Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hair Bow Making

Making hairbows is a fun activity for mommy, but I think older girls who like crafts may enjoy this activity too. I won't take credit for this activity. I actually found the tutorial on the southern plate website. I also found instructions on how to make curly/korker bows online. I know this isn't an educational acitivity, but I had so much fun making them that I wanted to share.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Counting and Sorting Using Muffin Tins

Counting and Sorting Using Muffin Tins

Little Sweets was playing with some foam letters I had used when I was teaching. I’ve been trying to teach her about colors so I got out a muffin tin and started sorting the foam letters by colors. Little Sweets didn’t quite get what I was doing and instead picked up handfuls of the letters and placed them in the tins. I am sure she will enjoy this activity a little better when she is older. This is fun activity for older preschoolers, probably 2-3 year olds. When I did this activity in my classroom I would place a colored piece of construction paper in the bottom of the muffin tin and have the children sort different items by color. There are so many items you could sort. For example they could sort pom-poms, felt pieces, foam shapes, colored paper etc.

I also used the muffin tin for counting activities. I put numbers in the bottom of the tin and had the children count that many items out and put them in the muffin tin. Once a child understands what to do they can do this activity independently.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Activities Using Shaving Cream

Activities Using Shaving Cream

Young children love to play with shaving cream. Placing a small amount of shaving cream on the table to play with is a great sensory activity, especially for little ones. But did you know that there are other activities you can do with shaving cream. I would like to share some activities with you.

Teaching about Colors using Shaving Cream
Add a few drops of food coloring to the shaving cream and mix with your fingers. Have your child mix different colors together and discover what happens.

Writing Letters in Shaving Cream
Have your child practice writing lower and uppercase letters with their finger in shaving cream.

Writing Spelling Words in Shaving Cream
Read the words to your child and have them use their finger to write out the words in the shaving cream instead of writing the words on the paper.

Writing Number Problems Using Shaving Cream
Read a math story problem to your child and have them write the number problem out in the shaving cream. You can have them draw the picture that goes with the story problem in the shaving cream too. For example you read, “Tara has 4 apples and Dan has 2 apples. How many apples do they have all together?” Your child can draw 4 circles to represent Tara’s apples and 2 circles to represent Dan’s apples and then write the math problem 4+2=6.

I usually do shaving cream activities on surfaces I know won't get ruined. If you are worried about ruining a table put down a platic tablecloth or keep the shaving cream on a placemat or cookie sheet.

When using food coloring be careful not to stain clothing.

Also be careful not to let your child eat the shaving cream.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dress-up Items from the Dollar Tree

I went to the Dollar Tree today to pick up some more dress-up items for our dramatic play area. I bought fairy wings, a fairy skirt, a crown, a princess necklace, silly face glasses, and lion masks. . I bought items that were geared more toward girls, but the dollar tree has a lot of boy toys too. They had swords, helmets, and shields among other things. Little Sweets was in bed when I got home. But I know she'll love all the new items and the best part was they were super cheap!

Dramatic Play

Dramatic Play Area
I had a dramatic play area in my classroom when I taught preschool and kindergarten and my kids always gravitated towards that area. They loved engaging in imaginary play. I wanted to make sure that I provided my daughter with a dramatic play area of her own, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I started looking around the house and found lots of fun things to add to her dramatic play area. Here are some things I found: a phone we never use, an old camera, purses, Halloween costumes, stuffed animals, and old hats. We did buy a few items on sale at Wal-Mart. We bought the Graco baby doll furniture on sale for around$20 for a 5 piece set the day after Thanksgiving . I also bought Little Sweets another baby doll on sale after Christmas. Little Sweets also has a kitchen set in her dramatic play area . We got the kitchen set for free. Someone was throwing it out the day after Christmas. We took it off their hands. It was in great condition. All it needed was some cleaning with bleach and water. You never know where you might find a good toy, someone’s trash might be someone’s treasure. The moral of the story is you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to have a great dramatic play area for your child. Look around the house I am sure you can find some great items. Besides dramatic play is all about using your imagination anyway!!!

Sorry this is a long post, but as a teacher I always had to describe how what I was doing in the classroom was good for the development of the children. I would like to include that in my blogs. So here is why it is good to incorporate dramatic play into the lives of your children. When children engage in dramatic play they are using their imagination which is a form of abstract thinking. They also learn social skills and language skills as they interact with others.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Edible Modeling Clay

I found a great recipe for edible modeling clay and had to try it. Overall, it went pretty well. The first thing Little Sweets did was try to eat the clay. At first she didn’t like the taste, but the more she played with it the more she ate. It was a messy activity especially since Little Sweets thought it would be funny to put it in her hair. I suggest doing this activity when you have plenty of time for cleanup, including a bath for your child if they enjoy getting messy like mine does. Here’s the recipe. I didn’t use all of the powder sugar that the recipe called for, but you may choose to.

½ C. peanut butter
½ C. nonfat dry milk
2/3 C. Powder sugar

Place peanut butter in a large bowl and work in dry milk. Slowly add powdered sugar. It should feel like play dough. If it’s too dry add peanut butter. If it’s too sticky add dry milk.
The recipe says that it keeps well in a plastic bag for a week, but I am not sure I would want to reuse it again

Resource: Book: Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homemade Finger Paint

Making homemade finger paint is a cheap fun activity. Older kids will love making the paint as much as they enjoy painting with it. Little Sweets and I did this activity when she was around ten months old. The best part was that I didn't have to worry if she was going to eat the paint because I knew what ingredients were in the paint. Lets face it ten month old babies will eat the paint!!

