Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rainbow Time- Coffee Filter Rainbows

We saw our first Portland rainbow a couple days ago, it was beautiful. Emma called it magic and I had to agree; rainbows are pretty magical. She also started asking all sorts of questions. Where does the rainbow end? Can we touch it? How does it get there?
This was a great opportunity to have a little science lesson, which meant I better Google rainbows fast to be sure I had my facts right. I found a fun rainbow fact page.
Emma enjoyed learning about rainbows so much we decided to also make some of our own. We broke out our liquid water colors and some coffee filters. (By the way, if you have not discovered liquid water colors yet, it is a must. They are wonderful to paint with.) I folded the coffee filters in half and Emma used droppers to add the paint to our rainbows. Droppers work well with these paints and they are just so fun for kids to use. After they were fully saturated with paint we unfolded them and hung them to dry.
They are perfect to hang in the window as our home turns into a rainbow of colors for St. Patrick's where is that pot of gold!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sensory art with toothpaste! What?

So, I have to tell you when Emma saw me break out two tubes of toothpaste for our recent project she was very intrigued as to what was to come. When I squeezed it all into a ziplock bag and told her the bag was to stay shut she was very disappointed. I am sure she was hoping for some messy, mixing, slime sort of afternoon.
I continued to lay out glass stones, plastic sea animals and shells and left her to figure out the rest. She began to squish and feel the toothpaste through the bag. Stopped for a moment to complain that this was a really boring project. She continued to set up an ocean setting, then had a little sea animal party. Complained a little more; this time not looking up from her bag of toothpaste. Soon she ditched the animals and used the glass stones to make different mosaic pictures. She was so proud of these she had me take photos each time she finished. After dinner and a bath she was back to it and the pictures were getting more and more elaborate. She's pretty bored I guess.
I have left this out for two days now and it continues to get used in different ways.
I love to bore my children and allow them to dig deep into their imaginations for the real fun. That's when things get most exciting.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's raining! It's pouring! -Rain Sticks

I remember from childhood field trips to nature museums, these very cool rain sticks. They were usually made of wood and looked like large branches, but when turned they made the sound of rain. I was thinking about how cool these were the other day as we sat and watched the rain. I thought this would be the perfect project to do in our new and very wet city.
Ours are not as fancy as the ones at the museums, but were a lot of fun to make and sound just as nice.

What you need to make it rain!
paper towel roll
markers or paint
2" foil squares (2 per rain stick)
dried rice and beans
pipe cleaners
masking tape

First we used liquid water colors to paint the rolls, we had a little snack while they dried and got right back to work. Next take a foil square and cover one end of the roll. Use the masking tape to seal it on and cover the foil completely so little fingers are not tempted to poke holes. Now take about 4 pipe cleaners and twist them a bit before placing them into the roll (you want it to be a snug fit, but lots of holes for the beans and rice to come down.) Place them in one at a time so they are in different positions in the roll. Time to add the beans and rice. We did a few spoonfuls of each, make sure to use both as they work together to create the rain like sound. Take your other sheet of foil and cover the open side just the same with the masking tape.
Now flip your rain stick and listen to the soothing sound of rain drops.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Story Wheel

I think one day when Emma looks back on her childhood at some memorable moments, our story times will be in those moments remembered, at least I know that is something that will always be special and memorable to me.
Sometimes instead of reading books we tell stories from our imaginations. Emma will choose if she wants to be the story teller or listener. I love hearing her stories. They are always a mixture of things happening in our lives and things she hopes to happen; all twisted up with magic, fairies, talking animals and all other wild things that can only be found in a four year old's amazing little mind.
Story telling is a wonderful way for a child to express the way they are feeling. This morning I was told a story of a mermaid that moved to a wonderful new ocean and loved her new magical fish friends. You can imagine how happy this made me; being that we have just moved and I worry day and night about how she is adjusting. With tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face I just had to give Emma the biggest squeeze and tell her how happy I am for that mermaid.

This brings me to our latest project. Emma has been asking to make what she called a "story spinner" for the past week. We sat down and brainstormed together so I could figure out exactly what purpose she had in mind for this story spinner. What we came up with was a wheel that we can spin  to start our imagination stories with. Off we went to gather supplies:

1 sheet of foam board
1- 1" fastener
x-acto knife


 First draw a large (about 12-18") circle on the foam board, we used a large mixing bowl to trace ours. Then draw lines to divide it into 8 equal sections. Next draw an arrow just a little smaller then the circle. I just did this free hand, doesn't have to be perfect. Now for the fun, we sat and thought of different things we like to tell stories about and drew pictures in each section of the wheel. We added some color to the arrow and I cut both the arrow and wheel out with an x-acto. Use the knife to pierce a small x in the center of the circle and the arrow and attach them with the fastener.
There you have it....the beginning to many fun and special stories told together.

