Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Rice Sensory Bin

It's nearly pumpkin season and we can't wait to go pumpkin picking so we can carve them and do fun activities with them! Pumpkins are just too cute! 

So to begin our pumpkin activities (besides the felt board pumpkins), we created a pumpkin scented rice sensory bin! We used a big batch of orange rice scented with pumpkin pie spice and a small batch of black rice to make Jack-O-Lantern faces. 

Making coloured rice is simple and only requires some rice, a small amount of white vinegar and either food colouring, gel colours or liquid watercolours. We usually use either food colouring or gel colours. Simply pour your rice in the amount that you want to colour into a container (food colouring may stain the container), and in a separate bowl mix together a teaspoon-tablespoon of white vinegar (may need more for a bigger batch, but a little goes a long way!) and a few drops of food colouring. It's as simple as that! After that, you can add in scents using either essential oils or spices or herbs. For this batch of pumpkin scented rice we are using McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice.

We used some of our cookie trays to make some pumpkin faces! The kids took handfuls of the orange rice and pushed them into a circle. Then they scooped up some black rice and made a couple faces!

Bean's pumpkin - She said he was snarling.

Munchkin's pumpkin - He had some help from Bean after she exclaimed that one eye was too big! :)

After they finished making a couple faces they wanted to play in the rest of the bin! I set up the bin with orange rice and filled up a few plastic Jack-O-Lanterns with the black rice. They had so much fun pouring the black rice and making fun designs! There were also several acrylic pumpkins and green leaves added (bought from Michael's) and once the Jack-O-Lanterns were emptied, they used them to scoop up the acrylic pumpkins and dump them out. Bean even sang a little song she made up, "Pumpkins in, Pumpkins out. Scoop them up, dump them out!"

This was such a fun sensory bin to play in!

We added in some funnels and spoons for more mixing and pouring fun!

Munchkin's pumpkin patch!

And Bean had to include her turtle! Apparently turtles like pumpkins too. :)

This sensory bin was so much fun to play in and I plan on leaving it out all month for them to enjoy! We will add in different Halloween themes each week. Pumpkins, black cats, ghosts, witches, and monsters! It will make a fun Halloween themed I-Spy bin. :)

If you enjoyed this post, follow along with us on Facebook and Pinterest or subscribe by email or Bloglovin'!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween Felt Board Part 1

We have been having so much fun using our new felt boards! And I have been working hard to create fun Halloween themed set-ups for the kids. So far we have a company of ghosts, a couple Jack-O-Lanterns with a ton of different faces and a skeleton! The skeleton will eventually be used to start learning about anatomy, but for now it's a silly skeleton for Halloween (and yes, his mouth is missing in the picture). 

I made several different ghosts and will soon be adding a few face options too! Both scary and silly faces. 

I cut out two different pumpkins (small and big) and several different types of faces (so far only eyes and mouths, but Bean requested ears so they are on my list!).

Mr. Skellie! This guy is Bean's favourite felt creation so far! She loves rearranging his limbs and pointing out on her body where a certain bone goes. Obviously it isn't 100% accurate, but it's pretty cute for a skeleton! When we make a bigger felt board we will be able to stand this guy up and start learning about anatomy!

I'm also working on a build-your-own-monster board, a witches board and a haunted house board! So stay tuned for those boards!

If you enjoyed this post, follow along with us on Facebook and Pinterest or subscribe by email or Bloglovin'!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Humpfree: The Humpless Camel" Book Review

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.) 

Humpfree: The Humpless Camel is a book written by Julia Dweck and illustrated by Young-Min Yoon and I had the pleasure of reading it for this review! Both of my kids enjoyed this book. My daughter enjoyed that the story was about a camel (we are currently learning about Egypt!) and my son enjoyed all the "lump lumps" and pointed them out on each page. They loved reading the book several times over the past few days. The book even has lots of camel facts at the end! We read this book on my Android phone, but it can also be read on a Kindle or iPad or on a laptop/computer.

This story is a very heartwarming tale about a humpless camel who is in search of his lost humps. It's a story similar to Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, since Humpfree is slightly different from those around him, so he feels like he doesn't quite fit in. So he sets off on a quest to find his lost humps... He tries balloons, burlap sacks, boulders, even feathers! But none of these lumps are real humps and don't work out. Finally, when he begins to give up, a scientist discovers him and explains that Humpfree is a rare and valued breed and suddenly Humpfree does not feel so worthless anymore! He now understands that it's okay to be different and unique and his camel friends welcome him back.

I know that this is a story I will be reading my kids for years to come. They have really enjoyed all of Julia's books that we have read because they are written in rhyme and the story is easy to follow. It's so fun to read! And to top it off, this story was inspired by a real discovery of flat back camels in East Africa! So this is a perfect book to incorporate into a learning experience for young readers!

