Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stree-e-e-etchy Dough Recipe

Here is a fun recipe for a soft and stre-e-e-etchy play-dough.

This play-dough requires no cooking and has a really unique consistency that is fun for squeezing, stretching, pulling apart, and poking. This dough isn't meant for intricate modeling as it doesn't hold its shape well. I found the basic recipe in the book First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twosby MaryAnn Kohl. (A fantastic book that I highly recommend!)

vegetable oil
food coloring (optional)
measuring cup (1 cup size)
mixing bowels

Suggested Exploration Tools:
plastic knives for cutting
plastic "dough" scissors
small sticks for poking (chopsticks, popscicle sticks, stir sticks or thin dowels)
child size rolling pins

Preparation (Adult):
Before you bring your toddler to the table, do the following:

1) Protect table and clothing- This dough is oily. Which is great for dry skin on hands, but not so great for fabrics so you may want to lay out a plastic tablecloth. If you are also concerned about your clothes, you may want to put on an art smock or apron. I just put the kids in their diapers at the table which makes clean-up even easier!

2) Set the Table: After protecting the work surface, bring all of your supplies over. You will need a bag of four and a measuring cup. Also, for each child's "spot" set out:
-1 cup oil*
-1 cup water*
- food coloring (optional)
- mixing bowel
- various exploration tools

*TIP: Pre-measure the oil and water. It is one less thing you will have to do once you bring the child over to the table and one less distraction!

Process (Adult and Kids):
1) Have the child pour the water and the oil into the mixing bowel and attempt to stir them together with a spoon.

Observations- Notice that the water and oil do not mix no matter how much we stir. Explain to your child that water and oil are immiscible which means that they can not be blended together. TIP: Don't be afraid to use words like that with your toddlers and preschoolers. Even the littlest scientist will appreciate a large vocabulary.

2) Optional: have the child squeeze in a few drops of food coloring into the water. (Warning: food coloring main stain skin, hands, and clothing.)

Explorations: Name the colors as you show them to your child. "This one is blue. This bottle is red." Give them the power to choose what colors they want to add to their dough. Also, talk about how mixing colors makes new colors. Example: red and yellow make orange; blue and red make purple; and blue and yellow make green. And will probably end up with dark gray water as your toddler experiments with the colors...or splotchy colors as they struggle to stir like we did. But don't worry or stress. It is more important that they have fun.

Observations: Observe that the food coloring is miscible with the water and changes the water colors. However, the food coloring is immiscible with the oil.

3) Using the measuring cup measure 4 cups of flour into each bowel.

Explorations: Have the child help count out the four cups. Also, allow them to practice pouring the flour into the bowel. Don't worry if it spills. The measurements don't have to be precise.

4) Use a spoon or your hands to stir the flour mixture together. After getting it mostly blended, bring the dough out onto the table and knead it with your hands.

Observations and Explorations: Feel the flour before mixing it. Then feel how the flour changes as we mix it with our liquids. Young children also will probably enjoy kneading the dough with their hands.

5) Allow the children to explore the dough with their various tools for as long as they are interested.

Observations and Explorations: Notice that this dough is incredibly "stretchy". Roll the dough into a "snake" shape. And then show the children how it can be held up into the air and swung around to streeee-e-e-tch it. Model other exploration methods like poking the dough with straws or sticks for example.

Skills Practiced:

-Fine motor skills
-And many, many, more!
Monday, December 14, 2009

The Woes of Christmas Cards

What can I say? I am VERY late getting my Christmas cards prepared this year.

I had this vision of having cute, little, handmade, cards and a cozy family portrait enclosed in each one. But in reality, I haven't been able to make any cards. Heck, I haven't even made it to the store to purchase any cards! We have attempted several times to get a family picture taken. Yet to date, we have no recent photos to include of the kids or family.

Last month we went to a professional to have a family portrait taken. The problem with getting family pictures taken is that as a mother you really have no idea what the children are doing in the photos. You just have to point them towards the camera and then smile and look at the camera yourself. You aren't able to see their faces at the time.

Well, during our professional family photo shoot the lady took hundreds of pictures of our family. Yet in every single picture Marcus decided to make a face like he was growling. (I think he was trying to look cool for the pictures.) Sophia decided that she would rather be walking around the studio, so she attempted to squirm free from my arms in every single picture. We tried all of the old parent tricks (coaching, pleading, candy bribery, sneaky tricks, and finally...the "death stare") yet nothing we did could get the kids to just look at the camera.

