Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bug Hunt

One of the many educational toys in my son's collection is a magnifying glass. Until this week, we've been using the magnifying glass indoors to learn about how it makes things appear bigger than they really are. Because of Baby Bear's current fascination with bugs, I decided to take the magnifying glass along for a few of our outdoor play times so we could use it for a bug hunt. (Don't worry, the sun was fairly low on the other side of the house, so we didn't fry any of the bugs we found!)

Baby Bear and I looked for bugs with our naked eyes, and once we found one, he held the magnifying glass over it to make it look bigger. I lost count of how many times he exclaimed, "Wow!" Ants were his favorites to observe. For 4th of July when we let him stay up later for some small fireworks and poppers at home, I plan on bringing the magnifying glass out again so he can more closely observe the fireflies we catch in our jars.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ocean Scene with Painted Bubble Wrap

When one of my recent packages came with bubble wrap instead of air packs, I was so excited! I'd been wanting to do some bubble wrap painting with Baby Bear, but I really didn't want to go out and buy a whole role of bubble wrap. Hence, my excitement over the packaging. It's been so long since I first saw the idea for a bubble print ocean scene on the blogosphere that I can't remember where my inspiration came from. (This was before I discovered Pinterest.) It was most likely this post from Pink and Green Mama, though. I like her blog and checked there often for ideas when I first started doing more interactive, hands-on activities with Baby Bear. I cut the bubble wrap into a few easier-to-manage squares and sat down with Baby Bear to do some painting.

Baby Bear was a little apprehensive about painting the bubble wrap instead of paper. In fact, he wanted to paint on some paper (and himself) first before he would even consider painting on the bubble wrap. Once he saw me painting my own piece, though, he joined in. We then worked together to cover a piece of paper with our blue, bubbly paint. Since it was late afternoon when we painted, we set our paper aside to dry over night. The next day, I pulled out some puffy ocean creatures stickers I had found on our last shopping excursion, and Baby Bear added them to our blue, bubbly paper. I'm so glad I found the puffy stickers because he thought those were pretty cool! I asked him if he wanted to paint some green seaweed on there, too, but he liked his ocean scene just the way it was. It was just right.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homemade Moon Sand

Last fall, I read about making your own Moon Sand-like dough on The Imagination Tree. It sounded interesting, but I thought it seemed more suitable to summer time, so I waited until this week to make it with Baby Bear. All it takes is flour and oil. I imagine most kinds of oil would work, but I chose vegetable oil just in case Baby Bear wanted a taste test. I think it was the word sand that kept him from tasting, so next time we will try using baby oil in hopes that it won't make my kitchen smell deep-fried.

Baby Bear had just picked out a new shovel and pail during our morning shopping excursion, so I made the moon sand in the pail. It would probably be great in a sensory box, but I try to only use items that I find on sale in sensory boxes so it doesn't seem so wasteful. I did not measure the flour or oil, but I started by pouring in the half bag of flour I had left. I then added the oil a couple of tablespoons at a time until the flour was the right consistency. When the moon sand is the right consistency, it will behave like wet sand: moldable, yet fragile. I could shape a ball for my son to hold, but when he applied pressure, the ball crumbled.

Baby Bear loved his homemade moon sand! I laid out a beach towel (life-saver!), set the shovel and pail on the towel, and threw in a small container of shells Papa Bear and I gathered before we moved away from the coast. It was like having the beach in our kitchen! Baby Bear had fun hunting for the shells in the sand. His favorite part seemed to be the consistency of the sand because it was like both sand and dough at the same time. We will definitely be making this again!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Report Card

For Father's Day this year, Baby Bear and I made a daddy report card. I first saw this idea on 3 Boys and a Dog and thought How cute and simple is that? What a great toddler gift for daddy! I had to tweak the idea a little to match the supplies I already had on hand (mainly, leftover teacher stickers) and to suit Papa Bear better, but I think it turned out just as cute.
Although I did the writing, Baby Bear added the stickers. For the most part, he was good about adding them to the open space next to the words, but Papa Bear had to peel one back a little to read the comments section.

