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Friday, February 27, 2009

The "Strap"

I made this strap for Caden because I wanted him to start walking to the park to get some more exercise. It works Great!! I made it so that it can tie on the stroller or a shopping cart and I even tie it on my diaper bag so when we walk around the store he is right there with me. Caden loves it because he doesn't like holding my hand but this gives him just enough independence while allowing me to keep him close and my hands free. Pushing the stroller is also a lot easier when I'm not holding a toddlers hand.

If anyone wants the very simple directions on how to make it, here they are:

  • Decide how long you want your strap and then cut a 4 inch wide strip.
  • Fold the fabric in half length wise, inside out.
  • Sew along the edge with a strait stitch
  • Turn the whole strap right side out
  • Fold the bottom of the strap up three or four inches to make the loop for the child to hold
  • Sew back and forth several times with a zig zag stitch so that it is strong!
  • On the other end of the strap I sewed back and forth several times and then used pretty yarn to make two braids for the tie on:)

If anyone wants more details or pictures of how to do it let me know. I am a total sewing armature and I taught myself so I have no idea how to explain it:)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Addition to the Sensory Tub

My two beautiful twin nieces (2 1/2 years old) came over to play today and I loved every minute of it! They loved the sensory bucket and the beans were a huge hit. I know my nieces like to pretend to cook so I brought out our little pretend pots and utensils and they were an enormous hit! The girls played for over an hour until I had to put it away because Drake couldn't control himself:) He kept climbing in to the bucket and trying to kick all the beans out???? Boys! I think any kind play dishes would have been fun!

Puzzles and No Sleep!

Towards the end of my pregnancies I get insomnia every time. Last night was the first time of this pregnancy and it lasted until 3:30 am!!!! I watched online TV while doing this little project. I bought a big bag of wood blocks at my thrift store for 2 dollars. I used a couple to make these little two sided puzzles. My sister saw them and loved them so much that I just gave them to her this morning.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Search your Local Thrift Store!

I found these little connecting toys at DI (my thrift store) for 50 cents! They were a Denny's toy a while back I guess, but they are great. Caden has to use a lot of finger muscles to get these little guys together. In this picture he is holding his "Motorcycle". These toys can be really difficult for some children depending on their age. We got them out about four times before Caden started to snap them together himself. I would help him build at first but have him take them apart himself. I think having him take them apart helped get him ready for putting them together!

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Our Sensory Tub Today

Drake loved the sensory tub today! I put dry black beans and metal measuring cups. He literally played for an hour this morning and then again in the afternoon! The feeling of the beans is so cool and the metal measuring cups made beautiful sounds. I was playing too and I discovered that if you trickle beans on to different sized cups they would make different tones. It was very cool and I'm sure an older child would think it was neat. Also notice the position of the blanket he's on. My sister had the brilliant idea to have the tub on a blanket and put the main part of the blanket on Drake's side. Now when we are done I can just pick up the blanket and pour any spilt beans back in to the tub. Happy Playing!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shape Sorter without the Sorting:)

I got this idea from The Wonder Years. This Project was for Drake (14 and 1/2 months old). While Caden loves sorting multiple shapes in to a sorter Drake is still just trying to get the darn things in there so I made him this one out of a tall frosting can. I cut a hole in the top that fits some cube blocks that we have. I cut it so that the cubes would fit perfectly so that it would be a little bit of a challenge for him. I cut a big hole in the side for retrieving the cubes. Both of the boys thought this was really fun but Drake has gone back to it several times. You can make it from any container but if you use plastic like I did tape around where you cut so that they don't scratch their hands.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Letter Search

For this activity I had this foam alphabet puzzle that I got for 88 cents at Walmart:) and a dish of rice. I popped out all the letters and mixed them in with the rice. I set this up in the sensory tub so Caden already new the rules and everything would stay neat. Here is a picture of how I set this activity up.
We took it outside and started by asking Caden to pick a letter. Once he did I would ask him what the letter was and then tell him the sound. I would then start saying words that started with the letter. Then Caden would find where the letter goes and put it in the puzzle. It was easy to find the letters at first but towards the end he really had to dig and search. This kept his interest all the way through the alphabet and he still wanted to do more:)
For younger children who aren't working on letters you could put the pieces of any puzzle they have in the rice and have them search around for it.
For an older child you could tell them a letter to search for or just tell them the sound of the letter.
To keep an older child busy you could tell them to find all of the letters in order starting with A and put them in the puzzle.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fun Little Outdoor Experiment

This was a fun little experiment that I did with Caden kind of on a whim. He was playing with a spray bottle on a warm day a week or so ago and he was spraying his feet. I made a puddle on the ground and showed him how if he step in it he could make little feet print all over the side walk! He thought that was great fun but then I decided to show him the opposite. He put his feet on a dry spot and then I sprayed his feet. When he stepped away there were two little feet left behind. He did this several times himself and I could tell he was really enjoying the effects!

Practicing Numbers Outside!

We practiced our numbers by hopping to them outside. This is the same idea as before just with numbers. I liked it because Caden tends to ramble off his numbers so fast and this game forced him to slow down and say them one at a time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cookie Cutters In the Sand Box

I don't think I need to explain much here :)

For older children you could give them the shapes and challenge them to make pictures out of them!
Make sure the sand is wet :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Journaling For the Youngest!

