Monday, July 30, 2012

Cow Costume

About a week and a half ago was Chick-fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day in which you could get free food if you dressed up like a cow. We have one of these restaurants a mile down the road from our house, and Baby Bear loves it there because of the play area. So, we three bears went there for dinner that day. A couple hours before leaving, Baby Bear and I set to work on his cow costume.

I began with an old pillow case that was white on the top and had a design along one end. The pillow case was too long for Baby Bear's costume anyway, so I cut the design off the end. Then, I cut holes for his head and arms so that it was almost like a dress. (Almost.) Since we still had our heart sponge in tact from Valentine's Day activities, we use that to add spots to the pillow case. Baby Bear helped paint the heart sponge black, and then I pressed it onto random spots on the pillow case (he did a few spots but preferred to stick to painting). While the pillow case hung to dry, I cut cow ears out of black construction paper and taped them to a headband. The whole thing took about 15 minutes (plus a little drying time), and Baby Bear was the cutest little calf in the whole restaurant. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Flour Tray

Somehow, my son got the idea that the bag of flour he found was for playing with. Don't worry, I caught him before he really got hold of the bag! Maybe he remembered that we used flour when making playdough? I don't know, but he just wouldn't get the idea out of his head. Every time he saw the flour, he would point to it and ask to play. So, after a few days of him asking, I decided to let him use the flour to draw.

I got the idea from the various salt trays that preschool teachers were posting about last school year as a way to help students practice forming letters. I poured a little flour into a baking pan, took Baby Bear outside, and showed him how he could drag his finger through the flour and "draw" a picture. He drew face after face after face in the flour (his current favorite thing to draw), naming the parts as he drew: "Eyes. Nose. Mouse [mouth]. Mush [mustache... I can thank Mr. Potato Head for that one]. Hat." Eventually, he chose to pour the whole tray out, which I figured he would, but I was surprised that he chose to draw for as long as he did before this happened. He sure loves exploring new art mediums!

Yes! Finally! Flour, flour, flour!

Ohhh, so that's what happens when you blow on flour.

I think I'll stick to drawing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marching Band

I honestly have no idea where Baby Bear got the idea for playing marching band, but lately it's been one of his favorite games. He has shakers, a recorder, jingle bells, a toy drum, and several household items he uses as instruments in his music cabinet at home. At least once a week, Baby Bear will grab one of these instruments, ask Papa Bear and I to each grab one as well, and lead us around the house as he pretends to be the drum major. He is always the drum major. ;)  He even marches and raises his arm up and down like he's waving a baton! Sometimes I will sing or play nursery rhymes on the recorder as we march so he gets the idea of songs having a beat and rhythm. It's a simple game for the whole family.

One idea I've had from Baby Bear's marching band game is to organize a play date with my moms group where the kids can make their own instruments and then march around a park or neighborhood singing songs and playing their instruments. It's fun to play marching band at home, but I bet playing marching band with a whole group of kids would be even better!

Baby Bear leading the way with his jingle bells

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Earlier this summer I organized a scavenger hunt for my mom's group at a local park. This was the second of its kind for our group as I organized a similar hunt in May that was successful enough to merit a second round. I didn't want to have to purchase a lot of items, and the kids were very young (ages 1-5) so the hunt had to be very simple yet fun. So, I decided to utilize the park's existing resources and do a nature hunt with the kids.

I created two different scavenger hunt lists, one for kids ages 0-2 and one for kids ages 3 and up. The 0-2 list was a little shorter and the items were a little easier to find. My son, along with the other 0-2-year-olds, had to find things like a rock, grass, tree bark, a leaf, and a bug. I focused on nouns they might already have in their vocabulary. The list for kids ages 3 and up included additional items like a feather, a web, and a seed. Their list was also a little more specific in that it included adjectives. For example, instead of just finding a rock, they had to find a smooth, gray rock. Both lists included pictures next to the words, so even though the moms were walking along side them helping check off the items, the kids could help check the list.

At the end of the hunt, the first child in each age category got a prize. Everyone else who participated also got something small, like bubbles, to take home. And, since we were already at the park, we had a picnic lunch followed by some play time on the playground when the scavenger hunt was over. Overall, it made for a fun morning with the kids and moms.

