Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sticker Lightning Bugs

(4 1/2 Years)

Last Christmas, Bella (our Elf on the Shelf) gave Little Miss and Wild One a going away present.  It was a three-month gift to Kiwi Crate.  These little gift box gems are PERFECT for those times when you want (or need- you know those times) a project that they can work on semi-independently.  Today was the day; we painted, we built, we played with the kinetic sand, we made the volcano erupt- again, and it was only 10:30!  Out came the kit with everything in it.  I handed the kids their bottles, and colored stickers, and let them have fun decorating.
Quick!  Throw in a load of wash, load the dishwasher, start organizing the craft area (again!).  
It took less than ten minutes for them to decorate their bottles.  I thought it was going 
to take two or three minutes, but I saw how carefully they were working and I 
seized the opportunity to get a few chores done.
Wild One created a collage of color, overlapping some stickers.  Whereas, Little Miss 
created rows of the same color, making sure to space them apart ever so slightly.  Twins.
 I love how proud she is of her work!
 I helped them attach the straw, wings and feet.  They added the goggly eyes.
All finished!
 Time to make them fly.
Let's do it again!
 Experimenting the differing rates of speed if the string is held at a steeper decline.  
They loved this.  I did too!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rainbow Swirl Salt Tray

(4 1/2 Years)

Our latest "toy" is our Rainbow Swirl Salt Tray.  It's so much fun to play with.  It's very relaxing, it's almost mesmerizing.  Plus it took less than ten minutes to put together, and that's with two 4 1/2 year olds working on it!  Oh, and you most likely have everything in your home already.

My husband was going to toss a wooden box with a lock on it, but lucky for me he asked if I wanted it for something.  I knew right away, it would be used for a salt tray.  I've been putting off creating a salt tray, because... because... hmmmm.  Well, now we have a tray and it's time to add the colored salt- so much more fun than plain white salt.

Have you dyed salt before?  Here, let Little Miss and Wild One show you how.

Materials Needed:
1/3 cup measuring cup (optional- but I like having equal measurements of everything)
table salt (we buy whichever is on sale to use in our crafts)
artificial food dye or liquid water color
fork or spoon
tray(s) to help contain the inevitable mess (baking sheets and cake pans work well also)
tray with a lid (they sell salt trays, but a plastic take out container works well also)

Pour salt into a measuring cup.  Level off with the back of a butter 
knife (it's great practice for leveling off flour for your baking projects)

Pour the measured salt into a small bowl.  Add three drops of food coloring to the bowl.

Mix with a fork.

Continue mixing with your fingers (gloves are not necessary, Little Miss just loves them).

Pour your colored salt into your designated salt tray.
Have fun swirling.

Practice writing letters or drawing faces or swirling.

Everything is more fun with a magic wand!   Have fun getting ready 
for writing, or practicing writing.  Learning through play.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Easy Erupting Volcanos Using Homemade Play Dough

(4 1/2 Years)

This project is quick to put together, the kids love it and you probably already have everything in the house!  Look at that SMILE!

A few weeks ago we played with paper mache for the first time.   We made these craft bowls to hold our crayons, markers, scissors and glue sticks.  They are surprisingly sturdy.

I was going to have them help me create a paper mache volcano, but I think that maybe overreaching.   The bowls took a lot of dexterity, mainly from squeegeeing the paper and flour mixture through their fingers.  I had visions of Little Miss and Wild One eagerly beginning the project and then their interest go from waning to ending within ten minutes, I'd then be the one working on this project.

Instead, we created a homemade play dough volcano.  I found my inspiration on Pinterest, it's from Ashley West at

Materials needed:
A tray with sides (we bought ours at The Dollar Tree)
A plastic water bottle or a small thin flower vase
Playdough (we used some of our old homemade play dough, this stuff stays soft for months- we used the brown play dough from Thanksgiving 2013!  Here 's the recipe.)
Baking soda - 1 Tablespoon
Red food coloring - 3 drops
Dish soap - 3 drops
Vinegar - 1/4 cup (a Pyrex measuring cup makes pouring easy)
Dinosaurs (not essential, but the kids thought it was hilarious that they were getting buried by the lava- hmmm, I'll have to look into that dark side later)

While the kids were busy creating pink Olaf snowmen and smashing rolled play dough letters (can you guess who was doing what?), I started placing the play dough around the water bottle, on top of the tray.  Wild One began helping, asking if he can put the dinosaurs next to the volcano.  Building a volcano out of play dough takes less than five minutes, it takes longer than that just to prepare to build a paper mache volcano.

Once we were all satisfied with our little volcano and dinosaurs.  We began adding the ingredients for our lava.
One tablespoon of baking soda.

Three drops of red food dye.

Three drops of dish soap.

Now the fun part, quickly add the 1/4 cup of white vinegar.

After Little Miss saw how much fun her brother had, she decided that she wanted a turn at pouring in the vinegar.  Take two!

While I was cleaning up our experiment (all I did was pour out the vinegar solution from the tray, and now we can do this again another day), the kidabunks took out their crayons and science journals and began drawing what we did, "Just like Sid the Science Kid Mom!"

Quick, easy, engaging, most of all fun!  Learning through play is really the best way!

UPDATE 8/13/14
We have now recreated this experiment four times!  The dinosaurs are actually stuck in the "lava" (the dried play dough).  Each time we do this, they are still amazed at how quickly the baking soda reacts with the vinegar.  They have experimented with adding extra baking soda, pouring the vinegar fast vs slow, adding baking soda to the outside of the volcano as well as the inside of the volcano.  They discuss their hypotheses before we do the experiment, and then the result of the actual reaction. I love how much fun homeschool preschool is!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Watercolor Letter Art

(4 Years)

Is it too hot or too wet to go outside?  Are you looking for a calming project?  This one would be perfect!  Watercolor Letter Art
Materials needed:
Watercolor paper
Watercolor paint
Thin paintbrushes

The project itself was very simple to set up.  I drew a large block letter in marker on watercolor paper, and then inside the block letter drew squares and rectangles in pen.  My plan was for them to carefully paint inside the lines (something we have never worked on) and to remember to choose a different neighboring color when painting.  I wasn't sure how this project was going to go.  Were they going to want to work on it?  Will they like it?

I showed them the model that I made.  We discussed how I must have had to carefully paint to stay within the lines.  We talked about how the same color isn't repeated in an adjacent box.  I asked if they wanted to create their own, and to my surprise they did!

Little Miss methodically chose the colors according to their placement in the watercolor tray to make sure that she didn't choose the same color twice (brilliant!).  Wild One chose randomly (that's how I did it too).

When I saw the smiles, I knew they would finish the project in one sitting.  

Look at them practicing for writing!  They are trying to control where the paint goes, just like when printing (you need that fine motor control).

Calming, quiet work.  Concentrating on staying within the lines and not using the same color in an adjacent spot.  Practicing for writing.  Enjoying color mixing and painting.  Creating beautiful art.

 Happy Monday!