Tot School 33mo Twins – Pounded Flower Art

I am just so amazed at all these talented and creative moms that come up with some original things to do with their kids.  Like I’ve always said, I’m a great copier.  That’s just what I did today.  I have seen several different places where moms took flowers and had the kids pound them between paper and they made beautiful art.  I just love this idea and on the way home from the park today, I stopped by the side of the road and picked some colorful wildflowers for our project.  When we got home, I taped down one piece of regular copier paper to the table.  I snipped off all the budding ends of the wildflowers and put them on the table.  I had to divide the flowers up equally so their wouldn’t be any fighting.  I told the boys that they could place the flowers wherever they wanted to put them on the paper.

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I placed another sheet of copy paper on top and taped that down.  Then I grabbed a small rubber mallet from the garage and told the boys to hammer away at the flowers underneath.  Oh was this fun for them.  I couldn’t hardly get them to stop.  Lance even thought it was funny to hit the hammer down then do an extra pounding with his fist on the top of the mallet head.

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I carefully lifted off the top sheet and the boys oohed and aahed.  Some of the flowers were smashed tight to the pages and others just fell right off.  Lance was intrigued with pulling off the smashed flowers.  James liked looking at the colors and patterns that were left on the page.

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The boys just loved all the pounding involved in this project.  If we do it again, I’ll make sure that the whole page is covered in flowers.  The few scattered flowers that we used were neat, but not very impressive scattered around the full sheet.  I’m so grateful for a handful of wildflowers today.  The wildflowers are my mercy for today.

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Tot School 32.5mo Twins – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I am just like a million other moms.  I have read my kid’s favorite books over and over until everyone in the house can recite them by memory.  Our current overused, I mean, well-loved books are My Big Train Book,  Everything Fire Engine Book, Sounds On the Go Book and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  While browsing on Pinterest, I saw a cute activity to go along with the caterpillar book.  For detail directions and the pattern go over to www.teachingheart.net.

I printed out the pattern and I decided that I would laminate my pieces so it would last longer.  It’s an easy pattern to cut and make.  I think it took a whole 10min to do so I highly recommend this because it takes very little prep.

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The basic idea is that as you read the story, your children will get to identify the items that the caterpillar eats.  I thought it would be a breeze since my boys can point out and say all the items in the book.  When they are in small, mixed up picture form on the floor, it was a bit more challenging for them.  Dad & I had to help them correctly identify all the items.

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For the first time try, I’m so glad that I had my husband’s help.  It was crazy even with his help.  They boys ran back and forth around each other from the book to the pieces to where dad was holding the actual caterpillar.  Plus add to the running, the excitement of something new and the quick grabbing of pieces due to the excitement and it was super crazy but fun.  I didn’t have any problems putting the pieces into the mouth of the caterpillar, but dad found that the boys had some trouble.  I figure that with some practice, the feeding and the identifying will get easier.  You can ask to identify the picture by the number of items in the picture, by what it actually is and by the color of the items.  The boys also had some extra practice with pronouncing the items.

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This one little activity works on color recognition, counting, object recognition, speech development, fine motor hand skills and the way my boys play it, they also got some gross motor skill developement in there too.  It is so easy to make and what a clever but simple activity.  I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest.

Life School 32.5mo Twins – The Day It Snowed In Texas

Did ya feel it yesterday?  The little shiver of cold.  If you live in Texas, then you should have because it snowed yesterday.  In the month of May no less.

Yesterday I started in on some serious paper shredding.  I’m talking about 7 basketfuls that were shaken, pressed down, and overflowing full.  I was about to toss it all in the trash when it occurred to me that this shredded paper felt soft and looked a lot like snow.  So I handed each basketfull to my twin boys and told them to go dump it in the middle of the living room.  Let me stop right here and say, if you hate a big mess with a real passion, don’t do this!  A mess doesn’t deter this mamma.  I exclaimed rather loudly “snowball fight” and grabbed two fist fulls and chucked them at the boys as I ran.  That was it, I didn’t need to do anything more because I’ve never seen the boys move so fast and laugh so loud.  Here’s what all we did with our snow.

