Friday, May 24, 2013

Homemade Rainbow Play Dough. It's Faster than Going to the Store

(39 Months)

The time 6:05 AM, Little Miss calls, no beckons (loudly), "Mommy, Pink Pants (a soft baby doll that she has loved since she was an infant) fell out of bed and I can't reach her."  Two seconds later, "MOMMY, PINK PANTS FELL OUT OF BED!"  A blink later, "MOMMY, I'M CALLING YOU. PINK PANTS FELL!"  I can't believe her brother slept through all of that.  This is from the little one that we have to keep telling to speak up because we can't hear her.

Together, we went into the playroom.  Little Miss cradling Pink Pants (safe and sound), and I'm cradling my coffee mug.  She immediately went to check on her Big Baby, then she snuggled up to me and asked what I was working on (on the laptop).  I love how they phrase things.  I showed her the Pinterest board that I was looking through.  I was trying to find something new to work on with them that I pinned.  When she saw the rainbow play dough, she excitedly pointed, "that's what I want to do! Can we make those Momma?"  My first reaction, we've made so many batches of play dough (Pinkalicious play dough and Coffee play dough are two that I actually remembered to post about), let's do something NEW.  Really?  Play doh?  We can buy play doh- well, actually by the time I get her dressed, make sure she pees on the potty and we get to the store, find the play doh in the colors that we're looking for, pay for it and get back, I could actually have made two batches of play doh in the exact colors that she wants, empty the dishwasher, make breakfast and put on a second pot of coffee.  Homemade play dough it is then!

We gathered our short list of ingredients- flour, salt, cream of tarter, baby oil, and food dye.  This time we decided to follow Susanna Kate Sews' recommendation and use the gel dye for a more intense color, instead of the liquid dye.  Each batch of play doh makes four small 3" balls.

 1 1/2 cups of bleached all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cups (or remove 1 Tbsp of salt from the 3/4 cup) of salt
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 Tbsp cream of tarter
1 Tbsp baby oil
wax paper
gel or liquid food dye

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the food dye, in a large nonstick pan over medium-low heat.  The solution will come together pretty quickly, and then within a few minutes will turn from a gooey mess to a thicker blob to a a dough-like consistency.  It only takes about five or six minutes.  Once it resembles dough, place it on some wax paper.  Be careful it will be hot for a few minutes.  Once it's warm enough where you can knead it, knead it for a minute or two.  Then form it into a large ball.  Section the ball, with your hand into quarters (like you would slice a delicious chocolate cake).  Roll each section into balls and place each ball onto a sheet of wax paper.  Add a generous amount of food dye to each of the balls and knead until it's completely incorporated.  That's it.  We store ours in snack sized zip top bags.

The kids love measuring and pouring the ingredients.  I mix it on the stove- I'm not ready to have them working by the heat yet.  They also get to add the food dye and knead the coloring into the dough.  Once kneaded this play dough is silky soft, it's much softer than THE Play-Doh (although, I do still prefer the traditional Play-Doh scent).

What once was beautifully vibrant colored balls of play dough are now beautiful multicolored rainbows.  They played with these off and on for the entire day, only pausing to go in the pool, lunch and nap.  They made flowers, multicolored snowmen, faces, cakes, muffins...  The creativity was incredible, and the cooperation was spectacular (can I have some of your brown?  Please, can I have that purple cutter?).  I didn't even get a chance to bring out all of the goodies- straw tips, goggly eyes, gems, glitter, bakeware, the entire bag of Play-Doh gizmos and gadgets.   They were so engrossed in their creations.  It was wonderful to watch and be a part of.  I'm so glad that Little Miss asked to make play dough (again) this morning.

During snack time, they first practiced "feeding" the fish blueberries before eating them.  Great for one-to-one correspondence and fine motor skills.  Also, fantastic for concentration.  Look at those faces.  I love those two so much.

Friday Night is Pasta Night

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fizzy Magic

(39 Months)

Sometimes the best activities are the ones that you barely prep for.  This afternoon we were supposed to play with our water table, making colored bubbles.  We haven't done that since last year (see here).  However, we had a huge storm: thunder, lightening, rain, wind, hail.  So I pulled up my Pinterest account and looked through the pins that we haven't done yet to see what we could do (with little preparation).

Materials- baking soda, vinegar, medicine droppers, liquid watercolors or liquid food dye, and a tray.  Perfect, I have all of that (and I know where it all is).  Enter Fizzy Magic.

So simple, line a high-edged tray with baking soda, set aside.  Fill a few small cups with half white vinegar and half liquid watercolor (we chose the primary colors, so that we can continue working on reinforcing which colors combine to make specific secondary colors).  Grab a few towels for the inevitable spills.  Invite the kidabunks over to play with some fizzy magic.

Wow!  Look at it bubble.  That's right it's fizzing, do you hear the sound?  Little Miss worked just with red for most of the activity.  Wild One started mixing colors almost right away.  Look purple!  Look green!  Meanwhile, we were listening to the hail hitting the house, the cracks of lightening and booming drums of thunder.  Can we do more?  Yes, you can.  I'll just add more baking soda to the tray.

