Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cloud Dough

We love playdates, and for some reason, all our playdates recently have been messy!  We just love making a mess!  And what better way to improve upon being messy?... invite others to join in the fun :)

Today was Cloud Dough Day.  The weather was perfect for some play on our porch - not too hot, but could rain at any time.  The porch is a great spot for messy play because there is a hose close by.  Makes for easy cleanup (important for this Mommi!)

I had come across a number of references to cloud dough in other blogs and have had the large bag of flour and baby oil on hand now for a couple of weeks, just waiting for the perfect moment to partake in messy play.  The stars aligned and we mixed up 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of baby oil.  Something about the scent of baby oil - I just love it.  This was the softest stuff I think I've every played with.  Very relaxing and soothing.  A bonus of today - my hands are very well moisturized and soft.  The kids had a blast.  It kept them occupied for 30-45 minutes and then we moved on to other outside play.  Later in the day, Zayit enjoyed his cloud dough on his own for another 30 minutes or so.  

Some notes about our experience - this is definitely for OUTSIDE.  If you dare to do this inside, bless your heart.  You will have a mess!  Next time I think I will put some sort of splat mat beneath the play table to make for even easier clean up.  Have water and towels handy to clean up the Littles before moving on.  They will look like Casper when they are done.  I would even suggest playing in diapers/underwear.  The act of taking off Zayit's shirt produced a mess.  If you have more than one Little, I would make more than 8 cups dough.  It would have been nice if there was double the amount.  


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Letter of the Week - E

Ok, so I forgot to post last week for our Letter of the Week.  Not to worry - we didn't slack at home.  We spent the week on the letter E... Elephants, Ears, Eggs, Exciting, Excellent... E was a little difficult to come up with lots of words, so my brain (and Grammi's) got a workout.  We used a variety of our printables and this week was an elephant craft.  I'm determined to make a paper plate craft for each letter of the alphabet.  I imagine I will have some difficulty with some letters, but so far, so good!

Zayit was so excited to show off his elephant.  He couldn't wait to show Daddy and when Grammi came over, he took her right over to his wall to show her.  It was awesome to watch how proud he was of his accomplishment.  

Letter of the Week - F

We have had a fun and busy week.  This last week we focused on the letter F... Fun, Fabulous, Fantastic, Fish, Frog, Fast, Fan, Fly... you get the idea.  We did our usual coloring with Do-A-Dot markers, used our Power Magnets, did some patterning with wooden shapes and a letter craft with a paper plate.  Here is a post to all the links for the printables we use.  As you can see in the pictures below, Zayit had fun!

Introducing words starting with F allowed for some learning as well.  'Fast' was paired with 'slow' and thus we spent some time working on opposites.  'Fast' also allowed me to introduce fast, faster and fastest.  We do this with big, bigger and biggest.  Zayit still has a long way to go before he understands this concept, but he enjoys saying the words and trying to figure it out.  We learned about fish and where they live and read The Rainbow Fish.  Our craft this week was a fish.
Fish before play
Fish after play

This was the first time he actually finished his letter!  He was so excited!

He also finished his patterning for the first time.

And of course, we can't leave Ziva out... she learned all about making a mess with Food and Feeding the puppies!  

Printables and Goodies for our Letter of the Week

I've found it tedious to create links each week to our sources of printables and accessories that we use to learn our letter of the week, so I've decided to create this post and just refer back to it each week.  I hope that you find it useful!

Upper case magnet/Do-A-Dot pages, letter only

Lower case magnet/Do-A-Dot pages, letter only

Upper case magnet/Do-A-Dot pages, letters and pictures

Lower case magnet/Do-A-Dot pages, letters and pictures

Upper case patterning

Lower case patterning

Do-A-Dot markers

Power Magnets

Patterning shapes (we use this set because it is what we had, but you can find less expensive and larger sets on Amazon)

General page for alphabet activities (AWESOME)

Each week I print up a variety of the above printables and use different methods of coloring/filling in.  I don't use ALL of them EVERY week, but try and change it up a bit.

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bouncy Balls... sort of

Today we did our first "real" science experiment!  Zayit was excited to see the tray with all the goodies.  He had no idea what I had in store for him, and to tell the truth, I really had no idea what I was doing!  We set out to make our own bouncy balls.  We have a couple bouncy balls around the house and Zayit loves them.  He gets very excited when he plays with them, so excited that this afternoon I had to send him outside with them so he didn't wake Ziva with his squeals.  I did some research last night and came up with a recipe that I thought would work based on other people's triumphs and failures.  I'm not sure I had the ratios of all ingredients correct because our bouncy balls were more bouncy globs.  In our home, it's not about the product as much as it is the process, and we had fun, so I guess out attempts at making bouncy balls was a success.

What you need:
- 1/2 tsp Borax
- 3 Tbs corn starch
- 4 Tbs warm water
- 1 Tbs Elmer's glue
-food coloring
-cups (I used 5 ounce Dixie cups)
-sticks for stirring
-paper towels
-baggies to store your balls

I started by premeasuring everything out.  I put the Borax and corn starch in 1 cup, the warm water in another and the glue and food coloring in a third cup.  I figured it would be easier for Zayit to do this way as he isn't quite old enough for accurate measuring.

