Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cardboard Rocket Ship

My almost 4 year old daughter amazes me with her interests.  One day she is a Princess playing dress up and having tea parties and the next she is digging up worms and in the dirt with her tractors!  I love her diversity.

Most recently she has started talking about planets and actually naming them.  Not sure how she knows the planet names but either way I encouraged her and we talked more about it.  A couple of weeks ago she asked if I would make her a rocket ship.  I knew we did not have a box big enough but hubby pulled through with a box from work.  It still was not as big as I would have liked but we would make do with what we had.  I am not very good at creating things like rocket ships and cars from cardboard boxes but when it's for my babies I do my best.

This is what we had to work with:

After a morning of cutting and taping we had our version of a rocket ship!

Here are some little extras I added:

I cut a small hole to fit a paper towel tube which acts as the ship's telescope. We also added a few caps from bottles of things that were just going into the recycle bin to act as rocket ship controls.

Across the top of the rocket ship I put some cling wrap and then taped a drawing we made of planet Earth so that when you are inside the rocket ship and look up you will have some natural light and also a picture of Earth!

We then finished up by decorating our rocket ship with red, white and blue paper along one side and added the letters U.S.A and some star stickers.

Tiffany then asked for one last thing.......a space helmet!  Why, of course! I was going to use a bucket and cut a hole in it but I didn't have a bucket that I was willing to 'chop up' to make a helmet.  So, I checked our stash of bags and we happened to have one brown paper bag.  Aha!  That would be Tiffany's space helmet.  She wasn't thrilled with it but she did wear it and at least humored me!!

In keeping with the theme of things I visited our local library and picked up some book about space.

There's No Place Like Space  (All about our Solar System) by Tish Rabe (a Cat in the Hat book)
If you Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith McNulty
Starry, Starry night which was non-finction but still kept my preschoolers interest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vegetable Garden Labels

As we are preparing for our vegetable garden I got to thinking about what I would use to identify our little sproutlets!  Normally, I just use a craft stick and write the name of the vegetable on it.  Since Tiffany is more excited this year and more aware of what the garden is about I came up with something cuter and more kid oriented to make it that much more exciting for her.

For about the past 4 weeks we have kept our seedlings indoors waiting for the weather to be consistently more favorable for our sproutlets.  Once we plant them into our garden we will use these to identify which vegetable is which.  I did have to put our cucumbers in a bigger pot so I have the cucumber label in that pot now. Since we grew our seedlings in a cupcake holder it's just not deep enough to put the other craft sticks into so we will wait until they get planted outside, which I'm hoping will be in about a week.

Here's what you need to make these cute garden labels:

Craft sticks
Googly eyes
Glue (I used a hot glue gun)
Permanent marker

These are so darn easy to make and are as cute as can be.  Simply cut out your foam to look like whatever vegetable, flower, fruit you want to identify.  Attach some googly eyes and write on what it is, ex: tomato, pepper, sunflower, etc.  Glue the foam cut out to the craft stick and you have yourself a cute garden label that will put a smile on your child's face (and yours too!) We have some more seeds including flower seeds so we'll be making more of these cute labels.

Happy Planting!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Create With Rocks

Years ago (before kids) my husband and I picked some river stones at a river near our home. I say before kids because once we had kids, especially with my daughter, the rocks no longer 'housed' themselves the way they once did.  We use to have them laid out in a perfect little pattern taking on a certain look and feel.  However, once the kids came along their was a whole new use for our rocks and it wasn't too accentuate our landscape!!

Our first attempt at creating with rocks was last summer when we spent an entire morning and I mean a solid 3 hours strictly painting rocks.  We used lots of different color paints and glitter!!  My daughter at the time was almost 3 and she was seriously engrossed in this painting project.  Once the rocks were painted and decorated with glitter we displayed them in the yard.  Unfortunately, after a rain or two the rocks were once again a blank canvas.  I was disappointed to see all the hard work my daughter put into the rocks just get washed away but we looked at the bright side which was we had more opportunities to create again!

We never did paint the rocks again and we never created with them again until just recently.  The inspiration came from Mosswood Connections  when they shared rock art on our facebook page.  I never heard of warming the rocks in the oven and then coloring on them but that's precisely what you do.  You can read the details of the post here 

I knew we had to give it a try and once again my daughter really enjoyed it!  Once the rock is warm the crayon goes on so incredibly smooth.  It's an interesting feel to use crayons in this way.  Personally, I loved it!  Tiffany's game plan was to just color the entire rock one color and then of course ask guessed it, glitter! The glitter stuck nicely to the melted crayon and is now displayed in Daddy's office along with another rock that I made especially for him.  Two of the other rocks we just scribbled on one is a flower and the other a silly face.

