Crystal Science – Make Your Own Snowflake

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Back when we were in a flurry of activity (ha, do you see what I did there?) preparing for Hosanna’s Do You Wanna Build a Snowman party, the older kids became obsessed with snow and snowflakes and basically anything white and cold and fun.  We rarely get any real snow around here; so we settled for cutting out paper snowflakes, spraying fake snow in our windows, and building snowmen with homemade magic snow (link here to awesome recipe).  One day, when everyone was going stir crazy and I was desperately trying to think of a fun but educational activity to do, I remembered a crystal growing project I had done with my General Science class at home school co-op.  I figured that we could take out the typical string and use something else to make it into a snowflake.  The results ended up being quite sparkly, perfect for our snow obsession as well as a little lesson on crystals.  Here’s how to make crystal snowflakes and learn a little about crystals at the same time.

If you google “growing crystals,” most sites will give you a formula using borax.  Borax is great and is pretty sturdy; but alas, I did not have borax when we commenced this experiment.  I decided to use alum instead.  Alum makes beautiful crystals that are much more fragile and will not last a long time; however, they grow very quickly and you will see results within hours.  When you purchase your alum, make sure it has potassium in it or crystals will not grow.  I got mine in the spice section of the grocery store.  (In case your kids ask you what alum is, its official name is potassium alum, and it is used for pickling and other household activities.  It is also found in your can of baking powder, unless you buy the fancy expensive kind in the natural foods section labeled “without alum.”)

For this experiment, you will need:  alum, a white pipe cleaner, a drinking glass or mason jar, a pencil, another pipe cleaner (any color), fishing line or thread, scissors, and water  (You also need a small pan and access to a stove.)

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First, prepare your materials.  Cut the white pipe cleaner into three pieces of equal length and then twist them together in an asterisk shape. *  Tie a piece of fishing line or thread to one of the points on your “snowflake”.

Now, make your solution.  Put enough water to fill your glass or jar into a small pan and heat it to boiling on the stove.  When the water is boiling, remove the pan from the burner and wait for the boiling to stop.  As soon as the boiling stops, start adding alum to the water and stirring with a heat-resistant spoon.  Keep adding alum until it will no longer dissolve.  (This is evident when the water is cloudy and will not clear up.)  Allow the solution to sit in the pan for a few minutes until it is again clear and any extra alum has settled to the bottom of the pan.

Next, set up the experiment.  Carefully pour the solution into your glass or jar until it is high enough for your snowflake to fit.  We used a juice glass and filled ours about three-fourths.  If you can, try not to pour the alum that has settled in the bottom of the pan into your glass.  This is called decanting, or separating a mixture into liquids and sediment.  As you can see in the photo, we were not terribly successful in our decanting.  Then take your pipe cleaner snowflake and dangle it in the solution.  It is very important that the points of the snowflake do not touch the sides or the bottom of the glass.  When you have it at the right place, tie it to the pencil and reinforce it by wrapping it with the other pipe cleaner as shown in the picture.  DSC_0017

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Be sure to put your set-up in a safe place out of the way.  We set ours back on the kitchen counter where they couldn’t be disturbed for several hours.  (Also, we have a certain three-year-old around here who loves to stir things up and add things as she “cooks” so….)  As you can see, each child had his own snowflake to grow.  We have a color system in our house that makes life so much easier.  Gabi’s color is green, David’s is blue, Mikey’s is orange, and Hosanna’s is purple.  That means Gabi drinks out of the green cup, uses a green plate, has a green bin for her shoes, etc.  It makes it a breeze for me to know who left their cup in the living room again, and most importantly, there is no arguing.

Anyway, I digress.  Call it a free tip.  So let your experiment sit for several hours, checking on it from time to time by looking through the glass, NOT by touching it.  After several hours have passed, or the next day as I like to call it, carefully use your pencil to lift the snowflake out of the solution and lay it gently on a clean surface.  Remember that the alum crystals are very fragile and have a tendency to get knocked off easily.

