Animal Activities for Toddlers Using Our Learning Tubs

Learning Tubs

Incase you missed yesterday’s blog, I have decided to do a series this week about the Learning Tubs that I do with the boys. Yesterday, I gave you a look inside our Alphabet Tub, and today, I am going to give you a look inside our Animal Tub, which includes several activities you can do to help your child begin to identify animals and their noises while also working on their literacy and motor skills.

Meeting Children’s Needs

I think one of the biggest adjustments going from one child to two is that you can’t meet every need of both children at the same time or at the exact moment in which they want or need something. Sure, I meet their needs, but one child might have to scream and cry for a minute or two before that need is met. Or said child may have to play independently when they don’t want to while I’m working with the other child. They both want my undivided attention all. the. time. I need a clone.  

Go ahead and cue that Mom Guilt; however, I have become very good at blocking out crying and tantrums over the past 17 months. I’m totally ok with that because to me, you don’t want to give attention to negative behavior anyways.

With all that being said, I have found it more and more difficult to teach James and Weston at the same time. Y’all, they’re only 15 months apart. Again, how do those homeschool momma’s do it?? Weston can’t do the things James can, but he WANTS to. This means if James is working on something at the table, Weston is pulling it off the table. If I am sitting in the floor showing James something, Weston is sitting in my lap knocking it out of my hands. If I give up and try to give Weston the same thing James is doing, Weston eats it. Jesus. And. Wine.

Differentiation

Oh it takes me back to teaching. Differentiated Instruction. For all 23-30 students. You are to meet every child’s needs, by yourself, without the resources you need, with kids on a minimum of three different grade levels, but you better get it done and you better make everyone happy in the process. It’s called differentiation. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED teaching, but that is the reality of what a teacher does day in and day out.

One of the things I loved most about the last school I taught at is that we truly did do whatever it took to meet the needs of every child. We wanted to meet those needs, and we did, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Some days though, that seems easier than meeting the needs of my own two kids. At least no one was throwing things at me, having a toddler tantrum, or throwing down because I gave them a blue plate instead of a purple plate.

Animal Tub

So within our tubs, I try to put activities that either both kids can do and enjoy, or I put in activities on different levels (differentiation – see what I did there) so that they can be doing different things at the same time – ha, in a dream world anyways, you know that doesn’t actually happen. Animals are a little easier to do this with, as it’s a great skill for Weston to work on, as it’s more on his level. It’s much easier for me to enrich an activity for James, as there are some things that Weston just isn’t cognitively ready to learn yet.

Here is what we have going on in our Animal Tub this week:

  1. Books – As always, I start off reading the boys books on whatever subject matter we are discussing. I’ve been doing this with James since he was born, and now he loves to read! Weston isn’t to that point yet, but hopefully, he will be the same way. We are really enjoying Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Noisy Farm, baby’s very first noisy book farm, and I Spy in the Jungle (Jellycat Book). The boys especially love the two books with the noisy buttons they can push, because well, toddlers.
  2. Puzzles – We have multiple animal puzzles the boys enjoy, but we have two specific puzzles that are great for younger toddlers to start off with: Fisher-Price Growing Baby Animal Activity Puzzle and a Melissa and Doug FarmWooden Chunky Puzzle similar to this one, only with different animals. We also have this puzzle, which is made of several mini puzzles. It is better for James, as it is more difficult. Not all of the mini puzzles are of animals, but I sort the animals out and have James piece them together. There are only 3-4 pieces per mini puzzle, and it allows him to see the different sections that make up the animal as well as the spelling of the animal.



    You probably can’t tell, but this is an example of brother pitching a fit he can’t get on the table to do what James is doing.
  3. Fisher-Price Little People Farm Animal Friends – These have been great for both James and Weston. Weston uses them to practice animal recognition and noises, whereas James using them to match the animal to either animal flashcards or the animals we are reading about in a book. For instance, if we are reading a book and it shows a cow, James will pick out the cow farm animal and show Weston that they correspond with one another.
  4. Beach Ball Animals – So we use a beach ball because it’s what we had, and I’m all about using what you have. Don’t reinvent the wheel people! But you could also make a cube out of paper if you’re crafty to have the same results. I simply put a picture of a different animal on each section of the beach ball (just google a picture and hit print). We throw the ball back and forth and which ever animal it lands on (aka whichever animal James feels like doing), has to be named, and he has to tell me what noise the animal makes. I also have him act out how the animal moves. This is an easy activity to differentiate as well, as you can interchange the animals and make them more difficult as they progress. WARNING: If your kids like to destroy things like mine, there will be a small window of time before they rip the pictures off. Shocking, I know. Just being real. 

