Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pine Needle Brushes

I saw the idea to paint with pine branches on The Artful Parent, and I thought it was a great toddler sensory paint project, and especially appropriate for the holiday.

Certainly, the idea of painting with evergreens is not necessarily seasonal, but painting with Christmas tree branches is! Can't tell you how happy it makes me to create art with our Christmas tree!

I put the paint on a paper plate pallet and suggested that Ethan dip the branches and then paint them on the paper. For children under a year old, I would suggest placing small blobs of paint on the paper first, and instead showing them to smear the paint around with the branch.

As he was painting, we talked about how the branches were painting lots of little colored lines and dots on his paper. He really enjoyed himself, and I liked watching him explore. When we were all done, he had a really cool looking painting too! I love the feeling of motion and chaos that those fine smeary lines give it!

(Have I mentioned that painting with your young child is a great way to work on learning colors?!!)

Enjoy your holiday, and let me know if you're doing any crafting or art projects using your Christmas tree!!

Christmas on the Farm

If the farm is going to be the centerpiece in our living room, it might as well be festive!!!
He really wanted to tree to be IN the farm...
Favorite is the wreath on the barn door and around the cow's neck!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh (handprint) Christmas Tree

I found this idea on The Other White House via Pinterest and had to adapt it for Ethan this year! 
We used a paint on a pallet, putting a glob of green paint on a paper plate and smearing it around with Ethan's little hand before we "smack smack smacked" it down on the paper. (Saying "smack smack smack" makes it quite fun for your little person!) Since making the snowman handprint ornament, I've found the paper plate is really effective if you need to make a number of handprints!

After we got the tree shape done, we used different colored paint on his fingertips to create the lights and then I helped him smear paint into a tree trunk.
When we were all done, Ethan asked for more paper and to my surprise, he made a second tree by himself (it's one of those modern upside down types)! When he was done, he pulled the page off of his tray and pointed for me to hang it up to dry next to the tree we had done together. "Is that a Christmas Tree?" "Christmas Tree- uh huh!" Great look through the eyes of a toddler! Well done little dude. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snowman Handprint Ornament

These really cute snowman ornaments aren't an original idea. I got the idea from Full of Great Ideas last year, and I've been waiting to try it ever since.

I'll admit, I was a bit unsure how well this would go with a young toddler (Ethan is 16 months old), but I thought I could give it a go. I got the ornaments at the dollar store. 7 for $1!!

  • I really liked the idea to dip Ethan's hand on the pallet of paint instead of painting it with a brush. It was much quicker to reapply paint when making multiple ornaments. 
  • He's too young to want to grip his fingers around the ball, so I pressed down one finger at a time. We counted as I pressed, which he found very amusing!
  • With little hands, you can do a double print with fingers on each side.
  • Resign yourself to the fact that they aren't going to be perfect! One of my favorite "mistakes" turned into a snowman peeking out from behind another snowman. It's delightful :)

Ethan could have painted another whole box he was having so much fun! 

Fun fact: I had a hard time finding the "free time" to paint on the finishing details of the ornaments for Ethan. I ended up bringing my black Sharpie, my fine tipped paint brush, and my paints to work and painting them in my cube on my lunch break! The photos were taken during another lunch break using my work's Christmas tree. Ah, to be a working mom during the holidays!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can You Help Tom Turkey Find His Feathers?!

I was inspired by Parenting Magazine to do a feather hunt (a la Easter egg hunt) for my little person on Thanksgiving morning. They suggested using the collected feathers to create a headdress. Good idea, but not something that my little guy would really understand.

What he does understand is "turkey."

I made a little turkey out of two styrofoam balls, some paint, googly eyes, construction paper, and cardboard. It didn't take very long to make an assemble, or making him would have never fit into my schedule! A few tips: Make sure the feet are large enough to keep the turkey from falling forward. Also, use a toothpick (or piece of a toothpick) between the two balls to ensure that they stay together! An alternate craft would be to draw a turkey and glue the feathers on!

