Thursday, August 28, 2014

Color Mixing Water Play

Water play is a great way to beat the summer heat and almost all kids love it! This particular one we did last year was to teach color mixing. It was to show that when red and blue mix together they create purple. 

I set my daughter up outside with a bin full of water and two clear plastic cups one with red water and one with blue water. I colored the waters with food coloring, a few drops each. She poured in the red first!

Next went the blue, and the colors mixed to make purple. In the picture the water still looks blue but it was a lovely shade of purple in person.

After we did that and discussed the color theory and all that she started just playing with the water. Splashing around in it and then using the cups to scoop and pour the water from one to the other. Lots of summer fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pretend Play Campsite

To kick off our camping unit we turned our playroom/classroom into a pretend play campsite! I'm not super crafty but I think all my DIY projects for this turned out plenty cute. My daughter certainly wasn't judging what it all looked like, she was just having fun! You can easily make these things for your child too with just a few easily obtainable supplies.

So as you can see above we had these things set up:
- Tent and sleeping bag
- Magnetic fishing
- Grill with smores
- Campfire
- Lawn chair with turkey dogs to roast

So, for the tent and the sleeping bag we just used one of those tents from the play tent/tunnel things without the tunnel. Then we put her Barbie sleeping bag inside along with a lantern from Dollar Tree. She also added quite a few baby dolls into the tent to snuggle with her!

I wanted her to be able to sleep under the stars so I cut some star shapes out of white craft foam. Then I punched a hole in each one so I could tie some yarn onto it. Then I taped the yarn onto the ceiling so that the stars would dangle down. 

These were placed right above the tent.

The magnetic fishing was something I've wanted to set up for a while after all the versions floating around on Pinterest, and our library also had something similar at an event a few months ago. We luckily already had a magnetic fishing pole from our Melissa & Doug Fishing Puzzle. So all I had to do was lay some blue sheets of craft foam down onto a wooden box (actually the box to our Melissa & Doug birthday cake play set. And then cut some fish out of other colors of craft foam. I used yellow, green and pink craft foam to make the fish. I drew the shapes first with a Sharpie and then cut them out. I also used the Sharpie to draw on an eye and smile to the fish. Finally I put the paperclips on them to make them magnetic. 

The grill with smores was very simple to put together as well. All I did was lay a cooling rack down on my daughters table to make the grill. I set out plastic coffee pot, pan, pot, and utensils. I also used light brown, dark brown, and white craft foam to make smores that my daughter could use for pretend play to put together and take apart. It's simple, you just have to cut out squares of each color, and add some dots with a Sharpie to the light brown ones to make them look more like graham crackers. You can make them in varying sizes if you are working on teaching the differences between big and little and size ordering to your little one.

Now for the campfire. This is one of my favorite things I made even though it is less than perfect looking. There's also been various types of this posted on Pinterest. To make it you'll need:
- A piece of cardboard
- Two paper towel rolls
- Tape
- Red and yellow tissue paper. Orange would also be good but we didn't have any of that.

I just taped the two paper towel rolls onto the piece of cardboard, one at a time so I could position them over each other like logs of wood would be. Then I tried my best to make the pieces of tissue paper look like flames/a fire and tape them onto the paper towel roll logs.

Then for the final touch that made everything look super cute and realistic I put out my daughter's lawn chair with some little pretend turkey dogs to pretend to roast over the pretend fire. All I had to do to make these was tape the little plastic hot dogs that come with play kitchen sets to some of our pick up sticks.

Some other things we had were:
- Whistle with compass
- Flashlight
- Camping, hiking, and fishing books.

We still plan on making some pretend binoculars and vest as crafts and for pretend play use.

After you set this up you should really engage in pretend play with your little one. Put away electronics and pretend to be very outdoorsy. Get as much of the experience as you can and encourage your little one to play with all the elements that were set up. This is a great learning experience for them. They will get to act out real life scenarios and get to expand their vocabulary with new words they may not have heard much before.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Toddler Made Calligraphy

After reading a book about Japanese culture during our Multicultural Unit I decided to have my daughter do some calligraphy practice of her own! 

