Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tissue box and Pom-Pom Fill and Spill Game

Filling and Spilling is a favorite activity for toddlers and is a great way to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Many children begin being interested in fill and spill activities around age one.

The best thing about fill and spill activities is that you can make them on the cheap. 

I am always looking for new "games" to make. They're especially great when Ethan needs to refocus his energy on a quiet activity that will hold his attention.

What you need:
  • An empty square tissue box (remove the clear plastic from around the opening)
  • Some pom-poms (I had some on hand that I had purchased for $1)
  • Plastic spoons (optional: usage dependent on skill level)

The Game:

Version 1- Pour pom-poms all over the floor. Fill the box. Dump. Repeat. You can also try calling out the names of the colors as you play.

Version 2- Toddler rules. Let them make up their own game. Ethan created a game where he'd put the pom-pom on the edge of the box and nudge them in. Works for me.

Version 3- Balance a pom-pom on a spoon and use the spoon to dump the pom-pom into the box. This is a great way to add an extra level of challenge to the game, as well as work on spoon skills. It was difficult for Ethan at first, but after I showed him to keep the spoon flat, he did have some success (and more and more with practice), and was proud of his accomplishment.

Version 4- You hold the spoon. Toddler places the pom-pom on the spoon and helps you dump it into the box. Not as difficult as version 3, but still requires some extra fine motor skills. Ethan made up this version as well.

What versions of the game can you come up with?
Enjoy, and keep playing :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tissue Collage, Bead Necklace Game, and Mardi Gras

Tissue paper collage
This project is out of my archives, but it was a really enjoyable, and I never got around to posting it. I also think a pretty vibrant tissue collage like this is perfect for Mardi Gras!

What you need:
Glue stick
Construction or other paper (or use Contact Paper and no glue)
Tissue paper (think leftover from gift bags)

We made this collage when Ethan was 7 months old. I smeared glue stick all over the paper to make it sticky and sat it in front of Ethan. Then I gave him a variety of different tissue paper pieces, showed him how to tear the paper, and then just let him play. As the tissue pieces would fall to the paper, they would stick to the glue, and eventually, a collage was made! Playing with the tissue paper was a big hit, and the collage was bright and colorful when it was done. You could also do the same thing using Contact paper instead of paper and glue. For an infant, the glue worked great, although it would be much more messy if you were making a tissue collage with a toddler! We used Contact paper when we made our Heart Collage.

Playing with Beads/ Bead Game
Last year we Played with Beaded Necklaces on Fat Tuesday (again, this is an activity that definitely requires adult supervision). I think we'll do the same this evening, but make it more fun for a toddler by dropping the beaded necklaces into a wide-mouthed water bottle similar to playing the Pin Drop Game. I guarantee the noise of the beads falling into the bottle will be sure to impress a little person, and is great for refining fine motor skills. (Sorry for not playing this all out ahead of time, but I think you get the idea!)  

And of course, to make Fat Tuesday official, we'll have donut holes for desert. :)

How are you celebrating Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras with your infant or toddler?

Update 3/6/12: We had fun playing with the beads, but my suggestion is to cut the strands of beads so they are just a strand and no longer a necklace. Not only does it make the game easier, but it makes it safer too! :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Calendar Coloring- Adding Inexpensive Variety to your Day!

This time of year, calendars are CHEAP! 

Last weekend, I picked some up for 50 cents a piece. 50 cents!! I was inspired because there were some calendars where each month had a blank bordered page that was supposed to be colored in each month. I thought to myself, "Self, for this price, I could rip out these pages and they would make nice coloring pages"

So I purchased two calendars and took them home. Ethan was very excited to color on "monkey paper" and "robot paper," and was just as happy to color on the calendar grid. I declare the calendars a hit!!

Got me thinking- it would be just as fun to color on any calendar- and a nice change from coloring on construction paper or coloring books/pages. 

What'cha think?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Heart Inspired Crafts

Hmmm, so I scheduled this post to go out last week, but just realized it never did. BUMMER!! Valentines day may be over, but these projects are still fun- and Mother's Day is just around the corner!!