Doug and I debated taking the kids to sit on Santa's lap this year. We thought we might be able to snap off a few cute pictures of the kids with Santa. Yet just looking at the long ,winding, lines at the mall filled with crying, unhappy kids was enough to change our minds. The shear thought of having to stand in line for an hour or more with toddlers made me exhausted.

So tonight we tried to take our own family Christmas photos in front of the Christmas tree. Doug and I gave the children a bath. We arranged and set up a place to take the photos. We got the kids dressed in cute little matching pajama sets. We took many, many photos. We took so many photos that our camera eventually ran out of batteries. And yet, we still couldn't get the kids to look at the camera at the same time. The few times we could get them to look at the camera they moved so quickly that our camera's shutter speed wasn't fast enough to capture the moment. So the pictures are a "blur" of movement.

Finally after about 20 minutes of trying, Doug and I just looked at each other and laughed. We finally accepted that we may just not have a cute picture of the kids this year. And even though we may not have been able to capture the kid's properly on film....let me just tell you: they looked adorable in their matchng Christmas pajamas.

Here are just some of our photos from tonight's photo shoot.

I am signing off this post reminding myself that maybe I will finally get my Christmas cards finished next week. And then trying to forget that I still have to get thank you cards written and sent out for Marcus's birthday party after that. D'oh!
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas is for Kids

We had a lazy morning here at our house. Here's a video of Marcus and Sophia dancing around in their pajamas to some Christmas music.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reindeer Fun

In the spirit of Christmas we decided to spend some time this week talking about reindeer.

We did this cute and quick Reindeer craft project.
Here is Sophia's:

And here is Marcus's:

They each added their own little touch. Marcus decided to "fringe" the edges with his safety scissors. And Sophia added extra eyes and green glitter to hers. :)

The kids really enjoyed the coloring, cutting, gluing and overall "mess making"!
Monday, September 7, 2009

More Sewing: Pirate Dress for Sophia

EVERY year our family takes a vacation to South Carolina in September. And EVERY year I sew pirate outfits for the kids. There are so many fun pirate-themed things to do there, and the pirate outfits seem to make it that much more special for the kids. (They also make for great outfits to wear to Halloween parties and things like that.)

This is Sophia's dress for this year. This was my own self-drafted design and pattern. And this dress taught me that I should leave the pattern design for the professionals. I had so many problems with this dress it is not even funny. In life (and in sewing), there are times when things come easy. Other times, things are not so easy and it feels like an uphil battle. This dress falls into the not so easy catagory.

The first time I started sewing it, I realized that it was going to be HUGE on Sophia. I was nearly finished with the dress when I came to this conclusion. So, I came close to just finishing the dress as it was and packing it away for her to wear in a few years. But, I really wanted her to have a pirate outfit for vacation, so I had to rip it apart and cut it down smaller. Then, after I remade it again, I realized that it was going to be just a bit too small. It fit Sophia, but the poor girl wasn't comfortable in it at all. So then I had to start again making it bigger. See...I told you, it was an up hill battle.

One of the reasons I didn't want to give up was because I loved the fabric so much and didn't want to "waste" it. I love Alexander Henry fabrics because they are so cheeky. This one is no exception. It is culled "snuggle skulls" and it has skulls wearing pink hair bows with ribbons going across that say "Cutie Pie", "Pookie", and things like that. (It was too funny! And perfect for a little girls pirate dress in my oppinion!) Here is a close up of the print:
Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sewing: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Where have I been lately? Well, the reason I haven't posted in awhile is that I having been using all of my spare time to sew, sew, sew. So, what have I been making? You name it! But, here are some pictures from this morning showing Sophia and I in our handmade, matching lemon outfits.

When you are a sewing mama with a little girl you naturally tend to make lots of matching outfits because you need to find a use for all of those scraps of fabric. I nearly sewed Sophia's baby doll a matching lemon dress, but thought I better draw the line.

The skirt is my own pattern. I actually sewed quite a few of these at the beginning of summer to wear around instead of shorts.

Sophia's dress was made using Simplicity pattern 3509. (You can't beat those 99 cent pattern sales at JoAnn's!) It is a very easy pattern as long as you don't read the instructions. They are terrible. Just put the pattern pieces together the way you would guess it to go and you will be fine. (Read my full review of this pattern here.)

