Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Box Car

Sometimes I find myself asking, "Why do I even bother to buy toys?" If your child has ever spent more time playing with the box the toy came in than the toy itself, you probably know what I'm talking about. This is especially true with large boxes, like the ones you get when Amazon combines several items in one shipment. Baby Bear loves these big boxes because he can climb and hide in them. The other day, he also started to pretend one such box was a race car. So, we worked together to make it a race car! I grabbed some paper plates from the pantry (used more for crafts than for eating on around here) and some brass fasteners, and we made a race car! All I did was poke some holes for the fasteners, and then he helped me attach four plates for tires and one for a steering wheel. Baby Bear thought it was brilliant that he could actually turn the wheel and tires on his car! Later, I also handed him a pack of markers, and we sat down together to decorate the car. Now, he has his own personal, custom designed race car sitting in the living room.

Driving along in my automobile... my toys beside me at the wheel.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shapes Unit

Baby Bear knows a lot of shapes for his age, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge every chance he gets. Something about recognizing shapes, both drawn and in the real world, gets him excited. So, we spent about a week and a half doing shapes activities to reinforce his old knowledge and expand it with a couple of new shapes, which he now loves to point out as well. Aside from playing "I Spy" with shapes out in the backyard (which is hard to capture in a picture) these were Baby Bear's favorite activities from our time studying shapes.

I drew some shapes on a piece of construction paper in crayon, and Baby Bear helped me make water colors for some crayon resist art. All we did was mix a little tempura paint with a little water for the water colors.

Baby Bear's favorite activity, and the one he was most proud of, was the shapes collage he made using foam stickers. We already had the stars, ovals, and circles leftover from a couple of store-bought sticker packs. I made the rest of the shapes by cutting them out of sticky-back foam sheets.

As seen on many linkups around Valentine's Day, Baby Bear and I did some heart stamping using an empty toilet paper roll creased in one place to look like a heart.

Baby Bear and I also made up a shapes game while outside playing with sidewalk chalk. We drew a large shapes wheel and hopped around it like we were playing hopscotch as we called out the shapes we landed on. There weren't actually any rules to the game... we just played!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homemade Light Box

A few months ago, I read about this homemade light box on The Imagination Tree, and I was smitten. I have wanted a light box for Baby Bear for soooo long, but they are very expensive. I thought he would like one, but I wasn't sure, so I couldn't justify the cost. Papa Bear and I were able to throw this box together using supplies we already had on hand, though!

  • storage box with a clear or see-through lid and/or bottom
  • white Christmas lights
  • transparent or translucent, colorful manipulatives (for example, I used some of my old overhead projector teaching materials like counters, coins, and geometric shapes)
  1. Put the Christmas lights in the storage box.
  2. Set the box clear-side-up. For us, this meant turning the box upside down.
  3. Plug in the lights if they're not battery operated.
  4. Play with the manipulatives on the box! That's it!
As it turned out, Baby Bear thought the light box was OK, but not great. He plays with it a little here and there, but I am so glad I did not invest in a store-bought box! As for me, I thought it was fantastic. :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Egg Dying Tips

In a couple of days, Baby Bear and I will be dyeing eggs for Easter. If your weather is anything like ours, it will probably be a little too cold to comfortably dye the eggs outside. I've got a tip to help you with indoor cleanup! Or, maybe you don't like how overpriced those egg decorating kits are in many stores. You probably have everything you need to dye them already on hand! These are my favorite Easter egg dyeing tips, and I hope you find them as helpful as I have.
  • To make your own egg dye, pour a little white vinegar in some plastic cups, one for each color you plan on using. Shorter cups with wide openings work best. Add 1-3 drops of your choice food coloring to each cup. Use spoons to lower the eggs into the dye and scoop them back out. Use empty egg cartons for drying.
  • If you get a little dye on a hard surface like a countertop, and it won't wipe off completely, use a little hairspray. Spray the spots with hairspray, wipe them off, and then use a damp cloth to get rid of the stickiness from the spray.
  • Use supplies like crayons, glue, glitter, markers, sequins, stamps, tempura paint, tape, and stickers to decorate the eggs. The crayons will resist the dye to make pictures. This is especially cool with white crayons because it's like writing an invisible note on the eggs. Draw a picture with glue and then add glitter, or sprinkle a little glitter while the eggs are still damp for sparkly eggs. Add stickers or tape to the eggs before dyeing them, then remove the tape or stickers once they are dry (tape resist art). If you want, redye the eggs after removing the tape or stickers to get a layered, multi-color effect.
  • I haven't found a quick, simple fix for dye on hands, but frequent scrubbing and washing will get it off. The sooner you wash your hands, the shorter the time the dye remains.
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Colors Unit, Part 2

