Thursday, August 29, 2013

Color Matching Activities with IKEA Kids Dish Set

On a recent trip to IKEA, I picked up some new dishes for my kids.  The utensils, plates, cups, and bowls were each bagged separately for under $3 each.  I love practical learning and these have been great for color matching activities.

One way to start is to get out just the utensils, and have your child color match the fork, spoon and knife.  Then introduce the cups and have them place the utensils in the corresponding cup.  If you have everything out at the beginning, it could be overwhelming and your child could lose focus.

Match each color bowl to each coordinating plate.

Lastly, match each colored dish set together; the utensils, cups, bowls & plates. my younger daughter would say.

There are a lot of ways to incorporate color matching activities with these rainbow dishes.  A quick trip to the dollar store and you will find many choices:

Colored erasers
Chip clips
Colored popsicle sticks
Pipe cleaners (cut in half)
Pom poms

Pom poms come in different shades of purple, green, etc.  This is a great way to talk about how colors can vary but still be in the same color family.  

To increase fine motor skills, think about introducing a spoon or plastic tweezers to pick up each pom pom.

I used construction paper and a one inch circle punch to create circles in a variety of colors.  You can see my post about color matching using egg cartons to see other ways to use the colored circles, pom poms and popsicle sticks.

Here is a photo of one of my daughters with her bed head doing a sorting activity involving beans.  

I hope this post inspires you to look in your cabinets or craft supplies to create learning opportunities for your kids from everyday items!

Color Matching Games with Egg Cartons

This blog post is about repurposing egg cartons for color matching activities with your toddlers!  As moms, we are always looking for new ideas and creative activities to encourage our kids curiosity for learning.  My girls are 1 1/2 & 3 1/2 and I rotate their toys frequently.  It's amazing to see the spark in their eyes when they play with something "new".  

I love to make learning activities from items I already have at home.  Once or twice a week, I try to set out new activities on a few of the bottom shelves in our family room.  It doesn't usually cost anything to make, I just go through my craft supplies or household items.  For example, the girls both loved when I set out two trays, each with an (empty) individual tea pot and bowl, funnel, makeup sponge, a Barbie and a small towel.  I only put water in when I can monitor them at their table, but they have a blast pouring the water back and forth, putting water on their faces with the sponges and bathing their Barbies.  I have another post on how to do color matching activities with a kids dish set.  Here are two egg carton color matching activities that are simple to create.  

Egg Carton Color Matching with Paper Circles & Pompoms

For the first project you will need:
A cardboard egg carton
One inch circle punch
Cardstock and/or scrap booking paper
School glue
Assorted pompoms

You could use a 6, 12 or 18 count cardboard egg carton, depending on the age of your child & how challenging you want to make it.  

For the cutout circles, I just went through my supply of cardstock and hole punched two of each color.  You could also choose patterned scrapbook paper for a little variety.

Cover one side of the circles with a basic school glue like Elmer's and press into the bottom of each section of the egg carton.  Let it dry overnight & you are ready to play!  

Your little ones can match up the circles, pompoms, and other items.  See my post on color matching with a rainbow colored dish set to get ideas on other things to color match.

Egg Carton Color Matching with Popsicle Sticks

For the second project you will need:
Styrofoam 18 count egg carton
Colored Sharpies
Colored Popsicle sticks

I let my daughter help with the creation of this activity.  The first thing we did was to get our colored Sharpies (bought from Costco) & Popsicle sticks and decide which shade of Sharpie went best with each colored Popsicle stick.

Then I let my daughter color the bottom of each section of the egg carton.

Next, cut slits in the bottom of each section.  As you can see in my photos, if your kids want to put several sticks in one hole, it will tear on its own to a larger size.  And that's it, you're done!  

I lay the Popsicle sticks on a tray next to the egg carton.  Then my kids bring the whole tray over to the table to play!  I was inspired to set up Montessori style shelf activities by watching Jady A's channel on YouTube.  


Children practice several skills through these activities.  For my youngest child, she is working on her fine motor skill development.  For my oldest she is identifying colors and matching them with other objects of the same color.  I like to ask her questions like, "where is the yellow one?", "can you put two green Popsicles in the green hole? Good job!", etc.

I hope you enjoy creating these fun and simple egg carton learning activities with your kids!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Yarn & Foil Art

This craft has been around for a while, but I thought I'd share our take on it with glue, yarn and crayons.

