- Beans or some other small objects
- Egg carton
- Tray with lip
- Kiddo to occupy
Sometimes I just need to occupy one of the boys for a while so I can finish something up, but they want to be right by me. This simple activity is perfect and there is very little prep or cleanup, unless your grocery shopping helper grabs a bag of peas rather than beans like mine did – then you might be stepping on peas for a week!
In a tray on the table I set the peas in a bowl along with a spoon, an egg carton and sometimes a cup. My boys create their own activity to occupy themselves…scooping, pouring, counting…sometimes I give them many peas, other times only a handful. Every time it’s a great occupier!
Since typing this up I’ve also seen this on several blogs…I’m not original in my thinking!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I wish I had some fun little blog post for today, or even a thought out post at all! I haven’t been very good the past couple of weeks with my boys having colds, just taking posting a day at a time and not getting ahead at all.
Today we had a visit to the Dr. and my littlest has a double ear infection. Poor guy! We really just can’t get ahead!
So today I’m just popping on to wish you a happy day!
Happy Valentine’s Day my guys!
Please. Polite. Pour. Punxsutawney Phil. Penguin. Pepper. Paste. Pretty. Plane. Plastic. Pasta. Pen.
Social/Emotional: Field trip to Play at The Strong National Museum of Play.
- Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea counted straws this week. Cutie Pie also helped me measure and cut index cards to 1″ x 5″ to make straw Planes!
- Straw Plane Directions: Take a straw and 3 pieces of 1″ x 5″ card stock (we used the index cards). Tape two pieces end to end to make a circle, tape this to one end of the straw. Tape the remaining piece together to make a circle and tape that to the other end of the straw. Voila! A straw Plane! The boys loved these! I found this idea on All for the Boys.
- We made Milk Plastic!
Literacy: Cutie Pie’s name starts with the letter P, so he’s pretty good at writing this letter. Sweet Pea not so much. He had fun using a glue stick inside the letter P outline I gave him. He really enjoyed this, but got a little carried away with the glue stick and used the entire thing! (Sticky boy!) Cutie Pie helped decide on the thing starting with P that we should stick to our letter and he chose Pepper! He also came up with that little list of P words up there!
- Glued pepper onto the outline of a letter P. (Coordination, fine motor)
- We made groundhogs out of construction paper hearts. I got this idea from here. Of course we named him Punxsutawney Phil since we made him on Groundhog Day!
Physical: Fine and Gross Motor:
- scissor practice cutting Punxsutawney.
- Cutie Pie traced his letter P and practiced writing it on the chalkboard.
- Sweet Pea picked up lots of peas from his tray while scooping in his pea-filled sensory box!
One thing I found, but that I wasn’t able to print out until after P week was over (but is really fun now that we have played!) is a Penguin game found here!
Our science experiment for letter P week was Milky Plastic from 365 Science Experiments published by Hinkler Books. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
- Full-cream milk
- Eye dropper
- Microwave safe container
Before we started I asked Cutie Pie what he thought would happen when the vinegar and milk were mixed together and he said “they will make funny tasting milk.”
Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove. Warm, not hot. (number recognition, coordination)
Slowly squirt vinegar into the milk and stir gently. What’s happening? (fine motor, coordination)
Carefully pour the milk on to your hand, making sure it isn’t too hot. It’s best to do this over the sink! What’s in your hands?
Observations: The milk became stringy when the vinegar was mixed in. Eventually it became a white ball that, per Cutie Pie, felt like soft plastic, almost like silly-putty. It was squishy. The liquid remaining in the bowl was yellowish in color, yet translucent (per Cutie Pie see-through-able).
What’s happening? Per the book “Milk contains a chemical called Caesin.” The vinegar separates the caesin, which is a type of plastic, from the rest of the milk.
Cutie Pie didn’t really like holding this in his hands, but thought it a very neat experiment and loved the almost immediate change in the milk? Try it!
365 Science Experiments published by Hinkler Books is one of my family’s favorite sources for experiments. This post about this experiment is solely to share a fun experiment and experience with this blog’s readers and has not been posted as a result of compensation.
The kiddos received a new book for Christmas, Usborne Activities 50 Science Things to Make and Do, and we love it! Every project to try is laid out very clearly with pictures and simple instructions. At the end of each is a section called “What’s going on?” and explains the science details of what you just did! It is recommended for ages 9+, but my kiddos love it and have understood the simple science concepts of each project so far!
The first experiment we chose to do was the Chiming Fork.
Objective: Find out how sound vibrations work.
