Winter Week 13: Our Favorites

Our Spring activity plans are going to start March 6th! So, I thought why not spend next week doing some of our favorite Winter activities. Here’s what our plan is. What will your plan be?

  • For Art we are going to do some more snowpainting! Such a fun, sensory filled art activity! img_3124
  • Then, I think we are going to bring out the snowball “chute” for problem solving.img_1835
  • For Science and Math we picked the mitten match.
  • And, for cooking and baking, maybe we’ll try to make some more warm chocolate pudding one more time!

Sometimes, like through the extra crazy months of December-February I don’t always get every activity up on the blog. So, find us on Facebook, @realmeaningfulfamily, for live posts and updates!

Winter Week 12: February 20-24

Art

Yarn Mittens

This art activity gives your child to “knit” their own mittens while using their creativity and fine muscle movements. Cut various lengths of yarn. Let children either dip their yarn in glue or squeeze glue onto their mitten. Then they can stick their yarn onto the mitten and decorate it as they like. Talk about what the child is doing (narrate) and ask them questions. It’s a good opportunity to talk about colors and texture of the yarn, as well as to expound on the activity by talking about what our mittens feel, look like, and what their purpose is.

Stuff to Have

1 (or 2 for a pair) large mitten(s) cut out (see “Mitten Match” instructions below)

yarn

glue

Developing Skills

Art, fine motor, color, gluing

Fine Motor

Cotton Balls

This is the same idea as the classic sensory sand table (the at-home version) only instead of sand use cotton balls or white craft balls. Fill the large plastic container with 1 or 2 bags of cotton balls. Your child can dig in and experience the texture of the cotton balls, the weight, and also volume when they use the cups and measuring cups.

Stuff to Have

Bag of cotton balls

Large plastic container

Measuring cups, bowls, spoons, etc.

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Math & Science

Mitten Match

Adult prep, making the mittens: Grab 5-8 different colors of construction paper. Use your own hand, or your child’s hand to trace around. Make sure to keep all 4 fingers together and thumb sticking out to get the mitten look. Cut 2 mittens out of each color. Have children match the mittens based on color.

Variation: cut out 4 mittens from each color. Cut 2 small and 2 large. Children can not only match based on color, but also based on size.

Stuff to Have

5-8 pairs of construction paper mittens

Developing Skills

Early math, colors

Cooking & Baking

Mitten Cookies

This is going to be pretty easy, but a fun way to incorporate the mitten theme into cooking this week. Mix up your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe, or just use store bought. Whatever’s easiest. Then roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness, just like if you were going to use cookie cutters. Now, instead of using cutters, place your child’s hand on the dough with four fingers closed and thumb out… the shape of a mitten! Repeat as often as you can on the dough, and you have cute, mittens just the size of your little one!

Bake according to your directions, let them cool, and then decorate. My icing recipe is below.

Of course, all throughout get your child involved as much as possible. Dumping, stirring, rolling out dough. Make it their project and you will have an easier time letting them fully participate.

For the icing:

Combine butter and powdered sugar and about 1/2 cup of the cream. Slowly add more cream until you reach the desired consistency for your icing. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Separate into smaller bowls and add desired food colors.

Stuff to Have

Your favorite sugar cookie recipe or store bough sugar cookie dough

For the Icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup-1 cup Half & half cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Various food colors, optional

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory, cooking & baking, early science & math

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

Winter Week 11: February 13-17

Art

Heart Prints

dsc_0033Do you need a last minute Valentine idea? Or maybe just a fun valentine craft. This fun activity combines printing or stamping with Valentines hearts. Printing (stamping) is one way to paint but enhance a different form of fine motor development than other methods of painting.

dsc_0028Take your toilet paper rolls- as many as you need- and gently push down the center to make the top of the heart. Then, turn it to the opposite side and crease the bottom to make the point of the heart. Just keep working it until it turns into the heart shape you are looking for. Place paints on a dip-able surface (ie. Paper plate, scrap piece of cardboard, etc). Let your child dip their hearts into the paints and stamp them onto the construction paper. You’ll end up with a collage of heart stamps, perfect for getting into the

Stuff to Have

Toilet paper rolls

Non-toxic paint

1 sheet construction paper

Developing Skills

Fine motor, art, colors

Cotton Balls

This is the same idea as the classic sensory sand table (the at-home version) only instead of sand use cotton balls or white craft balls. Fill the large plastic container with 1 or 2 bags of cotton balls. Your child can dig in and experience the texture of the cotton balls, the weight, and also volume when they use the cups and measuring cups.