Supplies you will need:
Repurpose one side of a cereal box
School Glue
Glue Stick
Crayons & Markers

My plan was for my 3 year old to create the design, but she had a hard time squeezing the glue bottle and was more interested in smearing the glue around.  I let her have her fun, then after she went to bed I created a design.

Step one:
I started by squeezing glue onto the cardboard & it looked like a snake, so I went with it.  I put the yarn on the glue gently, wanting the top of the yarn to stay soft, so the foil would go on smoothly later.  I let this part of the project dry overnight.  In the morning my daughter was excited to see what she interpreted as a rollercoaster, so we were ready for the glue stick!

Step two:
Roll the glue stick over the exposed card board.  The 3 year old loved this part.

Step three:
Cut a piece of aluminum foil to size & press on to the cardboard.

Step four:
Rub the foil onto our yarn lines; we used an old toothbrush.  It was gentle and didn't tear the foil.

Step five:
Sharpies work well on foil, but permanent markers aren't the greatest medium for young children, so we mostly used crayons, but I did let my little artist use a sharpie and a paint pen a little.  I played around with heating the crayon areas, but I don't think it added anything.  The crayons went on smoothly, brighter colors worked better than pastels. 

Tada!  Our finished foil & yarn project.  It was fun, I think we may try it again as a seasonal craft (pumpkin, flag, Christmas tree, Easter egg)...lots of possibilities!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Toddler Bath Time Play

We love bath time in our house!  Different themes keep it fun for my 1 & 3 year old.  Most baths include a little bubble bath.  Our favorite bubble bath is California Baby.  It is not as sudsy as some, but has great aromatherapy and is organic.  

Here are some ideas we have enjoyed:

Food coloring: create a one color bath or pour different colored water in squeeze bottles and let them add it
All ducks
All frogs
All cups; different shapes and sizes
All balls
Blowing bubbles 
Homemade bath fizzies (aka alka seltzer tablets) :)
Glow in the dark bracelets (must admit my 3 year old didn't like them in the tub)
Toy cars
Snap lock beads (and they make great microphones too)
Plastic farm animal figurines
Winnie the Pooh set of figurines
Plastic little pony figurines (and they get washed as a bonus)
Bath mirror and silly shampooed hairstyles always gets a laugh
Polka dot bath with foam craft circles (warning-don't leave them on your bath wall overnight-the colors may bleed)

The theme I have pictured below are the foam craft circles you can buy at Dollar Tree.  I put about 12 drops of blue food coloring and we pretended the green foam craft circles were lily pads and balanced bath cups on them.  

Next up for us will be homemade bath crayons created by grating bar soap, adding food color and molding them into the shape of big crayons.  What is your kid's favorite bath time fun?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hand Scrub Floors the Natural Way

Yesterday I was literally on my hands and knees cleaning my floors. I geared up for my hand scrubbing with a new extra large cellulose sponge and small non-abrasive scrub sponge. Although I usually use a non-toxic homemade floor cleaner on my laminate wood floors for daily cleanups, I thought I'd check out store-bought cleaners for the deep cleaning I had in mind. To sum it up quickly-NOT impressed! Those that proclaimed to be natural or organic, I can make myself for half the cost. The other store-bought floor cleaners had warnings about eye irritations and dangers if inhaled (which of course I will be since I am standing right over the bucket).

The nice thing about using a natural cleaner is that my pet and small children can be around me without worrying about toxic chemicals. When my 3 year old got up from her nap, I was about half way through so I let her help. She was all too eager to get a sponge and wet the floor for mommy!

This homemade cleaning mix worked really well:

Natural Deep Cleaning Floor Recipe
1 cup vinegar
1 T dish soap
1 T lemon juice
1 gallon hot water

Other supplies:
A cleaning bucket
Large cellulose sponge
Small non-abrasive scrub sponge
Old hand towels/rags
Gardening knee pads (wish I had them)

I used the old hand towels for buffing as I went along. I truly felt like the Karate Kid waxing on my natural cleaner with the large sponge, and waxing off with my towel. The scrub sponge was handy if a spot needed extra attention (i.e. under my daughters kitchen stool).

I changed out the cleaning mix and towels often and the end result? Shiny, squeaky clean floors! That is until the next spill from one of my sweeties.

My blog usually involves crafts and such for the kids, but kids have fun helping mommy clean too and with a natural homemade cleaning recipe, they can!

