Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Loving Literature: Snow Books

To go along with our snow sensory bin and our snowy snowman craft, we've been reading a lot of books about winter and snow.

We've been enjoying all the stories in Jan Brett's Snowy Treasury . It contains some of her "snowy" best stories, The Gingerbread Baby, The Mitten, The Hat, and The Three Snow Bears. If I'm not reading the stories, Lizzie is thumbing through the book enjoying the pictures.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz is a beautifully illustrated book about a snowy day that starts our one snow flake at a time. It's lyrical and calm and a perfect book to illustrate the peacefulness of a snowy day.

We've been reading a lot of Cynthia Rylant books lately, and Snowis fast becoming another favorite. It's the perfect book to curl up with on a snowy day. What do you like to do in the snow? Playing, exploring, or curling up inside and staying warm. Cynthia Rylant will take you through the perfection of a snowy day.

These are some of the snow books we've been enjoying lately. Do you have a favorite book about snow?

If you're following along on the Creative Christmas Countdown, you can find Day 1 at Let Kids Create. She's got a great idea for having fun with your Christmas books!

Creative Christmas Countdown

Get ready, because starting tomorrow, a group of 24 fun and fabulous bloggers have teamed up to provide you with a activity a day to get ready to Christmas. It's being hosted by Creative With Kids, who has set up a wonderful interactive calendar to help you follow along.

I'll be participating on the 17th, with a post to help you find ways to involve even the youngest child in charitable giving and activities during this holiday season. Here's the list of all the other wonderful bloggers who are participating:

Check here for a list of printable activities or here if you would like to subscribe to e-mail updates
Get ready to have some fun with this Creative Christmas Countdown!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Snowman in the Snow

 Since we were talking about snowy days with our snow sensory bin, I though it would be fun to do a snowman craft. 

Supplies Needed:
Blue construction paper
White construction paper
White paint
Cotton swabs
Glue sticks

The first thing we needed to do was cut our necessary parts out of the white construction paper. I cut out three circles of varying sizes for each girl. We also tore a strip of white paper to use as the ground.

The girls started gluing. We glued down the torn strip first, then constructed the snowman from the circles.

Next, they took the markers and drew faces, buttons, hats, arms, etc. I had to help AJ draw her face, since she is 2, but Lizzie decorated her snowman herself. 

Finally, it was time for the snow. I poured a bit of the white paint in a container and gave the girls the cotton swabs. They dabbed (or glooped) the paint on the cotton swabs and started making dots on the paper for the snow. They dotted and dotted and smeared just a little until we had a couple of pretty snowy scenes.

It's not the same as a real snowman, but it was still a lot of fun!

Linking up to All Things Wonderful   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Snow Sensory and Small World Play

I've seen wonderful ideas for sensory play all over blogland, but up until now, I haven't set up a sensory bin for my girls. Last night, I decided it was time to do it, and I set up a small sensory bin for the girls. Instead of filling a large bin, I decided to put the items in a small basket and provide a piece of fabric for them to set up their own snow scene.

Sensory Basket Contents:
Cotton balls
Blue puff balls
Clear white and blue glass marbles (vase fillers from the dollar store)
Cardboard snowmen (made from a cracker box)
Small polar bears (a toy we've had for years)

The girls got busy making a snowy wonderland. They spread it out. They made the snow fall. They stacked snow on the polar bear's head. And, they even made a river from the glass marbles.

That, my friends, is our little river! After playing for awhile, Lizzie found our painter's palette and decided it needed to be a part of our sensory bin. 

I did lay down a couple of rules while playing. I certainly didn't want the little pieces all over the house! I told them they could play with this at any time as long as everything remained on the table and there was no fighting over the pieces. So far so good! Note: I did let my 2-year-old play with the little pieces. I was sitting at the table with them and she doesn't have the tendency to put things in her mouth. Please know your child's limitations and supervise carefully!

The girls had fun and so did the polar bears! I hope they continue to enjoy it for the days to come.

Do you have any examples of sensory play? I enjoyed setting this one up and hope to do more in the future.

Linked up to Monday Madness, Making Magical Christmas Memories, The Play Academy, Fun Sparks, For The Kids Friday, The Sunday Showcase, Link and Learn, Winter Fun Link-Up, and It's Playtime 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love, laughter, and lots of yummy food!

I'll be taking the rest of the week off to enjoy this time with my family. I'll see you back here on Monday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall Bucket List - Revisited

Now that Thanksgiving is almost here, it's time to look at our Fall Bucket List and see what we did and what we missed. I know Fall's not over quite yet, but now that the Holiday season is upon us, we'll be focusing more on Christmas and winter activities. 

1. Make apple pie playdough - This was the first thing we did and it was amazing.
5. Visit an apple orchard - We were never able to find the time to go this year. But, we did go to a pumpkin patch instead!
6. Make candy corn sugar cookies - Yet we had plenty of other sweets in our house, maybe that's why we never made the cookies.
7. Watch It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - We did this a few times!
9. Drink apple cider - Again, we didn't do this because we never went to the apple orchard.
16. Go acorn collecting - It took several attempts, but we did finally find a few!
18. Make crock pot apple sauce - This was yummy and the house smelled heavenly all day!
20. Make homemade Halloween cards

We did all but three items on our list and had lots of fun this Fall! I love having a bucket list each season and plan on making a winter one after the holidays are over.

So, you tell me, what should I put on our Winter Bucket List?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful Trees

Our Fall Bucket List would not be complete this year without making Thankful Trees. When thinking about this project, I decided I wanted it to be more about thankfulness than about the artwork. 

