Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: Big Red Barn

The last week of June our Summer Reading was focused around a farm theme, with Big Red Barn (by Margaret Wise Brown) as the main book. Some of our other favorite farm books are Silly Little Goose, The Jolly Barnyard, and Dog Wants to Play.

For our play dough time I had intended to make a bunch of green play dough, but ran out of time. Instead we just reused the dough that we'd been using all month and had rainbow colored farms. I added in a bunch of farm animal toys, and those were a huge hit! Also on the list of Things Planned But Not Accomplished were popsicle stick fences. Oh well.

This week's craft was maybe my favorite of the whole summer. We did process art paintings, using CHICKEN FEET! Okay, not real chicken feet. I made them out of orange pipe cleaners. They were awesome, and the reactions from the kids when I told them what we were going to do were PRICELESS!
Our snack this week was haystack cookies, though with a farm theme you could do any kind of fruit or veggie you wanted.

We skipped the sensory play this week because we got invited to join with the big kids in one of their activities, but Pinterest is full of fun ideas!

For our gross motor play we once again pulled out our awesome Roll and Play game. This time I made cards with different farm animals on them and we did the action for whichever animal matched the color rolled on the die. I made my own using clip art from the internet, but here are some ready made printables you could use.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: Corduroy

Our next book for our Summer Reading Program was Corduroy, by Don Freeman. This is a cute little story about a bear who goes looking for a lost button and finds a home.

For our play dough time I added buttons and googly eyes to our regular cookie cutters and misc play dough toys. Some of the most popular "toys" I keep out during play dough time are disposable plastic butter knives and a citrus juicer.
We didn't have a craft this day because we joined the older kids on one of their projects, but something like a button collage comes to mind. Or perhaps sewing buttons onto felt?
For our sensory play this week I dumped 20 lbs of rice in a kiddie pool, and mixed in some Teddy Bear Counters and every button I could scrounge up. Add in lots of scooping/digging/sifting toys and you've got all you need to keep kids busy for a while.
Snacks could be Teddy Grahams or you could make sugar cookies and use a straw to poke "button holes" in the circles of dough before you bake them.
For our gross motor activity I made about 15 giant buttons out of paper plates (using a black sharpie), and hid them outside. The kids loved going on a button hunt just like Corduroy did in the book. 
*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: The Rainbow Fish

For the third week of our library's Summer Reading Program we focused on the book "The Rainbow Fish", by Marcus Pfister. I have loved this story since I was little, reading it at my grandma's house.

We started with brightly colored play dough (the same stuff we used last week, I just kneaded in more food coloring) and I added in some large googly eyes and some fun gem stones I found at the dollar store.

As this was the week leading up to Father's Day, we decided to use our craft time to make some cute fishy Father's Day cards. They turned out really cute!

The snack was easy, I just bought some gold fish crackers for the kids to eat because everyone loves those, right? Did you know you can buy sparkly pink ones?

Our sensory activity was a big hit. I filled a small kiddie pool with water, and added some plastic sea creatures, some glass gems, and lots of scooping/pouring toys. I had planned to pick up some sea shells from the dollar store to toss in too, but they were all sold out. The kids loved this! Even the big kids joined in when they came outside for snack time.
To finish off our fishy fun, we adapted our gross motor activity from last week to fit this week's theme. It worked great! I used some clip art images I found on Google and made Ocean Motion game cards to work with our large color dice. It was really fun to watch the kids trying to move like the different sea creatures.

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

 The second week of our Summer Reading Program at our local library, we focused on the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Since the book is about different colored animals, I focused all our activities around color.
 We started out with Color Surprise Play-dough (which I apparently forgot to take pictures of), using the white play dough from last week. Talk about low prep!