Stuff to Have

Bag of cotton balls

Large plastic container

Measuring cups, bowls, spoons, etc.

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Math & Science

Melt & Freeze

As simple as it may seem, the change from snow to water is a scientific transformation… but with these ages we are just going to play with it, watch it change, and have fun! If you have some snow let your child, or help them, collect a bowl full of snow. You could take this chance to add some color to it, or just leave it sit in a visible location to periodically watch the change. Be sure to ask questions and take some time to feel the snow as it changes. Set it aside and watch it over time, or throw in bowls, cups, spoons, etc. and turn it into a sensory experience.

Stuff to Have

Containers to collect snow

Food coloring diluted in water in a spray or squirt bottle, optional

Bowls, cups, spoons, empty containers, etc.

Developing Skills

Early science, sensory

Cooking & Baking

Snowcones

If you’re thinking Snowcones?! Snowcones are a cold treat for a hot day, not for a cold winter day! You’re not the only one. I thought it would be fun though to mimic the snow outside in a tasty treat!

To make the syrup combine your choice of frozen fruit, we used frozen mixed berries, with about 1/4 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of honey (or to taste). Let it simmer over medium heat until the berries start to break down and the syrup starts to smooth out. It took ours about 10 minutes. If it feels like deja vu, then you probably made our Ooey Gooey Lovey Poptarts! The process starts very similar!

Once it’s heated through and the berries have mostly broken down, I let it cool to room temp. and then I blended it in the blender to get all of those little lumps as smooth as possible.

When you are ready to make the snowcones blend up the ice in the blender. Put into a paper cup, and drizzle with the berry sauce. Enjoy this sweet snowy treat!

Stuff to Have

1 cup frozen berries

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons honey

paper cups

ice

Developing Skills

fine motor, sensory, cooking & baking, early science and math

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

In the Kitchen: Ooey Gooey Lovey Poptarts

My kids love making and eating this Valentines treat. These are super easy, and they end up pretty healthy too. I feel good about giving these to my kids! For the quick recipe go here.

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I don’t really know how jelly is made, or even filling for fruit pies. I came up with this filling for our pop tarts on my own, and my little food critics never once complained. In fact, they asked for more! So, you jelly and pie filling masters, don’t laugh at my pop tart filling!

We used about a 1/2 cup of frozen berries- you can use just strawberries, just blueberries or a mix, whatever you choose (or in my case whatever you happen to have!).

img_3147

And I always use frozen berries. I always have them on hand, I’d rather save fresh berries for eating right away and frozen berries work perfect for this!

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We tossed that into a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoons of honey and let it warm up over medium heat.

We let the berries simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep and eye on it, give it an occasional stir, and I sometimes help break down the bigger berries with my spoon. For the most part they break down on their own.

Then, we prepped our pie crust dough. My kids picked both heart cut outs and circle cut outs with little hearts in the middle. We cut out tops and bottoms and set them aside for the filling.

Once your filling is a jelly consistency, set it aside to cool down a little bit.

img_3163

When it is ready spoon about a teaspoon onto the crust bottoms. Now, I have learned many times from experience- read almost exploding pop tarts- that it takes less filling than you might expect to fill these little guys.

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Now, it’s time to put the tops on. I use a little water on my finger and run it along the edges of the bottom crust. This just makes the top stick a little better. Then, we used a fork to crimp the edges together. If you’re feeling really fancy, you could put an egg wash on the top. I never do, but it makes them bake up nice and golden. An egg wash would be a great job for your child by the way… now that I think of it I might have to start adding that step!

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Your little Ooey Gooey Lovey pop tarts are ready to bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes! You can keep them for your family, or share with special Valentines! Next time we need to double the batch, because they don’t last much longer than a day here.

img_3178

Let’s talk about what’s happening here:

Fine motor: It’s probably pretty obvious that your child is using a lot of little muscles in their hands and forearms, and that’s great! Think about the control their body is learning as they pour the berries into the pan or cut out the pie crust. Not only are their little muscles working, but their brain is working too figuring out how to control their limbs.

