Winter Sensory Tub

Winter Sensory Tub

Sensory tables and tubs ( or lasagna pans like we used this time) are a fun experience for toddlers and preschoolers to learn a myriad of things. Simply scooping and pouring the contents of a sensory table will help develop hand eye coordination, as well as the basic concepts of measurement but as your child grows there are easy ways to turn your basic sensory fun a step further to keep them learning.

  1. Gather your materials. We used packing peanuts, blue pom poms, small pieces of silver ribbon and tiny snowflakes. We also used over sized clothes pins to use as “pinchers”.Winter Sensory Tub
  2. For younger children simply mix and explore. Feel the different textures, scoop with big spoons or measuring cups and pour. Winter Sensory Tub
  3. For older kids introduce the clothes pin , choose things to pinch or just let your little one loose. My son pretended he was a crane working on a snowy  Winter Sensory Tub construction site and picked up all the blue pom poms.  Little does he know he was giving those fine motor skills and hand eye coordination a darn good work out!
  4. There is no right and wrong way to do this , have fun and  use what you have!Winter Sensory Tub

Books

A_Really_good_snowman

A Really Good Snowmanby Daniel J. Mahoney plucked my heartstrings and then some. This is a story of a annoying little sister who always finds ways to ruin her older brother’s fun, and his avoidance of her . He’s just an average big brother, and when she tags along to a snowman building competition he ditches her for his friends. When some bullies tease his little sister , he does what every mother hopes their older child does and stands up for her. Then seeing he needs her he leaves his friends and joins her snowman building efforts.  It’s a sweet story but not so sweet it’s unrealistic. Also the illustrations of all the different snowmen will make you laugh , my favorite is the Elvis snowman!

Snowman in Paradise

Snowman in Paradise by Michael Roberts is genius. There I said it. I very rarely think that of books. I like the majority of books I read and think there are so many good ones to share but I don’t want to return this one to the library, I want to keep it! The book is about a snowman from Manhattan who is glum after Christmas and wants to go on a vacation too. A magical bluebird grants his wish and he flies first class to a tropical island , with the only rule being he needs to come back in time for Christmas next year. This book is written like the traditional “Night Before Christmas” and although I thought the copy would be too long for my son at first , I was so wrong. The rhymes are unique , my favorite being :

In May after splashing with buckets of paint, He threw down his brush, saying, “Gauguin I ain’t.”

Even if some references are more for the adults reading it than the children listening , both parties will close the book smiling and wanting to start all over again.  Grab it and see why I love it so much!

Marshmallow Snowman Craft

marshmallow snowman craft for kids

This activity is in disguise, it looks like a snowman craft  but really it’s all fine motor practice and counting. My son has been skipping 5 while counting so I decided to focus on it more and this is a great activity for that. Our rule was he could eat one marshmallow after he counted out 5, 10, 15 etc… it worked wonderfully. His fine motor skills and hand eye coordination got an awesome workout too as he placed each marshmallow carefully on the glue.  Fun and learning!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some mini marshmallows, glue, some markers ( include black), some orange scrap paper and a little helper.marshmallow snowman craft
  2. Start by drawing a basic snowman on the paper with marker. Depending on the age of your child make it larger or smaller, challenge your child but have realistic expectations .marshmallow snowman
  3. Draw the face and buttons with marker.marshmallow snowman craft
  4. Cut out a carrot nose with the orange paper and glue on.marshmallow snowman
  5. Add the glue along the outline. If your child is able have them do this, it’s tricky to stay on the line but great practice in patience and hand eye coordination.  No my son did not do this step, he was busy sneaking marshmallows while I was concentrating.marshmallow snowman
  6. Start adding the “snow” . Like I said in the preamble, I had him add 10 to the bottom then eat one, then 5 to the middle, then 13 to the bottom again. It was very interactive and fantastic counting practice . He had a ball and really didn’t eat too many .marshmallow snowman
  7. Look at the fine motor skills! For children who are still at the early stages of fine motor development, you can adapt this by using large marshmallows.marshmallow snowman
  8. Let dry.

Books

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a cute little book about a little polar who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals that keep melting away. The book has a cute message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son loved it!


Birthday Snow by Kim Messinger and Michael LaLumiere is such a sweet book about believing in something even when all the facts say maybe you should give up. Daniel doesn’t give up hope waiting for the snow to come on his birthday , but who really steals the show is his mom and her continued support of her little guy and his determination. A very cute book and a new addition to my must buy list!

