Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rainbow Rice Sensory Box

At the same time I colored the rice for our Earth Day rice sensory box, I made other bags of colored rice to use in a rainbow rice box later on. When Baby Bear had his fill of the blue, green, and white rice of his Earth Day box, I poured those colors into a bigger bin along with red, yellow, and purple rice. I also added about 1/3 of a bag of mixed beans to add a little variety in size and texture. Since Baby Bear didn't like when I tried to add other small items to his rice box before, I did not add any this time. However, Baby Bear decided to add his own by dumping a crayon box into the mix! Then, it really was a rainbow rice sensory box!

With this sensory box, Baby Bear can practice scooping and pouring, we can talk about colors, and Baby Bear can compare and contrast the sizes and textures of its contents.

My kid makes me smile. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shaving Cream Paint

Lately, Baby Bear has been asking to play with shaving cream rather than paint. So, I decided to combine the two activities into a different kind of painting. I sprayed the shaving cream into a bowl, added a small squirt of blue tempura paint, and mixed. Then, I handed Baby Bear a picture of Blue from Blue's Clues and a paint brush. He loved it! He thought it was great that he got to play with blue shaving cream and make Blue... well... blue!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Music Store Field Trip

About once a month, my moms' group goes on a field trip to a local business to learn about, see behind the scenes, and be hands-on with some of the places around them. We've been to places like a fire station, grocery store, ice cream shop, pet store, pizzeria, and, most recently, a music store. I just had to share about our music store experience because I was so impressed with how hands-on the guys who work there let the kids be with the instruments. We moms were skittish at first because we were afraid of our kids breaking something (and having to pay for it!). The workers assured us that they could fix almost anything the kids could break and recommended we let the kids have at the instruments. They definitely knew how to make music fun and interesting to kids!

Baby Bear playing an electric guitar (this is when I was still nervous about letting him roam around a music store and kept him in his stroller)

Each kid received a shaker to take home. Baby Bear liked showing Baby C how the shakers worked.

His favorite part!

Personally, I preferred when he played these instead. ;)

Baby Bear wasn't content just pushing the keys while Ms. S played... he wanted to play, too! I love that my kid loves music, and experiences like this will help kindle that passion.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Upcycled Easter Materials

If your house is anything like mine, you've still got random plastic eggs and bits of Easter grass laying around, but rather than throwing them all away, you're trying to think of new ways to use them during craft time. That's why I was so excited when I saw this Easter egg snake on Cafe Mom! What a fun way to use those plastic eggs! Plus, this is a great storage solution so they can be saved for next year without taking up too much room. As for the Easter grass, I really couldn't merit keeping it when there's a full bag left for future use. Before tossing it into the recycling bin (we used paper grass), I did grab a little and use it to add hair to a paper bag puppet for Baby Bear's puppet stage. Our eggs and grass have gained a new appeal.

Baby Bear thinks it's hilarious to scare me with the snake.
He also likes interacting with the puppet while I put on a show at the puppet stage.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rice Sensory Box

As mentioned in my last post, Baby Bear and I are talking about colors we see in nature as a part of our Earth Day celebration. To run with this theme, I made a colored rice sensory box for Baby Bear to play with and explore.

To color the rice, I poured approximately 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and about 10 drops of food coloring into a Ziplock bag, one bag for each color. I added about 1 cup dry rice, sealed the bag, and shook it until all the rice was coated with color. I left the rice to absorb the color for a little over an hour, and then I laid it out to dry for another hour or so. For this sensory box I used "green like grass," "blue like the sky," and "white like clouds."

Baby Bear was in heaven! The box was full of small items that he could pick up, stir, and pour from one container to another. I tried adding a few small items to the box, but Baby Bear just stared them down and then threw them out. He thought the colorful rice was fun all on its own.

Stirring and trying to pick up the rice with his giant tweezers

Staring down a porcupine ball before tossing it from the bin

Where did his hand go?

There it is!!!

Silly boy :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Earth Day Collage

The truth is, most toddlers don't really understand or care about Earth Day. They do, however, enjoy learning about the world around them. Baby Bear is very interested in colors right now. He points to an object and either says what color he thinks it is or waits for me to say the color. So, for Earth Day, we've been talking more about colors we see in nature. His favorites are green grass and blue sky. It just so happened that I had leftover blue and green paint samples from painting his nursery, so we upcycled those into a collage. I cut the samples into small rectangles, and Baby Bear spread glue over a piece of construction paper. Then, we stuck the pieces to the paper. OK, so I added most of them to the paper, and Baby Bear made sure they were really stuck by painting them over with the glue left on his brush. As a finishing touch, Baby Bear sprinkled glitter over the collage. We had no particular reason for the glitter, just that Baby Bear likes shaking the glitter out. This activity could be adapted for older children by having them glue the paint chip pieces onto a picture of the earth, placing green on the land and blue on the ocean.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gardening with a Toddler, Part 1

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I had some landscaping done around the house. I asked the guys working on the project to add mulch to the small flower bed between the walkway and house in the back and then leave it alone. They kept asking me if I was sure I didn't want such-and-such plants there; they couldn't believe I wanted an empty flower bed when every other area around the house was done. I was sure. I had special intentions for that flower bed.