She loved it! Any painting is fun for toddlers, especially when they are trying to do something special. In this case making their own calligraphy. After reading about it my daughter was stoked to do her own.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Name Caterpillar Craft

This is one of my favorite crafts we've ever done. It was so educational and fun for my daughter! Not to mention all of the fine motor strengthening parts of it. We did it when she was about 18 months old. Here's what the finished product should look like.

What you'll need:
- A piece of white card stock paper
- Orange construction paper
- Green construction paper
- Scissors
- Sharpie marker
- Glue (Elmer's makes great glue pens, you could also use regular glue bottles or sticks)

First take your orange sheet of construction paper and draw a circle on it for the caterpillars head and write the first letter of your child's first name in it. Next, use the green construction paper and repeat for the rest of the letters of your child's name, with a bit smaller circles.

Next, help your child cut out the circles or let them cut them out themselves depending on where they are at with their scissor skills. At 1.5 here I was doing a lot of the cutting with my daughter, and now at 2.5 she barely needs my help at all.

After all the circles are cut out instruct your child to put glue on the backs of them all. This is great for their fine motor skill development, as was the cutting.

Last, give your child the white sheet of paper and show them how to put the circles down on the paper. Help them to put them all in the right order. During this time discuss all the letters and how they are the letters that make up their name. Sound them out individually, together, and say the name a few times. Ask them to repeat after you. Very educational!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Little Mermaid Sensory Small World

Does your little one love the book or movie Little Mermaid? If so this sensory small world will be perfect for them. I'm always looking for ways to bring books and movies to life in fun ways, and I'm always looking for more and more ways to use our Little People. This bin is the best of both worlds for that.

To recreate this sensory small world you will need:
- Blue playdough
- Corn meal
- Some seashells
- Little People Little Mermaid figures. You can get Ariel as a mermaid and her 3 friends here and you can get Ariel as a person on land with Prince Eric here.
- We also added a little Sebastian figure we had and an aquarium toy

To set it up use the blue playdough to make an ocean by pushing it down to cover half or a little over half of the surface of the bin. Add the corn meal to the rest of the surface of the bin. Add in the Little People where they belong (mermaid in the ocean, others on the sand). Add in the extras, seashells either place, and aquarium toy in the ocean.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Water Bottle Cap Color Sorting

This is a fantastic activity for one year old toddlers. Sorting itself is so beneficial for development, and sorting colors helps your toddler learn to differentiate and learn their colors. It even works in some early literacy thanks for the labels.

You can purchase a 3 section tray like the one pictured above at Dollar Tree. They are GREAT for sorting activities for kids. All you'll need for this is that tray, and two different colors of water bottle caps. We had green and white. If you want to include the early literacy aspect with labels you'll need paper in colors of water bottle caps you're using, a Sharpie, and some scissors.

So, I made the labels. "Bottle Cap Sorting" for the title in the middle section. Then "green" for the green section, and "white" for the white section. Then I laid it out, as well as a bunch of white and green bottle caps (the reusing is very frugal and green). I demonstrated and talked about how the green ones went in one place and the white ones in the other.

My daughter got right to work and in no time she was sorting the water bottle caps perfectly. The odd few get to the wrong places at first when excited toddlers grab handfuls at once, don't worry about it! The learning is definitely taking place. You won't believe how excited your toddlers will be to sort water bottle caps.

Toddler Play Date Food

I'm going to share a little plate of food that is ideal for one year old toddlers to share together when having a play date. Could be a picnic play date specifically, or just for grazing if it's close to breakfast or lunch time.

So, here it is.

The first section is one of my famous toddler fruit salads.

Toddler Fruit Salad Ingredients:
- Sliced strawberries
- Quartered green grapes
- Sliced kiwis
- Wheat germ

Put all the cut up fruits together, and sprinkle with wheat germ.

The next option is dices of fresh avocado.

Last but not least, the protein portion is tofu. Just cold tofu cut into cubes for them to eat as finger foods.

Such yummy and HEALTHY options that are sure to delight the children and their parents.