Sensory: Cooking and baking activities are a great sensory activity. I like to remind parents that sensory isn’t just what we do in the sand table! Sensory is all of our senses… sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Yes, there are always lots of touch sensory experiences in cooking, in this case getting out the strawberries, feeling the pie crust dough… But also consider other opportunities, maybe with this activity try the filling when it is cool enough. What does it taste like? How is it different from a strawberry? Or point out the smell of the filling as it simmers, or the smell of the pop tarts as they near being done.

Early Science: At this age just getting the experience of using a measuring spoon and watching the changes that happen while the strawberries and pop tarts change while cooking, is science.  We don’t need to point out these things in scientific ways, it’s more just about your child getting to experience them.

Happy Playing!

Time For Art: Heart Feet

heart-feet

Start out by getting prepped first! Paint, brushes, paper, wet clean up cloths nearby and maybe even set up on top of newspapers on the floor if you want. Trust me, you don’t want to get your child’s foot covered in paint and then realize the paper is on the other side of the room!

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When you are set start with one foot. Paint the bottom of the first foot with your child’s selected color of paint. Help him, or let him, stamp his foot on the paper. Clean the first foot off, and then paint the second foot. To make a heart have a child stamp the second foot on top of heel of their first footprint to create the pointed bottom of the heart and toes create the two rounded tops.

Your child can add more paint and decorations to their hearts if they would like.

Winter Week 10: February 6-10

Art

Heart Feet

img_3242Sometimes there are just craft activities that are too cute to pass up. And this one using those little chubby feet is one of them. It doesn’t encourage the same independence and freedom that most activities have on here, but I figure one every now and then is ok! Plus, now we get to hold onto this sweet memory!

To make it easiest I would get prepped first. Have your paint, brushes, construction paper, wet cloths nearby and maybe even set up on top of newspapers on the floor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up doing advanced yoga reaching for the paper or a wet cloth while I’m holding onto my child’s foot… keeping everything from touching and making a mess!  Paint the bottom of one foot with your child’s selected color of paint. Help them or let them stamp their foot on the paper. Clean the first foot off, and then paint the second foot. To make a heart have a child stamp the second foot on top of the heel of their first footprint to create the pointed bottom of the heart and toes create the two rounded tops. Your child can add more paint and decorations to their hearts if they would like.

We’ve done this each year for my kids and we have fun every time!

Stuff to Have

Non-toxic paint

Construction paper

Paint brush

Stickers, ribbon, crayons, markers, etc. (for optional decoration)

Developing Skills

sensory, art, printing, colors

Fine Motor/Sensory

Cotton Balls

This is the same idea as the classic sensory sand table (the at-home version) only instead of sand use cotton balls or white craft balls. Fill the large plastic container with 1 or 2 bags of cotton balls. Your child can dig in and experience the texture of the cotton balls, the weight, and also volume when they use the cups and measuring cups.

Stuff to Have

Bag of cotton balls

Large plastic container

Measuring cups, bowls, spoons, etc.

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Math & Science

Mitten Match

Adult prep, making the mittens: Grab 5-8 different colors of construction paper. Use your own hand, or your child’s hand to trace around. Make sure to keep all 4 fingers together and thumb sticking out to get the mitten look. Cut 2 mittens out of each color. Have children match the mittens based on color.

Variation: cut out 4 mittens from each color. Cut 2 small and 2 large. Children can not only match based on color, but also based on size.

Stuff to Have

5-8 pairs of construction paper mittens

Developing Skills

Early math, colors

Cooking & Baking

Ooey Gooey Lovey Poptarts

img_3180In a saucepan, bring strawberries, honey, and water to a simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. It should become the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Meanwhile on a floured surface, roll out one half of the pie crust. Cut out heart shapes- or your preferred shape. We did some circles with hearts cut out of the middle this time! Repeat with second half of dough so that you have a matching number of tops and bottoms. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons (it takes less than you expect!) of cooled filling into each of the bottom halves of your pop-tarts being careful to stay away from the edges. Brush edges with water and place the pop-tart “tops” on. Press the edges all the way around with a fork to seal shut. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until golden.

