Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Patriotic One to One Correspondence Activity

I set this activity up for Charlie for Memorial Day, sorry I didn't post it sooner..but you'll still be able to use it for anytime, and all the other patriotic holidays to come, like 4th of July!

I just adore activities that totally fit in with holiday or unit themes and this one did exactly that, as well as helped my daughter gain knowledge. Best of both worlds!

You'll need:
- A blue ice cube tray (preferably with star shaped sections like ours, just to be more patriotic)
- Red pom poms.

One to one correspondence is about one object fitting in one space. So for this activity, it was one pom pom fitting in one ice cube tray space. So my daughter placed each pom pom in a different star section.
This was great for fine motor skills too. Could use fingers or tweezers/tiny tongs. We had just done an activity with tiny tongs before this, so she went for her fingers.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Very Hungry Caterpillar Flashcards

I know almost every mom and baby is a fan of the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. When I found stickers from the book I just knew I had to get some. I got a few packs, some for my daughter to use in her sticker book (which delighted her) and some to make these flashcards with.

So, the stickers can be purchased from Dollar Deals. The only other things you'll need are index cards, a Sharpie, clear contact paper, and scissors. I'm currently out of contact paper so ours don't have that on them in the picture. It's not mandatory, but it definitely makes them more durable. It serves as a laminate.
I placed one sticker per index card and then used the Sharpie to write the word or phrase I wanted the card to convey.

We've got:
- Apple
- Pear
- Plum
- Orange
- Watermelon
- Lollipop
- Pie
- Cake
- Caterpillar ON muffin
- Caterpillar IN strawberry
- BIG caterpillar
- Little caterpillar
- Butterfly

I just adore these flashcards! They help to teach what on, in, big, and little are andto how they're opposites. They also just help with sight word recognition and of course are a fun addition to your Eric Carle collection.

Now all it takes to use the contact paper to laminate them is to cut pieces for the front and back down to size, sandwich the card in between, and then cut off the excess with scissors.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Baby's Breath Playdough

It's the softest playdough we've ever made and the texture that the baby's breath creates throughout it is so fun for kids to experience during play.

First, I started off by using a pair of scissors to cut off some of the baby's breath from my flowers.

Then we got out our other ingredients and set them on the counter. 
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of salt
1 cup of water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil

My daughter poured them in the pot and added just a few little drops of neon green food coloring. You could see in the picture of the playdough how it ended up a very light green, just like we wanted!

She mixed and mixed until it was all smooth.

Stopping along the way to see what it feels like midway through the stirring process. Great sensory idea, all her own idea!

While she was stirring I cut the baby's breath from the earlier photo down a bit.

Then I put the pot of playdough mix on the stove over medium heat (WITHOUT the baby's breath in it yet). I stirred it constantly with a wooden spoon until it formed a ball. Then I put the playdough in a bowl and began to knead it, adding in the baby's breath with my hands as I went. You knead until it isn't sticky anymore. And you're left with an awesome play dough that you're kids will really enjoy!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Broccoli Orange Juice

Here I am with another great juice recipe! You can view the rest of any juice recipes you may have missed here. 

Today's juice is Broccoli Orange Juice! Broccoli actually has therapeutic properties that protect the skin from the effects of UV light and reduce the risk of cancer in general. Oranges have a lot of choline in them which is very important for kids since it helps with learning and memory (they key here is always getting knowledge) as well as sleep and muscle movement.

All you have to do to make it is juice a little over half a head of broccoli (stalks included) and 2 oranges. Preferably organic!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Balancing Banana on Head. Fun Game From Book

This fun and FUNNY game will surely get any little girl or boy up and moving! And all you need is a banana!

Here at our house, we love Fancy Nancy books and my daughter was just recently given a new one called "Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique".

It really is a cute little story, I highly recommend it. Now, in this book Nancy and her friends walk around balancing bananas on their head to help them walk like models. My daughter thought it was so funny I knew we just had to try it out for ourselves.

So we did!

You just place the banana on the child's head and help them try to balance it while they walk around. I tried it too, and it really does make you walk straighter! I might starting practicing this at home! So not only is it silly and sure to get some laughs, bring a beloved story to life, and get the kids up and moving, it's actually beneficial! Best of all worlds!

Z is for Zebra Craft

Crafts can often be a big help when you're teaching something to a toddler or preschooler. It's a hands on way to bring the information learned to life. If your child is a visual learner crafts can be especially helpful to make a new subject or lesson click. 