Granola Stuffed Strawberries

Looking for a new breakfast for your toddler to mix things up a bit? Look no further! This is a new favorite around our house. A favorite of mine to make (it's fun and feels fancy), and a favorite of my daughters to gobble all up! It also makes me happy because she hates oatmeal, but will eat oats in the form of granola just fine. Nice filling breakfast to have before heading out on morning errands, activities, or whatever you've got planned for your child.

Ingredients for the Granola Stuffed Strawberries:
- Strawberries, prefferably organic (however many your child will eat)
- Granola (we use triple berry organic granola from Trader Joe's)

For the vegan dip:
- Cultured coconut milk yogurt
You can use any type of yogurt you want such as soy, almond, homemade, whatever. If you're not concerned with being dairy free cow's milk yogurts will work as well. The cultured coconut milk from Trader Joe's really does pair well with these though.

Step 1:
Wash the strawberries, then slice off the leafy tops.

Step 2:
Use a knife to poke a hole around the edge of the inner white part of the strawberry, then go all around it with your knife so you can pull out the white part without cutting the rest of the strawberry. You're just trying to get that part out of the middle so there's room to stuff them.

Step 3:
Use a small spoon (baby spoons work great) to stuff the strawberries with the granola. Try to get it in as deep as you can, it's okay if some overflows onto the tops of the strawberries.

Step 4:
Get it ready for presentation. I put my daughters inside of some heart silicone baking cups that would be perfect in a bento box. We haven't gotten ours yet though, so they're just placed on a paper plate. Add the yogurt of your choice onto the plate, bento box, or in a bowl.

Step 5:
Present and watch your child gobble it all up!

Weather Word Wall

We've been studying weather recently for tot school. Here's the word wall I made to go along with the unit.

I thought it was so cute. To make a word wall similar to this you'll most importantly need a bulletin board. Other specifics I used:
- light blue construction paper for the title
- white index cards for the words
- a black Sharpie to write everything
- thumbtacks of course to put the words up
- cloud scissors

What made it was so cute was how all the weather words looked like clouds thanks to the cloud scissors. The words were:
- Accumulation
- Atmosphere
- Breeze
- Climate
- Cloudy
- Dew
- Drizzle
- Drought
- Fair
- Fog
- Flood
- Forecast
- Front
- Frost
- Gust
- Humid
- Jet Stream
- Lightning
- Precipitation
- Pressure
- Temperature
- Thunder
- Rain
- Snow
- Wind

Some more good words to add would be Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin, sleet, hail, icicles, climate, things like that.

My daughter and I went over these words a lot and she really enjoyed learning about them. She'd want my explanation/definition of each of the words. Then I could ask her questions about them and she'd answer. It was a very informative word wall when using my prior knowledge to weather, and things we learned in books together during this unit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Glamorous Petting Zoo Sensory Bin

I've got a very fancy little girl who loves pink! So, just for her I set up this Glamorous Petting Zoo sensory bin/small world. She LOVED it and I bet your kids would too.

All you need is:
- A sensory bin
- Colored/floral scented Epsom Salt (purchased from Dollar Tree)
- Some Little People (or whatever kind) petting zoo animal figurines
- Things to represent their food, we again had Little People stuff, but play food from your child's kitchen would work just as well if it's all you've got

Pour the Epsom Salt in the bin and then add in the cute little animals and food. You can also give your child some Little People (or other doll/person figures) to play with in the petting zoo, to feed the animals, and pet them, etc. Their little imaginations will just soar with this bin!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Abstract Tiger Painting

Here I am to share another wonderful idea on how your little one can make beautiful works of art with things other than paint brushes! Today I'm sharing how they can make Abstract Tigers with a loofah or bath poof. You can purchase these in the perfect size for painting, in packs of three, at Dollar Tree.

Now, to set up the painting session you'll need:
- Paper
- Washable Tempera paint in black, orange, and yellow
- A loofah or bath poof

I put our paint on a paper plate this time.

Your little one will see the set up and get right to work. As you can see mine did a bit of finger painting at first, which was great! This is definitely a process art since it is an abstract and for young kids.

Hers really ended up looking good I think. I love the lines in it that the loofah created, and her dabs of finger painting added to it as well!