Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Walk Down Sesame Street

On our daily walk/jog I try to think of new things to do to make it more interesting. We walk on the opposite side of the street and I push the jogging stroller toward the oncoming parked cars. So, we are actually ON the street. Are you picturing this? Maybe you feel more safe in your neighborhood on the sidewalk, but our neighborhood is pretty low traffic.

For weeks now I have been playing "I spy" on the walks.

Do you see a flag?
Do you see a red car?
Do you see yellow flowers?

Last week it dawned on me that these walks were turning into an authentic learning experience. I started going toward the cars and reading off the license plates to the boys . After a couple of days of this we turned it into a game that we couldn't go any further until Max recited the license plate to me. He is getting good at it. I am walking toward it and stopping now but when he gets better I will go faster and faster until he can say them before I even reach the car and I won't have to stop at all anymore.

We also read addresses on mailboxes, curbs and houses. We read stop signs.

VARIATIONS: Make a specific thing you are hunting for - flags, flowers, trucks, pumpkins in the fall (when MAx was an infant we went on a pumpkin hunt in the stroller and counted the pumpkins). An older child can walk on his/her own and bring a clipboard and tally the things that are seen. You could even make a scavenger hunt type list for the things you see on a walk. Friends could make lists for each other and walk around the neighborhood. You could have all the number or letters and cross them off on a sheet (license plate bingo style).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fishing in the sink

So, yet another sink game. I tell you, the sink is magical. We have come up with dozens of things to do during sink time.

This one is simple. Fill one side of the sink with water and add dish soap to create a place for objects to hide under. Give you toddler a pair of tongs and let them "fish" for the objects and drop them in a bowl on the other side of the sink. You could use all kinds of things as the treasures to be found: army men (could it be a rescue mission?), dice, canning jar rings, large legos, etc. It is a good exercise in fine motor skills and patience. My little Max dropped the first animal 4 or 5 times before he got it into the bowl. After a couple more he was doing great.

Cost: FREE

Variations: You could do this outside in a swimming pool --with the soap. You could do it with a younger child and just have them search for the objects with their hands and then put them in a bowl. Maybe a good and fun way to clean those little hands :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Twilight Pillow Fights

During my summers in Idaho as a child we had such fun adventures. One of our absolute favorite memories at Grandma's house was our twilight pillow fights. My siblings (there were four of us) and I would all get our nightshirts on and each get handed an old pillow. After the sun went down my mother and grandmother would just sit on the front porch and watch us go at it out in the yard. We would just nail each other over and over again and surprisingly enough, there were very little tears shed over the course of the years. There were a few rules and there were set boundaries (you had to stay on the grass), but there weren't too many restrictions. We would hit each other so hard we would fall over and once you had fallen you would get attacked by everyone. My mother and grandmother would just laugh and laugh and occasionally they would throw a pillow or two.

We would have our pillow fight for a good twenty minutes to half an hour. Until we were nice and exhausted. Then we would brush our teeth, say our prayers and go to bed.

You might need to set some more ground rules for your families/cousins/friends like no hitting in the head and maybe there could be an optional safe zone where you could go and not get hit.

Gosh, just thinking about this again makes me want to go out right now and nail my brother Travis in the head with a pillow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Do you have a dumpster a yard sale or a thrift store near your house???
Do you want to keep a handful of kids busy and get a project or two done while you are at it?Do you have an "oops" section at your local hardware store paint department?Do you have a swatch of upholstery fabric lying around?

We summoned up a couple helper friends and painted up a storm. Carianne painted a wooden crate I picked up for $5 at Jo-ann's craft while her younger brother, David, and my Max helped paint the chair I found on the side of the road (read about that here). Just make sure the kiddos have small brushes and you'll need to be on the lookout for big drip marks.

You have to get in the frame of mind to just let them go for it. After they finish, you can go over it yourself and give it a good finishing coat.

I used paint that I found at Home Depot for $5 for the gallon (oops paint) and a sample swatch of fabric that I picked up at a going out of business sale at Storehouse. Check your local furniture/reupholstering stores for old out of date sample swatches. Mine cost me $2, but many times they are free.

The point of this is not to get them painting something completely random and clutter-y but something useful and practical. Think about painting projects you already want to do and just get the kids involved somehow.

COST: depends on how much you have around the house...
VARIATIONS: Check behind your local thrift store for things they are throwing away. I found a sewing machine table there once. free. Also, you could do something more simple, like a frame or a small wooden box. If you are painting a room, don't make your kids stay out. Just give them a very small brush and their own very small cup of paint. Lay major drop cloths down, but let them in on the fun. Encourage them to help with your projects.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ink Pad Jungle

This was named "Ink Pad Jungle" by the artist who created it.

Her sister's creation: Crazy GeorgeMax's contribution: Curious George and the Looney Bird Earthquake

Some cute neighborhood girls came over and I let them have free reign of the stamps and ink pads while I chatted with their mother. They created some beautiful artwork! I wouldn't have even thought of using the actual ink pads as an art medium. Small little ink pads like those you can find for about a dollar or so in the craft stores. Check the dollar sections. They always have stamps and pads.

Variations: Don't forget about fingerprint animals. Press a finger in the ink and press it on the paper and use that shape to create an animal.

Cost: Under five dollars