Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cat in the Hat

We are really enjoying celebrating Dr. Seuss this week. Today was full of super silliness in the spirit of Cat in the Hat.
How fitting that it was a rainy day dreary day for us too.
Thing One and Thing Two knew just what to do.

As Baby Rex has gotten older I have made an effort to introduce multiple step projects to our curriculum. 
Thing One and Thing Two were a joint project. 

First Rex finger painted a big piece of paper. After it dried I cut out the body shapes for Thing One and Thing Two. When he woke up from nap we glued on the shredded paper for hair. I gave him some to play with and explore before gluing to the paper. Rex is very proud of his art work. He points to it and jabbers away every time he sees it hanging up. 

Rex is in LOVE with shaving cream play. It was pure perfection to create wild and crazy hair for Thing One and Thing Two.
I used washable paint to dye the shaving cream blue. 
You can also use food coloring. 
I painted Thing 1 and Thing 2 on the tub walls with washable paint during nap time. 

Just like The Cat in the Hat we tried to stack and balance plates, cups, and bowls. This is an activity we will be repeating again soon. Stacking the odd shaped items and attempting to carry them while balancing is a GREAT skill building exercise for toddlers and preschoolers.

Little Bear came over to play today so we took this opportunity to make a keepsake project. They are the best of friends, I want to preserve these memories for years to come. Baby Rex lovee seeing his hand prints and picture apart of his art project. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Green Tub Sensory Play

We are continuing to work on colors at out house. One of the easiest and most fun ways is with a color themed sensory play tub.
Since it is so close to St. Patrick's Day I opted for shamrocks on the walls with washable paint.

This was Baby Rex's first time playing with a large amount of shaving cream. 
He was extremely intrigued by the consistency   

Baby Rex was quickly COVERED with green shaving cream, loving every second of it.I dyed the shaving cream with food coloring beforehand then drizzled a bit of washable paint on top for Rex to mix in himself. 

 After thoroughly exploring the shaving cream for a while I added a few green toys I had gathered from around the house. However the shaving cream was far more exciting as Rex had little interest in his everyday toys.

As his play naturally began winding down, I turned on the faucet to fill the tub up a bit. The green dye and paint turned the water green while the melting shaving cream was fun to splash in. This is a great way to turn one set up into two different sensory play experiences. 


Baby Rex had a GREAT time playing with shaving cream today and painting the tub walls. I used white construction paper to save some of his artistic creations. Maybe we will use them for a future project, who knows?

Oh How Many Feet You Meet.

Last year I hosted a play date for Dr. Seuss' birthday. We read The Foot Book, painted our feet for a project, the babies had silly hats, and yummy food for the Mommies. 

Each of the babies made a foot print on their friends paper for a cute keepsake art project.
Rex's is in his scrapbook with pictures from our play date. 

The babies were hilarious looking at each other with their hats on. Baby Rex was of course rocking his Cat in the Hat onsie.

It wouldn't be a party with out food. I made green eggs and ham, Yurtle's turtles, Truffula trees and dip, and Cat's hats. We had so much fun, can't wait for our next Dr. Seuss Party!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fill & Spill DIY

Baby Rex is all about the fill & spill activities. These are super simple to create and a GREAT learning activity for toddlers. Fill & spill activities can be made from anything or store bought. I refer to anything as fill & spill if they can fill it up and dump it out over and over again. 
This is a typical toddler behavior you are extending to maximize the learning potential. They are learning eye hand coordination, cause and effect, developing critical thinking and fine motor skills.  Build upon their language development by introducing or reinforcing color and shape words as well as new vocabulary. You can tailor the difficulty level for your child to meet them where they are.

One of our first home made fill & spills and still a favorite. I re-purposed a grapefruit container and saved various jar lids for a few weeks, including lots of baby food jar lids. He has recently learned how to make a metal lid pop which he is very proud of.

Baby spoons into a metal water bottle. Little Bear especially loves the little "ting" after each spoon is dropped in. As the opening was small this provided a great moment to introduce the concept of taking turns to these two young toddlers. 

One of our favorite quiet evening wind down activities is playing with glow sticks. Tonight we dropped glow bracelets into a gallon size water jug that Baby Rex has been obsessed with the past few days. He is really into HUGE toys and items lately. By using the jug I am taking something that he is currently interested in and turning it into a learning activity. He was very focused and then excited to see the whole jug glowing.

I am a big time thrift store shopper. After scouting about on several trips I finally found a good amount of these shapes from a CandyLand game. They are the perfect size for Baby Rex's little hands. I cut a wide slit in the top of an old yogurt container and voila. Shape drop fill & spill is now a favorite. This activity takes the fill & spill concept up another notch for Baby Rex as he must turn the shapes to fit through the slot. He was a little frustrated at first, but has quickly gotten the hang of it. I plan on re-purposing these same shapes for multiple learning tray and activities as Rex grows and learns. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Celebrations

Most celebrations at our house involve making a mess at our house. Just the way we like it!

Sensory bin play with Little Bear and Baby Rex.

Red & white rice, foam heart Valentine's, heart scoops, Conversation hearts, and heart glitter bracelets.

Tubby Time!

Painted walls, jello hearts, conversation hearts, and heart scoops.
Just add water for a whole new way to play!

Toilet paper roll heart stamping.I think the boys were a bit young for this activity but they had fun none the less. And that is the most important part.

Cookie  Cutter Art
This was a mush more age appropriate activity for Baby Rex as he was able to lead the activity completely on his own. Process art is am essential part of playing to learn.