These are the things making up our Animal Tub this week! I will alternate books, puzzles, and activities as the boys start to master them or disengage in the current ones. What animal activities do you do with your little ones?

Rainy Day Activities

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Rainy Day

So, one of the worst things around here is when our two very active boys cannot get outside. They would live outside if they could, especially James. I’m not going to lie, I love being outside too, so it makes me go a little stir crazy when I’m stuck inside all day.

Today is going to be one of those days where it is supposed to rain ALL. Day. Long. Not only that, but tonight is a night where Chad has to work late (past the boy’s bed time), so that means an already long, rainy day is that much longer.

Passing the Time

I hate those days where you look at the clock and it seems like time is creeping by so slowly. Sometimes, I have to find activities that make the time pass a little more quickly. Seeing as we will be stuck inside all day, I knew I was going to have to come up with some rainy day activities for us to do to make that clock tick a little faster. I know, I’m horrible for even saying that, as I should be “enjoying every second” because time goes by fast, but y’all, let’s be honest – sometimes as a toddler mom, you do wish time to go by a little lot quicker. That’s the reality, so let’s not sugarcoat it. Add a very grumpy, teething toddler into that mix, and I’m counting down til naptime too! Just give me all the Tylenol, people.

Rainy Day Activities

So here are some activities we have on the agenda today. Some we have done before, and some are new, and I’m most certain that a few, or all, will not go as planned and have a few tantrums along the way, but hey, that’s life as we know it.

  1. Oobleck – I loved making Oobleck with my students when I taught first grade. Dr. Seuss books are some of my favorites, and when you have a fun activity to go along with a book, that makes it all the better. Now, trying to read Bartholomew and the Oobleck to my one and two year old would be a nightmare in itself, as it’s long and their attention span is not, however, they loved playing with the Ooblck, and what a great sensory activity! For older ones, it is fun to talk about how it is both a solid and a liquid.The recipe is very easy – it’s a 2:1 ratio of cornstarch and water. Two parts cornstarch, one part water. I used 1 cup of cornstarch (that’s all I had on hand), and 1/2 cup of water, and that was plenty for my two boys to play with. Of course when I did it in the classroom, we added green food coloring to go along with the book, however, I let James pick what color he wanted, and he chose orange, so we played with orange Oobleck. A fun activity that took time off the clock!

  2. Let’s Go Fishing! – James has really been into fishing lately, which is kind of funny, as he’s never been fishing, and my husband doesn’t fish. I’m  not sure where he picked that up from, but regardless, we put these fun fishing poles in the boys Easter baskets this year, and they are loving them! They’re meant to be used in the bath tub, which we do every night, but today, I just plopped the boys in the empty bathtub in their jammies, and they went fishing!
  3. Painter’s Tape Highway – I. Love. Painter’s Tape. It is amazing, and I find so many ways to use it with the boys. I originally saw a picture on Pinterest that I piggy backed off of. I would link it, but the link no longer works. The picture showed painters tape going over the furniture and carpet like it was a road for the cars. We happen to have a large open space between our kitchen and den that was perfect for making a road with painter’s tape. So, I made a road, a garage for the trucks/cars, a helipad for the helicopter, and I put the boys play tunnel on the road for the cars to go through. The boys loved this activity! James even rode around on their Mickey car like he was driving on the road. Help us all when that kid can drive.



  4. Painting – Pretty simple, get out some paint and create a project. We use this paint, and it is a very easy cleanup. We do handprint/footprint art all the time because their little hands and feet are so cute I figure I might as well do as much as I can now for keepsakes down the road. Plus, they love to have the paint on them!
  5. No-Mess Painting – We have three great no-mess painting activities that James really loves. We have the Melissa and Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reveal Pads Set, Melisa and Doug Water Wow! Splash Cards Set, and the Crayola Magic Water Paint set. All of these are amazing and they only need the brush and water!
  6. Window Markers on Pyrex Dishes – We have these Window Markers, and the boys love them! Now, they aren’t quite responsible enough to take them and only draw on the windows, so I let them draw on a Pyrex dish. The clean up is pretty easy if you wash it off as soon as they’re finished. Then, just stick the dish in the dishwasher for additional cleaning.
  7. Tupperware – Y’all, my boys LOVE to play in my tupperware cabinet. When I’m cooking or need to get something accomplished, I let them pull it all out, and it keeps them busier than most any activity I can do with them. They stack and build and create and honestly, I think it’s a great hands-on, creative learning experience for them. Without prompting, James told me he was building a castle. I didn’t see it, but he did, and that’s all that matters! It allows them to use their imagination and their problem-solving skills. Win-win for mom and kids!

