Finger Paints and Stamping Fun!

I LOVE painting, and Caleb has been talking about painting a lot the last few days. First thing this morning I made a batch of my edible finger paint, and when my sweet boy woke up I surprised him with this painting station.

I really wanted to do more than just finger painting, so I grabbed straws and toilet paper rolls (two things I obsessively collect which drives Corey crazy) and stuck one of each into each of the six colors I made. I got Caleb naked, and gave him some paper. Then (last picture) I created examples to show him how the stamps work, and also to show him with the straw you can blow the paint around. He LOVED blowing the paint.

He really focused on the color red today. I was surprised. I made two purples and pink for him because he’s been so into them, but red was the cool color today.

After three of the toilet paper roll stamp paintings and one of the straw paintings I gave him a paintbrush. That’s what led to the second picture, and I loved watching him paint lines and then smack the brush against it like a stamp. It was cool to see that the concept we were working on really stuck with him. Lastly I took a straw and drew his name into his painting! I think once it’s dry we’ll put it on his bedroom door.

Originally I planned to do more. I was going to “stamp” his hand to make some Valentines Day cards, animal prints, etc… but he wasn’t having it. My normally messy loving boy really didn’t want to get his hands dirty today, so I didn’t force it. The paint only takes a minute to create anyway, so if he seems more willing later on, we’ll just do it then. I want to get some actual stamp pads and stamps. I think he’d love that, and he liked stamping his hand last Friday.

Daddy-Son Time <3

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One of the benefits of Corey working at Lowe’s is that he gets to bring home the Build and Grow projects to do with Caleb. Soon as he walks in with one of those sets, Caleb just lights right up. I’m actually really impressed with Corey too. He could build the whole thing by himself in a few minutes, or be too worried he’d get hurt to let Caleb help. Instead, Corey involves Caleb in the whole thing.

First Caleb reads him the instructions. Then Corey kind of follows them, but usually has to pull a few parts apart as he goes. Then he has Caleb help him put in each nail before he hammers it in. Caleb has the option of using stickers, or not. He can put them on and rip them off later. It’s totally Caleb led. In general it’s just a blast watching them, and I know he’s learning just so many things! Putting the little nails in the holes? Totally fantastic fine motor skill practice. Following instructions? Puzzling pieces together? Great brain activities.

It’s also education for Corey. Patience, letting go, trust… It’s really beautiful watching them together.

Autumnal Paper Chain: Home-school Pre-school Day Four

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Caleb had a very productive day of learning. We were supposed to focus on the letter A and number 1, but he knows those pretty well. We did a coloring page of the letter A, and talked about “one crayon at a time,” but then we moved on to something way more fun, because I kept looking out the window and seeing the beautiful colors of Maine in fall.

I took him outside to go learn about, and pick, leaves. We talked about how they start on trees, and then fall to the ground as it gets cold. Then I showed him all the colors they come in. I asked him to pick a bunch for our craft. I wanted to grab some of the incredibly beautiful and bright leaves… but I’m short. So we ended up with some cool gradient leaves instead. Orange and yellow, green and yellow, and red and yellow are what we ended up with.

Before we went I cut up a sheet of green, yellow, red, and orange construction paper, then when we got home I showed him the papers and how they matched the leaves we collected. Next it was time to talk about patterns and practice our color recognition while building a cool autumn leaves paper chain. I had him hand me ONE green, one yellow, one orange, one red, etc, etc, until all the papers were gone. He would hand them to me sometimes, and other times he would slide it through the last chain. We clothes pinned it up, and Caleb chose which chains would have leaves hanging from them. So much fun!

Even though this wasn’t originally on the curriculum, figuring it’s cow week not seasons week, I decided I couldn’t pass the chance up. We still got to talk about green (the color of the week), read a few books, and the fine and gross motor skills used to identify and say colors, as well as threading the paper through the previous chain, was a great practice, and covered what was planned. Oh, and while we were reading I pointed to a piece of broccoli. I asked Caleb what it was, because he loves broccoli and can say the word, but instead of identifying it he said, “Green.” I was really pleased. It was a fun day of learning for the both of us, and really nice to bring nature into our learning.

Craft Time: Cow Tube Kites

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This week, for our home-school preschool curriculum, our theme is cow. I don’t have specific things written up for weekend activities, but figured we could do a random craft involving cows anyway. I put on a few cow videos to introduce Caleb to cows, and I prepped this while he watched. Super easy project:

White Paper Cut to Fit Around a Toilet Paper Roll

Black Paper for the Legs (cut into strips and accordion folded)

Black Paper Cut for the Spots (or washi tape!)

