Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Turkeys

It has become a tradition to let the kids make "apple turkeys" at our family's Thanksgiving gathering.  
Items Needed:  an apple for each child, large marshmallows, mini marshmallows, fruit loops, raisins, gumdrops, candy corn, and toothpicks (I prefer to get colored toothpicks).
It's fun to see how different the turn out and how proud the kids are of them!  They enjoy eating them when they're done, too. :)
I love the fact that ALL the kids enjoyed this activity - ages 22 months up to 9 years!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Table Decoration

My boys and I made this cute turkey table decoration for an early Thanksgiving dinner we had with my family (we'll be with my hubby's side for the actual holiday).  My boys loved decorating the feathers and thought that the balloon waddle was hilarious.  You can use this as a basket to hold dinner rolls or napkins, or just as a decoration like we did.  We found directions for this on the family fun website, though we simplified ours quite a bit (using markers to decorate the feathers instead of paper scraps and sequins and cardstock instead of paper plates).  But that's the great thing about this craft, the kids can totally make it their own!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ocean Sensory Box

 Today I introduced a new ocean-themed sensory box to my boys.  It was a big hit!  I bought blue aquarium rocks, some fake ocean plants, and a bag of shells from our local pet store.  I also added blue and clear glass beads and some toy fish that I already had on hand.  The final touch was filling it with water.
 The boys explored the shells and fish, dug in the rocks, poured water in and out, etc.  They spent a good hour playing in this!
And of course, my superhero-loving boys had to add Batman, the Joker, and other friends into the mix.  Their superhero toys became scuba divers.  I love their imaginations!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Recycle Collection

 I have a big box in my garage where I save old containers, lids, etc. for future arts & crafts projects with my kids.  My 6 year-old calls it "Mom's Recycle Collection." One day, I just decided to let them dive into it and create whatever they wanted.  They were SO excited when I brought the box in, provided some tape, and said they could make whatever they wanted.  A & K both chose to make robots.  Here is A with his finished product.
K made a robot, too, but he had the most fun with these old mailing tubes.  He wore them on his arms most of the day and told us they were his "robot arms."  Can you tell my boys have a thing for robots? :) This activity made me realize that I need to let them have more opportunities to be creative and do "free" art, without me having a certain (cute) end in mind.  I am also going to start saving even more things in my "Recycle Collection" so we can make this a regular activity!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Homemade Bath Paint

 One day my boys spilled way too much syrup on themselves at breakfast and needed a mid-morning bath (we usually do baths at night).  I knew my 6 year-old might object, so I made it a little more enticing by telling them they could paint in the tub.  We just mixed up some (cheap) shaving cream and food coloring to make the "paint."  My boys loved helping with the mixing process!
They happily hopped in the tub and all three painted to their heart's delight.  It washed off the walls super easily, too.  It also became an inadvertent color mixing lessson, because they found that their yellow and blue paint turned the water green!  This was a fun and easy activity that we will definitely be doing again - I need to stock up on shaving cream at the Dollar Tree!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day Photo Gift

I wanted to share this before Father's Day, but didn't want my hubby to see it.  I bought white wooden letters at Michael's and then took my boys to the park for a photo shoot.  They each posed holding a letter (J was the hardest because he kept turning the D backwards).  Then I printed some of my favorites and put them in this frame.  I love how it turned out, and Daddy seems to love it, too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rock Washing

 The other day, J was napping and K needed a quiet activity to keep him occupied.  I decided to let him wash the rocks from the Dinosaur Sensory Box that I had just taken apart.  I put all the rocks in a plastic bowl filled with water.  I gave him an old toothbrush to scrub them with and a spoon with slats so he could lift the rocks out when he felt they were "clean."  This activity was a hit!  He loved scrubbing the rocks, stirring them, and scooping them out and putting them back in.
I am always amazed at how the simplest things can be great fun for little ones.  The rocks we used are decorative rocks I bought at IKEA, but it would also be fun to go for a walk and collect rocks outside, then bring them in and wash them.  After they've washed them, they could even paint them or make rock crafts with them!  So many possibilities ...

Farm Sensory Box

 I got the idea for a farm sensory box from Counting Coconuts.  Mine is a little more simple, it's just chicken scratch (which only cost me $6 for a 25 lb bag at the feed store), farm animals from our Farm Toob, and some scoopers.  K has really been enjoying it and J has taken some interest as well.
Once again, I always bring our kiddie pool inside and put the sensory box inside of it to reduce the mess.  It works well, except when J decides to play because he has been known to throw stuff outside of the pool.  But it's nothing a little vacuuming can't fix, and I definitely feel that giving my kids these kinds of experiences is worth the mess!

F is for Farm

This F is for Farm craft was simple and fun.  I cut out a letter F and K helped me glue it on.  Then I let K decorate it with farm animal stickers.  He drew (well, scribbled) a pond for the ducks and some brown mud for the pigs.  We'll be adding this to the wall in his room - we're slowly working toward getting all the letters on his wall!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tot School: Easter

K is 40 months and J is 19 months.

This week we did mostly Easter-themed activities.  We also spent a lot of time out and about because my oldest was on Spring Break.  We had a great week, but it was mostly "fun school" rather than "tot school." :)

Here's what we did:
-We made an Easter egg garland using marble painting
-The boys played in our Easter Sensory  Box
 I left the "Rotten Egg" game on our trays, but changed the letter to E.
 The boys made Easter "bouquets" by putting eggs on a stick (from the Dollar Tree) into a the holes of a shaker.
 Of course we had to dye Easter eggs (though I was not brave enough to let J participate this year).
 I LOVE the look on K's face when he saw what the first egg looked like when it came out of the dye - so glad my hubby captured that!

