{Fine Motor} Button & Cork Builders

It’s getting to that time of the year when our time outside is limited by bad weather ( we still go out, just don’t stay out as long) and I am looking for new and frugal ways to engage my kids on long days . This idea came from nothing other than staring at my supplies and thinking ” I wonder if this will work?” and it did. Using corks and buttons to build with is fun but add in some Velcro dots and it’s even more fun. After playing I realized how multi-sensory this activity really is with the texture of the Velcro both soft and spiky, the sound of it pulling apart, the hard buttons and the softer corks. Did I mention we had a blast with them too?

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a board or shoe box lid,  some self adhesive Velcro dots, big craft buttons and corks.
  2. Start by putting Velcro dots on the shoe box lid, I only gave her hook dots. I like using a lid like this so that any corks that fall don’t roll too far away and create frustration. Peeling the stickers off and placing them on the lid is fantastic for fine motor development.
  3. Press them on well.
  4. While she did that I put them on buttons and corks. I put one hook and one loop dot on each cork and some buttons got one of each , some just got loop dots.  Ideally try to give it 24 hours before playing after putting the dots on. If your child is insistent as mine was ( what 2 year old wouldn’t be?) you can give them only a few and then return to the rest after 24 hours when the adhesive is at it’s strongest. In my experience none of the dots came off the buttons at all even right after popping it on. The natural corks didn’t fare as well, they stuck fine but when we went to reposition a handful came off.
  5. Play ( now or later) .
  6. Don’t they look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book?
  7. She loved the buttons !

Byron Barton Books about Building

Building a House by Byron Barton is a no frills look at how homes are built. The bright colors and concise wording is perfect for toddlers and young  preschoolers. I love that there is writing on one page and illustrations on the other, makes it super easy to show children the pictures as well as for them to see you follow the text with your finger! My son started enjoying this book well before age 2 and still grabs it for me to read at three and a half although seems to yearn for more details than this simple book provides.

Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant ,  at 2 he enjoyed reading it, as well as counting the workers and trucks on each page. Now at almost 4 he will still grab it and read it to his imaginary friend Sammy who ” can’t read yet”.  All in all it’s been well loved over the years !

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Pin & Pound Pumpkins – Easy Halloween Craft

easy halloween craft I bought these pumpkins at the dollar store with every intention of decoupaging them and adding sparkle but my son vetoed that. I still wanted to make an easy Halloween craft so I quickly looked around the playroom for an idea. That’s when I saw the hammers on the floor, the buttons on the counter and I was pretty sure I had nails too. I am so glad I didn’t press for them to do my original idea, both kids had a lot of fun pinning, hammering as well as pressing the nails in and my upstairs hallway have two very adorable pumpkins in it now.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a foam pumpkin ( at Dollar Tree right now) , some nails, craft buttons and some hammers.
  2. Place your buttons ( I held them for my daughter for the first nail)  my son did his own.
  3. Place a nail in the button hole and press it just far enough to hold and then hammer!
  4. The hammer was ok but both kids also pushed the nails in with their fingers.
  5. Keep going making faces, or simple designs.  My son added nails without any buttons for hair and my daughter methodically placed nails in each hole.

This would be a great craft for a party since there is no drying time for paint or glue.

 

Halloween Books

Check out these great Halloween picture books for kids.

 
The craft buttons were provided for us by craftprojectideas.com.

Monster Math Tray – Learning After School

preschool math Math is probably my son’s favorite subject right now and I am running with it. This monster math activity took 2 minutes to set up and could be used over and over . No need to buy anything other than paper and googly eyes! I like making simple tray activities like this that I can have ready for him at the table in the playroom to do after school. They are educational and appealing but not so long that he gets overwhelmed after a long day of school. As you will see my toddler demanded she get in on the action too, luckily this was easy to adapt to her level as well. For a fun variation check out how you can use dice for even more monster math over at Inner Child Learning.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bright paper, googly eyes, a pencil ( if you want to use the monsters more than once) , and scissors. I also had a small cup and cookie tray to keep everything contained.
  2. Start by folding your paper in half and cutting out the shape of a monster. Best part is that they can be detailed or a blob , not need for extraordinary artistic skills! halloween math
  3. Next write simple math equations on the monster. If your child isn’t up to equations yet just do numbers. You can also do shapes and have your child place the eyes on the shapes. I used markers for the photos but If you want to use this more than once you can use pencil, or laminate the monsters and use dry erase markers.Counting
  4. All ready – now add a math wizard! He loves this . I love that while doing math he is also working on fine motor skills that he needs for writing.
  5. After he did addition we flipped it over and did some subtraction. He loved it too!
  6. ” I do it TOO!!!” To make it toddler friendly I only used the largest eyes, and wrote simple numbers on the monsters. My daughter still needed a little help as I thought she would but she was ecstatic to be doing big girl math with her big brother. All I know is she begged to do math. Let’s keep that spirit going right?monster craft

Monster Books

halloween books for kids

 Check out our round up of monster books for some reading after your math!