For this craft, we were doing letters of the week. This is obviously a craft for the letter "Z" and I choose to make it Z is for Zebra! 

I cut out a capital letter Z from some thick white paper. I also cut out some small strips of black paper, small enough to basically fit on the letter Z. Your kiddo can help with the cutting if they'd like!

I set the Z and the strips out for my daughter, as well as some glue. I helped her make dots of glue all over the letter Z and explained that she'd put the black strips on those spots. She then did just that! Squeezing the bottle of glue, and placing the small strips of paper down on those precise spots was great for her fine motor skills.

Lemonade Stand Water Play

In the summer when it's hot out and the sun is beating down we love to engage in some water play to cool us off while we have fun! This water play activity not only lets kids play with water of course (which they LOVE) but it has sensory play to it and most importantly pretend play! It's so important for kids to start pretend play at a young age. Pretend play helps develop imagination and act out real life scenarios. There's usually lots of other skills learned during as well.

Note: before I start sharing the how-to's I'd like to add that this particular water play could also be part of a yellow themed week or day to help babies and young toddlers learn their colors.

So here's what it looks like!

You'll need:
- a plastic bin (preferably clear)
- yellow food coloring
- water
- lemon essential oil
- a ladle
- artificial lemons (a few, can be found at Dollar Tree)
- Styrofoam or plastic cups
- my daughter also wanted me to add some measuring spoons, so of course I did

Fill up the bin with the desired amount of water. Add in some drops of yellow food coloring (be careful not to add to much or it will turn the water orange). Stir that around until all the water is yellow. Add in a few drops of lemon essential oil to scent the water to add in the extra sensory element that will really bring the play to life.

If you want to add even more texture for more sensory elements you could add in some real lemon zest too.

Next, add in the ladle, lemons, and cups. You can set it up with the cups to the side like I did too. I also had a little plastic yellow bowl/cup thing that I added in.

As you can see my daughter got right to scooping and pouring the water and making me cups of lemonade!

Night Sky Themed Bath

This bath makes a great surprise for bath right before bedtime, or anytime! It's easy and frugal to create as well. All you need is yellow craft foam, white craft foam, scissors, and blue food coloring. Before you run the bath water cut out a crescent moon shape from the white craft foam, and some stars from the yellow. Once you've got those ready, fill up the tub with water. Once it's halfway full add in some blue food coloring until you get the desired color. Then set the craft foam moon and stars on top of the water. 

Your little one will be delighted by this night sky scene in their bath! They can take the craft foam pieces and stick them to the walls of the shower as well. Just getting craft foam wet makes it stick to the shower walls like magic! That's what makes it frugal. Craft foam is not that expensive, and when used in this way it dries and can be reused again and again and again. Between uses I store ours in labeled Ziploc bags.

A perfect compliment to this bath is our Shimmering Night Sky Bath Paint.

Baby Food: Exploring New Textures And Combinations. Carrots & Peas

Don't those textured purees look delicious, especially side by side?

Baby will surely love these! Carrots are safe to introduce to babies 4 months and up, while peas are safe to introduce to babies 6 months and up. You also want to only introduce one new puree at a time in case there's an allergy. But since both of these purees are more textured (usually started around 8 months) to help baby learn to chew, you've probably already introduced both, making them a safe side-by-side choice.

Now, our pea purees were always pretty textured due to the peels and all that. So peas always offer a new texture for babies. Carrots don't exactly puree perfectly smooth either, but to make them more textured and even have some soft lumps to start baby off on some real chewing, follow this method:
Wash, peel, chop and steam the carrots until they're pretty tender when poked with a fork. Then pulse them while you puree them. Most food processors/blenders have this option as one of the buttons, and the Baby Bullet manual explains how to do it. This will puree some and also leave some soft chunks in there for baby to begin chewing! Make sure you're nearby when they're eating (you'll probably be feeding them anyways).

Serving foods side-by-side like these helps baby get used to a variety of flavors in their daily diet and get more nutrients since both veggies offer different ones. You could even try pureeing them together if you think your baby would like that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pond Bath

I made a pond themed bath for Charlie to help her learn about what animals live in a pond. I combined a little bit of literacy too by adding the word "POND" to the wall of the shower with some green bath paint that I made.

I added some of her bath toys to the water that represented animals that would be in a pond. I also made some lily pads out of green craft foam and set them on top of the water. Oh and I colored the water with green food coloring!

She really enjoyed her pond bath!

She liked to put the toy frogs on the little lily pads.

