Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids

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This is such a great craft for older kids!  I've been wanting to make them for awhile, so I went ahead and made them with my preschoolers.  They required more assistance, but they were so excited with the results!  This would be a perfect activity to pull out for the kids when they're home on Thanksgiving break!
Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids - These would be adorable ornaments!
For our Pine Cone Owls, we used:
Pine Cones - I happened to have a bag of cinnamon pine cones from Christmas last year.  You could certainly use pine cones collected from outside, just be sure to freeze them first to get rid of any bugs.
Felt Sheets in various colors
Fabric Scissors
Buttons - courtesy of craftprojectideas.com
Tacky Glue
Hot Glue and Hot Glue Gun
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My original idea was to trace the kids hands and use those as the "wings" for our owls.  Unfortunately, our pine cones were too small for this so I just free-handed a wing shape and cut two for each child.  The kids chose which colors they wanted.  Older kids could certainly cut their own, but I did this for my little guys since we were using fabric scissors.
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For the eyes, we used our Craft Buttons from craftprojectideas.com.  I love the colors here and the kids had a blast searching through the buttons to find the perfect ones.  While they searched, we sorted them by colors and then by size (large and small).  This certainly isn't necessary, but was a fun addition for my preschoolers.
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To put the owls together, we used a combination of tacky glue and hot glue.  If you're kids are not ready for a hot glue gun (like mine), you can certainly use tacky glue or assemble certain parts for them.  My kids used the tacky glue to attach the small black buttons to their larger buttons to create the eyes.  They also used the tacky glue to attach the felt beaks to their pine cones. I used the hot glue gun to attach the eyes and the wings to the pine cones since I wanted them to adhere quickly.
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The kids were so excited with how these turned out!  My 2-year-old carried his around for the rest of the day treating it like a pet and then a super hero.  These would be so adorable on the Kids' Thanksgiving Table or as ornaments on the Christmas Tree!
Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids - These would be adorable ornaments!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life With More Than One Kid - How I Get it ALL Done

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So many of my dear friends are having their second babies right now and I've gotten quite a few emails asking "How do you do it with 2 kids?".  In other words, "What does your day really look like?".  I got one of these emails today and she suggested I make a blog post out of it.  Fabulous idea!  So, here it is, my friends.  This is how we make it work with preschoolers, toddlers, and a baby!  I am going to try to include the little details so you can see how I fit in laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks.  Also, please notice that you will not see "exercise" or "doing my hair and make-up" anywhere in this schedule.  I am not Supermom.  I do not do it all, and right now being a fashionista and going to the gym are not making the cut.  Those 20-minute videos twice a week (ummm...month?) are going to have to suffice!

Disclaimer:  I have NEVER had just a toddler and baby in the house.  I started our home daycare when my second son was 6 weeks old, so I immediately went from one child to five.  In some ways, I think that may have been easier because my toddler always had someone else around to play with.
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Step2 Sand and Water Table Review

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Today we're participating in the 2014 Kids Holiday Wish List: Reviewed.  With five kids, we've had a LOT of toys go through our house.  For the most part, these toys are played with for a week or two and then find themselves lost under the beds or the bottoms of their toy boxes never to be seen from again.  Unless they make noise, which means that they'll inevitably go off every time I try to sneak into their rooms!
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Two years ago, my youngest son received a Step2 Adjustable Sand and Water Table for his first birthday and it has been a huge hit with all of the kids.  This is a great toy for multiple kids to play with at the same time and has kept my kids entertained for hours on end!
DELIVERY AND ASSEMBLY
We ordered our table from Amazon and it arrived within a few days.  It took about 10 minutes to put together.  Some reviewers recommend a power drill to assemble, but I was able to easily assemble this myself with just a screwdriver.  The table is a large rectangle 2 feet wide by 3 1/2 feet long with adjustable legs.  The legs adjust between 16 inches and 20 inches.  While it's fairly simple to adjust the height, it does require unscrewing and re-screwing all four legs so it is not something you will want to do daily.

Pros:
  • The table is made of durable plastic to withstand years of play (If you are familiar with the Cozy Coupe or Fisher Price picnic tables, you know what I'm talking about!)
  • Removable umbrella provides shade for much of the table
  • Drain spouts on both sides allow for water to easily be drained from both sides
  • Lightweight material makes it easy to tip sand (or other materials) out of the table for easy cleaning.
  • Includes 2 pots, 2 boats, 2 bridges, and a shovel for sand and water play
  • Large enough for multiple children to play together
  • Durable plastic lid with tie-downs keeps sand clean and dry
Cons:
  • The umbrella is a little low for older children to fit comfortably underneath, but opens and closes easily
  • (Not really the table's fault but...) Sand and Water play together is a MESS.  I personally recommend using the table for sand OR water if playing with multiple children, but just be prepared for a mess if you choose to do sand and water together.
  • Does not fold for storage.  We keep ours on our covered deck year round for sensory play and LOVE it!   
  • Don't expect the ties to keep kids from getting into the table.  My 2-year-old quickly figured out how to open them!
AGE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Manufacturer recommends this for ages 2-15.  My Daycare Toddlers love it and start playing on it around 18 months, with supervision.  I would recommend it for ages up to 6.  My 8-year-old still plays on it with his brothers but has to bend over or pull up a chair.
Shell Names - Beach Sensory Activity and Homemade Sand Recipe - Mamas Like Me

OTHER USES:
Of course this makes an awesome sand and water table, but we've also used it for various sensory bins including:
Acorns
Rice
Beans
Pasta
Oatmeal
Homemade Sand



We've also used this during parties as a water gun refilling station and it makes a great drink station by filling it with ice and juice boxes.