Papa Bear's report card... we think he's top of the class!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mixed Beans Sensory Box

Three bags of mixed beans added to the peas from our old black-eyed peas sensory box equals tons of toddler entertainment! Seriously, that's all that is in this box... beans and black-eyed peas! And he loves it! Sometimes I give Baby Bear little cups and scoops to use with the box, and sometimes he chooses little toys to bury and dig up over and over again. I confess that this sensory box requires a lot of clean-up because the beans and peas get all over the place; but, this is a box that Baby Bear can help with clean-up. I'll either hand him the brush and dust pan from his toddler cleaning caddy so he can sweep along with me, or he can pincer grip the little pieces and put them back in the box. Every time I see how much fun he has with this sensory box, I am reminded that the clean-up is worthwhile.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

I'm not sure if it was my sisters or me who made these in school, but I remember having pine cone bird feeders around our house when we were very young. One day last week when Baby Bear was collecting pine cones under a tree in our yard, I remembered these bird feeders and resolved to make them with Baby Bear. So, today, we did just that. All it takes to make pine cone bird feeders is pine cones, peanut butter, bird seed, and string.

The supplies

Baby Bear rolling the pine cones in peanut butter. I presented him with one plate at a time because when both were within reach, all he wanted to do was combine them. It took a lot of convincing to get him to not eat/stop eating the peanut butter off the plate as he was rolling the pine cones.

Baby Bear rolling the peanut butter covered pine cones in bird seed. He thought this part was pretty cool! At first, he wanted to try eating the bird seed, too, but it only took one taste test to convince him that it was bird food, not people food.

I tied some string around the tops of the pine cones and hung them from a tree in the back yard. Baby Bear loves watching nearby birds as he plays, so hopefully he gets to see them on the feeders he made.

On a separate note, for summer time, I've decided to cut blog posts down to 2-3 times a week rather than 3-4 times. With the added activities, increased amount of time spent outdoors, and potential upcoming trips, I think one less post per week is more feasible for the next couple of months. So, still check back often, but don't wonder if I've fallen off a cliff somewhere when I disappear for a few days at a time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Painting with Trucks

Sorry I haven't posted anything these past few days. Baby Bear and I have been battling illness, so caring for that came first. We're slowly feeling better, though, and we are getting back to our normal arts and crafts times.

These past few weeks, Papa Bear and I have been working hard on renovating Baby Bear's bathroom. (By the way, wallpaper is a curse to the people who live in the house after you, especially when it's in layers and has obviously been up for decades. Don't do it! OK, getting off my soap box now.) The walls are now a bright, tranquil, Caribbean-like blue above the chair railing. I'm not quite done painting the rest yet. When I showed Baby Bear his new, blue walls, he kept shouting, "Blue! Blue!" Then, he opened a drawer containing paints and pulled out the blue. He was determined to do his own blue painting! So, I grabbed a piece of paper, his paintbrush, and... a toy truck! I thought he might have fun rolling the truck across the paper to make tire tracks. He did for a while, but mostly he was just happy to be back painting in his own bathroom... and painting himself. Sigh. That's my boy!

I showed him how to use the truck to make tire tracks. He thought the truck should be painted, too.

He alternated between painting himself and rolling the truck across the paper for awhile.

He thought painting himself with the truck was pretty cool, too. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Baking Cups Art

Baby Bear was choosing a snack from the pantry when he spotted a package of colorful baking cups. He was so excited about the unknown package that he forgot about his snack. He carried the baking cups over to the table where he had just finished coloring and looked at me expectantly with his new found "art supply" in hand. Yep, that's my boy!

I opened the package and handed him five of the brightly spotted baking cups. I thought he was going to color inside the cups like he did for the coffee filter butterflies, but instead he reached for a piece of construction paper and the glue. I helped him open the glue and watched in interest to see what he had in mind.

At first, he poured glue onto the construction paper and stuck the baking cups to the paper. Once a few of the cups were added, he started filling them with glue (no surprise there... Baby Bear absolutely loves pouring things to and from containers!). He stuck and unstuck the little papers until they were just how he wanted them, and he had a great time in the process. I hadn't thought of using baking cups as an art supply, but Baby Bear acted like that's what they were made for. Now I have several ideas in mind of other art projects we can do using baking cups! I adore art project that my son comes up with all on his own!