Snow Party by Harriet Ziefert is a magical book that celebrates the biggest holiday for snow people, the winter solstice. I wish I had had access to this book when I was teaching because it’s a perfect way to read a story about celebrations without focusing on one tradition, or leaving out another. The illustrations are beautiful and the idea of snow people eating and dancing in the middle of the night is delicious!

Even more cold weather books

Paper Plate Jack-O-Lantern & Easy Halloween Craft and Activities

easy halloween craft

This is a classic paper plate jack o lantern  Halloween craft, the addition of cutting is a great way to get some fine motor and hand eye coordination hidden into the crafty fun. My son loved the cutting so much he said ” You do the sticky tape” when it came time to add the crepe paper to the craft. He was having fun , who am I to interrupt that? This easy Halloween craft can be adapted for tiny ones as well, simply have them finger paint. fter the craft don’t miss the simple fun game we played, and played and played.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, a marker, some orange paint, scissors, black party streamers or tissue paper, double stick tape, and some green paper.Easy Halloween Craft
  2. Start by drawing a jack-o-lantern face on your plate.Easy Halloween Craft
  3. Paint!  I like using a foam brush because it covers well!Easy Halloween craft
  4. Keep painting! Let dry.Easy Halloween Craft
  5. While it’s drying, have your child cut some black streamers . Like I said this was my son’s favorite part, he cut and cut and cut!Easy Halloween Craft
  6. Cut out the eyes and mouth.Easy Halloween Craft
  7. Add double stick tape around the mouth and eyes.Easy Halloween Craft
  8. Add the child cut streamers.Easy Halloween Craft
  9. Do it yourself if your child is still cutting streamers, like mine.Easy Halloween Craft
  10. Add your green stem and you are good to go.Easy Halloween Craft

Pumpkin Drop

Halloween Party Game

Using a holiday item like a pumpkin bucket is a great way to make a game like this novel . At my son’s preschool today they were throwing bean bags into a similar bucket so I adapted it a little !  My son was nuts about this game .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some blocks with numbers ( or different colors, letters etc..) , a chair and a pumpkin bucket.Halloween Party Game
  2. Set your child on the chair so they are kneeling. Make sure they are safe to sit like this, you can always just sit normally if they are tippy.Halloween Game
  3. Hand your child blocks one or two at a time and ask them to identify the number on it, or the color, shape etc.. if they get it right they drop it in the bucket.
  4. If they miss the bucket they try again.
  5. My son shook the bucket full of wooden blocks once he dropped them all in, this was a high light ( for him) it’s really really loud.Halloween Game
  6. Have fun!

Favorite Halloween Books

I was in a conference call yesterday and one of the questions asked was what Halloween books stood out for me this year. The following books are the books I think all families should have for Halloween!

where_is_babys_pumpkin

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. This lift and flap book is the newest addition to our Karen Katz collection. My son adores these books. I read this in the check out line 3 times and he was asking for more before I could get my groceries in the fridge. I like this book because it’s a cute and gentle introduction to Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it. Also there are fun textures to many of the illustrations which help keep little hands busy!

Edited for 2009: Even now a year later at almost 3 my son loves this book and it’s been read at bedtime multiple times in the past few weeks.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

 

goodnightgoon

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex was recommended by Anya Becker who says : This book is a parody on Goodnight moon!  It is really cute and my son’s all time fave right now… he makes up read it about 20 times a day!

Edited to Add my review : We loved this book, as big Goodnight Moon fans we were all laughing reading this before bed. My almost 3 year old thought that this was the funniest book ever made and would correct the book often with the original text . Thanks Anya for the recommendation !