  8. Popcorn and Movie Party – Let’s not forget what a rainy day is best for – popcorn and a movie! I know, I know, this involves screen time. A little is ok, sometimes a lot is ok if you’re having one of those days, which around here, happens. If yours aren’t ready for popcorn, just substitute their favorite snack. Make a pallet on the floor and enjoy some quality time. Attention span around here isn’t very long, but I have found that my boys LOVE this movie, and this movie, so maybe yours will too!

What Rainy Day Activities Do You Do?

I hope y’all enjoy some of these activities on your rainy days! What activities do y’all do to pass the time when it rains?

Color Activities

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Teaching at Home

I like to think I am teaching my kids things while I’m staying at home with them. Sometimes I do a good job at this, and some days, Mickey Mouse, Zooptopia, and “independent play” take up our time. We all need days to relax, right?

James has pretty much mastered his colors with the occasional mix-up between red and green. I’m pretty sure my grandfather that was color blind mixed up red and green too, but we just won’t worry about that right now.

Being a “Fun Mom”

I see all of these, what I consider “fun moms,” doing fun, messy things with their kids, and I think, “Wow! They’re such a better mom than I am. I would never let my kid do that because I don’t want to have to clean up the mess.” So, against my better judgement, I tried to do a couple of “fun mom” activities, and let’s just say I was quickly reminded that I’m just not a “fun mom,” and I’ll have to be ok with that. The levels of Jesus and wine that were needed after our first two color activities were through the roof. Needless to say, I opted for a low-key, no-mess third color activity. I will say, the boys loved all three activities, which may make me consider doing them again should I have some soothing worship music on and a bottle of Moscato next to me.

Color Activities

  1. Bath Time Painting

    First, let me say that this makes a HUGE mess, yet I have done it more than once because the boys like it so much. The positive: it is contained to the bath tub, which is semi-easy to clean up. I would make sure to do this activity right before bath time, as if your kids decide to paint their entire body’s head to toe like mine did, they’ll need a bath promptly after.I have read in the past that people have mixed food coloring with shaving cream and let their kids paint in the bath tub. Sounds like a great idea unless you have a 16 month old like me that eats EVERYTHING. I certainly didn’t want him eating shaving cream, so I tried to think of something else with a similar consistency but was also edible, so I quickly came up with whipped cream. Maybe not the healthiest choice, however, it gets the job done.

    I took a muffin tin and put whipped cream in each muffin section. I would recommend using a large muffin tin sheet (12 sections) if you have one, as the paint will go quickly! I had one with 12 sections, so that is what I used. I put a few drops of food coloring into each section of whipped cream and stirred it in.

    Before I let the boys paint in the tub, I made James name the colors, and I would ask him throughout the painting session which colors he was using… until they all became mixed together and became a very ugly orange/brown color combo. Lots of fun, but lots of cleaning up!







  2. Color Sorting with BlocksLet me preface this one by saying I think I made this one more of a mess than it had to be. Weston was napping, and I like to use what I have at home for activities, and what I had was corn meal. Bad choice. dumb choice. Something like sand or uncooked rice would work much better, be a little less messy, and wouldn’t get in your toddler’s eyes like corn meal. Duh.I took a plastic tub I had and filled it with our beloved Mega Bloks. These blocks are great for so many things! Once I put different colored blocks in the tub, I covered them up with the corn meal. This is where next time, I would cover them with sand or uncooked rice. Although it would take a lot of rice I suppose. Anyone have another suggestion?

    Once the blocks were completely covered, I took James outside. Outside is key to make sure you don’t have the mess inside. He  immediately started digging through the tub to find the colored blocks. Every little boy’s dream. He seriously loved doing this!

    When he would pull a block out, he had to tell me the color of the block, and then he had to place the block on the matching color of construction paper that was on the ground. Eventually, he sorted through all of the blocks and matched them each with their corresponding color. When he was finished coloring, I gave him some measuring cups and funnels to play with in the corn meal for a bit. He did a great job, and it was fun, but cleaning up the corn meal that blew everywhere was not.

    Added tip: Do not do this activity on a windy day. Whatever you choose to cover the blocks with will blow everywhere, as will the construction paper you’re using to match the blocks to. Next time, I will know this. Hey, you live and you learn.








