Monday, December 30, 2013

Two Snow Inspired Crafts

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Snow is a big topic in our house these days. With our outdoor walks through the snow, our real and pretend snow sensory bins, and a lot of snow fall and plow watching out the window, "snow" is one of the most common words I hear from Skyler. I unrolled a new rug in our entry way yesterday and some new-rug-dust started floating around. Skyler began running around pointing at the dust saying "snow, snow!!" (which sounds like a very nasal "no" with a slight 's' in the beginning!)

With his interest in all things snow, I decided to do a couple of projects inspired by snow. Both were well received and took him a long time to work on (I love when projects last half an hour or more with an 18 month old - I know he must really like it!) I tried to incorporate a lot of materials that Skyler does not often use. He enjoyed working with some unfamiliar art mediums.

For our first project, I gave Skyler a square of tin foil. He had a lot of fun tearing it up and I helped him roll it into balls.

I drew lines with glue stick on a piece of blue construction paper and Skyler filled the page with pieces of tin foil.


It was so simple and the result was a great piece of art that Skyler helped create the materials for with the tin foil balls. It looked like a winter snowfall! While tearing up the tin foil, Skyler also enjoyed making it "snow" on one of his kitties, so he helped Mama clean up with his little broom and pan afterward! He ended up walking individual pieces to the garbage can because he thinks that is more fun.

The next snowy craft we did used two recycled Christmas items - scrap snowflake wrapping paper and a piece of cardboard box that a gift came in. Along with those recycled items, we used the extra fluff that was trimmed off the snowballs from our sensory bin. It was a very 'green' project :)

When Skyler and I were shopping before Christmas, I pushed the cart down the wrapping paper aisle and he shot his arm out, grabbing this snowflake wrapping paper and he wanted to hold it as we walked around the store. I ended up using it as Skyler's paper, all of his gifts wrapped in blue paper with colorful snowflakes. I used it for this project by wrapping it around the piece of cardboard.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!!"
First, I gave Skyler some foam snowflake stickers. Usually he loves to peel the backs off himself (we decorated his pumpkin with finger paints and then sparkly ghost, spider, and bat stickers when it dried), but these stickers were quite hard to peel, so I did most of that.

Next, I gave baby boy some glue and let him go at it. He loved making little dots and after I showed him how to squeeze the bottle, he filled the entire thing! I was pretty impressed for his first time using glue from the bottle on his own!

Next we added the fluffy snow leftover from our sensory bin. This was a lot of fun. Skyler put handful upon handful (and then of course dumped the whole bowl - so fun!) on and I would pick up the cardboard to knock it off and he would do it all over again, and eventually all of the areas with glue were covered in snow.

Skyler's finished snowy artwork is so fun and it will make a fun sensory board when it dries. It is fuzzy, bumpy, rough, and so soft, among other descriptive words we can use when playing with it!

Another idea would be this craft that Skyler did in ECFE in October (I think it was as a spiderweb for Halloween, but would also work for snow). The only materials needed are construction paper and white chalk. Skyler really likes coloring with chalk, it is such a fun medium for little hand's to explore with! I still have it on the fridge after two months because I love the look of it and remember how much he enjoyed making it. 

These two crafts were so fun because of Skyler's current interest in snow. I always try to appeal to what he is interested in at any time, and it helps to create activities that he is really excited to do!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post-Christmas Organization

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Up until this point, after holidays where Skyler receives gifts (birthdays and Christmas especially) we have been able to keep all of his toys out, whether they be stand alone items like activity tables and walkers, or by adding them into themed bins (books, puppets, blocks, musical instruments). After last Christmas, though, there is just not enough room available to put out all of his new toys. I have been meaning to finish organizing his closet and have wanted to rotate his toys for awhile, so this was the time to do it!

This is where I am starting with Skyler's room, and shows the toys that will be rotated and re-organized.