P.S. I also use story telling as a way to prepare the kids for changes or events coming up and to teach lessons, for example we recently had a story about a big sister bear who did not like sharing her things with her baby brother bear. They seem to pay attention more when it is not directed to them and funny talking bears help too!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is Grayson up to?- Toddler activities

Yes, I have an 18 month old and yes, he rarely sits still for me to even get a photo of him. He is curious and active and he loves to join his sister crafting under his own terms of course. He is not one for much structure at this point, but I like to think that is his creative independence blossoming. So what is Grayson doing during all of our focus needed projects you wonder? I put together a few different activities that he loves to do, to share with all of you and your active toddlers. Most are geared to help develop those fine motor skills that our little ones are craving at this age as they learn to use those little fingers.

 Magnets! This is a new one we just got. I found all sorts of magnets at a teacher supply store and got these magnet rounds along with some wands. It's a lot of fun for him. He will sit and pull them all apart one by one. We also play a game where I spread the rounds out all over the floor and the kids pick them up with the wands as fast as they can.

 These dot paints are great for toddlers. They are really easy for their little hands to use. They are also scented and of course non toxic. Grayson is very proud when he is painting; for the first ten minutes that is, then he spends thirty minutes putting the tops back on the paints. 

 Rocks, rocks and more rocks. This boy loves his rocks. No, you don't have to spend hours collecting rocks (though, that would be fantastic.) I found a big container of rocks at Target in the home decor section for under $5. He will move these rocks in and out of each container and into piles over and over again. It's like he has a mission and won't stop until it's complete. Still not exactly sure what that mission is. This is a great activity for the older ones too. Emma usually sorts the rocks by color and we have lots of conversations about different textures and sizes. You can also sneak in some fun math practice without them even knowing.

Cotton balls, tongs, large spoons and mixing bowls=fun fun fun! He is learning to use the tongs and gets very excited when he actually picks up a cotton ball and gets it into the bowl. Another game we do is cotton ball races using straws to blow them across the floor. That one gets lots of giggles.

More fine motor fun. This is pretty cool to watch their little hands and see them focus so hard. I use a colander to hold pipe cleaner and give him Cheerios to thread on the pipe cleaner. He usually snacks at the same time...perfect.

Toddlers are so easy to please, ready to explore with anything you give them. They are curious about most everything. I love their little sponge like minds that are taking it all in. This is such a precious time and goes way too fast. I have to remind myself of that on those very long days. 

Wishing you lots of exploring with your little one.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines craft for Daddy

I think to myself most every day how lucky and blessed I am for a husband that is truly everything I ever wanted in a partner and father to my children. For so many reasons I feel this way, but mostly for the hard working husband and father that he is and the friendship and many laughs that he gives me each day.

With children keeping you busy you lose time to say how grateful you are. Today the kids and I did a craft to let Dennis know why we love him so much today, tomorrow and always.

First I cut out a big heart that said "we love you because..." and taped it to the front door. Next we cut out about 25 or so little hearts and I sat with the kids while we completed the sentence on each little heart. Try this with your little ones; you get some funny, honest and very sweet answers. Grayson gave me an answer that only an 18 month old could. "Grayson, why do you love Daddy?" he replied with "Belly Button!" OK, belly button it is. I love his cuteness and I know Dennis is going to love that one. Emma's sweetest was "because he loves me."
When we finished we taped the hearts all over the house for Dennis to find over the next couple days. The taping was pretty fun for the kids as well.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Emma's Finger Puppet Valentines

Emma has been working on Valentines for her classmates this weekend. Using coin wrappers we have made many finger puppets, so we thought heart people would be the perfect finger puppet for a Valentine. Are they adorable or what? Even more so when Emma started giving them names.

 Using heart cut outs we found at a teacher supply store she added googly eyes, stickers, ribbon, yarn and sequins to make the faces and hair. 

 Silliness is happening.

We used tacky glue to attach them to the coin wrappers and added some sequins for shirt buttons. Tada!!

 We placed each one in a teeny tiny paper bag that we stamped with "love, Emma" along with a sheet of these fantastic smelly stickers we found.

