Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seashells and Ocean Animals Oobleck

Oobleck is one of the funniest messy play sensory materials that there is! It's relatively cheap and easy to make as well, which is always a plus. I decided to make an oobleck that would go with our ocean unit. It turned out great!

To make Seashells and Ocean Animals Oobleck you'll need:
- a bin
- cornstarch
- water
- neon blue food coloring
- some seashells
- some small ocean animals. We used this tube from Animal Planet

Step 1:
Fill up your bin with some cornstarch, then slowly add water. Mix it with your hand until you get the right consistency. You want to be able to grab a ball of it in your hand like a solid and then have it immediately start to turn into a liquid and run off of your fingers. It's about a 60% cornstarch, 40% water mixture.

Step 2:
Add in a few drops of the food coloring and mix it around with your fingers or a spoon if you don't want to get a little stained up!

Step 3:
Add in the seashells and the small ocean animals for ocean play presentation. The kids can play with them in the oobleck ocean for a while like a small world, and then take them out to really get into the hands on oobleck play.

Note: above I mentioned staining, your hands would only get stained if you choose to mix in the food coloring with them. If you use a spoon to mix in the food coloring, and only put your hands in after it's mixed the color will not stain your skin at all. It won't stain the kids skin either. It's a good idea to put on some play/paint clothes though in case of anything getting on the clothes. This is really easy to clean up, and washes right away with water.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Finding Nemo Name Matching Tot Tray

 This tot tray was part of our ocean theme. It's very simple, great for babies, and a fun way to make toddlers feel proud to complete something all on their own. It also helps toddlers to learn some literacy skills, and labeling.

To make this tot tray you need to print out this tot book (or at least the part of it with the names of the characters). You'll also need to purchase the Finding Nemo characters from Dollar Tree. Set up is easy once you've printed the tot book. You lay out the cards with the names of the characters, and you lay out the characters as well. Then you show it to your child and tell them to match them up.

Once they've got them all in the right places, read the names to them and point out the letters to your toddler. Spell the names out to your child and have them tell them back to you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Finding Nemo Sensory Bin (Baby Safe)

For our ocean theme we've been doing lots of fun things! We had a movie time where we watched Finding Nemo. My little cutie only watched the first 20 minutes and then asked me if we could read instead. Makes me proud! BUT she does love the Finding Nemo characters, so I put together this adorable sensory bin.

This bin is totally baby safe, provided of course you're watching your baby while they play. Nothing in it is edible, but I consider it totally appropriate for babies to play with. It's even great for honing fine motor skills!

For the base material, I actually used three different materials. They were all blue though to represent the ocean. Pom poms of different sizes/textures/shades, cut up plastic straws, and hair rollers. You probably have most of this stuff around the house, could easily obtain it for cheap, or can substitute something else for it.

Then I added toy characters from Finding Nemo that can be purchased at Dollar Tree. It's adorable and sure to delight!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Banana Dessert Breakfast

Around here, we like to occasionally make breakfast a little bit like a dessert by adding a fun and unexpected treat to it. Here's my recipe for a Banana Dessert Breakfast that works well as the main entree or a side.

- 1/2 a banana
- Almond butter
- Chocolate chunks

All you need to do to make this is take a banana and peel it, then slice it carefully down the middle longways. Once you've got your half of the banana ready you spread almond butter over it, as much as you'd like. Finally, you top it off by adding some chocolate chunks on top across the banana in a row.

Your little one will most likely delight at the sight of chocolate on their breakfast and gobble it all up!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Making a Rainbow in Your Own Backyard

Who doesn't love rainbows? We love rainbows here and it's one of my daughter's favorite activities to make her own. She also loves playing in the sprinkler, and since that's involved it's even funner!

What you need to make your own rainbow is a hose, a sprinkler attachment like this one, and of course sunlight! That's what makes it such a good science activity, you'll be able to explain to your child what is needed to make a rainbow and how it's usually done with the rain in the atmosphere. You can also discuss the colors that make a rainbow! So, once you've got your attachment on the hose and your kid all suited up, you just start the sprinkler play and experiment with when a rainbow will be made. We usually get a great one on the mist setting. 

This also makes a great photo opportunity as you can see in the photo above of my daughter. It looks as if she's running across a rainbow! Pictures of kids and rainbows are so cute, and easy to get when you can make your own on any sunny day. It's sure to wow your kiddo!