Humpfree: The Humpless Camel is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on October 5th!

Julia Dweck can also be found at her website, AmazonFacebookTwitter, and goodreads.

If you enjoyed this post, follow along with us on Facebook and Pinterest or subscribe by email or Bloglovin'!

Monday, September 23, 2013

DIY Felt Board

We love felt creations! Felt toys, felt games, you name it, we love it! Felt is just.. versatile! You can use it for so many things, like arts and crafts and sewing projects, to make doll and toy accessories and for pretend play (clothes line activity). But our favourite way to play with felt is on our felt boards!

For the past few months we have been using two Creatology felt boards (the dinosaur and vehicles ones). Both of  these boards are lap sized, which is perfect because my kids usually play with them on the couch (Munchkin is playing with this one while I type this up next to him and Bean is tracing letters on her dry-erase board).

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

And over the months I have been cutting out different shapes and objects and animals for the kids to add to their felt board. Lately we have been creating themed boards (Autumn Tree and Leaves Felt Board) and I'm currently working on a Halloween board (more to come on that one!). 

Now, originally I was going to create our DIY felt boards using photo frames (like this one from Mama. Papa. Bubba.). And if that had been the case, I was only aiming to buy two. That they could each have their own and I would just create interchangeable felt backings, depending on the theme or activity. That seemed like a lot of extra work. 

So while I was checking out the photo frames at Michael's (and mind you, this was at 8:20pm and the store closed at 9 and I still had to stop at Jo-Ann's!), and I wasn't seeing anything I liked, I decided to check the canvas aisle. Just in case. And lo and behold, I found a 6 pack of lap-sized (12in x 16in) canvases for $20! I had a 50% off coupon, so yes please! This way I could make 6 separate boards and they could use them all at once or separately. I was crunched for time, but I did check the clearance section - tons of Thanksgiving crafts on sale!! 

Anyways.. I made it to Jo-Ann's with 20 minutes to spare. Phew! Just enough time to pick out some felt colours. I bought a half-yard of premium green felt and a half-yard of white, black, light blue, bright blue and brown felt. Black for space and night time, white for winter and as a plain backing, light blue for sky, bright blue for ocean and sky, dark green for forests and grass (I will be making another one using a lighter shade of green later), and brown for dirt and mud. For Christmas, I will be making them a much larger (probably 4'x4') felt board that will be half green for grass and half blue for sky. 

I also picked up a few sheets of felt in Halloween colours!

As well as a tube of Aleene's Super Fabric Adhesive. (If you are aiming to make 6, you will need a second tube of glue to complete them all. I picked up a different fabric glue the following morning to finish the last felt board.) Unfortunately for me, the first tube of glue exploded halfway through the project. Ok, it didn't actually explode. But I have this habit of forgetting to roll up tubes as I use them... and yeah, it was completely my fault, but a small nick suddenly appeared in the tube while I was squeezing the bottle. And then I had stinky glue all over my hands. So maybe one tube is enough for 6 felt boards if you don't get a bunch of the glue on your hands? (Vegetable oil works great for breaking down glue, so that's what I used and I had no issues washing it off.)

(Please note: Aleene's Super Fabric Adhesive should be used in a well-ventilated area. It dries clear and is permanent. In the future I will invest in a staple gun to simplify things, although the glue did end up working great.)

I rolled out the half-yard of felt and used the eye-balling method of measuring.

Then I used the side of the canvas to trace a line across the fabric and cut along it. (I forgot to take a picture of this step with the blue, so hopefully you can see the line in the brown.)

Once the fabric was cut, I lined up the edges so they were all the same length. 

Then I spread a layer of glue on each side and folded the felt over, pulling it taunt so the fabric wasn't loose, and pressed down to hold it in place for a few seconds. I did each side one at a time and trimmed some of the edges if it was too bulky when it was folded over. See the end pieces sticking up in the picture below? I cut out that small section before gluing and folding the felt in place. 

This is what the back looks like when everything is glued. The end pieces still stick up a bit, so I may eventually staple them down if it becomes an issue. Let the felt board(s) dry overnight and check them in the morning to make sure they are completely set before letting your child(ren) play with it. 

The finished product! They all came out great and I'm very happy with the results. The kids are especially happy that they have so many to choose from now!

And on the first night, 5 were finished! I now have SO MUCH felt leftover! And since they were on sale, I only paid about $8 for all that felt! Amazing! I think from now on I'll just wait for felt fabric to go on sale at Jo-Ann's and stock up instead of buying the sheets.

Let the creative playing begin! 

The following morning I set up the 5 finished boards and let the kids create their own scenes. Bean immediately created a volcano world and even made sure to include lava rocks!

