Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hand Print Reindeer

This hand print reindeer on Reading Confetti was too cute to pass up! It was pretty quick and easy too! I started by painting Baby Bear's left hand gold. It smeared a little, but it still worked. I helped him press his hand onto a sheet of white paper, painted his hand again, and helped him make another print opposite of the first print we made. I let Baby Bear keep painting (he chose to continue making his own hand prints!) while I added a bow tie, nose, and eye to the top hand print. I didn't wait for the paint to dry; instead, I used the wet paint helped them stick. This is the finished product:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Karo Syrup Painted Christmas Lights

I loved this idea I saw for Karo Syrup painted Christmas lights on the Preschool Snacks blog. Another edible paint... and this one dries shiny! All I did was add food coloring to some Karo Syrup, dip Baby Bear's finger in it to make finger print lights, let it dry, and add some words for a Christmas card! I really wanted to help Baby Bear make a pattern of red-green-red-green with the lights, but his 16-month-old patience isn't quite built enough to withstand a color change yet. :)

I helped Baby Bear make 4 finger prints in a row for each card.
Then, Baby Bear got to paint a little with the leftover paint.

He LOVED this edible paint! Yes, he was a sticky mess at the end, but the great thing about Karo Syrup is that is washes off pretty easily. I just stuck Baby Bear in the bathtub and let him play for a bit, and he came out sticky-mess-free.

I added a Christmas message, signed Baby Bear's name, and taped a no-mess glitter ornament to each card.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pipe Cleaners & Ornaments

As my son played with his Christmas sensory box, I watched him try to stuff a piece of shredded wrapping paper into an ornament. An idea suddenly occurred to me! I quickly grabbed a couple of pipe cleaners, cut them in half so they would be a little easier to manipulate, and showed Baby Bear how to put a pipe cleaner in the tiny ornament hole. It was such a simple idea, but my son thought it was great! He sat and played with them for quite some time. It was great for his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Handprint Painted Christmas Trees

This is the final guest post in a series of three holiday activities by my friend Missy. For this activity, Missy worked with her toddler and preschooler to make Christmas trees using hand and foot prints. Missy writes:

Using a large piece of paper, we painted the kid's hands for the tree and their foot for the trunk making a Christmas tree.  Once that had dried, we used our fingers to put "lights" on the trees.  We gave our trees to grandparents for a holiday decoration.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Sensory Box

Baby Bear loved his fall sensory box so much that I decided to make him a Christmas sensory box, too. I added strands of red and silver ribbons; jingle bells; red, green, and white pom poms; red, green, and white pipe cleaners; plastic ornaments with the tops removed; foam cutouts; and a small Santa Claus. I used shredded wrapping paper as a filler, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't end up in his mouth. He actually did pretty good with the shredded paper! Baby Bear likes having a new sensory box to pull out!

Jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way!

The long, silver ribbon I curled was Baby Bear's favorite item.

Feeling some of the shredded wrapping paper

Trying to wrap some of the foam cutouts in ribbon

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments (Guest Post!)

This is guest post #2 from Missy. She shared this idea with me a few weeks back, and I was so excited when she sent me pictures along with a narration of how to do these cinnamon applesauce ornaments! This is what Missy writes:

We mixed a dough of equal parts cinnamon and applesauce (be sure to use the kind with sugar, the low sugar applesauce will be crumbly).  I often end up using more cinnamon on my hands and on the top and the bottom of the dough when we roll it out.  Then, use cookie cutters or make any design you want for ornaments, gift tags, etc.  Using a straw, I make a hole for the ribbon to eventually go through.  I place the designs on wax paper and flip them over a couple times a day until they have completely dried through. Then, using glitter glue or other decorations, you can personalize them and add ribbons for hanging.

Friday, December 16, 2011

No-Mess Glitter Ornaments!

I saw this idea for a mess-free glitter activity on the No Time for Flash Cards Website, and I just had to try it with Baby Bear! I taped up a foam gingerbread man cutout with double-sided tape and stuck it in a baggy. Then, I had Baby Bear help pour in some glitter and shake up the bag. That was it! Voila, a Christmas decoration! One thing that struck me funny about this activity is that Baby Bear didn't have nearly as much fun shaking the bag as he did helping pour in the glitter. I thought for sure he would love shaking the bag, but all he wanted to do was pour more glitter. :) The parts Baby Bear helped with did not take long, so this activity would be good for either a quick mess-free craft, or if you want to give a special homemade decoration to several people but do not have the time (and your toddler does not have the patience) to make a whole batch of intricate ornaments.

Touching the glitter he helped pour in

Shaking the bag a little

The finished product

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sticker Christmas Trees (Guest Post!)

I asked a friend of mine if she would mind sharing some of the fun activities she does with her toddler and preschooler. I was so excited when she sent this and two other activities to me! This is what Missy writes about how to make Sticker Christmas Trees:

I cut out a tree from construction paper.  I gathered stickers that were of the winter theme and let the kids pick out stickers and put them on both sides of the trees.  Using stickers can sometimes be frustrating to a toddler, but she seemed to enjoy the craft overall.  We hung the tree from the ceiling fan in the kitchen.  She often points to the tree while eating or playing in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Toddler Trail Mix

My Baby Bear is somewhat of a picky eater, but he loves to eat a lot of the things he likes. The problem is, he has a hard time communicating what it is that he's hungry for. Solution: I made him his own trail mix from some of his favorite snacks! We've dubbed it "Bear Mix" because of the container it's in (an empty Market Pantry [Target brand] animal crackers container). Now, whenever my son wants a snack, he just asks for his bear because it has four snacks in one!

