Toddler and Mommy Time!

So this is what my youngest and I do while his older brothers are away for a few days at their grandparents! A little painting, and little fun with pipe cleaners and a little, much needed, relaxing for me.

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DSC02850The other day we did some painting with child friendly acrylic paint and I gave him some brushes to use. Of course his first thought was to put the brush in his mouth, but after redirecting him to use it to paint with instead, he had a blast painting! He painted, mixing colours around for quite some time, stopping every now and then to touch the paintbrush and feel the bristles and the paint between his fingers. He marvelled at the colours and the textures. It always surprises me how much focus a 15 month old can have, when they want to.

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DSC03099Then today, I decided to get some things out for him that he usually doesn’t play with. Pipe cleaners, a colander, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and a pair of tongs. It only took me moments to set up the colander with the pipe cleaners, weaving them in and around the colander (an idea I had seen recently on Pinterest). Then I laid out all the materials and let him have some fun. The first thing he did, so obvious, was pull out the pipe cleaners and toss them away! He was so excited!

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DSC03105Then he found the tubes and tried putting them on his hands and being silly, then trying to fit the pipe cleaners into the tubes and pull them out again. This task took his undivided attention and the focus on his little face was amazing to watch. I didn’t interfere with any of his playing and just sat back taking pictures, marvelling at my little boy who is growing so very quickly.

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It was a nice change of pace for my 15mth old and I to have some quality time together. Him receiving my undivided attention and I being able to enjoy our moments together without any other distractions. I must admit I miss my other 2 boys, but I am enjoying this time my toddler and I have, as come tomorrow my house will be filled again with the love and rambunctious behaviour of my three boys all together.

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Happy March Break!

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The Dot

One of my boys’ favourite books is called The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It is a fantastic book about being able to go ahead and make your mark in this world. I love when books make it so easy to tie art and reading together making his learning so much fun!

DSC02728So the other day I decided to read it to my now 4 year old. We talked about the different kinds of dots in the book after reading it. We then got out some watercolour and some gauche paints to have a go at making our own marks and creating some dots.

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Of course my sons’ dots quickly turned into full fledged paintings, experimenting with colour, line and even tried mixing the two different kids of paint together.  He was definitely not afraid to make his mark and even took the line out of the book stating “I can do better than that” while staring at his first painting. Then ready to start another.

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Being an artist myself, I of course was playing around with the paint and experimenting with how gauche and watercolour mixed together on the paper. I discovered that you could get some very interesting results by doing so.

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A few of my experiments

DSC02749After seeing my dots, my 4yo quickly wanted to paint on smaller paper like me and tried his hand at a few more smaller dots. Then he got out a yellow feather and decided, since we were in the spirit of experimenting, to use the feather to paint with instead of a brush. It created a different look to the paintings. It was exciting to watch him explore paint and technique  all in his own way. And his paintings turned out very abstract and unique.

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And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without the silly picture of him behind one of his paintings!

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We also actually got a good one of just the two of us as well!

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Playdough for the First Time!

Playdough…always one of my favourite go to activities when we have nothing else to do and need something quick! We received a lot of little containers of already made Playdough, in bright colours, for Christmas. So I thought now was a good time to introduce my just turned 1 year old to Playdough!

He LOVED it! His expression was priceless and the smiles kept coming. I did have to keep an intense eye on him to prevent him from trying to eat/taste/bite it, but it was so worth it! I sat behind him and gave him some small pieces to play with, explore, stretch, squish and so on. I even rolled him a few balls and long “worms” for him to experiment with.

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My 3yo always enjoys Playdough, so they both played alongside each other and my 1yo thought it was awesome to do something he has seen his older brother do before and previously wasn’t allowed to. They had a great time, and it’s always nice to see them playing together. They played for about 30 minutes before my 1yo was tired and needed a nap.

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I am not sure how young most people let their children play with Playdough, but in our house at the age of 1 we deem old enough and just make sure they don’t eat it. How old did any of you introduce or plan to introduce Playdough? I am curious as to the responses  other children have to it for the first time.

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Winter Small World

There are many ideas for creating a winter scene in a box for your little ones to participate in imaginary play. I searched the web and found a million ideas on Pinterest. Here is a page of ideas.

DSC02369For our own Winter Small World we took a plastic container that could close tightly so my 1 year old could not open and the small world would be kept safe when not in use. We taped cotton batting all around, put in a tinfoil skating rink, added blue paper for a night sky with tree and star stickers to decorate. Then we added Playmobil animals and people, pine cones and a few other outdoor winter items we found around the house to make it unique and fun to play with. Very simple to put together, but creates a lot of imaginary play. So go ahead, make a Winter Small World of your own, you can use whatever you have laying around and let the kids help, sometimes creating it is the best part, I know my kids love creating the world themselves and would be disappointed if I did it for them.

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Both boys seem to enjoy the Winter make believe play.

