Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #20: Q-Tip Painting

We are switching out the paintbrushes again to try out Q-Tips (or cotton swabs as the generic brands are called) as a means to do toddler painting. My intention was to have Jack make a picture by making tiny dots of paint, but he was not interested in this. As with any toddler activity, sometimes they just don't work out as you intend. That's ok though! He had fun, used the cotton swab to create art (great fine motor activity), and was proud of his paintings. Sounds like a success to me!

My demo piece. He was not interested in doing it my way. 
Use a spice bottle to trace circles.
For the older child you can teach about warm and cool colors by filling some circles with
warm colors and other circles with cool colors. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hands-on Toddler Activity #18 and #19: Cotton Ball Snowflake and Snowman

I need a cure for cabin fever! We are suffering big time! It has been quite the snowy winter. Normally that doesn't prevent us from venturing out, but bad weather coupled with two sick kids and a sick mom is keeping us in. This means it's time to get crafting.

Using the snow as inspiration, we did these two projects the other day. First I cut a snowflake shape out of blue construction paper. Then I showed Jack how to dip the cotton balls into glue and paste them on the snowflake. Easy stuff, but also a great hands-on activity for a toddler.

Next, we made a snowman. I traced three circles on blue construction paper. Then Jack dipped the cotton balls into the glue and placed them in the circles. Finally, I gave him a hat, arms, and dots for eyes and buttons. He insisted that the arms be attached to the snowman's head and after several art projects I wasn't up for arguing with a two year old. Today the snowflake is hanging on the window as it rains and rains and rains and melts the mounds of snow outside. Hopefully our cabin fever will be cured soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #17: Water Play in the Sink

Last summer I bought a great water table for Jack's birthday and it has provided hours and hours of summer fun. But alas, it's winter and we are still stuck indoors. Sometimes when we are in need of a good afternoon activity I just stick him in the tub. Toddlers love playing with water! I'm always a little weary of indoor water play outside the tub though because it just sounds messy. I like to keep the toddler activity mess to a minimum when possible because guess who is cleaning it up! Me!

Jack also loves to move a chair up to the kitchen counter to get into things he's probably not supposed to be getting into (ie. my laptop, my phone, the baby monitor etc). The other day he moved it over to the sink as I was finishing washing the dishes so I decided to set up a little water play for him to test out just how well he could do with containing the water. I set up a couple of plastic tubs in the sink and filled one with water. Then I showed him how he could fill up the sponge with water and squeeze it into the empty tub. Then I gave him a measuring cup and a ladle and showed him how to transfer the water with these kitchen tools. I have to say, he did surprisingly well with keeping the water IN the sink! Overall a simple, successful activity that I know we will do many more times. Now if only he was big enough to load the dishwasher!

To view the entire list of hands-on toddler activities, click here

Oogey, Gooey, Giant, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cup Cookie With Sugary, Pretzel Crust.

It's a bad habit, I know, but often when my husband and I are watching t.v. together at night I multitask by searching for my next project, recipe, or fabulous idea on Pinterest. My husband does not generally participate in my search, but as I was scrolling through my dessert board the other day looking for a treat to make when our friends came over for dinner, my husband suddenly exclaimed, "YES! THAT!". I didn't even know he was looking over my shoulder but he had picked out this amazing dessert, pretzel bottomed, Reese's peanut butter cup cookie pie. Do yourself and everyone at your table a favor and make this delicious pie. I am not normally a fan of pie and really, other than the fact that it's baked in a pie pan, it's not really all that pie-like. A more appropriate name would be oogey, gooey, giant, chocolate chip, peanut butter cup cookie with sugary, pretzel crust. Here is the recipe from AKM Designs and Delights.

It maybe wasn't the prettiest pie to look when it was done baking
so I added a little piped frosting to fancy it up a bit!

Definitely serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brownies With Pretzel Crust

We recently joined the YMCA. It's a win win win for us. I get to get in a little workout, the boys get a little socializing time in the child care center, and there are tons of swim classes and other activities for everyone in the family. Unfortunately, it's taking the boys a little time to adjust to being away from mom and being in a very loud room with the other children. Several times my workout has come to an abrupt end when I hear, "Jack and William's Mom?"A childcare worker has had to come fetch me and tell me one of the boys (usually William) was just too unhappy. It breaks my heart, I pick up the boys, we say our thank yous, and we try again the next day. I wanted to be sure to give the ladies in the childcare center a sweet treat for Valentine's Day for being so sweet with my boys, so I headed to my Pinterest dessert folder to find a recipe I've had on file to try. So I baked these pretzel brownie treats, from Avid Appetite. They were super easy to make and pretty darn delicious. I went a little easy on the frosting since they were already a pretty rich, sugary dessert. Instead I piped on a simple heart in honor of Valentine's Day and then I wrapped them in a cellophane bag with a little gift tag. They were a big hit among the YMCA ladies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's From the Wee Ones

Valentine's Day is a great time of year to get crafty. That's probably one of the reasons I enjoy this holiday. When crafting with a two year old though, sometimes the best thing to do is lay out a bunch of materials and see where he goes with it! So that's what we did when we created Valentine's for our loved ones this year. 

