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Creating Crayons

It was one of those mornings.  You know the type, where the boys were up way before the sun.  So, after pulling out all the tricks in the box by 9, it was time for some sort of project to keep those little hands busy and minds occupied.

Looking at the box of broken crayons, an idea came to me.  Eureka, I found it!  Why not let them play with crayons in a way they hadn’t before.  So, like casting out bait to catch a fish, I asked them if they wanted to make crayons.  C grunted and B while bouncing up and down, shouted yes.  The bait worked.IMG_4217

I let them start to try to peel the wrappers off of them.  This task caused more frustration than fun, so I started thinking of other ways to do it.  I thought about soaking them.  A blog post by TimeForPlay assured me that it would work.IMG_4218

After a few minutes of soaking fun – the wrappers magically came off of the crayons.  So, it was onto the next step.  Taking them out of the water.  Both C & B loved this bit of sensory fun.  You should have seen their faces when they discovered that little bits of crayon had decorated their hands.  Pure amusement! It was like Crayon magic.IMG_4220

Then, B lined a mini-muffin tin.  Thank you OurBestBites for the idea.   The boys placed the crayons in the muffin-tins. And, we were well on our way.IMG_4229

After sitting in an oven warmed to 200 degrees, the crayon bits melted.  They cooled.  Such neat little —–crayon masterpieces!  Now, these artistic are B&Cs favorites for making masterpieces of their own.IMG_4239

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Jars Jars Jars

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Need a morning activity for the tot(s)?  Well, this has been the biggest hit yet.  Just grab a handful of spice jars and let your little one have fun taking the tops on and off.   You can even use full jars with spices and let them use their sense of smell to match the lids.

Both of my boys can’t seem to get enough of these jars.  They try it individually, and then even do it together.  It’s so telling to watch B teach CJ how to do it.  His patience and sweet nature just shine through.  In addition to learning the Montessori termed practical life skills and developing sensory skills, he’s learning to gently use his communication skills to help out his younger bro.

 

Seasonal Sensory Slime: Sorting Pumpkin Seeds

photo(25)After a full night of Halloween fun, the boys and I needed some chill time at home.  But to keep them busy, I used the fun “pumpkin brains” from our pumpkin carving efforts to create a slimy sensory experience.  A bowl and a colander later I was in business.

Basically dump the “pumpkin brains” into a bowl.  Add a bunch of water.  Set a colander or another bowl next to it.  And, let your little one go to town.

B spent forty minutes enjoying the slime.  Afterwards, we made some roasted pumpkin seeds.  Want to try our recipe – check here.

Do it yourself halloween decorations

 photo(22) The boys and I have been busy spooking up our house. Determined not to spend money on anything but pumpkins, I decided to forge around the house to create decorations myself.

I admit, I’m in love with anything from Pottery Barn Kids, especially their painted signs. Though I wanted to make something more personal while incorporating my love of handprint and footprint art (not to mention not breaking the bank.)

2$ later, I was ready to make my own signs to hang and place in the garden.  The boys and I painted the stakes, then decorated them.  After putting on the final gloss and nailing them together, they were ready.  Voila- a fun decoration that will grace our house for years to come.

Want to20131018-123533.jpg do it yourself? All you need are a few supplies. You may even have some on hand.  If you want to make the garden sign – then grab one piece if wood about 2-3 feet long and wooden stakes (as many as you like available at amazon), a few nails and paint, and a sealer. Hardware stores sell single fence pieces separately. Mine was 2$ which beat spending 19$ per sign from Pottery Barn Kids.

If you want to make a hanging sign, just grab some eye screws that yophoto(23)u would use for hanging a picture and a bit of twine.  Super easy!

By the way, don’t let a trip to the hardware store set you back.  It’s pretty to find the wood section – just follow the scent of sawdust.  Of course, in doing so be ready to see some Christmas goodies.  Can’t we get through Halloween first?  And what about Thanksgiving?  Those turkeys need to be celebrated!

After you are ready to go – break out your paint and go to town. I used tempera paint as it is what I have most of, but acrylic would work even better.

Let your creativity guide ya! The possibilities are endless.  Need inspiration? Do a quick Google search for images.

Once you finish painting, let it dry. Once dry, then coat with a sealer.  I used a gloss varnish as it was what I had on hand from making CJ’s solar system for his room, but there 20131018-123458.jpgare spray sealers that will work too.  Again, just grab it at the hardware store.  At this point you can add glitter if ya like.  My boys sprinkled it on everything.  And, it made a cute accentuation of the pumpkin stems, which you may have guessed were made with their thumbprints.  Let dry overnight.

Then you’re ready to break out the tools. Grab your hammer photo(21)and a couple of nails and seal the deal. Or let your little Bob the Builders have fun nailing it in.    I must say that my late grandfather who was a talented carpenter and general contractor would have loved teaching the boys to drive in a nail.  But alas, I got to have the pleasure.

Then, get your goblins to help you pick a spot for your decorations!