Materials: Thread, fork, fingers, ears, table
- Cut a length of thread as long as your arm. Tie the middle to a fork and wind the ends around your index fingers. Swing the fork so that it gently hits the table. What do you hear?
- Next, touch your index fingers to the flaps in front of your ear holes. Swing the fork gently against the table again. What do you hear?
- Cutie Pie observed the fork initially made a “clunk” noise, just like the experiment described.
- The noise I heard when putting the thread to my ear was the same as when the fork hit the table initially.
Cutie Pie wonders if the weight of the thread would change the outcome of this experiment, or would affect the pitch of the noise heard when the thread is held close to the ear. We plan to do this experiment again to test his theories.
“What’s going on? When the fork hits the table it vibrates. This makes the air around it vibrate and you hear a dull clunk. But it makes the thread vibrate too. When you put the thread near your ears, you bring the thread closer to the sound sensors in your ears. You can hear the vibrations much more clearly. They now make a clear chiming sound in your ear.”
50 science things to make and do was given as a gift by a family member. I have not been compensated in any form by the publisher or author of this book. This review is based on my and my family’s honest enjoyment of this book.
Cutie Pie for some reason had been asking a lot about coconuts lately and whether they had juice in them. One day when at the grocery I decided to get one and examine it with the boys!
|Examining the coconut exterior – texture, size, shape|
|This was supposed to be easy open, puncture with a knife…|
|it wasn’t! Hubby to the rescue! All the while we talked about what it might taste like.|
|As you can tell from the expressions, coconut milk was not delicious!|
The boys had a great time with this experiment!
The initial examination: (The exterior of) the coconut is rough. It is hard, maybe so animals can’t eat it.
The hypothesis: coconut on cakes is sweet and dry so this coconut will be sweet, but maybe the other stuff (flesh) will be wet but sweet since there is milk in it.
The discovery: ‘Coconuts don’t have milk. It’s water that tastes yicky.’ Hubby says it tasted bitter. I couldn’t describe the taste, sour, bitter? The ‘flesh’ of the coconut ‘is not sweet’ (expressed with much disappointment!)
The conclusion: Cutie Pie’s fascination with coconut has ended. He admits he still likes the dry coconut on cakes.
The question: What new things have you tried lately?
One thing my boys love to do in the winter when we can’t get outside is have fun inside! Usually the boys run around “the loop” from the kitchen, through the dining room, into the living room and through the kitchen again, over and over and over again.
They also love to dance to “happy fast” music. This day was extra special – Hubby played some familiar “happy fast” music for them on his violin and they danced and danced and danced! Oh they slept well that night!
What do you do with your kiddos when you can’t get outside to tire them out?
The Strong National Museum of Play currently has a new exhibit and my kids love it! The Wizard of Oz exhibit is great! You’ve got to check it out!
The exhibit consists of activities to exercise kiddos’ minds as well as their bodies and there is something for every age group to do. Even the adults will find this one fun…Hubby and I did! The favorites for our family? Cutie Pie enjoyed trying to build Glenda the Good Witch’s crown multiple times in addition to climbing across the spider web at the Wicked Witch’s castle. Sweet Pea spent a long time sorting the farm produce and listening to the noises farm animals make. Hubby and I got a kick out of hearing what we’d sound like with altered voices (think munchkins and the wizard).
|Sorting Produce at the Gale Farm|
I heard many parents talking about this exhibit as we walked through the museum, all in a good way. Some past exhibits were a little worn, sparse, some targeted more towards a specific age group. This exhibit, however, has a lot of activities, seems appropriate for crawlers all the way up the age-range. The materials and exhibit pieces themselves were in very good condition, and the room was very inviting.
|Building Glenda’s Crown|
If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz you’re going to really like this exhibit. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll have a good time! In fact, my kiddos asked to see the movie on our way home, right after they asked when we could go back to play in the exhibit again! They are watching it (in installments) but just like when we were kids they probably won’t see the scary flying monkeys until they’re older!
Here are some more pictures to help convince you to visit The Strong National Museum of Play’s Wizard of Oz exhibit. And if you don’t live near here, watch for it to visit your nearby children’s museum. It’s a lot of fun!
Clockwise from upper left: 1) Sorting produce. 2) Farm animal noises. 3) Tornado. 4) Welcome to Oz. 5) Apple tree faces. 6) Tin Man’s gears. 7) Climbing at the Wicked Witch’s castle.
This post has in no way been influenced by The Strong National Museum of Play, Miami Children’s Museum, SPARKS or Warner Brothers Consumer Products. All opinions are solely those of my children, husband and myself.