For our Art activity, I made some finger paint and let the kids make a finger paint mural on a roll of butcher paper.
For snack time I made my Grandmother's brownies. They're always a big hit! One of these days I'll have to share that recipe. 
Our Gross Motor activity was a great game that my mother-in-law sent Sharli for Easter. We love this Roll and Play game and have gotten lots of mileage out of it.  
For our sensory activity I made a bunch of bags of Color in a Bag. These didn't get much attention from the kids that day because the big kids were busy playing balloon/flyswatter volleyball (which was naturally way more fun). Oh well, they had fun and that's all that matters.

If you need more ideas for activities for learning colors, here are all of ours. Hope you have fun with your Brown Bear adventures! 

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: The Snowy Day

Our first book we focused on for our Summer Reading Program was "The Snowy Day", by Ezra Jack Keats. In case you haven't read it, it's a beautifully illustrated story about a small boy in a big city enjoying a day in the snow.

We started off with white playdough (here's my favorite recipe), and all the stuff to make snowmen. I had bottle caps (painted black) for hats, googly eyes, orange pipe cleaner noses, felt scarves, small sticks (from my back yard) for arms, and buttons. I didn't tell the kids we were making snowmen, I just set the supplies on the table and let them do whatever they chose. Some made snowmen, some didn't, and it was all okay.

 For our art project I whipped up a batch of Snow Paint and gave the kids free reign to paint whatever they wanted. I forgot to take pictures of their creations though, oops. This paint is quick and easy to make, with ingredients you already have in your cupboard. It has some salt in it, which gives the finished art work a slightly glittery effect, almost like real snow.
Snack time I had intended to make these Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies, but I ran out of time. Oh well...
For our Sensory Play I turned the kids loose to play in some shaving cream "snow". Most of them liked it, but some just weren't too sure about getting all messy. My kids dove right in, we love shaving cream free play at our house!

 Last, but most definitely not least, we had a giant pom pom snowball fight. The kids LOVED this. They had way too much fun pelting me with snowballs.

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Summer Reading Fun

Our little town has an amazing library for its size. They have tons of books, and whatever they don't have they will get for you on inter-library loan. They have an awesome kid's corner, with books and toys and art supplies. We LOVE to spend time there, especially during the summer. The Summer Reading Program they put on is amazing! This year I volunteered to help keep the little kids (ages 0-5ish) busy while the older kids did their thing, and it's been a lot of fun.

The activities for each week are centered around a specific book (or books, in some cases), so we get to have fun and introduce the kiddos to new literature at the same time! I didn't really want to go out and buy a bunch of new books, and so I was limited to the books on my own shelf and whatever I could find at the library. Luckily we have a great collection of books in our home, thanks to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. If you don't know what this is, or just haven't gotten around to signing up for it yet I strongly encourage you to click the link and check it out. It's amazing!

For each week I tried to come up with activities that fit the theme in each of the following categories:

Gross Motor

We do play dough as our gathering activity each week because it's so easy to add kids into the mix as they arrive. I let them play until a few of them start to get bored, then we move on to our craft so that any paint or glue has time to dry before the kiddos go home. Next I gather them around to read the story. By this point they are pretty much done sitting still, so we head outside for snacks and then finish up with our gross motor and sensory activities.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing our activities with you all, hopefully you can find something that looks fun and doable for you and your kiddos. Pretty much everything is cheap and requires very little prep work because I'm just lazy like that. ;)

Week #1: The Snowy Day
Week #2: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? 
Week # 3 The Rainbow Fish 
Week # 4 Corduroy
Week #5 Big Red Barn

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Soap Sud Sensory Jar

I found this awesome idea from Hands on as We Grow via pinterest. It was quick and easy to make, generates zero mess, and keeps my kiddo busy, so what's not to love? I'll let you go to the original post for instructions, but you might not even need them.
 Sharli had so much fun shaking and rolling her sensory jar. She loves anything that has bubbles, and this was no exception. I love that she got to play with bubbles and I didn't have to worry about cleaning up a mess, or consoling her when she (inevitably) accidentally spills her bubble liquid.