Our Valentine's art projects

Blast from the past! This was Baby Rex's first Valentine in 2012.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Masking Tape Peel

This activity has become another staple in our house. I now keep a roll of masking or painters tape on the bookshelf near the door. It is fast, no mess, and grabs their attention. 

I love how focused the boys get during this activity. You can really see them thinking, processing, and learning. 

Tips & Tricks:
  • Dog ear one corner for little fingers to peel easier. I started off with a big tab as their skill level has increased it has gotten smaller.
  • Adhere the tape going in various directions with the tab in different corners. This will encourage them to use their muscles in multiple ways.
  • Remove excess tape from window when your child is done playing. The tape can leave a sticky residue after a few days. 

October Sensory Play

We have had a busy, busy month. Baby Rex is officially a toddler now - 1 year old, walking, running, and CLIMBING!! Keeping him busy, engaged, and challenged is becoming more of a challenge for me too. Here are some of our favorite Fall & pumpkin themed play times.

Baby Rex and Little Bear had a great time exploring a few little pumpkins and gourds. The different textures were very intriguing to  both boys. This provided a great opportunity to narrate their activity; introducing new adjectives,  reviewing colors, beginning sorting concepts, and so much more. I think Rex's favorite was the baking pumpkin. He really like the sound when he smacked it's smooth texture and thought it was hilarious when I rolled it across the floor.
Pumpkins and gourds also make excellent tub toys. They float!

Pumpkin Patch Playtime

We visited several pumpkin patches this month too. Rex LOVED LOVED going to the farm! So much to see, smell, touch, and explore! This was the first time he played in hay and was very inquisitive. I had a great time following him around watching him explore independently, seeing what grabbed his attention. Days like this are great when I can sit back and let Baby Rex take the lead.

Family quickly outing to the MD Renaissance Festival turned into some impromptu hay sensory play. Near the entrance there was some hay thrown about to help keep the dust down. This was clearly the highlight of his day. Seeing Rex's interest I was quickly reminded that even the simplest things can turn into the most amazing experiences. The joy, intrigue, and excitement on his expressions was priceless.  

Later in the month we had one of our friends over for a little toddler science lesson. It was a HIT! Z-Rex really got a kick out of the slimy pumpkin guts and seeds. He was really into smelling the fresh cut pumpkin too. I love having sensory play dates. They learn so much from watching and observing the other child play and interact with the same materials.

To keep a toddler entertained during a hurricane, bring nature inside. The high winds knocked down these amazing big leaves. I brought some in and left them in the laundry room for a bit to dry out. Baby Rex treated us to a fall foliage parade.

After using the full cobs of Indian corn at our play date, I saved the kernels for sensory bin filler another day. We love metal pie plates, muffin tins, or cups in our sensory bins. Baby Rex loves to hear the different sounds it makes.

When we were done with the bin I put the kernels into water bottles and plastic eggs to make noisy shakers. Easy ideas to stretch your materials and manipulate them in different ways for new experiences.

Sensory Play in a Snap!

All of these activities have proven themselves time and time again at our house as the best of the best less mess boredom busters. 

Almost as much fun to clean up as it is to play!

Turn off the lights and crank the tunes. Resistance is futile. 

This quick flip in our everyday environment provides an easy texture exploration opportunity.

 We now buy TP in bulk.

Little Bear and Baby Rex were all giggles running barefoot down the catwalk. First time we did this they played for a solid 45 minutes running, crawling, shaking non stop.

Super silly sensory play resets my mood as much as theirs. Stressed, teething, bored, fussy? Forget it all and get silly with your kids. 

Orange Tub Sensory Play

Color themed tub play is quickly becoming a staple in our house.
Set up and clean up are a snap. Baby Rex always has a ton of fun and it is a surefire way to beat the winter boredom blues.

I follow the box directions for jigglers so the jello would be a nice consistency for play.
Rex was excited to squish, smash, and stack bits of jello.

I used washable paint to decorate the tub walls and provided and assortment of different orange objects & toys. 
Tigers, blocks, a plate & a bowl. 

 Inspector Rex reporting for duty. After the initial excitement wore off a bit, he became very serious about inspecting each individual element in his orange environment.

As he naturally starts winding down, just add water for easy clean up
and to add a whole new
dimension to the play.

Color tubs are an easy and fun way to bridge academics with sensory play experience. We've worked our way through the rainbow with different magic mixtures and messy play. Introducing a new play material in a familiar environment has also helped Baby Rex feel confident to explore and experiment. 

Blue Tub Sensory Play

We have been doing lots of sensory play this winter.
Baby Rex LOVED LOVED LOVED his blue themed goop tub. Now that Rex is a bit older I am trying to link multiple learning experience together. Color themed sensory tubs are a great and easy way to accomplish this. 

I painted the tub walls with washable Crayola paint while Rex was napping.
Added an assortment of blue toys and a double box batch of blue goop. 

He was very enthralled by the goop raining down and through his fingers.

I made the goop a little thicker today than last time we played. This proved to be an excellent fine motor muscle work out. Z-Rex really had to dig his fingers in to pick up the goop or any toys. 

Z-Rex couldn't get enough goop today. He played for over an hour!

Tips & Tricks:
  • Goop is made by mixing cornstarch with water
  • Add water slowly until desired consistency
  • If goop dries out while playing, just add a bit more water
  • I used too much food coloring today, Z slightly resembled Baby Smurf after playing. A long bubble bath afterwards took care of that.