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This is when you get to do the observation of the snowflake.  Have the kids touch it and feel the various shapes that make up the crystals.  Look at the crystals with a magnifying glass.  See if they can find a repeating shape or pattern in the snowflake.  Gently tap one point of the snowflake with a pencil to knock off some crystals and examine those crystals more closely.  What do they look like?  Are they symmetrical?  Then you can teach the kids some facts about crystals.

Facts about Crystals: Going Beyond the Fact that They are Super Sparkly and Very Fun to Look At

1.  What is a crystal?  It is a mineral that is made up of molecules that form a repeating pattern.  These molecules band together to form a shape that is then repeated over and over again.  Take out a crystal of sugar and look at it under a magnifying glass.  Do you see that it is shaped almost like a football?  Now look at a crystal of salt.  You should see that it is shaped like a cube.  What shape did you find in your snowflake?

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In this picture, you can see points that look like pyramids.  Alum crystals actually have an octahedron shape (two pyramids stacked on top of each other).  There were actually dozens of nearly-perfect octahedrons on our snowflake the second time we did the experiment, and they were all visible without a magnifying glass.  When studying crystals, you will find hexagons, tetragons, and other shapes as well.

2.  Where do crystals come from?  Crystals form in two different ways.  The first is by evaporation of water from a mixture.  This is what we did in our experiment.  As the water evaporated, the alum powder formed into tiny crystals.  The second way is by cooling of a liquid as it starts to harden.  Expensive crystals like diamonds are formed when magma hardens slowly over time.  Maybe you have seen rubies, emeralds, and amethysts.  These are all crystals that have formed in nature by evaporation or cooling.  Of course, snowflake are ice crystals that form when water cools very quickly in the atmosphere.

3.  Why do crystals have sharp edges and angles?  Crystals have symmetry.  Symmetry is just a big fancy word that means “the same all around.”  There are a few different kinds of symmetry that you can find in crystals.  The first is called rotational symmetry.  Basically it means that when you spin the crystal around, it is the same from all sides.  Think of a ferris wheel.  Every time you spin it, it looks exactly the same.  The second kind of symmetry is reflection symmetry.  In this case, one half of the crystal is a mirror image of the other.  Think of a butterfly and how the wings look like a reflection of each other.  The third kind of symmetry is inversion symmetry.  Imagine that you can put a straight line through the center of the crystal and then spin the crystal around that line as if it were an axis.  This is what you see in our experiment.  It is very similar to a toy top.

Want to know more?  Learn what the terms cleavage, isometric, and monoclinic mean, and find out what crystals are used for in the videos below.

And if you want to watch a snowflake form its crystals in time lapse, check out this link!  It is very mesmerizing and illustrates all the principles of crystals we have learned.

Hiding His Word in Your Heart: The Whys and Hows of Scripture Memorization

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David sighed when he looked at the math paper I had given him.  “Do I have to do the whole thing?” he complained.  “It looks too hard.  I can’t do it all!”

“Not ‘I can’t,’ David,” I reminded him.

“I know, I know.  ‘I CAN do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ ”  he rattled off quickly.  He was still disgruntled with the amount of work he had to do, but he bent his head purposefully over his paper and began his work.  In that moment, a scripture had come to mind that was encouraging and full of promise.  He had memorized that verse long ago during our family devotion time, and now it had come to his aid when he needed it.

That, fellow Christians, is why we memorize scripture.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Clearly, God’s Word is a powerful spiritual tool that we as Christians can use daily, and we would be foolish to put that weapon aside to rely on our own strength and wisdom.

Every morning, the kids and I work on taking some of God’s Word and putting it in our hearts.  The psalmist talks about “hiding” God’s Word in our hearts in Psalm 119:11.  The ESV translates it as “I have stored up your word in my heart.”  Scripture cannot be treasured in our hearts unless it is memorized.  Here are the reasons I want my kids (and me!) to memorize God’s Word.

1)  It is commanded by God.  In Deuteronomy 6, Moses instructs God’s people to take God’s words and put them in their hearts.  He reminds them to teach God’s words to their children and put those words everywhere they look – on their homes, on their doorposts, and even on their own bodies.  He said they were to talk about God’s words constantly in all their daily activity.