Name & Erase The Letters - Dinosaur Edition

I came up with a great idea today to do on our dry erase board! I love doing lessons on the dry erase board, especially those that can be interactive. Don't worry if you don't have a dry erase board this could also be done on a chalk board. It's a great alphabet/literacy activity. 

Since we're in our dinosaur themed week this week I made it dinosaur themed, but you could make yours any words you wanted! 

So, I would write a word on the dry erase board, and then give my daughter the eraser and tell her to name and erase the letters that she knows. Even if your child doesn't already know their letters and isn't just practicing you can point out letters to them and tell them to erase whatever they are. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Host A Toddler Picnic

Every year for my daughter's half birthday I host a picnic for her and her little friend who has a half birthday close to hers too! This post is to share how you too could host a toddler picnic play date! Picnics are a very fun thing to do in the summer, so there certainly doesn't need to be a special occasion to have one.

Here's what our picnic table looked like all set up.

I lay out a piece of fabric that looks just like a picnic blanket with giant ants crawling all over it. It's so adorable and makes a great themed table cloth. You could probably find some similar fabric to use, use a plastic table cloth from Dollar Tree, or no table cloth at all!

Now, before I get into what're some good ideas food-wise I'm going to tell you some things I think are crucial to have a sucessful outdoor picnic with no problems:
- A plastic bag for trash
- A thing of wet wipes for wiping off hands and faces/possible messes
- Paper plates, napkins, and cups. Using plastic ones would work too, but this way they can just be thrown into that plastic bag when finished and there's less clean up.
- I found that a sandwich container was the perfect thing to put our fruit salad in. It has a lid which is great for covering it up when not being used, and traveling with it. It's not a huge size either, and holds a good amount for a few toddlers to enjoy together.
- Cold water bottles are good to have on hand and ready to be used
- Toddler utensils of course

Now, I'm starting to get into the food of it all so I'll just list off what I served:
- PB & J Lunch Box Muffins. This recipe from i should be mopping the floor is phenominal! I make these quite often and knew they'd be a great addition to a picnic. Kids love PB & J and these muffins were a great, mess-free way to pack a protein into the meal.
- Toddler Fruit Salad. I cut up a few strawberries, a kiwi, and a handful of green grapes and then sprinkle wheat germ on the top. I refrigerated it for about an hour before the picnic.
- I had out a little dish of a goat cheese with honey in it that my daughter likes
- Snacks & Hummus Tray. Kids love to dip and one of my daughters favorite healthy dips is hummus. I put some on a tray along with some broccoli, carrots, gluten free pretzels, and Multi-Grain crackers!

After that food was finished up, I brought out some homemade vegan ice cream that I had prepared the night before. It was so delicious and just adorable. I fell in love with these Ice Cream Pop Molds from Tovolo. They're such a fun thing to put our vegan ice cream into and great for little ones to hold and there's no messes made either since the drips are caught by the cone part!


The ice cream was made by blending a cup of frozen mangoes with two frozen bananas and a splash of almond milk. My daughter was eating hers up so fast it was hard to get a picture!

Now, I always like to have a craft or activity at the play dates I have. This time, to stick with the theme, we made an A is for Ants craft! I had it set up on my daughter's little table like this

You'll need:
- Green construction paper
- Brown construction paper
- Scissors
- Glue stick
- Black Sharpie marker
- Black washable tempera paint
- A dish for the paint

I had cut out capital letter A's from the brown construction paper and wrote "A is for ant" on the green construction paper ahead of time. All they had to do was use the glue stick to glue their letter A's down, and then dip their fingers in the black washable tempera paint and make some prints on the paper for ants. The letter A represents an ant hill that the ants can be climbing on or near. It turned out really cute. You can go back and add antennae and legs to the ants with the marker if you want.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Little Mermaid Themed Bath

What little girl doesn't love Little Mermaid? I know mine certainly does! I actually made this bath upon her request. 

It's complete with craft foam seaweed, coral reef bath paint, characters and seashells. For the actual bath water itself I made it blue by adding in some blue food coloring while it was being filled. The Little Mermaid bathtub/pool safe doll and Sebastian and Flounder that are seen in our tub can be found here.