Here is what you'll need to make homemade finger paints

2 T. cornstarch
2 T. cool water
1 C. boiling water
food coloring

Mix the cool water and cornstarch. Add the boiling water and stir. It should thicken as you stir. When it is cool, divide into small cups or muffin tins. (I use the small plastic cups that fruit comes in or baby food jars.) Add food coloring and mix.

I am sure you all know this but just to clarify never let young children add the boiling water.

Resource: Book: Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy

Friday, January 22, 2010

Colored Noodle Necklaces

Making Patterns with Noodle Necklaces
Today as I was rummaging through my old teaching materials I found a box of rigatoni noodles. When I taught kindergarten I used the noodles to teach about patterns. We colored the rigatoni noodles ourselves and then made pattern necklaces out them. This is a fun project you can do at home with your child. You will need rigatoni noodles, Ziploc bags, yarn, and food coloring. Place the noodles in the Ziploc bag and put a few drops of food coloring in the bag. Then shake the bag. Place the noodles on a paper towel until they are dry. Let the child pick out the noodles they want to put on their necklace. Practice making different patterns with the noodles. Help your child make a pattern for their necklace. Encourage your child to put the noodles on the yarn themselves; this will help improve fine motor skills. When they are finished putting their noodles on the yarn, tie a knot in the yarn and let them wear their necklace.

This is also a fun activity to teach colors. Little Sweets is obviously too young to understand patterns, but I was able to talk to her about the different colors. She also loves to wear necklaces which is why I decided to do the activity in the first place.

Necklace Making Turns into a Sensory Activity
As you will soon find out I have become an extremely frugal person. I love to come up with new activities with materials we already have. So instead of throwing out the Ziploc bags that still contained some food coloring, I put water in them. Little Sweets loved it. We talked about the color of the water in the bag, then we poured the water into a bowl and played in it. We mixed the different colored water together and talked about the new colors that were made. Little Sweets had a ball. Eventually she figured out she could drink the water and ended up pouring it all over herself. What started out as an activity about colors turned into a fun sensory activity. We made a huge mess all over the floor and all over Little Sweets, but it was worth it. If you do this activity be prepared to clean up a big mess and don't wear nice clothes while doing it. Little sweets ended up wearing only her diaper by the time we were done playing in the water.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homemade Play Dough

A fun activity to do with the kids is making your own play dough. Here is a recipe for play dough.

1 C. Flour
1/2 C. of Salt
2 tsp cream of tarter
1C. of water with food coloring
1 T. oil

Mix all ingredients together in a nonstick pan. Cook over medium heat until it forms a hardball, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until all parts are hardened.

While making the play dough you can use the opportunity to teach your child about colors and mixing colors.

*Note playing with play dough improves fine motor development.

Recipe Resource: Book: Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy

Benefits of a Sensory Table

For those of you with teacher hearts, you may be wondering what the benefits of sensory activities are. Well here are just a few benefits. Sensory activities encourage fine motor development as children explore sensory materials through sifting, scooping, pouring, molding, etc. Sensory tables foster creativity as children develop new ways to interact with materials. Sensory tables can also be used to foster development in areas like math and science. But most importantly sensory tables are just plain fun, especially when you put messy materials like shaving cream in them!!!

More Sensory Table Items

Here is a list of items you may want to add to your sensory table which will encourage further exploration

Cups with Holes in the Bottom, Handrakes, Shovels, Spoons, Paintbrushes, Toothbrushes, Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons

Sensory Table Items

Here is a list of some other things you could put in your sensory table.
Dry Items:
Flour, Cornstarch, Sand, Coffe Grounds, Noodles, Salt, Sugar, Feathers, Dry Oatmeal, Rice, Cereal, Pieces of Yarn, Cut Up Paper, Shells, Pine Cones, Rice, , Toilet Rolls, Cooked Spaghetti, Cotton Balls, Pillow Filling, Pom-Poms

Wet Items:
Ice, Colored Water, Snow, Pumpkin Goop, Wet Oatmeal, Shaving Cream,

Remember to make sure items are not a choking hazard!!

Sensory Table

As a preschool and kindergarten teacher I always had a sensory table in my classroom. Every week I would put something different in the table. The children loved exploring the items at the table. That's why I decided it would be fun to have a sensory activity for my own child.

Creating a sensory activity for your own child is easy. All you need is a large container that you can put the sensory items in such as a dish tub or Rubbermaid storage container, an area in your house where clean up is easy (if it's warm do the activity outside), and sensory items to put at the table.

This weeks sensory item was packaging popcorn. Instead of bringing out the huge water table (we got one as a gift) I decided to put the packaging popcorn in a large bowl. Little sweets loved playing with the packaging popcorn. I enjoyed watching her explore the popcorn. She threw the popcorn and watched it fall to the ground, broke it apart, stepped on it, tried to eat it, and poured it over her head. This was a great activity, but I am still finding pieces of popcorn around my house. Next time I plan to having her sit on a large table cloth it will make clean up a lot easier.