So tomorrow Ethan will be hunting for hidden feathers. As he finds them, we'll put them back on Tom Turkey. I'm not quite sure how it will go, but sure sounds fun enough to me :)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Collecting and Saving Leaves Together

On a recent unseasonably warm day, we took a family hike. Ethan really enjoys collecting things, so collecting pretty colored leaves as we walked was right up his alley. His daddy and I were commenting about how pretty this collection of leaves was, especially since it hasn't been a very good year for pretty leaves. Then I remembered seeing leaves preserved with Mod Podge online. Literally, all you do is let the leaves dry out and brush it on (It's a good idea to dry them between newspaper under a heavy weight, but I just left them dry on the table--admittedly losing a few due to over-curling). Then "ta-da!" the leaves are shiny, the color is magically intensified and the leaves are considerably more flexible.

This isn't so much a craft for a young toddler to help other than the leaf collection portion and enjoying the finished product. (Of course, there's always the benefit of that precious time spent having fun together!) Although Mod Podge is non-toxic, it has glue-like properties and so it's not quite suitable for a little person (especially one who frequently puts paint in his mouth). I did have Ethan painting leaves while I Mod Podged, but he was more interested in finger painting--and that's ok too!!!

The results were great, and so quick and easy!

Do you have a favorite way to preserve fall leaves?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Leaf Relief Print Painting (and Turkeys!)

Ethan and I had a lot of fun with our most recent Fall Leaf Relief Print painting project!

First step is to collect a few fall leaves. They don't need to be pretty leaves, they just need to be in good shape, and not too dry.

We then used our brushes to paint the underside of the leaves. It's very important to paint the undersides because they have so much more texture than the tops. Ethan definitely needed help filling in the leaves. He did ok to start, and he was enthusiastic, but to fill them in completely he needed Mommy's help. We used a pallet of red, orange, and yellow paint, but go crazy and use any colors you'd like!

After we painted the undersides of all the leaves, we placed the painted side down on a clean sheet of paper. Ethan helped me "SMACK SMACK" the leaves against the paper. We left the leaves stuck to the paper while he painted around them. When he was all done, I peeled up the edges and he helped remove the leaves. I think he was a bit surprised by the bright colored leaf prints that were left behind.

My favorite part is the pretty yellow, orange and red hand smear on the left edge of the page!
When we're done painting, we always tape the painting to the side of one of my cabinets to dry. While I was hanging the leaf prints, I looked at them and said "Oh WOW Ethan, this painting is really good!" He replied "Oh WOW!" Now every time we look at that painting (now framed in his room) and I ask him, "What does Mommy say about that painting?" he replies "Oh WOW!" Love.

And of course, what's a Thanksgiving holiday without making some hand turkeys!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Leaves Tree Fingerpainting

Our latest seasonal painting project was a fall tree. I painted the tree trunk on the paper and instructed 15 month old Ethan to paint the leaves.

I gave him a pallet made out of aluminum foil with red, yellow, and orange fingerpaint on it so that he could have complete control over the paint he placed on the paper. I love seeing all the tiny finger streaks in the paint!

The fall painting was great fall fun! I would like to say that we went out and played in the leaves afterwards, but really we went straight to the bath tub! (this was a messy painting session!) Playing in the leaves was for another day!

In the spring, we created a similar tree painting using fingerprints when he was only 7 months old.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Pumpkin and Spider Paintings

"Playing Pumpkins"
Halloween is just around the corner (I still can't believe it!) and my one year old is busy spending his Halloween season learning about spiders and pumpkins. We hung some fantastic striped paper spiders from his bedroom ceiling (purchased at a discount store for a few bucks). Of course we purchased pumpkins from a quaint pumpkin stand. And we "play pumpkins" --aka rearrange them all over the house--but the other day when he stumbled across the finger paints (and had a near breakdown because he wanted to fingerpaint so badly) I decided it was time to make some Halloween paintings!