Sweet Pea’s inner scientist came out a while back. While playing with Magneatos, he discovered they can ‘stick’ to things other than themselves! (Magneatos are plastic toys with a magnet encased in each end.) He then proceeded to almost every item in the house to see if a Magneato would stick to it.
We talked about what made the magnets stick, that it was the material the item was made out of. We then methodically revisited a few items and had more fun trying to build off of them, resulting in some interesting dangling structures, some tall skinny towers, and some ‘porcupine quills’! (science, problem solving, processes)
If this was my 5 year old Cutie Pie we would have hypothesized which items the Magneatos would stick to and then test our theory, but that is for another time with Sweet Pea!
Math: I tried to put tape down on the carpet to play hopscotch indoors, but it wasn’t working as Sweet Pea kept pulling it up. A nice day came along and we made a hopscotch grid on the driveway with chalk and practiced counting. Sweet Pea loved this! We also drew hearts of different sizes with chalk and talked about big and little.
Literacy: We practiced outlining the letter H and Cutie Pie practiced writing it on the chalkboard. We also listed as many words beginning with H that we could, including Hi, Hippo, hypothesis, him, her, hammer, hamster, hen, hot, hut, and we talked about what each word meant.
Art: We had fun stamping red hearts of all sizes on our letter Hh printout. Both boys had fun making the hearts into railroad tracks!
Physical: Fine and Gross Motor: The boys’ work bench came back this week and Sweet Pea was more than happy hammering away! If there’s one thing this boy loves it’s to hit things and as long as he’s hitting his bench with his hammer it’s allowed. There was also a lot of running and jumping going on with the fun of the hopscotch grid! The boys decided to make the chalk hearts into railroad tracks and pretended to be trains on the tracks!
Sid the Science Kid has an episode about Sid’s banana turning brown. In it the characters learn about how food changes by examining pumpkins in various stages of ‘ripeness’ including decay. Cutie Pie decided he wanted to document the changes in his Jack-o-lantern this past Fall and diligently took pictures of it often hoping to prove his theory that pumpkins decay over a period of time. I recently came across these pictures again and he was excited to share his observations.
The first image you see is of our Jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night. The second is from a day or two later. Cutie Pie observed the pumpkin itself hadn’t changed much, but that it’s shape had changed due to something eating it for meals. Over the course of the next few days he discovered squirrels like pumpkins, but not the seeds as they were scattered around the food source as well as left inside it. Even several weeks later the pumpkins’s basic form was the same, however by this time the inside was becoming covered with mold. Cutie Pie hypothesized it takes longer for a pumpkin to decay than a banana because it is larger in size and kept cold at night. We haven’t tested this yet. He also hypothesized the mold grew because rain had gotten inside and made it soft, one more thing we have not tested. Eventually the pumpkin became soft and sort of mushed into the ground with most of it becoming black, just like in the episode of Sid. (At which time he was OK with shoveling it into the trash, much to our delight!)
Cutie Pie was excited to see the result to his experiment was almost exactly the same as on the show. He was also happy that this meant his theory that pumpkins decay over time was accurate! I was impressed that he was so diligent in taking pictures, rather in having me take pictures and telling me exactly what he wanted pictures of, to record this experiment!
Do you experiment with your kiddos? We’d love to hear about some of your experiments! Please share a link so we can check them out!
I’ve seen a lot on mom blogs about activity bags to keep kiddos occupied. Cutie Pie has come up with something very similar all on his own. He calls them ‘kits’!
Cutie Pie was diligently playing by himself near the truck box. Hubby went over after he walked away and checked out the collection of vehicles. Cutie Pie said it was a ‘kit’ and was meant to be played with! He was a little perturbed that Hubby didn’t seem to know right away that he was supposed to get down on the floor and play!
Since then, we’ve seen several kits laid out on the floor. Some are all construction vehicles, others are a mix of cars and trucks, and still others are sorted by size! Every once in a while we even overhear him telling Sweet Pea that he’ll get a kit out for him to play with and Sweet Pea sits patiently waiting until his big brother tells him it’s OK to start playing!
I hadn’t really thought about setting out a particular grouping of toys hoping the boys would play with them, and I seriously doubt if I did that they would! However, it almost seems like sorting, classifying, organizing or whatever you want to call it comes naturally to Cutie Pie. Even when we are cleaning at the end of the day, most times things have to go to their ‘homes’ now, rather than just shoved somewhere to call things clean!
|Wanna bop my balloon, Mommy?|
- We counted balloons. How many total? How many of each color?
- We counted how many times we dropped or caught the balloons.
- We counted how many balloons popped on the grass.
