Toddler Activities

Eggplant Stamps

I know potatoes and apples are usually the big ones when it comes to making stamps for painting, but I really like using eggplant tops because they have a fantastic little handle on them that is just the right size for grabbing and leaves hands pretty mess-free. (Another low-mess tip for stamping, paint the stamp instead of smooshing it into a pile of paint.) I also love the fact that we aren’t using something that would otherwise be eaten, these tops were headed for the compost anyway (and using natural paints means they can continue their journey to the compost once the art is complete.)

After we stamped to our hearts content, my son helped me cut up the rest of the eggplant so we could roast it for dinner. He was pretty excited to see the eggplant used in two different ways, for art and for deliciousness. Two fun projects with one material, and we got to spend almost the whole afternoon immersed in eggplant. Score! Both of these projects build fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and cognition and art is always good for the creative process (which has been shown to help boost mathematical and scientific thinking, so get your art on!)

Finding other “food tops” are great for stamping projects, like a pepper or end of a cucumber. I also like to cut the core out of the apple and just use that, instead of just slicing a whole apple in half. That way you can snack while you paint and still send the core to the compost. What else do you use for stamping in your art projects?

 

The eggplant leaves help to give the art texture.

Toddler Activities

Bubble Up! Super Easy Bubble Solution

 

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It’s finally Spring! Here is a super-easy bubble making recipe so you can get outside and enjoy the sun:

Easy-Peasy Bubble Solution

*Warm Water (about 2 1/2 cups will make enough for one bubble sesh)

*Dish Soap (I use Puracy or Seventh Generation, but any soap will do, even baby shampoo can work as long as it can lather up. About 1/4 or less will do with the 2 1/2 cups of water)

*Pinch of Guar Gum

–Mix guar gum with warm water until it is completely dissolved.

–Gently add the dish soap. Try not to let it bubble up as you add it!

Fun bubble wand options:

*Plastic berry baskets

*Wire Hangers (bent into a circle)

*Slinkies

*Wooden Rings

*Pipe Cleaners (bent into a circle)

*Whatever you can find!

Making bubble solution is fun and easy way to add some math and science to your day, as well as fine and gross motor as your kiddos make and chase the bubbles around. Side note: blowing bubbles is a fantastic way to build the muscles in the mouth and lips needed for language development. Bonus!

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Toddler Activities, Uncategorized

Ice, Ice Baby: Ice Cube Fun

What better way to spend a warm Spring day then by playing with ice? I love to keep ice cube paint and ice animals chilling in our freezer to pop out whenever  we need something fun to do (or when I need to keep my toddler busy for an extended period of time, whichever comes first.)

Ice Cube Paint: 

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This is so super easy and really can keep a toddler or preschooler (or even an older kiddo) busy for quite awhile, which makes it worthwhile for that reason alone! It’s basically as easy as making a homemade popsicle, I even use old popsicle molds, but ice cube trays or small containers/cups work too.

How To:

Just mix some homemade or store-bought paint with water and a dash of liquid soap and pour into an ice cube tray or popsicle molds and freeze. Whalah, done! See how easy?!

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Paint Pop Tips:

I usually make larger paint pops by using the whole popsicle mold. This is super because my Bub will paint until the whole thing melts so obviously the bigger, the longer this project will last! It’s also easier to re-freeze the popsicle-sized ones if they don’t use the whole thing.

If you make ice cube sized ones, you can use popsicle sticks (or reusable popsicle handles, like I did) but crayons, pencils, and old markers also work well as handles and are also reusable!

About the paint…I used to make homemade, all-natural and organic paint all the time with my kiddo. But, super honest time: now we sometimes use store bought watercolor paint because the colors are brighter and it’s way easier since we do so much art it’s hard to keep up! (I still make it whenever possible, but for this post I used store-bought.) That said, there is zero judgement here so use whatever you want, it’s your project! Watercolors are great, but it can work with any kind of paint, really. (For thicker paint, add more water and soap to thin it out so it will freeze.)

This is better for kiddos that aren’t still mouthing everything, especially if you use popsicle molds, because who doesn’t want to eat a delicious brightly-colored popsicle?!

These can be messy, so you might want to have a tray or something underneath the paper for the melty-ness.

Ice Animals

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I always keep some icy animals in the freezer in all seasons. (and I love that my husband has never questioned why there are frozen animals and such in our freezer).  These are even easier than making the paint pops, just toss some mini animals in an ice cube tray (or bag), add water, and freeze. Done and done! I use waterproof reusable lunch bags, but any kind of bag  or freezable container will do the trick.

