Buried Treasure – Magnet Activity

Put on your pirate hats and grab your treasure maps and discover buried treasure with this magnetic discovery box . It was so much fun and a great way to work on a number of things from colors, counting, letters… the sky is the limit. This is not at all safe for infants, toddlers or any child still putting things in their mouths. My 4 year old son was happy as a clam playing this over and over again while his sister napped. Especially since I explicitly told him it was only for big kids, no babies allowed. It’s nice to have things just for him now that he has to share so much.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a magnetic wand , some magnetic marbles ( ours came with our wand),some magnetic letters/numbers,  a dish tub, some cracked wheat and or rice. I know some parents are concerned about using sand for crafts so I searched for the best replacement and this bulk cracked wheat really looks like sand!
  2. Pour your rice and cracked wheat into your tub.
  3. Take some time feeling the pretend sand , talk about how it feels, ask your child if they like it or not.
  4. Ask your child to cover their eyes and hide the magnets. * hint about keeping everyone in your family safe. Count the magnets before they go into the tub and do a “headcount” of them after you are done playing. Magnets are really fun toys and great for learning but in the wrong hands/ mouths they are very dangerous.
  5. Search for treasure!
  6. Ask what they found- it’s a fun way to practice letter and number recognition, counting , or even addition and subtraction!
  7. This is what baby girl was doing while we explored.


Letter of the Week – Super Hero S

Some 4 year olds love video games, some love playing catch , mine loves to pretend. Almost every moment that my son is awake he is pretending to save someone , catch someone or just be someone, Lately one of his favorite things to pretend to be is a super hero and so when I asked him what letter we should make he suggested Batman and when I suggested he could make his own super hero S he was game.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 pieces of different color paper, paint, paint brush, marker, scissors, glue and 2 googly eyes.
  2. Start by writing a large upper or lowercase S on one sheet of the construction paper.
  3. Ask your child what their super hero has as a costume. We made a cape, a chest button and mask. Draw them or have your child draw them on a light piece of paper.
  4. Paint the costume pieces. 
  5. We goofed and added the letter to the chest plate after painting. Have your kids do this before they paint .
  6. Cut out the s while they paint, or if your child is able and willing have them cut it while it dries. Mine wasn’t.
  7. Add glue. My son loves tracing the letters with glue which is wonderful letter practice too.
  8. Add the s to the final sheet of paper. Paint if the mood strikes!
  9. Cut out the costume pieces and add them to the s.
  10. Add the googly eyes on top of the mask. 
  11. Let dry.

Remember that kids learn as they play.  By using their favorite playtime activities for the more directed activities that focus on things like numbers and letters you enhance both their play and their learning . Have fun with it!

Baby Block Painting

Painting with an infant is messy. I don’t like using paint brushes with tiny kids because paint flings everywhere, they look like spoons so they tend to go straight in the mouth and even ones with thicker handles are hard for little hands. Instead using easy to wash plastic toys like these blocks are a great way to paint and explore .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, blocks, plastic plate, painter’s tape and an eager baby.
  2. Start by using the painter’s tape to secure the paper. This is a must for us, for whatever reason my daughter has a serious fondness for paper. This keeps it as art instead of food.
  3. Pour some paint on the plate.
  4. Dip the block in and go for it.
  5. She examined it for a long time.
  6. Then started moving it around the paper. I took the other block and tapped it on the paper but she wanted to roll . It’s tempting to show babies and toddlers how to do things by holding their hands in yours and moving them, resist that urge when it’s a free exploration like this . Show them by example and then just narrate what they are doing. *( ETA – reader Brooke asked for an explanation about this and I want to make it clear that it’s not wrong to help your child do tasks by holding their hands , I was referring to free art explorations like this. My reasoning being that by letting them explore with their own motivation that they will direct their own play. I hope that clears it up ! Thanks Brooke!)
  7. She managed to get it up to her mouth but because the blocks are big not much made it in and was easy to wipe off.

With toddlers and preschoolers you can make fun shape prints with the blocks by slamming it down so if you have multiple ages this is a fun easy project for a rainy day.