Kid Made Archery Target

This year when we came home from the county fair my son was the proud new owner of  an archery set. After a few days of reminding my son not to point it at this or that I started looking for something to be a target he could shoot at to his heart content!  This archery target craft was so easy to make and it’s been played with constantly and I haven’t had to remind him once to only shoot at the target because it’s all he wants to do .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a suction cup archery set , some Styrofoam, duct tape, painter’s tape, a sponge roller or two, paint, a dish , hammer and nails. Oh and a tree or wall to nail it into.
  2. We started by cutting a square piece of Styrofoam and using the painter’s tape make 3-5 circles one inside the other. I was rushing to get this done before my daughter woke from her nap so I wasn’t at all careful but I loved how it turned out. Just make sure the tape is pressed down well. I placed it and my son pressed it.
  3. Next we picked the paint colors and painted. This is Martha Stewart craft paint and works on every surface- which is rad but it’s NOT at all washable so wear old clothes. The upside is that it’s also great for outdoors. Our target has been outside since we made it and it looks as good as new.
  4. We peeled the tape off .
  5. Added some duct tape at the top . I did this so that while nailing it the nails wouldn’t push right through.
  6. I nailed the first one in just enough to make it hold and let him go for it.
  7. Next it was time to try it out!  Since making the target he pops outside almost everyday for target practice while his sister and I cheer. I love how it’s helped him deal with disappointment and frustration. When he first started playing with it he’d get really frustrated when he didn’t get a bulls-eye but now he can miss the target completely and let it roll off his back and try again.

Alphabet Apple Tree

Alphabet For StartersLearning the alphabet comes in many forms. Our Alphabet For Starters series is all about playing with letters in a creative environment and this letter activity was a huge hit! There are lots of ways of changing it around for different levels too so don’t miss my notes after the tutorial if you want to do this with children who aren’t just starting out with letters. This may seem like a simple letter activity and it is but it’s sneaky too.  Little fingers have to peel the apples off giving their fine motor skills some serious work.

  1. Gather your materials. This picture is incomplete because I shifted my plan part way through and so glad I did, the final result was a blast! You will need some craft paper or paper bag, brown paint, paint brush, marker, scissors, contact paper, and green, yellow and red paper . A basket is not a must but if you have one grab it. alphabet for starters
  2. Start by cutting a truck from craft paper or a paper bag. I taped it down because my daughter is exuberant with paint ( you’ll see)  and this helps keep it all in one place. alphabet for starters
  3. Paint with a brush…alphabet for starters
  4. Or your hands. alphabet for starters You really don’t need to have your child(ren) help make the tree but when kids help make the activity there is a deeper connection to the learning.
  5. While that is drying and you are done washing the gallons of paint off your toddler make some apples from red and yellow paper.
  6. Add letters.alphabet for starters
  7. Once it’s dry tape the trunk to the wall . Add tape to the back of green paper and add it to the tree.
  8. Cover the top of the tree with contact paper sticky side OUT.
  9. Add the apples.
  10. Make sure that you are leaving a corner of the apple off to peel off.
  11. Basket in hand and ready to pick her apples!
  12. Go!
  13. She really had a great time and got excited to announce which apples she was picking. As always she chose the first letter of her name first followed by the mine, her brother’s and her dad’s. It’s exciting to see that she connects letters to people meanings outside of the immediate activity. As soon as we were done she bolted from the playroom full basket in hand to show her dad all her letter apples. I would have taken a shot of his but he was sorting laundry and well my literal dirty laundry has no place on the internet .

How to take it to the next step :

  • Have a chart of lowercase letters and have your child peel off the uppercase apples to match the lowercase letters.
  • Use sight words instead of letters. Call out the sight word and have your child find , peel and pop them in the basket.

Alphabet Book

“A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald is an adaptation of the classic Edward Lear poem that had both my children transfixed. The bold bright colors kept my daughter who is 10 months old wide eyed the whole time and the playful way Suse MacDonald adapted the text had my son listening from A-Z as well. It was incredibly fun to read allowed tongue tying me at times which resulted in us all giggling hysterically in a heap. A book that can do that is a must have in my opinion.