First he mixed the glue and food coloring together to get a bright color (we used red, yellow and blue).  Then he poured the water into the corn starch/Borax cup and mixed it up.  Next he poured the colored glue into the water mixture and let it sit for a minute.  Then he started stirring.  In reality, he stirred for a few minutes, then went off to play while Mommi continued stirring, and stirring, and stirring.  After a few minutes I had a ball of goop stuck to the popsicle stick.  I removed the ball of goop from the liquid and started molding it in my hands.  This is where things got messy.  I wasn't really thinking about the food coloring on skin... thank goodness it washed off, or at least most of it did.  The more molding I did, the more shape the goop took on.  In the end, we had 3 colored balls of semi-firm goop that bounced a bit when dropped.  Zayit LOVED them!  He had a blast bouncing them in his sensory table outside (did I mention that we did this all outside?).  Our "bouncy balls" are now stored in a ziploc baggie for more play tomorrow.

In the end we had fun, but I'm not sure everyone would call this experiment a success... but that's whey they are experiments.  Opportunities to learn and have fun, and we did both!  

Good luck if you give it a try!  Don't forget to HAVE FUN!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Farms and Trucks

We had such a good time today!  The neighbor Littles joined us for much of the day as well, which made it that much more exciting.  We started out blueberry picking this morning at Lyman Orchards.  The weather was perfect.  Finally, a beautiful day that we could spend outside comfortably.  I think Zayit ate more blueberries than he picked!  It was funny to watch Daddy pick the berries and put them in the bucket just to have Zayit dig in a handful and gobble them right up.  Ziva enjoyed the picking in the comfort of her stroller.  The neighbor Littles were adorable as well - one picking only the green berries and the other playing shy with her Daddy.  It's amazing to me how Zayit thought the berries were so yummy in the fields, but as soon as we were home, he wanted nothing to do with them.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Apple Barrel and watched the ducks in the pond.  All the kids got along great.  

After nappy, Zayit, Ziva and I went on a walk to a local farm.  This is the first year that this farm is selling any of their crop.  All their goodies sure did look yummy.  We ended up with a Japanese cucumber, lemon cucumber (looks like a lemon but tastes like a cucumber), bok choy, red leaf lettuce, a ginormous zucchini and a yellow squash.  Zayit enjoyed all the different textures of the squashes and cucumbers as well as the vibrant colors.  The owner of the farm let him touch and feel anything he wanted.  We talked about growing plants and trees and how we can get food from them.  Zayit was a little puzzled, but it was great to reinforce the morning of blueberry picking with going to the little neighborhood farm.  We will definitely be going back for another visit next weekend!  

The day ended with a fun impromptu BBQ with the neighbor Littles and their Mommy and Daddy.  Nothing like some cantaloupe, burgers, hot dogs and corn.  And then... just when we were winding down... an ice cream truck came down our street!  The kids had never seen one before and I just couldn't resist.  It was so fun to watch them pick out their ice cream choice and eat it.  They all ended up a completely sticky mess!  Such fun!  Nothing a bath can't fix  :)

Friday, July 20, 2012


My little dude has discovered jigsaw puzzles!  Oh, how fun!  Since early on, Zayit has loved playing with puzzles.  We started out with the Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzles, then moved on to an ABC puzzle (this one was a favorite for months and helped immensely with letter recognition), and now he has mastered the art of the jigsaw.  Melissa and Doug make some awesome wooden 12-24 piece jigsaw puzzles as well as the larger floor puzzles.  We haven't advanced to the floor puzzles yet, but we will soon!  One of the local toy stores has them on sale this month, BOGO.  Can't beat that!  

Puzzles are great for little ones in so many ways.  They help with spatial recognition, fine motor control, patience and persistence, coordination...  The list goes on.  And the sense of accomplishment when the puzzle is completed - I just love that "high 5" at the end.  "Look Mommi, I did it!"

A couple weeks ago, I ran across a set of 4 puzzles with the theme of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  We LOVE Eric Carle.  Zayit impressed me the other morning when he put all 4 puzzles together in one sitting (talk about concentration!) and with very little assistance.  That's my boy  :)

Deep in concentration, using his fine motor muscles to get that piece in...

Looking at the picture to figure out where his piece goes...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Amazing Magnetism

This morning I needed something quick and entertaining to keep Zayit occupied for a bit while I fed Ziva.  Ziva is going through a crazy growth spurt right now and is eating a ridiculous amount of food!  I rummaged through my box of goodies and pulled out a baggie of magnets.  I got this inexpensive magnet set at a local toy shop as one of those impulsive "oh, that looks like fun" buys as I was paying for my main purchase.  Zayit showed absolutely no interest in it at the time, so I put it away for later.  Today was "later."  And he LOVED it!  Score Mommi!  

"I did it!  Fantastic!"

Deep in serious thought...