After about a week and a half of working on one color per day, Baby Bear and I spent a few days reviewing the colors we had talked about and seeing what we would get if we mixed them. These were a few of Baby Bear's activities from these days:

After making a batch of no-cook playdough, I divided it into the 3 (almost) primary colors blue, yellow, and pink. Baby Bear, Papa Bear, and I worked together to mix those colors to make the secondary colors of purple, green, and orange.
Then Baby bear enjoyed mixing them all together. For awhile, we made some pretty cool tie-dye shapes with cookie cutters. Eventually, we got brown playdough, which Baby Bear also thought was cool.

Using Baby Bear's play mat, we sorted the play cooking utensils and foods from his play kitchen.

Since we had a special colored meal to go with each of our color days, we had a special rainbow muffin tin meal, too.

This was by far Baby Bear's favorite activity, and he still asks to do this almost daily. Like with the playdough, I made the 3 primary colors using water and food coloring.

I gave Baby Bear 2 primary colors at a time along with an empty container and a dropper. He used the dropper to transfer a little of each of the 2 primary colors into the empty container to make a new, secondary color.

Once he finished making all the secondary colors, I let him mix all the colors however he wanted to see what they made. Of course, we ended with black. He loved seeing what new colors he could create!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham

If you've spent much time on my blog, you've probably noticed my affinity for all things Dr. Seuss. Even Baby Bear's nursery has a Dr. Seuss theme. You can imagine my joy, then, when my son started requesting I read the book Green Eggs and Ham to him over and over again. :) So, I decided to focus on this book for Theodore Seuss Geisel's birthday this year. While we didn't go hog wild with the theme, we did have some fun.

On day one, we read the book and made green eggs and ham with construction paper. I cut out the pieces, and Baby Bear helped me glue the pieces for the eggs together. To make this a little more fun, we decorated the yolks with green glitter glue. The next day, once our pieces were dry, I took this matching idea from The Homeschool Den and put a slightly different spin on it. On the original post, the kids had to match lower case to lower case plates and upper case to upper case plates. For our matching game, I put the upper case and lower case letters together onto one plate so Baby Bear would associate two images belonging to each letter. To keep the game from being overwhelming, I only used the letters of Baby Bear's name. On the third day of reading Green Eggs and Ham, we made green scrambled eggs. Baby Bear thought this was very cool! I had intended on this being our last activity for the book, but this afternoon Baby Bear requested orange eggs for lunch after telling me for the umteenth time about getting to eat green eggs yesterday. We may need to continue eating strangely colored foods for a few more days as an extension activity to follow Baby Bear's peaked interest.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Colors Unit, Part 1

Baby Bear takes pride in knowing his colors. Even though he already knew many, I decided to do a colors unit with him because he found them so fun an fascinating. During this unit we were able to add a few new colors to his repertoire and to extend his color knowledge from recognition to association.

Each day we focused on one color in particular. I introduced each color of the day when I helped Baby Bear dress by handing him a shirt that corresponded to our focus.

We started the unit by reviewing colors he already knew by making fun, tactile collages.

I also made a special meal each night to match the color of the day. For the most part, I was able to avoid using a ton of food coloring, but this wasn't always possible (or practical). For example, one night we had blue pancakes and blueberries with blue milk.

Shortly before we began this unit, Baby Bear started learning how to use safety scissors. One of his favorite activities was practicing cutting a piece of colored paper.

Every day, we also read a book to go with our color. Baby Bear's favorites were Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle.