ABC Cookies For All Seasons

image

This is the 3rd post in Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s – Seasonal ABC’s – hosted by Something 2 Offer.

The following activity is very hands-on, easy and… Tasty! The children don’t only practice their language skills but also work on fine motor skills, hand – eye coordination, focus; develop their creativity and gain sensory experience (texture and taste).

You can find the recipe for Sugar Cookies here.

The idea is very simple: make the dough, roll it, let the children make letters out of the dough, bake them and eat them!

image

Be prepared for the letters to be absolutely imperfect and more over when the cookies are baking, the expand all sorts of ways! But it is still fun!

image

You can choose to decorate the cookies with simple icing for special occasions, like, Christmas, Ayyam-i-Ha and other holidays.

image

Please stop by the Sensory ABC’s landing page for more ideas!

ABC Mobile

image

Summer is almost over and in many countries children are starting going back to school. For us school starts on September 1st so we are spending the rest of the summer enjoying various activities.

I am happy to participate in 5 days series called Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer. In this series for the next 5 days we will introduce various ways to plays with ABC’s, each day for a different age group.

For the first day, I am introducing an ABC mobile I made for infants, in a category of Homemade Ideas. At the end of my post I will suggest easier ways of making this mobile.
Mobile toys are one of the first interactive toys babies may see. There are so many on the market: with or without music; wind up ones and battery operated ones; ones that move and once that don’t. You can also make your own mobiles and it is super easy.

For this ABC’s mobile I used the following materials:
Upcycle fabric (mine is leftovers from the fabric I used to make a dress for my daughter; you can use an old pillow case, sheet or dress)
Scissors
Craft ribbon
Double sided tape
Isolation tape
Wire hanger
Threads
Needles
Sewing machine
Old teddy bear (or pillow) for stuffing

image

Method:
1. To make the base for the mobile:
– You can use an old hanger made from thinnest wire. Bend it into a circle, triangle or square.
– To secure and make it look better, tape over with an isolation tape. Mine is of a pretty red color! Set it aside.

image

2. To make the letters:
– Decide on the size and trace the letter on a piece of folded fabric so you have 2 sides which you need to stitch together.
– Stitch the sides by hand or using sewing machine, leaving space to put the stuffing through.
– Stuff it and stitch the opening. Repeat with the rest of the letters

Easier version: use felt or thick carton to cut out your letters. In the case with carton you can use sticky craft paper to decorate over.
– Using craft ribbon, cut out stripes. In my case to make it thicker, I used double sided tape and folded the ribbon into 3 and secured it. Then stitched by hand to the letters.

image

3. Assembling the mobile:
– Using double sided tape, stick a piece of it to the other end of the craft ribbon you just stitched to the letter.
– Fold the ribbon over the mobile, securing the edge with tape on it so it is tightly wrapped around the circle. Secure all the letters.
– Using a larger piece of craft ribbon, repeat the same process with double sided tape in order to make a “handle” which you will use to hang the mobile (see the very first picture at the beginning of the post for reference.)

I would suggest not to put more than 3-4 letters at a time. You can change them weekly and hang above the baby’s crib during his awake time. While talking to the baby you can also name the letters to him.

One great thing about the letters I made, once child is older they can be given to.him to play with – simply detach and cut off the ribbon.

Some ideas for stuffing: to make it much safer and completely allergy-free, use pieces of fabric for stuffing.
To ensure better sensory experience once the child is able to  hold the toy, you can add some beans inside with the stuffing.
Supervision is required, especially if you stuff beans inside.

Please visit our Landing Page for Homemade Ideas to read more posts from other participating blogs!

image

Backyard Barbecue Blog Hop: Mountain Climbing

 

Announcing the first annual Backyard Barbecue Bloghop!

First Annual Backyard Barbecue Bloghop

 

 We are so excited to kick off the season with a bloghop to celebrate all of the wonderful recipes, activities, and crafts that summertime brings!

***

When I first thought of a topic to write for this blog \hop, I wanted to introduce the way the BBQ is done in our city, Zhuhai. However, I was so devastated to find out that all the pictures from every BBQ we went here to are missing!

So instead, I am introducing to you another very popular activity around here: mountain climbing.

Zhuhai is located in a mountainous area. From one side we have the sea, from another one – multiple mountains (not very high). This kind of landscape sort of traps the humidity and heat within the city and lots of people look for various escapes during summer. Mountain climbing is one of them, though it is an all-time favorite activity throughout the year.

One of the most popular mountains around here is Banzhanshan – Ban Zhan Mountain. The mountain is considered very special since there is a tunnel through it that connects 2 districts of Zhuhai  – Ningxi and Gongbei. Without this tunnel it would really be hard to go from one district to another and would take up much time to travel!

Since the mountain is located in the city, people like climbing it, exploring long pathways leading all the way to the top and opening a gorgeous view all year long.

mountain1

People often bring snacks and drinks with them and they can sit down at specially designated areas (you’d be surprised how many benches and places for that are there at different levels!), rest, chat, play games and enjoy their snacks.

Kids also love climbing the moutain as there are no cars, few bikes and they can run about free!

My daughter loves picking flowers so she thoroughly enjoys such outings as she can find fallen leaves and flowers and collect as many as she likes.

mountain kids 1

Being outside is one of the best things the summer can offer! Even though it gets pretty hot in our city, we find place and time to be out without getting too hot or too burnt!

How do you spend your summers?

***

Please link up below all of your family-friendly summertime ideas below. The linky will be open through July 13, so be sure to come back later in the summer to share more of your great summertime posts!

The Backyard Barbecue Bloghop is brought to you by:

All Done Monkey

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Mud Hut Mama

With our wonderful co-hosts:

The Squishable Baby

Creative World of Varya

Kid World Citizen

Something 2 Offer

Local Fun for Kids

Rainy Day Mum


Creative Tuesday: Self-initiated craft

I have to apologize for skipping a Tuesday – my older daughter got pretty sick last week with something so simple as cold sores. But since it was her first time and it seems her immune system wasn’t so strong, she ran very high fevers and it affected her whole mouth, eating and sleeping habits. She is thankfully almost recovered now (9 days later) and she is back to her cheerful, spirited and creative self! Thanks again to all the family and friends (both online and offline) for prayers, thoughts and speedy recovery wishes. And a special thank you to our friend, “GRavan”, who took time from her 4 children and came down with her daughter to bring us lunch and make craft for miss T! 

Self-initiated craft

There comes a time when we need the children to engage themselves with some activities. And when we do, we need all the things necessary for them. Self-initiated craft is something that children can do on their own, safely and without much supervision or directions. It is usually some spontaneous craft activity and it helps children to practice creativity and engage their imagination.

Here’s what moms say about self-initiated craft:

Becky of Kid World Citizen: “I think my kids are most creative when they are bored- if that makes sense. When I tell them they need to find something to do or else I will find them some housework, all of a sudden they are creating an elaborate zoo, circus, dog show, animal rescue etc saying they are too busy for housework.”

Annabelle of The Piri-Piri Lexicon: “My daughter comes up with the best activities (even at barely 3) when I tell her I am busy and she needs to occupy herself.”

Jill of Mom’s Gone Global: “I leave fun craft materials on the kitchen table, or another easily visible location to gently inspire my kids to create little pieces of artwork. I have found that if I organize and set up a specific craft project, they lose interest quickly. On the other hand, if craft time is self-initiated, they are more likely to spend lots of time working on it. My 6 year-old cannot walk past a roll of craft tape and a few sheets of construction paper without turning it into some elaborate invention.

MaryAnne of Mama Smiles: “Allow for plenty of unstructured time.

Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “I have an area with papers, and art supplies for the kids to use at any time. I also have a basket with secret craft ingredients like glitter glue set, buttons, foam stickers, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, popsicle sticks that my kids can use when they want to create something fancy.

Alyson of World Travel Family : “My two boys are very different, one goes to the craft cupboard and starts making extraordinary creations all by himself, the other isn’t interested.

Danielle  of 52 Brand New : “Don’t put all the art materials on a high shelf… They should be able to use them often (paint is my only exception!).

Cathy of  Nurture Store: “Let them use the materials their way. Don’t ‘fix’ things – let them go wrong, find alternatives, get bored, and come up with their own ideas.

Rebekah Patel of The Golden Gleam : “Don’t overschedule kids with adult directed activities. Unstructured play.  Have open ended play and art materials.

Terri of Creative Family Fun:”Let them be bored.”

Mia of Pragmatic Mom:”Do not read rules/instructions but just try to figure it out.”