2)  It is encouraging in difficult situations.  King David often found comfort in God’ Word: he states “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.”  (Psalm 119:50)  When I am afraid, I can call upon my memorization of this verse: “The LORD is on my side, I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)  When my husband is trying to make the right decision for our family, I can encourage him with “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5)  Whatever struggles you may be facing, there is a Bible verse that you can draw upon for reassurance and comfort.

3)  It is useful in fighting off sin and temptation.  It has already been mentioned that God’s Word is a sharp and powerful sword.  Ephesians 6:17 lists the word of God as the sword of the spirit in its description of the armor of God.  Jesus made use of this powerful weapon when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  Each time the devil offered up a new temptation, Jesus fired back with a scripture verse.

4)  It is crucial to making good decisions.  Undoubtedly, you have heard the verse “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)  Many times when I have found myself wondering what to do next in life, God brings to mind a specific scripture that completely answers my internal questions.  “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)

5)  It is practical for sharing the gospel.  Peter directs us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”  When I meet someone that does not know Christ as Savior, I do not have to stumble around in my own weak words and explanations.  I can use the influential words of God Himself.  I can quote “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  The Word of God is a mighty tool, remember?  Let the Word of God speak for itself as you witness to others.

6)  It is beneficial in praying more effectively.  Sometimes, there is just no better way to pray than to pray the scriptures.  Jesus promises “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)  Don’t forget – Jesus modeled prayer for us in Matthew 6 and even gave us words to say when our own words fail us.

7)  It is critical for spiritual growth.  David starts off his book of Psalms by describing to us a man who delights in God’s word and meditates in it day and night.  This man is like a tree, growing, flourishing, and firmly rooted in the storms of life.  When you memorize scripture, God’s words are always with you.  Think of it as portable wisdom that will guide you throughout your day and help you mature as a Christian.

It is not difficult to see the importance of memorizing God’s Word, but how do I do it?  There are many methods to accomplish the memorization of Scripture.  I want to share a system that I found  while researching the Charlotte Mason method of schooling.  Here is the link that explains the Scripture Box system very thoroughly, but I will give you a quick overview here.

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I purchased a 3×5 notecard box at Walmart along with two sets of plastic dividers to go inside it.  The dividers were labeled with a permanent black marker in this order: Daily, Odd, Even, Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun., and the numbers 1 – 31.  I then wrote out on several note cards the scriptures I wanted to start memorizing (I got some inspiration from this verses list) and placed them in the front of the box.

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Then we started using the box.  The first card (Ephesians 2:8-10) went into the slot behind Daily.  Every day, I would simply read the verses on that card out loud to the kids two times with them repeating the reference after me.  After a few days, they started saying some of the words along with me, and by the second week, they could say the verses without any help from me.  When I was satisfied that they knew it, I moved that scripture to the Odd slot and placed Philippians 4:13 in the Daily slot.  Now we practiced the new verse every day as well as the previous verse on odd-numbered days.  When they mastered Philippians 4:13, the Ephesians scripture moved to Even, the Philippians scripture moved to Odd, and Mark 12:30-31 took the Daily slot.  Now I read Mark 12:30-31 every day, and together we recited Ephesians 2:8-10 on even-numbered days and Philippians 4:13 on odd-numbered days.  And the system continued on, with verses in the days of the week slots only being practiced on that specific day and the verses in the numbered slots being practiced on that specific date of the month.  In this way, scripture is learned quite rapidly without much time or stress, and then it is practiced regularly to be sure it is not forgotten.  It is working astonishingly well for us.

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The kids’ minds are like sponges; so they memorize things quickly and easily.  For me (and my crazy brain that is always going in a million directions!), I need a little extra practice.  Consequently, I used an app (PicsArt) on my smart phone to put whatever scripture I am working on at the time on a photo and use it as my lock screen.  I probably look at that screen dozens of times each day; so it definitely helps with memorization practice.

Accordingly, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

Art-Themed Dinner Party

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Our family rule of only having a party on the odd-numbered birthdays have served us well in that I only have to plan and execute two birthday parties in a calendar year.  However, Hosanna’s birthday happens to fall at the end of the year while her sister Gabi’s comes right in the first month of the next year.  This means that I had to plan two birthday parties in two consecutive months, not to mention Christmas parties and New Year’s festivities.  Also, take a good look at that gorgeous girl in the photo.  She’s not really turning nine tomorrow, is she?  It’s getting a little ridiculous, this whole getting older thing.  If I could freeze time for just a little while, I’d do it now while she’s at this dreamy age of becoming a young woman and still being a little girl all at once.