There are a lot of fun ways to get your child involved in this and they will love it. Pouring in the strawberries, squeezing in honey, and dumping the water are good ways to start. And then cutting out the dough and filling the poptarts are other fun ways for them to help. They will love putting these together and then getting to try out their creation when it is done!

Stuff to Have

1 package refrigerated pie crust

1 ½ c. strawberries or mixed berries (I used frozen mixed berries)

2 T honey

Developing Skills

Cooking and baking, fine motor, science, math

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

Winter Week 9: January 30-February 3

It is unreal to me that we are crossing over into February this week! How did that happen? Have fun this week with some super “snowy” winter activities! Pretty soon we will be adding in special Valentines crafts and activities. It’s so fun anticipating a holiday, even a little one! We are also keeping up the repetition of several of the activities. It’s ok to do activities several times, it allows your child to experiment with it in a different way each time. If you need to get creative and offer ideas to change it up if you feel like they are getting bored.

Art

Puffy Snowpaint

This paint is so fun! Fold together equal parts white glue and shaving cream. You can separate the snow paint into equal parts and color them with food color if you would like, or you can keep it white and truly paint a snowy scene. Now, let your child paint anything they would like with their fluffy paint, the sky is the limit! Ask them to describe what they are painting, if they are verbal enough, or talk about what you see while they paint. Not only are they working on their fine motor movements and sensory (because it’s bound to get a little messy), but they are also turning their little creative wheels as they paint! It continues to be fun as the paint dries, it will dry with a puffy, spongy finish.

Stuff to Have

White glue

Shaving cream

Food coloring, optional

Construction paper

Paint brushes

Developing Skills

Art, fine motor, sensory

Fine Motor/Sensory

Cotton Balls

This is the same idea as the classic sensory sand table (the at-home version) only instead of sand use cotton balls or white craft balls. Fill the large plastic container with 1 or 2 bags of cotton balls. Your child can dig in and experience the texture of the cotton balls, the weight, and also volume when they use the cups and measuring cups.

Stuff to Have

Bag of cotton balls

Large plastic container

Measuring cups, bowls, spoons, etc.

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Math & Science

Melt & Freeze

As simple as it may seem, the change from snow to water is a scientific transformation… but with these ages we are just going to play with it, watch it change, and have fun! If you have some snow let your child, or help them, collect a bowl full of snow. You could take this chance to add some color to it, or just leave it sit in a visible location to periodically watch the change. Be sure to ask questions and take some time to feel the snow as it changes. Set it aside and watch it over time, or throw in bowls, cups, spoons, etc. and turn it into a sensory experience.

Stuff to Have

Containers to collect snow

Food coloring diluted in water in a spray or squirt bottle, optional

Bowls, cups, spoons, empty containers, etc.

Developing Skills

Early science, sensory

Cooking & Baking

Cream Cheese Valentines Cookies

Cream butter until fluffy. Mix in cornstarch and sugar. Beat in flour until completely combined. Scoop and roll into balls, place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and optional food coloring of your choice. Once cookies have cooled spread cream cheese frosting on the cookies.

Get your child involved to their level. Dumping and stirring are great ways to keep them involved, as well as getting the opportunity to scoop and roll the dough into balls. Cooking and baking activities have so many developmental aspects to them, but it’s our job to get our children as involved as possible to get those experiences! Have fun and enjoy the treat!

Stuff to Have

1 C. butter

¾ C. cornstarch

¾ C. powdered sugar

1 C. flour

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 C. powdered sugar

1/2  t. vanilla

Food coloring, optional

Developing Skills

Cooking and baking, fine motor, sensory, early science and math

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

Winter Week 8: January 23-27

Here is what we are looking forward to doing next week! More snowmen, snowflakes, and winter themed fun. Just around the corner are great Valentines Day activities, so be on the lookout for those!  

Art

Melted Snowman

I just love this finger painting craft! Start by letting your child finger paint with the white paint. Remember this feels pretty different on their hands, so if your child hates the feeling of wet paint go ahead and let them use a brush.