Big snowball fight

Big snowball fight

Felt the tickle as it snowed down on each of us

Felt the tickle as it snowed down on each of us

Covered mom's legs

Covered mom’s legs

Covered the boy's hands

Covered the boy’s hands

Covered the cars "parked along the street"

Covered the cars “parked along the street”

Made a snow hill

Made a snow hill

Went sledding down the hill

Went sledding down the hill

Bulldozed snow up and loaded it into the back of the big dump truck

Bulldozed snow up and loaded it into the back of the big dump truck

We had so much fun for 3 hours.  That’s the best cheap entertainment we’ve had in a long while.  We also pretended to make snow ice cream.  Lance didn’t pretend but actually ate some paper and he declared it yummy.  The castle, covered in snow, reminded me of the witch’s castle in Narnia.  So I tried to get the boys to play freeze statues like in the movie, but they couldn’t freeze themselves long enough to count.  My kitchen, hallway and living room was covered in snow.  I had to use a shop vac to get it up and then go back over with a regular vacuum.  It took some time and work.  But what wonderful imagination these two boys have and I love the great memories that we made.  Shredded paper, an odd thing, was my mercy for yesterday.

Tot School 32.5mo Twins – Water Bead Sensory Bin

I have seen so many people post about how great water beads are for a sensory bin.  We finally got around to trying it out.  I think my whole family would agree that this was fun.  You do have to plan ahead for this activity because the beads take 6 – 12 hours to fully hydrate.

This is how it all went.  We were grocery shopping at Wal-Mart and everyone knows that you don’t leave that store with just groceries.  Especially if you casually stroll down the crafts aisles.  That’s what I was doing when I spotted a package of water beads on sale for $1.50.  I was so pleased, not only for the price but they were a beautiful purple color.  Having just boys, not much pink or purple comes my way so when it does my heart just rejoices.  We came home and I poured these tiny hard beads into our sensory bin.  They looked so small and I had the boys examine them before I poured the water in.  I even got to put in a Bible lesson too about the mustard seed being very small but faith even as big as a mustard seed can move mountains.

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The boys took turns pouring the water in and I helped with this.  Otherwise the water would have been poured on their brother, on me, on the cabinets, stomped in and thrown around.  I can never be too careful around these two.  After a few hours, we peeked back in and Lance shouted, OH, they’ve grown!  Through out the rest of the day they both asked to watch the beads grow.  The boys had to go to bed and wait until the morning to play with the beads.

 

 

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My husband even took a turn at running his hands through the sensory bin and he also liked it.  After breakfast I sat the bin down on the kitchen floor and the boys didn’t hesitate to jump right in.  The giggled as the squished the beads, raked hands through it and felt the new sensation.  I pulled out a few different water beads and we talked about how each one looked different but they were all the same color called purple.  We even looked at all the different shapes: round, oval, jelly bean, and a defunct crescent shape.

 

 

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I gave them two small measuring scoops and two small cups.  They scooped, they poured, they dumped into and out of in every combination imaginable.  They pretended the purple beads were blueberries and they made blueberry muffins for mom.  They played like this for a long time.

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If you have very active kiddos, then you know what came next, yes, the accidental spilling that lead to the intentional spilling and on to the rolling, hitting and throwing which crescendod into intentional squeezing and popping of the water beads, with jelly everywhere.  When it hit that point, all the fun stopped.

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My kitchen floor looked like we hit the play load of a gem mine.  I didn’t think to get a picture of that, no beads were left in the tub.  It took the better part of 30 min to pick up all those slippery beads from up off the floor and you bet I made those two boys do it themselves too.  Oh what fun they had while even picking up the beads.  Kids can turn anything into fun.  I need to remember that myself.  A note for those who have little ones that figure out how to smash the beads, the next time the water bead bin comes out, they get to the smashing really quick.  So for us, this may be a sensory bin that goes away for quite a while before it comes back out again.  We really enjoyed it though the two times we did it this past week.  Now we get to watch the beads over the next few days to see them evaporate and turn back into tiny hard beads.

Tot School 32.5mo Twins – No Time For Planning

Whew!  Bible study is over.  A parenting discipline class is over.  A few other big projects are over.  It has been a busy time this past week while the last classes have come.  There hasn’t been enough time or energy for me to plan all these great activities for the twins.  There has been some learning going on though.  Last week I stood in my kitchen looking for something to keep my boys busy.  Coloring just only goes so far with these two movers and shakers.  I turned and saw the Boogle game box.  Bingo!  It has the alphabet, it moves, it shakes and it’s something new for the boys.  I pulled it out and the fun learning began right on the kitchen floor.  They placed each dice on the squares, the tried to identify all the letters on the dice, the shook the dice in the whole container, they shook the dice in just the bottom and they shook the dice in just the top.  Each time the dice behaved differently.  I hadn’t planned it, but I was able to have them guess at how the dice would move.  They made straight lines, curvy lines and all sorts of shapes with the dice.