  3. Beach Ball ColorsAfter trying the first two activities, I needed something simple and mess-free. My boys LOVE any activity that includes a ball to play with, so the beach balls were a hit. I had two extra beach balls lying around from James’ 2nd birthday party, so I blew them both up. It was important that I had two because they must each have one, or WWIII is going to break out.I started by making James point to each color on the beach ball and name it, which he could do successfully. We then simply would throw the ball back and forth and say, “I spy _____,” and name/point to the color we saw. After a few rounds of this game, I would pick a color on the beach ball, he would name it, and then I would make him find an object in the house that was the same color.

    The best part: the beach balls: they are providing lots of entertainment beyond the color games!

Overall

Overall, each activity was fun, kept the boys entertained, and as much of a mess they made, I would do them again just because the boys were happy, and I do feel like colors were practiced/reinforced. I guess maybe I have fleeting moments where I can call myself a “fun mom.” Enjoy, and be sure to share any color activities you are doing with your little ones!

Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed

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The Day From You Know Where

After about a month long hiatus, I figured it was about time I get back to blogging. We have had a fun-filled month with family and friends visiting, and then we capped it off with an Easter trip to the beach with more family. Fun, fun times, with a few glasses of wine, and many a times of me asking Jesus to just help me make it one. more. minute.

Yesterday was the day from you know where. We had to literally take it one minute at a time yesterday on our way back from the beach. It quickly, or I should say slowly, turned into a 10 and a half hour drive with two not so happy toddlers. Lots of crying. Lots of whining. Lots of crying. Lots of screaming. Lots of tantrums. Did I say lots of crying? I had to take a minute to pray a few times to ask for help to not completely and utterly lose it on my children.

Don’t worry, we finally made it home, and would you like to know what happened next? Chad went to pick up our bulldog from the vet, so I was trying to be helpful and unload the car while he was gone. Well don’t you know our sweet, little 16 month old decided to lock himself in the house. Yep, that meant James and I were locked out. My keys and phone were inside. Thankful for a nice neighbor that let me use her phone, and Chad was home shortly after to let me reunite with that sweet baby. I was pretty sure he was inside eating dog food, however, instead, he just completely destroyed the laundry room with emptied puzzles, straws, and flash cards. On the positive side of that, I was thankful that was all he got into. He naturally wanted nothing to do with me and clung to Chad. You know, I just have to maintain that Mom of the Year status.

If I wouldn’t have had a headache from that fiasco of a day, I would have had one, large glass of wine, but instead, I thanked God the day was finally over and went to bed.

I Have My Own Monkey’s

Needless to say, I feel qualified to write a post on five little monkey’s because I have two monkey’s in my house every day. Wild monkeys at that.

Today, we are trying to get back into somewhat of a routine which means story time, music time, free play, and lots of timeout sessions. During our read aloud this morning, I read two different versions of the popular story, Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed. We read this book and this book. Since teaching, I’ve always loved reading different versions of the same story. It is a great way to working on comparing and contrasting. Obviously, my kids are too young for that skill, but we still have fun reading the similar stories.

Activities Related to the Story

This book has a lot of different activities/skills you can do with your kids of various ages. As said before, with your older ones, you can work on comparing and contrasting if you read different versions of the book. For your little ones, this is a great book to practice counting and repetition. This is a repetitive story, which simply means the same phrase is repeated throughout the story. See if your little one catches on to the phrase and can repeat it each time with you. Also, it was a good book to practice body parts with my 16 month old. Every time we read “bumped his head,” we would practice patting our head to reinforce this body part we have been learning.

Once we read the story, I turned on our Apple TV and clicked on YouTube, which I love so much, and searched for, “Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed”. Several songs/videos popped up, so just choose one you like best. My boys like this one, and I know it is appropriate which can sometimes be a concern on YouTube. Not only did we sing and dance which are great Arts to incorporate into a lesson, but we also acted this story out using our monkey craft, which I will explain next!

Monkey Craft

Let me preface this craft by saying, under no circumstance should you tell your child what you’re preparing for. AKA, don’t tell them you’re making a monkey. They’ll just sit there and say, “I want monkey! I want monkey!” until you’re ready for them to do the craft. Also, for the love of God, just prepare this craft when they are nowhere around – nap time, bed time, whatever works for you. This will take care of the previous issue as well. It does take a few minutes to prepare, so if your kids are anything like mine, they will be torturing one another, going through all of your cabinets, and making you stop to put them in timeout while you’re trying to get everything ready. Which in turn, makes it an even longer process. So take my advice, and prepare ahead of time.

Materials:

Construction Paper 
Scissors
Glue
Cardstock
Popsicle Stick (I used plastic forks)
Tape (I used painter’s tape)
Bandaids

Directions:

I used this picture as my monkey inspiration as far as how to draw it out.

