Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hand Print Turkey Puppets!

I have always wanted to try this Thanksgiving project, and this afternoon was the perfect opportunity. I used an image from Google Images as my starting point:

These were the materials we used:

  • brown and pink construction paper
  • glue sticks
  • hot glue or regular glue
  • popsicle sticks 
  • crayons
  • laminator and laminating sheets (optional)

I was too distracted to take pictures during the actual process of making these, but I have some of the finished product. It was a really simple activity that even Baby E (newly two) really enjoyed. I traced each child's hand on a piece of brown construction paper. They colored the hand prints, and then I cut them out. I cut out little pink construction paper feet, and the kids glued them on with glue sticks. Next was the kids favorite part - laminating! We laminated the Turkeys, and then glued them onto large popsicle sticks. The hardest part was waiting for the glue to dry!

Here is the finished Turkey puppet:

You could also make these into cute cards or centerpieces.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: KidKraft Aspen Table and Chair Set

It's review time! The boys both have birthdays coming up, and with the holidays around the corner, I hope to be reviewing some awesome gear in the next few months. First up is the Aspen table and chair set from KidKraft. Baby E turns two this week! He has recently decided that he will no longer sit in any kind of booster seat or high chair, but will happily eat at a regular kids sized table. I wanted to upgrade our secondhand plastic set to a nice wooden set that will hopefully last a long time. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, Baby E has eaten his last few meals at our brand new KidKraft table.

I decided to go with the natural finish, because it fits our kitchen better. The table was extremely easy to assemble, and I was able to put it all together in about half an hour. The directions were clear and easy to follow, and everything fit together as it should. The table feels really solid when built, and I was impressed with the quality of the wood. The finish is beautiful, and so far cleans up easily. The table does slide around a bit on the vinyl tile, so I plan to look for some type of non slip material to put on the legs.

The table is the perfect height for the 2-4 year old set. Baby E is average height, and his feet do not quite reach the floor when sitting. He fits well at the table now, and definitely has some space to grow into it. My 3.5 year old can also sit comfortably at the table, but I would imagine this table would be on the smaller side for a 4-5 year old.

Overall, I love the table, and don't see any major drawbacks. It would be a great addition to any family kitchen or playroom. The surface is also great for puzzles, crafts, building, and all the other fun things the little ones enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We love Fall!

     Fall is such an amazing time to be a little kid. Baby E especially is mesmerized by all the leaves, and must stop to look at each. and. every. leaf when we go on walks. There are so many fun things to do with leaves, and a lot of great learning often happens along the way. Here are a few of my favorite things to do with leaves:

Talk About Them

We love to talk about all the colors of the leaves, why they are falling off, and what happens in Fall and Winter. Big brother A is almost 4, and he loves looking at the different types of leaves and trees.

Crunch, Jump, and Throw

     Jumping and crunching in the leaves is pretty much a dream come true for most kids. It is a great sensory experience, and it is one of the only times Baby E is allowed to throw things to his hearts content. He can stand for a long time jumping in the leaves and throwing them in the air.

Arts and crafts
     Whenever we are outside, my kids collect leaves to bring inside. Most of the time, I throw these out when no one is looking, but I have saved a few for crafts. My kids like gluing the leaves, and decorating them with random art supplies. I am also hoping to experiment with laminating some leaves so we can use them for other things. These leaf place mats look like an awesome activity!

What are your favorite Fall activities?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer of Fun: A Day in the Life of Camp Mommy!

Fun at the Zoo!

I was a little nervous about having both kids home full time this summer. I had gotten used to A going to pre-school three days a week, and I knew it would be an adjustment for the summer. Now that we are more than half-way through the summer, I can say that I am very happy with how things are turning out. The truth is that I am exhausted. Period. But it is a good kind of tired. We have been having so much fun! With no school drop off or pick-up to worry about, and extremely poor napping habits from Baby E, (not for lack of trying) we have larger blocks of  time to fill, which allows us to explore activities we haven't gotten to do as much in the past.

Supermarket adventures...