Once the blue paper is covered to your child’s approval, let the paint dry… do a puzzle, have a dance party, do some yoga…

Once dry your child can glue on the hat, eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, scarf, and arms wherever they choose to finish their melted snowman. There is so much freedom with this craft with the finger painting and then getting to choose wherever they want to put the nose, eyes, buttons, and mouth. But at the same time they are still utilizing all of those little muscles!

Stuff to Have

Blue sheet of construction paper

White non-toxic paint

Precut from construction paper: orange nose, 8 small black circles (buttons, eyes, and mouth) a scarf, hat, and brown sticks for arms

Glue

Developing Skills

Art, painting, fine motor

Fine Motor

Homemade Snow

Shaving cream apparently has about a million uses, including several fine motor and sensory activities for young children. It really is a great medium that kids will have a ton of fun with. Mix a box (or a half box depending on how much you want to make) of cornstarch with a can of shaving cream in a large plastic container. Mix together to get a fluffy, snowy, moldable consistency. Let children dig in and play as they like, ask a lot of questions, and occasionally give new ideas for play (ie add toys, cars, containers, scoops, spoons, cookie cutters, etc).

Stuff to Have

1 box cornstarch

1 can of shaving cream

Large plastic container

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory, early science

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Science & Math

Mitten Match

Adult prep, making the mittens: Grab 5-8 different colors of construction paper. Use your own hand, or your child’s hand to trace around. Make sure to keep all 4 fingers together and thumb sticking out to get the mitten look. Cut 2 mittens out of each color. Have children match the mittens based on color.

Variation: cut out 4 mittens from each color. Cut 2 small and 2 large. Children can not only match based on color, but also based on size.

Stuff to Have

5-8 pairs of construction paper mittens

Developing Skills

Early math, colors

Cooking & Baking

Choose a Favorite!

Pick a special family recipe or something that you love to make together!

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

Winter Week 7: January 16-20

Art

Build a Snowman!

Playing with playdough is a really simple but beneficial way to work on both creativity and all of those little muscles in the hands and forearms that will later be used when writing and in other fine motor movements. In this activity you can give this activity a seasonal spin by using the dough to make a little snowman. Your child’s age and experience with the dough will determine how close they get to making a snowman, but it’s their attempt and experimentation that they will learn from.

Stuff to Have

Playdough

Developing Skills

Fine motor, art

Fine Motor

Homemade Snow

Shaving cream apparently has about a million uses, including several fine motor and sensory activities for young children. It really is a great medium that kids will have a ton of fun with. Mix a box (or a half box depending on how much you want to make) of cornstarch with a can of shaving cream in a large plastic container. Mix together to get a fluffy, snowy, moldable consistency. Let children dig in and play as they like, ask a lot of questions, and occasionally give new ideas for play (ie add toys, cars, containers, scoops, spoons, cookie cutters, etc).

Stuff to Have

1 box cornstarch

1 can of shaving cream

Large plastic container

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory, early science

Problem Solving

Snowball Transport

Set out cotton balls (or craft balls) in a large bowl along with the empty muffin tin or ice cube tray. Let your child experiment with different types of utensils (tongs, spoons, tweezers) to move the cotton balls from the larger bowl to the small compartments. Younger children will have an easier time using spoons, and older children might enjoy the challenge of tongs or tweezers.

Variation: If using colored craft balls make sure to talk about the colors. Older children might enjoy sorting by color adding an early math concept to this activity.

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or craft balls

Spoons, tongs, tweezers, etc

Muffin tin or ice cube tray

Developing Skills

Fine motor

Early Science & Math

Melt & Freeze

As simple as it may seem, the change from snow to water is a scientific transformation… but with these ages we are just going to play with it, watch it change, and have fun! If you have some snow let your child, or help them, collect a bowl full of snow. You could take this chance to add some color to it, or just leave it sit in a visible location to periodically watch the change. Be sure to ask questions and take some time to feel the snow as it changes. Set it aside and watch it over time, or throw in bowls, cups, spoons, etc. and turn it into a sensory experience.

Stuff to Have

Containers to collect snow

Food coloring diluted in water in a spray or squirt bottle, optional

Bowls, cups, spoons, empty containers, etc.

Developing Skills

Early science, sensory

Cooking & Baking

Choose a Favorite!

Choose something that you love to make together with your child!

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!