  1. Get two pieces of different colored construction paper. Preferably a dark brown and a light brown. I used a brown and a tannish, yellow color. You need two different tones to complete the monkey’s face.
  2. On the darker brown, draw a similar shaped monkey face as pictured below, and cut it out. (Ignore the poor lighting. It looks orangish, but it is just a standard brown.)

3. Using the lighter color of construction paper, draw the inside of the monkey’s face as pictured below, and cut it out. Once it is cut out, draw two eyes as seen blow, and cut them out as well. The monkey will end up being a mask.

4. Also with the lighter colored construction paper, cut out two monkey ears as pictured below.

5. Once all pieces are cut out, you will want to start gluing the monkey face together. Now, since my boys easily destroy all crafts we make, I decided to glue the face onto card stock to make it less flimsy, and harder to destroy. Stay posted to see how long card stock takes to disassemble. With that being said, once the darker/larger part of the monkey face was glued onto card stock, I again had to cut out the monkey’s eyes to get the mask effect. See pictures below to see how I glued the face together.

6. Next, take a black sharpie and draw the monkey’s features on the face and ears to make it pop.

7. Turn the monkey face over and tape or glue a popsicle stick to the back of the face in order to make the mask. I did not have popsicle sticks, so I used a plastic fork. I used painter’s tape instead of regular tape to help enforce it a little more. Elmer’s glue probably won’t hold the stick on very well, but if you have a hot glue gun, that would work well and definitely be harder to take off.

8. Then, it’s time for the fun part for the kiddos. My son loves a bandaid, and I’m convinced after teaching, all kids do. And, they think it fixes everything. This is when I started asking James some comprehension questions from the story. It’s never too early to work on comprehension! Definitely a much needed skill for your child to learn. We talked about what happened to the monkey and that he got a boo boo. We talked about where his boo boo was and how we could fix it. He put two bandaids on the monkeys’ head as pictured below.

Disclaimer: Before James and I made his mask, I made one for my 16 month old, as I knew he couldn’t do the craft, but he could play with the mask and do the other activities with us. For his monkey, I used standard colored bandaids, and you can see in the picture below they kind of blended in with the monkeys’ face. So for James’ monkey, we used some Lion King bandaids I had, and they popped a little better.

9. Last, sing the song and act out the story with your child as they use their fun, new mask!

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

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Integrate the Arts

Does anyone else love Saint Patrick’s Day? I love a Saint, and I love the color green, so what’s not to like?

One fun thing about teaching was always the art projects you get to do for the various holidays throughout the school year. I always felt bad for the dad’s since Father’s Day doesn’t fall during the school year. I know they probably don’t think twice about it, but they don’t get the fun art pieces their kids create like the mom’s do for Mother’s Day.

I was truly blessed to work at an arts integrated school, and it made teaching SO MUCH FUN. Seriously, if you are a teacher and don’t teach at an arts integrated school, I encourage you to integrate the arts in your own classroom curriculum. The students love it, and you will too!

With that being said, although my boys are still a little young to get the full lesson of it all, there are so many ways to integrate the arts into a history/religion lesson for St. Patrick’s Day. Subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss the post coming about a Saint Patrick’s Day devotion for toddlers.

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

As always, if your kids are older or even younger than mine, simply tweak these projects a little to meet your individual needs. You can always extend and enrich the projects for older children. If you need help coming up with ways to do this, please feel free to contact me, and I’d be glad to help!

Below I have listed five St. Patrick’s Day crafts that I did with either one or both of my boys. They are all super simple (just how I like it), and don’t take very long. Heaven knows if I try to do a craft that takes too long with my boys I will certainly be asking for #jesusandwine before naptime.

  1. Shamrock Handprint – This one seriously took longer to prep for than it did to complete. I love anything using my kids’ handprints as art! Eventually I know their hands will be too big to do these things, so I am doing all I can now. There will be a post in the future on creating the alphabet with those sweet little handprints, so stay tuned.If you struggle to even draw a stick person, fear not, I have a total cheat system for you here. Simply Google a picture of a shamrock, find one you like, print it out, and trace it onto the background of your choice. I chose green construction paper because shocker, that’s what I had on hand. Also, you’ll what a solid colored background for this one, as you want your child’s handprints to show up.Once I traced the shamrock onto the construction paper, I pulled out my handy dandy sharpie and outlined it. Trust me, sharpie makes everything look better. I always had my students outline their projects in sharpie. It makes it pop and definitely looks cleaner.Last, I used some green finger paint to coat my boy’s hands and pushed their handprint down into each leaf of the shamrock. I did a three-leafed clover, but you could certainly choose to do a four-leafed clover. I used some green finger paint from Target that I do not recommend – it dried sticky, however, I have had great luck in the past using this finger paint, and it is what I will use in the future.