Marker for the Face

Glue Sticks

To start, I had Caleb put the glue on the white paper, and I wrapped it around the toilet paper tubes. Then I ran out of glue! I ran around trying to find more, but instead found some black washi tape. I drew a quick cow face on each of these, and then cut a bunch of washi tape squares. I helped Caleb glue his tail on, then we each went to town putting on the spots. I showed him how to fold the legs, we cut them out, and we both taped the legs on together. I have seen these with some other animals, and I figured it would be cute with a cow as well.

Right now they are handing on our “project line.” Later we will tie a little yarn to the top, and bring them outside to blow in the wind! This is a very easy project, but it has a lot of steps. By the time we got half way through the spots, Caleb was pretty done. We got up and danced to Old McDonald for a few minutes, and he was ready to go back to the craft. It’s okay to take breaks!

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Water Beads ROCK!

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Look at that smile! This was a total win. Yesterday we went to the Dollar Tree, and I finally grabbed water beads. They are in the garden/craft section. They come with a vase, and the two packs I got came with three packs of beads. You soak these beads in water over night and they become little jelly balls. Non-toxic, not sticky, easy to clean up… it’s the perfect activity for kids and toddlers!

For us, Caleb is such a water and sensory loving kid that I knew we needed these. He will play in water all day long if we let him, but it ends up with him, my floor, and often me being soaked. These water beads, however, give the feelings of playing in water without actually getting wet.

Talking about fine motor skills though, there is a never ending amount of possible activities you can do with water beads. We spent over an hour playing with them when Caleb first woke up today. We started with them in the pub mix container (yay for recycling) where he could reach in just to check out how they feel. Then I grabbed a bowl and asked him to pour some in. I grabbed a little puppy toy, showed it to him, then hid it beneath the beads in the bowl, and asked him to find it. That was fun. Puppy is one of his favorite words. Then he grabbed cars and started driving in the bowl. That was really cool to watch actually. The beads moved like waves and would cover his hands or the car. Last but not least, I asked him to help pick the ones from the bowl up and put them back into the container. Talk about fine motor skills. Picking up slippery little balls is hard work! He did great though.

I wanted to share a few other activities we are planning with them. One is taking different containers to scoop and transfer the beads with and to. Tubes are a lot of fun. Pour some in one side and have your kiddo at the other end. It’ll be messy, since they’ll bounce everywhere, but so much fun. You can take bottles, with the smaller lid holes, and have your kiddo drop beads into them. Sorting, counting, working the motor skills… I really recommend having these on hand!

Reduce, Reuse, and Craft!: Turtle Drink Holders

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Corey has a slight soda addiction. Very often, aka every day, he runs to 7-11, and brings home his soda, as well as a snack and drinks for Caleb and I, in a drink holder. I’ve been keeping them all pilled up in my pantry for a few months now, because I knew eventually I could use them for something. Last night a friend of mine was telling me her nickname used to be Shelly. This led to a conversation about turtles, and the creation of this craft!

Walking by this afternoon, I spotted my pile, and instantly thought, “Turtle shell!” I grabbed a bunch of green, orange, and yellow markers. Caleb and I sat on the living room floor going to town on the drink holder. I colored one of the triangles green, and he copied. Then I outlined everything in different colors, and had Caleb cover¬†everything else in his cute multi-colored scribbles. He really went to town on it and I’m completely in love. He learned about some pattern recognition, we talked about colors, and I told him about turtles while we colored.

Once the shell was done, I just grabbed a piece of paper and drew a quick head, tail, and legs onto it. I’m sure one of you awesome readers can do something even better with it, but Caleb was anxious to rip the cup holder apart. There was a little rip, and he had started picking at it. I asked him if I could get a picture first, and he said, “Okay mom. One.” After I handed it back he ripped it to pieces, and then colored more on the pieces. Silly, silly little boy.

Let me know if you try this! It was a ton of fun for Caleb and me. I think the next craft will be turning one into a cow.

Color my Life

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I’ve always been a very critical person when it came to myself. I like to call myself artistic. I play piano and guitar, paint, draw, crochet, make jewelery and bows… I’m certainly not a master in any of it. Knowing that whatever I was making or playing wasn’t perfect would always make me feel low. Eventually I’d stop doing whatever it was other than at home by myself or with Caleb.