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DSC_0730This was just perfect to keep them busy and learning for 30min while I caught my breath.  The next time you are having a very busy day, look around and see if there is something simple and new that just might help you out.  For that day, I counted a little game called Boggle as my mercy.

Tot School 32mo Twins – Dandelion Art

An obnoxious weed, that’s what a dandelion is.  They spring up, blow seeds everywhere and thrive.  The field in front of us is covered with the things.  So last week I saw a post, I forgot where, that used dandelions for their art work.  Why not use something plentiful and free for an activity.

We started with a white piece of cardstock that I taped to the table.  I brought out the Crayola washable finger paints and I let each boy pick out the color that he wanted to use.  James picked red and Lance picked yellow.  The lighter the color, the better the overall look.  I let each boy squeeze some paint out.  They got a bit carried away with how much they squeezed.  Then I gave them a bottle of glue and had them squeeze some onto the pile of paint.

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I gave them a spoon and let them smear it all around until most of the page was covered and so were they.

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Earlier that day we had picked 8 dandelion heads and we took those outside with our wet paper.  I had the boys sit down in front of their papers and blow the seeds onto the paint.  Lance loved the blowing.  James wanted to tear off the seeds and sprinkle just a few on the paint and he wanted all the stems in the artwork too.  Remember the paint is washable, so those yellow and red shoes were easy to clean up.

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We left the papers to dry and later we had two very unique pieces of artwork that my boys are so proud of.  So I count dandelions as my mercy for the day.

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Tot School 32mo Twins – Z is For Zipline

Have you ever ridden on a zipline before?  It’s great fun!  If I like them so much, I know that my boys will like it too.  I looked online yesterday to find out how to make a simple toy zipline.  Bingo, I found one that was super easy.  When I was talking to my husband about it, it surprised me to find out that he had never made a toy or real zipline before ,so the boys and I are doing something very special together.  This is not an elaborate zipline.  It’s very simple but with the way these boys are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if by high school they haven’t built a full-scale zipline in our backyard for their friends to ride.

I got a large sheet of cardstock, really any size will work.  I gave James the glue bottle and had him make a wave of glue down one side of the sheet.

 

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 I rolled it up into a tube and to make sure it stayed closed, I had Lance help me staple the seam.

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I took two paper plates and cut a triangle out of the plates and trimmed down the edges so I could staple them into cone shapes.  Then did a crazy job of taping them to the ends.

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I took two paper clips and unwound them.  I slipped the clips through the middle and over the top of two sewing bobbins.  I made a J shape at the bottom of the clip and pushed those into the frame of my shuttle.  At least that’s what my boys said it looked like.  So a space shuttle it is.  If you wanted to make a nicer, more durable shuttle, then I would opt for something better than paper clips and sewing bobbins for this step.  Or even bending the clip with wire pliers instead of just using your fingers.

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I blew up two colored balloons.  Well, I blew up three but I popped one in my face, to my boys’ amusement.  I gave each boy a balloon and tape and showed them where to put them.  This is not a necessary step, it’s just for wow factor with the kids.

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We found some thin string in dad’s shop.  I tied one end to a hand weight that I sat up on the piano and I tied the other end to the arm of a rocking chair.  I just used a simple knot.  Any two points of differing heights will work.  Just make the string tight.  Look real close in the picture and you will see the string stretched across my living room.

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Now the moment of truth, would our space shuttle fly when we set the bobbins on the string?  Yes it did!  Only one complete, flawless run though that mommy launched.

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When the boys tried their hand at launching the shuttle, it didn’t go as smooth.  James quickly caught the concept of a gentle launch.

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Lance never got the gentle concept and as a result, his shuttle runs usually crashed to the ground.

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In fact, Lance was so aggressive on one launch that he bent the paper clips and mom couldn’t get them back to a good enough position to stay in the bobbins correctly.  So when that happened, I took off the bobbins and our shuttle still ran well on just the clips.  Made me feel a bit like Houston.  “Houston, we have a problem.”  I proudly rose to the occasion and found a way to make our shuttle work.  I’m sure NASA will be calling me for a job interview any day now!

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Simple, basic, fun, silly, creative and engaging.  That was our Z activity for the day.  We all loved it.  Well done my little engineers.