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"!

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