Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #24: Running Colors

We’ve been having fun with droppers lately. I started saving them from used up bottles of baby vitamins. They are so great for hands-on toddler activities! I decided to do a fun little chemistry lesson with milk, food coloring, and dish soap.  Jack’s three, so the chemistry part is certainly not our focus, but he is going to be able to work on following directions, talk about colors, make some observations about movement, and make a cool art project!  Kids of all ages can do this project and get something different out it, which is one of the great things about science projects like this.

For this project, I had Jack pour some milk into a glass dish. Then he squirted some food coloring into the milk. We talked about how the colors just sit there. Then I gave him an eye dropper full of dish soap and he squirted a couple drops of soap. When the soap meets the liquid in the dish, the colors go running! It’s pretty cool to watch. Here’s a little bit about the science behind it

When the colors were done moving around, we put a piece of paper in the dish to do some “painting”. If the edges of the paper start to curl up you can spray a little bit of water on the paper and it should flatten out! Remove the paper and leave it to dry and you have some swirly fun artwork!

Cars Themed 3rd Birthday Party

When I asked my son what kind of Birthday party he wanted this year he didn't have to think about it at all, it had to be Cars! It just so happened that our town was putting on a Touch a Truck event that same day, so I thought that would be the perfect place to take his friends for a Cars themed party. So the children started the day by climbing on and exploring police cars, fire engines, cement mixers, construction equipment and more. Then it was back to our house for lunch, cake, and the smashing of the piƱata...a perfect activity for 3 year olds amped up on sugar! 
He and his friends had a lot of fun, and I of course had a lot of fun decorating! Next party to plan is my baby boy’s one year old Birthday in August. Can’t wait!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #23: Blowing Bubbles In Your Milk

Sometimes the simplest of activities are the most fun. We have to remind Jack way too often that we don’t blow bubbles in our milk at the dinner table. It almost always results in a big milky mess. I’ve learned that sometimes we need to provide an opportunity for kids to do some of these things they are curious about at a more appropriate time. A rainy day stuck inside is great time for it.

We talked about how we don’t blow bubbles at mealtime, especially at a restaurant but that we can do a “milk bubble blowing activity time”. So, armed with his twisty straw, Jack got to work blowing. He blew bubbles that filled the cup up to the top and overflowed. He watched in amazement! Sometimes the most amazing part of activities like this is that mom or dad are telling you to get a little messy. Kids love that! Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not one to encourage messiness on a regular basis. Mostly because I know I'll be the one cleaning it up. But here and there it can't hurt and it's often something that will be most memorable to the child.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #23: Rainy Day Volcanos

We had another rainy spring day. I was looking forward to bringing the boys outside to splash in puddles, but as soon as we got outside I heard the thunder. Probably shouldn’t encourage my kids to play outdoors during a thunderstorm, so we headed in to do some projects. I took a look through my kitchen cupboards and found a couple half empty (or half full depending on how you look at it) boxes of baking soda. Let’s make a volcano!

I wasn’t quite sure that Jack even knew what a volcano was, so we watched a couple of quick videos online to give him an idea. We did this project a couple different ways. First we used a glass. I put baking soda in it, Jack added a couple drops of food coloring, then he poured in the vinegar and watched his “volcano” erupt. Side note: I realized that Jack also does not know the meaning of the word “couple”. It is amazing how many teachable moments happen throughout the day. I was not intending for him to learn that word today but when I said “add a couple drops of food coloring” and he put in about twenty, I realized that “a couple” was not yet part of his vocabulary. That or he was just ignoring me and wanted a REALLY colorful lava flow. Both are possibilities!

Next, we took a glass dish and poured some baking soda directly into the bottom. Jack added a couple drops of food coloring here and there. Still not quite grasping the meaning of “a couple” or still ignoring mom. Then he used a dropper to add vinegar to make tiny volcanoes. Droppers are very fun tools for toddlers. I’ve started saving them from the bottles of baby vitamins. They can be great tools for science projects, art projects, bath time, and so much more.

The baking soda and vinegar volcano is such a classic school project. I know Jack will do this many more times. The great thing about these kinds of projects is that the kids love the hands-on aspect and they of course love anything that is messy. So even though he does not quite grasp what a volcano is just yet, he learned some new words, he practiced following directions (a major struggle right now), he had some motor skills exercise, and he had fun for sure. 

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #22: Spring Art!

I noticed that the most recent artwork in my kids' art frames were a snowman and a tree with fall leaves.  Time for some spring artwork. William is 8 months old, so his art skills are limited. I thought we would do some handprint art by tracing the kids' hands and turning them into flowers. This worked well with Jack, not so well with William. Here is Jack's artwork. 

Do you know how hard it is to get an 8 month old to open his hand so you can trace his hand? It's near impossible. It's also near impossible to get him to open his hand to make a handprint. Footprints it is! 

My plan was actually to do footprints for 8 month old William and handprints for 3 year old Jack, but when Jack saw me painting William's feet he wanted part of that action. And he insisted he be in only his diaper, just like his baby brother. So we made footprints with finger paints. After they dried I cut them out and Jack glued them onto some green paper stems and then added some leaves. Finally, it's looking a little more like spring around here. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prepping For Disney: Part Two

The final items I needed to create for our trip to Disney were t-shirts for my kids and the cousins, and autograph books for my kids. I offered to make books for my niece and nephews too but my sister-in-law decided to go a different route. Instead of autograph books she was going to bring along a blank mat from a picture frame. The characters could then sign around the frame and then a photo of each kid's favorite character or a family photo at Disney could go in the frame. I love this idea!

I found the book I was going to use for autographs at Ocean State Job Lot for $1. Great deal! It's actually a 3x5 notecard packet and the cover has a clear plastic protector. It's just what I was looking for. I used some scrapbooking paper and stickers to decorate the book a bit. I found a piece of scrapbooking paper that had a lot of the characters on it, so I cut each one's face out and taped it into the book so each character had its own place to sign. I then attached a ribbon with a marker tied to it to the notebook so I'd always have a Sharpie handy. Here's the finished product.

While in Disney I decided that I am actually going to remove the pages from the book and make a photo collage using the autographs and the photos we took of my kids meeting the characters. I figured the autograph book is probably going to just end up getting lost, but a nice framed memory to go in my kids' rooms would be a great momento of the trip. 

Finally I made the shirts. These did not go as well as I'd envisioned. I say that way too often, unfortunately. The first set of shirts were actually not Disney related at all. I thought it'd be a cute photo to make shirts for all the grandkids with their number birth order. I actually really like the way these came out and the photo of the kids is very cute, but most likely the kids won't be wearing these shirts too often.

For the second shirt, I wanted to do funny sayings that related to each kid. For both shirts I used iron on computer transfers, which I've used a bunch of times but for some reason this time they did not cooperate. And I forgot to take pictures of the finished products. Oh well, a fail all around on this one. Here are the sayings I put on the shirts anyway.
For the Harry Potter fan, my 10 year old nephew got, "If you can see this shirt, my invisibility cloak isn't working".
My niece, the super princess fan got, "There's a NEW princess in town".
My nephew, who is rather obsessed with the Wiggles got, "I was told the Wiggles would be here". Then for my kids I made Jack one that said, "Step aside Donald, I'm here to see Daisy" (he seems to have a little crush on her).
And finally, the baby William's shirt said, "Future Prince Charming".

My sister-in-law's shirts came out awesome! She made a stencil of different Disney character using freezer paper and painted the image onto each shirt. Here's how they came out. I'd say she wins in the t-shirt making department for sure!