Food Coloring Leaves

Autumn Leaves Craft

This craft was one of those ideas that I had and hoped I wouldn’t regret. Food coloring , small eye droppers that squirt and a toddler could have been a recipe for disaster but not only did we have fun and survive , how awesome are those leaves? I was planning on posting this next week but couldn’t wait to share. We have been talking a lot about the changing colors we see on our tress but this could also be used for a fun garland if you don’t want to make a branch.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some coffee filters, a large piece of construction paper ( white or brown), red, yellow and green food coloring, eye droppers,3 small dishes , water ,crayons,  scissors and glue.Elmers glue and materials
  2. Start by drawing a branch .autumn craft
  3. Have your child color the branch they can add more branches if they like too!fall leaves and emma 004
  4. While they do that draw leaves on the coffee filters.  fall leaves and emma 002
  5. Pour some water along with the food coloring into the small containers, pop the eye droppers in ( one per color)- a big tip put a thick fabric place mat under your child when they are doing this step. It will absorb the coloring so it doesn’t get on other things.  Of course this will stain it so do not use your new William Sonoma ones !fall leaves and emma 005
  6. Using the eye dropper drop the colors onto the coffee filter leaves. fall leaves and emma 006
  7. Use multiple colors for each leaf if you want.  Using an eye dropper is intricate and helps develop your child’s  fine motor skills.fall leaves and emma 007
  8. Let dry- ours dried over night.
  9. Cut out the branchfall leaves and emma 009
  10. Cut out the leavesFall Craft
  11. Add glue to the branchfall leaves and emma 010
  12. Add your leaves and let dry.fall leaves and emma 012

Fine Motor Truck !

Drinking Straw Truck

Truck Craft

This was a collaborative effort, my son was watching a show about the Three Little Pigs and the one pig with a straw house sparked his interest in making something with drinking straws. So his first request was a train, but we didn’t have enough straws so we settled on a pick up truck. This does require some prep but I love how it turned out. The placing of the straws is tricky but it’s a great lesson in fine motor and patience!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need drinking straws, 2 pieces of construction paper, a marker, crayons, scissors, glue and 2 milk caps.AASept8 001
  2. Start by drawing a truck on a piece of paper, if your child is able to have them do this.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, mine certainly isn’t, as long as your child knows it’s a truck you are set.AASept8 002
  3. Give your child the 2nd piece of paper and explain the truck needs a road. We used black paper and white and yellow crayons. AASept8 007
  4. While they are doing this ( or before you even invite them to the table) cut the straws to fit over the truck, I did the cutting them made three piles, the hood, the cab and the bed. AASept8 003
  5. Add glue, a lot of glue.AASept8 004
  6. Spread said glue around.AASept8 005
  7. Add the straws.  We did them by group, and I showed him how to do it for the first , then he did the rest. This is tricky so I find if I prepare him for it to be delicate, and tricky he doesn’t get frustrated when it’s hard. I tell him over and over how tricky it is, but that I know he can do it, and it’s okay to ask for help, even mommy thinks it’s hard.  It works for us ( most days).AASept8 006
  8. Keep adding them until the picture is covered.AASept8 010
  9. Add the milk lids for wheels and let dry. It takes ages to dry.AASept8 011
  10. Cut out and glue onto the road way they made.Transportation Craft

Books

Three Little Rigs

“The Three Little Rigs” by David Gordon is a fresh twist on the classic Three Little Pigs with trucks instead of pigs. My son ate this book up, he loved it. The “wolf” in the story is a wrecking ball that smashes and crashes the Little Rigs garages , I thought he was a little scary but after reading the book I asked my son his favorite part and sure enough he said the wrecking ball. I loved the illustrations and was not surprised one bit to read that the author/illustrator has done work for Pixar.

Trucks Whizz Zoom Rumble

“Trucks Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!” by Patricia Hubbell was another hit with my son. The book is about all the trucks that one can find on the road, from armoured trucks to diggers and of course garbage trucks! My son is a huge garbage truck fan and was elated when there wasn’t just one but two in this book!  The text rhymes and chugs along well with the whimsical collaged illustrations by Megan Halsey.  Many of the drivers in the book are animals and when I asked my osn if elephants really drive trucks he looked at me seriously and said ” Sometimes they do! ” , regardless of my son’s take on reality he really enjoyed this book and if your child is as into trucks as he is they will too.

When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up

“When Daddy’s Truck Picks Me Up” by Jana Novotany Hunter is not so much a book about trucks as it is about trust in your parents.  A little boy is excited to see his dad who is a truck driver and away from home often, today is the day he comes to preschool to pick him up, or maybe not. What I like about this book is that your child gets to see that the dad is eager to get to the school to see his little guy as much as the littl eboy is eager to see his dad. Sadly sometimes even when arents try to get there on time they just aren’t, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get there as soon as they can and still love you .  I can say that in all my years of teaching classes a late parent was almot a daily event, and while it was nothing to us teachers a young child is thrown for a loop! I think this book is a wonderful resource for parents to talk about the possibility of this happening.