Last Summer we went on a vacation with family and Grandma couldn't come with us :( She got each of the children one of theses composition journals and a box of crayons to draw with on the trip. Both of the boys were to young for it at the time but she was thoughtful and got them some anyway. About a month later I was letting Caden color and I thought "Why not let him draw in that Journal!" I put both of the boy's names on the front and now every once in awhile I take them out for them to color in. I always write their name on the page because one day they will be instructed to do that themselves and it will be fun to see the progression over the years. I also put the date on the page for obvious reasons. I only get out the journals every once in a while because I want it to be like a little sampling of their work at different stages instead of getting filled with scribbles in one week:)

Sometimes we scribble...

I'm also traced their hands and feet...
And with Caden I've asked him questions and then wrote down the answers he gives... he told me what he was drawing and I labeled it for him:)

Other Journal ideas...
  • Draw a picture of your family
  • How do you feel today
  • What is your favorite thing to do outside
  • Write your favorite letters
  • Practice writing your name
  • After you have gone somewhere fun (zoo, museum, grandma's, park) have them write about it
  • Take a little survey each year asking the same questions and see how the answers change

Monday, February 9, 2009

Swing High, Swing Low!

I made this swing for Caden and it was easy, fun, and cheap! Here's the How To!

1. Step one is to buy about 10 feet of rope. I paid $.58 a foot for mine so it was $5.80. Make sure to get a rope that is thick and soft on the hands. I think this was mountain climbing rope?
2. The second step is to cut a 9 inch circle from 3/4 inch Plywood. I had scraps in my backyard so it was free:) Sand it smooth so that no one gets splinters
3. Drill a hole in the center of the circle just big enough for the rope to fit through.
4. Put the end of the rope through the hole and tie a knot. We also burned the end with a lighter so that it wouldn't fray.
5. We tied another knot every foot so that there would be handles to hold for sitting and for standing.6. The last step is to tie an anchor of some sort to the other end of the rope. I got mine for 2 dollars but you could get something cheaper like one of those ones that are shaped like and an "S".
Then Hang it up and have Fun! I must confess that me and my husband both gave it a try! Several times:) The grand total was 7.58 but I bet some of you thrifty Mamas could find the materials for cheaper! I bet some of you could find it in you husbands stuff in the garage:)

How to Pick Out Library Books

I was at my sister's house the other day and Caden was pointing out letters on a book she was looking at and she asked me how I got him to learn all of his letters already. I told her my biggest tool is the Public Library! My Library is wonderful! They have a section of Alphabet books and a section of Counting books. Every time I go to the Library I select 2 Alphabet books, 2 Counting books, and then I select "Just for fun books" according to whatever Caden is interested in at the time. We've made reading a nightly ritual in our home so Caden and Drake expect it every night before bed. I cuddle them both up in my lap and we read the book and talk about the pictures. He has some all time favorites but I still give them back to the library each time we go (instead of renewing them) because then when we go back to pick it again it is even more exciting! Here is the series of his favorite counting books:

These are really fun books because you can sing them and there are numbers hidden on each page. They are great for younger children who can't sit still for books because they are more likely to listen if you are singing.

This is Caden's favorite Alphabet book as of right now:

He loves when the parents come home and see all of the naughty things that the monkeys have done.

So get to your Library! Happy Reading!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Inside, Outside, Outside, Inside!

Caden was asking me to do things outside that in my head where "inside" things. I finally thought, "Why not, Let's take it outside!". We took painting, play-doh, and magnet letters outside. It turned out great! Caden and Drake where interested for so much longer then when we did these same activities inside. I think it was the change of scenery that made it so fun! So Try It!! Take something that you usually do inside and take it outdoors! Have Fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Has anyone been dying to know what is on the back of this? Well here it is...

I call it a counting grid. I split the paper into 6 equal squares and then glued it on the back of the color sorting mat, wrote the numbers 1-6 in each square and then laminated the whole thing. When I did this with Caden I was giving him a lot of help. I would give him the exact number of counters he needed for each square and we would count them out together. He really liked it and it's a great way to give him a visual of the amount each number stands for. Older kids could do this all on their own and you could make the back have the numbers 7-12. You could also use buttons, little dinosaurs, stones, legos or any other little thing you have a lot of. Happy Counting:)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sensory Tub!

This is another idea for moms that have a small space. When I worked at the preschool we had a very large sensory table: it's basically a big tub that is able to fit into the table and then a lid fit on top that turns it into a regular table. Now, I don't have room for something like that and they are pretty darn expensive, so I wanted to come up with and alternate solution! I got a tub from Walmart with a lid, I think it was 7 dollars??? I can't remember:) The first activity I put in it was these large stones and cups. I took it out side and let the boys explore the stones and cups but also took the opportunity to teach them the rules of the sensory tub; Everything stays in the bucket, we keep everything out of our mouths(Drake), and the tub stay where mommy put it! The best part was even when I would switch the activity to something else the boys still knew the rules for the tub so I didn't have to start all over! I also have a cool wooden box that someone gave me that worked great for raising it of the ground a bit. Here's Caden playing with water and cups on a warm day.

Here's some other activities we have done:

  • Rice and measuring cups
  • Colored Sand with nesting cups
  • Ice cubes with a drop of food coloring in each one

Here's some we want to try:

There are tons of ideas for things you can put together in a sensory tub all over the Internet!