Palm-Print Pumpkins with Fingerprint Stems
When we painted these, I would paint Ethan's palm and help him press it against the paper. We'd hit the paper semi-hard and say "SMACK! SMACK!" He loved it! We did the same thing with the fingerprints for the stems.

Handprint Spiders
I've seen variations on the handprint spider all over the internet, but we thought we'd try our own! In retrospect, we would have only painted 8 fingers and not all 10, but Ethan surely didn't mind :) In this case, we also used fingerprints for eyes!

How did you first introduce your little person to Halloween symbols??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Corn Cob Fun

We recently took Ethan to visit "Corn Cob Acres" in Mountville, PA and had a blast!

What a great seasonal activity for a young toddler!! Fun, fun, fun!!

corn bin
Ethan loved playing in the corn bin, the hayride, the cow inflatable bounce, and the haystack slide. However, I think his favorite was definitely the animal barrel train ride! He loved riding though the cornstalks in a cow. He also really liked riding the pedal carts with his daddy.

It's always evident that you picked a great family activity when there are tears are you leave! I definitely recommend a visit before the fall season is over. Who knows, maybe we'll see you there?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ice Painting

I was very excited to try out "ice paint" with Ethan. I'd seen a similar project online for preschoolers, but I wanted to adapt it for a baby or young toddler.
As you remember, making ice paints was on of the items on my Summer Bucket List!

Here's all you need:
An ice cube tray (one you won't use for consuming ice later!)
Finger paints
Coffee Filters (or paper is fine too)

Now what you do:
1. Squirt some paint into the cube tray. A lot goes a long way. I was happy to find a tray that offered long narrow cubes, that once frozen, looked a lot like crayons. Of course, you can use any tray in any sort of shape!

2. Fill the rest of the tray with water, high enough to just cover the paint (be careful to use just enough water to create a solid shape, but not so much that your paints are significantly enveloped in water!).

3. Freeze.

4. Once the paints are frozen, get ready and paint away on the coffee filters! Of course, you can paint on any paper, but the water helps create a great effect on the coffee filters.
Note: The paints are a little slow to get started until the ice starts to melt. Use a little patience...the warmth of your hands will be enough to start the ice melting quickly!

Not only is this project a lot of fun for kids of all ages (it would be especially fun outside on a hot summer day), but it's a good opportunity talk about "cold," and maybe even practice signing it!!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What happens to all this artwork? Do you save it??

A co-worker of mine sent me a link to an article on TODAYMoms entitled Kids' Artwork: Do you save it, or throw it out? It's an interesting read, and brings up a pretty good topic for discussion.

What to do with all that artwork??
I think we can agree that we can't keep it all, if for no other reason than to recognize that not all projects can withstand the test of time. Some projects just may not "make the cut" and make it into that special "Save me" folder. These are the top three ways (besides a special folder) that I archive my son's baby masterpieces...

1. Wall Gallery 
I start by creating an art gallery on my son's bedroom wall. A few photo frames where we rotate and display some of his most recent and inspiring projects. I rotate the artwork ...sometimes artwork stacks behind others in the frames. It's only temporary storage, but it's so nice for Ethan to be able to enjoy and take pride in his work. Also, it keeps my fridge clean!! (And don't forget that some pieces just might look wonderful framed in other living spaces around the house!)

2. Digital Storage
I scan and/or photograph the majority of Ethan's projects. If they fit on the flatbed scanner, they get scanned. If they are something larger or more organic like our handprint tulips I am sure to take a photograph. Of course, there are some projects and paintings that just don't make the cut, but since digital space is relatively "unlimited," I don't edit down the stack too much. Once projects are scanned I can determine if they are truly "save folder" worthy.