These are the outdoor rocks and after some heavy rain the crayon is really holding up!

Mosswood Connections did recommend wearing mittens which we did but after handling the rocks I realized that although warm they were able to be touched without the mittens.  If you decide to give this project a try you may want to wear the mittens at first and then determine if you need to keep them on for the entire project.

Tiffany and I really enjoyed creating with our rocks.  Daddy likes his new office decorations and our garden/landscape looks ten times better with our 'kid art' rocks!!  I am not the artist but if you are I could see these rocks being given as gifts for Mothers' Day, Holidays, Birthdays, etc.  They could serve as paper weights or just a pretty addition to a windowsill or as in our case, the garden and Daddy's office!

What rock creations have you made? Share with us on our facebook page

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Salt Dough Easter Eggs

The last time we made something with salt dough was with a Valentines project.  Making the salt dough is super easy and the best part is you can make the dough into whatever shape you want or with whichever cookie cutters you may have on hand.

We decided to try some salt dough eggs for the Easter holiday.  If your looking to try something other than the traditional dying of real eggs this could be a good alternative.

Here's how to make a salt dough recipe:
3/4 C flour
3 Tablespoon salt
1 Teaspoon cooking oil
1/3 C water
Mixing bowl

Simply use your hands to mix together the flour, salt and oil in a bowl.  Add a bit of water and mix in until you have a smooth, thick dough, dry enough so it doesn't stick to the bowl.  If the mixture is too sticky just add more flour, if too crumbly add more water.  Next, put some flour on a cutting board and knead the dough until smooth.  Once you have the shape you want put onto a baking sheet and into the oven at 250 degrees for about 3 hours.  Baking time can vary depending on the size and thickness of your dough creation.  Just make sure the dough is hard all the way through.  You may want to check on your dough after about 2 hours.

If you will be using your salt dough creation to hang be sure to use a straw to make a tiny hole so that you can loop some string/yarn through later on.  If you don't want to hang you might consider gluing a magnet to the back to display on your refrigerator.  

As you can see we also used our Mickey Mouse cookie cutter! 

The eggs were so much fun to decorate.  Kids can be as creative as they want.  We used glitter paint and some white paint to make designs on our painted eggs.  Of course you can use as many colors as you want!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Montessori Inspired Salt Letters

My almost 4 year old has been showing signs that she is interested in learning letters and the sounds they make. I read about the Montessori way of teaching letter sounds by using sandpaper letters. After reading further about it I realized that for me making the sandpaper letters would probably not turn out great.  Personally, I felt I wouldn't be able to pull it off and didn't want to risk putting in the effort for the letters not to turn out as I wanted.  The other option was to purchase the sandpaper letters but I was not willing to put out the dollars as they can be a bit pricey.

I talked with my husband about what I wanted and he came up with what I thought was a good alternative.  Hubby had some scrap wood, I had colored salt that I had used with my daughter in other activities and we have an abundant amount of hot glue sticks for our glue gun. With these supplies we pulled off some Montessori inspired letters.

My husband cut the wood pieces then I used our hot glue gun to draw the lower case letters onto the wood. After that I applied some colored salt that I had on hand from a different activity.  In this case, the salt acts as the sand paper.  I am new at learning about how children learn letter sounds using Montessori teachings but it's my understanding that part of the process is saying the sound and having your child feel/trace the letters with their fingers. The salt seems to be a good alternative to the sandpaper and gives the letters enough texture for my daughter to do the tracing part.

If you would like to make your own salt, put some salt in a ziploc bag, add a few drops of food coloring, seal the bag and mix so that the food coloring gets throughout the salt.

 Here's Tiffany learning our first letter sound, 'c.'  We included 3 items that begin with the letter 'c' sound.
 Their is a great site called Growing Book by Book and if you check out this Youtube page you'll find a song by the blog host of Growing Book by Book that we have been singing even when we are not actually sitting and learning.  You can be at the grocery store, driving, walking, anywhere!  It's a great song that will help reinforce letter sounds!

