Day 2: Kindergarten Trees

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She is my artist.  She is in kindergarten this year–the last of my three kids to be in kindergarten.  I am grateful she gets to be in the same school with the same teacher her brother and sister had.  We can enjoy some of the “kindergarten traditions” like this one.  They have to decorate a tree using any craft materials they can find.  I remember my oldest used a lot of candy, my middle child used actual greens from the yard, and she used lots of glitter and sequins.  Each tree is completely unique and different.  Just like they are.

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Day 1: Ice

I am once again doing the December Photo Project.  Here is Day 1!

1-2015-12-01My child care kids have been fascinated by ice lately.  This morning we made this ice wreath we could hang outside.  As the temps rise throughout the day, we can watch it melt.

Here in our corner of Oregon, we get very little snow.  Most winters we hover around the 40’s and 50’s.  This past week we dipped low into the 20’s and puddles from previous rainstorms froze.  Finding ice chunks in our little pond and backyard puddles was a treat and kept the kids entertained.

The winters here differ from the frigid northeast and Midwest winters I experienced as a kid.  Saying good-bye to the lake effect snow and shoveling the driveway nine years ago was not very difficult.  I am not a huge “snow” person.

But I embrace the cool, crisp winter air.  It reminds me of God’s handiwork with the changing of the seasons.  There is beauty in the dark winter mornings and the cold afternoons.  I may not be much of a winter person, but I do appreciate this time of year.

 

Toddler & Preschool Cars Crafts

02-DSC09067 Last week at my in home child care we did a cars week.  We started with a toddler friendly activity.  My youngest and I cut open a box so it would lay flat.  We used crayons, stickers, and markers and created a road.  We put cars and boats on it for the toddler to play with.  He did some of the coloring too.

05-DSC09070 Then when the older kids arrived I had a large box (large enough that they can sit in it) and told them to make a car.  I didn’t give them a lot of rules or suggestions…just let their creativity run wild.  I did paint a bunch of paper plates I hot glued as wheels.  They came up with their own ideas–car doors, steering wheels, headlights, floor mats etc.  We quickly ran out of glue…and tape.

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It made a big papered mess all over my eating area, but I was happy to see so many little hands hard at work.08-DSC09073The next day we made a car wash.  I simply put 1/4 water and a few squirts of liquid dish detergent in a food processor.  Half the fun is watching the foam form together.  I poured all the foam of separate cookie sheets and gave the kids cars, road signs, and cups.

 

11-DSC09076The following day we used plastic cars and dipped them in paint.  The kids rolled the cars along pieces of construction paper to make designs.  Again I did not give them a whole of rules, but let them make their own creations.

13-DSC09078All of them looked quite different! I cut out some car a truck stencils and let them glue it on a few of their paintings.

15-DSC09080On Friday we began the day with a toddler friendly school bus for a certain toddler who loves to say the word “bus” whenever we pass one.  I used a granola bar box and cut out the front.  Then I let my youngest with help from the toddler color it and design yellow pieces of pre-cut paper. We added wheels as well.

 

25-DSC09090Then we added an egg carton cut in half and glued it inside.  Perfect fit for Little People.

    26-DSC09091 Then when the older kids arrived we set up an indoor drive-in and they watched the movie Cars.

 

31-DSC09096It was a busy jam packed week.  Besides the day to day caring for kids, I had something almost every single night.  But we made it through and had some fun along the way.  My most favorite thing is seeing the kids use their hands to make their own special creations…and take much pride in their hard work.

 

Dinosaur Crafts and Activities

Last week we did a dinosaur theme at my in home child care.  Wow you can do so much with dinosaurs!  I’ve enclosed the links for each activity.

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We made dinosaur fossils.  This is the first craft I have ever done that requires using coffee ground and cold coffee.

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I bought these plastic dinosaurs from Michaels.  Also saw similar ones at Wal Mart.  We stamped them into the “coffee dough.”  You only need to bake them for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees.  The bottoms will be soft so they need to sit overnight.  Once it all hardens it looks like rock.

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The kids all love modeling clay.  I bought some for a previous craft and had no idea they would want to play with it as much as they do.  Even having some modeling clay and dinosaurs was a great combination for imaginative play.

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We did a dinosaur hatching egg craft.  This was a simple and shorter craft, but my four year old absolutely loved it.

