Monday, April 25, 2011

What happens when you give an 8 month old a camera?…..

I've always been an advocate of giving kids cameras. It's always so interesting to see the world from their vantage point and to see the items they select to photograph. When I worked in photofinishing, I'd so often process kid's cameras, the photos usually full of photos of family, pets, and their favorite toys.

If you know me, my cameras are very near and dear to me. I’m not sure if it was a lapse in judgment from a lack of sleep, a moment of weakness caused by that cute baby face, or a sudden moment of clarity, but last week, I handed my camera over to my 8 month old.

Let’s start by saying that we’re talking about an inexpensive underwater point and shoot camera (underwater=drool proof!), not my digital SLR!

I must also add that if I want to take a photo of Ethan, I have to be super crafty. As soon as he spies my camera he launches himself towards it and reaches with his go-go-gadget arms. Suddenly, photo time is over (or definitely altered)!

Seriously-Watch what happens when I take out my camera…

After I took this video of Ethan crawling full speed ahead across the room to me (correction: to my camera), I flipped it around and let him watch the video I had just captured. He watched it in awe—legs kicking, arm flailing with excitement-- 5…10…15 times? When I stopped replaying the video, he just had to see for himself.

I turned the camera to photo mode and let him watch the live preview in the display.
He was thrilled when he realized he could see Mommy in the camera. I tried to show him how to push the shutter button, but he was way too distracted. So I let him hold the camera to look at me, and I pushed the button.

The results?
IMGP1808 IMGP1806
Pretty good! Not to mention, he was equally intrigued when we reviewed the photo he had taken.

The take away?!?
It’s so easy to say “no, you’re to little,” but with a little patience, the positive results can be long lasting. Obviously judgment is warranted. I don’t suggest a baby “learn” on a piece of equipment that is near and dear to you. Disposable cameras work just as well.
Try it- You may be surprised!

Has your kid taken a great pic? Please share a link in the comments section! I'd love to see them!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rainbow Suncatcher

As the weather starts to warm and spring/summer fever is in full swing, it's nice to take time to remember that not only do April Showers bring May flowers, but they also bring spring rainbows!

Big thanks are in order to Ethan's teacher Sherri who provided this project, and took photos for Ethan's blog!!

The project is easy (and great for the 0-3yr old crowd):
1. Paint a rainbow on wax paper
2. Let dry
3. Hang on window to catch the sun light

** Use care after the paint dries--it does crack easily**
(I did consider spraying both sides with clear spray acrylic for extra strength-Not sure if it would help)

And of course, here's the evidence of just how fun rainbow painting is!

Baby approved!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fingerpaint Easter Egg

Remember how much fun dying Easter eggs was when you were a kid? (Or, if you’re like me, when you most recently conned your spouse into dropping those fantastic fizzing pellets into water-even before you had children!)
Obviously, sharing the joys of Easter egg dying with a baby is a bit of a stretch…not to mention a giant mess!
I knew I had stuck Easter gold when I found paintable ceramic Easter eggs at the craft store. With a price tag of $3, I thought “Wow--THIS is something I can work with!”

A “Baby’s-First-Easter-Egg-Fingerpainting-Project” is born!

We placed a piece of paper on the highchair tray and started fingerpainting as per usual.
Next, I introduced the egg, holding it by it’s hanger string and letting Ethan touch and paint the egg.
I would help by spinning the egg to help him cover it completely with paint, as needed. I encouraged him to occasionally paint on the paper to “reload” his fingers with paint, and to help introduce new colors.

By the time we were done, we had quite the controlled mess, and a beautiful egg!
I use a water bottle lid as a drying stand.
When I was sure the paint had dried and set completely, I wrote his initials and year on the bottom of the egg with a fine tip Sharpie. I then brushed on two coats of clear acrylic paint to preserve his artistic Easter creation.
We purchased an egg holder for $2.50. Total cost= $5.50 plus tax.
Egg-cellent! (sorry, I just had to!)

Our final product
Ethan has a great memento of his first Easter that we can proudly display with the Easter decorations every year!
Best of all- We spent what was otherwise a rainy afternoon creating something fun together!

One last note
If you decide to recreate this project with your baby or young child, remember that imperfection is perfection. Not every inch of the egg will be painted. There may be areas of the egg where the paint becomes “muddied.” And that’s what makes each and every egg so special and unique.
Happy Easter Egg painting!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring has Sprung Fingerprint Tree

I found the idea for this project on the Handprint and Footprint Art Blog for a "Fingerprint Spring Cherry Blossom Tree." (Love!) In the original project, you can actually use it as a counting lesson (which is awesome!) I wanted to try it out and see how it would adapt for baby art.

