Nature Color Hunt

This is so simple to make, and can be used over and over again. Learning colors in a book or while using paints isn’t bad, but when you are able to go outside and find colors in the natural world there is a spark! I was overjoyed to see my son yell “Look mama flower is yellow”. I love bridging learning from inside to outside and incorporating all different ways to learn into one activity.

  1. Gather your materials. We used a baby food freezer tray but an ice cube tray, or egg carton among other things would work well. Also scissors and a color of foam ( can you tell I bought a big thing of foam a few weeks ago?) or construction paper for each section. A backyard, beach, park…
  2. Cut your foam/paper into pieces small enough to line the bottom of the tray/carton. For younger kids choose colors that you kn0w they have a chance of finding a match. You don’t want it to be too easy , but too much of a challenge just frustrates everyone. If a child is frustrated they won’t learn, our goal is to challenge and learn!
  3. Head outside – my son couldn’t wait to get outside so as you can see he’s as per usual in his pjs!
  4. Start finding things to match. Start off by choosing a color with your child and both go looking, if they have a hard time finding a match find one, and go to it but don’t announce you have found it. Say something like “Hey Bug I think there is a match over here, can you find it” narrow down the are for them, if they still can’t pick up the object and have them match it in the tray.
  5. Continue working together or if they want to work all alone, watch your child explore and make connections, that is exciting and fun too!
  6. After you have made all your matches, talk about what you have found- how it feels what it does ( rock lines a path for us to walk on, a flower provides pollen for bees etc…).

Books!

These books aren’t related to the activity at all, they are just some books that caught my eye at the library and I was eager to share!

“19 Girls And Me” by Darcy Pattison fell short of my expectations which I admit were high. The overall message was great, that boys and girls don’t need to be labeled “tomboys” or “sissies” just friends. The adventures the kids get into are great too. What I didn’t like was that every adventure was suggested by the lone boy. Why couldn’t he take the backseat? There were 19 girls you’d think one of them would have a suggestion. In the author’s defense the girls did suggest things part way through each adventure but I resented that he was always the ring leader.

“Scaredy Squirrel : at the beach” by Melanie Watt is so funny. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in. Before you even read the story on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. My son loved it especially the part about the pool being the ocean and the flashlight being the sun, even at two he was trying to tell the squirrel how wrong that was. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.

“Bernard : The Angry Rooster” by Mary Wormell was a huge disappointment to me. Bernard is proud and when a rooster weather vane is put up on the roof of the barn he is jealous and takes out his anger on everyone he encounters. Here is my issue with this book.I like that the author is writing about anger, I think it’s essential we talk about that with toddlers and kids. What made me feel disappointed was that although people ask him why he is angry , and an adult can see through the illustrations that the weather vane is being put up and he is looking at it, it’s not obvious to a child. I had to really look to notice it. No one takes Bernard on saying his behavior is not acceptable or demands he explain why he hurt others. I want to label and recognize my child’s anger but it alone is not an excuse of bad behavior and that was the feeling I was left with after reading this book. My son just kept saying “Mean rooster!” I explained he was jealous and angry but I wish the book had explained it more as well.

Five Senses: Sound Safari

five senses activity sound
I had no clue how well this sound safari would work with my 23 month old, I have done it with 3- 5 year olds in the past but never with toddlers. It was a huge hit. He understood the chart and that we were listening to for the things listed and got very excited to earn each star. We chose to go for a walk in our neighborhood but you can do this inside or in your backyard as well.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper, plain paper, markers, a ruler, scissors, stickers and glue or double stick tape.sound map edit
  2. Make a simple chart , one space for the sound you are searching for and a small box for a sticker or a check mark.
  3. Add things you hear often around your neighborhood or where ever you will be listening. We did sirens, dogs barking, birds, cars, etc…sound
  4. Tape or glue the paper on the construction paper and head off on your walk.
  5. I gave the chart to my son and told him we were looking for all those sounds, we talked about hearing things, and although he was quite convinced we hear with our eyes, he still got it.sound activity for kids
  6. I helped start things off my closing the garage door and asking him what he heard. when he said the garage door , I asked him to look on his chart to see if that was on it. When it was we got a sticker and put it in the box.sound safari

The next up was our neighbor’s barking dogs! sound lesson for kidsThen birds… we were only a few hundred feet from our door and we already had half the items on our safari.As we kept walking we found more and my son pointed out ones we didn’t have like the lawnmowers the gardeners were using. That tickled me because that was the point of this whole exercise to learn about using our ears to hear and identify sounds. These were our final safari findings:

sound safari for toddlers

X marks the spot

Naptime Creation
Treasure Map!