I love Skyler's room and we spend a lot of time there. It will be nice to change out his toys, though. He has been playing with many of the current toys since he was born!

Well...then there is the elephant in the room, Skyler's closet. It is small, awkward, and goes through many cycles of organized and then completely unorganized.

I made the pictures small on purpose. I can hardly look at this closet! It has helped a lot since getting the 2x4 Expedit shelf from Ikea a few months ago. The first thing I did was take the outgrown/out of season clothes that I had tossed up on the shelf and a random assortment of gift bags down.

I folded the clothes and added them to a big plastic bin (one of two) of outgrown clothes that I organize by size and have sealed in vacuum packed bags. 

I purchased a skinny bin for under our couch and put the gift bags from the closet, and some other wrapping materials inside and out of view.

Tonight I went through the bins in the cubby holes and got rid of anything we didn't need. I also went through the clothes hangers and got rid of any store hangers, keeping the purchased hangers instead. I took out the swing that has been in there for far too long, and I started sorting materials into the four plastic bins I purchased (will definitely be needing some more of those). So far I have a bin for sensory materials, art materials, holiday books, and manipulative toys, blocks, and puzzles. In just one day, I am pretty happy with the improvement. (Note to self, wait until day time for the final pictures, the lighting in the closet is horrible!!)

There is still a lot of work to be done in the closet, especially when I start to rotate out the toys from the shelves in his room and from the living room.

I am hoping within the next week or two to have all of the new toys on the shelves, the old ones put away, and the entire room and closet completed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Book Loving Boy

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I love children's literature. One of my favorite college courses was an elective on Children Lit. Writing and illustrating children's books is something I do when I have time, though I have never taken it past creating them. Literature is something that I formed many lessons around when teaching in classrooms. It is a huge passion of mine, and something I wanted to pass onto my son when I found out I was pregnant.

My baby shower ended up being the day before Skyler was born, one month and one day before his due date. It was a book themed baby shower. Books were gifted to my baby boy, inscribed with loving messages from family and friends (I look forward to reading those messages with him when he is older). When Skyler was in the special care nursery for two weeks after his birth, Joe and I always brought books to read to him. Even in those first days of his life, reading books was something special we did. It has remained one of our favorite things to do as a family.

"Mama, book!"

In our ECFE class a couple of weeks ago we were asked what our child's favorite toy was. Skyler's favorite 'toy' is books, without a doubt. I was asked how I knew this was his favorite. We have books everywhere throughout our house. There are books on shelves and bins in his room, a bin and shelf in our living room, a bin in the car and we usually have a few in the diaper bag. Books are almost always the first thing he will go to in a room and he always brings books to me when he wants to cuddle (ever since he was able to maneuver with a book in his hand, before that he would say "book! book!"). We probably read books around five times a day together, plus he will read them independently throughout the day.

While he loves vehicles, balls, craft materials, and his sensory bins, books are always his first choice. I have taken many pictures of Skyler reading since he was born and these are some of my favorites (Sorry for the picture overload - I find it so cute to see my little guy reading!)

Skyler loves to be read to by others. As a baby he would smile and coo, when he got older he would hold up books to us, and now he will ask anyone around to read to him!

If Skyler has a book in the car, he will be happy. We can have a twenty minute car drive, and he will just sit and read a book over and over. Since I know the books he has, we can still talk about it as he looks at the pages. Check out that serious face!

After putting bookshelves on the walls in his room, we got him a little armchair for his birthday. He was also given a rocking chair for his birthday. He can usually be found in one of his chairs, the armchair in his room, or the rocking chair in the living room.

His favorite thing to do is stack book after book around him or on his lap as he reads through all of his favorites.

Today, he enjoyed reading his new books from Christmas, especially in his new tent!

The collection of books we have is such a great mix, chosen by family and friends, and supplemented by us. I think, other than being read to early on and often, that having ample opportunity and easy access to books has helped to promote early literacy and a love of books for Skyler.