- We pointed out a lot of things that are Brown
- SP and I made Magic Bubbles using the recipe from Creative Kids at Home. Here’s the recipe we tried. They have more on their site, you’ve got to check it out!
- We read Little Bunny Foo Foo.
- We read When I’m Big by Sam McBratney
- Cutie Pie enjoyed wiping the letter F off of the blackboard with a wet paintbrush
- Practiced writing letter B in chalk on driveway then washing them off with wet paintbrush
- We painted with small balloons by pressing them onto paper. This made neat little spots, which Sweet Pea loved!
- We drew and colored balloons on the driveway with chalk and chalkpaint
Physical: Fine and Gross Motor:
- Bopping Balloons outdoors.
- Throwing and catching balloons.
- Chasing runaway balloons.
- Practiced writing letter B on driveway in chalk
- Bike rides!
We haven’t done very many experiments lately, at least not any that I actually planned! Cutie Pie seemed to want a little one on one time and asked if we could do an experiment the other day. I pulled out 365 Science Experiments book (published by Hinkler Books) and flipped open to this conduction experiment number 128. It couldn’t have been more perfect as it was right before our hot cocoa date! Read on to see why!
- Hot water
- Drinking glass
- Ceramic mug
- Foam cup
“Find out which material is a better conductor of heat.”
- Fill each “cup” with the hot water.
- Feel the outside of each container with your hand. Be careful, the water was hot!
- What do your fingers tell you (sense of touch)? Which was hottest? Coldest? (Or which couldn’t you touch for long?)
- The ceramic mug felt hottest.
- The glass at first wasn’t very hot, but when testing the temperature of each container again, we noticed it had gotten quite hot. Possibly a slow, but good conductor of heat?
- The sound of pouring water was different with each container we used. Cutie Pie hypothesized this was due to the different shape of the containers or the materials the containers were made of.
We put this all to the test during our hot cocoa time. Cutie Pie thankfully doesn’t drink his hot cocoa at a very hot temperature, so I allowed him to pour it into the different containers to see the real-life application, since before it was just hot water, and “hot water isn’t really something you drink” according to Cutie Pie!
Cutie Pie has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, which puts me in a search for toys yet again. I came across CP Toys by Constructive Playthings and I am really liking their selection of educational toys for kids. He got some really great toys for Christmas, so I’m looking for something a little different than can be found at the big box stores and I think this might be the place!
As you know from previous posts, Cutie Pie loves his science! He’s also been into pretend play lately. The first category I searched under was Pretend Play and found unique put-together toys as well as wooden play sets like kitchens and the food to fill the cupboards. The dress up items look like a lot of fun, too! The Science and Nature search brought up microscopes and a neat looking Dino dig and build kit.
I am trying to decide what to get Cutie Pie as a gift. I just have to remind myself to look at the fun, educational toys for kids that I know he’ll have fun with and enjoy a little longer!
“What are you doing Cutie Pie?” I say as he takes the couch pillows from the rumpus room to the living room, which is hard because they are big and heavy. In return I get a glare, then a cute smile with a twinkle in his eye. Soon Sweet Pea is there to help.
“Making a fort!”
I know this isn’t unusual, but the process the boys used, once they had every single pillow and cushion from the rumpus room on the living room floor, was quite interesting. First they tried to stand them up on end, then on another end, but they kept falling down. Then they tried leaning one against another, but only two at a time. Everything they tried seemed to fail. I tried hard not to get involved, and after a while they asked me to look at their fort. It consisted of all of the pillows laid out end to end making a path, although to them this was the fort! They took turns laying out blankets over their pillows, being very careful to not step outside of their fort.
I was trying so hard to let them complete their project on their own, that whenever I did go near with the camera they stopped what they were doing and got distracted so I decided not to take pictures. It’s amazing what our kids can achieve when they set their minds to it, and when we don’t distract them or cause their outcome to change unintentionally. It’s serving as a reminder ,once again, that it’s sometimes good to pause and wait for the outcome rather than trying to fix what’s wrong!
Sweet Pea also received Fisher-Price Trio Gears for his birthday. Cutie Pie absolutely loves them and has sort of claimed them as his own! Sweet Pea doesn’t seem to mind that much, though. Since they are loved I thought I’d share my review of them, like last week’s built it review, just in case you need inspiration for yet another toy for your child!
Have you seen or played with Fisher-Price Trios? They are heavy duty plastic cubes that are made to clip together. There are holes on each side to allow the assortment of accessories to be attached in various ways. The basic set comes with the simple pieces and a great pamphlet of building ideas. The theme sets come with the fun accessories (like eyes and rods that can be used like arms) and the instructional pamphlet of ideas, all of which are clearly explained with step by step pictures. Trios are generally recommended for children age 3+. I have found that a three year old needs help clipping them together in addition to following the instructions, but Cutie Pie (at 5yrs old) requires help mostly with deciding what to build (because there are so many choices), how to get started and making sure the accessories are pushed in tight enough. I’m imagining an 8 year old would still have fun with this toy with a lot less adult intervention.
