Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March sensory bin and the end of the February bin

Ellie is 15 months old

By the end of February's bin, Ellie had become enamored with two new things: scooping and sorting. It was so much fun to watch her discover and initiate these on her own.

Trying to figure out how to get those little, slippery beans onto the teaspoon (hint: turn it right side up)

I brought out a jar to store the beans in, and she started finding all the red jewels and dropping them in

Not super advanced sorting, but she was so deliberate!

Here's March's bin. 

It's mostly to work on transferring, scooping and fine motor skills. It was one of my more expensive bins, but that's because of the tools, which are all reusable. 

It includes bowtie pasta (three boxes of the cheapest brand, which was 97 cents a box I think), the silicone muffin tin from last month ($10 on Amazon), a 2-cup plastic measuring cup ($1 at the Dollar Store), a mini glass mug ($1 at the Dollar Store), a 6-pack of silicone mini pinch cups ($2 I think at Hobby Lobby), a large measuring scoop ($1 in a set from the Dollar Store), three different tongs ($1 each I think at Hobby Lobby) and a glass jar with a wooden spoon (a few bucks from Hobby Lobby) that I filled with coffee beans. 

Update: I took the coffee out because turns out it will stain white carpet. Whoops. I got out the stain but decided to keep those packed up until we're on the tile floor in our new house!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Organizing keepsakes

I'll admit it -- I'm a sentimental person. I tend to hoard things of sentimental value and easily chuck those without (side note: I learned early on in my marriage that I need to make sure things aren't sentimental to my husband before I put them in the bag for Goodwill...).

I know I will need to limit myself of what I save of Ellie's, and how I store it. But there were a few things in her first year that I definitely 100% want to save -- her going-home outfit (and the turkey bunting she got at St. Luke's because we went home on Thanksgiving!), her first Christmas dress, the Halloween costume my mom slaved over, the first outfit my grandma made her. But I want Ellie to eventually know about these things too, and not have to ask me what they all were.

I decided to make printed tags for each item with a short explanation of what it was and why it's important and sentimental. Then I got a photo printed of her wearing each thing (or with each thing, like her first birthday photo banner). I safety pinned the tag and photo to the actual item, and I'm keeping them in the cedar chest Ryan and I got as Ellie's first birthday present.

Here's a few of them -- the turkey bunting, the tank dress from my grandma, and her first Easter and Christmas dresses. 

I know I probably won't be able to keep this up for all of the stuff we'll eventually keep for all our kids. But as long as I can, I want to document in this way!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fastener practice toy

Ellie is 14 months old

Here is what I will say about this. It is done.

Please do not look too closely. There are lots of boo-boos.

This thing was ridiculous. I was (and kinda still am) super proud of the idea, because it was before I had heard about or seen quiet books, or those little dolls that you get dressed. I came up with it all on my own.

The problem with this is that I had NO guidance. I first envisioned it as a cube, then a book, then I finally gave up and just sewed these squares together. And I hadn't sewn anything except Ellie's birthday banner in about, oh, 14 years. NOT a good first project.

My thread broke too many times to count. My sewing machine broke once. My spirit broke a few times, too.

But it's done. And Ellie mostly likes it (probably because it has pups on it. This kid is obsessed. She went running down an aisle at Walgreens yelling "bup! bup!" because the Cottenelle toilet paper package had a dog on it). She especially likes trying to do the parachute clip, which is dumb on my part, because if she learns it, she can undo her carseat.

But it's done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's snack

Ellie is 14 months old

I wanted to start doing some kitchen activities with Ellie, but she's still young to really do a lot. I decided to try letting her make part of her own snack. And since it's close to Valentine's Day, we did a heart-themed snack.

The set up for her: I cut whole-wheat tortillas into hearts, put a dollop of red pepper pesto in the middle and got a small bowl of feta cheese and a spoon.

I showed her how to spread the pesto and she caught on right away. She loves squishy sensory things!

She started digging around in the feta bowl, too. The spoon was ditched within seconds.