Anyway, Gabi has had her birthday party theme picked since last year.  Given her proclivity for crafting and drawing and sewing and doodling, it was no surprise that she wanted an art party.  She and I sat down a few months ago to make a Pinterest board and fill it with ideas for the party, as I do for every party.  We quickly found an overwhelming number of ideas on decorations for the party.  Of course, Gabi had her own ideas, too.  She wanted a dinner party so she could have her favorite food at the party – spaghetti.

So here’s how we threw our own art-themed dinner party, in case you ever want to do the same.  We began by sending out invitations via evite – this is the one we used.  Then we got started on making the decorations.  I definitely enlisted Gabi’s help on these, and she was happy to oblige.

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We made this welcome wreath for the door using a foam wreath form from the dollar store, coffee filters, paint, and a little construction paper.  The idea for this wreath came from Ramblings from the Sunshine State.

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I was at our local learning store a few weeks ago when I saw these colorful circle cut-outs in the clearance bin.  I immediately knew we could find a way to incorporate them into the party decorations.  I ended up writing “Happy Birthday, Gabi!” on some of them.  I overlapped the circles and glued them with hot glue and then hung them up as banners.  Since the “Gabi!” one was hanging in the doorway, I decorated the back of it with party images so it wouldn’t be a blank white blob. 🙂  I took the rest of the circles and glued them back-to-back, with a ribbon stuck in between.  I wrote art inspiration words such as create and design on each side of the circles and hung them in the other doorway leading to the living room.

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The paper chains in the dining room were all Gabi’s idea.  I bought two packs of construction paper and settled down on Friday night to cut out inch-wide strips and staple them all together.  This was a VERY time-consuming project – let’s just say that I was glad that I had started a couple of nights early and that I had a few seasons of Big Bang Theory to watch.  Also, they turned out well, and the impact on the room was amazing.

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We used the leftover paper strips to wrap around water bottles for our guests, which turned out to be fifteen girls in all.  The girls all arrived, giggling and quite excited, at four’o’clock.  After they ditched their coats and shoes in Gabi’s room, they came out to “sign the guestbook.”  I made a Friendship Tree on thick card stock, and the girls signed it with their thumbprints.

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It turned out so cute and will be a nice keepsake from the party.  The party guests next went to the dining room to do the art project we had planned.

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I had two tables set up for the project – they were covered in two plastic tablecloths and were geared with washable markers, watercolor paper, paint brushes, and plastic ice cube trays filled with water.  Then I showed the girls the sample project I had made earlier and explained how to make their own tie-dye watercolor painting.  I had a small table full of various die-cuts that the girls could choose from to use as stencils in their project.  They traced the die-cuts with washable markers and then colored around the objects in various patterns with the markers.  Then they painted over the marker with water to get the watercolor effect. (like the method I used in the watercolor snowflake art).

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When they finished, I hung up their art on my art display wall to dry while the girls ran giggling into the living room to play some board games.  I peeled off the top table cloth from each table and got them ready for dinner.  I was privileged to have my best friend come to help with the dinner prep at the party.  She and another mom (thanks girls!) prepared three kinds of pasta, marinara sauce, melted butter, cooked ground beef, and cheese so that each party guest could design her own pasta dish.  This was Gabi’s dream come true, and it worked particularly well since we had quite a few party guests that could not have gluten.  We simply had a gluten-free pasta option and made sure the sauce was gluten-free as well so everyone could have something.  DSC_0092

For dessert, Gabi picked something simple – vanilla cupcakes.  I found some tall sparkler candles at a local party store to stick in the cupcakes along with tiny paper flags.  The party guests were delighted that each one of them had a sparkling candle to blow out after we all sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl.