Then she switched boards and put some trees in the air (since she recently learned that trees produce air - hey, she's learning!).

Munchkin liked looking through all the pieces and held them all up to me to take pictures. :)

Over the course of the day, they kept going back to playing with the boards. I put the white board away and set up the other 4 boards on the coffee table with the bin of all their felt pieces in the middle.


Munchkin played with the dinosaurs and had them stomping across all the boards roaring and munching arms.

Tea break! (While Munchkin throws crayons around in the background.)

Munchkin used our tiny red leaves to scatter them to the wind! I love this one!

That night I finished up the last felt board (black) and let it dry overnight. I compared the glues used in the morning (Aleene's and Scotch fabric glue) and they both came out pretty much the same, except the Scotch glue was initially much harder to use. It just wouldn't stay in place and I had to press it down for longer. It dried fine though and so far it works just as well.

Next I compared the fabrics. I definitely prefer the texture of the premium fabric (green), but it normally costs almost double. I was lucky to buy it on sale. The premium felt is softer, smoother and thicker. The other felts are thinner and not as soft, but still work perfectly fine.

I stood up both boards and tested out their felt power. I used different textured felts against them to see if anything fell off and nothing did.

I am no expert on felt boards though, so I am just happy that they came out the way I expected! 

If you enjoyed this post, follow along with us on Facebook and Pinterest or subscribe by email or Bloglovin'!

Please always supervise your child(ren) when they are playing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Sensory Bin

Once again, the Dollar Tree has some fantastic finds. Like these felt leaves! They are thick and sturdy and are simply awesome. We played with them on our felt board for a few days before I had the idea to add letters to the back of them. The reverse side still sticks to felt, so it worked out perfectly, and we can line them up on our felt board. But for today, we added them to a basket of other leaves to make it an Autumn Alphabet Scavenger Hunt! 

To begin, I counted out the leaves. Since I had bought two packs, I had ten yellow and ten green leaves and plenty enough red leaves (there were twenty in total). 

I decided to use the red leaves for the vowels and the green and yellow leaves for the consonants. I used a black fabric marker and wrote all uppercase letters in the middle of the leaves on the back. If I have a chance to visit the Dollar Tree again, I will pick up another two packs of these leaves so we can make a set of lowercase letters. But for now, the uppercase letters are fine.

When they were all finished, I put them in a basket with a bunch of other leaves (also from the Dollar Tree) and mixed them up. I set this basket aside. In another basket, I used the remaining red leaves to spell out the kids' names and mixed them into the other leaves (this basket had enough letters to spell out their names with 3 blank leaves leftover).

For the first activity, we worked on name recognition. I wrote out their names on white paper in uppercase letters so they could match the leaves to the letters. Bean zipped right through her name and was happy to help Munchkin find the letters he needed for his name. He really only wanted to play with the leaves and ended up stuffing a bunch of the non-felt leaves into a container. Bean took over and completed his name and happily pointed out each letter and told me what they were. She then tried to sound out his name. Even though she already knows how to say his name, I liked that she was trying to sound out each letter and finally the full name.

After they completed their names, we moved on to the full alphabet basket.

For this one we first started out using flash cards because Bean requested them. Honestly I think she just wanted to hold a big deck of cards and read off letters, although she did match up a few leaves to them, just not all 26.

These flash cards had uppercase and lowercase, so she was just matching the uppercase letters. When she found the E card she held it up to the M card and moved the leaf around until it matched. But then she noticed that the bottom of all the letters were just above the stem of the leaf and she said, "Oh no, this isn't E is for Elephant!" So she went through the cards and found E to complete the match.

But after about twenty minutes she asked me to write out the letters on a piece of paper like their names so she could more easily match the letters. She was done in a few minutes and then repeated the process several times. I did not even have to assist at all! She was on top of this activity. While she was matching the letters, I sang the alphabet song with Munchkin. And since these letters were written in crayon, I had him trace the letters with his fingers. It is just slightly different to feel the letter while tracing it. This has helped Bean in the past, so maybe it will help him too. And although he had no interest in matching the letters, he did enjoy singing the alphabet song several times. 

We have also used these leaves to spell out a few autumn and Halloween themed words: acorn, corn, leaf, tree (we made an extra e), pumpkin (used a spare leaf for the extra p), candy, apple, harvest, haunted, ghost, cat, witch, cauldron, and bat.

Overall, I feel this activity was a success! Bean thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait to try out different activities using these leaf letters. It is especially fun to hide these letters with an object that starts with the matching letter and to send Bean off with a clipboard and alphabet check list to find the hidden leaves. She loves it!

If you enjoyed this post, follow along with us on Facebook and Pinterest or subscribe by email or Bloglovin'!

Please always supervise your child(ren) when they are playing.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...