3. Online Backup
Having recently had a fire in my home...and in the wake of an east coast earthquake followed by a hurricane, I cannot stress enough the importance of some sort of online storage for these precious works of art. There is so much peace of mind in knowing that all your photos and images are always safe and sound in another remote location.

So I'm interested to know: do you keep them, or pitch them? How do you keep your closet from becoming a Rolodex of baby art?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Handprint Crab

We've been a bit light on crafting around these parts lately. Living in a hotel for the last six weeks (displaced by a house fire), hasn't lent it self well to crafting! This weekend hurricane Irene brought us some crummy weekend weather, and helped me decide that it was indeed time to get out the paints and brushes!

Having limited crating supplies on hand, I decided we'd do a simple handpainting project. Amanda at the Handprint and Footprint Art blog recently posted a collection of Cute Handprint Crabs that I used to inspire our own crab project.

Of course, we painted our crab to have it's own flair!

We used fingerprints to create the eyes. I helped Ethan smear his fingers on the paper to create the water (I think this was his favorite part!) Mommy painted on the crab claws. And of course, when our crab was complete, I let Ethan go to town and create his own abstract creation!

My favorite part of this project is asking Ethan where his crab painting is, and seeing him proudly walk over and point it out on the wall! How fun!!

How will you add your own spin to the handprint crab?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Friday baby fun!

One of the things I wanted to do with Ethan this summer was #16 on my Summer Bucket List, to go to an art exhibit or an art walk. Our trip to the art exhibit at the State Museum in Harrisburg was such a success that we caught up with my friend Liz and went to First Friday in downtown Lancaster.

So excited to get his own "painting" to hold!! Wish I could share the artist name, but the card was pretty "goopy" by the time he was done with it!

We had a great time, but I am pretty sure that Ethan enjoyed it the most! He loved looking at the sculptures and the paintings. He loved the live music (someone even played him a special song on the piano all about Ethan). And of course, he loved walking around and smiling at everyone who would look his way!

The moral of the story is that I was once again amazed by how much a baby can enjoy an art exhibit. It is known that babies enjoy looking at pictures and images, especially those that are high contrast. Must be even more exciting when those images are "larger than life!!"

First Friday=Baby approved! So get out there and inspire your little one's inner Picasso!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Free Family Concert Fun!

Babies naturally find music more engaging than speech. Additionally, music stimulates metal awareness and development.

I've always enjoyed concerts and live music, so I wanted to see how my 11 month old would react to a "concert." (Listening to live music was #9 on my Summer "Quality Time" Bucket List.)

It's easy enough to find "family" concerts over the summer. So many community parks hold concert events, and so many of them are FREE. Kick it up a notch? It's doubly fun if you can pack a lunch and picnic at the same time!

Since music is so enjoyable to even the youngest children, summer concerts can be great fun for all ages!

We were extra lucky enough to find a kid's concert, and Ethan had a great time! He especially enjoyed watching some of the bigger kids dance and "making friends" with other concert-goers! I'd definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Make a Free Fill and Spill Sorting Game

Beginning at around 6 months of age, babies begin to enjoy playing "fill and spill" as they are learning to place objects inside containers and dump them out.

Fill and spill containers are easy enough to come by around the house. An empty baby snack container or other food storage container with a lid, or even a plastic bowl or cup works just great. Experiment with different containers.

You an fill the containers with just about anything. We've found that all those lots-of-links we have laying around the house, or clean baby food jar lids seem to work best. They are "small" objects, but not so small that they are a choking hazard. The baby jar lids are great, not only because they're free, but also they make a nice clanking noise. The lids sound even better when used in an old baby snack container with a metal bottom!!

Try not only filling and spilling, but moving the items from one container to another!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Infant Swim Lessons

This spring (I know, that seems so long ago!!) we took infant swim lessons though our local Recreation Center. I know sometimes swim lessons for infants can be controversial-- I'm not going to join this debate. If you have any doubts, wait until you child is over one year old to start swim lessons and proceed only with activities with which you are comfortable.