Painting our Tree
I used aluminum foil as a pallet and spread on the pink paint. I then helped Ethan dip his finger tips in the paint and helped him dab it on the paper.

I'm not usually a big fan of directing where he puts the paint, so you can see that there are some smears where I let him add his own personal touch (maybe my favorite part of the whole tree!) Afterwards, I gave him some more paper and let him paint his heart out in his own way.

After the paint dried, I used a pencil to sketch out the trunk and branches, and then painted them while Ethan was napping (yeah, he napped today- amazing stuff!)

When he woke up, we used the same technique as the flowers to paint the grass.

I think it turned out really well, and even though he had some help, he really seemed to like looking at the tree after it was finished. It's a great example of how today Ethan and I worked together to create something really cool! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Baby's First Easter Basket- What to put in there anyway?

I spoke with the Easter bunny recently about creating an Easter basket for my son Ethan's first Easter. I told him I wanted a somewhat traditional Easter basket appropriate for someone under 1yr old (although ultimately this basket could work well for a toddler too). My other goal? This bunny didn't want to break the bank on a basket!!

The bunny and I had a really good time looking for baby basket deals. Keep in mind that some of the contents are best used supervised--and SHHHHhhhhh, don't tell Ethan!

The Easter bunny suggests....

  • Assorted hardboard books (all under $2 each)
  • Egg shaped sidewalk chalk for summer ($2.50)
  • Easter themed rubber duckies (2 for $2)
  • Egg shaped maracas (under $5)

Where do I get this stuff?
I shopped the dollar bins and Easter sections at the craft stores and Target. Also the kid's section at the Christmas Tree shops. The dollar stores work great too! So many places have their Easter items on good sales already.

I think this is the part in the post where I say something corny like "hop to it," but instead I'll wish everyone who celebrates a happy Easter! :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party Post

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

I kept seeing blog posts for this years Ultimate Blog Party, so I had to check it out for myself! I'm really looking forward to expanding the list of blogs that I regularly follow! If you're a party-goer (or even if you're not)- Welcome!!

A blog in it's infancy

My name is Kristin and I (with much assistance from my 8 month-old baby, Ethan) just recently started this blog to chronicle our adventures in crafting and playing together. We bust the myth that babies can't create works of art and are on in infinite search to make play more creative, educational, and fun. Then, we aim to share our original projects and ideas so other little people (and adults who are little people at heart) can play too!

At 3 months old, Ethan was already so interested!!

So- Why Crafting Play?

Shawn Bean from Parenting Magazine said it best when he says "And here's something that families don't realize: A craft project is more than the sum of its pipe cleaners. It emphasizes a number of enviable qualities and can even teach parents a thing or two." - The Glue Stick that Binds--Give me construction paper, glitter, and cotton swabs, and I'll give you life lessons and a deeper family connection

Stay tuned!! We've got so many more great things to share!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Name Banner (designer knock-off) on the Cheap

When I was starting to design Ethan's nursery, I knew I wanted a jungle animal theme. I also knew I wanted it to be unique and grow with him.

I saw some letter name banners at a designer baby store that I love, but not only are they expensive (for paper letters!), but the powder blue prints didn't say "lions and tigers and bears--oh my!"  Instead of getting wrapped up in the details, I decided to create a banner myself!

Selecting the Paper
I wanted to stick with the animal theme for the letters.  I started in the scrap book section at the craft store, and purchased a few animal print pages (Although... the designer edition I saw used wallpaper--You could even use leftover wrapping paper or pretty gift bags and make it for free!). 

The "how to"
I used the computer, picked a letter style, and typed out ETHAN in a large font size (I believe I used 72pt).  I printed out the letters, traced them onto my animal print paper, and cut them out.  Stopping now would leave the paper flimsy and prone to curling.  To give the letters strength and shine, I used a spray on acrylic (a matte spray would reduce the amount of shine). The acrylic should be applied to both sides of the letters to keep them nice, solid, and without curl.  I put approximately three coats on each side, alternating between sides to reduce the tendency to curl. Then it's just the trusty hot glue gun and some ribbon.  I used a sheer white ribbon to not clash with the animal print, but some pretty polka-dot ribbon could be really nice with some bright patterned letters. 

Super easy project on a dime--Great for kids of all ages!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Create Discovery Bottles (for free!)

Discovery bottles provide a safe way for babies to explore and play with objects that would otherwise be too small or dangerous for little hands. 

The idea for these discovery bottles came from my husband when we were at Port Discovery in Baltimore.

Both at the MD Science Center and Port Discovery, there were clear plastic tubes filled with objects to play with. One in particular captured Ethan's attention. It was a tube filled with multi-colored paper shred. In this case, the tube was fastened to the wall, and could spin, but in most cases, the tubes were not fastened to anything, but were simply there as toys.

