Sunday, December 30, 2012

Color mixing

Ellie is 24/25 months old

Ellie has become very interested in painting, colors and color mixing. It started with a water activity she did with Ryan one day:

We started incorporating that idea into painting. We did one for purple, orange and green. The setup was similar for each one -- two colors of tempera paint on a paper plate, a piece of paper for her to experiment with, and color-coordinated tools (either one of the primary colors or secondary color we were making). 

Purple -- red and blue paint, with a blue loofah and red roller. Ignore the yellow sponge -- that was from painting Christmas ornaments, which is how this whole thing started. 

Orange -- yellow and red paint, with a red scraper and a slice of an orange, flower-shaped pool noodle.

Green -- yellow and blue paint, with a blue scraper, yellow and blue paintbrush and blue and green scrubber. She spent most of this time painting her arm. I can't entirely blame her, as these didn't mix into a very pretty color of green.

Here are the final products -- orange, green and purple. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter tot school activities

Well, I am way behind. I guess that's what happens during Christmas, right?? Here's a quick list of recent tot school activities in the last month:

Coffee filter trees, combined with pine needle printing for the background: These turned out wonderfully, and let the kids experience a number of textures, techniques and creativity.

Felt tree decorating: My aunt made this for Ellie last year, and the kiddos loved decorating the tree (and telling me what shapes to cut with the extra felt). It was great fun, plus good shape and color practice.

Ice cream cone tree decorating: Ice cream cones, frosting (they got to smoosh in the food coloring themselves) and sprinkles -- they were in heaven!
Look at that crazy hair!!

Salt dough ornaments with nature stamping: We gave each of the kids a cup, bundled them up and sent them outside to collect nature things to make prints in their ornaments. They picked all kinds of neat things, like pine needles, pinecones, rocks, leaves, etc. We added whole wheat flour, which gave them a really neat texture. I didn't get any pictures of the finished product, but here's one of them hard at work!

Cotton ball snowflakes: Ours didn't turn out exactly like snowflakes, because we let the kids do their own glue. But it was good fine motor practice, and we were surprised by how much the kids liked this one. 

Candy cane tissue paper collage: I printed out a candy cane picture for each kid, then gave them red and white tissue paper to glue onto the correct color. The older kids seemed to get it and like it for awhile, but needed more one-on-one help than we had adults for. Ellie enjoyed it on her own later.

Candy cane letter name hunt: I printed out each child's name in a candy cane font, then printed a duplicate set that I cut apart. I hid the letters around our living room, and we helped them match the letters. Two of the oldest really liked this, but again, it took a lot of adult interaction to help them do this one. 

Fluffy stuff: Keeping with the theme of this day, the older three liked it, the younger ones did not.

Red and white beanbag toss: Taking an idea from a library story time by us, I made six red and six white beanbags out of children's socks. Just fill them with rice or beans and tie a knot. They held up wonderfully and the kids sorted them into a red or white basket. This was a great game that Ellie has asked to repeat multiple times since tot school that week.

Christmas picture fishing: I made "fishing rods" out of a dowel rod, string and a heavy-duty magnet. Then I printed out a bunch of pictures of Christmasy things, and attached a paper clip to each. I put all the pictures in a hula hoop and let the kids fish. This one held their attention for a LONG time. We'll probably repeat it with different pictures later. 

WHEW! That's a lot of catch up...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Montessori-inspired sandpaper alphabet cards

Ellie has started paying a lot of attention to letters. She wants us to write down various words all the time, and gets really excited when she sees letters on signs or in her environment.

She also really enjoys sensory-based play. I wanted to combine these things and get her a set of the Montessori sandpaper letters. But geez they're expensive.

I actually, ON MY OWN (that means NO Pinterest!) came up with two different ways to do these letters.

Total cost: $1
Total effort: 5/10

I bought a pack of cheap sandpaper at the Dollar Tree ($1). I used my Cricut to cut out upper and lowercase letters (this is why it was so easy). I will say -- this did not work super well. The first page went really well, but then the sand started sticking to the mat and it didn't cut as well. So in hindsight, I would use an old mat so I could throw it away, and I would cut the hardest-to-cut by hand letters first. I ended up having to do G/g, J/j, O/o, T/t and V/v by hand.

Then I picked up 52 paint swatches (I'm so sorry, Lowe's) -- 21 dark blue (for lowercase consonants), 21 light blue (for uppercase consonants), 5 dark red (for lowercase vowels) and 5 light red (for uppercase vowels).

I used a layer of mod podge to glue the sandpaper on. I decided not to do another layer over the top so that the sandpaper would be bumpier. Trim off the paint name and they're done!

Total cost: $9 (using Hobby Lobby sales and 40% coupon)
Total effort: 1/10

I bought a pack of raised glittery stickers, so they'd have some texture, 26 wooden tiles (for uppercase), and 26 round tiles (for lowercase).

Then I stuck them together (do I really need a tutorial for this one?)