Winter Week 6: January 9-12

Art

Hibernation Craft

One part of winter, for many, is keeping warm! A fun spin on keeping warm in the winter is learning about how animals stay warm. We aren’t talking about a 3rd grade hibernation lesson of course! This is a very simple look at what animals do in the winter to keep warm. Start by taking your half paper plate and cutting the center out so that you are left with an arch of about 2 inches thick. You are making a cave for an animal to stay warm in. Now, cut the construction paper into a half circle to fit inside of the arch, this is the dark inside of the cave. Let your child fill in the paper plate arch with cotton balls (snow). Then, either you or your child can glue in the black part of the cave. Finally, glue in the goog-ly craft eyes to see the animal peeking out of the cave.

Stuff to Have

Paper plate, cut in half

Black construction paper

Cotton balls, 25-30

Craft eyes

Developing Skills

Fine motor, arts & crafts

Fine Motor

Homemade Snow

Shaving cream apparently has about a million uses, including several fine motor and sensory activities for young children. It really is a great medium that kids will have a ton of fun with. Mix a box (or a half box depending on how much you want to make) of cornstarch with a can of shaving cream in a large plastic container. Mix together to get a fluffy, snowy, moldable consistency. Let children dig in and play as they like, ask a lot of questions, and occasionally give new ideas for play (ie add toys, cars, containers, scoops, spoons, cookie cutters, etc).

Stuff to Have

1 box cornstarch

1 can of shaving cream

Large plastic container

Developing Skills

Fine motor, sensory, early science

Fine Motor/Problem Solving

Snowball Chute

This is a fun variation on the ping pong ball drop from last summer, but there are lot’s of ways to change it up. Start by gluing 2 magnets onto the back of an empty toilet paper roll or a paper towel roll, this is your chute. Stick this to the fridge. Now your child can drop snowballs through the chute. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog about this and I will give more ideas to add to this activity!

Stuff to Have

Cotton balls or white craft balls

Empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls

tongs, spoons, tweezers, etc, optional

Developing Skills

Fine motor, perceptual motor, problem solving

Science & Math

Melt & Freeze

As simple as it may seem, the change from snow to water is a scientific transformation… but with these ages we are just going to play with it, watch it change, and have fun! If you have some snow let your child, or help them, collect a bowl full of snow. You could take this chance to add some color to it, or just leave it sit in a visible location to periodically watch the change. Be sure to ask questions and take some time to feel the snow as it changes. Set it aside and watch it over time, or throw in bowls, cups, spoons, etc. and turn it into a sensory experience.

Stuff to Have

Containers to collect snow

Food coloring diluted in water in a spray or squirt bottle, optional

Bowls, cups, spoons, empty containers, etc.

Developing Skills

Early science, sensory

Cooking & Baking

Warm Chocolate Pudding

There is something that sounds very comforting about a warm batch of chocolate pudding in the middle of winter. You could go for the store bought box and have just as much fun, or you could try this easy pudding recipe. I don’t have a tried and true pudding recipe, so I went to the chocolate experts at Hershey’s for their pudding recipe as a starting point. I am going to cut the sugar & salt since it’s for my kids and I want a lower sugar content. And to make it thicker while it’s warm I’m cutting a bit of milk out (keep in mind this will continue to thicken as it cools). I’ll post a link to the original website too if you want that!

Here are the directions: Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt into a large microwave safe bowl. Whisk in milk until it is smooth and microwave uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave again for 4-6 minutes, or until thickened, stirring after each minute. Stir in vanilla and butter. Serve out of the large bowl, or pour into individual dishes. You can eat it warm to warm up on a chilly day, or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. For an added treat top your pudding with delicious whipped cream!

Oh, and a note on keeping away the skin on the top while chilling… place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.

It is your job to engage your child, ask questions, and be descriptive. Let them do as much dumping and stirring as they can or are interested in doing. Pudding will be a delicious treat, but I like it because it is nice and simple, fun to watch it as it changes, and easy to do in the microwave, no hot burners to avoid in this cooking activity!

Here is the original recipe: https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/en_US/recipes/2804/quick-creamy-chocolate-pudding.html

Stuff to Have

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped topping, optional

Developing Skills

Fine motor, early science, cooking and baking

Add on Activities

Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!

Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!

Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!

Join us on Facebook!  For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/

Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!