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A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Day 38: Easter Eggs May 26, 2010

Say Wha??? Hold on, let me check my calendar.Yep. May 26th. Wednesday. NOT Easter. But why should Easter Sunday get to hog all the fun of these plastic little gems (that sit in my cupboard the other 364 days a year)?

I mean, look at what you can do with them.

You can put them in water and catch them with your net:

You can group them by color:

You can make them sink by pouring water into them:

You can push them around and roll them:

You can sit in a tiny tub of water like it’s a swimming pool and count them:

And you can even eat your lunch out of them:

Cherries

Carrots

Cheerios

I stopped at putting the peanut butter in the eggs, so it's on spoons

Cool, right?

See, no need to hold out for Easter!

What did Zach learn today? How fun using non everyday objects can be to do everyday things. And we talked about the principles of sinking or floating (and colors..again).

What did Mommy learn today? I think kids just don’t eat their veggies if they don’t want too. I’m losing this battle big time. I mean, I put the carrots IN and EASTER EGG. Fun, right? Nope. Not eaten. Those cherries were gone in 2 seconds though!

Also, I’ve been doing some sensory stuff with the babies. They got to feel soft and silky when I gave them some Lovies. And splashed in the water today too.

Emily and her Lovie

Isaac says, 'Grr...I'll eat you up Lovie!"

Chunky Isaac feet splashing in the water

Emily feet in the water

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Day 29: Feet Painting May 18, 2010

Filed under: colors,Craft,paint,recycle/upcycle,sensory — Erin Brambilla @ 4:11 pm
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Feet painting. It’s like finger painting, but with your feet. And it’s ooey-goowey, slimy, squishy, slippery fun. And it’s messy. And it’s sensory. And it teaches colors. And spurs creativity. And gives Daddy a heart attack over the hardwood floors (but don’t worry Daddy, it’s washable paint).

I’ve had this cardboard box sitting around the house for about a week now. A bridesmaid dress was shipped in it. It was long and flat. Zach has been playing with it, but honestly, I was to the point that I just couldn’t stand looking at it one more time on the living room floor. I saw a commercial, for who knows what, that showed a little girl running across a long white thing (maybe it was paper, maybe it was carpet…I was only half paying attention), she had bright pink paint on her feet. I thought, “THAT looks like fun, let’s try it.” So we did.

Supplies:

Paper plates, 1 for each color; finger paints; trash bags or other drop cloth; and your painting surface.

I squirted a glob of paint onto each plate. I had forgotten how thick finger paint is, so I added a tiny bit of water and mixed w/ the back of a spoon on each one so it would spread on the plate a bit, kind of like pizza sauce.

Paint on plates

Then I broke down the box and was delighted to see it looks like one long runway. I set it on the plastic trash bags on my kitchen floor. I set down the four paint-filled paper plates at the end.

Looks like fun, huh?

Then I called Zach over (actually I had been holding him back and was now ready to let loose). I helped him dip his feet into a color each. I told him which color we were using as we went. Then I set him on the box and told him to run around. The paint makes things a bit slippery, as you can imagine, so he was kind of leery. He felt better when I agreed to hold his hand so he could walk up and down the cardboard. He got excited when I told him it was OK to jump.

Walking down the cardboard with paint on his feet

Once the paint had come mostly off his feet, I switched the colors up. And just repeated the process until he was sick of it and telling me, “Want take shower Mommy.” Along the way we talked about how it felt–wet and slimy, gooey and sticky. I made sure he saw the effect his actions had on the cardboard, showing all those colors. It was fun!

This stinker never smiles for the camera. He had fun, LOL!

Toe prints

Surprisingly, he didn’t try to bee-line for the living room with paint on his feet, I was prepared for that! I think once he felt how slippery it was, he became cautious, so my vigilance was unnecessary. After we were done, I put him straight to the bathtub to clean up.

What did Zach learn today? More sensory learning. Along with more color lessons. He also had a chance to just be creative. Craft time doesn’t have to be about crayons and paper. And we don’t have to only use our hands to make art.

What did Mommy learn today? The finger paint really is quite slippery, so be careful. And Zach may have had just as much fun running across the cardboard, sans paint. But this was cool too!

 

Day 8 (10081-11520m): Letter A April 26, 2010

Filed under: Craft,letters,music,sensory — Erin Brambilla @ 5:29 pm
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Today’s lesson brought to you by: The Letter A. A for Animal. And Animal Crackers.

A few months ago, while shopping at a certain “R Us” store, I came across the world’s biggest bag of Animal Crackers. Not only was it huge, it was CHEAP. And since I’m a sucker for things in bulk, especially cheap things in bulk, I bought them. The strange part was that up until that time, I couldn’t even tell you if Zach had ever eaten an animal cracker. Talk about a gamble. Even cheap things are a total waste of money if they don’t get used. Luckily, that was never an issue. After serving Zach his morning snack today, I think I have one serving of AC’s left and then they are gone.