Quinoa with Honey and Fruit

I'm sure you know quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat! So you may be looking for more and more ways to get it into your toddlers diet. Last night for dinner I made Quinoa with Honey & Fruit.
- Cooked quinoa (however much you want your child to be served)
- Organic honey (I used Clover Blossom from Trader Joe's)
- Organic strawberries, washed and cut in half
- Organic blackberries cut into small bites

Just put the quinoa in your kids bowl, then squirt in a little bit of honey and stir it in around. Then add in the fruit. Serve!

Couldn't be more simple and so very healthy! Everything in this recipe has health benefits that are great for your kids.

Medieval Times Lapbook

So this week we're beginning our medieval times study. It'll be a one week unit just like all of our other themed studies are. To kick things off, I put together this Medieval Times Lapbook for my baby daughter. 
It would have been a lot better with pictures added to it, but our printer is on the fritz and I wasn't able to go print at the library before this lapbook needed to be made. I used a manila folder, white paper, black sharpie markers (fine tip and regular), scissors, and a glue stick.

I used the regular Sharpie marker to write "Medieval Times" as a title for the lapbook. For each section I wrote on the white paper, then cut it out, and then glued it onto the manila folder. 

The information I have on each section was found on a few different websites about medieval times and the middle ages. 

I made sections about hobbies, weapons, heraldry, women's fashions, Marco Polo, cooking, foods, knights, instruments, sports, art, famous castles, centuries, and general idea about the time.

I didn't include EVERYTHING from every subject or even all the subjects there could possibly be since there's so much information about the middle ages. I just had what I wanted for my daughter to learn this week right now in our study.

- church organ
- harp
- fiddle
- rebec
- psaltery (cross between harp and guitar)
- dulcimer
- hurdy-gurdy
- flute 
- trumpet
- shawn
- recorder
- bagpipes

Knights had to know how to fight and play instruments and dance.

- hunting
- hawking
- gambling with dice
- backgammon
- chess
- story telling
- dancing

- barley, oat, rye for poor
- wheat for the wealthy
eaten as bread, porridge, cruel, and pasta
- fava beans
- veggies: onions, garlic, beets and carrots
- pork, chicken, beef
- cod, herring
- food preserved by drying, salting, smoking and pickling
- almonds to thicken soups, stews, and sauces, almond milk
- two meals: dinner big midday meal, supper in evening
- everyone ate together (including servants)

- bow and arrow
- mace
- axe

Time of violence. Power and wealth were sought after.

5th - 15th centuries. "Middle ages."

Famous castles:
- Tower of London
- Warwick Castle
- Windsor Castle

- Cooked over open fire
- ovens only at bakeries
- kitchens in the middle of living area to provide heat

Showed off with heraldry.

- form of soccer
- wrestling
- archery
- early form of bowling
- ice skates were cow shins

Marco Polo
Italian merchant wrote detailed journals of his travels to China, India, and Japan. Giving Europeans their first idea of it.

- church mosaics
- women became artists 
- illuminated manuscript
- sculpture
- stained glass

Women's fashions:
- long cloaks
- closed and pointed shoes
- gold, silver, pearls, and precious stones were lavished onto clothing.
- hats were of wire framework covered with embroidery or lace
- long trains on dresses
- long sleeves, hanging and fringed. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Comparing and Contrasting Stories with Venn Diagrams

Venn diagrams are a very useful tool to help kids learn to compare and contrast. Since we're in our fairytale themed week  we've been reading lots of stories! We've got a book called Once Upon a Time with some great versions of many popular tales that we've been sticking to for this week, but we've also got some Disney books with collections of some tales as well. I wanted my daughter to see that there can be multiple versions of one story so we read both books version of "The Little Mermaid."

After we finished reading I decided that we should make a venn diagram so we could list out the differences and similarities together. Yes, Charlie is only two years old but it's very important for kids to get used to seeing that things are written out a lot in life. It helps with literacy skills overall, expanding vocabulary, spelling, sight word recognition, and like I said just getting used to the fact that we live in a print-rich environment. So, we did this on our big dry erase board.

Note: Not claiming that my handwriting was perfect, as I was writing pretty quickly.

