Monday, April 22, 2013

Body Stickers

Remember last Monday how I said we were doing a theme that week all about our bodies? Well, here is the next installment in that theme. We chose to go with this activity for Paisley to help her start to become familiar with the names for all the different body parts. I knew there was no way I'd get her to hold still while I traced her (as I did with Erik), so this seemed like a good alternative. Basically you just stick a sticker on to a part of the baby's body, and then show them the sticker and say "look, there's a sticker on your <insert body part here>". You proceed to label other body parts and have a wonderful time. That's the idea anyways. Instead it goes something like this:
Place a sticker on baby's leg. Point to it and say "look there's a flower on your leg!"
 Next you say "ummm, let's not eat the stickers please. Seriously, get that thing out of your mouth. Okay fine, I'll get that thing out of your mouth!"
 You proceed to hold baby firmly and fish around in her mouth looking all over for the sticker (which is hiding on the roof of her mouth, next time look there first instead of the bottomless depths of the chubby adorable little cheeks) while she screams as if you were trying to rip her head off of her body.

Now you give up, put the stickers away, and break out the cheerios. Don't worry, you can always learn body parts tomorrow instead, right?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrating my 100th Post

To celebrate this being my one hundredth post, I decided to compile a list of all our fun activities for easy reference. I've sorted them by the age at which we did them, but different children are ready for things at different ages (and some of them are appropriate for multiple age groups) so take that into consideration as you look through these. Also, I am putting a few "bonus" links at the end, so don't forget to check them out. And now, without further ado I give you...












And for the "bonus" links, here are the 2 most popular posts out of all the first 100 posts:
Edible Finger Paints (made popular through this post on Pinstrosity)
How to fix a broken or damaged board book 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Learning About Our Bodies

As I was trying to decide which activities to focus on this week, I decided it might be fun to try to stick with a theme. Our theme for this week was Bodies. We sang songs about our bodies (Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, My Hands, etc...) and checked out books about different body parts at the library. Erik's favorite was this one, I think because it has Elmo in it.
Erik got to do an activity I found on Productive Parenting, and I think he had a great time. We took some old wrapping paper left over from Christmas and laid it out on the floor with the colored side facing down. Erik laid down on it and we traced around him with a pencil. This was a bit tricky because he really wanted to see what I was doing, but we managed to get a full body trace.
There really is an outline there, I promise. I let Erik color on it for as long as he wanted, but you can't see that in the picture either. 
When Erik was done coloring the picture of himself, we traced his outline with a marker so we could see it better and taped the paper up on the wall so he could stand next to his life size picture of himself.
We spent a while pointing to different body parts on the drawing and on ourselves and then I had an idea to take it a little bit farther. I broke out a pad of stickers and we started sticking them all over the paper. Erik loved it. I'd guess that from the time we first traced him to the time he finally got tired of the stickers it was at least 45 minutes of solid entertainment. It was awesome!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rainbow Spaghetti

This awesome sensory activity seems to be taking Pinterest by storm right now. If you follow anyone on there who pins children's activities I bet you've seen this at least once, if not a half a dozen times. For the record, this has been on my to do list for months now, so I had the idea before it became a fad. In fact this is one of that activities that's been on my list of things to do ever since I was taking Early Childhood Ed classes in college, and it was really fun to finally get around to giving it a go. 
 The first pin I saw about this has some brief instructions on how to dye your pasta. Basically, you cook it in salted water (I didn't use any salt and it was fine) and strain it like you would normally do with pasta. Then you put in a bit of oil to prevent sticking and some food coloring and viola! She didn't say how much oil or food coloring to use, so I just winged it. I knew that less oil would probably be better, at least when it came to clean up, so I added just a tiny bit at a time. I don't know how much I added, but it wasn't all that much. I decided to try doing the dying in a plastic bag to contain the mess, but that was a mistake. You can't spread the food coloring around evenly and it just doesn't produce the results you probably want for this. What ended up working the best was putting the noodles back into the pot they'd cooked in and stirring the food coloring in that way. SO much easier and more effective. Just be prepared to use WAY more food coloring than you expect to. Food coloring is pretty potent stuff, and a drop can go a long way, but not when you're dying pasta. Now I know for next time.
I dyed the noodles in small batches to get all the different colors, and as I finished each one I dumped it into a plastic bin for the kids to explore. Of course this is what happened first. Good thing it's completely edible!
I was worried that the oil mixed with the food coloring would make an especially hard-to-wash-out mixture, so I put one of Erik's old shirts over Paisley's cute outfit to try to prevent irreparable damage. Not as cute, but much more practical. 

Both kiddos dug in and had a great time. This kept them both occupied for about half an hour (which is really saying something!) and we only stopped because the eating business was getting a little out of hand. 

