Saturday, March 31, 2012

Printing with Porcupine Balls

Baby Bear asks to paint almost every day. He still likes using his  hands and brushes to paint, but sometimes it is fun to use an unusual item and explore a new texture during painting time. This time, I handed Baby Bear a couple of small porcupine balls instead of his brushes. We had fun stamping and rolling the balls across the paper to make trails of tiny dots across the page.

You want me to paint with this?

Okay, here goes!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Beading for Toddlers

Last month a new teacher store opened just a few miles from our house! I was so excited! So, first chance I got, Baby Bear and I headed there to check it out. I was like a kid in a candy store and could have easily spent a fortune. Luckily, I've learned how to make a lot of materials on my own since joining the blogging world, so I made it out with only one small bag.

The item I was most excited about buying was a container of giant beads. With these beads, Baby Bear and I can practice colors, counting, patterns, shapes, stacking, and threading. Sometimes I show Baby Bear how to do things with the beads, like threading them onto a pipe cleaner or straw (string is still too flimsy for him to use without getting frustrated). Sometimes I just pull the container out and see what he does. I know we could do many of these activities with dry pasta, but Baby Bear loves to eat pasta and probably wouldn't want to try to do anything else with them. These giant beads have been wonderful for both mental and physical development.

Threading a bead onto a straw

Matching straw colors with bead colors

Wearing the beads he helped me thread onto a pipe cleaner

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter Sensory Box

For Easter, I made a sensory box that was so easy even Baby Bear could help put it together. All we did was add a few bags of different colored shredded, crinkly paper and about a dozen plastic eggs. It was basically a large Easter basket. It was so easy, but so fun for Baby Bear to play with. That's one of my favorite parts of the toddler stage: simple ideas for fun can go a long way.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Salt Dough Easter Eggs

A couple days ago I pulled out the bucket of air dry clay and decided to use it to make something for Easter. So, I used a bunny and a butterfly cookie cutter to make a couple of ornaments. Today, I found my egg cookie cutter and made some salt dough so Baby Bear could paint a few Easter eggs, too. (Air dry clay makes ornaments that are a little more dense and not as fragile as salt dough ornaments, but salt dough is ready for painting much faster than air dry clay.) This is the salt dough recipe that I made as found on The Imagination Tree:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Mix together and knead
  •  Bake in oven at 200 F for 2-3 hours
  • Let cool and decorate when dry
Yes, decorate when dry. This is where our incredible mess began. Baby Bear absolutely loved painting the ornaments... almost as much as he loved painting himself. Why I handed him the glitter after the mess he made with the paint, I'll never know, but I did. I plead temporary insanity. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

And what did I do as this mess took place? Why, I took pictures,of course! It's days like today I am thankful that we have not yet replaced the ugly laminate flooring in our bathrooms. Oh, well. He sure did have fun! And the ornaments aren't bad, either. ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Pizza Rolls

My son is a picky eater (shocker... he's a toddler!). He's also a little funny about pizza in that he likes when I share my crust with him, and he'll eat the black olives off the top if I have them, but he won't eat the cut-up slice I offer him. No, it's not the tomato sauce or cheese; he loves that stuff. Like I said, funny. That's why it surprised me when my son wanted me to share the pizza roll I made at a moms group cooking activity. Since then, I've started making these rolls at home, and he eats them every time.

All I do is lay out some Pillsbury crescent rolls, spread a little sauce over each, add toppings if desired, and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Then, I roll the crescents like normal and bake them like the directions on the crescent rolls package say. I have learned that if you add more than just a little sauce, a little cheese, and minimal toppings, it takes longer to bake. It's also a lot messier. Less is more. Also, if you add a topping that contains a little moisture (like black olives), it takes a few more minutes to cook the crescents all the way through. They really are simple, and older children could help make their own, which is what we did at the moms group activity where I learned to make these. And the best part is, even my picky toddler will eat them!

Ham for Papa Bear, black olives for Mama Bear, and just right plain cheese for Baby Bear. The pan is a little messy because this is when I learned that less is more. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shaving Cream Art

My patio table needed to be washed. Baby Bear needed to be entertained. So, I sat Baby Bear down at the table, sprayed some shaving cream in front of him, and we got to wash by making a mess!

Mama, what is this?

Ooo, I like this stuff!

Look, I can make lines and draw!

I wrote out numbers 1-4. He "counted" with me, and then he tried tracing the numbers. I hadn't thought of tracing over figures with shaving cream before, but what a great way to practice forming letters, numbers, and shapes!

