Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

I was so excited for this week's Summer Reading Program! There are lots of fun ideas out there to go with this classic kid's book, it was fun to sift through them all and find ones that would work for our little group. 
I found this amazing play dough recipe that I knew I had to try. It worked out pretty well. It's more dense and stiff than my usual recipe, but it looked JUST like cookie dough, and smelled great! We had to watch the younger kids pretty close to make sure they didn't eat it (although without the "chocolate chips" it would be taste safe).
For our gross motor game I found this cute Little Mouse game that sounded fun. I originally envisioned playing outside and placing the houses far enough apart that they would have to run from one to the other, but summer in New Mexico can get pretty darn hot. We scaled things down and brought the fun inside, which took away from the gross motor aspect but not from the fun. To make it a group game I chose one child to pick a house to hide the mouse in, than he/she got to pick which child guessed first. If the one guessing got it right they got to be the next "hider", if not they chose another child to take a guess. I tried to help guide the selection process so that everyone got a turn. 


 Our craft this week was also our sensory activity. We made puffy paint cookies. They were messy and gooey, but so much fun!
 And of course for our snack I made sure to bring real chocolate chip cookies to share with all the kids!

*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. This post contains affiliate link.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: The 3 Little Pigs

This story is one of my kids' favorites right now. They love to pretend to huff and puff like the wolf, or tell me "not by my chiny hair!", which is as close as Sharli can manage to the pigs' reply right now. In addition to the more traditional versions of this book, there are some really fun spin-offs out there too. Some of my favorite spin-offs have ninjas, or big bad pigs, or a poor wolf who was framed. My all time favorite version of this story is by David Weisner. With an out-of-the-box approach to the story and beautiful illustrations it's one I want to own someday!
We didn't do anything special with the play dough this week, although these cute play dough mats would have been fun!

For our sensory play I made sticky story boards for each child with an outline of a house drawn on the back of the contact paper. Each child had their own sticky board taped to a piece of construction paper. I had cut out tons of little pieces of construction paper to make straw sticks and bricks, and the kids could choose what to make their house out of. Like this, except I chose contact paper over turning a dozen kids loose with glue.
I am SO SO SO sorry for the terrible pictures. I forgot my camera, so I used the one on my poor old (not smart) phone.
For our craft I copied some cute masks and let each child pick which character's face to decorate. We had crayons, markers, stickers, stencils, etc. It was funny how many kids wanted to be the big bad wolf.

These would have been better printed on cardstock, but I only had regular printer paper. To keep the holes for the string from tearing right through I folded a strip of scotch tape around the edge of the paper before punching the holes. 
 Our gross motor game was going outside and running around with the masks on. Depending on the age and interest level of your kiddos you could do a more organized game, something like this perhaps?

*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. This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: Not Your Typical Dragon

This cute book is one that came to us through the Imagination Library. It's actually comes in handy as a way to help my kids understand when we see someone in a store or somewhere who is different than us. In the book a little dragon named Crispin has a birthday, making him old enough to breathe fire. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, fire does not come out. He tries everything he can to be a "real" dragon, but ends up breathing out funny things like beach balls and whipped cream. In the end he has to learn to love himself for who is is, and find a way to use his differences to bless those around him.
The story begins and ends with the dragon Crispin's birthday parties, so for our play dough time I made my usual play dough recipe, and added in a bit of vanilla to make it smell yummy (although I don't think any of the kids noticed the smell, if they did they didn't say anything). I gave the kids cupcake papers and birthday candles, some beads for "sprinkles", and a few utensils from my kids' play kitchen. We did this during last year's library reading program and it was such a favorite that the kids had been asking to do it again all summer.
I forgot to bring my camera with me this week, so I didn't get any pictures of our fun. This picture came from picklebums.com, and they have several more GREAT play dough ideas and lots of other family friendly content, you should definitely check it out!
For our sensory play the kids enjoyed some shaving cream free play, reminiscent of the whipped cream Crispin breathes out on his first attempt at fire breathing.

For our craft we followed Crispin to fire breathing practice. We did straw painting with yellow and red paint, which also brought some color mixing into the fun. I used tempera paints that I watered down enough to be able to squirt them with a syringe. It was so easy to fill the syringe and squirt a little of each color onto the child's paper. Then all they had to do was use their straw to blow the paint around. Erik's (on the left) is what it looks like if you only blow on the paint with the straw. Sharli's (on the right) ended up being more finger painting than straw painting, but oh well.

I found some beach balls at the dollar store, so we blew up a half a dozen of those for the kids to kick around for their outside gross motor play time. I'm not sure who got more of a work out, the adults who blew up the balls, or the kids who played with them. ;)

*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. This post contains affiliate links.

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.


*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. This post contains affiliate links.

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 amazon.com. 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 amazon.com. 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 amazon.com. 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 amazon.com. 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:

Playdough
Arts/Crafts
Gross Motor
Sensory
Snack

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
Week #6 Not Your Typical Dragon
Week #7 The Three Little Pigs
Week #8 If You Give a Mouse a Cookie