Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sand and Surf and Seagulls

Summer has been too short at our house! I am not ready for school to start again! Scot is starting a new degree program at school this coming weekend and will be gone every Saturday for the next year (AAAaaaaHHHHHhhhhh!) so we snagged our last Saturday together and headed to the coast!

Have I mentioned how much I love the beach?
I LOVE the beach! I could spend every day for the rest of my life at the beach!

In truth, the heavy winter coat was a little overkill for this busy girl, but in northern California you have to head to the beach prepared for a snow storm (even in August)!

The water was so cold but Larkin could not stay away from it! She and daddy braved the icy waves, but I steered clear!

Larkin had such a great time chasing and feeding the birds, collecting rocks and sticks, and people watching!

It was a successful day with lots of family time and laughs!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Matching Mania

We love colors at our house!
Larkin is also getting pretty good at matching games, so we pulled some little toys and trinkets from around the house and played a color matching game this morning.

I wrote the color names on each of the papers for an added literacy component to todays adventure. I always like to combine a few areas of development into one activity to get as much bang for my buck when teaching and playing.

Next up on our list ... counting games. If you know any good counting activities, please share!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At The Car Wash!

Our cars were in desperate need of a bath!
It has been a little cooler the last few days (lets say 90 instead of 98), so we decided to spend our afternoon playing in some water and bubbles ...

I love washing cars with toddlers. It is always ten times the amount of work but also ten times the fun! Car washes are a great time to break out the bikes and wash them too, but this afternoon we decided to call it good with the cars.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Clean Mud

This project is not for the faint of heart. Maybe I should post a big WARNING message at the top:
WARNING This project is a big mess, but totally worth the sheer bliss on your child's face!
I love making messes with kids. So much of life is about order, and following directions for kids, that it only makes sense that more mess = more fun in a child's world. When I pick Larkin up from school and she is covered in goo it makes my heart happy because I know she had a blast that day.

Clean Mud is cheap and easy to make:
1 roll of toilet paper {tear into tiny pieces}
1 bar of white dove soap {use a cheese grater to get it into tiny bits}
warm water {add a little at a time until you get a thick mixture, anywhere from 2-3 cups}

The water needs to be warm enough to melt the soap, so in the beginning I do a lot of the mixing so that Larkin wont hurt her hands {she is pretty sensitive to things that are on the warm side, so know what your child is up for}. You want to add enough water so that the mixture is the consistency of thick whipped cream or thick waffle batter. Be careful not to add too much water. A little at a time will help you get the ratio just right.

The cool thing about this stuff is that the more you play with it, the fluffier it gets! The soap bubbles expand and work together to make this goop crazy cool to play with, and like I said before, messy! This goop gets everywhere and when it dries it leaves little toilet paper bits on everything it touched {Larkin's hair had little bits of toilet paper in it when I washed it later that night}. I recommend donning an apron or paint smock, but this stuff washes out of clothes easily and wipes off counters and floors quickly, so no permanent damage done!

This picture was taken after adding most of the water, but not all of it. Larkin wanted to play with it at each stage, and as it changed she got excited and made little observations like, "where the soap go? I smell it but it's all gone." and, "It's getting mushy and mushy and mushy." and, "It's squishy on my hand momma." ... my budding scientist! :)

I love good clean fun ... clean MUD fun!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pudding Painting

Do I even have to say anything else!?!

Well, lest you think that pudding paint, or finger painting of any kind, is only for toddlers, think again!

Finger painting is a sensory experience that is crucial for scientific discoveries at a young age, it helps to develop small motor skills, can help children to regulate difficult emotions, and can be a creative outlet for thoughts and ideas at any age.

Depending on the age of your children, you can adapt finger painting activities to include literacy exploration {writing letters, names, spelling words}, science {why does the pudding need milk instead water or juice?}, or even math {measuring milk is tricky business!}, just to name a few valuable reasons to get down and dirty with finger paints throughout childhood!

We made pudding according to the directions on the box and then used aluminum foil to paint on today. Other great options for a drawing medium are wax paper, a baking tray, or heavy cardstock {the pudding will soak through regular paper pretty quickly}.

Have a blast! This project is fun and YUMMY!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Song Can

I put this Song Can together my second year of teaching. I add and subtract songs as needed depending on the age of children I am teaching, and this little guy has been a hit for at least ten years {you may want to add or subtract based on the age of children at your house. Kindergarten kids are totally over "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" but "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain" is a little too intense for a two-year-old}.

Now that I use the Song Can at home I have added a few church songs for Larkin to learn and sing.

Larkin can sit and sing songs from the Song Can for HOURS! This is a great activity for kids of all ages. Your kids can even help you make the Song Can customized for your family.

I used:
A large coffee can
Contact paper
Construction paper

Have your kids help you decide which songs should be added to the Song Can. Have older kids draw pictures to go with the song names for little kids so that even young children can know which song they picked. Any of this can be done on the computer with clip art if you are feeling less than creative ... I totally get that, although my silly little school bus has worked just fine for "Wheels on the Bus" for so many kids I can't even count them all ... kids don't judge our creativity the way we judge ourselves, so just have FUN!

Music is so important in helping children to learn and grow!
Happy Singing!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Homemade Finger Paints

What do you get when you add sugar, salt, corn starch, and water? The perfect base for finger paints ... for cheap!

The recipe is simple.
3 T sugar
1 T salt
1/2 cup corn starch
2 cups water
food color

Mix everything but the food coloring in a pot and cook while stirring until the mixture becomes thickish. (Don't let the mixture come to a boil or become too thick)
Let the mixture cool and stir in food coloring. One batch of this goo made all the finger paints above.

If you have baby food jars, or small jelly jars, that is the best way to store these paints. We are fresh out of baby food jars these days, so we used tupperware containers today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Colored Rice

I have been the "sick-in-bed mom" for too many weeks! It is time to get moving and creating again at our house! I have decided to pull a few tricks out of my bag and have a little fun with what is left of the summer. If you are running low on ideas at your house, feel free to use some of mine! None of them are original. I have found all of them in books, from co-workers, online, or in school. I hope you enjoy the last few weeks of summer at your house!

First up: Colored Rice. You can color just about anything with a little liquid food coloring and some rubbing alcohol ... rice, pasta, bird seed, tapioca ... any or all of these are perfect in a sensory table with some spoons and bowls.

We used 2 cups of rice in each zippy and 2 Tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with a little squirt of food coloring. Close up the bag and let your munchkin shake SHAKE shake!
(We added two bags of tapioca after we finished the rice so we would have a few extra colors.)

Once the rice looks "beautiful" as Larkin says, you set it out on a tray and let it dry out. The rubbing alcohol will evaporate and the color will stick. We set ours out in the sun so it would dry a little faster.

(I always mess with my pictures a little before I post them, but I left this one alone so you could see how vibrant the rice can be. It's the rubbing alcohol that makes the colors so bright! Once it evaporates the rice dulls and little.)

Larkin loves to cook so we set her up with lots of bowls and spoons and spatulas to cook up a storm. We poured in all the colors of rice and tapioca into a bucket and let Larkin mix them all together.

Such fun!
Next up on our list of fun things to do ... "clean mud", homemade finger paints, and the Song Can!