    This is the kit I bought, and it is great because it has large white sheets of art paper you can use for projects as well. The only problem with this specific kit is that it does not have a green tube of paint.

    Quick tip: I couldn’t find our paint brush, and you know I didn’t get out just to buy a paint brush, so I used a cotton ball to dip in the paint and coat their hands. It worked perfectly!

  1. Rainbow with a Pot of Gold – Ok, I am a little biased, but I thought this turned out cute. This is also a great example of a project I simplified for my kids since they’re young, but you could make it even cuter if your kids are a little better with paint than mine. I’ll let you know how you can do that!Remember those white art sheets of paper I was talking about in the previous craft? That is exactly what I used for this one. I simply cut out a black pot out of black construction paper and glued it on to one of the large, white piece of paper. I then used some DO-A-DOT paint that we had in our craft box. James loves this, and it is great for little ones. I highly recommend getting some if you don’t have some already!Guilty, I had to look up a picture of a rainbow to see the order of the colors for this next part. Once I figured out the order, I put one dot of each color starting closest to the pot. James and I then started with the bottom color (purple) and began making our rainbow. I did it in this order to make sure there would be enough room for all of the colors. I definitely had to help him with this, as he likes to dot EVERYWHERE, i.e., the table, his hands, etc. However, it was a great way to continue helping him learn his colors.Once the rainbow was created, I looked in my craft box, aka an old wooden basket that is overflowing, and looked to see what I had for the gold. Mardi Gras beads! That’s what I had, so that’s what I used. Originally, I was going to cut out yellow circles of construction paper, but after about three odd shaped circles, I gave up on that. This was a time I needed a dye cutter at home! If you have any of those plastic, gold, play coins, that would be super cute with this. You could also use some gold glitter, just be forewarned, glitter always makes a huge mess, so go outside or prepare to reconnect with Jesus for some patience with the mess that is to come.

    I’ve seen this project done with different colored handprints for each color of the rainbow as well, and that turned out cute, but I knew my boys weren’t quite ready for that. You could also use something like Froot Loops or Skittles.

  1. Patricks Day Hats – Ok, so my boys destroyed these in under a minute flat, shocking I know, but if your child can handle them, they’d be cute for them to wear. Tip: Don’t estimate the size of your child’s hand. Measure it with a strip of construction paper. I did measure for one child but not the other. You can see in the picture below that it was way too big and just feel over his head – mom fail.I cut out the pieces for this project and then had my two year old help me glue them together. I started by cutting two green strips of construction paper, glued them together, wrapped them around his head to see where I needed to connect them so it would fit like a band around his head. I then glued them together to make a circle.Next, I cut out a rectangular shaped piece of green construction paper. This will be the hat. I chose to make my edges round and the sides not perfectly straight. This is simply a choice you can make.Then, I cut out a black strip of construction paper that was the same length as the bottom of the green hat portion. Glue the black strip onto the bottom of the hat.

    Last, cut out a yellow rectangle. Cut the center of the rectangle out so that it will look like a buckle, and glue this in the center of the black construction paper. You’re hat is then finished! This was really quick, which is good since it took longer to make than it did to destroy.

  1. Shamrock Sun Catcher – If you read my post about creating Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, we used the same technique to create this shamrock sun catcher. We used our same DO-A-Dot paint that we used to create our rainbow in the first craft, but this time, you will only need the green paint. If you don’t have these markers, or your child is old enough to handle markers, you can use a green marker instead. You will also need three coffee filters.Simply have your child use these paint pens or a green marker to cover the three coffee filters. You want very little white to be showing. I then took a medicine syringe, as that’s what we have plenty of around here, and filled a small cup with a little bit of water. You could also use a toothbrush or a medicine dropper to sprinkle the water. It does not take much water at all. You don’t want it soaked, you just want enough water for the colors to start to bleed together, so just start putting little drops of water all over the coffee filter. Fill in those small white spots! Be sure to put something under your filter while you’re doing this. I put it on a piece of construction paper and then put a cookie sheet under the paper. Now, it’s time to sit back and let it dry! It really doesn’t take too long, but I’m sure you could set it outside to dry quicker or use a hair dryer.Once all three pieces were dry, I cut them into wide heart shapes so that when they were put together they would look like a shamrock. Again, I chose to do a three-leafed clover, but you could do a four-leafed clover. I laid out how I wanted to pieces to be put together, and used tape to connect them. You could also use glue, but I would make sure to use as little as possible.

