Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Clean Fun - Sensory Table - Fun Summer Activities

Sensory development is key in early childhood, especially (NOT unless) your child tends to be overly sensitive to sights, sounds, textures, and temperatures.  The more familiar they can become with new sensations, the less anxiety will arise upon new situations.  During the toddler "explorative" phase is the perfect time to introduce the opportunity to explore. 

Sensory tables are ridiculously expensive and not always very practical to clean or relocate (those lessons were learned the hard way during my years in a classroom).  So, as our daughter got her sea legs and was ready to start exploring, my husband and I put our heads together to create our own table that was perfect for our curious toddler (then 15 months still enjoying it at 25 months).  

We started with a shallow, rectangular tupperware box with a well fitting lid. Then we basically built the frame around it with some left over plywood we had. We made sure all edges were sanded and smooth, then begin filling it!

WARNING: Please be sure to supervise your children during their "exploration" especially while they are still in the oral phases.

A few fun ideas for toddlers:
1. Water
2. Soap and Water
3. Dry Rice (with little bugs or small toys to bury and find)
4. Cooked Pasta noodles
5. Autumn Leaves
6. Flour
7. Shaving Cream
8. Cotton Balls
9. Finger paint

A sensory table can be a great, portable, easy to clean way for lots of crazy messy fun with older kids too!

A few fun ideas for ages 4+:
1. Ice Cubes
2. Sand with sand toys and shovels
3. Insta-snow
4. Oobleck  (1 part water, 1 1/2 parts corn starch....add food coloring if you want!)
5. Moon sand
6. Polymer Crystals

Clean up and storage:
Simply remove the box from the frame and hose it out, let dry and replace.  If the kids are still playing, but need to abandon the table for a meal or other activities, just put the lid in place to protect it from the elements, or curious critters. =)

Here's to a wet, soft, sticky, slimy, sudsy, rough, slippery, squishy, smooth, firm, and fun summer! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crazy Messy Fun - Marblized Paper - Summer Art Activities

This post contains affiliate links.
Here is another colorful project that I love sharing with my students (and my daughter got a kick out of it too!)

Here is what you'll need:
1. Liquid watercolor (LOVE this stuff!) or food coloring (keep in mind that food coloring is NOT washable and will stain your hands, clothing, and anything within spitting distance).
2. Shaving Cream....any old store brand will work, choose a scent that is pleasing because your paper will hold it for a while!  ( I buy the one for "sensitive skin" so the kids can play in it once the project is over!)
3. Stirring can use anything from toothpicks to popsicle sticks...whatever pointy object you have lying around.
4. Paper....cut it in to any size or shape before the project....or after!
5. A scraper (I use a shower squeegee...but a firm piece of cardboard, or a spackle knife will work!)
6. A hard, flat, washable surface - a table....a washable mat....even a plastic cutting board will work! here are the directions - so simple!
Step 1. Spray some shaving cream on the flat surface (about an inch or so deep and large enough of an area to cover your paper size)

Step 2. Drip some paint on to surface of foam in random order.

Step 3. Use your stirring stick to create a swirl pattern with the colored foam

Step 4. Place your paper, face down, on to the foam and press down all the edges (nice and squishy!)

Step 5. Remove the paper from the foam and place it on the table

Step 6. Use your scraper to remove the foam from the surface of the paper....VOILA!! The color stays!

Step 7. Set your paper aside to dry (dries very quickly and cannot be smudged or damaged, but will stick together if stacked while wet).

 You can use your completed marble paper for wrapping gifts, adorning cards, or framing!
Now, go....create! could get on to more important business, like.....

Or this.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Power of Prayer - Our New Family Motto

Our daugther, now 2, has entered the stage of development that we were warned about since her birth. "When she starts copying everything you do and say....that's when you have to START setting a good example."   And I am ashamed to say that we are just now "Starting" to set that example.  The last two years we have loved and nutured her and tried to teach her right from wrong...but our attempts were aimless at best.  Just before her second birthday my husband and I decided to officially sit down and work out our family guidlines, rules, boundaries, and goals. We decided our motto would be "Be an example to others" and were trying to compile a list of traits to accompany it.  Here is a great reference that we started with:  The 49 Character Qualities of Christ
We each made a list of our top 5 most important qualities then compared notes.  I chose my five with confident intuition. My husband scoured the Bible, looked up definitions and scripture, took notes, and finally made a careful list.  Ironically, we basically came to the same conclusions. But, after working on it a few days, praying for guidance, and frankly feeling a little frustrated, I opened the Bible from my youth and came across a bookmark that I had always treasured, but had long forgotten. The bookmark read:  "Don't let anyone look down on you for being young, but set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity." ~Timothy 4:12

Old faded bookmark, same inspiring scripture!

I thanked God for his divine guidance and quickly printed, mounted, and framed the scripture in clear bold letters... As I found the perfect place to hang it, I thought of how benificial it will be to have boundaries, spritual expectations, and a clear reminder for our daughter as she learn to be an example of Christ's love...We were so proud to have our "lesson plan" all set to teach our daughter. But, when I hung it up and we read it over a few times, we realized those words are not just meant for her tiny little eyes and ears. They are a compelling reminder and a spiritual challenge for my husband and I (and all who visit our home) to be an example in everything we do, say, and are.

Overall it was a fun experience that helped us grow as parents and as believers. I reccomend digging for your own family motto no matter how old your children are...sometimes we need it more than they do, anyway.

Here is to learning and growing while you teach!