So today I decided to make him work for those crackers. After discussing the fabulousness that was the bowl of beans with another mommy friend of mine, she said that she fills a plastic tub up with uncooked rice and has her son look for hidden objects in it. Great. I have a plastic tub. I have a plethora of uncooked rice (actually, another instance of cheap things bought in bulk, only this time gone very, very wrong. It will take us 20 years to eat all the rice I have in this house. Sometimes Costco can be just TOO alluring). So I hid some animal crackers in the rice and told him to hunt for animals.

Creating a future archaeologist, digging for animals

Reaping the benefits of hard work

Oh, and I promise I will not make this a blog of my son playing with random household items in bowls everyday for a year. This just happens to work out for today.

While he hunted for animals (and found them all and asked for more animals) I prepared today’s simple craft. An Animal A. I realize that this A looks more like a Cat, which would be great for the letter C…but I wanted to tie it in to animal crackers and well, this is what I came up with! A is for Animal.

I drew and cut out a simple block A. Then I cut out 3 strips of black paper and cut them in half to make whiskers and 2 triangles to make ears.

An "A" and the trimmings

Then I asked Zach to come help me with some glueing. He decided that sitting on my lap would be more fun for this, so I couldn’t take any pics. And that’s OK, because I’ll sacrifice the beauty of the blog for toddler cuddles. Gotta get ’em in when I can! So, we glued the A to a sheet of white paper. Then we put some glue in the middle of the A and stuck the whiskers on. Then we put some glue at the top of the A for the ears. I wrote “A is for Animal” underneath. And there you have it. An Animal A. And well, even if it looks more like a cat, he’s been saying, “Letter A. Animal Crackers” quite a bit today! I must be on to something.

A is for Animal. Hey, a cat is an animal!

Since Zach loves to sing songs, I totally ripped one off of a toy to sing today–the Leapfrog Fridge Phonics song. It’s not even a toy we OWN. But I’ve seen it at friends’ houses. And the people who lived above us had one. I never saw theirs. But I CAN tell you their daughter played with it EVERY day. And I could hear the song so often I’ll forever have it memorized. So, I sang this with Zach today and he REALLY liked it. We sang it over and over and over again. And the best part, you can do it for every letter of the alphabet. Today we just did “A”. Here are the lyrics:

An “A” says “AH!”
An “A” says “AH!”
Every letter makes a sound
An “A” says “AH!” (and “AY!”)

It’s kind of to the tune of Farmer in the Dell. Very catchy and the kids pick it up really quick.

I’ve also been pointing out letter A’s as we’ve seen them printed today. I’m going to focus on the letter all week and then do another letter the next week and the next. You get the idea. Hopefully this starts to stick.

What did Zach learn today? Hopefully some phonics of the letter A. And what the letter A looks like.

What did Mommy learn today? That there are about a million better ways to dress up the letter A. Like, I could have done animal prints for Animal. Or animal stickers. Or glue the animal crackers to the letter A. Oh well, this is letter of the week, so I can do some more obvious ones too. Like Apple. Or Alligator.

 

Day 6 (7201-8640m): Car Wash April 24, 2010

Filed under: language development,sensory,water play — Erin Brambilla @ 5:48 pm
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Don’t even try to tell me you don’t immediately start singing the song in your head at the very mention (or…reading) of the words “Car Wash”. “(Workin’ at the) car wash. Workin’ at the car wash, yeah!” Try getting THAT out of your head for the rest of the day. We did the car wash at 11:30 this morning. It’s 5:11pm now and I’m still singing it. Welcome to my world.

Today was the kind of day where, if I didn’t have kids, I would have stayed in bed watching movies all day. It’s grey and gloomy and just begs your body to be tired. Unless you’re 2. Then you’re up at the crack of 6:00am anyway. No rest for the wicked in this house! I wondered if I’d have the energy for any special activities today, but after a few time outs (“Zach, put the dog food back please! No! Listen to Mommy, don’t you dare dump that on the carpet!!!”), a few temper tantrums and a few headaches later, I decided the boredom that was leading to bad behavior needed to be stopped STAT. What could possibly work quick enough to salvage this lazy day? Bowls of water and permission to splash in them, that’s what!

I set up a little car wash in the kitchen today, which I read about HERE. Another sensory tub type of exercise, just with the added bonus that his toys were getting cleaned as well. Hey, I’ll take an added benefit when I can! Today’s activity was super simple, but super fun for Zach.

I gathered together 2 bowls, a few garbage bags (to serve as a waterproof drop cloth), some dish soap, a few kinds of scrubbing and drying tools and some water. I asked Zach to take his bucket and gather up his cars. It was time to take them to the car wash.

