Color Mixing With A Toddler & Preschooler

Doing projects with your kids is supposed to be fun for everyone, but when your kids are far apart in age it can be challenging. This project is perfect for different ages! Since having my daughter last year one of the most common questions I get is ” How do you craft with both kids?” Some days I do just a baby project, some days just a big kid one but there are times that we can all work together despite the almost 4 year age gap. This color mixing activity was perfect . They each had their parts and we had a blast being color scientists although if you ask my son his sister was his lab assistant not a full scientist, that is only for big kids.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some good quality zip lock bags, shaving cream, some paper, crayons or markers, and food coloring.
  2. Start by making a simple chart showing the colors to mix , leaving the result blank. Make sure you have the correct color of marker or crayon available for the result.  We made 4 colors, adjust the number of colors based on the attention span of your “scientists”.
  3. Add shaving cream to the zip lock. My son helped me with this step- he was so excited. I love when simple things make his day!
  4. Add the food coloring. We added 2 of each color but then increased it to 5. Look now they are counting too , I love when projects span many subject areas.
  5. Zip it up , making sure to squeeze out some air so when your “lab assistant” squishes it that the bag doesn’t pop.
  6. Squish! Until the colors are all mixed.
  7. She loved squishing, just watch they do not put it in their mouth. Whenever you are working with toddlers or infants you must always be within arms reach. Label the colors, use descriptive words while they explore.
  8. Come back and record the results by finding the correct color and completing the chart.
  9. Talk about the results. Ask if any colors were surprising , which color do they like the best and why?

Crafting, teaching or just generally parenting is different with multiple abilities but with a little effort you can find activities that can be done at the same time for every child in your care. We had a blast and another real benefit of a cooperative project like this is that your kids are working together something that isn’t always so easy to achieve.

Butterfly Sensory Tub

I love what we call butterfly pasta. Not only does my son eat it well, he plays with it well too.  We made this ages ago but between Easter and Mother’s Day crafts it got lost in the shuffle. As we pulled it out to play with it again I remembered I never posted this sensory activity. Although I didn’t photograph it I popped some of these butterflies into a clear Take and Toss sippy cup through a lid on it and my daughter has been using it as a shaker for weeks. So many uses!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bowtie ( butterfly) pasta, food coloring, vinegar, ziploc bags, cookie sheets, a medium sized plastic tub, scoops, a divided tray and play tongs. You can also through in some penne pasta as ” Caterpillars”.
  2. Start by putting a few drops of your favorite food coloring into a ziploc.
  3. Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar.
  4. Throw in a few handfuls of pasta. Shake until all the liquid is gone.
  5. Pour out on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper to dry. The vinegar smell will lessen in time, even if it’s strong initially in a day or two it will be all but gone.
  6. Make multiple colors.
  7. Pour dry dyed pasta into a bin with scoops for little ones to explore, add penne pasta as caterpillars.
  8. Using a divided tray you can sort the pasta by color using tongs.

Baby’s 1st Finger Painting

Infant activities are tough to come by but this was a hit and will be used again in our house for sure. When introducing your tiniest artist to colors and textures a great and safe way to do it is to use purees. No ingredients to worry about just plain veggie or fruit purees that they have already been eating . I don’t plan on packing this one away as a keepsake and would suggest taking a picture and not saving the creation! When my son was a toddler we did yogurt painting but my daughter is still too young for yogurt but toddlers love it!

  1. Gather your materials. I am using a plain white piece of construction paper so there is plenty of contrast. The puree I am using is sweet potato, thick, bright orange and easy to make. All I did was bake a sweet potato then puree it with a hand blender. Please be sure you are only using purees that you have previously introduced to your child and know they will not have adverse reactions to.
  2. Tape your paper down to a high chair tray or table.
  3. Add a small spoonful of puree on the paper. Let your baby explore.While my daughter played I focused on using the words squishy, orange and wet. There is no specific right way of doing this but narrating their exploration ( and their play) is great for verbal development . You might feel silly at first but before you know it you’ll be talking to them about everything and teaching them about a lot too!
  4. When your baby does this it’s time to take the activity away and move on to something else like singing, reading and our favorite dancing!

Remember with infants you must be extra vigilant and never leave an infant unsupervised with any activity. This is not an activity to occupy them so a caregiver can get something done, this is for caregiver and infant to explore together.

Great Book For Babies

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!

Fine Motor Apples

by Katy

This is an extremely simple activity that helps children address two important areas of development: fine motor and sensory.

You will need a plain sheet of paper, a piece of card stock, a hole puncher, and a green crayon or marker.

Punch as many holes as you can in the card stock.

Place the card stock on top of your white sheet of paper.

Take red finger paint and guide your child to work it into each hole. Help your child isolate their pointed finger as they do this. The slippery/slimy texture of the paint is one that often poses a problem for kids with sensory issues, so don’t be surprised if they resist. Try to finish the activity, though. While we were doing the activity, Charlie, who often strongly resists finger painting, took such an interest in those little holes that he seemed to forget that he was touching his nemesis: finger paint.

Lift the card stock and wait for all your circles to dry.

Once the paint is dry, allow your child to draw green stems with the crayon/marker. Let them do it alone if they can, guide them if they are unable.

I you do have to help your child draw the stems, be sure to guide them in the most natural way possible. Show them a downward stroke even though it might feel strange depending on where you are standing while you help them.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Working With Sensory Issues

by Katy

There are a lot of kids out there with different kinds of sensory issues–sometimes it’s related to another condition like Autism or Brain Injury, but some children deal with only sensory issues. In any case, it can be hard to know where to start, and recently a reader here at No Time for Flashcards asked about the types of things I do with my son to work on his issues.

I’m not a doctor or a therapist, but I learned this activity from one of the many fantastic Early Interventionists that worked with Charlie when he was young.

First you need to collect several things that have different textures and a piece of cardboard. For this activity I sent my husband to the dollar store with five bucks and told him to buy red things with different textures. He came back with some interesting choices, but I won’t complain because I took a nap while he was at the store.

We’re studying fruit right now, so I cut out my cardboard into the shape of an apple. Then I glued down all of our different textured stuff. You don’t have to do a particular shape for this project–you can just use a plain piece of cardboard.

After everything is dry, present your child with the board. Take their hand and gently guide them through touching all of the different textures. Note which textures upset them. If a texture seems especially horrible, try having them touch it with the backs of their hand. You might also try both hands and see if one handles textures better than the other. My son is more experimental with his right hand than his left.

If you notice that some textures are tough, remember them because these are the ones that you will have to work on with your child more and more.

Present the board to your child several times. See if some textures improve with more exposure. These are all hints that will help your child get more comfortable with new and different textures.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.