I made the decision to enroll in the class for three reasons:
1. Ethan loves playing in the bathwater
2. Ethan is always in need of some good entertainment
3. Heck, it sounded like fun, and I'm always looking for fun activities to do together!

First and foremost, Ethan really enjoyed the classes, and I was able to see growth and development in the pool, even over the course of only six weeks.

Possibly my favorite activity we learned is to toss a floating object out for baby to reach for (we use his small rubber duckie) and encourage them to reach for the object. You hold them "floating" on their bellies and help propel them towards the object, teaching them to reach and stretch with their arms. It's incredible how this naturally progresses into the baby cuing you to move forward by leaning forward into a "swimming" position, and adding the kicking of the legs.

The best result however, was a confidence for both of us in the water, making our summer pool trips significantly safer. I mean, let's face it...It's scary to hold your squirming infant in 4 feet of water (and they're scared too!) But now I know things like how to get into the pool safely and we are both more comfortable in the pool together.

Unfortunately for us, our local public lessons are not held year round, however, I am certain that we will be taking lessons again the next time they are available!

Have you ever had success with baby swim lessons? What water games do you play with your baby or toddler in the pool?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Take Baby to an Art Exhibit?

...because they may just surprise you!

#16 on my Summer "Quality Time" Top 25 Bucket List  was to go to an art gallery or art walk.

This weekend I amended that bucket list line item (it's my list...I can do with it as I please!) to "Go to an art exhibit."  My reasoning is simple. We were at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA to visit Curiosity Connection, and they just happened to have a special art exhibit on display. Perfect!!

So we went to the exhibit. We walked around and I talked to Ethan (for reference- he's 11 months old now) about what he was seeing. "Look at all the paintings. You make paintings, right? Look, that one is of a cat!" 

Ethan has his "THAT" finger out and ready! 
He was totally interested in what he was seeing! More so than I would have ever imagined. He was constantly exclaiming "THAT!" and pointing at things that he liked. 

This isn't Ethan's first trip to an art exhibit. In fact, his grandpa and I took him to an Ansel Adams exhibit when he was barely over two months old. Can't start too young!

Ethan before his first art exhibit trip!
So I ask again..why take a baby to an art exhibit? Because they may just enjoy it more than you would think--and a little culture and excitement is never a bad thing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Science Lesson- Fireflies

I saved this science and exploration activity for one of those nights when the little guy decided that he just wasn't going to go to bed on time. Looking at fireflies in a jar was #21 on my Summer Top 25 Bucket List!

As the sun was setting and the fireflies (or lightening bugs) were just starting to come out for the night, we got out a jar and caught ourselves some bugs! I caught maybe 5 or 6 bugs in the jar before we sat down and really took a closer look. The fireflies were stubborn and didn't want to light up at first, but it didn't matter-- Ethan's 11 month old curiosity was fixated on them running around the jar anyway!

We talked about the bugs and how they lit up so brightly. I held one gently between my fingers so he could take a closer look, and even let him try his hand at holding one. When we were done, we opened the lid of the jar and one by one watched them fly away.

Want to further enhance the firefly activity??
  1. Find and read a copy of The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle (I think it may be out of print, but it's still available!) I would have never known about it had Ethan not fixated on a copy at Curiosity Connection in Harrisburg!
  2. Learn and practice the ASL sign for "bug"
Also, make sure to stop by my previous Baby Science Lesson: Bird Feeder

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day Trip: Curiosity Connection, Harrisburg

It's no secret that I am forever searching for appropriate day trip adventures for children 0-3 years old. Visiting a new museum with an exhibit for babies/infants/toddlers was #1 on my Summer "Quality Time" Top 25 Bucket List.

Play and exploration yield so many great benefits! 
Play boosts creativity and imagination, increases self-confidence, problem solving skills, and the ability to self-regulate. You can easily amplify those benefits by playing together as a family.