It was actually a fun thing to do as well as very educational. I asked my daughter provoking questions about the stories to get her thinking. I explained how when you list something on one side of the venn diagram it's good to list something similar that's different/the opposite on the other side. And of course how the things that are in the same in both cases goes in the middle. Doing this also helps with reading comprehension skills. You might be surprised at how much your little one will remember from stories you read to them.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What's in the Dirt? Science Lesson

I recently picked up this SID the Science KID DVD for my daughter. 
It features 4 episodes. One is about animal communication, one is about birds, one is about leaves, and one about dirt. This activity was us expanding on the episode about dirt and bringing what we learned to life with a hands on experience. I think any time kids can get outdoors is really beneficial, I believe the same for sensory play, and of course science is a very important subject for kids to gain knowledge on. This activity combines all three of those wonderful things. Hands on activities really do help kids learn so much better than when they just hear or see something during a lesson!

In the episode the kids collect some dirt in a bucket, pour it onto a tray, explore it with a magnifying glass, and then draw what the saw in their journals. We did the same thing!

To start, I had my daughter in her swimsuit doing some sprinkler play. We eventually used the sprinkler to get a section of dirt in our yard wet. This created mud! That in itself is a wonderful science and sensory experience for kids. When water is added to dirt it creates mud! How fascinating. Once it became mud I gave my daughter her Minnie Mouse cultivator and shovel. She used the cultivator to loosen up the mud a little bit and the shovel to get it into her bucket. Try and make sure your little one(s) doesn't get a bunch of grass their bucket, which is especially easy to do if they use a cultivator and put that straight into the bucket. You don't want that grass throwing off the result of what is IN the dirt.

Once the bucket had enough mud/dirt in it we took it over to her outdoor table, which had one of our plastic tot trays waiting on it, and dumped it out onto the tray! She started to touch it immediately, kind of flattening it down as if it was play dough. We used our hands and the cultivator to spread the dirt around on the tray so we could find out what was in it.

I encouraged her to use her magnifying glass to get a closer look. She was very eager to do so! This and other fun science activities are great for getting kids used to using magnifying glasses, which are a very important tool in the science world.

We found that our dirt, still a little wet, was very clay-like. I was able to roll it into a very smooth ball. My daughter thought that this was neat. We discussed the similarities some dirt has to clay.

We also realized that our dirt, at least what we got from the first inch or so of the ground really didn't have a lot of things in it. There was no little rocks, no worms, no different colors (things they found in their dirt in the SID the Science KID episode). We did see some little pieces of grass and what seemed like roots. After playing with the dirt for a while though, we did start to see some ants, and then we saw a VERY SMALL gray insect of some sort. They're so tiny they are hard to see. It's great for kids to get to see that there are some living things in the world that are that small. It's a very impressive thing.

After we were all done exploring our dirt we hosed off our tray, bucket, shovel and cultivator and set them out in the sun to dry.

Three Good Fairies Bath Paints

Anybody remember the three good fairies from Disney's Sleeping Beauty?
Well, since we're in our fairytale themed week this week I decided I would make bath time a little more fun by making a few different colors of bath paint to represent the three good fairies. 

Flora bath paint:
Squirt some shaving cream into a small dish or a section of a muffin tin. Add in a few drops of red food coloring and mix in with a makeup brush or paint brush. 

Merryweather bath paint:
Squirt some shaving cream into a small dish or section of a muffin tin. Add in a few drops of blue or neon blue food coloring and mix in with a makeup brush or paint brush.

Fauna bath paint:
Squirt some shaving cream into a small dish or section of a muffin tin. Add in a few drops of green or neon green food coloring and mix in with a makeup brush or paint brush.

When you make them all together at one time you've got Three Good Fairies Bath Paints!

I put them out near the tub, which I had filled with water and added a few drops of neon pink food coloring too. I made the water pink since that is the color of Princess Aurora's gown in Sleeping Beauty. So the bath in all represents Princess Aurora and her three good fairies.

When all the colors of paint were used together they made beautiful bathtub masterpieces!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What Makes a Fairytale Word Wall

We usually do word walls on our bulletin board for each theme that we do, so this week is no different. Except, I didn't exactly just put up words, this one had a lot more to it.

I used white paper and markers. The title or in the case the question/topic was "What Makes a Fairytale?"
So of course I asked my daughter what she thinks of when I say "fairytale" and I wrote down a bullet-pointed list of what she said with "Comes to mind...." as the heading. She named some of her favorite characters.

I also made some one that said "Once Upon A Time" with the word "once" underlined. I did this to discuss how a fairytale usually starts. Sometimes the whole familiar phrase is used, but sometimes just the "once" part is, or even another sentence all together.

Another one that said "Happily Ever After" to signify how a fairytale commonly ends. This was placed at the end of the board for that reason.