    For the stem, I glued a lime green straw to the back of the shamrock. You could also use a pipe cleaner or just some green construction paper. I then taped it to the door because I didn’t have any string, but it would be cute to connect some string to the top of the shamrock and hang it in the window that way.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I hope you and your little ones have a fun time making these crafts for St. Patrick’s Day. Let me know about the crafts you are making as well! Also, here is a fun book to read to your child for St. Patrick’s Day. We love this one and think you will too!

Fine Motor Skill Activities

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Looking for the Positive

Well, the little one, almost 15 months, who is actually the bigger one, has officially found the toilet. He really enjoys splashing in it, and let’s not even begin to discuss that he likes to lick the water off his fingers. Ew.

As gross as this, and as much as it is a #jesusandwine moment, I have to say, it takes some motor skills to accomplish this disgusting task. He had to use those little fingers and arms of his to get that far, so that’s a plus. It shows me that he’s continuing to develop, and that my friends, is a blessing.

Fine Motor Skills

Since I’ve had to the opportunity to work in the classroom with students of various ages, I know just how important those fine motor skills are when it comes to academics. It is important that your child learns to write, draw, cut, and glue, and if their fine motor skills aren’t developed, these can be very daunting tasks for a young child.

Developing fine motor skills starts at a very young, and if you work with your child on these skills, you can set them up to be successful in the future, and you’ll also be able to place some checkmarks on those dreaded well baby checklists. Those things always make me nervous. I feel like it reflects me as a parent.

Let’s Get Started

Today, I am going to list some ways for you to do that at home with objects you have around your house. As always, if you don’t have the exact items I used, be creative and adapt the activities to fit your needs.

  1. You will need a colander and some type of skinny stick like object that is small enough to fit through the colander holes. My two year old loves this one! I have been using kabob sticks, but WARNING, there is a pointy end, and if your child is like mine, he will find it and think of ways to use it. You could substitute toothpicks, or spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti noodles of course are fragile, but if you have a gentle child, this could work. Simply have your child put the sticks through the small colander holes.

  1. You will need a creamer bottle and golf tees. Again, this is what I used because it was I had at home. There are SO many ways you could change this activity. I simply had my younger toddler drop the tees through the creamer bottle opening at the top. I know this sounds simple, but they really have to focus on this activity and practice maneuvering thir fingers and hands in order to put it through the opening.

  1. You will need straws and a plastic carafe. Ok y’all, so my mom found this plastic carafe at Kroger, and it’s awesome. Not only can I use it for activities with my kids, but I can also use it should I ever need some mimosas to go somewhere. At one end of the carafe, there’s a hole that you can stick objects through. I have been having my kids put straws and pom pom balls through the opening. They will sit there and do this activity over and over. This is not the carafe I have, but it would work for this activity!

  1. You will need an old diaper wipes box and some pom pom balls. Simply have your child push the pom pom balls through the opening. Now I will say, my 14 month old still likes to put everything in his mouth, so he does try to eat the smaller pom pom balls. The bigger pom poms are better because he can’t swallow them, and they have to use their fingers to actually push the pom poms through the hole.

  1. You will need a muffin tin and some type of small ball. I use these plastic balls for so many activities! Have your child place the balls into the round sections of the muffin tins. This activity, just like the others, takes some hand eye coordination. If your child is like mine, they will have way more fun throwing all of the balls than actually putting them in the muffin tin, but hey, it was worth a shot.

  1. You will need blocks. Have your child practice stacking blocks. You can start the tower of blocks for them to show them what to do, and then have them stack as many blocks as they can on top of one another. We used these blocks, but any kind of blocks will work. They blocks that don’t connect can actually make this a more challenging activity for your toddler.

  1. You will need puzzles. Ok, so I really love activities that serve multiple purposes. I love puzzles that not only are working on our fine motor skills, but also are teaching my children numbers, shapes, colors, animals, etc; therefore, working on puzzles are great for cognitive development as well. Melissa and Doug have great educational puzzles!

  1. You will need plastic cups. This one is great because I can change the activity up a little bit to meet the needs of both my children. I simply let my younger toddler stack the cups back together, and I let my older toddler stack them in a more difficult way, such as the way milk jugs would be stacked at a carnival.

  1. You will need a book like this one. You know I wasn’t going to list activities without including a book! Learning to clap your hands is a developmental milestone, so why not use a little song and story to encourage it. I think all little ones are so proud of themselves when they learn how to do this! My younger one loves to sing, If You’re Happy and You Know It, so incorporating it through story time and song time is extra fun.