Curiosity Connection
We recently took a family trip to the State Museum in Harrisburg to visit the Curiosity Connection exhibit. Curiosity Connection is suggested for children 1-5 years old. Their suggested ages are pretty accurate, although it would be appropriate for a younger child who is mobile and likes to explore (maybe starting around 9-10 months old).

The exhibit is split into what they call "Creative Play Zones" that are themed around Pennsylvania landscape, people, and wildlife. They are exactly that-- the zones create a number of creative play opportunities for imaginative play. The areas are linked to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, and they actually correlate them for you on their website! (Because of my line of work and my interest in learning development, I find that especially exciting!)  

So- What's the verdict?
We definitely enjoyed Curiosity Connection! As always, Ethan enjoyed playing with toys that weren't the "same old toys" he has at home. He especially liked the animated owl in a tree, fishing with magnetic fishing rods for realistic looking fish, and driving the farm truck! The kids playing in the farming area looked like they were having a great time too!

It was easy to see from the exhibit that it was designed with the intention to utilize play as a method of learning. The admission was inexpensive and the exhibit offered an excellent opportunity for imaginative play. In addition, I always love a good indoor play area with year round climate control!

You can also visit the rest of the State Museum while you're there. Like most museums of it's time, it's a bit dated, although the scientific information is still relevant and interesting.

We will definitely be returning!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Make a Pin Drop Game

Making a pin drop game is very easy, and a great game for an older infant or toddler. In addition to fun, the game will help develop fine motor skills and manipulation of small objects. 

Crafting the game was #10 on my Summer "Quality Time" Bucket List.

What you need...
1. An empty and clean bottle 
2. Cloths pins (the doll pins are best, but other pins can be used under close supervision)
That's it!!!

Challenge your child to place the cloths pins in the bottle. Adjust the skill level by using bottles with different sized mouth openings, or for older children, drop the pins from further away from the bottle. For older infants, the challenge of placing the pin in the bottle is enough.

What else can you drop in the bottles?? Straws??

Monday, July 11, 2011

Port Discovery Revisited

We recently took a return trip to Port Discovery in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. We specifically went to visit "Tot Trails," the exhibit for children 0-3 years old. The first time we visited, Ethan was 6 or 7 months old. Now, at 10 months, he was able to enjoy even more of the exhibit.

So what were the highlights this time?
The giant light bright.
The big sand box area.

Port Discovery once again proved to be a great place to visit. At this point, Port Discovery is possibly the best play area we've visited that's inclusive of the whole 0-3 crowd. The Maryland Science Center, also in Inner Harbor, is a close second.

Check my first post to see more about our first experience at Port Discovery!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Indoor" Pool Fun

For an infant or young toddler who loves the water, an inflatable pool for the backyard makes for a great afternoon. A bit by accident (drying the pool indoors due to a rainstorm) we also found that the infant pool is just as much fun indoors without water as it is outside with water! Ok, maybe not JUST as much fun, but really darn close!

We purchased an infant sized inflatable pool due to help make our lives easier and fit better in our outdoor space. Hint: The infant pool is also great because it only takes approximately 3 gallons of water to "fill," making it much easier to fill the pool with warm water from the tap.

Since the pool is played on so frequently (climbing and flopping in and out), we actually bought a second pool to save in the closet "just in case."

Any other creative uses for a baby pool? What are your favorite pool toys??

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July Handprint Fireworks

This morning we made fireworks with Ethan's handprints for 4th of July. We used red and blue paint for a "festive" touch. The fireworks were done with handprints, then we used fingerprints to create the fireworks trail. Of course, this project is a bit guided, so as always, I let him go to town on his own fingerpainting afterwards!

Enjoy, and have a happy and safe July 4th holiday!!!