And they are ready for school. Happy Valentines Day!!
green owl mama

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Our Sweet Little Heart Village for Valentines Day

Today we made a village, a village of love that is. It started out with a few paper bags and became such a magical little art project as we cut out little windows and doors on each heart home.
We used several different sized bags and cut them down to different heights. The magic started as we embellished the village with heart garland, stickers and confetti hearts that we punched out of scrapbook paper. Of course the final touch was the flame-less tea lights; that really brought this magical little village to life.
Now it is twinkling away on our bookshelf. The kids are so fascinated with the glowing village and I can't help but to smile as I walk by the room. This is definitely a new favorite project in this home and it was so simple to do. Not only did it bring us together as we worked on it, but also created a festive feeling in the air almost like Christmas time. And all it took was a village....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alternative to candy Valentine- Stuck on You!

Yes, I am that mother. That one that brings the Valentines without the candy. I know....I remember thinking as a child "man, that mom is lame! Where's my candy?!" Or something along those lines. But, as mother I see it happen with each holiday; kids get loaded up on sugar at parties, from relatives...ect. and you end up having a sugar hyped cranky child left with candy wrappers at the end of the special day. I know it's inevitable for most school celebrations to go like this, but what I hope to do is to help some fellow mamas out and provide a fun little craft that their children can do to unwind after the long day of fun. So here is a fun Valentine idea that we sent to the kids cousins and besties this year. Glue heart necklaces!

small bottles of white glue
food color
festive paper
double sided tape
card stock
wax paper (about 8"x10")
yarn (2 pieces cut long enough for a necklace)

First you need to color your glue. To do this you will add a few drops of food color and use a skewer or chopstick to stir (may help to squeeze a bit out first.) Then give it a good shake. Next cover the label on the bottle with pretty paper using the tape. I cut out a heart out of card stock and wrote "stuck on you" for the front of the bottle and on the back I used the same card stock and wrote some quick instructions. Attach both of those with the tape. Next fold your wax paper into a rectangle the size of the glue bottle and place behind the bottle as you wrap the yarn around the bottle to create a nice little package.

Necklace instructions for back:
Make a solid heart on the wax paper using your colored glue. Let dry 1 day. Peel off of wax paper, punch a hole in center and thread onto yarn. Enjoy your Valentine necklace!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heart in my hands Valentine

We made Valentines today to send to our family. We started out with some canvas cards and stamped it with both Emma and Grayson's hand print.

Grayson was not this happy two minutes prior when he wanted no part of our guided art. He had his own plan, which he did get to do after we snagged that hand for a minute. Of course as I wrestled my little guy I was also so proud of the artist independence he was displaying.

We got it! All seven cards done.
We found this beautiful wrapping paper at the art store over the weekend.
Emma has been so proud of her new heart drawing talent. This is a skill she has been working on for the past year and a half and all it took was a little rhyme I finally gave her "point up, two humps and kiss." I had her draw hearts on the back of our pretty papers and I cut them out for the Valentines. They are imperfectly perfect. I love that girl and I will love these hearts forever.

After I cut all the hearts out Emma proudly mod podged them onto our canvas boards.

That paper was just too pretty to throw scraps out. I cut them up into confetti and she glued a heart collage on the extra boards.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love is in the Air! Valentines Mobile

We jumped into our first Valentines Day craft this week. Our sweet little mobile will be a symbol of all the love in the air this month and always.

contact paper
decorative goods- we used sprinkles, foil hearts cut off of garland and feathers
2 branches

First I drew different sized hearts on the non-sticky side of the contact paper. Then I exposed the stickiness and let Emma go to work decorating. This child would like to use sprinkles for every project we do, so she was thrilled when she suggested sprinkles and I said yes! Once she was finished we covered the hearts with another sheet of contact paper and cut out all of the hearts. We attempted to use our cute little heart punch to punch holes for the yarn and discovered contact paper is hole punch resistant. Cutting out little holes worked fine. Then we tied the hearts to the yarn. We broke a big branch we found at the park yesterday in half and connected it with the same yarn and tied our heart strands to it, more yarn on top to hang and our first Valentines Day craft of the season was complete.
Wishing you all much love.


green owl mama

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sculpey Eraser clay

I stumbled upon this very cool product a few weeks ago while in Micheal's and finally got to try it out with Emma and my sweet nieces, Olivia and Abby. Sculpey Eraser Clay, here is a link to their site with some fun ideas for eraser making It was a great project for all three girls ages 2, 4 and 7. It comes with everything you need to sculpt your creations and afterwards you bake for 20 minutes and are all set to erase. Olivia thought they could erase a little better, but they get the job done.
I think this is definitely something we will do again. If you try it, let me know what you think.