Look, Mama! When I pull my hand off the table it makes peaks!

He was making a royal mess, so I told him we would have to wash his clothes as soon as we were done. He decided to help by starting right then. Yep, that's my Baby Bear!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kool-aid Art

I remember reading over and over again on the blogosphere last summer about creating art with Kool-aid on a rainy day. Since our warm, rainy days came a little early this year, Baby Bear and I entertained ourselves by creating one of these art pieces on one of these days.

Baby Bear pouring a packet of Kool-aid out onto his paper. He thought this was the best part of the whole process!

He actually got a little mad when I set the paper out in the rain because he wanted to keep pouring the Kool-aid.

This is what it looked like when I brought it in from the rain.

This is what it looked like after it dried!
This would probably be fun for an older child to create a pattern on the page and see how it turns out. Although Baby Bear loved pouring the Kool-aid, he didn't like letting the rain do the rest of the work. We'll have to try it again in a few months to see what he thinks then. Since he loved the powder Kool-aid so much, I think we'll try salt writing some time soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Straw Flowers

Happy spring! If your weather is anything like ours, it feels more like the first day of summer today! Aside from playing outside a LOT today, Baby Bear and I celebrated the first day of spring by using this painting with cut straws technique from Putti Prapancha to paint some spring flowers. To keep Baby Bear from trying to suck from the straw, I folded the uncut end over into a handle and taped it in place. I showed Baby Bear how to made a couple of flowers using a straw and then handed the straws to him. Most of the flowers made it onto the paper, but a few ended up on his body as well. In the end, the toddler version of straw flowers looked more like fireworks, but it was still pretty cool!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pretend Play: Doctor

While enrolled in my university's education program, I was required to purchase a science kit for one of my classes. This kit was jam packed with tools, materials, and lesson plans for every age group to conduct hands-on science lessons. It was fantastic! Now, though many of the materials are used, I still have this kit and it's remaining tools, including a stethoscope that I recently gave my son for pretend play.

I showed him how to put the pieces in his ears and hold it up to his heart to listen to his heartbeat. He thought this was great! It wasn't long before he started pulling it out and using it with his stuffed animals. So, of course, I had to make him a complete doctor bag!

I used an old make-up bag and filled it with the stethoscope, a large medicine dropper, an oral syringe, a thermometer (non-mercury, of course), a medicine measuring cup, extra large plastic tweezers, a large craft stick (tongue depressor), and lots of band-aids.
He liked the oral syringe, but he thought it needed to be filled with water and used as a squirt gun. Now, it's in with his bathtub toys

Optimus Prime needed a band-aid.

His pony needed one, too.

He put the stethoscope into the pony's ears, so I helped the pony listen to his heartbeat. :)
Paging Dr. Batman! This is now one of my all-time favorite pictures! It's not easy finding pretend play accessories for boys in most stores' toy isles, and the ones you find online can be expensive. A homemade doctor's bag is a great way to help boys  pretend, too. (Also would be great for girls!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since we've been focusing on rainbows so much this week, I figured I should do something green for St. Patrick's Day. I cut a couple of shamrocks out of green foam sheets and handed Baby Bear some green glitter glue to decorate them. He loves the bottle the glue comes in, and using it requires a certain amount of hand strength, fine-motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. I also grabbed a sheet of white paper for some extra decorating. It didn't all stay on the paper, though. What painting activity would be complete without a little body art? He was green for St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rainbow Party Platter

I know I've been focusing on rainbows a lot for St. Patrick's Day this week, but this theme works so well for helping Baby Bear practice his color words. I swell with pride when he points to something green and tells me, "Geen." So, for this rainbow activity, I made a food rainbow as a side dish for dinner. It only took a little more prep than just setting the food out on a platter. Baby Bear must have liked that we all shared the big, colorful dish because he actually ate at least a little of every food on the platter, which is uncommon for him. This food tray could be done with an assortment of foods like what I did, or it could be done as an all fruits or all veggies tray. It would make a nice platter for a St. Patrick's Day or rainbow-theme party.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