More instruction on how to fingerprint with a baby.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer "Quality Time" Top 25 Bucket List

The 4th of July always reminds me that summer is indeed in full swing, and lights a fire in me to get my summer rolling!

This week I read about a recent survey of over 1,000 mothers and babies conducted by the National Institute of Child Heath and Human Development confirmed that it isn't the amount of time mothers and babies spend together, but the quality of time. In fact, they found profound benefits to children who spend time in high-quality child care including aiding in thinking, language, and learning skills. These children were also found to have an improved transition and performance in first grade. The same can be accomplished by attentive stay-at-home parents who encourage socialization in their children (via regular playgroups, etc).

Most importantly: No matter what your situation, Quality time is key!

That brings me to my Summer Top 25 Bucket List. 
A list of quality "crafting fun" activities specifically suited for an infant/toddler! Look to see specific posts on some of these items as we enjoy our summer!!
  1. Visit a new museum or two with exhibits for babies/infants/toddlers
  2. Visit a zoo
  3. Make coffee filter butterflies
  4. Make multiple trips to the park to swing; have a picnic
  5. Visit the Beach; play in the sand
  6. Visit the Community Pool 
  7. Go to a "safari"
  8. Go to an amusement park
  9. Listen to live music
  10. Make a pin drop game
  11. Make a story magnet board
  12. Go hiking; visit a nature park
  13. Make an ice cube painting
  14. Make a custom onesie 
  15. Visit a butterfly garden
  16. Go to an art gallery or art walk
  17. Make bathtub paint
  18. Draw with sidewalk chalk
  19. Make a ball toss game
  20. Eat dinner at a hibachi grill
  21. Look at fireflies in a jar
  22. Go to a petting zoo
  23. Blow bubbles
  24. Go to a library summer reading event
  25. Visit a children's garden

What's on your summer bucket list??
Together we can make this a summer to remember!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bring "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" to Life!

Reading together is a big activity at our house, and I love an opportunity to make a book more engaging and "interactive." There's no better way to aid in a young child's understanding and reading enjoyment than to bring a story to life! Most recently, we've been reading "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" by Al Perkins. 

Add a drum, and suddenly the book comes alive!
Don't have a drum? How about a hat box? Or a round food storage container?? 

We drum when we read the words "drumming on a drum" or anytime the book makes a drum noise "dum diddy dum diddy dum dum dum."

It's amazing how this small interaction has increased my 10 month old's interest in this book. As soon as we pull out the book, he knows exactly what to do!

How do you make reading with your little person even more fun?!?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Palm Tree Handprint Craft

img252 Summer is finally here, and what better way to celebrate than with a palm tree craft for your baby or infant (although this craft is equally good for kids of all ages)!!
The palm tree is super easy to make. Here, we traced Ethan's hand and cut out it out. The inverted handprint then became the top of the tree. I then cut out a piece of brown paper strip and "glue-sticked" them together. Easy easy! It would also look really cute using paint and turning it into a fingerpainting craft!
In this case, I used construction paper because it allowed me to easily trace and reproduce multiple handprints. Why?? Well, stay tuned--that's for another day! (Hint: it involves birthday party decorating!)

Looking for more crafts like this? Check out the Spring is Here Tulip craft!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Top 8 "Must-Have" Items for Your Packing List when Traveling with Baby

We decided to take Ethan on his first weekend away when he was 7 months old. I had no idea what to pack for infant travel. My instinct? Pack EVERYTHING! Then I remember...think practical...

First time in a hotel!

I know the obvious tips like "pack travel sized toiletries" or "bring a pack and play" but I felt like I still needed more help to make our travels easier! 

These are my top 8 items to pack when traveling with an infant:

1. A travel spoon- I'll admit- We prefer our regular day to day baby spoon, but it travels oh-so-well. Get it messy, put it back in the case and wash later. We got it for our first trip, but now it's just great to have for when we're on-the-go! We purchased one made by Tupperware.