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My 5yo added the pine cone people we made the other day and thought they should play in the Winter World instead of the Playmobil people, so we took out the people and left the pine cone people instead….he may be onto something, the pine cone people do look more at home in the small world.

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And of course, getting a picture of my 5 year old always proves to be interesting!

Happy Winter Holidays Everyone!

Three Dimensional Thinking

My 4yo has a hard time staying on task at Senior Kindergarten when he is doing something he doesn’t like to do. Like all of us, who wants to do something you don’t like, right? So I asked him what he likes to do and he said “build with Lego, blocks and stuff….I like Math, Reading and Science too.” Then I asked him what he doesn’t like and has a hard time staying on task with…his answer ” mmmm…painting. I don’t like when I have to paint.” Now some of you who really know me will understand how this completely crushed my heart! I am an artist myself and my medium is painting! How can he not like painting?! Out of all the things in the classroom, he doesn’t like painting! Well, I have been thinking about this for a week now and yes, I know everyone is different and it’s not a big deal that he doesn’t like painting, but I have been looking at things in a different perspective and see now that he thinks in a completely different way than I do.

The moment I realized how he thought was when we were doing another one of our play dough activities. I set up a bunch of loose parts with the fall play dough we made (here is my last post on Fall Play Dough) and let my boys create.

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Fall Scented Play Dough, Acorns, Chestnuts, Wood Pieces, Peg People, Clothes Pegs, Triangle Shaped Pieces of Paper, Little Wooden Bowl

DSC02159DSC02167 DSC02166As I watched them play, I noticed my 4yo went right away to the wooden blocks and started creating a three-dimensional structure. He made some trees out of the paper and clothes pegs and added in the peg people at the end. He had made a house and landscape for the people. The house even had an attic!

My 3yo started out two-dimensional, made some patterns, then started exploring with the building materials and ended up making a “Car” for one of the peg people. He created many different things before he settled on the car.

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My 4yo is very three-dimensional in his thinking and his creating. I am not. When he goes to the craft area in our house it is only to create three-dimensional things now. He loves building…anything! I am going to try to encourage this and find more activities for him involving three-dimensionality.

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As for my 3yo, he is still young and is experimenting with everything set out for him. He is still in the stage where he likes everything! So I will see if he follows in his big brothers foot steps. Maybe I will get a painter or maybe I will get a sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist…who knows. As long as they are happy, healthy, and enjoy what they do that is all I ask.

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Do you find there is a co-relation to gender and thinking? I am interested to know what you think. Being a teacher myself I see a difference quite often.

Fall Play Dough

DSC02066We made Fall Play Dough the other day and used the recipe found here at Nurture Store which is one of my favourite blogs I follow. My 3yo and I made three kinds. Yellow is nutmeg scented, Orange is clove scented and the Red is cinnamon scented. The Red is by far my favourite as the cinnamon is so wonderful to smell I just want to play with it and smell it too!

I then set out some loose nature items we have from around our house, our nature table, and from outside when we went on some walks in the forest. Some of the items included pine cones, various sticks, leaves, little pumpkins, acorns, a walnut, snail-shell, some decorative cabbage leaves, and some seed buds from a white petal flower that I have no idea what it is.

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Once I set out the tray of loose parts and the play dough, I left all the creativity to my 3 and 4-year-old boys. They actually both started with the sticks and pretended that the sticks were construction tools and then some of the other items became drillers, diggers and pavers. They of course had the loud noises to accompany the construction tools.

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DSC02088My boys then started to create objects, mix the play dough to create different colours and experiment with textures by using the objects and seeing how different things made different textures in the play dough. Their favourite textures were the leaf prints and the snail prints.

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Texture print from the snail-shell

My 3yo made a wonderful person with eyes, nose, mouth and body parts!

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They didn’t use all the items I had out for them, but they did use quite a few of them, and the best part was that the whole time they were smelling fall smells! I love when activities involve more than one sense at a time!

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Happy Fall! Have a great month this October! I know mine will be busy as my 9 month old is fully walking around and getting himself into mischief these days. As you can see he doesn’t sit down! Love this age of exploration!

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Heartfelt Toys: Peg People

Some of you may remember my post on Heartfelt Toys. Well, I finally got around to making some more heartfelt toys for my boys.

Toys do take a while for me to make, as finding time to do it always proves difficult between taking care of the family, my work for my sons preschool (as I am the President), making baby blanket gifts for other people’s newborns, etc… the list goes on, as I am sure you have quite an extensive list of your own. Toys for my own kids seem to get pushed back more than the other things on my list as we are not in short supply of toys in my house. However, it is the toys that we make with love that generally get the most used around here, so I am glad that I finally finished another one.

This time I made some wooden peg dolls with matching cups. All in all, it actually didn’t take me very long to do the project, once I found the time.