Not long ago, a friend of mine pinned a picture of these cookies to one of her Pinterest boards. They were perfect for both St. Patrick's Day and spring, so I repinned them and then made them! I took a store-bought roll of plain sugar cookie dough, divided it into 4 bowls, and colored each hunk of dough a different color. Then, I grabbed a small glob from each bowl, rolled the globs into a ball, and rolled the ball like I was making a playdough snake. Finally, I swirled the dough together and followed the package's baking directions. It was more work than I expected, but I was happy with how they turned out. This batch was a trial run for cookies I'll be making for a St. Patrick's Day party. Here are some things I learned while making the cookies:
  • The food coloring makes the dough a little stickier. The first few cookies were hard to roll, so I kept my hands lightly coated with flour, and I lightly coated my rolling surface with flour like I would with homemade dough. This helped a lot.
  • Don't roll the dough too thin while rolling it like a snake. Swirling the dough together into a cookie becomes a lot more difficult when the roll is too thin. The cookies that looked the nicest when finished were the ones I used thicker rolls for (I would say about 3/8").
  • The original page this recipe came from suggested twisting the dough as you coiled it together. I found that it was easier to twist the dough as I rolled it into a tube.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Reverse Rainbow

Getting Baby Bear to paint the colors of the rainbow in order, or even just in an arc, wasn't really a possibility. So, we made a reverse rainbow picture. I drew a rainbow, sun, and clouds with white crayon on a white paper. Next, I made some water colors (with a little less corn starch and a little more vinegar) and colored them red, yellow, green, and blue. The plan was to have Baby Bear paint the colors of the rainbow around the rainbow. Then, Baby Bear took my plans, scrapped them, and ran with his own. My son is an original, that's for sure. :)

This is how the paints started out...
... and this is how they ended! At least some of it got on the paper. :)  I used the paintbrush to smooth the paint across the paper as Baby Bear poured onto the paper. It wasn't at all what I intended, but he had so much fun! Plus, we still ended up with a St. Patrick's Day rainbow picture... a Baby Bear original!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rainbow Treasure Hunt

For our first St. Patrick's Day activity, Baby Bear and I went on a treasure hunt! We searched for gold in a box full of rainbow-colored water beads. I couldn't find gold coins anywhere, and I ran out of time to order online. So, I grabbed some Mardi Gras beads I saw on the dollar shelf, cut the gold one into little pieces, and twisted the pieces into coin shapes. It worked out okay. I'm still keeping an eye out for coins because I'm sure I could find another use for them in the future. :) We enjoyed our treasure hunt anyway, and the rainbow water beads were a lot of fun!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Assignment: Go Outside!

If your weather has been anything like ours, spring sprung a little early this year. Temps have gone up and down from day to day; one way we're wearing T-shirts outside, and the next we're in warm jackets. Baby Bear and I venture outdoors in most kinds of weather but not as often as we do on warm days. So, we have been taking advantage of every warm day we can! I love that it gets my Baby Bear away from the temptation to watch TV and that we both get a little fresh air and sunshine on our faces. I want to challenge my readers to spent at least 15 minutes outside for at least three days this week. Splash in puddles on a rainy day, take your blocks outside to build instead of inside, go to the playground, or maybe take an over-size box outside and make a clubhouse.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Puppet Stage

Before life as a housewife and stay-at-home-mommy, I was a first grade teacher. During the summer before my last year of teaching, I spent a lot of time brainstorming ways to help bring the stories in our anthologies alive for the kids. One idea I had was to set up a puppet stage for them to act out the stories of their choice during literacy centers. The problem was that puppet stages were expensive. I was so excited when my husband volunteered to build me a stage!

Being the engineer that he is, he exceeded my greatest expectations! He build a solid, sturdy, wood stage that would fold up for storage! I used some leftover paint to dress it up a little, added some lettering, and put up a curtain. Voila! A puppet stage! My students had a lot of fun at this center all year long.

A couple weeks ago we set it up for our Baby Bear to enjoy. Right now, he has the most fun pulling the puppets off our hands or playing peek-a-book with us while we try to put on a show. Sometimes, I catch him trying to use the puppets like puppets, though. It makes my heart smile to see his imagination growing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Soapy Water Sensory Box

Being the little fish that he his, Baby Bear loved when I filled his sensory box with soapy water.

I laid out some towels on the floor, poured a little dish soap into the box, and added warm water.

I threw in a few little cups for Baby Bear to play with since he loves pouring so much.

I also filled a couple of travel bottles with colored water and helped Baby Bear spray and squirt them into the tub. We enjoyed watching the suds turn blue and yellow. This, of course, led to the water turning a shade of green, which was also pretty cool.

The travel bottles were a little difficult to spray and squirt, so I took the caps off and gave Baby Bear a large medicine dropper to use to transfer the colored water into the tub. This was great practice for his fine motor skills!

*Sigh* It was bound to happen with a tub full of water. ;)