In the mornings we usually have a short outing to the grocery store, library, or other indoor location.The kids are very early risers, and not interested in lazing around in the morning (as much as I try to convince them). They are usually dressed and itching to get out by 830 or 9am.  We are usually home by 11am for some lunch, playtime, and "nap" time. Baby E (already 20 months!) usually sleeps for a short time, while A just has quiet play time. By 1:30, we are usually ready to head out for the afternoon.

Playing with sand at home

Rock painting!

We have spent our afternoons exploring new parks, visiting the zoo, and having a blast at the local children's museum thanks to an awesome LivingSocial deal. Thankfully, the summer weather has been pretty mild. No one in this family does well in the heat, so I have really been thankful for any cooler days that we have. By 4pm, the kids are melting down, and we head home for...Ices! I'm not sure how I will break this habit at the end of summer, but for now I am enjoying the few minutes of peace and quiet I get while the kids are both happy with their cool treats!

Yumm! Or as Baby E says "mummy!"

What do your summer days look like?

Monday, June 16, 2014

End of Year Gift for Pre-School Teachers

A was in Preschool this past year for three days a week. We had a great experience, and I wanted to find a cute but inexpensive way to acknowledge all the teachers and staff who worked with him.

I ultimately decided just to have A make cards for the teachers, and then I packaged them nicely with a chocolate bar. I'm happy with how it turned out, and it was all done for under $15.

For the cards, I let A go to town with his art supplies on a few pieces of construction paper. I picked two of the pages, and cut them in half, which gave me a half-sheet to use for each card. I typed up a short message, and had A glue them inside the cards. I laminated them as an extra step, just to make them a little bit nicer.

I stuck them in cute bags with the large chocolate bars, and that was it!

How are you planning to thank your child's teachers?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Blanket is Not Just a Blanket

Any parent of a baby or toddler knows that often a blanket is not just a blanket. Both of my kids have lovies that they are extremely attached to. Baby E loves nothing more than snuggling his blankie (AKA nay-nay). He even insists on dragging it through the mud with him as he crawls around outside. Big Brother is attached to a tiny striped washcloth from Babies R Us, that they obviously don't make anymore. Most of the time, I am extremely thankful that each one has an object that brings so much calm and comfort. These small items have helped my kids through many travels, tantrums, and other dramatic events in the lives of babies and toddlers.

The one bad thing about lovies, is that there is only one. There is no other Blankie for Baby E when he throws up all over it in the middle of the night. And there is no replacement washcloth for Big Brother when he loses it on his way to board an airplane (only to be returned by a kind stranger who we are forever grateful to). My older one understands that his lovy stays in the house unless we are taking a long car or plane trip. But Baby E is too little to understand, and I am too tired to get him used to that idea right now. So Blankie comes everywhere, and that's why you may see me walking in circles around the neighborhood looking for the blankie which he dropped out of the stroller. I think I need to cut it in half, so I can stop having nightmares about losing it.

But all in all, I think the pros of having a security doll/blanket outweigh all these cons.

What is your infant or toddler attached to? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Salad in a Jar!

On Purim, it is customary to give friends and family baskets of food. I wanted to do something easy and healthy, so I decided to layer salad ingredients in pint size mason jars. I used lettuce, carrot slices, canned corn, red peppers, and croutons. It was very quick and easy to assemble and it looked pretty too! I tied each jar with some colorful ribbon, and attached the cards that my toddler helped make.

For the cards, I asked my 3 year old to paint a couple pieces of paper. He decided to use dot paints, and went to town painting the sheets of paper. I printed the text for our card, cut them up, and glued onto the painted pages. The text of the note was very short, so I was able to fit 10 copies on each piece of paper that had been painted. I then cut them out again, and laminated. It was a lot of fun, and my son loved participating!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Toys: 15 months

Baby E's favorite activity is anything that involves mess making and destruction. At 15 months, his only consistent word is "boom" which he repeats throughout the day as he knocks down block towers, clears out bookshelves, and destroys whatever his older brother is attempting to play with.

Here is our list of top toys at age 15 months:

Wooden Blocks: We have an ABC colorful set from Target, and it gets played with multiple times a day. The blocks have held up very well and are the perfect size. Sadly, it looks like Target doesn't have these anymore.  

