Moon Dust and Pom Poms!

My three boys all love anything about Space; stories, toys, you name it they like it!

DSC02989I thought it would be fun to make them a Small World play area centred around space, and make it a sensory activity as well. I found this awesome post by The Imagination Tree on how to make Moon Dust and create a Lunar Small World. Follow the link if you want some detailed instructions on how to create your own.

I decided to make the Moon sand and create the small world by myself and have it as a surprise for my boys this time, instead of involving them in making it. Sometimes it’s nice for them to have a little surprise.

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We started off the activity by reading a variety of books centred around the topic of space, some fiction and some non-fiction books. I then got the small world out for my 4 and 5 year olds and opened it up. I left it up to them to explore on their own and play. It was nice to see them playing make-believe together.

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When my 1-year-old got a chance to explore the Lunar Land, he was very interested in the Moon Dust and was all about the sensory part of the activity. It became a little messy, but nothing a little broom couldn’t handle.

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It ended up being a great small world, one that all three boys could enjoy!

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DSC02915As for Pom Pom’s, well who doesn’t like Pom Pom’s? When you want something quick and easy to entertain and improve fine motor skills in a 1 yr old, Pom Pom’s are the best thing around.

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I got out a small muffin tin, a bunch of pom pom’s, an empty tissue box, a toilet paper tube, a plastic and metal container, and some tongs.

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My 1 year old, and even his older brothers had fun playing with the pom pom’s, sorting them, using the tongs to move them, putting them in and taking them out of the tissue box and containers, and of course throwing them up into the air and watching them fall!

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Best thing about pom pom’s is that when the activity is over you just pick them up and put them away….no mess!

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I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely day….Happy Mothers Day!

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Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere!

Last week was March Break here, we started off the week with a bang before my oldest boys had sleepover’s at cousins and grandparents houses!

I was able to bring all three boys together at the dinning table to play together and experience some sensory activity playtime. An occurrence that rarely happens as usually my toddler is left out of the really fun activities due to his age difference from the other two. But I thought if we could make enough bubbles to play with, they could all join in on the fun!

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DSC03090So it started with me making bubbles in the kitchen from dish soap and water, then skimming off the bubbles and placing in a pot and then dumping the pot o’ bubbles onto the table. I had laid out various toys on the table, all appropriate for my 15 month old to play with but still fun for my 4 and 5 year olds too. Some mega Lego blocks, a few animals, a bus and some toddler Playmobil. All toys were able to get wet and wouldn’t ruin.

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I then returned to the kitchen and made more and more bubbles! I made bubbles for quite some time, but it was worth it as all three had a glorious time playing at the table. My toddler thought it was great to finally be able to participate in a fun activity with his brothers.

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My 4 and 5 yr olds gravitated towards the building blocks and made some snow ploughs to push the bubbles around.

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Eventually I stopped making bubbles, and was able to just watch them play until the bubbles ran out, to which my 5 yr old said “Mom, all the bubbles are disappearing, we need more bubbles!” But my time in the kitchen was over, so hence, bubble play eventually ended as well.

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We will definitely do this activity again, it was a hit! And if you decide to do this activity, make sure the kids are wearing aprons (they will get wet), and you don’t mind the table and floor getting wet as it is impossible to keep the bubbles on the table. Although on the bright side, after the clean-up is done you have clean toys, a clean table and a clean floor.

Now go and play!

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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Snow, Cold, and More Snow!

DSC02574It has been crazy snowy and cold around here for the last month or so!

And I don’t mean just chilly….I mean downright minus 30 cold!

So on the days when it is not an ice storm, snow storm or freezing weather, we have had some fun times out in the snow!

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All my boys love the snow! They love playing in it, sledding in it, and even shovelling it! I hope they continue this love of shovelling as they grow older, I will appreciate the help.

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DSC02768So today, as it is starting to get really cold outside again, thinking tomorrow will not be an outside play day, I brought some snow in after school time for my three boys to play with. This was an extra special treat for my 1 year old who does not get to play with snow too often, especially with his bare hands! I am sure the touching and feeling of the snow between his fingers was a new experience, seeing how the snow changed the more he touched it was most likely intriguing to him. He enjoyed the activity immensely.

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As for my other two older boys, they thought it was great having snow inside to play with, something they have done at school but never thought they would do at home! They made miniature snowmen, scooped, bulldozed, filled cups, made snow balls and even made a winter scene with “real snow”!

What I enjoyed most about the activity was that all three brothers could play side by side, interact, have fun and it kept their imaginations going for quite some time. It is rare that all three have something they can do all together, and this made me happiest of all!

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So here is to snow, I am sure we are still in for some more before the Spring arrives, and based on the weather we have had, I think this will be a long cold, snowy winter.  We are going to enjoy it as much as possible….I hope you do too!

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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!

Hot Chocolate Stand

My boys decided, with the cold weather upon us, to create a Hot Chocolate Stand.

This was an impromptu stand that we simply created with what we had lying around…no planning or Pinterest looking was involved. We simply went with an idea and flew with it. Sometimes, these kinds of moments, whims, are really what make the playing even more magical!

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We turned our train table top upside down so it was just a green table top, got out our play food, some trays, some real dishes from our cupboards, our play money and calculator, notepad and pencils. Used some wood pieces for bread and biscuits and conveniently had a couple of unused Tim Hortons cups lying around.

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We then set to work on making a Hot Chocolate sign to hang over our stand.

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All three boys were able to participate in the play that happened at the Hot Chocolate Stand, and of course I was a constant customer drinking hot chocolate and eating muffins and paying large amounts of fake money for my beverages.

It was a great, entertaining time for all…and my eldest son even threw in some math by adding up customers orders on his calculator!

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Sometimes I love being able to just drop everything and play!  Make sure to make some time during this busy season to play too!

10 Drowsy Dinosaurs: Math Extension Activity

If you have been reading my blog awhile now, you know I like to bring Math into our learning at home.

DSC02248My 3 year old and I started our activity by reading the book “10 Drowsy Dinosaurs”. It is great for learning to read, learning colours, and math of course. My 3 yo likes it because he can contribute to the reading aspect by saying the colour of the dinosaurs and counting how many dinosaurs for each new page.DSC02277

After we read the story, I had my son flip over little cards labeled 1-10, one at a time and make a corresponding card with matching dinosaur stickers to show the number. Great activity for number recognition, matching, and counting.

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Once all the number and dinosaur cards were complete (the numbers were not in order) he then made a number line with the number cards, then continued to match the dinosaur cards underneath the numbers. This all involved counting the dinosaur cards numerous times, thus improving his memory by repetition.
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He was so proud when they were all in a number line that he then went looking in my box of number cards and found my cards with dots that show each number. He wanted to do more! So of course I said sure! He wants to learn right now, we will continue.

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We talked about how each new dot card represented a number and he could figure it out by counting the dots. So he did just that, and added them to the number line in the proper places. More counting and number recognition practise!

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Now I thought we were done and then he saw the written words for the numbers cards. Well, you can guess it….we read each card together, as he is still learning to read, and then he found the correct spot on the number line to add the written word, again more number recognition but this time with some reading involved.

We were finally finished our activity. I really had planned to only do the first part of the activity and stop, maybe 20 min. But the activity changed and evolved and I believe we spent about an hour doing this activity. Time well spent I’d say. Lucky for us my 11th month old was sleeping peacefully this afternoon so we had plenty of time to pursue my sons math adventure.  And of course, we had time to pretend to be dinosaurs…as you can see below!

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Just a side note….you can do this activity with any counting picture book….if you have stickers to match the book you are set!

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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