After thinking a lot and reading what other blogger moms have to say about self-initiated craft I highlighted the following points for myself:

– No self-initiated craft is really possible without first introducing the child to craft and materials in general.

– Self-initiated craft is just a part of the whole creativity development and daily activities. Leaving children to themselves the whole day will help them to use their imagination, but the whole process of discovering the world and utilizing the creativity and talents will significantly slow down.

– Decide what craft material is appropriate to be used without any or much supervision. Consider the age group. Make this craft easily available to your child.

– It is always the best to have a specially designated craft area in the house. It doesn’t have to be the whole room or a corner. A regular dining table will do – you just have to teach the child where the craft is allowed to be used on his own or together.

– Let the children enjoy independence and allow them to use their imagination, however always remember that doing craft and activities together brings you close together with your child and helps the child overcome a lot in this hard process of growing up physically, spiritually and emotionally!

A few words about sand play

Have you noticed how fascinated most of the children are with sand and mud? Has it ever crossed your mind how magical the sand play can be for a child? Even adults enjoy sand play and there is a whole science of creating sand images. It’s one of the most adorable sights – to see a child exploring the texture of the sand with his/her little hands and feet.

A couple years ago I came across a method in psychology called “sandplay”. This method is used to correspond with a person’s inner state of mind by allowing him/her to draw and build images out of sand. A friend of mine took her boys to this therapy for a few years and she said it helped them really improve in many ways, and especially to formulate unresolved emotions children often have due to not being able to express what they feel.

My older daughter LOVES playing with sand. She is a very spirited child and once she masters the game more or less, she seeks for more challenging things to occupy her. Sometimes she easily gets bored so she jumps from an activity to activity. But playing with sand can last a while. We don’t have sand boxes where we live but we have a lovely beach nearby where the local authorities created a special area for children to play, under the trees, protected from the sun by their shade.

I notice that she feels more relaxed after playing with the sand and less agitated. I can either sit right next to her and play with her together or let her play on her own (under my supervision).

Few things however you should remember when allowing your child playing with the sand:

1. Some children like to taste everything. If you have a tasty-tasterson, choose the sand that is clean.

2. Playing at the beach or in the park with sand, make a “sweep” of the area for trash, pieces of glass and plastic. It could be a fun activity with an older child.

3. Don’t hesitate to let your child barefoot in the sand – it is extremely healthy and it helps especially those children and adults who have a flat foot syndrome.

4. While playing in the sand with bare hands is fun, spend a few bucks on buckets and shovels. At home you can collect all sorts of plastic containers and bottles (cut the top) to use in your sand play.

5. Enjoy it. And let your child enjoy!

Happy sand play and thank you for reading my blog!

No-cook (salt) play dough

I have dedicated a post to home made play dough before. Today I would like to share another recipe for a quick play dough that doesn’t require cooking process and can be easily made with your child from as early as 16 months and on.

You will need:

1 cup of flour (corn flour or wheat flour is fine)

1/2 cup of salt

1/2 of water mixed with 1 teaspoons of vegetable oil

food coloring of your choice

Method:

Mix flour and salt together. Slowly add water and combine and knead well until you get dough. Adjust the amount of flour – sometime you might require just a bit more than 1 cup. Divide the flour into parts and add few drops of food coloring to the parts. Knead well to even the color. Your play dough is ready!!!

You can make many things with this dough. It can be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container for a few weeks.

We made a cute paper plate art today using this freshly made dough and various beans. Some made different figurines.

You can add texture to your play dough for sensory development (coffee grains, sand, glitter etc) and smells (vanilla, strawberry etc). You can also bake your figurines and they will be preserved for much longer. This play dough is edible (your child won’t get food poisoning if it ends up in his/her mouth) and environmentally safe. It is very easy to wash off the surface and clothes.

Enjoy, have fun with your kids! Thank you for reading my blog!

Torn paper art

The art type I’m going to talk about is something I remember so clearly from my kindergarten days. I can still see the picture I made out of torn paper. We only did it twice but it was probably the most fun art project ever that’s why nearly 30 years later I still have a vivid memory of it.

Tearing paper is one of the best activities for toddlers. When they grow and explore they attempt to tear everything that can be torn. As parents and educators I am sure you have been through those disappointed moments where you find your unread newspaper or a favorite book torn apart and quite often kids get scolded and punished for the fun they had! But this is a very different subject and my only advice here – don’t leave things in your child’s/student’s reach. He/she WILL get to them!