I was surprised that she was so into and good at putting the cheese right on the tortilla. She was super excited about it and very methodical. Maybe she's more ready than I thought for kitchen fun! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Contact paper collage

Ellie is 14 months old

Ellie has recently been fascinated with stickers and nametags. She loves them at Gymboree, at church and after ballet (when I give all the kids a sticker). I had seen this activity and thought a modified version would be fun for her while we were watching the Super Bowl so she didn't watch TV :-)

I taped contact paper to a dropcloth. It would have been MUCH easier on a table, but we didn't have a table by our TV, so I just used a dropcloth. Then I gave Ellie a bunch of tissue paper and let her go at it.

She loved putting her hands on it, walking barefoot on it and poking down pieces of the paper. Then she started trying to peel them off and looking at me saying "guck" (stuck) and "off." She got bored pretty quickly after that. I think she may have enjoyed it more if she wasn't tired!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paint swatch color matching

Is 14 months too young for color matching? Just kidding. But set a girl loose on Pinterest and all kinds of crazy things can happen! I originally went to get paint chips to experiment with a project like this. When I got to Lowe's to collect my swatches, I saw these awesome windowed paint chips and decided to experiment.

I came up with a color matching game I'm excited about because it's really flexible. Here's what I did:

Here are the swatches I picked up.

I trimmed off the tops and bottoms.

The windows were 3/4" high, so I cut a 1" strip from the top of the swatch.

I made clothespins to hold the pairs together. One side has the name written in the same color, and a colored swatch (top row). The other side is just the word in black (bottom row). In this picture, the strips are matched behind the windows (you can kind of make out the windows). 

Now, obviously Ellie won't be doing this quite yet. But my thought is that we'll start with just matching the colors and using the clothespins for fine motor practice. Then we can start working on matching clothespins with the colored side. The activity can grow even more by cutting apart the windows and matching all three shades, then cutting apart the strips and having 27 different things to match. The plain side of the clothespin can be used when she starts reading. So hopefully, I just made a TOTALLY FREE activity that can last for the next 4+ years!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February sensory bin

Ellie is 14 months old

Big surprise, this month's sensory bin theme is Valentine's Day!

The bin contains: dried white beans, felt hearts in five different colors and sizes (pinned here), sparkly red pom poms, Valentine porcupine creatures (from Oriental Trading), heart poppers (Oriental Trading), red heart jewels (sold in the same pack as last month's snow bin) and a set of heart cookie cutters (Wilton) I got on sale at Michael's.

Tools this month are one of the coffee scoops and a small teaspoon. I also got a 6-cup silicone muffin tin (not pictured). I know it's too early for Ellie to sort, but I've been modeling sorting the felt hearts by color into the muffin cups. We're also practicing spooning into the cups, and she's not very good yet, but she works on it really hard and tends to grab the spoon right away.

She also loves grabbing a huge handful of beans and flinging them out of the bin. We're working on that :-)

Exploring with her cousin Samuel

Picking up beans from the floor (good fine motor activity!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Parmesan cheese container fine motor activity

Ellie is 14 months old

This is one of my favorite ideas from Parents as Teachers so far, because it's so versatile and simple.

You know those grated Parmesan cheese containers? The kind of cheese that is not at all fresh or natural, but oh-so-delicious. Yeah, that kind. Well, it becomes a great fine motor activity.

Your kiddo can use straws or pipe cleaners and try to get them into the container. What's great is that there are three built-in "levels." With the lid totally off, it's a nice big opening. The semi-circle opening adds a bit more of a challenge, and the three-hole side of the lid is the hardest.

Ellie is fascinated with this activity. We did a similar one with a big Folgers container and frozen orange juice lids (that don't have sharp edges), with a thin slit cut in it. She likes the sound that one makes, and likes being able to see the straws go in the container on this one.

Practicing lining up the straws

Hold the container nice and steady...

We tried clothespins through the larger opening as well. She liked the straws much better.