Contents: animal crackers, Cheerios, Puffs, and Gerber freeze-dried strawberry and banana bits.

I poured most of the animal crackers into baggies to use the bear for the mix because my son loved the container.

He loves when I let him grab his own handful from the container.

Hmmm... I think I'm in a Cheerios mood. I'll just pull all those out of the handful in front of me, eat them, and put the rest back in! ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Make a Joyous Noise!

This holiday season, one of my favorite ways to help Baby Bear participate in the festivities is through music. Baby Bear LOVES music!!! So, most days, I put on some holiday music on my phone using Pandora (I typed in "children's Christmas music" and got more upbeat songs), and we sing, dance, or play along to the music. Sometimes, rather than using a music station, I will sing and play an "instrument" (usually one of Baby Bear's toys that jingles or rattles), and Baby Bear will join in. My favorite part is when he sings along. He bellows out a note with his mouth in a perfect oval while holding his hands up in dramatic expression. It reminds me of opera, and I can't help but smile every time he does it. :)

You don't have to have real instruments, or even toy ones like Baby Bear to have music time. We sometimes use empty coffee cans as drums, or I fill an empty plastic bottle with rice to use as a maraca. Music is only as limited as your imagination.

Putting on a concert for Mama Bear

Putting on a concert for Papa Bear
We all clapped wildly after each song, including Baby Bear.

Puffing his chest out in pride after an improvisation

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ghost Painting

A while back, Baby Bear and I did a little ghost painting. Basically, we used a piece of construction paper like an Easter egg. I used a white crayon to draw on a piece of white construction paper while Baby Bear was taking a nap. After he woke up, I made my own water colors (water + food coloring), and he painted! As he painted, the pictures I had drawn became visible! Baby Bear doesn't usually paint an entire piece of paper, but this time he painted all over looking for more pictures. I love this activity because it is adaptable for children a little older than Baby Bear. Older children can draw their own pictures and use actual water colors to paint (my homemade water colors are just barely bright enough to make the pictures appear). Ghost painting is not just for Halloween!

Ho hum, just painting, painting, painting...

Hey, wait! There's a flower!

What else is on this paper?!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flour Paint

Flour paint is as easy as corn starch paint, but the texture is different. Baby Bear had a little bit of a texture issue with the corn starch paint both times I made it, so I started using flour instead. In reality, you're making a sort of homemade paste, but we've enjoyed painting with it as well. The only real down side is that it dries a little flaky, so it's not a great paint for keepsakes or pictures to hang.

I never measure when I make flour paint. I just mix until it reaches a good, paint-like consistency. If I had to guess, I would say I use about 1/2 cup of flour, 1/3 cup water, and 1-4 drops of food coloring (depending on how bright we want the paint, and how willing I am to let Baby Bear's skin get a little tinted). It is completely safe to eat, though not very tasty... unless you ask Baby Bear who thinks it's good enough to suck off the paintbrush! We have used this paint on paper and on cardboard. It actually worked pretty well on the cardboard!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

30 Day Challenge, The Final Frontier

Day 29: Role Play
 I was in the kitchen getting Baby Bear a drink when he came walking in carrying a mixing bowl full of red blocks (all the same size of course... he doesn't just match the colors with his blocks!). He sat down on the floor and started mixing the blocks with his hands. I grabbed a whisk and a spoon, sat down on the floor with him, and we pretended we were cooks making Red Block Soup!
Adding the ingredients

Whisking the soup

I threw in a few more ingredients with some nearby craft supplies, but Baby Bear only kept these in for a few minutes. He only wanted red blocks in his soup.

Blowing on the soup because it was hot
 Day 30: Keep the Challenge Going
I have implemented two ways to keep this play challenge going. First, we spend more time in our living room where there is no television and no computers. Even though we still play while the TV is on (sometimes the house is just too quiet, so we three bears like the background noise), it can be a distraction. Second, I keep materials from some of these challenges out so Baby Bear is more likely to ask to do them. For example, sensory box materials, paint brushes, the PVC pipes from our reading tent, and a blanket near the table for a quick fort are in plain sight. When Baby Bear wants to do something, he with either point or grab my hand and lead me to something and say, "Do?" Keeping these materials around helps him communicate the kind of play he wants us to do together.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

30 Day Challenge Part L

Day 27: Dressing Up
As evident by many of the pictures I share on this blog, I'm lucky if I can get my Baby Bear to wear pants. The kid just doesn't like wearing clothes. So, when I read that this day's challenge was dressing up, I thought for sure we finally got one we wouldn't be able to complete. Then, while playing in Baby Bear's play room, I remembered that he had a bunch of play hats that he sometimes likes to play with. For this challenge activity, we got silly dressing up in different hats!
Every time we put a hat on Baby Bear, he quickly took it off and put it on one of us. He wanted to help us play dress up with the hats.

Yoda Mama I am.

I wore a Snuggy with the Yoda hat since Baby Bear's robe wouldn't fit me, but Baby Bear thought the fisherman's hat looked better.
 Day 28: A Special Craft
For our special craft, Baby Bear and I made an ornament for our tree that I had been excited about doing for a while. We made a clay handprint ornament! I had planned on using salt dough for this craft, but I found some Crayola Air-Dry Clay on sale while walking through Target and decided to give it a try.
Baby Bear liked making handprints in the clay, so we did this a few times, rolling it all back together in between prints. It took a couple of days to dry completely, which worked out well because I got busy with some other things I needed to take care of in the mean time. I went ahead and painted this one because I wanted the handprint to really stand out and be fully discernible. That, and the paint was not edible. I also added Baby Bear's name and the year along with a matching blue ribbon to hang it from the tree. I think this will make a great holiday tradition!