Today's Supplies

The Set-Up

To make it more than just a splash fest, I decided one bowl should be cold water and one should be warm. The warm one had the soap in it. I thought I might get myself a few seconds to talk about the senses before everything just got mixed up and tepid. So we talked about warm and cold. How the soap smelled. How the scrubbers felt. How the water sounded as it “sloshed” and “splashed”. It was a good effort on my part, LOL! Then it was just time to play.

Scrubbing and rinsing the blue car

Just playing

Oh…pay no heed to dusty floors or toys on the floor in the background. Let that be the answer to your question, “But Erin. How do you manage to have time for all this??” And also, yes…Zach is wearing the same outfit as yesterday. That’s what happens when Daddy dresses him :). At least it was pretty much clean!

This activity kept him busy for about 30 minutes. And in toddler world, that might as well be 2 days.  Then, he was in a much more civil mood afterward and was able to be a civilized person and hang out with Daddy the rest of the day. In fact, it got so quiet around here I wondered what was going on. I stepped outside to find this:

I'm just glad I was upstairs while he wielded the hose with delight!

I guess playing with water was the theme of the day!!

What was in it for Zach? Exploring his senses, as well as something to solve the boredom. I bet even kids need to feel productive!

What did Mommy learn? That water is close to a miracle worker in so many ways :). Bad behavior and tantrums aren’t always about being naughty, sometimes they are just from sheer boredom. And this was so easy to set up, I can see this buying me time to make dinner in the future :).

 

Day 5 (5761-7200m): Paper Plate Tambourine April 23, 2010

Filed under: Craft,music,sensory — Erin Brambilla @ 4:06 pm
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Zach adores music. He also likes to shake things. Paper plate tambourines are like the perfect combination of two loves. Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate (yum).

Today’s activity also came with a bonus! More on that later!!

Today’s supplies:

Supplies

2 sturdy paper plates, glue dots (or staples & stapler if you have that instead), hole punch, ribbon, scissors, dried beans (or pasta or rice..or whatever..buttons even!), stuff to decorate the plates (we used stickers today).

First, I had Zach put stickers on the back of the paper plates. We had an assortment of stars, happy faces and transportation stickers to play with. Festive!

That's a good spot for a sticker

Hmmm...which one do I want?

After he was done stickering to his heart’s content, I put some beans in a measuring cup and had him pour the beans on the plate. This was FUN.

There's something very satisfying about the "sssssspppp" noise the beans make sliding out of the cup and onto the plate

Beans on a plate. And this time I'm not trying to convince him to eat them (though he did do some of that!).

Now is the part where Mommy has to do some work before any music can be made. And there’s not much more activity to keep the 2-year-old occupied. That is BAD news. If I lose his interest here, the project will be lost. But never fear. A BRILLIANT idea has popped into my head. I only used maybe 1/4-1/2 cup of beans, which means there is practically an entire bag still left! Thanks to my recent research in activities for this age group, I now know about Sensory Tubs. Oh, I am now a BIG fan of Sensory Tubs. So, hence today’s “Bonus” activity was born. And let me tell you, Zach LOVED this. All I had to do was get some sort of a big container, put the sensory objects in (the beans) and let him feel away. I also gave him some cups and scoops. This activity was so much fun for him, that after we were done with the instrument making, I was actually able to unload and load the dishwasher, uninterrupted, while he played with the beans again. Good stuff!!

Beans in a bowl. What's more fun than that? They feel cool, and smooth, and round...kind of like rocks.

Now, while Zach played with the beans, I got to work. First I glue dotted around the plate. In hindsight I should have dotted closer together, some beans did spill out when we shook the final product and I had to go back and sneak them in the spaces (much harder than just putting them on the open plate). Staples would also work well to put the plates together, but we didn’t have any. After I put the two plates together, I hole punched around the plate to lace some ribbons through. The ribbons make it look pretty fun.

Glue dots. I'd do twice as many next time.

Hole punched

Pete will be happy to know that I used some leftover ribbons from our wedding!!

Lacing through

All done. It's a masterpiece.

Now, for the next fun part. A rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star accompanied by the Tambourine.

It was difficult to get a decent pic, too much shakin' goin' on

Oh, the difficult to master "over the head shake". I think I have a prodigy on my hands!

What did Zach learn today? Some shape and color lessons, especially with the star stickers (they were solid colors). He also did some sensory exploration.

What did Mommy learn today? That sensory tubs ROCK. And that any song can be tambourine appropriate, just shake away. Also perfect for kitchen dance parties. These were so much fun, I might come up w/ a wrist rattle version for Em & I to join the band. Oh and I should have read a tutorial like THIS one before starting. I would have known to glue closer together right away!