If you're ordering this for a gift, I would also recommend a few accessories to get the most out of your table, including:
Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set
Beach Set in Bag

Be sure to check out these other awesome toy reviews from the fabulous moms of the Kid Blogger Network!

Royal Baby Kids Bikes Review from Lalymom
Nabi 2 Kid Tablet Review  from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Blocks Rock from P is for Preschooler
Haba Technics Wooden Blocks from Wildflower Ramblings
Samsung Galaxy 4 Review from Line Upon Line Learning
Airzone Trampoline Review from Mom Inspired Life
Zoomer Zuppies Review from Something 2 Offer
Xbox One Review from The Jenny Evolution
Caring Corners Cottage from Best Toys for Toddlers
Childcraft Light Table Review from Lemon Lime Adventures
Peg and Plum Handmade Peg Dolls Review & Giveaway from Bare Feet on the Dashboard
KidKraft Retro Kitchen Review from Where Imagination Grows
Step 2 Skyward Summit Review from Stir the Wonder
Electronic Snap Circuits Review by My Nearest and Dearest
Step 2 Sand & Water Table from Mamas Like Me
Gifts for Kids - Engino Simple Machines from Planet Smarty Pants
Power Wheels Corvette Review from House of Burke



 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids

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As I was putting away the Halloween decorations and taking out things for Thanksgiving, I came across the pieces from our Turkey Math activity a few years ago and decided to whip up some sensory turkey fun for the kids! We're sharing this post as part of All Things Kid's Thanksgiving collection in an effort to give everyone some great ideas for Thanksgiving crafts and activities.
Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids
I used my basic play dough recipe with a few tweaks to make cinnamon dough.  My 3-year-old now insists that every play dough we make have a scent and the cinnamon was perfect for giving us a nice brown dough for our turkeys.  It also reminds me of  a funny story from my sister's first time making Thanksgiving dinner when she added cinnamon to the stuffing to make the house smell good.  As it turns out, cinnamon turkey smells much better than it tastes!
Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cinnamon Play Dough Recipe for Kids

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It's that time of year when I want the entire house to smell of spices and baked goods.  This play dough was so easy to whip up with things I had in the pantry and it was the perfect color for our activity without adding any food coloring.  I loved how it made the whole kitchen smell of delicious baked goods while the kids were playing!
Cinnamon Play Dough Recipe - love this scent!
For our dough we used:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 cup water

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shape Witch Puppet and Book Activity for Kids

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Halloween is almost here and I'm sure you're as done with the Halloween crafts as I am, but here's one more quick one for you just in case you need a quick craft (or one to save for next year!).
Shape Witch Craft - Halloween Book & Craft

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Pasta Invitation to Play for Kids

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One of the ways I save money on activities for the kids is stocking up on holiday decorations in the week following the holiday. Last year, after Halloween I bought Halloween sprinkles, decorations, and a bag of fabulous Halloween Pasta marked down to $.50! This year I found that bag of pasta in my box of Halloween decorations and it became the basis for this fun sensory invitation to play.
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One of the best purchases I've made for sensory play has been this tray from the Dollar Store.  Every time the kids see it, they immediately get excited and it doesn't seem to matter what I put on it.
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For this Halloween activity, I used the pasta, plastic spider rings that we've also used for Spider Painting and our S is for Spaghetti & Spiders Sensory Bin, and lots of Halloween toys that the kids collected last year while Trick-or-Treating.  This is a great way to re-use all those toys that come from Halloween parties and birthday party treat bags this time of year.  Don't toss them out, save them for some frugal sensory play!
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I set the kids loose and gave them plenty of time to explore all the things on our tray.  They had a blast scooping pasta with the scoop from our Pumpkin Carving Kit and using the tongs from our favorite game for fine motor skills .  I also gave them some paper cups from my party supplies.  These turned out to be a hit with my toddlers for pouring and dumping the pasta, which is a great activity for spatial reasoning and developing muscle control in their hands!
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Then, we used the pasta for some color sorting.  My 2-year-old gets brown and black mixed up so this was a great opportunity to reinforce the color black over and over.  We found black bats, cats, pumpkins, and witches in the pasta.  Then my 2 and 3-year-olds helped me finish some Halloween Pasta Patterns.  I did patterns with different shapes and colors for them to complete. 
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My boys are working on number recognition so we did some simple addition problems together where we identified the numbers and then counted that many shapes.  To find the answer we counted all of our pumpkins on the board and wrote the correct number.  At this point, I am not concerned that they know the symbols for plus and equals, I am simply introducing them to the concepts of addition and showing them how we would write them together.  After we found the answers I would say, "oh look, 3 + 2 = 5" while pointing to the numbers and symbols.
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The next day, the boys asked to play in the pasta again, so I pulled out our neon fuzzy sticks from craftprojectideas.com.  I am always so excited when we receive new products from them to try out!  photo DSC_0973_zps237e970c.jpg The kids did a simple fine motor skills activity and used the pasta to string on the neon fuzzy sticks to create Halloween bracelets.  They loved the bright colors of the fuzzy sticks.  Some created patterns and some separated their colors making half orange and half black.  Most of the kids simply used their favorite shapes in any order. photo DSC_0979_zps0c86802e.jpgI love how we were able to find so many different ways to play with this $.50 bag of pasta.  The kids returned to it for several days and we still have much of it left to play with.  They did break some of them and some swept into the trash during clean-up, but all in all it has been a fun material for us to play and learn with!

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Spider Web Blow Painting for Kids - so much fun to make! #Halloween