Now, that’s the thing. Caleb doesn’t know that his artwork wouldn’t be considered perfect. He doesn’t know that his finger paintings would be considered anything more than some splashes of colors. He is proud. He has fun making things. He takes pride in presenting his colorful art work and you know what? That makes it the absolutely most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. He makes art, or strums his guitar, because it makes him happy. You should see him go at it screaming a little song and strumming his guitar for us. It’s just the sweetest thing to watch.

We can all take a lesson from Caleb. Don’t take life so seriously. Don’t do things you enjoy for other. Do it for you. If you like to draw, do it. You don’t have to make a masterpiece as long as you have fun along the way. Kids are so smart. Let’s let them color our lives.

Mixing Colors!

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When Caleb was 6 months I first posted about this edible finger paint I like to make for him. The other day we were feeling a bit creative (aka Caleb was trying to draw on everything in site) so I pulled out the paint, stripped him down (well, I threw this pair of boxers my nana gave him over his diaper so it wouldn’t get dirty), and plopped him into the high chair. I had some paperwork to fill out so while he was painting, I let him have at it so I could get my work done. He started out like any other day, pushing the paint around with his fingers and spoon. Then my curious little boy decided it would be so much more fun to toss the paper away and dump the paint right onto the tray to play in. This, was the first step to a great educational activity.

Mixing Colors

He started to mix the colors together so I put the paperwork aside and we talked. First we named the three main colors. Red, Blue, and Yellow. I asked him to mix together the blue and yellow. Once he saw the green, he shocked me by pointing out the fact that it was, indeed, green. He wouldn’t say the other colors but he would point to the correct one when asked. We mixed up orange and purple as well.

This simple activity, that didn’t take more than a few moments to transition into, was so much fun for the both of us. I could have just pointed to colors in a book or shown him a video. Instead though, he was able to see in front of his own eyes, using his own hands, how mixing two colors would create something completely new. I asked him today, totally to show off, not going to lie, what blue and yellow make. He said green. That’s so awesome to me.

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We made a little keepsake for this cool activity.

So now just because I can’t resist, here’s some of the paintings he ended up making after our little color mixing lesson. They were all created by him smacking (booming) the paint and then smacking the paper.

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Daddy’s First Night Nappy

Daddy's First Night Time Change

Woohoo! This was just last night and it’s going to be a short post but this is a monumental moment right here.

Corey, finally, willingly put Caleb in his “night nappy” without even being asked. Until now he has thrown a bit of a tantrum every time I even hinted at him putting it on. He would put on a pocket diaper without much of a problem but a cover and prefolds? Not so much. So, yay everyone. Last night he properly, without being asked, got Caleb ready for bed and I’m so incredibly pleased.

The cover pictured, as well as the prefolds, are from Sweet Pea Diapers.

Learning to Read/Identify Items and Words: The importance of availability.

climbing for booksLast Sunday I had a party and while I was cleaning up and getting ready for it I made a terrible mistake. I put Caleb’s books on the very top shelf of a shelving unit that’s tucked away into a corner. Usually he has full access to his books and he’ll go over, grab one, and plop himself down to look through it. Once in a while he’ll even bring the book to me and read it to me in his sweet little babble.

Every day we read together. That means very different things on different days. Sometimes he just wants to hold the book and turn the pages after I only get a word out. That’s okay. I’m not going to force him and make it any less fun for him. Other days he’s perfectly happy to snuggle up in my lap and allow me to go through each page, read the words once or twice, and point out all of the little details such as what color someone’s eyes and hair are or who’s taller or shorter in the scene. No matter what, when he brings a book to me (or when I call him over to read if it’s getting late and he hasn’t shown interest yet) my goal is to make it fun so that he never feels like reading is a chore.

Books are a great way to explore the world. I have an awesome 101 first words book that we read probably two or three times a week at least. I’ll read each word and point at the object it defines. Then we’ll talk about different colors on the page, how many of each item there are, and how he uses it or will see it. His absolute favorite page is the one with the clothing because he likes to point at the shoes and shout shoes at me a dozen times till I can spit out, “Good job, you’re right, those are shoes.”

Well, this picture is a few days old. I have seen the error of my way. How dare I put his books so high up and expect him not to do something scary like climb up onto the back of the couch to get them back! He showed me that our approach to reading and learning is working. He showed me that he does enjoy our time together, learning about a world beyond our own and even closer (as in every day life) and that what we’ve learned has stuck with him. After seeing him so desperate to get to his books I decided from now on he will have a little library set up in every room. Yes, that includes the bathroom! This is the time to start the building blocks of tomorrow.

Let’s Read!