the most popular crafts is the applesauce / cinnamon ornaments!  These are great for kids of all ages, and will last for years.

All you need for this project is applesauce and cinnamon, and some Christmas cookie cutters.  Gingerbread men work very well.

Applesauce and Cinnamon

All you need!

You need a lot of cinnamon, so head over to Sam’s and pick up a big 16 ounce package.  This picture shows a  46 ounce jar of applesauce and a 16 ounce package of cinnamon.   I used about half of the applesauce and all of the cinnamon, and it made enough for about 35 cookie-sized ornaments.   You may want to have a little extra cinnamon on hand too, because if you use too much applesauce the dough is very sticky.

All you do is pour your applesauce into a bowl, add cinnamon, and stir!  Keep adding cinnamon until you have a nice consistency on the dough- it should be easy for a child to play with, and not terribly sticky.


Some finished dough after the kids were playing with it. Yes, I know what it looks like.


Let your child play with the dough and cut out cookie shapes.   Toddlers and small children will have great fun playing with the dough – my three year old was able to roll them out, push in the cutter (with just a little extra push from me!), pull off the extra dough, and set them aside to dry, all by her self.   Again, it’s important to have added enough cinnamon or the dough will be very sticky.

Cutting them out..

Cutting them out..

Then, just wait for them to dry.   Be sure to poke a hole in the top if you plan on hanging them on the tree.  It will take several days for them to dry completely, and you will want to flip them over a few times.

Setting them out to dry!

Once they are dry, you can decorate them with paint- the puffy glitter glue or fabric paint works well, or glue on beads and sequins.  Another cute idea is to use them to make a wreath.  They look very much like gingerbread cookies when dry, and smell wonderful!

Ta Dah!

However you decide to decorate them, this is a fun and easy project for all ages!  An added bonus is that paying with dough is a nice process- based sensory activity for the youngest children.   Enjoy!

Making creatures

Look Mommy! I made a snake!

Upcoming Events at Friendswood Music

June 17, 2009

We are having several upcoming Fabulous Friday  events :

Friday June 19th :  Join Lisa Hommel for a great Eco-Art: Trash to Treasures class from 11:00 am – noon.  Children ages 5 and up will enjoy making seed-sprouting paper from junk mail.

Friday June 26th-  Lisa will have another FREE Eco- Art class from 11:00 am – noon

Friday June 26th 10:00 am:  Come to a FREE Kindermusik demo class for infant-age 4!

Ocean Activities- Wave Bottle

June 7, 2009

The kids in the Discovery Tree Art & Story class enjoyed a great week of fun activities and art projects.   Here’s one quick and easy art idea you can do at home.

Ocean Wave Bottle:  Toddlers, preschoolers, and even older kids will love making this wave bottle.  They will enjoy making the blue waves rock gently back and forth.

You need:  an empty plastic water bottle with lid, oil, water, liquid blue food coloring, and superglue (optional, to keep child from opening the bottle).

Fill the bottle about half full of water, then add oil to the top.  We used vegetable oil, you could also use baby oil.  Let your child drop in some blue food coloring- at least 5 or 6 drops.   Be sure to watch as the blue drops slowly drift through the oil.  Put a small amount of superglue around the rim, and tightly fasten the cap.    Let your child shake the bottle gently to disperse the coloring.  

The clear oil will create a layer on top of the blue water and will create waves when gently rocked.   If the bottle is shaken vigorously the oil and water will temporarily combine, but will separate again.

Wow! Study shows big benefits of Kindermusik

February 22, 2009
During our class time, I don’t always mention the reasoning behind each activity.  However, Kindermusik’s curriculum is based on the most up-to-date research in child development, and there is a reason and focus for each activity.    Now, a new study shows the benefits of these activities.   

A recent study found that repeated enrollment in Kindermusik improves a child’s ability to plan, guide, and control their own behavior.

  • “Children currently enrolled in Kindermusik showed higher levels of self-control than those never enrolled and those previously enrolled. …This suggests that in order for children to reap the benefit of increased self-control as a result of Kindermusik participation, it is important to have repeated and recent Kindermusik experiences and remain enrolled in the program.”
  • “Four-year-old children who had been exposed to Kindermusik for longer periods of time are better off in terms of self-control—namely a child’s ability to plan, guide, and control their own behavior—than similar children with less Kindermusik history.”
  • “These experiences, stop-go, high-low, fast-slow, short-long, and loud-soft, whereby children’s motor behavior is guided by the music, appear to be good exercise for young children’s emerging self-regulatory skills.”

The study, “The Effects of Kindermusik on Behavioral Self-Regulation in Early Childhood,” was conducted in 2005 in the psychology department at George Mason University in Virginia.

Results were made available to Kindermusik in May, 2005. The study was conducted by Adam Winsler Ph.D and graduate student Lesley Ducenne in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University.

The 15-month study included 91 children between the ages of 3 and 5 who were split into three groups: 23 students currently enrolled in Kindermusik, 19 students previously enrolled in Kindermusik, and 49 students of similar family backgrounds from local preschools who had never had Kindermusik.

The children were observed doing a variety of tasks that required self-control such as slowing down their motor behavior, delaying their gratification, refraining from touching attractive but forbidden toys, quietly whispering, and compliance with instructions to initiate or stop certain behaviors. Parents also completed surveys.

The study was supervised by Adam Winsler, Ph.D, Applied Developmental Psychology in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University.



Nurturing Young Artists

February 22, 2009

In our art programs for toddlers and preschoolers, we focus on process- based art activities.    This means that the child is free to explore and make observations about the art activity without direction towards a final finished product.   As parents, we frequently want to “help”our child make the project “correctly.” Especially during holidays, we want to have cute crafty projects created by our children to pull out in later years.    However, this can inhibit the child’s creativity.    Prominent art educator and writer MaryAnn Kohl says the following:

“Art is a creative process, not a pre-planned product.   Picture the difference. A child is given cotton balls, glue, scraps of paper, and a paper plate. These materials will become part of a creative experiment for a child, as they manipulate and explore the possibilities. There is no planned design or product. However, if someone were to require the child to make a bunny on the paper plate from a pre-designed bunny that is shown to the child as the example to follow, all creativity is lost and the project becomes a craft.”  

Here’s an article with more on this topic

Our Time (18 mon-3 yrs) Fiddle Dee Dee – Weeks 1-3

February 22, 2009

We’re on our third week of Fiddle Dee Dee and enjoying our animal themes!

Your home is likely to be filled with more active dog play  –“Roll over, Rover!” Children love to move–and there’s a reason for this.  According to creative dance expert Anne Green Gilbert, “Movement is key to learning! Our brains fully develop through movement activities such as crawling, rolling, turning, walking, skipping, reaching, swinging and much more!  The brain has a plan for development that involves specific and intensive motor activities to make full use of our complicated nervous system.”* And when movement is paired with rhythmic and musical concepts, the learning is even stronger. 

Music concepts may be effectively introduced to the Our Time-aged child through fun and playful activities. The concept of tempo (or speed) is central to music. The 1½- to 3-year-old child is learning to control and coordinate his body’s movements and is naturally interested in the concepts of fast and slow. Mastering these concepts through activities such as bouncing, playing instruments, and dancing is fun and satisfying for the child.


In class we will continue to focus on tempo for two more weeks. At home, you can have fun reinforcing this concept through further repetition of fast and slow activities such as Roly Poly. Also, “at home” Kindermusik play will help familiarize your child with the routines of Kindermusik class, thus helping him become more and more at ease in the classroom environment.  



*“Movement and Music:  The Keys to Learning,” by Anne Green Gilbert