Alien Dress Up

Aliens are super cool and combining a craft with pretend play is even cooler. We love dress up at our house ( and preschool) and this alien headband craft was created to use as a pretend play prop. I suggested my son glue eyes on the band but he was very adamant that they needed to be up high on antennae. Even though I have directions you can follow this is the sort of craft that is best used as inspiration for your own unique creation.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, glue, sparkly pipe cleaners, sticky back sparkly foam, googly eyes, tape and glitter!
  2. Start by having your child paint the paper. This will be cut in two strips to make the headband. Tell your child you will be cutting it, this can really upset young kids if they aren’t warned. I like using either a foam paint brush or paint markers like these when we want the paint to dry fast.
  3. While they paint, trace a circle 6 times on the backing of the sparkly foam.
  4. Cut out.
  5. Glue the googly eyes on.  Let dry.
  6. Next cut the paper in half.
  7. Add glue and glitter. You want to do it after your cut  not before so that you aren’t cutting into glue and glitter. Trust me glitter is messy enough, but cleaning it out of scissors is no fun. Let dry.
  8. Cut your pipe cleaners into different heights.
  9. When eyes are dry ( or at least dry enough not to slide, peel off the backing of the 3 foam circles that do not have googly eyes on them. Press the pipe cleaners into them.
  10. Peel the back off the circles with eyes , press into the circles with the pipe cleaners so they are sandwiched.
  11. When the glitter is dry tape the pipe cleaners with eyes on the front of  one strip. You will want it near the end because you are going to tape the other strip on top to sandwich them.
  12. Size it to your child’s noggin’ and secure the two ends with tape. I like using tape for 2 reasons. It’s forgiving and it’s fast, so kids can play right away.

Books


The Way Back Home
by Oliver Jeffers is a moving story about a boy , a martian and the moon they were both stuck on. Together they figure out a way to get back home even though they are so sad to say goodbye to each other. I love this author, I love his illustrations as well, they are so unique and the emotion he manages to convey is amazing. There is an illustration of the boy and martian standing awkwardly before they have to say goodbye and it embodies the emotion. Grab anything written by this author and you will be happy!

Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is a quirky updated version of the classic lullaby. So many bedtime books are super sugary but this one is funky and bright! I love the space theme and the illustrations are great! The rhymes are funny and kept my son interested in the lullaby much longer than the traditional one which he deems a “baby song”.

Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer is an odd, heartwarming, entertaining story. My son loves this story about the man on the moon who wants to be a part of the action on earth and decides to visit himself. Of course as is the custom on earth we are afraid of outsiders and he is thrown in jail. Luckily as he goes through the phases he manages to slip out through the bars.He finds someone to help him return home where he belongs, even though he is sad to go. I couldn’t help but think of ET… but that’s just me.

Knight’s Shield Craft

My son has been pretending he is knight for a few weeks. In all that time he’s been using a cutting board as his shield, it was high time we made him one! When we had a playdate scheduled with a friend who loves art and knights it was a done deal. Now you will notice that my directions and pictures don’t match perfectly, follow the directions because if I did this craft again I’d do a few things differently to make it easier . Oh and crafts while chatting to a girlfriend and holding a baby… just have extra things on hand in case you miss a step or 3.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, foil, colored and scotch tape, paint/crayons/markers, scissors, paper and a toilet paper roll.
  2. Start by cutting out your shield from the cardboard.
  3. Next cut the white paper so it fits into the middle of the cardboard. This is where your child will draw their coat of arms!
  4. Time to paint and color your shield. We started with colored pencils
  5. Then added paint.
  6. Next we taped them on the cardboard. DON”T  Instead cover the whole shield with foil. Tape it on the back.
  7. Then add your white paper when it’s dry . Tape it on with colored tape ( painters tape works great).
  8. Cut a toilet paper roll in two and secure it with tape. This picture was taken 4 days after the craft was made . What was it I said about skipping steps while chatting, holding a baby and making crafts?
  9. Time to play – our boys played for 1.5 hours and amazingly no foil came off, ripped or otherwise needed repair.

Book

Imagine You’re a Knight! (Imagine This!) by Meg Clibbon is a fantastic book for children interested in what being a knight is all about. There are so many great details and answers given that I am eager to read more in tis series. My son loves this book and not just because it answers his many questions about knights but also because it’s the type of book that you can open and close as time permits , reading a little or a lot and still enjoying it. I like the humor and illustrations by Lucy Clibbon. It’s a great choice for 4 and older. 3 year olds might find it to be too much.