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We did a fossil hunt in the family room.  I hid parts of the dinosaur all around the room.  They had to find the pieces and match them to the outlined dinosaur.  I would recommend using all large pieces and remembering where you hid them.  We were missing two and unfortunately they still have to be found.

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This was my absolute favorite activity:  dinosaur ice eggs.  You put a dinosaur in a water balloon, fill it with water, and freeze it overnight.  I had to use other reptiles and amphibians because I could not find small dinosaurs in the store.

Putting the animal in the balloon takes effort.  You have to open the balloon wide with two fingers like you are opening a bag.  For some I stretched the opening of the balloon and my oldest daughter dropped the animal in.

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Cut the balloon off the following day and you’ll have big ice balls with animals in them.   We put the ice in two big plastic bins on the kitchen floor.  The kids got a little wet as well as the floor, but it was super easy clean-up.

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I gave them water bottles filled with hot water and wooden spoons. They had to try to get the animals out.  They loved it!  Preschoolers enjoy these sensory activities.

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Lastly we did dinosaur pasta skeletons.  This was a good glue and paste project.  They were able to use their creativity in assembling the pasta.

We also watched a few episodes of Dinosaur Train.  My son has some Melissa & Doug woodblock dinosaur stamps the children used to make their own dinosaur scene.  We had a fabulous week of activities.

Organizing craft items

I am not the most organized person.  I tend to have little clutter piles and I spend a good part of the day “de-piling.”  My husband bought this bin (and I have another one that is the same in the front hallway) for storing craft materials.  Since I now do in home child care we do crafts and creative activities fairly often.  One of the girls I watch said her first day–“Oh yeah I remember this place.  This is the craft place.”  Never knew I was known for that, but I’ll take it.  It took me a couple of months to figure out what craft materials I always want to have on hand and how to store them.Image

Originally I had stick labels on each drawer and that lasted…oh about a week.  They fell off and I found sticky labels all over the house.  This time around I used a piece of felt attached with a safety bin.  I have 8 bins total and the ones I use the most are in our prime crafting area aka around the kitchen table.  I have bins for foam, paper (white drawing paper that often comes from our church’s recycle box, construction paper, and scrapbook paper). letters and numbers (educational items for home school preschool), small craft supplies (like wiggly eyes, fasteners, beads, pipe cleaners etc.), felt, old magazines, paints, and “recycleables” (like toilet paper tubes and cereal boxes). I organized it all a couple weeks and it’s staying organized!

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I keep a list of on the fridge of items I have run out of or need for upcoming weeks.  I usually plan my child care crafts 2-3 weeks in advance.

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This is my old craft cupboard.  The problem was I had to take almost everything out to get what I needed.  Drawers were way more practical.  I use this cupboard to store the heavier items so they don’t weigh down the cloth drawers like glue bottles, acrylic paint, wooden stamps, plastic animals, etc.

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It has made craft time much, much smoother because I am no longer searching for items.  Everything has its own place.

December 4: Kindergarten Traditions

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When my oldest was in kindergarten she brought home a paper chain she made.  Each day you pull off a link until Christmas Day.  At the time I had to tape the chain in the highest place so infant and toddler hands could not rip apart my oldest’s artwork.  I love having a kindergartener in the house again this year so we can once again have a paper chain.

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The kindergarten kids also have to decorate their own Christmas tree. My son wanted real things from nature on his tree.  He also added glitter, fruit snacks and Rice Krispies.

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So not having to do with kindergarten traditions but so funny…as I say good-bye to my school kids and began planning out my day…my youngest spends part of her morning calling each of the My Little Ponies on a calculator.

December 3 S is for Snow

I don’t watch children on Tuesday mornings intentionally.  Every Tuesday morning my youngest gets to play with one of her best friends.  Her mom and I have been friends pretty much since we moved to Oregon in 2006.  She was one of the first friends I met through a mom’s group.

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I have her daughter over to play with mine every other Tuesday.  My daughter goes to their house the other Tuesdays.  We’re able to get 2 hours to get cleaning done or run errands the day we don’t host.  Today I taught them the letter “S” for snow and I planned some winter animal activities.

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I made my own artic animal sensory table with water, “blue water” filled with marbles resembling ice, and artic ocean animal.  Every time I set up a sensory area, I am amazed how long it holds their attention.  I think the girls played with it for a half hour.

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Then we did snow painting which was simply mixing white sand with white paint.  I love watching these two girls play together.