Another one that said "Good People" with another "comes to mind" bulleted list that my daughter helped me make.

Another one that said "Evil People/"Bad Guys"" with another "comes to mind" bulleted list that my daughter helped me make.

Another one that said "Fictional or "make believe""

Another one that said "Morals or lessons"

Another one that said "Sometimes There's Magic" with another "comes to mind" bulleted list that my daughter helped me make.

They were all tacked up in an order that made sense and will be discussed daily throughout this themed week.

Rapunzel's Magic Golden Flower Bath Paint

Like I mentioned before in my Tower Craft post, this week is our fairytale themed week AND my daughters been obsessed with Tangled lately. Sooo when making some regular old purple bath paint last night I got this great idea! I wanted to make the bath paint look like those little purple flag things from the movie with the yellow sun/magic flower shape on them. They're pretty significant since Rapunzel herself is looking at one when she realizes she's the lost princess.

My daughter LOVED seeing my rendition of this in her bath paint, and when she used it the two colors worked beautifully together.

To create it yourself you'll need:
- shaving cream
- a plastic dish
- makeup brush or paint brush
- neon purple food coloring
- yellow food coloring

Step 1: Squirt the desired amount of shaving cream into the container.
Step 2: Squirt in some of the neon purple food coloring and mix that in with the brush until all the shaving cream is colored.
Step 3: Rinse off the brush and squirt a dollop of shaving cream onto it. It should be big enough that you can plop it right in the middle of your already made purple bath paint in the container.
Step 4: Take your brush and carefully (as not to turn it purple) smooth out the dollop of new white shaving cream and drag out some lines like slightly curvy rays of the sun.
Step 5: Add just a few drops of yellow food coloring into the center of the sun shape. If you use too much it'll end up orange. Now, take the brush again and do like you did with the shaving cream in step 4, but to spread around the yellow color.
Step 6: Present to child and let them enjoy.

Child Creating their own Pancake Recipe

So, I just wanna first say that I originally saw something sorta similar to this here, but wanted to do our own version. I think it's so great to give kids lots of time with you in the kitchen and to let them get inventive and try out their own recipes. Everything should of course be as safe as possible though. Teach safe habits like these whenever possible.

We started with pancakes, just like the other blogger did. The activity really is essentially the same, but I'm sharing my daughters recipe as well since it turned out AMAZING.

I started the activity by asking her what we normally use to make pancakes, showing her that we'd just bought a box of mix yesterday. She wanted to use that mix. I asked her what she thought would taste really good in a pancake/what she'd like to add. She immediately started yelling agave! I thought that was a really smart choice. After she put that on the counter and got out the mixing bowl she wanted to use I started naming off some more of the things we had on hand so she could choose some more stuff. She picked chocolate chips and raisins!

So, with all our ingredients on the counter we started reading the pancake mix box. I asked her if she wanted to use 1 cup or 2 cups of mix, she said 2 so I got the corresponding amount of water ready. We measured the mix together, she poured it into the mixing bowl and then used a fork to make sure there were no clumps. Then she poured in the water and used that fork to mix it all together.

Next came adding the extra ingredients that she picked out. She squirted the agave in straight from the bottle. Then she poured the chocolate chips in straight from the bag. Last of all came the raisins, I asked her how many she wanted to put in and she said four so I gave her four to put in. She stirred that all up, then of course she had to sit down while I cooked them on the stove. I used a little bit of coconut oil on the pan in between each pancake which made them even more delicious and healthy. I also put vegan butter on each after they came out of the pan. Both of which were okayed by the little recipe maker/chef herself!
She really enjoyed her pancake and I thought they were super yummy too! After they cooled completely I put them in a gallon Ziploc bag, with a piece of wax paper separating each pancake, to freeze. Reheating only takes about 35 seconds in the microwave.

Charlie's Chocolate Agave Pancake Recipe:
- 2 cups of complete pancake mix
- 1 1/3 cups of water
- 1-2 TBSP or more of organic amber agave
- 1/3 cup Enjoy Life gluten/dairy/nut/soy free chocolate chips
- 4 organic raisins
- Organic coconut oil for the pan
- Vegan butter to spread on each warm pancake

Step 1: Get out your ingredients and mix them all together with a fork or spoon.
Step 2: Melt some coconut oil in the pan.
Step 3: Use a 1/4 cup to pour pancake mix into coconut oiled pan, on medium-low heat. Flip when bubbles are forming all over pancake. Give it a couple minutes for the other side to cook.
Step 4: Put it on a plate, butter and serve.
Step 5: Completely cool and freeze leftovers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tower Craft Designing Your Own

This week at our house the home school theme is all things fairytale. We decided to kick off this themed week with a craft: designing your own tower. This was especially great for Charlie, seeing as she's been obsessed with Tangled lately.

