Arctic Ice Sensory Play

arctic ice sensory playI ordered these Arctic Animals a few weeks ago and we’ve been playing with them in playdough snow and with our other animal figurines but this arctic ice sensory tub was by far our favorite way to play. My daughter was absolutely in love with this and it’s so easy and cheap to make. The one big word of caution is that this much ice is heavy so please be careful that it’s on a stable surface and not somewhere that it could fall and hurt someone.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a plastic tub that will fit in your freezer( dollar store !) , a smaller plastic container, something heavy to place in the container ( I used frozen chicken sausage), a freezer and some arctic animals.
  2. Start by filling your tub part way with water. Do not fill it all the way it will be so heavy and possibly dangerous. Place the smaller container in and weigh it down. This will create a open area for water inside the icy terrain. Freeze.arctic ice play for kids
  3. Remove the smaller container and fill the open area with water. I filled mine with lukewarm water. artic ice play for kids and toddlers
  4. Add animals and play.arctic ice activity We kept ours low to the ground arcticon a stool in the bathroom so spills and splashes could be no biggie ( and also because the light it way better for pictures than in my kitchen). The next few times we played we played in the kitchen on a towel on the floor.
  5. Talk about which animals stay on land , which live only in the water and which can swim and walk on land. arctic sensory playWe talked a bit about predators and prey as well ( especially when her brother joined in the next day).  We noticed how the water was so cold even though it was warm-ish when we poured it in and why that was. And most importantly we played and played and played. arctic animal and ice sensory play
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Footprints in the Snow {Playdough Play}

winter play dough play for kidsMy daughter adores playdough and cooking so last week we made some simple white playdough and added snowflakes ( that promptly melted of course – duh! Add after it cools…) and then had fun playing pretend with some forest animals. This is about as simple as it gets but there are so many wonderful lesson possibilities packed in this simple play.

First we made the playdough. The recipe we used is my favorite .

Something I do with my daughter ( or the toddlers I taught when my own kids were only imaginary) is to play Simon Says before doing someting where I may have to say ” Don’t touch!” a lot. Instead of turning this activity into a negative one when I need her to not touch I simply say ” Simon says touch your nose!” As it turned out I didn’t even have to use this but we still had fun with our pre playdough making game.

simon says

She helped me mix the dry ingredients, foot prints in the snow play dough for toddlersI  kneaded the dough while it was too hot for her to touch and gave her some extra flour to explore on the counter.  I slipped in some glitter too. footprints in the snow playdough activities

This playdough is best after it’s chilled so we made it before nap time. Then after nap time it was ready to be played with.

I love these animal toys. They leave real footprints. We sat across the playroom table from each other and just started making prints.  snow playdoughWe looked at them, at which were bigger than the others and how many we could make from one side of the playdough to the other. footprints in the snow playdough play Soon a storyline emerged the raccoon was saving the other animals from a “Snow bump” <– which is 2 year old speak for a snow bank. It was hilarious to watch her narrate a whole complex story line including some negotiation during the various rescues. footprints in the snowwinter  play dough play for toddlers

At this time of year with so much sparkle and wow and rush it’s a blessing to sit and be and take things slow and easy with a toddler . We’ve played this exact activity over and over and each time felt calm and connected after. Something I know most all of us can use right now.footprint in the snow playdoh play

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Cork Stamped Snowflake Craft

winter craft for kids We are super excited about Christmas but even I can get overloaded with Christmas crafts sometimes. This snowflake is a nice easy winter craft that appeals equally to toddlers as it does to older kids and even adults. I love using corks as painting tools because they are easy for all ages to grab and even though most of us would stamp them using the end they can be rolled in paint too! My daughter liked this but got a wee bit frustrated with the sticky glitter glue. I will tape the snowflake down on the table with painter’s tape next time to help alleviate that.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some blue construction paper, scissor, white paint, silver glitter paint or glitter glue and a paper plate.winter craft
  2. Start by folding your paper in 4. Then cut into a snowflake. Open.
  3. Put paint and glitter into the plate and add corks ( real corks work better for a circle print) .
  4. Invite your artist and create. Most kids will stamp the corks down but do not correct them if they roll the cork, there is no wrong way to do this. 
  5. Let dry and add to your kid art museum ( aka your fridge)  , wall or window!