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Of course, right after the cupcake eating, we had to have present time.  I have never seen such an excited group of girls eager to give their gifts and show off the cards they had made for Gabi.  She got all sorts of craft kits and books and fun things to do.  We are up to our ears in washi tape and pillow making and little craft pieces and I love it!  By the time we got through all the presents, it was almost time for kid pick-up.  I pulled out a bunch of art supplies and sent the girls back to the tables to be creative while they waited for their parents.

It was fantastically fun although I would say that having sixteen pre-teen girls in your house is not for the faint of heart!  Gabi was thrilled with it and really that is all that matters.

And hey, we have some colorful paper chains to cheer up the house for a while and get us through these dreary winter months!

 

 

 

Holey Socks!

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Today we left the land of no school, late bedtimes, way too much video game time, and too many sugary sweets to step back into normal routine and real life.  It was a challenge to get the kids back on schedule and motivated with their schoolwork.  Chores and projects needed to be started, and of course I threw in a trip to the library because nothing says “let’s really make it a Monday” like trying to drag four cranky, depressed-that-Christmas-was-over kids anywhere.  As homeschoolers, we love the library, but little Hosanna just had to put on a grand (and very loud) puppet show in there today.  Another child who shall remain nameless announced to the whole library that he had to poop.  All of them chanted and begged for donuts from the shop inside the library (I know!).  We got back from the library, ready to take another half-hearted swing at the housework, when I realized that it was karate day.  Once again I wanted to high five(in the face) the mom who had the brilliant idea to sign up her kids for karate at 5:00 pm on a Monday!  Genius – that’s me.

So began the hustle and bustle of hunting down the boys, giving them their gis to put on, reminding them seventeen times to please put socks and shoes on, and trying to get them out of the house at a reasonable time.  Getting my boys to stay on my time schedule is hard enough; getting my autistic kid to do anything without being told ten times is pretty much impossible.  I was so grateful to leave the house on time that I didn’t bother to check David’s socks and shoes.  I hoped he was wearing them but didn’t care at this point.  We got to the dojo with a few minutes to spare, and the boys scurried about taking off their shoes and talking to their buddies.   I sat down with the other parents and turned my phone off.  When I take Gabi to ballet, I can sit there and check Facebook on my phone or read a book.  At karate, parents are expected to sit quietly, watch the class, and sometimes even participate.  Class started, and I looked at David to make sure he was paying attention.  It was then that I noted the two different socks he was wearing.  One was actually his dad’s – a nice black dress sock with a gold toe.  The other was a white athletic sock that looked as if it had seen better days.  Nice, I thought to myself.  I hope the other moms don’t notice.  Of course, Sensei called David up to the front to lead the class in an exercise.  He chose to do a series of leg stretches that showed off each sock alternately as he switched from leg to leg.  Black sock, white sock, black sock, white sock. .wait, is that a giant hole in the bottom of the white sock??  I was completely embarrassed that I had brought my kid dressed like that to karate.  What must the other moms think?

Then a mom leaned over and asked me if David was my son.  Yes, I answered, slightly chagrined.  “Oh good,” she said, laughing a little.  ” It is so good to see that I am not the only one.  You would not believe how many times stuff like that happens to me.”  Relieved, I laughed with her and looked again at my son, who was proudly showing off his skills and was blissfully unaware that mismatched socks was a social taboo.  That moment reminded me that I was not alone in having these crazy days.  Someday, it will make a cute story to tell (hey, I just put it on the internet!).  Besides, that whole perfect mom thing is a myth anyway.  I’m only perfect 99% of the time. 😉

(Full confession here: I was a mean mom and made him throw out the holey sock when we got home.  He didn’t want to because he “got good air” when he was doing his kicks and stretches.  I reminded him that he could be doing karate barefoot, which would be the best air of all.)

(Also, I have worn mismatching socks from time to time when I was absolutely positive my pants legs would cover them.  I guess he comes by it honestly.)

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman Party

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In December, it was sweet Hosanna’s turn to have a birthday party.  In our family, we do birthday parties on odd-numbered years so that I can focus my attention on just two parties a year instead of four.  She was pretty adamant about having a Frozen themed party.  Since we had already been to several Frozen birthday parties in the past year, I decided to focus on one specific element of Frozen – Olaf.  Who doesn’t like Olaf?!? With our house already decorated for Christmas, the snowman and snowflake themed decorations would fit right in.  It didn’t take much to persuade the birthday girl, and as I do with all my birthday parties, I immediately began adding any ideas I could find to my Do You Wanna Build a Snowman? Pinterest board.