After they’re frozen, I just pop them into a tray or tub and give my two-year-old some tools so that he can help to free the frozen animals. The tools we use are kitchen utensils, a wooden mallet, and a small hammer, as well as kid-sized goggles and sometimes even a pair of mittens or “work gloves.” Then he can smash away at the ice until the animals are free, which can take a long, long time. Once they are out of the ice, they usually like to frolic in the icy tub, especially in winter if I add some snow. (Adding water to the tub on warmer days is also a ton of fun! Sometimes the ice cube animals like to swim around until they melt on their own.) You can also add other natural items to the tub for the animals to make homes with after they escape the ice, like small twigs, fallen evergreen branches, acorns, and the like. (This can even be an additional part of the activity: go on a nature search with your kiddo for items the animals might want to use for building or playing.)

Ice Animal Tips:

If you want to use the ice cubes in water, having smaller cubes is fun because it’s easier to hold the animals and have them “swim.” Bigger blocks of ice in water are MUCH harder to deal with and break apart because slippery. And icy water. So beware!

My general rule of thumb is: the younger the kiddo, the smaller the cubes. I also add more to the tub so that they don’t have to concentrate only on breaking the cubes apart, but can also build animal homes or just play with the snow or water.

Let kiddos add salt and/or warm water to the tub to see if it helps melt the ice faster. Have sponges, scrubbers, and/or warm washcloths ready to keep little non-mittened hands warm, or to help with melting and washing animals.

**Side note: I usually use plastic or reusable animals for this project but you could easily freeze pinecones or other natural treasures to avoid the plastic animals.**

**COMBINE BOTH ACTIVITIES FOR SOME FUN AND SILLY ART!** 

Why Try It?

Both of these are fantastic for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Using alternative art supplies is a super way to stretch cognitive and creative thinking.

Painting and using tools build spatial awareness as well as focus and concentration.

If your kiddos help to make these, there can be math and science lessons in there, when measuring out water and/or paint, filling up trays or bags, and waiting for them to freeze.

These can be completely all-natural and reusable in every way.

They are both suer easy set-ups but can buy you some much needed time! It’s also great to have an activity that can be made whenever you want and used at a later date when you need them most. Win-Win!

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Hope this keeps you cool and your kiddos busy! xo Meredith 

Toddler Activities

Bookworm Wednesdays: Tap Tap Boom Boom

Tap Tap Boom Boom

Written by Elizabeth Bluemle and Illustrated by Brian Karas

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April showers bring May flowers, but we can still enjoy those rainy (or snowy, in Vermont) days while they’re here!

Why I Like It:

The rollicking rhyme scheme is fantastic for reading aloud.

The repeating phrase of “tap tap boom boom” is so much fun for any toddler. My two-year-old loves to say it even when we aren’t reading the book.

The cool illustrations have so much to look at and talk about, almost every page is an adventure.

There is some great vocabulary in this book, including words like “congregate,” which are super language-builders and discussion starters!

The author used to live in NYC, where this book takes place, but now lives in Vermont.

Keep It Going: 

Cloud Art: IMG_4888

Supplies needed:

Cotton Balls and/or Cotton Pads for clouds

Cotton Swabs for rain drops

Washable Paint

Tweezers, Tongs, or Chopsticks (for holding the cloudy shapes)

Glue or Mod Podge

Dish or hand soap

How To:

Mix some glue or Mod Podge with the paint (add a drop of dish soap to make it an easier clean-up.) and then cover those cotton balls/pads!

Using tweezers or tongs, place the sticky clouds on the paper.

Add some drops of rain using the cotton swabs.

Why bother? This is a great way to build fine motor skills, especially if your kiddo is using tweezers or tongs to place the cotton balls on the paper. Holding cotton swabs is also good for those fine motor skills, and all of this helps with hand-eye coordination. Beyond that, using alternative painting tools really gets those cognitive skills fired up…one of the benefits of thinking outside the box!

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Disclaimer: This one is done with homemade paint, so I only had one not-super-bright color. If you make your own paint or use store-bought, it might be fun to have a variety of colors to make black or gray clouds, different colored raindrops, and rainbows!

Splat Clouds

Supplies Needed: 

Stockings, tights, old socks, whatever. (I used old pantyhose I found at a thrift store.)

Old play dough , sand, birdseed.

Washable Paint.

How To:

Fill the foot of the stocking or whatever you’re using so it makes a cloud-like shape. Tie off the top, leaving a small handle.

Dip in paint and splat on the paper.

Once the paper is covered in clouds, you can add some rain drops or just leave it as a cloudy day.

 

Active Reading Activity:

Whenever you read the words “Tap Tap Boom Boom” have your child bang a drum, jump up and down, or do a yoga pose. This will help them build those listening skills while also keeping them engaged, especially kinesthetic learners!

 

Count The Booms:

As you read, see if you can count how many times you say the word “tap” or “boom.” You can use tools to help you keep count, like drawing lines on a paper or lining up cars or other materials.

Rainbow Fun:

My two-year-old really likes the page with the rainbow, so we have to add some rainbow fun here too! Besides painting and drawing rainbows, we used prisms and the shiny sides of old CD’s (remember those?!) to make rainbows shine from the windows.

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