Gingerbread People Playdough Play

This activity is perfect for busy days that you want to do a fun holiday themed activity but you don’t have much time. I used Play-Doh instead of making my own but here is a great gingerbread playdough recipe if you want to make your own. Also if you have kids sensitive to gluten try our awesome gluten free playdough recipe ( it’s my favorite).  It’s important for me to find ways of making one activity appropriate for both my kids and their vastly different developmental stages and I think we managed with this gingerbread people play.

  1. Gather your materials. I used play-dough ( hard to beat under a buck for a pack when you are short on time!), colored popscicle sticks from our sponsor craftprojectideas.com , and cookie cutters for my toddler. We added some buttons, pieces of yard and bakers twine , scissors, beads and googly eyes for my preschooler.
  2. For toddlers just have fun feeling, squishing, and introducing the cookie cutters. We talked about body parts and the color brown.
  3. She attacked it with popscicle sticks and we talked about red and green.
  4. And of course she just explored.
  5. With my son I had it prepped for him to play while I read to my daughter nearby. I had an example because he likes having a guide and doesn’t seem to feel the need to follow, he is still creative. If your child is one that feels the need ot replicate the guide exactly I would simply give them oral instructions. Every kid is so different always adjust for your child.
  6. He liked cutting them out more than decorating so we squished some of the already cut ones back together and cut a bunch.
  7. Decorated a few with eyes.
  8. He was rather proud of these baker twine candy canes too.
  9. Projects like these are great because you can re do it if it was a hit or use the items for other play if it wasn’t.

Cork Painted Wreath

I love it when I can do one craft with both my kids. With a 5 year old son and a 18 month old daughter it’s not as often as I wish. This super easy but completely festive Christmas craft fit the bill, they both happily painted and now my kitchen is merry and bright with one on the pantry and the other on the closet door.  Holiday crafts are my kids’ favorite and unlike many of our other creations these are kept, stored and brought out year after year.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate per child, corks ( do you know how long it took us to save up these corks? Since 2006 I have been almost always pregnant or nursing. It took a long time… ), paint, a plate or two for the paint, some ribbon , scissors and hot glue.
  2. Start by cutting the middle out of the plate. If we were painting with brushes or something that offered more coverage I’d do the cutting after the paint dried but with corks you want to make sure they hit the wreath and not all in the middle of the plate.
  3. Add paint to a plate.  I put a different cork in each color to encourage my kids to try each color. Also the corks I used for my daughter who is presently trying to put all things not bolted down into her mouth , are the solid plastic? ones.  I did a bite test and they were solid. Still PLEASE watch vigilantly and make sure your children are ready and able to do the craft safely, you can always opt for finger painting .
  4. Paint!
  5. She was more interested in the feeling of the paint than banging the corks on her wreath. This is normal for toddlers, they are exploring and it doesn’t mean the craft failed.
  6. My son quite liked the marks the corks left and had a ball. 
  7. After they were dried I made bows and hot glued them on, then put them on my doors with painter’s tape.

Easy Peasy Wreath Cookies

Check out these cheater cookies we made when we needed something fast for a holiday pot luck, they were tasty and super easy for my son to help me make.

DIY Light Table

how to make a light table

While my son is at school I tend to use that time for errands and it’s really not fair to my toddler so today when I saw the extra string of Christmas lights I decided we’d have some fun exploring colors. This DIY light table should not be used for long periods of time, only with a parent right there at the box and please don’t let your kids touch the light strands as they have lead, and remember to wash your hands after touching them too. We only played for about 10 minutes and that was enough time for the lights to get warm so I wouldn’t play longer than that .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clear plastic container with lid, some wax paper, a strand of white christmas lights, scissors and tape. For the colors we used take and toss cup lids. No need to buy expensive color forms if you have something you can use at home already.
  2. Start by putting the lights on the lid, I taped them down in 2 places just so they were staionary in the box.
  3. Cut some wax paper and line the bottom so the light diffuses well.
  4. Close the lid with the cord sticking out – mine closed no problem but you could cut a notch out if you can’t close the lid with the cord out. comfortably ( you don’t want to run the risk of the cord being cut, my lid was very loose and didn’t press into the cord).
  5. Plug in and play.
  6. She LOVED it.
  7. Explore.
  8. We piled them on , identified them – I had no idea she knew so many colors, we had a blast.

Please only try activities that you feel are safe for your family, I share what we have made and done with the request that you will only make and do what your child is ready for and you can do safely.

