Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Vehicle Gelatin Rescue

Having my second child has really reinforced that idea that each child is unique. Whereas Xander really didn't care much about cars, trucks or planes, Archer LOVES his vehicles.  He often carries around one of his little school buses and definitely likes seeing vehicles out and about. 

To tap into that interest, I set up this Vehicle Gelatin Rescue for him.  I put four packets of unflavored gelatin in a cup of cold water. Then I stirred in three cups of boiling water.  Once it was mixed together, I added a bunch of little transportation math counters and popped it in the fridge. 
When it was all set up, I gave Archer some sensory tools and let him go at it. 

Of course, he had to taste it. That's why I am still careful what materials I give him for sensory play!
Even Xander got in on it (I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing them play together). 
When we were all done playing, we threw the transportation counters into the water table for a nice little wash.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Games for Brains: Hive

Playing Time: ~10-15 min
Players: 2
I found this game a few years ago, when I was on the hunt for games that would be easy to introduce to a younger kid.  I think Xander was 6 at the time we got it, although he picked it up right away. Each side has tiles that have different types of insects on them.  Each insect has a different way of moving.  The goal is to completely surround the opposite side's queen.  At first, I was worried that having to learn all of the different types of movements might become overwhelming, but the movements are simple enough, that it wasn't a problem.  Overall, the game feels a little bit like chess, but much quicker and less complicated. While we do not have the travel version, the bag that they come in is small enough, that it is easy to take with for trips.
Brain Value:
This game is pretty heavy on the strategy.  You have to consider how each piece moves, how best to get around their queen and keep your queen open.  Because the shape of the tiles affects movement a little bit, there's a tiny bit of visual/spacial reasoning to the game as well (or you can just try moving it and see if it fits). At first Xander moved pretty randomly, but now he's able to slow down and thing about moves, so he can win a lot more often.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Fairy Garden Play Dough Kit

The boys have some little girl cousins who are adorable and the epitome of all things pink, unicorn, glittery and frilly!  I love my boys dearly, but sometimes wish for a more girly creative outlet too!  A recent birthday for one of our sweet cousins provided the perfect opportunity!  Here is the Fairy Garden Play Dough Kit I made for her.

I found this Latchmate storage box that had a cute little storage tray and seemed to be a good size for little kids to carry around (plus, it was pink). In the top I put a little watering can, some flowers, a mini teracotta pot and a Fairy Fantasies Toob (this Fairy Super Toob would also be adorable!).
The bottom had some fairy themed cookie cutters I found at the craft store, purple play dough and pink strawberry play dough.
The whole thing closed up in the box and has a handle, although, the watering can needed a little bending. 
I had so much fun making this box, I think I'll have to start making others!  I can't wait for Archer to be old enough for them!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Games for Brains: Kingdomino

Playing Time: ~15 min
Players:  2-4 Players
It is always great to find simple games that play quickly and are fun! This game involves using dominoes to expand your "kingdom."  You have to match the type of landscape on the dominoes and get more points to bigger areas, as long as they have a crown somewhere in it.  Players also use little pawns to choose which dominoes they'll get the next round, but that also changes the turn order. (I think my description made it sound more complicated than it is). Since it is short, we can easily get in a few rounds during the baby's nap time and I still have time for some housework.

Brain Value:
Since new dominoes need to match at least one existing one, and you can only create a grid of a certain maximum size, this game involves some good visual/spacial reasoning.  I love that it also requires some planning ahead.  Xander has to not only think of what he wants to do this move, but how future pieces might fit and how his selection affects his turn order in the next round.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lemon Play Dough

Classic Sensory Play: Baby's First Playdough! 
So Archer is the kind of kid that eats EVERYTHING.  We're talking bugs, dirt, sticks, etc.  Because of this, I'd been holding off on letting him use playdough.  Recently, though, I decided it was worth trying.
I made him some no-cook playdough from this recipe.  For fun, I used yellow food gel and some lemon extract.  Archer had a lot of fun squishing, playing, rolling and, of course, tasting.  Luckily, it was way too salty for him and then he really didn't want anymore. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Books on the Shelf: Native Americans

These were last week's Books on the Shelf.  Actually, the last two weeks.  We forgot to rotate, oops.
Xander had been interested in reading these books we have about Native Americans.  Since he had an interest, I figured it was a perfect time to pull them out.  We also made the sensory bin with edible moon sand to go with it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Simple Baby Bin - Balls

The other day I had a day where I just wasn't feeling great.  To keep Archer occupied, I got out this simple ball bin.  It just has a bunch of ping pong balls and plastic golf balls.  I threw in an empty tissue box, a silicone ice cube tray, a paper towel toob, a basket and a large plastic serving spoon. Since I took the picture, I also added a little metal container I found at Hobby Lobby. 
This little box has gotten SO much play!  He loves putting all the balls into the containers and then shaking them out (all over the room).
He also enjoys climbing into the box to play!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Edible Moon Sand Sensory Bin

Xander has been having epic battles with his Toob knights lately, so I was inspired to make a sensory bin with his Powhatan Indians Toob (one he picked out last time we had a good Michael's coupon).  I also threw in a few pieces from his Wild West Toob.  I saw this "edible" recipe from Surviving a Teacher's Salary and decided to give it a try.

I used about 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of corn meal, 4 T vegetable oil and 4 T corn syrup, but will probably add some glycerine next time, to help hold it together.

Both boys ended up playing for a long time. Xander played with the figurines, Archer ate played with the sand (he thought it was delicious).  While it does have a fun consistency and will do some clumping, it isn't quite like real moon sand.  I was thinking of adding some glycerine next time, to help hold it together.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

13.5 Month Learning Shelves

Here are the most recent shelves in our playroom.
Top left has knobby balls and stepping domes, then is his little car ramp and tobbles.  Top right is a shapes sound puzzle (which is a huge favorite right now), middle right are sorting disks a friend was kind enough to let us borrow.  Bottom right is our ice cream set.
We used the stepping domes and knobby balls to practice sorting colors.
With Xander's help we also balanced them.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Oobleck - Not Just for Big Kids

Xander had a friend over the other day, so I decided to whip up a big batch of oobleck (cornstarch and water).
I set it up outside with plates, bowls and funnels. 

The big kids had lots of fun, for a long time. 
Archer decided he didn't want to be left out.  He ended up sitting at the picnic table playing for much longer than I would have thought.  Granted, he did eat quite a bit of Oobleck, but that's kind of its own sensory play, right??

Monday, July 8, 2019

Books on the Shelf: Fourth of July

These were last week's Books on the Shelf
To get in the spirit, we did a bunch of books about the Fourth of July, the flag and the Declaration of Independence.

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