Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Ice Paint

My kids love arts and crafts and I am always happy to encourage them to create new pieces of art to hang on the fridge. One of our favourite ways to paint doesn't involve a paint brush. And keeping with the Halloween theme, I used a few ice cube trays bought from Target and the Dollar Tree to create our ice paints. We typically use liquid food colouring for our Frozen Watercolours, but I wanted to change things up and use a bit of tempura paint. We used black, white, orange, green and red tempura paint, and since we only use a small amount of paint and filled the rest of the mold with water, it was pretty frugal. I was aiming for a washable frozen paint, and they came out perfect! They didn't stain the kids hands or clothes, which I was very happy about. 

We used a skull, pumpkin, spiderweb and spider ice cube tray mold to make these paints. I only made a few of each, which meant I probably only used a teaspoon-tablespoon of each colour of paint. 

After we carefully poured the water in, I let the kids mix the paint and water together. I assisted with this part just to prevent any paint from splashing into another colour.

Then I put the trays on a baking sheet and popped them in the freezer for a few hours.

When they were done, the kids were very curious about them. They had to feel them and check that they were each frozen. It doesn't matter how many times I create frozen paint for them - they are always amazed!

They had fun popping them all out!

I set up two empty sensory bins on the floor with a blanket underneath and placed a piece of thick white painting paper inside each bin. 

The kids added in all of the ice paints and watched them for a few moments. Bean pointed out what everything was and asked if they would melt soon. I told her she should pick one up and see what happens. To her amazement, the ice paint started to melt slightly from the heat of her hand.

The pieces that were left on their own for a little while took much longer to melt, but any of the ice paints that came in contact with their hands began to melt.

I really like using silicone molds to create our ice paints because they have so much detail! It just adds some fun by matching the theme.

Despite using only a small amount of paint, the colours were still very vibrant!

At one point Munchkin realized that the ice paints could be broken, so he spent most of his time crushing them and tearing them apart.

Bean, on the other hand, enjoyed painting with them. She loves anything to do with temperatures right now. So if something is hot or cold, she loves exclaiming and saying "oh, so cold/hot, mommy!" She will frequently check the temperature outside by putting her hand on the window and letting me know if it's hot, warm or cold outside. She especially likes cold stuff, so ice paints are perfect for her! They also add a fun sensory element to this simple activity.

The results look like this! I personally think they came out really fantastic! I let them dry overnight before hanging them on the fridge. Any leftover paints can be put back in the freezer to use another time.

Please always stay within arms reach of your child(ren) when they are playing. Some sensory materials may not be suitable for every child. Please use your own judgement when creating sensory activities for your child(ren). 

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Monster Felt Board

Our felt board collection is growing and growing! You can check out some of our other Halloween felt boards here, here and here and our DIY felt board tutorial here. Next on our list was monsters! Bean loves monsters and thinks they are great. She still doesn't watch tv much (which is probably a good thing, so I'm not complaining), so she's never seen Monsters, Inc. But I bet that when she does watch it, she will love it! 

This felt board was actually inspired by another blogger's monster felt board! And Next Comes L created a very fun Mix and Match Monster Felt Board. The monsters she created for her kids are super adorable! 

I created a set of small monsters which will be used as baby monsters. Soon enough a few parent monsters will be joining them! But for now, these are the group we have. Bean chose the colours and shape of the monster before I cut them out. I basically drew a few basic sketches on thick paper, cut them out and used it to trace onto the felt fabric with a pen (I trim any residual ink off). Then I cut a bunch of shapes out of scrap felt. Triangles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, circles, etc. I created a few special ones as well, like tails, horns, claws, fangs, antlers, hats, arms, etc. Some are not pictured here because when I brought this out to them to play with, they did not even get around to opening the second bag! I will update the post when they discover monster bag #2. 

They chose the green and brown felt boards and Bean lined up the monsters.

She created a few different monsters while Munchkin sorted through the different facial features. This activity is perfect for learning about features. There are smiles, upside down smiles, eyes, eyebrows, ears, noses, tongues, teeth, etc. There are other features as well, all suitable for monsters, like claws and tails and horns. We talked about happy and sad monsters and wondered why they felt that way.