Book About Colors For Babies

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller is one of my daughter’s favorite books. When we went to the library she started pulling the parenting books off the shelf because there are pictures of babies on the covers. The librarian was quick to notice and started finding us books with babies and this was one of the winners. We have now renewed this book twice and read it many many times a day. The book is super simple and each page shows a baby with a colored item like glasses, a hair bow etc… the photos are big and of real babies which if your toddler is like mine, makes a big difference.

Toddler Friendly Snowflake Craft

You know that stage when everything gets thrown off tables? Bins get dumped? Nativity scenes get wiped out in a single visit from Baby-zilla? Yeah we are knee deep in that right now. It’s fun. This is a really simple classic craft but with a few tricks you can save yourself cleaning up gobs of glue from the floor, your baby’s mouth or hair.  As you can see she loved making it and points to it and asks me to hold her up to touch it in the window daily.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cotton balls, glue, a dish, a paint brush ( pretty wide like an inch or so) and some construction paper. I used 2 pieces one to glue the cotton balls onto and one to use as a backing to make it strong enough to hang it up.
  2. Start by pouring some white glue in a small dish.
  3. Paint the glue onto the paper in the shape of a snowflake.
  4. Add kiddo and cotton balls.
  5. Because the glue is so thin the cotton balls stick but if they pick it back up there won’t be a ton of glue on it.  I rotated the paper as she filled up each arm of the snowflake.
  6. Lable the textures as they explore and make the snowflake- soft, sticky glue , rough ( or smooth) paper.
  7. Let dry and cut around the snowflake and glue onto the 2nd page if you need some extra strength.  Hang up where your little one can see their awesome creation. 

Books About Snow

Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay is my kind of book. If I were to quote all my favorite bits of this book I would write out most of it. I just love the writing, it’s simple but doesn’t talk down to the reader. The characters are sweet but not saccharine and I love how inquisitive Sam is . Stella is a know it all but not bratty about it at all! Sam has never seen snow before and Stella tells him all about it as they explore the first snow fall of the year.

 

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll is a cute winter book that holds a fantastic message inside. The book tells the story of a snowman making contest in Mouseville, two little mice work so hard by themselves but it’s just not enough until they join forces. Competition is not a bad thing but sometimes cooperation is even better, I really like this book.

Pop over to my other blog Crafitivity Corner on FamilyEducation.com to see our take on the classic popsicle stick snowflakes.

 

How To Make A Simple and Frugal Sensory Tub

Sensory experiences for kids don’t have to be a show stopping three ring circus. I like making elaborate sensory tubs especially for my son since he is getting older and needs ones with specific tasks ( like finding letters, words or sorting objects in them) but a true basic sensory bin is an amazing educational tool. My toddler is just getting to the perfect age for this at 16 months. Exploring the small hard filler, using a spoon and scoop to transfer the grains from one spot to the next and practicing things like sharing with me as we play. Please don’t feel like you need to have all the bells and whistles because for toddlers it’s best to keep it simple and let them discover.

  1. Gather your materials. For this tub I bought some popcorn, barley and dried beans. Total cost for the grains was $2.34. The pumpkins were bought at a patch for $1 for 2 and the spoons and scoop are from my kitchen.  The tub was under $2 and I reuse it by putting the filler from previous tubs into ziplocks and storing to re-use. We had a canning funnel to play with but all she wasnted to do was this which was cute but we moved it to the side so we could get down to digging.
  2. A tip when doing a sensory bin with small grains and a small child. Do it on carpet, if a spill does happen it won’t scatter. You can easily vacuum it up.
  3. Also I am asked all the time how I deal with my daughter putting the beans and grains in her mouth. She doesn’t generally but that is why I use such small grains , they will taste gross if she tried to chew them but they are so small they pose a very small risk of being a chocking hazard. Still stay within arms reach at all times. I used our coffee table ( which is technically a bench)  and sat on the opposite side the while time the tub was within her reach. If your child is not ready for these try this one we made last year
  4. Practice scooping , pouring, talk about the colors of the spoons. Today I think we may have learnt which spoon is yellow and which is orange … I think. I do know we practiced sharing the spoons back and forth accross the table.
  5. I found this interesting, she is cleaning up some of the grains that spilled out. Not something her brother was interested in at her age.

We played with this simple sensory tub for much of the time we had between lunch and picking her brother up from school.  Simple, fun and educational.