Out and About
 We spent a lot of time at the park - the older two boys love the tire swing!
 J likes driving the "boat."
 We went to a mini amusement park in our area that's made specifically for little kids.  Here are all three of my boys getting ready to ride the carousel.
 We also took the boys to an indoor playplace - think McDonald's playland times 10, minus the food.  They had an absolute blast and got lots of energy out!  This is me taking J down the big slide.
 My wonderful parents came to visit and set up a little Easter egg hunt for my kiddos while they were here.
And I have to include a pic of my handsome little men in their Easter clothes!  Happy Easter, everyone!  Be sure to check 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots are doing!

Tot School

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Garland

 We don't really have any Easter decorations, so I thought it'd be fun to make one of our own.  I decided to make an Easter garland by marble painting some eggs.
 I cut out some cardstock egg shapes with my handy-dandy Cricut.  Then I taped them to the bottom of a shallow box (that I've been saving for months for a project such as this) and put some dollops of paint in the bottom.  After that, I let K drop in the marbles.
 He tilted the box from side to side and watched the marbles spread the paint around.
I always love how marble painting projects turn out.  The boys thought it was pretty cool, too.  After the eggs dried, I laminated them (in case we want to save the garland for next year), punched two holes in the top of each one, and laced some ribbon through the holes.  Then we hung our garland up to enjoy through Easter.

E is for Easter Egg

 Here is our letter craft this week:  E is for Easter egg!
 I cut out some egg shapes in pastel colors using my Cricut, then let the boys decorate the eggs with paint.  I love how K sticks his tongue out when he paints.
 My oldest painted a happy face on one of his (using a q-tip).  Q-tips worked great to paint dots on the eggs.
Their lovely Easter eggs, all ready to be glued to the letter E!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tot School: Dinosaurs Part 2

K is 40 months and J is 19 months.
 The last couple of weeks, we've continued our dinosaur theme (next week we'll be switching to an Easter theme). 
 We played "Find the Rotten Egg," focusing on the letter D and learning its sound.
 We made Dinosaur fossils using Crayola Model Magic.

 The boys made dinosaurs out of play-doh (well, K made things that more closely resembled rocks, and J just wanted to eat the play-doh ... but A's turned out really well!)
 I printed off and laminated a dinosaur shape matching activity from here. To make it more interesting, I laid out all the dinosaurs and buried the shapes in a bowl of rice.  The boys dug around in the rice until they found a shape, then they'd match it to the correct dinosaur.  Rice is messy, but my boys sure had fun with it.
Here is K making a match.  It has been great to see how excited K has gotten about dinosaurs.  He talks about them all the time now, and his new favorite TV show is Dino Dan.  This has definitely been a fun theme!
Tot School

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Sensory Box

 Here is our Easter Sensory Box!  I dyed rice for the first time to use as the filler, and I love how it turned out.  To dye it, I put rice into 4 large ziploc bags (I put about 4 cups in each bag), and then added about 2 tsp. rubbing alcohol and 4-5 drops of food coloring to each.  Then I shook the bags and squeezed/smooshed them (real technical, huh?) from the outside to get the coloring all over the rice.  After it was all colored, I poured the rice onto cookie sheets covered with paper towels to dry.  It dried within a few hours.  I kept it pretty simple, just added some porcupine balls, Easter eggs, and small bunnies I got through Oriental Trading Company.
I was a little worried about rice getting everywhere, so I brought in our kiddie pool from the garage and had the kids play with it in there.  This works SO well.  I always give the kids some plastic bowls and measuring cups to use for scooping/dumping.
I also got these cute little chicks from Oriental Trading and hid them inside the eggs.  The boys love them!  K named them all, and A kept covering them up because he said they were cold.  It was really sweet.  I can tell we'll be having a lot of fun with this box over the next couple of weeks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dinosaur Fossils

 My boys have been dinosaur OBSESSED lately, so they were ecstatic when I told them we were going to make our own "fossils."  I bought 2 small packs of Crayola Model Magic for this project.  We'd never used it before, and I discovered that it's pretty awesome.  It's nice and soft, and not nearly as messy as Play-doh.
 They took small pieces of the Model Magic, flattened them out somewhat, and then pressed plastic dinosaurs into them.
My oldest, A, made several "fossils" and then set them aside to dry out.  K, however, played with his clump of Model Magic for about an hour!  He did not really care about having a finished product, he just wanted to play. He went back to it last night and this morning as well.  That is fine with me!  He also came up with the idea to make dinosaur footprints in the Model Magic, which you can see in the first picture.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Find the Rotten Egg" Game

K and I played this fun, simple game today. To play the game, you first choose a letter. I chose "D" since our theme has been dinosaurs lately. I filled some plastic Easter eggs with small objects and pictures that begin with the letter D. In one of the eggs, I put something that did NOT begin with D. I told K it was his job to "find the rotten egg." (The rotten egg is the one whose object doesn't begin with D). K liked opening the eggs and seeing what was inside, and he quickly figured out which one was the rotten egg!
Here are the objects I used. A dinosaur, dog, Dora, Daddy, a domino with Diego on it (double whammy!), dice, and a duck. Obviously, the penguin was the "rotten egg." :)
I think I will add this to our tot tray shelves, and each day change the "rotten egg" object. Each week, I will switch to a different letter and change the objects completely. Hopefully this will help K with his letters and sounds!
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