Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The porch light is off. The candy bowl is empty. The kids are in bed. Halloween is over. My little bear and my little witch had a great time wandering the neighborhood with Daddy while I stayed behind to hand out candy. By the time they got home, their excitement had gave way to exhaustion. 

Tomorrow is November and all the Halloween fun gets put away until next year. It was a blast and we made many good memories. Hope your Halloween was fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Card Making Basket

I recently set out a little basket of card-making supplies for the girls to make Halloween cards. I kept it simple with pre-folded card stock and a variety of stickers. Sticking stickers is always a popular activity with my girls, so I knew they would be excited to see the basket.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Painting on Wet Paper

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I was recently inspired to pick up a copy of the book Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences (Bright Ideas for Learning) by MaryAnn Kohl at the library. It was a well-used copy and it's no wonder. The book is full of fun, interesting and creative activities designed to combine science concepts with art. There are projects for all ages of kids. In fact, I don't think you could be too old to have fun with this book. 

The project we decided to tackle first was painting on wet paper, which was designed to demonstrate the concept of diffusion. I waited until AJ was napping before starting the project. On hindsight, even at 2, she could have had fun with this project.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feeding the Birds...

We had a beautiful autumn day yesterday and we decided it was the perfect day to tackle #19 on our Fall Bucket List, feed the birds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fun With a Circle...

We went outside with the intention of creating another driveway obstacle course. But, this time, we only got as far as the circle... the one large circle. The girls started running and giggling and decided all they needed was a circle to have fun.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Little Pumpkins...

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Can you believe we've never read the Five Little Pumpkins before? I decided not to let another year pass without reading this book and added it to our story time this week. Of course, we needed to have a little bit of fun with it. So, I made jack-o-lantern finger puppets.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making Monsters...

They're googly-eyed, wiggly-armed and just about the cutest monsters I've ever seen! After seeing these Purple People Eaters on Toddler Approved, I knew Lizzie and AJ would have fun making their own monsters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Leaf Garland...

Remember the leaves we gathered on our leaf collecting trip? After being pressed under heavy books for a few days, we got them out to do rubbings and turn them into a pretty fall garland.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Bucket List - Revisited...

We've been working hard on our fall bucket list the last couple of weeks. Work is not quite the right word for what we've been doing, maybe I should say play hard instead!

We made pumpkin bread using this recipe from Everyday Food. Yum!

We went leaf collecting and did some apple stamping.

We made apple pie play dough using this recipe from Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas and we played with it for days. It smelled heavenly!

And last, but not least, we made our spooky spider masks!

What's next? 

We're going to do our leaf rubbings and turn them into our fall garland. We'll feed the birds this week and make our crock pot apple sauce. And of course, anything else that suits our fancy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leaf Collecting...

We've been working on our fall bucket list a lot this week and decided yesterday was the perfect day for leaf collecting. But first, we needed something to put those leaves in.

I took brown paper lunch bags and cut them in half. We were only going to use the bottom half. I used a pair of my craft scissors to get the zig-zag pattern on the top. Then, we got out the markers and the girls started decorating.

When they were finished, I opened up the bags, punched a hole in each side and added a long length of yarn. It was a windy day, so I wanted the girls to be able to wear them messenger-bag style.

And then, we were off!

We went to one of our local parks. It is full of trees and has several walking paths. I knew it would be perfect for leaf collecting.

We walked and picked up leaves, then walked and picked up leaves some more. Most were already brown and on the ground, but we found a few treasured yellow and red leaves while we were out.

We also stopped and examined the mossy wall. AJ loved touching it!

After a lengthy playground stop, we brought our treasures home. They're now being pressed under heavy books, just waiting for us to have more fun with them!

Have you been doing any fall activities? What sort of fall fun have you been having?

Linking up to The Play Academy, The Sunday Showcase, Monday Madness, Best of October Linkup and Show and Share Saturday 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple Stamping...

We did another item from our Fall Bucket List recently - apple stamping. I set up the project by cutting a couple of apples in half. I cut one lengthwise, so we could get the apple shape. The other I cut crosswise, so we could have circles with the pretty star shape in the middle. I grabbed a few of our craft sticks and stuck them in the apples to make the stamps easier to handle. After pouring out a couple of colors of paint, we were ready to go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Peacock Feathers...

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We finished up our exploration of India by learning about their national bird, the peacock. We began by reading the book Meet the Peacock by Suzanne Buckingham. We learned all sorts of fun facts about the peacock. One of our favorite facts was learning that only the male bird is called the peacock, the females are peahens. After reading the book, we did a simple craft - making peacock feathers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Loving Literature - A New Halloween Favorite...

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We found a new favorite Halloween book this year! The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene is a fun and silly read that is perfect for celebrating the season. It's a Halloween book written in the style of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Perfect for a read-aloud and sure to solicit many, many giggles.

The book follows this lovely, green lady and her gentleman friend as he attempts to give her a new gift for every day. He starts with a vulture in a dead tree and the gifts get sillier each day ending on the thirteenth day when the lady gives her gentleman friend a gift.

Grab the kids for a fun read-aloud, or even better, sing the book! Pretty soon the kids will be joining along... if they can stop giggling. I know we'll be reading this book many more times before Halloween.

If you're looking for other good Halloween reads, check these out:
The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown
Which Witch's Wand Works? by Poly Bernatene
Who's There on Halloween? by Susan Hagan Nipp and Pamela Conn Beall

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Googly-Eye Spider Masks...