 I buried toys in the noodles for the two of them to dig for, and they thought it was great. Just make sure that if you do that, they are toys you can wash with hot soapy water to get the oil off.
Both babies LOVED this, and it kept them happy for longer than anything else we've done so far. This is definitely something we will be doing again because it is so quick, cheap, and attention grabbing. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Mess of Colors

 A while back we were looking for something fun to do on a cool, rainy day. I decided it might be fun to give this finger painting business another try. The paint I used with Paisley last time worked great, and dried with a really unique texture, but it can be a little bit hard to wash off. Paisley is NOT a fan of having her hands and face scrubbed, so I decided to look for an easier-to-clean-up alternative. Something (I can't remember what at the moment) reminded me of this activity we did several months ago and I thought maybe the colorful goo would make the perfect finger paint. It's edible, easy to make, vibrantly colored, what more could I want?
I got the kids set up and turned them loose with their paint. Paisley loved it. To eat, that is. She ate almost all of what I put down for her to paint with. 
 Erik wasn't so sure about the goopy texture. He kinda smeared it around, but whined about the way it clumped onto his fingers. What you can't really tell from these pictures is that the colorful goop was pretty vibrant, but didn't transfer any of that colorfulness onto the paper. It hung onto that color for all it was worth. Great sensory material, but not so great for finger painting.
 So what to do with mountains of colorful goo? Use it for the intended purpose of course! I grabbed some zip seal sandwich baggies and threw globs of color into them. Seal the tops with duct tape and you're good to go!
 Paisley loved these. They're so much fun to squish around, although I had to watch her closely because she really wanted to chew on them. With her nice new sharp little teeth she'd have made pretty short work of the baggies.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sticky Story Board

This post contains affiliate links.

The other day, Erik was bored and driving me nuts. I decided that we needed to shake things up a bit and do something we don't do every day. I went to my cupboard where I keep all the supplies for our different activities and was trying to decide which one to redo, when a light bulb came on. I looked at the foam sheets from our Foam Stickers activity, but I didn't want to either sit in the bathroom while Erik played with them in the tub or let him splash water all over and use them on the fridge like we've done in the past. My eyes moved past the basket of rolls of tape and on to the next item, the roll of contact paper from this activity. Suddenly my brain lit up and I knew what we were going to do.


I grabbed the supplies:

-masking tape
-foam sheets
-scissors

I started cutting different shapes out of the foam until we had a good little pile. Next I taped some contact paper, sticky side out, onto the fridge. I was going to tape it to the wall, but I was worried about the tape and the paint not getting along (or perhaps I should say getting along too well) so we went with the more forgiving fridge.
It took Erik a few tries to figure out that he couldn't put the pieces up by the handful, but once he did, everything went great. He loved to put shapes up and pull them off. His little fingers got a good workout. 
 We kept this up over the entire weekend for Erik to enjoy. We only took it down on Monday because some of the little pieces are small enough to be a choking hazard for Paisley. I saved the pieces though, so another time we can do this again and it will be like it's brand new. I love that sometimes the simplest things are the ones that kids enjoy most!

*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 amazon.com. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Decorating Easter Eggs!

I had hoped to get this post up before Easter, but it just didn't happen. As I type this, Erik is on day 7 of the stomach flu, so things have been not so fun around here lately. 
I wanted to do something fun to celebrate Easter with the kiddos, and decorating eggs just seemed like the perfect thing. We used this idea and, armed with some watercolors for Erik and baby finger paint for Paisley, we went after it with gusto. I do have to mention that this is Erik's first time using watercolors and (to my knowledge) this is Paisley's first time painting.
Never used a paint brush before, so it took some figuring out. 
 I really wanted Erik to practice the fine motor control needed to hold a brush (and someday a pencil), so I hit the dollar store and picked up some cheap watercolors. FYI: bad idea! Apparently water colors are one of those things you just shouldn't be cheap on. As soon as we added water to these they started to look more like milk with a smidgen of food coloring in them than like brightly colored paint. They drank up the water super fast which only  made them more and more pale as we worked with them. Moral of the story, buy the good stuff. It only cost a buck more.
 Paisley was really not sure about sticking her fingers in the goo on her tray. It took her a few minutes to warm up to the idea, but she eventually got the hang of it. Sometimes new sensory experiences just take some getting used to.
 Paisley chose to go with more of a splatter effect than a brush stroke. It actually turned out pretty neat looking, although it meant we didn't get any cute little finger prints anywhere.
 Figuring out the idea of using the brush was hard on Erik. He really just wanted to use his fingers. It didn't help that the paint barely left a mark so he couldn't tell that the brush was doing anything. His whole paper ended up soaked in a mixture of wimpy paint that just blended into a grayish mess on his soggy paper.
 When we finished, I hung the eggs up to dry. I wanted them to be out of Erik's reach but somewhere that any drips would be easy to clean. Since we'd chosen to do tape resist painting, the eggs already had something to hang them with.
 When the paint dried, I took the eggs down and peeled off the masking tape. Paisley's eggs turned out really cute with nice vibrant colors. The flour/water mixture of the paint left a really neat texture as it dried. Erik's egg, on the other hand, was just sad. The water was just too much for the paper and it came apart as I peeled back the tape (even though I'd waited until it was dry), and the color was almost non existent. Now we know that watercolor is not the right medium to use when doing tape resist art.