So back to the torn paper art. It is simple, it is fun. All you need is a bigger piece of white paper, some color paper (they could be the left overs from other projects that you would normally throw away. I keep them all now and use for such projects!), and glue.

The project my daughter and I did is called “Mosaic Window”.

1. First let the child tear up color paper into small pieces. Not too small though.

2. Using a glue stick have the child randomly glue the pieces on the white paper.

3. With bigger kids once the white paper is filled up and the glue dried up a bit, trace the pieces glued.

4. From another white piece of paper cut out kind of a frame and glue it on top of the mosaic. Let it dry a bit and then you can do what we did – display it on the wall 🙂

Few things you might want to consider when preparing for this activity:

1. Actually, the preparation is minimal. This activity can be done at any time.

2. Do in the area that is easy to clean.

3. Have your child wear some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. We use a special apron.

4. Supervise. Turning away for a moment can cause glue being all over the place, even in the mouth!

Enjoy your time and thank you for reading my blog!

Playdough fun!

I have been pondering to try playdough with my toddler for a while but I was delaying as I was hoping to find a safe version (aka non-toxic). Recently, a wonderful friend dedicated us a post on her blog on How to make homemade playdough . We are lacking a couple of ingredients in order to make it but we have recently tried the playdough that was given miss T as a birthday present.

Few things I was reassured in again:

1. Always make sure the child and you wear clothes that you aren’t afraid to get dirty.

2. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic (if possible) – regular playdough stains and is not always easy to get off the surface even if it dried.

3. Start with one piece at a time – it eases your cleaning job.

4. Don’t leave kids under 4 unattended with playdough – even the non-toxic playdough consumed in big amounts (and in 99% of the time it WILL be consumed!) can cause some tummy problems.

Playdough is an amazing way for children to develop their motor skills (both gross and fine). It is a good way to help children with concentration and focus. It helps to have some extra tools like cookie forms to cut out shapes; may be a little plastic knife from your child’s kitchen set or from food delivery.

Enjoy the play time and thank you for reading my blog!

Just do it!

Sometimes when I get sick and can’t talk in order not to skip classes I try to do something proactive with the kids. We either watch some English related cartoon (e.g. The Letter Factory ) or do some art projects.

Last time I lost my voice with bigger kids we were recreating “The Garden” in drawing. Previously we learned the vocabulary for garden (things you can find in the garden) and I had children divided into the groups of 5 or 6 to work together drawing on a big piece of paper. It was also a good way to teach the children to share and respect each other’s space, help each other in case one was falling behind or didn’t know how to draw a certain object.

Here is what we got:

With younger kids we just pretended to be artists and I let their imagination flow! Here’s what we got:

Sometimes it is really all about enjoying the moment! With my toddler I often let her explore colors and shades. She asks to color every day, few times a day. And you know what? I love coloring! Crayons, markers, water paints – you name it! They are fun, they are a good addition to any party, great way to fill in the gaps during the class and more important they are the tools for self-education in children.

So… just do it!

Four things to remember when raising an artist

Is your baby showing  interest in scribbling already? While some think it might be too early for their child to start using crayons and pencils, others have children who show extreme interest in scribbling quite early and may want to use some tips for encouraging their little one:

1. 100% supervision. No matter how old your toddler is, he or she requires supervision when taking their first steps to drawing. Pencils, for example, can be dangerous if a child plays unsupervised with them or if allowed to run around with pencils in his hand. You don’t want to imagine what could happen if your little darling fell on a sharp pencil! And although most are now non-toxic, you wouldn’t want your child munching away on the crayons.

2. Try 1 or 2 colors at first but don’t restrict the access to the pencil or crayon box too much – children do get overwhelmed fast but at the same time it is a good opportunity to learn how to make choices.

3. Give some room for creativity. Set up a place where your child will let his/her imagination work. It could be a big piece of paper or even a wall that you can easily wash. Some of my friends cover a certain portion of a wall in the nursery with plain wallpaper and let their children draw and color their ways to perfection.

4. Take your time and sit down with your child to draw, color or scribble. While at it, you can teach your child so many other things: names of the colors, sharing and bonding.

Remember: children like to get their hands dirty. When buying pencils and crayons, look for the washable type – it will ease your laundry time!