Watch out! The spider's gonna get you!!

Number 13 on our Fall Bucket List was to make spider masks. We've already began checking things off our list and recently decided that spider masks would be fun to do for craft time. And what would make spider masks even more perfect? Why googly eyes, of course!

Supplies Needed:
Paper plates (1 for each spider)
Black construction paper (enough for 8 legs per spider - I used one sheet per set of 8 legs)
Black paint
Large craft sticks 
Googly eyes

To prep the craft, I cut the center out of the paper plate. I wanted to flat portion only. I cut the eye holes out as well. I also cut the strips of paper. (I did this part because my girls aren't all that skilled with scissors yet!)

First, we painted the paper plate and craft stick black. I thinned the paint a bit with water, so it wouldn't be so thick and goopy on the masks. (You can thin any water-soluble paint with water.) Then came the hard part; we had to let it dry!

Next, we accordion folded all the paper strips so the legs would be nice and wiggly. This part was difficult for my 4- and 2-year-old, so I had to help a lot. (Yep, you guessed it. I ended up folding all the legs... oh well!)

Finally, it was time to glue! I poured some glue in a saucer and gave the girls cotton swabs to make it a bit easier for them to handle. They glued the googly eyes all over the mask and then we glued the legs to the back of the paper plate. As a final step, we glued the painted craft sticks to the bottom of the plates. These are the handles for the girls to hold up to their faces.

Don't forget the very important step of holding the googly eyes over your actual eyes so Mom can take silly pictures!

Spider masks are a must for Halloween this year! Have you started making Halloween crafts this year?

Linking up to For the Kids Friday, Show and Tell, It's Playtime, The Mommy Club and Monday Madness  



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Indian Art - Rangoli Designs

We're still talking about India and we recently learned a little about a traditional form of Indian art, Rangoli. These designs are typically done on floors, but we needed something a bit more small scale! I opted for recycling a cereal box instead.

This project took a little more prep work than usual on my part, but it was worth all the trouble. I started out my searching for Rangoli designs on-line and found a couple of easy designs to copy. I drew the designs on our recycled cardboard with a Sharpie. Then, I dyed the salt. Each color took about 1/4 cup of salt and 3-4 drops of food coloring. If you want more vibrant colors, just add more food coloring. When dying the salt, you need to start stirring immediately after adding the food coloring, otherwise, it will start getting clumpy. We let the salt dry overnight before using it.

I set up our crafting area with our designs, bowls of colored salt, spoons, glue and pictures from a book about India for inspiration. I sat the designs on individual trays to help us pour excess salt back into the bowls. I would suggest not doing this project in a carpeted area! My floor was quite gritty with salt when we were done. (I think I'll be cleaning it up for days!)

To do the project, the girls applied glue to one area of the design and then spooned the colored salt over the area. We then shook the excess off, then added more glue to another area. The girls greatly enjoyed the process. Lizzie carefully considered each color and AJ's favorite part was spooning the salt.

We tried applying the salt with our fingers and at one point we (AJ) decided to just pour entire bowls of salt on our designs.

We also took a few breaks in our artwork to play with the excess salt on our trays!

In the end, we had a colossal mess, but also some very pretty artwork. I'm hoping that by doing some of our cultural projects, the girls are soaking in information about this big world of ours. My wish is to spark an interest and make them eager to see and learn about all the corners of the world.

Linking up to It's Playtime and Kids Get Crafty

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Preschool Corner

It's been awhile since I posted about our preschool corner. It's a small cubby and I place a variety of learning activities in it. Lizzie does not attend preschool so it's up to me to get her ready for kindergarten next year. I've been gathering and using quite a lengthy list of activities, so I thought I'd share a few that we've been working on lately.

1. Sorting - Lizzie loves to sort, so it's been a challenge for me to come up with ways for her to sort. This is a recent idea. I found clip art examples of different items that were hot or cold, punched them out and made two simple sorting mats. Her job is to decide if it's hot or cold. Lizzie is a whiz at this sort of activity, but she enjoys doing it, so we keep it up. 

3. Alphabet puzzle - I ran across this puzzle at the dollar section of a certain favorite big-box store. Lizzie is familiar with all of the capital letters, but still needs to work on her lowercase letters. I pull these about five letters at a time because she had grown tired of the entire puzzle. Dividing it into small pieces seemed to renew interest. 

4. Building words - We love our magnet letters and usually use them on an old cookie sheet. Lizzie is currently working on spelling names. She's learning her name, her sister's name, our dog's name and our cat's name. (Charlie is the dog, by the way!) I have all the letters in the basket so she has to dig through to find the letter she is looking for.

5.  Punching - I'll sometimes set out a fun punch, scraps of paper and a small basket to catch all of the little bits of paper. Lizzie and AJ both love to use the punches. They work on their fine-motor skills and learn about cleaning up after themselves.

6. Transferring - This is AJ's favorite activity, so it often shows up in our preschool corner. We do a lot of transfer work with puffballs. Sometimes we'll working on transferring from one container to another with tweezers or kitchen tongs. To make it more challenging, I found this mini ice cube tray and the girls have to put one puff ball in each hole.

These are just a few of the learning activities I have set out on a daily basis. When I have them set up and easily accessible, the girls will often go grab one and start working on them on their own. They love learning and I try to keep it fun for them at their young age.

Do you do preschool at home? Where do you find your ideas?