The Gears set has been a really fun addition to our other sets of Fisher-Price Trios. (We have the fire department set, the crane construction set and the basic set.) Cutie Pie was anxious to get them out of the box and play with them before Sweet Pea even realized what they were! The Gears are traditional Trios, but with a simple gear attached to some of the single cubes (you can also find several cubes attached together to make building a little more simple in sets of Trios) and several big gears as well as accessories like a propeller. You assemble different toys by connecting the gears in a certain way, rotating the handle shaped gear and the gears work together to move! Cutie Pie gets so excited when we finally finish his creations and they work just like he hypothesized they would!
Cutie Pie loves to count (like I said in at least one past post) and when he plays with Trios its the same ~ he follows the picture directions and counts the number of cubes of each type as well as counts how many cubes should be attached together when finding a longer piece. He also loves to describe what he wants to make (when he has the idea) as well as how he thinks it will move (if he’s using Gears). He seems to love the process of building with Trios! (science, coordination, fine motor, concentration, predicting, sequencing, comparing, math, creativity)
The only thing I wish to change about all Trios is that sometimes they come apart a little too easy. I’m sure this is because they have to fit together snug enough to hold, but not too snug or little fingers would have a hard time fitting them together. We can live with this as often Cutie Pie will attach what fell off somewhere else and make a new creation!
To put how we feel about Fisher-Price Trios Gears simply:
- Pros: fun, simple, heavy duty, clear picture directions, colorful, educational (science, logic, math)
- Cons: sometimes not tight enough connection between pieces, adult help may be needed for younger children (if this is something not desired it makes it a con, otherwise it would be a great child-parent activity!)
If you are looking for a Christmas or birthday toy for a child between the ages of 3 and 8 I would definitely recommend Trios! For the older child in this age range I would recommend the Trios Gears for additional imaginative play!
Fisher-Price has in no way provided compensation for this review. This review consists of honest opinions of my family and myself and has in no way been influenced by Fisher-Price or it’s affiliates.
I’ve seen this experiment several places, so I take no responsibility it. We’ve also done this experiment a few times before and each time it gets my boys’ attention. Most recently, I’ve seen this in the book Child’s Play by Leslie Hamilton, listed as Magic Balloon.
Use the funnel to put about 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the balloon. Use it again to put 1 to 2 inches of vinegar into the pop bottle.
Secure the mouth of the balloon to the mouth of the pop bottle by making sure the baking soda is the the bottom of the balloon and then folding the balloon over so the baking soda doesn’t fall into the balloon. Work with only the mouth of the balloon. Yes, I know, this takes some coordination!
Hold onto the balloon tightly while your child lifts the baking soda-filled part of the balloon, letting the baking soda fall into the vinegar.
What happens? Gas is formed by mixing the baking soda (a base) with the vinegar (an acid) and the gas fills the balloon!
Can you tell there are two underlying themes this week? If you guessed ‘what we did this summer’ and ‘balloons’ then you are right!
If you liked this experiment you may also like: Balloon Rocket!
I saw this idea a long time ago on No Time for Flashcards. It’s a simple geoboard! The homemade one I saw used a larger board, nails and colored rubber-bands, but, since I was making this for younger kiddos than the one pictured on that blog, I made a few changes. I used small ponytail holders ($1 bargain area at Target), red thumbtacks (they have that little lip at top to help hold the ponytail holders on a little more securely) and a smaller board (because I know my preschooler would feel like he had to fill up the whole board and would get frustrated if it were too hard at first and might not try it again as happens with some fine-motor activities. I got the board for a couple of bucks at JoAnn’s.)
My kiddos love this! Every once in a while when it gets quiet, I find Cutie Pie on the floor playing with this or Sweet Pea ‘making a track’ on it. I’m so glad Cutie Pie didn’t get frustrated the first time using this and that they both find it a fun way to amuse themselves! Little do they know they are improving their coordination, using logic, math and a bit of science along with working on their fine motor skills!
One time Hubby saw the geoboard after the boys had gone to sleep and it had a ‘G’ on it. When he asked Cutie Pie the next morning what it was he said he made the ‘G’ because he wanted to! LOVE it! I think when I see his interest wain in this I will have him help make a larger one with nails and use colored rubber-bands with it!