Here is the Front:


And Back:

I felt kind of bad that poor Marcus didn't get anything "lemon" sewn for him. I didn't want him to feel left out. But, I just couldn't think of anything I could make him out of this lemmon fabric that he would like. Maybe a lemmon cape? He could be Captain Lemon!

And to end things off, me doing my best Vanna White impersonation!

Thanks for looking!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Flubber Recipe

As promised, here is the recipe for making flubber.

Description: Flubber is another great sensory activity for young and old alike. Mamas love it because it is not too messy. And kids love it because it is fun to stretch, mold, roll, and bounce. Flubber has the unique properties of stretching and flowing under low stress and breaking under higher stress. The simple act of pinching, rolling, stretching and pulling of this substance by children is a wonderful tool for fine motor development. Activities like this will make it easier for your child to learn to hold a pencil and write later on. So it is fun and useful all at the same time! How can you beat that?!

1) Unlike feelie goop, flubber is not safe to eat. Be sure to watch children very closely to make sure they don't put it in their mouths. Also, wash hands after handling flubber.
2) Because of the food coloring, flubber may stain carpet or clothes.
3) Do not put flubber in your hair! ;)

Materials Needed:
  • 1 cup of glue (Elmer's seems to work the best)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp 20 Mule Team Borox (available in the laundry aisle of the grocery store)
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • Food Coloring
  • Large Container
  • Small Container
  • Plastic Tablecloth (or newspapers) to protect workspace
  • Tools to explore flubber with (cookie cutters, toy scissors, molds, plastic stacking cups, etc.)

  1. In a large container mix the warm water and the glue together until smooth.
  2. In a separate smaller container, mix the borax and the cold water.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to the smaller container.
  4. Carefully and slowly pour the contents of the smaller container into the larger container.
  5. Gently lift and and turn the mixture until only about a tablespoon of liquid is left. (Flubber will be sticky for a moment or two.)
  6. Let excess liquid drip off, and your flubber will be ready!
Lay down a plastic table cloth onto the floor to keep flubber out of the carpet. Introduce the flubber to the children. Explore the substance with the children. Attempt to stretch the material and talk about what happens. Roll the flubber into a small ball with your fingers. Notice how the flubber keeps it safe. Now, try to bounce the ball! Ooze the flubber into the various stacking cups. Use your fingers to stuff the flubber into a mold. Now remove the flubber from the mold and notice how it keeps its shape.
Science behind Flubber:
Like feelie goop, flubber is another example of a non-newtonian substance. (Specifically a maxwell solid.) Maxwell solids are substances that exhibit both elasticity and viscosity. Viscosity simply refers to the resistance of a substance to flow. For example water would have a lower viscosity than molasses or honey.

To read more about the science of flubber, check out this site here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tot School: Week 4

(Sophia is 16 months and Marcus is 32 months)
Tot School
What is Tot School? Well...don't let the name fool you. Tot School isn't school at all! It is just a fun time spent playing and learning with my two tots.

Here is a recap on what we did this past week.

Sorting By Shape:
Marcus likes to ask me if he can play a " new game". So I am often time racking my brain trying to think of a new game he can play. Here is a game I put together for him where he could work on sorting by shape.

I laid out three 1/2" beads in three different shapes into a divided wooden container.

Then I gave him a bowl full of beads (in various colors) and had him sort by shape. Marcus did this without any problems or hesitation. (Even though he has only sorted by color before.) Also, while he did this, he pretended that the beads were bouncing out of the bowl into their "houses".

Animal Classification Game:
Most of our learning and play is completely spontaneous. I hardly ever plan things for us to learn or do. However, any play we do seems to bring about all sorts of learning. It is so neat to see.

For example, this week we went to visit our Nana. (Nana is my mama.) Nana's house has a gazebo down by a lake that has all sorts of fun animal toys for the kids to play with. The kids naturally took the animals and began to pretend with them. We learned so much from this simple play time. Sophia beefed up her language and communication skills while she practiced learning and saying the names of the different animals. She also practiced making their sounds. She would also tell me that the Elephant is "BIG" and stretch her arms up to the sky. Also through this dramatic play, Marcus learned where different animals live and what they eat. Marcus also practiced sorting and classifying different animals while we played "zoo". For example, one time we sorted the animals by type. (All of the zebras go in this "cage". All of the lions go here. etc. etc.) The next time we sorted the animals by where they live. (All of the birds go here. All of the ocean animals go here. etc. etc.)