Momma, look the baking soda isn't fluffy anymore.  It's hard now.

When we were done, Wild One added some of the baking soda to his green vinegar cup.  They both loved watching the bubbles errupt up and over the sides.  WOW!

When we finished, we practiced our fine motor control of releasing just a couple of drops onto the backs of the bathtub appliqu├ęs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blueberry Picking is Yummy Fun

(39 Months)

We love blueberries!  Blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, heck- give us the container and let us just eat all the way to the bottom.  We love blueberries.  Last year we missed blueberry picking season by one week, and we almost missed it again this year (it's a very short window- about a month, sometimes less, sometimes a week more).

Today, we were lucky enough to not only go blueberry picking, but to have the farm almost all to ourselves.  The farmers handed the kids their little blue pails and told them to snack and pick as many giant blueberries as they could carry!  We began strong, "wow, look at all of those blueberries!", "these are so sweet", "this one is HUGE", "look some are white and pink",  "I'm going to try this one."  Munch, munch, drop in the pail, munch, munch, munch, drop in the pail.  I'm so glad that the farm we went to has a very generous eat as you pick policy.

Then, we slowed down.  Wild One found a stick and started making tracks in the sand along the rows of blueberries.  Little Miss discovered some wildflowers and started picking them.  It was just the hubby and I that continued picking blueberries.  We walked away with a little over two pounds of blueberries.  I'm going to try to save some to make blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins, but they might be gone before they get into the batter.  There is absolutely no comparison between a store bought blueberry and a fresh off the stem blueberry.

I'd like to say, oh we discussed how these beautiful blueberry bushes all grew from seeds and this was the process, or that we counted each blueberry that we picked, or who had more blueberries in her/his pail, but none of that happened.  There was no lessons here, except that blueberries grow on bushes, not on a tree (like when we went apple picking), not underground (as do sweet potatoes, beets and carrots).  We did look for the biggest and bluest blueberries for out pails, but that was it.  Ooohh- observation skills!  Perfect, it was a science field trip!  I'm just kidding.

They loved picking the sweet blueberries, so did my husband - who by the way never liked blueberries until he had his first blueberry from the farm.  It was his first time picking blueberries too!  I love how we created a wonderful memory for the kids (and us).  On the way home, they reminisced about apple picking with their cousin Buddy and asked to do that again next year. We're so lucky.  I love them so much.

Fast forward to the next afternoon.  I'm listening to Little Miss and Wild One talking during their lunch.  Little Miss: "So, Wild One did you have fun blueberry picking yesterday?"
Wild One: "Yes, I did.  I liked seeing the buggies (bees) on the flowers."
Little Miss: "My favorite part was picking flowers and blueberries."

After nap, we decided to bake a batch of blueberry muffins.  They love baking, the mixing, the measuring, the cracking of eggs.  We adapted this recipe from Allrecipes by using a combination of half wheat flour and half all-purpose flour (instead of all-purpose flour), we also used a mixture of 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar (instead of all white sugar), and substituted sour cream for vanilla Greek yogurt, and added 1 tsp cinnamon.  So delicious! Plus, the house smells incredible from the mouth-watering aroma of fresh baked blueberry muffins.  So yummy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

b,d,p,q Identification Game and Assessment

(39 Months)

I never really paid attention to all of the different ways we write and type our letters (fonts), until I started pointing out the subtle differences to my kids.  You have got to be kidding me!  Talk about quick and simple, all you need is a sheet of paper, marker, dot stickers (or character sticker) and that's it.    The object is to place the assigned colored dot on the respective letter.  Yay sticker fun!

Then to make learning their letters and numbers even more challenging, there are the symbols that could be a letter or a number.  A straight vertical line could be a one, an I or a lowercase L.  How did that happen?  Especially when faced with the question, "but, why do they all look the same when they are all different?"   Ummm, hmmmm, ummmmm.

We've played a couple of letter matching games in the past (see here for a great fine motor skill game that focuses on upper and lower case matching), but I haven't tackled b, d, p and q isolated in a group.   I decided to create a fun game and assessment to see if we really know these letters, or are they guessing really well.  My inspiration came from Rockabye Butterfly, she did a fun following directions game using this format with numbers.

As soon as Little Miss and Wild One saw the stickers they were ready to get started- it's amazing how kids love stickers.   I tried to do a quick presentation on the different letters, but they were too eager to get started.  Normally, I'd have them hold off but I really wanted to see who knew what.
A few minutes into playing, Little Miss decided that she wanted to make designs with the stickers instead of placing each sticker where it belonged.  That's odd for her, she's the one who usually wants to sit and do her "work" for long periods of time.  Oh well, I didn't feel like paying the bills today and put that off.  Some people would argue that she needs to sit and finish a project, maybe when she's a bit older I might agree.  At age three, she's done when she's done.  Look at that sad face, how can I say no to letting her do an art project instead of practicing her letters?