This activity gave me exactly what I needed... 15 minutes to feed Ziva.  He had a great time playing and showed curiosity in how the magnets worked.  Towards the end he was trying to move the paperclips with the magnets without actually touching them together.  The polarity was fascinating for him.  He also had fun being a typical toddler and launching the paperclips onto the floor as he tested out the strength of the magnets.  Speaking of the strength of these magnets - they are pretty pathetic.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend this set, but it was a great set to spark curiosity.  I've now put a much nicer set from Learning Resources on his Amazon Wish List.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Letter of the Week - D

So far, the "letter of the week" idea is working out.  Our best week was "C", mainly due to my degree of focus and attention.  This week we worked on "D."  I tried to incorporate "D" words into our daily life, we practiced our writing (Zayit is a long way from being able to write letters on his own... I'm hoping to pick up some sandpaper letters in the next week or two), learned about dinosaurs and concocted a duck out of a paper plate.  We did our usual with our Do-A-Dot markers and Power Magnets.  I got some printables from here and here.  

Making Learning Fun has printables that you can use these wooden shapes with.  I chose to use the lower case letters for something different.  We also printed off a "D is for dog" coloring sheet from Making Learning Fun.  This was the first time Zayit colored somewhat within the lines!  So exciting!

And of course, what is a week without a craft?  Zayit's Duck

Upcoming blogs this week: the Bronx Zoo, how I keep my toddler entertained on a long car ride and making super-bouncy balls!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Puffy Paint

So, I've quickly realized that a picture a day is just not going to happen on the days that I work.  There is just too much to do and I want to enjoy my time with my Littles instead of worrying about taking a picture.  My new goal will be 3-4 posts per week.  I think that might be more realistic.

Now, on to our craft of today!  We made our own puffy paint.  Puffy paint is fun to use because you have a neat, textured piece of art in the end.  Zayit had never seen puffy paint before, which made today's project even more fun.  Puffy paint in the stores comes in tiny bottles and has tons of chemicals in it.  I was looking for something that was non-toxic and preferably, less expensive than those readily available.  I found a couple of recipes online, specifically on Pinterest, but cannot recall where those posts are.

Here is the recipe I came up with after making a few modifications.  It is completely edible, but I imagine would taste absolutely disgusting.

Puffy Paint:
Equal parts flour, salt and water.  You might want to add more water to get a thinner consistency.  The first batch I made was too thick for Zayit to squeeze through the tips of the bottles.  In the end, I used:

2 cups flour
2 cups salt
2 1/4 cups water
AmeriColor food coloring
6 6ounce squeeze bottles from the "Wilton" aisle at Walmart

I mixed everything in stainless steel bowls so as not to stain the bowls, and I did it all the night before we were going to use it.  Each bottle has 1/2 cup of paint.  Everything was ready to go for the next morning.  Next time, I think I'll have Zayit help with the mixing.  He would enjoy watching the white paint become colored when mixing in the food coloring.

Outside we went...

We started out using the table, but quickly moved to the grass.  It was much easier for him to squeeze the bottles without having to reach over the table.

The masterpiece...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Driveway Learning

We love sidewalk chalk! It's cheap, easy to find, comes in a ton of colors and you can do so much with it! Lately we have been working on sight words, so we found a way to integrate sidewalk chalk and sight words for some educational play. And if you do it right, you can burn off a bunch of that toddler energy.

Zayit enjoys searching for words, shapes, colors, etc. Today we made different colored circles and put one word in each. I would shout out which word to find next and he would look around, run and jump in the corresponding circle. In order to use up as much energy as possible, I would call out words that were far from each other. He had a blast and reinforced his sight word knowledge at the same time.

Looking for the word "play"

Spelling out p-l-a-y

Yay!  Jump on 'play'

We also did "jumping squares," or hopscotch with numbers.  This is an old go-to for him.  He hasn't mastered the hopping on one foot idea, so we still have big jumps.  

Before we were working on sight words, we did this with colors: "go jump in the PURPLE circle"; shapes: "go jump in the HEXAGON"; letters, numbers, etc.  You get the idea.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Letter of the Week - C

We have had a very busy week... 2 birthday parties, a BBQ, lots of activities.  In between all the excitement, we still found time to focus on the letter 'C' this week.  We had all sorts of fun finding things that started with C, did a couple of crafts, and practiced writing our C's.  We had printables for our power magnets and our Do-A-Dot markers from here and here.  

One of our crafts involved painting, color mixing and glue.  Zayit just loves glue sticks!  We use the purple kind that dry clear (although I have found if you use too much, it dries dirty.)  Below you can see our art.  We learned that if you start with yellow and red paint, you can get an orange carrot!  

 And of course, we had to make some sort of caterpillar, since The Hungry Caterpillar is one of our favorite books, not to mention, it involved more glue stick!

 Since Zayit is so young, some of these crafts are hard for him to do on his own, so I usually do one of my own side by side with him.  He gets to make his, and he can make it how ever he wishes, but most of the time he follows my lead.

If you notice, I have decided to go with Zayit and Ziva from now on.  I'm excited that my blog is getting hits from all over the world.  This might turn into something exciting!