We decided we could do the same thing at home for free! (You know how much I love free and creative projects and toys!)

What you need:
  • Clear water/drink bottles 
  • Items from around the house to put in the bottles
  • Super glue

  • Wash and dry the water bottles. Remove the bottle label. I used Sports Drink bottles because they were clear, but also more solid and durable than a water bottle.
  • Fill with contents--Find things for free around the house!
  • Test the bottle with baby. Ethan was not a fan of a bottle filled with marbles, so we switched to cloths pins instead! (Be sure the cap is on tightly!)
  • When you are happy with the bottle, super glue the lid to the bottle (for safety).
Ethan not only enjoys the contents of the bottle, but also the bottle's texture

Ideas for bottle contents:
  • Construction paper, run though a paper shredder (or gift shred or Easter basket grass)
  • Small twigs collected outside
  • Cloths pins
  • Marbles
  • Feathers
  • Curled curling ribbon
  • Bouncy balls
  • Dried pasta
  • Small toys (I saw some small plastic fish at the Dollar Store that would have been perfect)
  • Small stones
  • Colored straws or pipe cleaners cut to different sizes
  • Aluminum foil or shiny wrapping or craft paper
  • etc, etc, etc....
  • Make maracas using dried corn or beans

Be creative-there's no right or wrong answers...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Tot Trails at Port Discovery!

Our second stop in our trip to Baltimore was at Port Discovery. Port Discovery was generally suited for an older crowd of children until their very recent addition of the Tot Trails room. Tot Trails covered a range of ages from 0-3yrs, and did so very well. Ethan had soooo much fun I thought the smile was going to pop right off his little face!

I was really impressed by how well thought out the Tot Trails exhibit was. There was a significant attention to detail, and a visible focus on discovery being an important part of child development and play. Little port hole windows close to the floor hid a butterfly or a squirrel inside (fake of course)!

There were "crawling trails" too. The name is pretty self explanatory, but the walls of the crawling trails were littered with different textures and items to explore along the way. Some of the trails had small hills or even small stairs to maneuver (a great challenge for our new crawler!)

There was also a large mat play area which was surrounded by a mirrored wall. The large mat area had other large soft structures to play on as well, like the big canoe in the picture.

The "bigger" kid area was off set from the "baby" area, and had a fun play structure. In between there was also a sand station where you could play in the sand (although we elected this time to keep the sand at the beach!) Possibly the best part of this section was the giant light bright!

One of my favorites was an interactive screen projected on the floor. If there were leaves being projected on the floor, as the kids moved around, the leaves blew away. The images changed to a few different locations including the ocean. Very fun!

We also visited the water play room. It was lots of wet fun for all ages, but had special seats next to a water tables for babies to play safely in the water as well. Ethan really enjoyed splashing, and banging a plastic measuring cup in the water.

Port Discovery as a whole is just a giant indoor playground with so many fun things to do. It seemed especially good for families with children of different ages and interests. I'm pretty sure we'll be returning though all the stages in Ethan's childhood--Besides, his Daddy and I can't wait to get into that three story play structure!! That slide looked AMAZING! :)

And don't forget to check out the Maryland Science Center while you're there!
Enjoy exploratory play? Make discovery bottles at home for free!

First stop, Maryland Science Center

It's so difficult to find fun and engaging places to take a baby. Sure, my son can find joy in a trip to the mall or the grocery store, but I'm talking about real enjoyment.

My husband and I really needed a weekend away. As with anything I do, I sat down and really did some research on places that we could go. We wanted to limit our stay to one night, and be within reasonable traveling distance of South Central Pennsylvania. I had a really hard time finding anything that would suit two adults and a 7 month old.

Then I found not one gem, but TWO in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Our first stop was the Maryland Science Center. Besides having a really cool dinosaur exhibit and a pretty neat planetarium, complete with an observatory, they have a great Kids Room. The Kids room has play and discovery areas for kids of all ages, but of course we were specifically interested in the room for children 0-2 yrs old!

The room is relatively small, but oh so big for a little person. One corner of the room had a dark cave type area, painted to look like you were under the ocean. Seaweed like streamers hung from the ceiling. The floor was a giant water bed, covered with big soft blocks to stack and crawl on. Fun!

Another side of the room was covered in play mats with many different levels to maneuver. This area was complete with big Lego type blocks to stack (equally good for chewing on).

The rest of the room was carpeted with numerous toys and books to explore. Ethan had such a good time having the opportunity to really explore!

For older kids and adults, the museum was really fun too. The museum was very interactive, but unlike some science museums, it didn't feel dated.

A good time for all! :)

And definitely take the time to check out Port Discovery while you're there!


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