I drew simple tree shapes on brown construction paper, then cut out a bunch of construction paper leaves. Then, armed with the leaves and my trusted black Sharpie, I gathered the girls to talk about thankfulness. We read the book Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland. This is a very sweet book that gives the kids a wonderful and very simply stated introduction to thankfulness. After reading the book, we talked about what we were thankful for. Lizzie was able to give me quite a good list.

I recorded all the things they were thankful for on the leaves, then we went to the table and started gluing. We talked a bit more about thankfulness while the girls used their glue sticks.

Lizzie's list: food, friends, flowers, Mommy, my kitchen (i.e. her play kitchen), sister, Daddy, books, and ice cream (aren't we all).

AJ's list as dictated to my by Lizzie: sister, books, Charlie (our dog), milk, Mommy, food, Lucy (our cat), her baby doll, and Daddy.

What are you thankful for?

Linking up to Show and Tell and Monday Madness

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hand Print Turkey Cards

One the items on our Fall Bucket List that we hadn't completed yet was "make hand print turkeys." Since Thanksgiving is coming up soon, it was time to do them.

This craft was much more adult-led than the other projects we've been doing, but the girls enjoyed it nonetheless. The first item of business, was painting the girls' hands. Make sure you use washable paint! I did each girl one at a time since I had nightmares of colorful hand prints all over my walls.

Once the hands were painted, we pressed them on the paper. We were turning these into cards, so I had already pre-cut and pre-folded the paper. Once they were dry, we added beaks, eyes, legs, and grass.

The cards are two folded sheets of paper nestled inside each other - four pages total.  The turkeys got progressively small with the first being Lizzie's, the second AJ's, and the third was Lizzie's thumbprint for the body and AJ's fingerprints for the feathers. 

They're going in the mail soon, so that hopefully the recipients get them before Thanksgiving! 

What Thanksgiving projects have you been doing lately?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Yesterday's 30 Days to Play Challenge was to go on a hunt. It was the perfect day to go on that scavenger hunt that I had been planning ever since I created our Fall Bucket List. I had been putting it off for no go reason whatsoever and yesterday's challenge was the kick in the pants I needed to head outside and send the girls on a hunt.

I didn't want this to be something that took a big effort, after all, it was supposed to be fun! So, we stayed in the backyard. Before going out, I took a piece of notebook paper and wrote down specific attributes I wanted the girls to hunt for. Then we bundled up and went outside. (Yes, I did make it pretty first... that's just how I roll.)

Lizzie took off and started hunting. AJ opted to play on our slide instead. I was the recorder and photographer. We had a lot of fun hunting and taking pictures of all our findings.

Here's what we found!

Something hard: the wood on our play structure
Something soft: our gloves
Something green: some of the grass
Something brown: our dog Charlie's fur
Something tiny: the rocks in the sand
Something big: the climbing rope
Something alive: the people
Something prickly: the raspberry stems
Something smooth: our skin

We had a lot of fun with this and it's definitely something I would like to do more often. It was the perfect excuse to get outside and play on a blustery, cold day.

If you would like to play along with the challenge, it's not too late! Head on over to Hands On: As We Grow or The Imagination Tree. (Or click the button below!)

Linking up to the Outdoor Play Party   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Craft Roundup

I've been gathering ideas for Thanksgiving crafts for the last couple of weeks and have found so many good ones. Since I know I'm not the only one looking for inspiration at this time of year, I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

The Chocolate Muffin Tree shows you how to make beautiful coffee filter turkey cards.
Kitchen Counter Chronicles shares adorable hand print turkey napkin rings.
The thankful tree from JDaniel4's Mom is a wonderful craft for teaching about gratitude.
Practice a little bit of origami and make these cute turkeys from Let's Explore.

Little Wonders' Days made turkeys using rubbings from homemade feather rubbing plates.
My girls would have fun playing with these rockin' turkeys from Itsy Bitsy Learners
Classified: Mom shows you how to make these fun 3-D textured turkeys.
Laugh, Paint, Create shares these colorful collage turkeys.

Small Types shows you how to make a simple and very beautiful thankful log. It would make a wonderful keepsake!
Little Family Fun has another great way to show thankfulness with this gratitude turkey.

For even more ideas, I've been gathering them on my Thanksgiving for Kids Pinterest board. Stop by and take a look.

Do you have any Thanksgiving ideas you want to share?

In November: Book and Craft

The minute I saw the book, In November by Cynthia Rylant, I knew it needed a great craft project to go along with it. The book is beautifully illustrated accompanied by a very poetic text  about the different things that happen in November. We heard about what the trees, animals and even families do in November. After we finished the book, it was crafting time!

I set out our pressed leaves that we still had from our leaf rubbing garland, paper, and paint. We were going to try some leaf stamping.

I showed the girls how to paint the leaf then turn it upside down and press it on their paper. They were ready to go! 

AJ preferred the stamp and press portion of the craft, so I did the leaf painting for her. Lizzie was able to complete the whole project herself. We painted, stamped and pressed until we had four pieces of paper covered. When they were done stamping, they decided to paint with the brushes on their paper as well. 

While we were working, we talked about November. We talked about the weather, animals and holidays. I asked "What happens in November?" and collected their answers. Once the paint was dry, I took out my Sharpie and wrote their answers on the artwork. I covered them in contact paper and we had four place mats.

In November...
It's a little bit cold and a little bit warm
We look forward to Thanksgiving
The geese are flying
The leaves are red, yellow and orange and falling to the ground
We eat pumpkin pie
We feed the birds
It's very windy
We see a lot of orange
We paint a lot

How are you celebrating November?

Linking up to The Mommy Club, Best of November Link Up, Fun Sparks, Kids Get Crafty, Sharing Saturday, Fall Fun Party, Show and Share Saturday, Read, Explore, and Learn, The Sunday Showcase, Link and Learn, and It's Playtime