However, I did run into a snag. Did you notice the stickers are missing a few letters? Yeah, weirdly, this set didn't include capitals of about 6 letters and a lowercase "q". See how I faked it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tot time: oat dough monsters, toast painting, watercolor letter plates

Tot school this week was crazy good. Pinterest, well played. Here are the activities I (read: Pinterest) contributed this week:

Oat dough monsters
The recipe calls for 1 c. oats, 2-3 c. flour, and 1 c. water. I ended up using a little less flour and a little more water. This made enough for five fist-sized monsters.

The kids had cut-up straws, cut-up pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pony beads and gems to decorate their monsters with.

This week, we had two almost-2-year-olds, two 2-year-olds and a bonus 5-year-old who was out of school. All five kids loved it. It was neat to see how differently they played and responded to the materials. None of the little kids really wanted to "shape" the dough, but enjoyed poking it full of things!

Toast painting
We all agreed, this is our new go-to when we need to keep kids busy in the kitchen. It was ridiculous how much they all loved this activity. And when we were done, we toasted the bread up and made a snack!

We gave them each one slice of wheat bread and a paintbrush, and they shared six containers filled with milk and food coloring. 

They were especially excited to discover the "paint" was milk!

Watercolor letter plates
I taped off each kid's first initial in painter's tape on a basic (non-coated) paper plate. Then they got to watercolor over them. When they were done, the tape was peeled off to reveal their initial. 

We tried combining this with white crayon relief, but I think they couldn't get enough crayon on the plate, so it didn't really work. The painting part was fun though!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bead play

Ellie is 22 months old

I spent about $10 buying a bunch of different tiny things (beads, clothespins, paper clips, dice, etc.) to make I Spy bottles. Best money I think I've ever spent. Ellie has spent literally hours playing with the extras.

We've used muffin tins, funnels, scoopers and different cups and bowls. She's sorted them by type and by color, practiced pouring, listened to different sounds the beads make, and put them ALL in her crib.




Building with spools

Trying them in one of the cheap organizing boxes I got

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin activities

We got two pumpkins from the grocery store last week. They lent themselves to a lot of perfect potty-training day (yay!) activities.

Scooping out the seeds from the big pumpkin.


She wanted to see what was in the little pumpkin, too. I hadn't planned on cutting it, but who am I to stifle curiosity? She said the "lid" looked like a flower :-)

Peeking inside to make sure we got all the seeds out.

Prepping pumpkin seeds for cooking. We used olive oil, salt and cumin, and roasted at 350 for 10 minutes. Delish.

Painting her pumpkins.

Painting the inside "flower"

We used fingers and brushes, and did LOTS of impromptu color mixing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Spy bottles

I decided to make a bunch of I Spy bottles as gifts for some friends who are pregnant. They're really simple, but entertain kids from birth through at least age 3.

The bottles each have:

  • Smiley face bead
  • Glass bead
  • Paper clip
  • Letter block bead
  • Sparkly butterfly, dragonfly or ladybug
  • Baseball or soccer ball bead
  • Duck bead
  • Mini clothespin
  • Wooden spool
  • Die
Then they're filled with rice. Hours of fun, especially in the car or at a restaurant when we're waiting!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

September sensory bin

Ellie is 21 months old

I really, really like this bin. So does Ellie. And I had the most obvious revelation, which is to do the bin outside. I know. Obvious. 

It contains: oatmeal, a basket (a great find in Target's dollar bin), four big apples (Dollar Tree), fake leaves (Dollar Tree), apple-cinnamon scented candles (Dollar Tree), acorns (from our backyard), red and green pom poms (Dollar Tree), a big scoop (already purchased), big measuring cup (already purchased), big tweezers (already purchased), and two of the silicone bowls.

I had a few activities in mind for this bin: using tweezers to sort the pom poms into the silicone bowls, scooping and pouring practice, and talking about apples and acorns.

Here's how Ellie used the bin:

"No leaves."


Also hilarious.

Sort of scooping?

She plays with this bin for 30 minutes at a time, regularly, more or less by herself. AKA, I don't really care what she does with it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Caterpillar and butterfly week at tot time

It's caterpillar and butterfly week at tot time! Let's dive right in...

Contact paper butterflies
I found this on (wait for it...) Pinterest! It's a piece of black construction paper, folded in half, with a butterfly cut out, then the middle cut out. I used some of the extra paper to cut antennae. Then I put contact paper behind it and trimmed around the butterfly shape. The kids had tissue paper, ribbon and construction paper pieces to decorate their butterflies.

Caterpillar color matching
Each kid got a caterpillar and a strip of star stickers, plus the letters of their name. Ellie didn't want to do it during tot time, but she loved working on it later. I liked watching her match the colors, and then sometimes choose to put them on the "right" circle and sometimes not. Poor little red circle didn't get any stickers! This was also great fine motor practice for her.

Dyed water coffee filter butterflies
Who could have a butterfly week without coffee filter butterflies?

Very Hungry Caterpillar snack
While we read VHC, the kids got to eat along with the main character -- they each had one slice of apple, two slices of pear, three slices of plum, four strawberries, five pieces of orange, a slice of swiss cheese, a lollipop and a leaf of basil. They LOVED it and it was so much fun!