Munchkin picked out several different features to hand to Bean and she chose where to put them on the monsters. They occasionally worked on the same monster, but mostly it was Bean decorating them.

This is Bean's favourite and she says it's her Ubooly (hence the lack of arms or legs), even though hers is orange. Her Ubooly transformed into an ogre with spiky hair and a sword and a snake tongue, because that's the sort of Ubooly she has. One that likes potentially dangerous adventures.

Bean likes to put them together and arrange their faces with features matching the colour of the monster. It's always safe to be extra camouflaged if you're a monster!

For Munchkin, this was a fun activity to mix and match the colours and see if he could match them to the monsters. He also did the same with some of the shapes! I love that they enjoy playing with the felt boards so much!

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Bone Yard Sensory Bin

Halloween is nearly here. October seems to have flown right by! The leaves are changing colour (finally, took forever in my area), the nights are freezing, the days are cold, it's always windy and the sun peeks in to say hello but no one can feel it's warmth... Ah. October in New England. And it will only get colder. Warm cider and cocoa are staples around here. We have enjoyed so many batches of pumpkin cookies and muffins that I don't know if I can ever go back to regular plain chocolate chip. And as the seasons progressively change, one thing remains the same... New England never fails to amaze me. 

This morning I found frost on the ground while I was walking our dog Kaede. So I came inside and made a warm breakfast for the kids, complete with spiced cider (their favourite!). Then, later in the day while I was typing this up, my Dad sent me this picture. He lives about 8 hours away in Maine on the border of Canada. It's snowing!! 

Yup. Too soon. Now I'll appreciate the frost not being snow in the morning. I don't want it to snow on Halloween (that happens surprisingly often)!

With Halloween right around the corner, we are squeezing in a few more activities to enjoy before the big day!! Today's sensory bin is a not-so-scary bone yard! Ok, graveyards, bones and all that spooky stuff can sometimes be scary for kids. To be fair, my daughter at least really enjoys the spooky side of Halloween. Seriously, throw a vampire or a werewolf or a ghost at her, and she giggles and gets excited (future Supernatural fan girl? I think so). And yet, every year, without fail, it's the man who dresses up as Santa and passes out wrapped candy (tradition of his that he has been doing as long as I can remember) that freaks her out. She'll take a witch over Santa any day. My son isn't really phased by the scary stuff either. He does really enjoy the animal costumes, but barely pays attention to the devils or Scary Movie guys. 

I created a graveyard themed sensory bin for the kids to enjoy. We have tons of graveyards in our area, so the kids are used to seeing them. Bean likes the more elaborate headstones (her favourite is a golden stag), but we haven't talked about what graveyards are for. I don't think they would quite understand.. According to Bean, graveyards are where ghosts live. She's got that part right at least. 

Well I didn't have ghosts for this sensory bin. But I did have a big bucket of coffee grinds that look just like grave dirt. 

Not that I really know what grave dirt looks like.. But coffee grinds look just like real dirt! Which makes it a perfect ingredient for sensory bins. They feel great and smell great as well! I honestly keep my distance, since the smell bothers my allergies, but my kids love it and we use coffee grinds for all of our dirt-related sensory bins. We have been reusing the same grinds for several months (they were originally fresh and we never actually used them to drink coffee).

Once the grinds were poured in, the kids added in their newly painted coffins (bought at Michael's arts and crafts store) and a plastic gravestone.

They spent the first few minutes burying the coffins.

Then Munchkin added in his Little People tracker to dig holes faster.

The coffins were buried and unburied several times.

Bean has just requested for me to grab her cute little vampire toy (because vampires sleep in coffins), when she opened the coffin and discovered what I had hidden inside! Q-tips, cut into several different lengths. We typically use Q-tips for bone-related activities. She completely forgot about the vampire and proceeded to add the bones to the bone yard.

She carefully hid some and others she left peeking through the grave dirt.