Simple Penguin Craft

penguin craft

We love penguins and was one of my favorite themes for daycare and preschool when I was teaching toddlers. My daughter loves the penguin bath toy you see in this post so we decided to use a penguin to paint a penguin. This was a huge hit with my toddler who thought it was hilarious to whack it on the paper. With older children encourage them to do the cutting but with toddlers the goal is fun, exploration and making something fun to show off on the fridge. This penguin is on our fridge right now and my daughter likes to point to it saying her name and smiles.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 sheets of construction paper ( blue, black and orange) , white paint, a dish , a bath toy ( but a sponge will do), glue, scissors and googly eyes ( although I put them on at the end she is too little and still eats things).penguin craft
  2. Start by pouring paint into the dish, and placing the toy in it.
  3. Hand it  and the black paper to your monkey and start painting. My daughter carefully made a few prints…penguin craft
  4. Then really got into it.
  5. We paused to wipe paint off our hands and mouth and switched paper. The blue paper is the icy habitat so it needs paint too! penguin craft for kids
  6. I gave her snack after clean up #2 and allowed the paint to dry some. And cut out some feet and a nose from the orange paper. penguin craft
  7. Then cut out the black into the shape of a penguin.
  8. Time to glue.  We took turns gluing.penguin craft for kids
  9. If they want to take time to explore the glue bottle don’t fret, they are making connections. Just stay close so any giant messes can be minimized.
  10. Put the body on the glue.
  11. I added the glue for the nose and feet putting it on a wide area so she could choose where to place the pieces. Don’t correct your kids  and where they place things, this is their creation. If they are able to glue ( and get more than a few tiny drops) by all means encourage them to do it.
  12. Add eyes ( if your little bug is like mine and eating all small potentially hazardous items wait until they are napping or engaged in other play and add them on) and let dry.penguin craft

Penguin Books

Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner is a cute rhyming book filled with simple facts about penguins. My toddler loved the bold illustrations, and my son really liked the facts and it sparked a desire to learn more about the animal. That is one of my favorite things about non fiction books like this that look like stories , they plant seeds of interest that can be launched into deeper inquiry. Great book for preschool through Kindergarten.

Penguin by Polly Dunbar was an unexpected delight! The book started with Ben who got a penguin as a gift but no matter what he did he got no reaction from his penguin. Finally as happens with young kids Ben lost it, has a temper tantrum and a lion eats him. Yes I said a lion eats him. My son loved it. He howled with laughter and don’t worry in the end it’s happy so nightmares are unlikely if you read this before bed. I loved the rhythm of this book and the simple illustrations were a perfect fit. Big thumbs up from kid and parent on this one!

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird but when hunters come to get some pretty penguins is funny odd ways of doing things turn off the hunters and saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different.  My son loves this book and will often point out that Tacky is proud to sing just the way he wants. I love that it can preach to kids without preaching at all.

 

Snowmen At Night – Craft & Book

This ripped paper snowman craft was inspired by the book Snowmen At Night and my daughter’s love of ripping toilet paper into teeny tiny pieces. As annoying as that habit is as a parent it’s actually really great for her fine motor development so it never makes me too angry to see. I harnessed that in this craft and we had fun making a ” no man” together while her brother was at school.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper( black and white), a small scrap of orange, a scrap of ribbon, googly eyes, toilet paper,glue, scissors and a white crayon.snowmen at night craft
  2. Start by cutting out a snowman body and moon from the white paper. If you are doing this with older children have them do the drawing or cutting or both.snowman at night craft
  3. Hand your child the crayon and ask them to make stars, shooting stars or snowflakes in the sky. With little ones like my daughter who are at the labeling stage ( she is 19 months) I would keep it simple using something they are familiar with. For her she knows what stars are so I asked her to make stars in the sky and made one as an example. Then let her do what she wanted.
  4. While she did that I cut out a nose from the scrap paper.
  5. Rip the paper!snowman craft As she ripped I took some of  the ripped pieces out of reach because she wanted to rip the smallest ones into teeny tiny pieces and I wanted to encourage that fine motor practice.
  6. Time for glue. Do not fret about where they put glue, I don’t open it all the way but make them work for it, but not so closed that they will get frustrated.snowman craft
  7. Add the body and moon – again with older kids you may want to add arms. Tiny easy to rip pieces can be tricky for little hands so didn’t add any to this craft but do what fits best with your child’s development.snowman at night craft
  8. When she added the moon she sat there squishing the glue under it for a few moments, expect play like this, welcome play like this.  When we added the glue for it I narrated that the moon goes in the sky, also pointing out at the sky from the window. Use crafts as a way to teach but don’t stress about the end product.
  9. Add more glue for the toilet paper. With tiny ones like my daughter you might have to help add the glue for the collage,  but let them do as much as they can before stepping in.snowman craft for toddlers
  10. Squish it on.
  11. Add the nose.
  12. I added the eyes and the scarf , she loves to unravel ribbon and the eyes are perfect for eating in her books. If you want the kids to do these but are still young try plain paper eyes ( many kids don’t put that in their mouths, even when they are similar in size to googly eyes, but as always watch and remember stay within arms reach when kids are at the mouthing stage).  Don’t forget to hang toddler art up, my daughter is clearly proud pointing out her crafts or paintings and saying her name after pointing at them. Creating confidence is one of the best parts of crafting with kids.

Snowmen At Night

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner

I love this book and actually looked for 2 hours in our playroom and storage room convinced I owned it but misplaced it. I don’t. I finally sat down to read it to my daughter at her school last week. She liked the snowmen but wasn’t as into it as I suspect she will be next winter. The story is adorable but a little sophisticated for a 19 month old. My son has read it and loved it, because it taps into a child’s imagination perfectly. The author imagines a world where snowmen come to life and party at night when we are sleeping, which is why they always look a little different in the morning. I remember my son looking at me and asking ” not really right?” when we read it a few years ago. I love the whimsical illustrations with fun points of view that makes the reader feel like they are in on a real secret. Great book for preschoolers, I was a little over eager reading it with my daughter but it’s so good I couldn’t wait to.