You'll need:
- A sheet of paper to be the background (we used white)
- Construction paper (we used pink)
- Glue stick
- Scissors
- Stickers, regular or craft foam
- Glitter glues
- Other options could be crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, markers, tempera paints, etc.

I let Charlie pick out what color she wanted her tower to be and of course she chose pink! We had also got out some purple, thinking that maybe there'd be two colors to the tower, but she ended up sticking with pink for all of it.

Now, I asked her if she remembered what Rapunzel's tower looked like and what shape she thought the big part ought to be and she correctly said rectangle. I let her cut out the rectangle shape freehand but you may want to draw the outline of yours first. We used the glue stick to paste it down, and then talked about what shape the top part should be.

 We decided on a triangle with some curve, definitely a pointy top though. Once that shape was cut out I asked her if she wanted me to cut a window out in it, she did, so I did. We glued that on and then it was time to decorate the tower!

Charlie wanted to use some craft foam heart stickers that we had leftover from Valentine's Day. So she got to use her fine motor skills to peel the backs off the stickers and adhere them to her tower.

Next came the glitter glues. We've got some big bottles and little bottles.

 She always squirts a big glob out and then spreads it around with her finger(s) or a small piece of scrap paper. She used purple and blue on the tower. Silver on the left side of the background, light green on the right side of the background, and dark green for some grass along the bottom.

I think it turned out beautifully!

Almond Butter & Strawberry Sandwich

Today I'm going to share with you a fantastic sandwich idea for the little one(s) in your life! Kids usually all love PB&J and this is pretty similar. Almond butter is actually quite healthier than peanut butter as well, and using fresh organic strawberries trumps using jarred jelly or jam. Plus, it's always nice to switch it up, yet keep it familiar for little ones who like routine and order in their lives.

- 2 slices of bread, lightly toasted (an organic multigrain or homemade bread would offer optimal nutrition, but use whatever your child is used to).
- Organic or homemade almond butter (I used Full Circle brand).
- Organic strawberries, thinly sliced or diced, however you see fit

Take your lightly toasted bread and spread the almond butter on both pieces. Then put the strawberries on one side and put the sandwich together.

Next you can serve it as is, carefully cut the crust off, cut it into sections, or use a shaped cutter to present it in a fun way.

You can see my daughter enjoyed hers.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fairy Garden (sensory play, pretend play, outdoor play)

I am absolutely in love with this fairy garden that I made for my daughter! We had been gathering the supplies for it all April, and then ended up putting it together on Easter. I wanted to make her this Fairy Garden so she could do some digging in the dirt, some pretend play with her fairies, pretend to plant the flowers, move around some loose parts, and have something she could do beside me while I tend to our garden. 

I found that perfect pot for it at Menards, and filled it up with the dirt! 

The materials I used for inside of it were all purchased from Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree (aside from the aquarium gems which some are from Pet Co, some have came in holiday sets from Hobby Lobby). I think the gems really add to it though, since they're loose parts that are intriguing for imaginative play. They also sparkle very pretty in the sunlight. We use the black ones for around the house and stepping stones. The green ones can look like grassy areas, and the orange ones we put on the tables to be tea and crumpets.

 Here's another picture with everything included. The bridge wasn't in the last picture.

All things from Hobby Lobby were in one aisle, so getting these items doesn't require much searching. I purchased over $100 worth of items there that day and only ended up spending about $60 because of a great coupon I had. I think it was well worth it. From that aisle we got the house, mushrooms, flower bed, bridge, 3 fairies, bench, tables, and fencing.

The things I added from the Dollar Tree were the artificial flowers and rocks.

There's just another view, without the bridge again.

My daughter likes to play with the fairies and they have tea parties and their tables, water the flowers, etc.
She also likes to take the fairy items out sometimes and really get to digging and getting dirty with her minnie mouse shovel and cultivator from Toys R Us. I also give her a big bucket so she can transfer/scoop and pour the dirt when she wants too. She can also pretend to plant the artificial flowers again and again.

I think this is great outdoor fun for any child. I'm always looking for things to do outside so we can spend more time out there. If you don't want your sons playing with fairies, this could be made more "boyish" by using gnomes instead of fairies (also found in the same aisle at Hobby Lobby).