The craft foam seaweed is perfect to use for counting practice! They can be taken off and put back on, counting each time. When wet craft foam magically sticks to the walls of the bath tub which makes them fun to play with and also great for decorating and making the theme come to life more. We cut ours out from some green craft foam purchased at Micheal's. 

Coral Reef bath paint was another fun addition to our Little Mermaid Themed Bath. To make it I squirted some shaving cream into a clear plastic bowl that had flip-flops on it. (I thought that looked beachy and kind of fit in with the theme). Then I added in a few drops of red food coloring, and a few drops of yellow food coloring and mixed the two together with a makeup brush until I got the coral color I was trying to make.

I laid out some sponges that came with my daughter's Little Mermaid paint set so she could use them to make some themed prints on the bath tub walls! Those really made it special. I'm sure you could find paint sponges shaped like different things at craft stores and maybe even Dollar Tree.

I also had a bowl of seashells sitting there for sensory exploration and themed play.

Afterwards my daughter got in her mermaid bath towel :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Polka Dot Artwork for Fine Motor

Fine motor and art? Yes, please!

This activity incorporates both in a fun way. Making this fun work of art your toddler won't even think of it as work to hone their fine motor skills. It's fine motor, crafty fun!

All you need for this is
-a sheet of construction paper (I used black)
- craft foam shape circle stickers. You can get a pack of craft foam shape stickers here

Any shape or craft foam sticker would work since they'd be peeling the sticker and pressing it down just the same way. The theme of this artwork for us though was polka dots. Made it fun and super cute to stick to a theme.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Coffee Shop Sensory Bin/Small World

Doesn't this sensory bin/small world look so inviting? I think it does!

Coffee beans are a great base material for sensory bins. I decided to add some more things to our usual coffee bean sensory bin to make it more interesting this time. I added coffee mugs from the play kitchen, Little People, and a Little People stand from the corner market play set. The point was to get my daughter to play with the Little People as if they were at a coffee shop, making them cups of coffee and such, and having them interact with each other. I still had out some measuring spoons and cups for more fun transferring. She had a lot of fun with it! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Roses & Petals Water Play/Science

My daughter always enjoys water play, and so do many other kids. Finding new things to incorporate in our water plays always makes us happy. Rose petals make a great addition to a sensory bin that's filled with water. We had yellow and pink rose petals from my mother's day flowers so we used those.

I let my daughter have a chance to peel the petals apart and add them to the water.

This was a great sensory experience for her, and a good science lesson too. She took all the petals off of one rose and asked what the parts left over were called. We looked it up together and found out which part was the "hip" and which were the "anthers"

Once all the petals, and some whole roses were in the water she really enjoyed feeling them wet. She'd splash them around and say they were getting a bath. Then, more science was happening! We decided to talk about whether or not the petals and the roses floated. She also discovered she could squeeze some water out of the petals. So much fun!

Avocado Hair Mask for Kids

My daughter loves getting a hair mask put on. It makes her feel so pampered. We do one every couple weeks or so, and sometimes more in the winter. Not always this one, there's a few others we do too but she loves this one.

You probably already know that avocado is one of the best foods to eat, and a great first food for babies. But what you may not have known is that it's just as good for your hair. If your toddler has dry looking hair it will definitely add shine. If their scalp is dry in the winter masks like this help with that as well.

All you have to do to make it is mash up a pretty ripe avocado. If your kid is going through an especially dry time you can also add up to 1 tbsp olive oil to it. That can make it look a bit greasy for a few days, but after it's gotten wet a couple times the hair is left looking really shiny and healthy!

When you apply it to your child's hair you just massage the scalp very lightly with it and rub it around through the hair. You can then use a comb to spread it throughout the hair as well. Afterwards wrapping saran wrap around it can help it to not get messy if they will be playing while it sits for about 10-20 minutes before washing it out.

Carafe & Measuring Cup Rice Transferring Tot Tray

This tot tray is a great one for practical life skills.

All you need to set it is:
- A tray
- A carafe
- A liquid measuring cup
- Uncooked rice (coloring and scenting the rice is optional but does make it more interesting, ours was blue cotton candy).

Present it with all the rice being in the carafe. You'll be amazed at how quickly your little one will grab the neck of the carafe and pour the rice from it. They can spend as long as they want transferring the rice back and forth again and again