Dress Up:
Sophia is also very into dressing up right now. Marcus never did this at her age. Whenever she finds a necklace for example, she will always want to put it on.

She also tried on Mama's shoes:

We also dressed up and played pirates at Nana's house.

Nana's house also has a pirate fort down by the lake for the kids to play in. It is a swing set/fort completely decorated in a pirate theme. It is also full of various pirate accessories like hats, swords, hooks, and eye patches for the kids to dress up in. AND...the pirate fort has a treasure chest full of plastic necklaces for Sophia to try on. It is a pirate lovers dream. The kids had fun playing pirates, singing pirate songs. Then, we worked on some gross motor skills by having fun running up and down the hill at Nana's house.

Playing with Blocks:
We had our giant cardboard blocks out this week. They are a great open-ended toy and the kids did so many things with them.

On one day I taught Marcus how to build a simple bridge with the blocks.

He had fun walking his dinosaurs through the bridge.

Another time he lined his blocks up in a row creating a wall of a building.

Next, after he built his "wall", he pretended that he was spiderman walking up the building. (The blue blocks were evidently his "web hands".)

After a while he got out his walking dinosaur and pretended that it was a dragon coming to knock down his building. Uh-Oh! Here comes the dragon!

But don't worry! Spiderman saved everyone and knocked over the scary dragon with his "web hands".

Playing Flubber and Dough: Stretching, Rolling, Pinching, and Bouncing:
At a local science museum we played with a really neat substance called flubber. (Recipe to come soon! Keep checking back!)

Flubber is a very strange substance that can be bounced, stretched, and molded. Here Marcus presses the flubber into a sail boat mold.

Here Sophia experiments using a cookie cutter on flubber.

We also learned not to put flubber into your hair! Marcus did this, and Sophia copied him immediately.

On another day Marcus asked to get the play-doh out.

Here Sophia puts the dough into a builder-bob mold.

Marcus practiced cutting the play-doh with scissors. (He still uses two hands to cut. I don't try to correct him though because that just seems to make him want to stop trying.)

We learned colors by talking about the dough. We said things like, "Hand me that blue play-doh please." or "Hey, lets put all of the red play-doh in this can."

Marcus pretended to make me play-doh spaghetti. He served it up to me on a play-doh can lid for a plate. Ah! A favorite meal for preschoolers to serve for generations.

Sophia practiced pinching and pulling the dough. All great for her fine motor development.

Craft Day:
On another day we went to a craft time at Sprout Soup. The craft was to make some very cute little puppets out of Popsicle sticks. Neither kid was very interested in actually doing the craft...BUT, we had lots of fun playing with our friends. Oh well! Maybe next time!

Fun at COSI:
As I mentioned before, we went to a local science museum for kids called COSI. COSI was recently voted the number 1 science center for kids in the US...AND...the number 1 indoor playspace for kids in the US. It really is a great place to bring little tots too. We always have so much fun and learn so much.

Sophia learned about big and small as she experimented dropping various sized balls down this funnel.

We climbed all over their HUGE facility. Here is Sophia going down a slide.

"Peak-a-Boo Mommy! I see you!"

Sophia was amazed when she was able to float a ball over a stream of air coming out of the floor.

Marcus pretended to be a builder working with tools in a little play house they have set up there.

Sophia cooked for mommy in the play kitchen.

More cooking. This was great because it really helped increase her vocabulary as we talked about what tools she needed to cook with.

Marcus found two eagle puppets over in the puppet area and brought them over to the kitchen area. He pretended to be a daddy eagle making eggs for his baby eagle. ( ironic! Bird eating eggs!) Here is the daddy eagle cooking the eggs:

And here is the baby eagle waiting for his breakfast.

Later Marcus walked throughout the entire area looking for these giant oval balls. He said they were his eggs.

He put them in this large nest and brought out a bunch of other birds to live there with him.

Then he found some baby bird nests that he loved. He carried those around for a good part of the day. Here he is building a bed for the baby birds using large foam blocks.

Next he drove the baby birds around in the ambulance.

Favorites of the Week:

Fun with Glasses-
I caught Marcus trying on my glasses. (Note to self: Marcus can now reach things off of the middle of counter. Nothing is safe!)

On another day Sophia and I had on our giant sunglasses together.

Sophia cracks herself up!
Sophia thought she was very funny holding the fork in her mouth like this! She was just laughing and laughing at herself. (Which of course made us laugh!)


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