If you are wondering about my daily floor cleaner recipe, I use a professional spray bottle (from Lowe's) with the ounces written on the side for easy measuring. Here it is:

Daily Floor Cleaner Recipe
5 oz vinegar
20 oz filtered water
1 T Dawn
1 T rubbing alcohol

If this is your first time using vinegar as a cleaning solution, I promise the odor fades fast and you will love the results on both real wood floors and laminate.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yarn bowls

I was inspired for this idea by seeing a yarn bowl on Pinterest. It seems the perfect holder for the acorn crafts my daughter and I are making.

What you will need:
1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of water
3 tablespoons of sugar
Yarn in the color of your choice (I used two: a thick wool and a thin blue yarn)
Small ramekins, tea cups, &/or baby food jars to use as molds
Sturdy cutting board
Press n' Seal plastic wrap
A ziplock sandwich bag
Optional: wooden or glass beads

Step One:
Mix up some homemade stiffener (I am not a fan of playing with liquid starch and would rather use this child-friendly recipe.

Boil 2 cups of water, while separately mixing 1/2 cup of flour with 2 cups of lukewarm water in a bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, add your lukewarm flour & water mixture to the boiling water and return to a boil--stirring constantly. Then remove from heat and add three tablespoons of sugar, stir and let cool.

Step Two:
Not having made a yarn bowl before, I decided to experiment. I looked in my cupboard and found ramekins, a tea cup and baby food jars- all small, just what I want for my project. So I wrapped a sturdy cutting board in Press n' Seal (sticky side down) and wrapped each glass mold in Press n' Seal (sticky side touching the glass).

Step Three:
Spoon cooled stiffener into a ziplock sandwich bag.

Step Four:
Cut long lengths of yarn and place in the bag with the stiffener, knead well.

Step Five:
For the the thick wool skein, I found it better to pull through my fingers (hold the outside of the bag and squeeze excessive wetness from the wool as you pull it from the bag) and place directly on my mold.

For the thin yarn, I gently squeezed it all through my fingers and placed it in a pile on the cutting board instead of keeping it in the bag while arranging it on the glass mold.

Start in the middle of the bottom of your bowl and create your design. I tried it several ways to see which turned out the cutest. It's pretty easy to do a tight circular pattern, all from one string of yarn.
For the beaded bowl, I used several shorter lengths of yarn to make adding the beads easier. The first layer of yarn was placed in a tight circular pattern, adding beads periodically, then I added a second layer of yarn that wove up, down and around the beads in an unpredictable pattern; in hopes of giving the bowl more stability.
The loopy bowl was a last minute addition. I grabbed a rectangular baby food container, wrapped it in Press n' Seal and arranged the yarn in layers of loops, in hopes that it may turn out to look like an eclectic flower of sorts.

Step Six:
Let dry 24-48 hours. This will depend on how much stiffener you left on your yarn and whether you can sit it outside on a sunny day.

Overall, I found the thick wool yarn much easier to work with, but it did have fewer design options than the thin yarn. It was fun to experiment with different bowl shapes an designs.

These are gifts for neighbors in our small community when we go trick or treating. I think it will give the kids as much joy giving something that we made, as it will receiving the candy. Ha! Maybe not, but I still really like the idea of sharing our crafting adventures.

Followup: I didn't care for the look of the loopy flower bowl and I think the thick wool yarn looked the most natural. We filled the bowls with our acorn craft (acorn tops from the backyard glued with a pom pom or glass bead).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Advent Scratch-Off Ornaments

This advent idea is fun because it is a scratch-off game for the kids! I am happy to share my free ornament template with 25 advent ideas, but I cannot upload the pdf file through Blogger. Send me a comment if you know how!

Scratch offs are usually metallic silver, but in this Christmas craft, they are metallic red, green & gold!

Metallic acrylic paints
Dish soap
Clear contact paper
Empty egg carton
Cardstock paper
Hole puncher
Paint brushes
Ornament hangers

Step one:
Print the ornament template out on cardstock.

Step two:
Cut contact paper squares and stick each one to cover the wording on the ornaments.

Step three:
Mix 1 part dish soap to 2 parts metallic paint in one of the spaces in the egg carton.

Step four:
Paint within the lines of each ornament. Paint 3-4 coats until completely covered. (Use a hair dryer on a low setting to speed drying time between each coat.)

Step five:
Have fun decorating each ornament with any of your metallic paints that have been mixed with the dish soap!

Step six:
Hole punch the top of each ornament, you could also secure it with a brad.

Step seven:
Attach a ribbon and/or ornament hanger and hang them on a Christmas tree, wreath or garland. Get the coins ready for scratch-off and lots of Christmas fun!