Baby Bear and I spend a lot of time outdoors. He likes picking flowers, examining them, and then pulling them apart. He loves digging in the dirt and playing with the hose. So, that empty flower bed is becoming our toddler-friendly garden. Today, Baby Bear helped me scatter wildflower seeds over the mulch and then lightly water the area to keep them from blowing away. A couple times a week I will take him out there to help water again, and I will point out any noticeable growth. This garden will be hands-on in that he will be allowed to dig, water, and, eventually, pick whatever grows there. Throughout this process, I hope he will learn a little about plants, how they grow, and caring for living things.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Built-in Water Colors Sponges!

Rather than getting a lot of candy in his Easter basket, Baby Bear got small toys, sticker sheets, and art supplies. His favorite art supply by far is a set of water color sponges. The paints are already in the sponges, so all we have to do is dip them in water for about 15 seconds and then paint! Baby Bear loves everything about them; the colors, dipping them in the water, and using the sponges as his paint tools are all great in his book. My only complaint? I don't remember what brand they are to recommend them! We threw the package away the day Baby Bear first used them, and I cannot find them online anywhere. All I can say is I found them at Staples in the aisle with the crayons, markers, modeling clay, and such; but, I rarely go to Staples, so I have been unable to look for them again. As soon as I find out, I will be sure to share! In the meantime, keep your eye out for these the next time you're shopping for water colors because they're wonderful!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Playing in Puddles

My son loves to play in puddles! Lucky for him, springtime is just the right time of year to make this happen. On cool, rainy days, we bundle up and go splash after the rain stops. On hot days, we play in the puddles left by the sprinkler. Yesterday, I got Baby Bear a raincoat so the next time he asks to go out and play while it is still raining, I can say yes! This kind of play is a little messy, but the amount of fun it provides for my kiddo is immeasurable. The weather doesn't have to be warm and sunny to enjoy a little time outdoors with your little ones!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chalk Drawing on Wet Canvas

On one of the recent warmer days, Baby Bear and I were outside playing in the sprinkler in the driveway. When he lost interest in the sprinkler, he found a stick and began using it to draw on the wet ground. This reminded me of when we painted with water on a colored chalk board (see this post from The Imagination Tree), so I grabbed the sidewalk chalk from the garage and sat down with Baby Bear to do a chalk on wet canvas activity. The chalk wrote smoothly on the wet cement, and the pictures were still clearly there after the hot sun dried the ground. Baby Bear even tried drawing in a deep puddle, and some of his markings stayed. I think this was just the right variation on drawing with sidewalk chalk to make it interesting for Baby Bear again.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Coloring Eggs

Sorry I've been out of circulation for a while. We had family in town, so we enjoyed some much needed visiting time away from our computers. Baby Bear and I have enjoyed doing several Easter-themed activities this week, and I just wanted to share a couple of our egg painting activities.

Painting Plastic Eggs
I grabbed one plastic egg of each color to paint

I filled a couple of paint tray compartments with hair gel mixed with glitter, which worked well for adding a clear, glittery finish to the eggs that made it in there.

Coloring Hard-boiled Eggs

I got the idea for dyeing eggs this way from Pink and Green Mama. It was still messy, but not nearly as messy as I expect trying to use little cups of different colors would have been.

Look what I did!!!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dyeing Flowers

A long time ago, I remember hearing about placing white flowers in a vase of colored water to color the flowers. Recently, I started coming across posts about this same activity, and I thought I'd give it a try. I placed some white carnations in a vase filled with water tinted blue with food coloring. From what I read, they should have started changing to blue within a few hours, but mine didn't. About 12 hours later I noticed a little blue forming along the edges of the petals. Another 12 hours and the buds were starting to get a slight blue tint. They didn't change much past this. I waited three days total before deciding they must be as blue as they were going to get. I was a little disappointed that they didn't absorb more color, but the blue edges on the petals were pretty cool. A friend of mine said buttercups work well, too. She also said that her daughter likes to split a flower stem, put one half of the stem in one color and the other half in another color, and then watch the flower turn two different colors. I'll have to try that one! However you do it or whatever the results, I think this is a great way to teach about how plants soak up the water and nutrients in the soil to help them grow!

This blog entry was entered in the School House Scraps linky party

Monday, April 2, 2012

Playdough Play for Spring and Easter

Shortly after the first day of spring, I wanted to make some "springish" playdough for Baby Bear that also accommodated Easter. So, I made some light green no-cook playdough. I also grabbed my bunny cookie cutter, my butterfly cookie cutter, a plastic Easter egg, and a lily from the vase on the dining room table. Then, we sat down to play!

Baby Bear thought the lily from a vase was great for playing in the dough.

Filling the egg with dough

Bunnies, and butterflies, and lilies, oh my!

 About a week later, the playdough was starting to dry out. Baby Bear was playing with a plastic egg that inspired me to refresh the playdough with some color!