In doing this, we discovered a fun way to paint hearts using paper doilies and dot art paint. 

And of course, 6 month old William couldn't be left out of the fun, so I traced his hands (quite a challenge in itself), attached some yarn, and sent everyone a "hug" from William. Now they can wrap themselves in long distance, yarn and construction paper, baby hugs on Valentine's Day. 

Now if only there were a way to reproduce the wonderfully slobbery wet baby kisses too. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

When Life Gives You Holes in the Wall....

...make art to cover it!

Before we bought our house I noticed that the previous owners had a LOT of stuff hanging on the walls. I knew there would be a lot of Spackle* in our future. My father-in-law was kind enough to do nearly all of the hole filling when he was here on a visit (Thanks Stan!). However, we soon came to find out that not only were there a ton of holes in the walls, but many of the objects that were hung were hung poorly. Translation--giant holes that need to be fixed with more than just a little Spackle, and walls that need to be repainted. This isn't a huge deal, it's a job we can certainly handle, but it does take time and sometimes you just don't want to be staring at an ugly hole in the wall while you are waiting to find the time to give it a more permanent fix. So what did we do? We covered it with art! Cheap art! The frames are from Ikea and the "art" is scrapbook paper from Walmart. And now I don't have to look at holes in the wall while we wait to figure out how we want to someday get around to re-doing the bathroom!

*While writing this post I learned that Spackle is a proper noun. Huh! It's like Kleenex, Band Aid,  or Zip Loc, where the brand name has become synonymous with any product of the same type.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Duct Taped Magazine Holders

This week I learned that duct tape is not my favorite medium to work in. I saw this idea in HGTV magazine, but they may have steered me wrong on this one. Seems like a simple project. Cover a magazine holder in duct tape in a cute pattern. Duct tape comes in all sorts of fun colors and patterns these days. I even found a roll the other day with little mustaches on it.

Perhaps my choice to do a chevron pattern to match my recipe binder was a little too adventurous for a duct tape novice like myself. Alas here is the before and after. The only words of advice I can offer on this project is choose a simple pattern, like stripes, and if when your scissors get gummy from cutting the tape you can use a little rubbing alcohol or a little Goo Gone to clean them up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hands-on Toddler Activity #16: Sponge Painting

Painting is a popular pastime in our house but I like to mix things up sometimes to keep it interesting. So we switch out the paintbrush for some other tools. As Valentine's Day is approaching, I decided to make some heart shaped sponges so Jack could give sponge painting a try. There are almost always sponges in the dollar bin at Target and you can certainly find them at dollar stores as well.

Nothing complicated here. I simply used scissors to cut the sponge into a heart shape. Then I used a plate to make a little palate of colors for him to use. After a quick demo he was sponging away. We are going to use these masterpieces to create Valentine's cards for some loved ones!

To view the entire list of hands-on toddler activities, click here

Hands-on Toddler Activity #15: Shaving Cream

When I was in the classroom we had a fun end of the year tradition...wash the desks with shaving cream. If you have ever taken a close look at a child's school desk, you will see they are absolutely disgusting. Actually you don't even need to take a close look at them to see this, you could probably see it from pretty far away. No matter how many times a week we washed the desks, they were pencil, germ, crayon, lunch, covered messes soon after. So at the end of the year I'd put some tarps down on the ground to catch the wet mess, spray on some Barbasol, and smile as the kids had the times of their lives smearing shaving cream all over their desks.  When they were done with the "fun" part, they'd wipe them down with a wet rag and the desks were once again looking as close to new as possible.

The purpose of this activity this time was not to clean, but just to have some plain old fun getting a little messy. I put Jack in the high chair (I figured it's better to contain this mess) and sprayed on some shaving cream for him to smear, squish, and splash. We even grabbed a couple of toys so he could make funny hairstyles with the white foamy fun.

To view the entire list of hands-on toddler activities, click here