## Watermelon Playdough Slicing

Playdough is a great fine motor activity without any bells or whistles but adding in small items like buttons, coins or beans is an easy way to make it even better. This playdough watermelon was easy to make and fun to play with and they didn’t even know I was helping them both develop their fine motor skills.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some pink and green playdough as well as some black beans and a plastic knife.
2. Press the black beans into the pink playdough.
3. Roll into a ball.
4. Flatten the green dough and cut into a semi circle. Wrap around the pink on 3 sides.
5. Slice. My son loved slicing and he could do it well. My daughter ( who had woken from nap to a very excited brother chattering about watermelon) was not as into the slicing from the big watermelon. I think maybe she wanted to do it herself and her “helper” wanted to help. Does this happen at your house too?
6. She did like cutting the slices into wedges though.
7. She also liked picking the “seeds” out , which is fabulous for fine motor development. Just watch if they are as little as she is that they get put in a dish not the mouth.

## Lock & Key – Math Activity

Kids love using keys and learning is more fun with something you love to play with .  This math activity is a cinch to prepare and as you will see fun even when it gets challenging. You can easily customize it for any level of math ability or even just let let them try to find the right key without any numbers which is great fine motor skill practice.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some peel and stick labels, a marker, and some locks with matching keys.
2. I wrote out the words , numbers and simple equations for each lock and key.
3. The first part of the activity had my son matching the number written out  on the lock with the number on the key.
4. On the other side of the lock I had the simple equation.
5. He jumped on the words and numbers happily – they were fun and easy.
6. Then I locked them all and mixed them up.
7. This took some thinking and using of fingers to count which he did under the table . He is reluctant to use his fingers and wants to “just know” the right answer. This is something we are working on as showing the work is so important.
8. He got it!

You can do this for so many things and I’d love to do it with words using pictures but I need to collect more locks – they aren’t as cheap as I had hoped!

## Star Color Matching & Sensory Tub

Stars , space and rockets are a theme that has never really lost it’s luster at our house. My son who is 5 1/2 is not as keen on sensory tubs as he once was ( or so I thought) so I set this one up with a little reading and matching activity. If I was doing this for younger kids I would have a few rocket ships and a few cups for pouring and transferring and skip the matching activity completely. As it turned out I misjudged my son and you will see that even at 5 1/2 that simple is wonderful.It’s great for space themes, learning about shapes and even fine motor practice!

1. Gather your materials. For the sensory tub you will need dried black beans, bright star buttons and some tools like spoons and containers to dig and pour. For the matching activity I also used a chocolate box liner, some paper, scissors and marker.
2. Pour the beans and the buttons in. You could add sparkles but you will never be able to use the beans for another non sparkly tub again and cleaning it off the buttons if you want will be impossible. I like to re-use my sensory tub innards so we kept it simple.
3. If you want to make the matching container you can do it a few ways. For my son I wrote the words including light and dark blue and hot pink because we’ve been talking about different shades of colors. For pre readers simply use a marker in each color to write the word.
4. Other than setting up I just let him go. He read all the words to start.
5. Then got down to business sorting and matching. Don’t be surprised if they start counting while they sort. Everything is a competition at our house right now and so as he was sorting he was keeping me updated to which color was in the lead.
6. After he’d had enough he filled the extra squares with beans using his hands , then  grabbed a spoon, dumped the buttons out and and started carefully scooping the into the little squares one by one.
7. Then we got a big container and filled it  ( with the pot from our play kitchen) so his little sister could enjoy the stars too. She loves rolling it around and how loud it is when she does.

So even though I had a more directed activity ready I am thrilled he used it as a start but then directed the rest himself. I am just glad we had all the tools he needed.

## Playdough Play – Toy Prints

We play with playdough daily, usually more than once. My daughter is fascinated with it and her favorite thing to do with it is to press objects into the playdough and make prints. This was not a planned post at all, and all the photos were taken with my phone since I didn’t want to interrupt her play to grab my camera that was downstairs. Simple discovery play like this is my favorite and such a fun way to connect with your toddler.

We started with our playdough and usual cookie cutters. I usually switch the cutters and color of playdough out every few weeks. Then she grabbed this light up wand of her brothers and started making prints. She was in giggly heaven, especially since it lit up every time she hit it hard enough into the play dough.

Then we grabbed some duplo and made prints . These we all agreed looked like cheezits!

We flipped the duplo over and made little “buttons” and she very carefully pressed each one.

Her giggles and my photo snapping attracted the attention of my son who brought over a gear to press into the playdough.

Activities like these that use toys you have in new and novel ways with a sense of discovery ” Hey what sort of print with that block make?” is such and easy activity but trust me it will go on for a long time, happily! We also used little people which if you press the bottom into the playdough make a shape rather reminiscent of a nipple. My nursing daughter pointed that out to me right away , the picture was rather life like so I skipped it. Other fun toys were train tracks ( skip the trains the playdough will get stuck in the wheels) and chunky puzzle pieces .

## Craft by Numbers – Christmas Tree

Do you remember paint by numbers? I used to love doing them but mixing the numbers up ( yeah I was that kid) my son however is all about numbers and this was a fun way to make something festive but also let his interest in math be spotlighted. You could do this with shapes, or letters too.  I didn’t tell him that the final result was a Christmas tree so it was fun to have him “decode” the craft as we went.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some pom-poms in different colors, cups to sort them in,  construction paper, glue and a marker.
2. Start by sorting your pom-poms by color into different cups, write different numbers on each cup. I wrote 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 on mine since we’d just been chatting about counting by 10s.  To have your child help sort the pom poms just put on of each color in one cup to use as a guide.
3. Write out the numbers on the paper in a design. I did green outline, with random colors and green in the middle.
4. Start gluing the pom poms on using the code.
5. hmmmm what could it be?
6. All done! Let dry.

Great Christmas Book!

a creature was stirring by Clement C. Moore and  Carter Goodrich  was a recent find at the library. Around the holidays ( any holiday) my son and I attack the stacks like soldiers on a mission and look for the sticker on the binding indicating it’s a Christmas themed book. This was one of the few we found yesterday , and what a find! The book is an adaptation of the classic ‘Twas a NIght Before Christmas with a little boy interupting the poem with his own rhyming story.  It’s an adorable story about a little boy who simply can’t sleep , wants to be good but is oh so worried Santa will think he is naughty. I adore this book, it’s simple and fun and a great addition to the classic that so many of us have been read and will read to our kids this Christmas.