This easy peasy treasure map is so much more than a craft, it is a tool for learning and endless fun. Although I have this listed as a naptime creation younger preschoolers could do this with a lot of adult help, but kids of all ages will enjoy the games played withthe maps once they are made.
  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, permanent markers ( see why it’s not a toddler activity?), used coffee grinds in the filter, and some ribbon.
  2. Using permanent markers draw a treasure map. I like to use things in my backyard as the “stops” in the map. I have our trees, a basket ball and blocks – you don not have to use real things. However for the activity below using real things will make it easier.
  3. Taking out most of the coffee grinds rub the outside of the filter all over your map to make it look old and dirty! Let dry. You can also use tea but it takes much longer and we all know how much kids love to wait.
  4. Randomly rip the edges to make the map look more authentic!
  5. Roll up and scrunch and secure with a ribbon!
All Ages
Treasure Hunt
A few years ago I had a small but amazing class of 2-3 year olds who challenged me because they were such smart little people. In an effort to find a fun outdoor activity I developed this map game. I would draw a map and together we would all follow it. Using your map you can go to each “stop” then you must complete a challenge before moving on.Here is where I snuck in some totally unrelated learning. At the stops the challenges were things like : Sing the alphabet, find something blue, jump in the air 5 times, find a word that rhymes with pig… anything but they loved it. After a few times playing with me they became the masterminds and developed their own challenges- pretty cool for children who weren’t even potty trained!

With my toddler we went to the park and hid his new ball. We busted out the map( that I made ) and followed the pictures. We counted to ten, reached up high, found something red and touched our noses! As you can see you have to fit the challenges to the specific child but trust me, everyone will be having so much fun they won’t even notice all the learning they are doing!

 

We Are The Champions!

Gold Medals!

This is a fun and easy craft for your little ones to get into the Olympic Spirit. You can make them before doing your own mini Olympics ( see below) and then have your very own medal ceremony!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard ( an old mac and cheese box is perfect) some gold sparkly paint, double stick tape, a paintbrush, some ribbon or streamers, and some markers for decorating the medals.
  2. Draw two identical circles on the card board.
  3. Have your child decorate the circle with crayons or markers.
  4. Add a few globs of paint.
  5. Cover the two circles with paint and let dry.
  6. Cut the circles out.
  7. Using double stick tape ( glue would work too- just let it dry) tape the streamer onto the back of one circle , make sure the loop is large enough to make it over your child’s head. Add another layer of tape and the front side of the medal.
  8. Have a very adorable child who likes things around their necks model it for you :)
Mini Olympics!

My past as a daycamp leader was in full force today as I toted a bunch of balls to the park to host our very own playground Olympics! We had three short but fun events: Rhythmic Gymnastics, Track and Field and Basket Ball. Here is how we did it!

Rhythmic Gymnastics : To make our ribbons I used a Take and Toss straw and threaded the ribbon through then tied a simple knot. It doesn’t wreck the straw that way and you can even re use the ribbon!

We shook the ribbons high, low fast and slow!

Track and Field: I used a some left over streamers from Valentines day and tied each end to a small tree at the playground. We lined the boys up and bribed them with cookies to run, turns out the bribe wasn’t needed at all- they repeated the race again and again without asking once for the cookies ( which was good cause we needed them to convince the two to get back in their strollers at the end of the day! ) .

Basket Ball: Grab a pop up hamper, and all the balls you have. I hung the hamper on a tree support because it was windy, but do what works for you. This was such a hit, they kept going and going!

Nature Discovery

Mother Nature
Colla
ge

What I love about this deceptively simple activity is that it gets kids outside examining the world around them, then brings them back inside to go over what they have found!
  1. Gather your materials. You will need some heavy paper ( recycled cardboard is perfect) or a foam sheet , glue and something to gather your nature discoveries in. Oh and some place outdoors where you can gather things to bring inside.
  2. Go outside and start finding treasures. I have done this with litter, shells from a beach, all leaves or like this where anything my son grabbed we included.
  3. Pop your treasures in the jar or bowl.
  4. Note to parents sometimes your child will find something like this snail that can’t be glued ( or shouldn’t be anyway) take a picture and when they move on to something else rescue it from the jar. If they are old enough explain nicely why gluing something living to a piece of paper for our enjoyment is not a good thing.
  5. Come inside and spread the glue. You will probably need a lot.
  6. Start placing the nature discoveries on your paper/ foam.
  7. Let dry, ours had to dry overnight for the pine cone and stick to stay on.

Song!

My Backyard!

Don’t throw your junk in my backyard,
my backyard,
my backyard ,
Don’t throw your junk in my backyard,
my back yard’s full!

Rocks and trees and butterflies
butterflies,
butterflies,

Rocks and trees and butterflies

Dirt and leaves and bugs!’

Don’t throw your junk in my backyard,
my backyard,
my backyard,
Don’t throw your junk in my backyard ,
my backyard’s full!

Book!

” Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun” by Deb Vanasse is one of the few books I have read that really captures the beauty of nature without being preachy about conservation, or filled with facts . Facts aren’t a bad thing, but this book enjoys the nature in it in such a gentle way that along with the beautiful illustrations by Jeremiah Trammell you can simply appreciate it. The story is adorable too. The book is about the longest day of the year and one child’s quest to stay up and enjoy it all without falling asleep. All children can relate to the feeling of missing out on something good after having to go to bed, this book uses that feeling and spins it to celebrate nature!