I started by making a Olaf poster for the front door to greet our party guests.  I just googled Olaf images, and after finding one I liked, I freehanded him on a piece of poster board and colored him with crayons.  He is actually still on the door, as no one wants to take down his friendly face.  Grandma bought Hosanna her sparkly Frozen party dress.  Don’t worry, she wore socks and shoes for her party. 🙂

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For decorations, I wanted the dining room to look very wintry and well, frozen.  The wall behind the cake table was covered in a light blue tablecloth from the dollar store and then decorated with paper snowflakes and cotton balls strung on fishing line as well as glittery silver garland.  I used many of the patterns on Origami Way to make each snowflake intricate and unique.  The cake table itself was covered with another light blue tablecloth and some glittery white felt “snow” from the dollar store.  I hung silver plastic icicles and iridescent plastic snowflakes (also from the dollar store) from the dining room ceiling.  With the rest of the house decorated for Christmas, the twinkle lights and sparkly ornaments everywhere completed the frozen theme.

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I like to make food fit the theme of the party if I can.  We had gotten a kit to make Elsa’s ice castle out of cookies and frosting a while ago, and the finished product made a good “cake” or centerpiece anyway.  (note: that thing took FOREVER to make!)  I made cupcakes to match the castle out of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free vanilla cake mix (my favorite – I use it for every party) and topped them with sparkly sugar snowflakes, made using this tutorial.   We served crackers with softened cream cheese; at this time of year, Ritz crackers come in snowflake shapes, which worked perfectly with the theme.

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The favorite by far was the build-a-snowman food bar.  Guest could choose raisins, pretzel sticks, homemade marshmallows (recipe here), mini chocolate chips, and carrot sticks to create their own edible snowman or just eat them as is.  I saw lots of variations of this idea on Pinterest, and for good reason – it’s easy and it’s tasty.  I had plans for other food too – these string cheese snowmen, these adorable popcorn cups, and this cute snowman cheeseball.  I quickly realized that the string cheese snowmen and the popcorn cups would be too much work that no one would really appreciate anyway, and the snowman cheeseball became a nice bowl of softened cream cheese instead.

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The birthday girl was turning three; so instead of inviting a bunch of little friends and trying to get them to play some organized games, we opted to invite several families and have “general activities” instead.  We had Frozen memory match and Frozen junior monopoly set up at the table for guests to play as they arrived.  Most of the boys and older kids ended up in the playroom taking turns with the video games.  An activity that doubled as a favor to take home was this Make-a-Snowman ornament station.  I purchased some small glass ornaments (like these)  at Michaels as well as some of that fake cellophane snow and markers that write on glass.  I then cut up some black and orange paper into tiny carrot noses and coal buttons while the kids searched for little sticks outside.  Party guests carefully put some snow in the bottom of their ornament, added the stick arms, carrot nose, coal buttons, and google eyes, and then wrote whatever they liked on the outside with the glass marker.  My example ornament said “Some people are worth melting for.”  It was an easy and relaxing activity – even the youngest kids were able to do most of it themselves.

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Besides the ornaments, we had “Olaf’s Icy Slime” for guests to take home.  The cute little containers came from the dollar store (ten of them for a dollar!).  I made the slime following these instructions, only I chose to use a mixture of purple glitter glue and white glue in mine.  I also didn’t chill my ingredients ahead of time, as I had no need for it to be cold.  These were very popular with the older kids.

It was a very laid-back party, with guests participating in various activities, talking, and eating all at the same time.  Baby girl got to open a lot of wonderful gifts and got to be the center of attention as we all sang a very Happy Birthday to her.  She looks like she enjoyed it, don’t you think?

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Oh, and looking at this picture reminds me of the drinks we served – cold water bottles served up in a laundry basket labeled “Melted Snowmen.”  Haha!  The party was fun and (mostly) stress-free, and we all are enjoying watching our youngest munchkin grow. (but not too fast, baby girl!)  Happy birthday to Hosanna Joy!