Meanwhile Munchkin decided to fill up the tracker and gravestone.

But then he noticed that Bean was playing with Q-tips in her coffin, so he opened his and found that his was filled with Q-tip bones as well!

He placed each of his bones in the grave dirt but did not bother to bury all of them.

He used the coffins and the gravestone for scooping and pouring and drove the tracker around the small graveyard depositing dirt in graves or picking up dirt to fill up a coffin. Here he had just unloaded the grave dirt from the tracker into the coffin and is pouring it back into the tracker.

The bones were also moved around a lot. While Munchkin enjoyed the sensory side of the bin, Bean counted the bones with me, we compared the different sizes of the bones and organized them into piles. We had a Halloween book about skeletons that I read while they played and at one point I put it next to the bin so Bean could place the Q-tip bones on one of the skeleton pictures so she could see what kinds of bones they might be (leg, rib, arm, etc.).

One of our mini white pumpkins was added in, because they always somehow end up in our Halloween sensory bins. :)

Bean realized she could use the cut up Q-tip bones to spell out words and she started to spell out her name. Munchkin ended up driving over it before she could finish, so she lost interest. They could also have been used to practice creating letters or numbers, but we didn't get to that.

Because they just had so much fun creating all kinds of different scenes! I try not to bother them when they are playing unless they specifically ask me to do something. Bean directed most of the goings-on in the bin at this point and set up the coffins to line up along the wall. Munchkin filled the tracker up with soil and Bean had the bones ready to be delivered behind the tracker.

And after many failed attempts, they eventually managed to work together and fill the coffins back up with bones. But in the meantime - lots of mayhem and disaster as the coffins kept falling over.

This bin was so fun to play in! It was much more fun than I anticipated, which always makes me happy. I always try to change things up to keep sensory bins fun and exciting. 

Please always stay within arms reach of your child(ren) when they are playing. Some materials in sensory bins may not be suitable for every child. Please use your own judgement when creating sensory bins for your child(ren). 

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Foam Letter Sensory Bin

One of our favourite purchases at the beginning of September, when all the fun back-to-school items were in the dollar section at Target, we picked up some small foam letters. Typically we use them in sensory bins (especially water bins!), in our collection of alphabet letters which are used for sorting and matching and to play with in the tub (because they float and stick to the wall). But more and more lately we have been using them like a puzzle and matching them to flash cards and enjoying simple iSpy letter games in sensory bins.

Well we decided to combine all of those ideas into one big sensory bin!

This was perfect for Bean, because she would go through the flash cards, pick a letter, and then find that foam letter mixed in the rice and then pop it into the base in the matching spot (we saved them instead of throwing them out because they work like a puzzle and make it so much easier to store the letters).

It was a super cold day, so I set them up on a blanket near the heater, gave them the big comfy pillows off the couch and put the sensory bin in front of them. Immediately they took out the flash cards and set them up in the basket. Bean handed Munchkin the foam base and told him to match the letters with her.

Bean is always very particular. So she picked out a flash card first, then found the foam letter, then matched it in the foam base.

(While I was collecting the supplies, they were popping out the letters and had mixed them into the rice themselves. They always enjoy being a part of the process.)

Since Bean had told Munchkin to "match" his letters, he only searched for red letters (probably because the base was red). He did a fantastic job matching them too!

He worked on matching each letter until he found the right spot. Currently he just tries to find the one it fits in, rather than actually looking at the letter.

Bean, on the other hand, diligently matched the letters in alphabetical order (because even though the flash cards were shuffled, she still found them and put them in order).

At one point her ocd (because I'm pretty sure she's ocd) overcame her and she tried to "help" Munchkin by matching A and C, but since they were green and blue he got upset and took them out. One colour at a time for this boy.

This kept them busy for quite a while and I played some Halloween music (because we normally play music for background sound). Which eventually we ended up dancing to.

I was able to sit back and let them work by themselves while I worked on some crocheting projects. It's scarf season (it's been below 50 degrees all week!) and I've finished about 10 scarves these past two weeks and still have a couple more to do!

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