2. Disposable washcloths- I wouldn't use these for day to day living, but they functioned well and doubled as a burp cloth. They are lighter and smaller than a cloth, but significantly more durable than paper towels. After the trip, leftovers are great tucked in diaper bag.

3. Disposable bibs- I'm all about being green, but again, they are smaller, lighter and easier than a washable bib. Our leftovers from the trip are now tucked in the diaper bag for moments when we forget to bring a bib!

4. Inflatable bath tub- One of the best tips we found was to try and keep the baby on schedule while traveling. If it's part of a routine-do it- including baths! We got the cheapest inflatable tub we could find, and it's been well worth the investment. Not only is it great for travel, but it also makes a great transitional sized tub at home (you know- when you're too big for the infant tub, but too small for the full tub). Also, the small tub saves water! Now you can feel slightly less guilty about using disposable washcloths and bibs!

5. Microwave sterilizer bags- One bag can be used a number of times and meant we only had to bring a limited number of bottles! Of course, you'll need access to a microwave! Use caution though--if not used exactly as directed, they can cause things to melt!

6. Travel pack of disinfectant wipes- Simply a must have. Enough said.

7. Deodorized diaper trash bags- Munckin makes some great ones in conjunction with Arm and Hammer. 36 bags roll up into a very small space, and they do work well to minimize odor- a welcoming benefit while bunking in a small hotel room!

8. A new toy! - This is maybe my favorite tip. A new toy is very interesting to a little person and can serve as a great distraction. 

Do you have any "must-have" items to make traveling with baby easier?
Happy and Safe Travels!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Best Part of Crafting with an Infant or Toddler...

They have no idea when your project goes wrong!!

Ok, I admit, maybe that's not the BEST part, but let's be serious-- Designing crafts for babies is hard! It's no wonder why internet searches for "baby craft" yield so few results! Of course, that's no reason not to try--and to fail--and to learn not to try that project again.

The benefits of making the attempt to craft with a baby (in this case, to paint with a 9 month old) far outweigh the failure.

Here I had the "brilliant" idea to have Ethan add some feathers to his painting. I had hoped that they would stick to the wet paint. Ok, so they did stick...but what was got was a nasty gooey mess!!!

But what did we get? Ethan still had a great time!

Know what else? The feathers did help mix the paint rather well, and his painting did look pretty once it was done (after I picked out the gooey feather remnants!)

Success from a failure--And Ethan will never know the difference! (At least until he's old enough to read this blog post--sorry buddy!)

Want to know more about Fingerpainting with Baby?
Or see a successful baby painting project- Spring has Sprung Fingerprint Tree

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mini Science Lesson- Bird Feeder

First step, attract the birds...
I recently purchased a bird feeder and a shepherd's hook at the dollar store for $1 each. I picked a bright red feeder in hopes that it would be easier for a baby to spot. I had some thistle seed at home, but even that is a relatively inexpensive purchase at the hardware or pet store.

Ethan enjoys spending time standing and peering out the front door, so I put the feeder just outside where he can view it easily.

It didn't take long for the Goldfinches to find the feeder.

Don't let the tree line fool you--we attract these finches in the suburbs!

What did we learn?
Did you know that by 10 months old the average baby recognizes approximately 20 words?
Add "bird" to the list!!

By observing the feeder, Ethan has learned to understand the word "bird" and will crawl full speed ahead to the door when we point out that there are birdies outside. (the birds do spook easily, although this seems to be lessening over time). Although I find Goldfinches easiest to attract, experiment and try other feeder types too!

This mini science lesson will help any kiddo learn to appreciate the natural world around them, but is a simple, inexpensive activity that even under 3 year old babies and toddlers can enjoy!

Besides, Mommy enjoys the pretty yellow songbirds just outside our front door too!

Interested in bird watching and nature in South Central Pennsylvania? Check out my post: Wildwood Park, Harrisburg PA- Hidden Gem.


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