As I mentioned the Montessori way of teaching letter sounds is new to me but it makes sense and just feels right for my daughter and me. For more information about Montessori teachings check out Living Montessori Now

Friday, April 11, 2014

Birds Nest With Eggs

There are so many cute bird nest crafts floating around which motivated me to try one of our own.  We received a box filled with this crinkly packaging and it had been sitting in our basement for months just waiting for the right craft project to come along.  Then our grocery store put out their Easter candy and I spotted a bag of malt ball eggs that were perfect for a birds nest.  Now that I had 2 major parts of the craft I knew it was time to make our nest.

Here are the materials we used:
Paper plate
Crinkly packaging
Googly eyes
Malt ball eggs

For the chicks I took cotton pulled it apart, swirled it around in some yellow paint and let it dry.  Then, I laid the cotton on a paper plate to dry.  Without planning for it the cotton hardened nicely to the plate making  it easier when it came time to cut out the chicks.  You could also use yellow construction paper or craft foam but I was aiming for some texture in our chicks.

This is the cotton sitting in the paint and then we swirled it around a bit.

Left the cotton on the plate to dry which hardened very nicely.

For the rest of our chicks we stuck on googly eyes and cut out orange foam for their noses.

Once our chicks were done we started on the nest.  We cut a paper plate in half, applied glue to the plate and then stuck on handfuls of the crinkly paper and then glued our chicks to their nest.

The last part was placing the eggs onto the nest.  To be sure the malt ball eggs would stay in place I used a hot glue gun and glued them to the front of the birds nest.  Finally, I used a hole punch and used some 28 gauge wire to hang.  The wire is able to pull more taut than yarn or string and stays in place better. You'll see some blue yarn in the picture but that's what we used to hang our rainbow craft which shares the same wall space (and nail) as our birds nest.  So although it looks like blue yarn was used we actually used the wire.  I really love how it turned out!

We paired this craft with the book, Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Textured Easter Rabbit Artwork

In an effort to try and bring something a little different to our art projects I've been adding in objects that offer some texture.  This particular craft offers texture and sensory.  The sensory comes from the smell and feel of the crushed candy cane along with the feel of the cotton.  We also learned how to do simple patterns and count higher than 20 which is what we usually count up to with my almost 4 year old.   This craft was not only fun to make but we learned through play/art!

The idea for this Easter rabbit craft came from the question of what I could do with some candy canes left over from Christmas.  That's right, Christmas!  They were not your ordinary peppermint candy canes but a Jolly Rancher package of candy canes that offered some spring like colors.  Rather than throw them out I thought I could use them in an Easter craft.

I knew I would use the candy canes as the pink ears for our rabbit so I wanted a very fine, powdery sugar and chose to crush the candy canes in a blender.

The candy canes would have been less lumpy if silly ol' me would have dried out my NutriBullet cup a tad better.  I did this right after making our morning smoothies and I failed to dry the cup thoroughly enough.  

Next came the fun part, decorating our rabbit!  We started off by gluing the rabbit onto pink construction paper and then continued spreading glue around the rabbits ears so that we could sprinkle on the crushed candy cane for the rabbits ears. By the way, these candy canes had such a sweet, fruity smell not the typical peppermint smell, which I also like, and it added to the sensory part of the craft.

Tiffany took a tiny break to sample the candy cane! 

Once the crushed candy cane was spread over the rabbits ears we put on some googly eyes and a pom pom nose.

 I included some miniature spring colored marshmallows to our rabbit which Tiffany glued around our rabbits face.  To try and incorporate some learning while doing our craft I had Tiffany try a simple pattern. I figured out beforehand how many marshmallows were needed to outline our rabbits face and then picked out 2 different colors (the bag offered a total of 4 colors) but I wanted a simple pattern.  I then asked Tiffany to make a pattern using pink and green marshmallows, she really loved this part!  Once she glued on all the marshmallows we counted how many our rabbit was wearing, 31 to be exact!

The last part was pulling apart some cotton balls and placing it around our rabbits face to act as fur (sorry missed getting pics of this part!) The cotton really made our rabbit come alive and helped make our rabbit feel soft just like a real bunny!  It also offered more texture which is what I wanted for this craft. 

Since the candy canes made the paper heavy I cut a piece of cardboard and glued it to the bottom of our construction paper.  

Our Easter rabbit is now sitting upon our mantel as we wait for Easter (and the bunny) to arrive!

Happy Easter/Spring!