A screen shot of part of the list for kids 3+

Beginning of the scavenger hunt

Baby Bear decided to take our list and go do the hunt on his own, lol. He whipped through it in no time, so I think the next hunt will have to involve colors, numbers, shapes, and letters. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gardening with a Toddler: Part 3

Baby Bear has flowers in his garden! Actually, he has quite a few flowers now and is thoroughly enjoying touching, smelling, watering, and picking them as he pleases (with a little guidance from Momma about how to be careful with living things so they stay living). Since we got our landscaping done a few months ago, all he has been able to help with is watering those plants, so having a special garden all his own is like a release to for him. When we look out the kitchen window that hangs over his garden, he likes to point at his yellow flowers. Also, because so few of the seeds from our previously planting actually sprouted, we scatter a LOT more over the ground. Now, there are plenty of tiny sprouts poking their leaves up through the mulch, and soon, Baby Bear will be able to care for and pick those as well! I am so glad we did his toddler-friendly garden, and I have many more ideas for next year's garden!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

American Flag for Toddlers

Happy (belated) birthday, America! For the 4th of July this year, Baby Bear and I made a toddler-friendly American flag. It was simple in that it only required gluing some pieces together and then painting on some stars. The most difficult part for Baby Bear was that it required following a few directions.

Until recently, I've almost exclusively been doing open-ended activities with Baby Bear in which I hand him the materials, show him an idea of what to do with them, and then let him have at it. His comprehension skills have progressed dramatically over the past few months, though, so I've started introducing him to activities that have simple steps to follow. Here are some of the steps I gave Baby Bear to create this flag:

  1. (Spread glue over upper left corner.) Put the blue rectangle in this corner here of your red paper (point).
  2. (Add a line of glue.) Put this white stripe here on the line mommy drew. (Repeat until white stripes reach the bottom of the page.)
  3. Now take this star (cut from a sponge). Dip it in your paint, and put it on the blue rectangle like this (show example). (Note: I had planned on using corn starch paint, but Baby Bear wanted to use shaving cream. So, I made puffy paint instead. The stars don't look like stars at all with the puffy paint, but he got the idea.)
Voila! An American flag! Aside from Baby Bear learning to follow simple directions to complete a task, I also like this activity because of the vocabulary words it uses. We practiced words like red, white, blue, rectangle, star, and stripe. Baby Bear heard me say the words as I pointed to the examples in front of us, and sometimes he repeated them after me, which was doubly good. Had his attention span been just a little longer, we also could have practiced counting as we added the white stripes. It is a simple activity full of important basic concepts that just happens to turn out cute, too. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Young Women, Take Heed

This is a little off-beat from my normal blogging style, but I haven't been able to get this off my mind for the past week. I guess you could say I need to do a sort of mind dump. This is more than just a soap box... it's a plea.

I've always been a fairly conservative person, and, for the most part, I have strived to dress modestly. I've done my best to keep myself in check. Now that I have a son, I find myself wanting to help keep every other woman around me in check too, especially the teens. I find myself inwardly begging them to put on more clothes. I want to write letters and make phone calls to all the companies that design those clothes hanging on the department store racks to reconsider how short those shorts are. I see pictures the teen girls in my life post on Facebook, and for a moment I forget I'm not their mom, and I want to lecture them about being a respectable young woman.

I understand why they dress this way. They want to feel beautiful, trendy, and desired. They want to turn young men's heads. They want to feel wanted. Most women do. But think about this: showing off so much skin and drawing attention to certain body parts is like having foreplay with every man who looks at you. Every man. Please dress in such a way that men will notice what a classy woman you are. Keep a little mystery about you; it's sexier that way. Then, some day, you will find a man worthy of sharing that mystery with.

Some day, my son will be one of those young men turning his head after a young woman like you. It is my goal to make sure that he respects you and sees you for your inner beauty just as much as your outer beauty. Please don't make my job any harder than it already is. It is hard enough for a young man to contain those raging hormones without being teased by all that skin. He needs your help just as much as he needs mine.

The human body is beautiful, but it should only be revealed to a man who truly deserves you. You, young woman, are beautiful, but your beauty is not dependent upon the clothes that you wear. I want you to understand these things just as much as I want my son to understand them, for everyone's sakes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

International Mud Day

So Friday, June 29 was International Mud Day, and we celebrated without even knowing about the day! It was a record breaking 108 degrees here that day, and Baby Bear and I were growing restless from being cooped up indoors so much. So, once the house had created a sufficient enough shadow over the backyard, we got out his little pool and played in the refreshingly cold water. Baby Bear loves helping fill his pool, but the water from the hose lands outside the pool just as much as it lands inside, and there is just barely enough of a decline toward the porch steps to make the water pool on the paving stones at the bottom. On this particular day, the water caused a mini-mudslide from the flower beds around the steps. Baby Bear abandoned his pool as soon as he spotted the little mud hole! He spent the rest of our outdoor time cooling down as the pigs do. Suffice it to say, we did not need it to be International Mud Day to enjoy playing in the mud!