Books: Believe it or not, Baby E also loves books. His favorites are the Elmo's World: First Flap Book Set, and he can spend a while looking at a bunch of different books when he feels like having some quiet time.

Elmo's World: First Flap-Book Library Book

Bucket of Toys: He is pretty content to sit with a bucket of items that can be taken out, and then put back in. His favorite right now is a bucket of plastic animals. He likes to empty it out, fill it up, pour it into another bucket etc. This basically works with any small toys that are not choking hazards like little people, play food, and other similar items.

Nesting Blocks: I bought cardboard nesting blocks on a whim at a consignment sale, and I'm so happy I did! Baby E heads for these first in the morning, and is constantly bringing us the blocks and asking to go "boom". He is starting to stack them on his own as well. I love that these are so lightweight; they are very easy to build with, and haven't injured anyone when being knocked down. An added bonus is that our toddler loves working on his counting skills with these blocks.  We have an Eeboo set like the one shown below.

Step2 Push Car: Baby E could ride around in this car all day. During the witching hour at the end of the day, this is sometimes the only activity that will keep him somewhat content. Whenever we go down to the basement, we better be ready to push him around the room until he decides he has had enough. I reviewed this car in another post which you can find here.

MagnaTiles: While I wouldn't buy magnatiles specifically for a 15 month old, I have to mention them because Baby E loves them. They are great for fill and dump activities, and Baby E also loves to stack them, and look through the different colored tiles.  

What is your 15 month old playing with?

*This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Counting Fun and paper Chains!

We are snowed in today. Being snowed in with little kids can be an interesting adventure. The 3 year old has been keeping himself pretty busy, but Baby E does not like being cooped up inside.

Making paper chains is a great way to pass the time and have some fun. All you need is paper, scissors, and glue.

There are lots of ways to incorporate counting into this activity. We counted out our pieces of construction paper, we counted as we held our edges together for 10 seconds after gluing, and we counted the rings on our chains!

What toddler or pre-schooler doesn't enjoy the opportunity to cut (with mommy's help) and glue to his heart's content?

Now onto the next activity!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

3rd Birthday Blondies!

I originally had grand plans for Munchkin's 3rd birthday party. Eventually I realized that all he really wanted was to sing happy birthday and eat cake, so that's what we did. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, I got lots of answers including: "a square cake", "an ABC cake", "a chocolate chip cake", and "a mickey cake". The only detail he was really consistent about, was that he did not want any frosting.

I have been eyeing some cake mixes at Trader Joes, so I decided to try to the chocolate chip blondie mix. I liked that it has all natural ingredients, and that it does most of the work for me! I decided to use applesauce instead of butter, and it still came out great.

Here's what you need:

1 box of TJ blondie mix
1 egg
1/2 cup of applesauce

Pour into an 8x8 and bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes.

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Magna-Tiles!

I am really excited about this review! I first heard about Magna-Tiles last year, when Munchkin was still too young for them. Now that he is approaching three, I thought they would make an awesome (early) birthday present. He started building with the magna-tiles as soon as he got them, (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!) and has played with them every day since. The tiles are little different than I expected, but they are amazing nonetheless!

Hard at work

We got the 100-piece set, and I think that was definitely the right decision. I don't think 32 pieces would be enough. The tiles are much bigger than I imagined, which makes it easy for little hands to build with them. There is a nice variety of shapes - large base plates, smaller squares, and three different types of triangles. 
Munchkin has mostly been stacking the tiles and making flat designs, but he has also started to experiment with 3D shapes. In a few short days he has become much better at building and thinking of designs he wants to make. 

Baby E getting in on the fun

 It is extremely easy to manipulate the shapes, but there is definitely a learning curve as well. The structures built with magna-tiles are pretty delicate, and my toddler has been frustrated a few times about not being able to get something to stay the way he wants it. But I love that he is engaged and challenged while playing. There are endless possibilities, and I am definitely enjoying building as well! I can see these being well loved, but only time will tell if the magna-tiles will have longevity in this house. 

I am storing our magna-tiles in a plain old sterilite container, and they are a breeze to clean up!

*This post contains affiliate links