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I was inspired by the Waldorf wooden toys out there and thought I could make my boys 7 peg dolls. I bought the dolls and the cups at Lee Valley (very inexpensive) and then my husband made the holes in the cups bigger so the dolls would fit right inside nicely. I then taped around the heads and edge of the cups to leave some natural wood showing. I used  kids acrylic non-toxic paint and DSC02050painted the dolls and cups matching colours. It took about 4 or 5 coats of paint for some of the colours and only 2 or 3 coats for some others. My boys even helped with some of the painting, which was a nice added touch as they now feel they helped create the toys as well.

Once all the painting was done, I simply peeled off the tape and Ta Da! They looked awesome! My boys can now use the peg dolls to play with, do some colour matching with the cups, and we even did some complimentary colour matching for them to see what the opposites of each colour are; for example the opposite of blue is orange. Now, I decided to leave the faces blank and have no details so as my boys cold pretend that the peg dolls were anybody or anything they want, and have whatever feelings they want the dolls to have, I wanted to give them as much freedom as possible with the peg dolls to use their imagination.

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We are planning to build our own peg doll tree house, and then the peg dolls will get even more use. I also have a plan to knit a few hats for the peg dolls, but again, haven’t got to that yet. I will in time. Heartfelt toys are always loved around here, they add so much more value to the toy. A little love goes a long way!

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Chalk Painting

DSC02033I was reading a blog post about painting with chalk and my 3yo looked over my shoulder and said “I can do that!” So you guessed it! That’s what we did. You can find the post with the instructions here.

It was a lot of fun and reminded me a lot of watercolour painting as you get the paper very wet before you use your chalk.

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My 3yo got really into it and by the end of the 2nd paper he got to be quite a mess. He said he was trying to make different colours….maybe he just like experimenting or maybe he just likes getting messy…I am not sure which but he did have fun and that’s all that mattered to me.

DSC02042 DSC02046I mean look at him! One happy boy. I am a firm believer in the idea that process is everything, especially with kids. It doesn’t matter what the end product looks like, but what they learned and experienced by doing it. Definitely an easy project to have in your back pocket when you are out of ideas, or want something that doesn’t take long to set up. Keep in mind though, it could get messy so be prepared with cloths!

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Patterns, Beads and Play Dough! Oh My!

DSC01999The boys love play dough, and beads. So how could I not take advantage and have them do a little Math!

We started by rolling a big ball of play dough then sticking some wooden skewers into the play dough. I talked to them about patterns (they are getting very familiar with patterns now, so they don’t need much of a lesson anymore, just some encouragement to try a harder pattern). My 4yo just kept saying “I know, Mom. I know how to do patterns!”

Then they started creating patterns with their beads and making “Towers” as they called it.

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I gave them some freedom and tried not to intervene too much, just ask a few questions here and there. I gave a little help to my 3yo to make sure he double checked his work to keep his pattern going correctly.

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As usual, they were very impressed with how the “Towers” turned out. They were beaming big smiles when they were all done!

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It’s a quick math activity to do with the kids to get their minds working and create some pride in themselves! Very easy to set-up and clean-up, perfect for those times when you just need something small to do. Have fun!

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It’s Been HOT!!

The last two weeks have been so HOT around here that I have been spending a lot of time out of the house lately. We do not have A/C and this kind of heat makes me too lethargic to do much of anything other than find somewhere that has A/C. It has even been too hot for me to sit at my computer and blog!

So here is a little snapshot of what we have been up to.

My 3 and 4 year olds had a morning summer camp the week before last, and a couple of days were “dress-up” days. So of course they wanted to put a lot of effort into their costumes which took us some time in the afternoons and before camp to do. One day was Clown/Circus day…

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Another day was Space day…

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The robot costume that my 4yo came up with was quite elaborate and took a whole afternoon of crafting to put it together.

Last week we visited The Museum in Kitchener to get out of the heat. They have a lot of children’s activities on right now and we all had a fantastic time!

DSC01706We spent about 40mins in this room making a ball run. Again my 4yo came up with quite an elaborate track for the ball, all by himself! Very impressive!

DSC01711 DSC01712The boys each had a turn laying on the bed of nails.

And then they built some great creations while my 7 month old slept.

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They had a blast at the Museum and of course asked to go back the very next day. We may just have to head back there before the summer ends!

My boys made some crafts independently…

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DSC01739DSC01742Then I decided we should actually make something fun all together. I found a recipe that did not need baking. I didn’t want to turn my oven on and make our house hotter than it already was, so we made these No Bake Energy Bites.

The boys got out all the ingredients and I let the boys take the lead. I read the instructions to them,  they found the ingredients, measured and mixed.

I let them be in control and even decide what extra ingredients we added and how much.

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DSC01751The rolling of the dough into round bite sized balls proved very difficult for my 3yo and he decided he didn’t want to help with that, and my 4yo got tired of rolling so I took over and rolled the rest of them.

The Energy Bites ended up tasting great!

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All in all it has been a hot two weeks and now that the weather is turning and not so humid anymore, I think I will manage to get beck to creating and playing at home with my kids. Thus, will be able to blog more again.

Happy playing!