Heart Collage
This years Valentines collage craft was quick, easy, and clean. It's great for a toddler, but it's possible to create a collage with an infant too by using larger hearts (the Contact paper makes a great sensory experience- just have the infant play with the shapes and let them fall where they may!)

What you need:
Clear Contact paper
Construction paper

To prep the project, cut out a bunch of small paper hearts (Out of pure necessity, I actually cut mine out at work while I was on my lunch break- so whatever works!) and cut two pieces of Contact paper to the same size. Mine was approximately 8x6 inches. I created red and pink hearts, but I think it would also be real cool to cut some hearts out of newspaper as well. The white with black text would be a nice addition to the mix.

Tape the Contact paper to the table (or we use our highchair try insert as a craft/art surface), sticky side up and let your kiddo start sticking the hearts to the surface. Ethan did a lot of moving the hearts around. When he got bored, we put the remaining heart in a box, dumped them all over the paper, and smacked them down. 

Finish by placing the other sheet of Contact paper on top to seal in the hearts. 

Looks pretty and festive hanging on our white cabinet, but it would look really cool hanging in a window too!

Fingerpaint Heart
Last year we painted a heart for Valentines Day. (It was a great project for a 6 month old!)

Hope you enjoyed you special day!

Fine Motor Skill Game- Make it for free!

This game is super easy to make, and it kept my little one occupied for hours this weekend. Yes, you hear that correctly, HOURS.

Reuse a snack can (I used an empty cashew container, but a reusing a toddler snack container would be great too!) Wash it out and punch holes in the top. Cut some straws into small pieces (I found thirds worked really well). 8 straws cut into 24 pieces sees to be a good number (We started with 16 straws, but he seemed to go though them too quickly). I had actually seen this project done on Pinterest, and they placed paper reinforcements around the holes. I tried it, and after about a half hour of playing, the reinforcements were falling down through the holes (possibly because my holes were not punched with precision, aka I stabbed them with scissors, so no-precision-at-all). I wanted the reinforcements to work not only because they cleaned up the look of the activity, but they also made the holes easier to locate. So instead, I took some sticker labels, cut them into squares, and used a hole punch to make a hole in the middle of each square.

This solution has worked much better, even after a week of Ethan poking his little fingers into the holes! To pretty it up, I turned the label inside out (it would be real cool to color it too- but that's for another weekend) and colored in the label squares. The colored labels, that match the colors on the straws, make for a great discussion about color. "Can you put the yellow straw in the yellow hole?" "I see you're putting the blue straw in the green hole." Great game, free and easy to make. Perfect!

We also make the Pin Drop Game out of cloths pins and a water bottle last spring. It's still a hit in our house (although my crafty toddler has since disassembled the pins and now plays the game with pin halves)

We LOVE these types of games at our house, do YOU have a fine motor skill game to share? I'd love ideas!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Q-tip and Finger Painting Letters on Canvas

I've seen this technique all over Pinterest lately, and was really excited to give it a try!

I think this project is a cool way to practice letter recognition, and is appropriate for both the infant and toddler crowd.

Place the masking tape on the paint surface (I used a canvas board because I wanted the extra stability, and ease of removing the tape). Also, Ethan was surprised by the texture on the canvas, and thought it was pretty cool!

You can purchase canvas board for $1-2 in the art department of your local art or craft store. Then of course Ethan went to town painting. To add an bit of extra fun, I gave him Q-Tips to use (use your judgement as to when your child is ready to try this technique). He was very interested in the difference between a line painted with the Q-Tip and a line painted with his finger. On this particular day, he preferred the Q-tip. You can see he was very thoughtful about his painting!

After the paint dried, I carefully removed the tape and hot glued a piece of ribbon on the back for hanging. Ethan now has a new personalized piece of artwork for his wall!

We also did an abstract painting using the same technique. This time, I tore off pieces of tape and let Ethan apply them to the paper. Of course, masking tape is a lot like stickers, so to a toddler, it was super fun! This time we just used printer paper, and I was surprised that the tape came off better than I expected. Makes for some great abstract artwork.

How have you used making tape in a painting project? What about other methods for painting letters?


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