Mother Nature’s Toy Store

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Everyday, my boys and I check out a house that’s being built at the end of our street.  With diggers, cement mixers and tons of interesting gadgets, the site provides an endless source of entertainment and learning.

So, I came up with this idea that the boys could have their own “construction zone” at our house.  We gathered rocks, small pieces of brick and sticks.  The boys picked out a construction zone where they wanted to build.  Then, since the ground was a bit hard, I dumped out a bag of potting soil.  They’ve since spent hours building with these materials.  Putting their diggers to use, they’ve moved things around bit by bit.

With their imaginations running wild, Bobby started singing the Bob the Builder song, CJ hummed along.  Their sweet song was music to my ears.  Pure mommy bliss.

With two active boys, I’ve learned that the best toys are practically free.  More than anything, they’d prefer to play with sticks and rocks than nearly anything else.  It’s amazing how much they enjoy mother nature’s toys!  So the next time your wee ones want to hit the toystore, think about hitting mother nature’s toystore.

Foolproof tips for a Fabulously Fun Bday Bash

With two boys, my oldest being 4, I have now figured out the recipe for a fabulously fun birthday bash.  It seems there are a few ingredients that are key for the wee ones.

First, there’s the theme.  For the toddler years, my husband and I picked the themes based on the boys’ interests (trains, brown bear, race cars).  Now, in the preschool years, Bobby is able to pick his theme.  This year it was superheros.  So, everything from the food to the activities tied back into the theme.  Thank you to Tattered and Ink for permission to use her fabulous superhero themed labels!2013092895102817

Second,  age appropriate activities.  For my son’s, third birthday which was pirate themed the kids went on a treasure hunt and dug up ole pirate Davy Jones in the sandbox.  For the fourth birthday, I (well truth be told, my husband) turned the backyard into a superhero training area.  With balance beams, buildings (i.e. wrapped boxes decorated like buildings) to climb on around the yard, and target practice (water guns and balloons with villains taped on them), there were things for the active kiddos to do.

Third, have fun with decorations!  A birthday party is an excuse to get creative and to engage the kids.   There are tons of ideas online for things to do and easy ways to decorate.  The best part is adapting these ideas to your own tastes.  For example, for the superhero theme, tons of blogs show the idea of making a skyline.  With numerous ways to do it, I decided to do it with supplies I had on hand. Plain brown packaging paper saved the day. The food table had the backdrop of a sky that my boys and I had painted (on the brown paper), signs of words (pop, bang, wham) that were also painted by the boys and Superman suspended by fishing line soared through the sky.  And, then the buildings were wrapped boxes that would have just gone to be recycled.  photo(3)

A themed centerpiece works as well.  For the pirate party, there was an ocean of jello upon which pirate ships made of rice krispy treats boasting paper sails set sail.  The superhero party had sheets of kryptonite made from rock candy surrounded by villains.  (Thank you to Sugarhero for the base recipe).

Fourth, a simple menu. To make things easier on game day, a simple menu cuts down on prep.  For a light lunch, sandwiches, fruit, a couple of salads and a kid friendly snack work well.  In photo(4)addition, kid sized snack holders are a hit! Whether it’s a bowl of crackers with tiny dixie cup cups for scooping or paper cones filled with treats, kids love have fun carrying around their own booty.

Fifth, a fantabulous dessert. Being a self proclaimed sugar addictIMG_2388, this is one thing that I love to make.  Figuring out how to make a cakes look like a race track, baby bear or batman symbol has been quite the experience.  Luckily there are tons of ideas on-line. and, it makes me wonder how our mothers’ did this without the internet.  For the batman cake, I ventured into the realm of fondant.  Yes, I was a bit apprehensive at first wondering how it would turn out.  But at the same time I was completely stoked to have the chance to make something that looked absolutely professional.  And, it worked!  Here’s the recipe I used.

Lastly, flexibility is key.  Accept the fact that not everything will go as planned.  I could give you story after story of things that didn’t go as planned like a balloon drop that didn’t drop.  At the end of the day, these things don’t matter as all that matters is your birthday star has a wonderful day surrounded by those who adore him or her.

Camping with Kids – 5 Things to Bring Along

campAs my last post emphasizes, I am now a fan of camping with my kids.  The boys love it, I love it, even our dog, loves it.  That’s not to say it’s not a butt-load of work, which it is.  But at the end of the day being out in nature without the distractions and conveniences of home provides a unique time to create memories.

Here’s my list of five things to remember to bring.

flashlights
glow sticksjiffy pop
harmonica
silly ghost stories

From the flashlights to the ghost stories, each of these things enhances our trips. For example, the glow sticks became the vehicle for Bobby to put on a light show.  How he loved seeing them dance in the dark.  The jiffy pop was more of a distraction, but a fun one.  And, of course the ghost stories told around the fire usually involving two superheros who scare the ghosts away.  That’s right – Bobby and CJ were the heroes –  hopefully will be cherished for years to come.