Older Toddler Fine Motor Activities

So the above activities were things that both my 2.5 year old and 14 month old could participate in. Below, I am going to list some tasks that I am having my 2.5 year old work on that are focusing on his fine motor skills and the basic life skills that will help him to be independent. Keep in mind, I completely understand sometimes you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to let your little one take their precious time to perform these tasks or you’ll be shouting for some #jessuandwine by 8:30 every morning; however, when you do have the time, let them practice.

  1. Let them practice zipping their jackets and/or pants. Obviously, you will have to start their jackets for them, but once it is started it is great for them to practice zipping it up and down.
  1. Also, let them practice putting their socks on. Now, my very OCD James struggles with this one if it is not on exactly right, so I usually have to help him, but I at least let him get started. He tells me his socks hurt his feet. Insert eye roll. My mom says I use to do this too. Payback.
  1. My son loves to buckle the top part of his car seat belt! This drives me crazy sometimes, as I just want to hurry up and do it for him, but he is strong willed and will not allow me to do so. On the bright side, this is great development for his fine motor skills, and now he asks everyone in the car if they have their seatbelt on, so an added bonus, it teaches safety.
  1. Have them wash their hands. Ok, if I’m being honest, which I clearly don’t hide our circus we call life, I don’t really let mine do this one that often because we like to get water everywhere, and it becomes one more mess I have to clean up, but letting them learn to wash their hands is a great fine motor skill to work on, and it teaches them hygiene, which I know we all want our kiddos to learn!

Enjoy

As always, I hope you and your little ones enjoy these activities! They are fun, can knock a few minutes off the clock during a long day, simple, and all around great for their development.

Turning those “Moments” into Something Productive

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“Child Proofing”

So last night while I was vacuuming the den, my curious boys decided to get into the “child-proofed” drawer and pull out my brand new roll of aluminum foil. Seriously, I don’t know about the things you’ve child proofed in your house, but my kiddos can completely get through anything we have attempted to keep them out of. Cabinets, drawers, doors, plugs – they’ve figured it all out.

I knew something was going on when they had been behind the counter longer than they can stay still. Instead of getting too frustrated, I wondered how I could turn my #jesusandwine moment into something productive without wasting all of the foil I could no longer use. That’s when the brainstorming began!

Fun with Foil

Our fun with foil began this morning after breakfast. I made each of the boys a quick King’s crown. You can imagine how long those lasted – less than a minute. So then, I made them each a superhero cape. Again, less than a minute. So much for my great ideas. Boys are so destructive. With that being said, what is every boy’s favorite toy? Around here, it’s a ball! We crumbled the crowns and capes and made some foil balls and tried to throw them in the empty diaper boxes, that is until Weston started eating the foil. Everything goes in that kids mouth, which I know, is just typical. Our pediatrician told us they would stop getting sick when they stop licking the world. How accurate is that?? Toddlers literally seem to lick the world.

Rainbow Fish

Since all of those ideas took maybe a total of five minutes and were pretty much fails, I decided to make my last attempt with a little foil project. We read The Rainbow Fish, one of my favorites! This would be a great book for some kids that are a little bit older to talk about some life lessons on being kind, being a good friend, and it’s what’s on the inside that truly matters. Mine aren’t quite ready for that lesson yet.

I decided we would use some foil to make our very own rainbow fish. When I first started, I thought I would cut some scales out of the foil and we would glue them on construction paper. Take my advice, DON’T DO THIS. It didn’t take me long to figure out cutting scales out of foil wasn’t an easy task. Instead, It was much easier to draw the entire fish in sharpie on the foil, cut the entire fish shape out, and glue colored construction paper scales onto the foil. This way, the fish still had the rainbow colors, but the shiny scales also showed through.

Steps for Rainbow Fish

  1. Draw a fish shape in sharpie on piece of foil and cut fish out.
  2. Glue the foil fish onto blue construction paper (water). You could really choose any color background you like.
  3. I cut out a small, orange heart to use as the fish lips and glued it onto the fish.
  4. Draw an eye in sharpie on fish so that you don’t cover up this part of the fish when you are doing the scales later. If you have any wiggly eyes, that would be cute too. I really miss my teaching crafts closet!
  5. Cut out small scales out of different colors of construction paper.
  6. Start gluing the scales on the fish in any pattern you want.
  7. I chose to then cut the blue construction paper around the fish so it was just framed in blue. That’s a personal choice – you make it look however you want from here!

This was a project that I had to help my two year old with, but he could definitely help create it. I had to help him with the glue and placing the scales in a line because I’m controlling like that, however, you could just let your child put the scales wherever they wanted. He picked out which colors he wanted where, and I made him tell me the colors as we were gluing them on.

I hope you have a chance to try this project with your little one, enjoy!