My name is Rachel, and I blog about hands on learning and activities for the early years. I am an early childhood educator and mom to a three year old daughter. I am a tea enthusiast, passionate about nature, animals, photography and children's literature.
- The reason why library books can wait to be returned. September 25, 2013
- Royally Clean Mud Pies! September 10, 2013
- Paint A Tree For a Bug Picnic August 18, 2013
- SodaPOPsicles! August 9, 2013
- Nutella Fudge Pops August 3, 2013
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- Small Potatoes
- The Chocolate Muffin Tree
- No Time For Flash Cards
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- laugh. play. explore.
Make clean mud pies with an added sensory element. These clean mud pies were made with shaving cream, and Dunken Hines flavor icing packets. The icing flavor mix is individual powdered packets found in the baking isle. It was so much fun for Curly to mix, smell and play. To top it off and make these clean mud pies extra royal we added glitter and plastic jewels.
We usually keep a muffin tin in our outdoor play toys. This is great for making “pretend grass and mud pies.”
She had so much fun mixing a few different packets of powder, and seeing the colors mix and change. They smelled wonderful! We had so much fun!
This is a great sensory activity for the sense of touch, and smell! They are also learning science and color mixing and making predictions.
The wonder and joy of letting go, and letting your imagination run wild and free outside. Children need time each day to play outside and explore nature. Children of today simply aren’t getting enough time outside. It’s becoming a problem. This is a simple activity to encourage outdoor play and learn a little science at the same time. If you have an old banana and some brown sugar, or maple syrup you can mix up some sugary mixture in a snap. It’s fun to have your child mash the banana and mix up the mixture. Step outside and find a tree. Pain the tree with a paint brush. Ask your child open ended questions. While Curly painted I asked her “who do you think will come to eat your snack?” “Who do you think will come for a picnic?” It was fun for her to imagine all sorts of critters that might come and enjoy a snack. After she painted her tree, we went to play and came back to see some little ants and other bugs enjoying a snack. I will be posting some more simple activities to encourage children to get outside and explore nature and science. The time spent outdoors for children is invaluable! Let them take time to explore, get lost in the moment and learn some science and child led investigations.
Mix Ingrediants like and old Banana, and brown sugar together.
Don’t forget to ask open ended questions. “What do you think will happen?” “Who do you think will come and snack?” “What do you think a bug picnic looks like to you?”
Don’t forget to check back and see who might come and enjoy a picnic! Have fun exploring!
This is a great science activity that encourages children to predict, watch for an outcome and explore nature!
These sodaPOPsicles are similar to “dreamsicles” except I made them with cherry soda instead of orange. This soda is availaible in our area, and it’s a great option with out any dyes. I simply filled the popsicle mold with half creamer, and half soda. I suggest leaving some space at the top because the carbination will push over the top while they freeze.
Fill the mold with half soda, and then top if off with a half cream.
Freeze overnight and invite a friend over to share this treat with! This could be a perfect after school treat!
Summer is not over yet! This is a great summer treat for kids and adults. This popsicle is very similar in taste to a fudgesicle. It is homemade using only three ingredients. This is so easy to make the kids can make this with a little help from a grown-up. We had so much fun making this popsicle that we invented a more few recipes of our own. This was a great activity to do together. Curly was able to learn science and math while making these different popsicle recipes. I was happy to let her have a homemade treat minus extra dyes and preservatives. Since we had so much fun making this and all of our other frozen treats, this post will be the first in a series of homemade frozen pops!
5 Tablespoons of Nutella
1 cup of Creamer (coconut creamer or creamer of your choice)
1 Cup of Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
Mix ingredients in an electric mixer. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
Enjoy one, or two with your child!
Nothing quite prepares you for life with a child. Our family likes to dine out and as soon as our daughter hit the “wiggle stage” I found it was harder and harder to eat out at restaurants. During this wiggle stage I started something that we call a “busy bag.” This post is about tips and tricks for a “bag of fun” for eating out, travel or just on the go with a little one. Using phones and electronic media always has it has it’s place and certainly is the easiest “go to.” I try using this as a last resort when eating out. The idea behind my bag of fun is to limit media use while eating out. With growing use of screen time and media I am concerned for this generation on several levels. My main concern with the use of media while eating out is that I am trying to teach my child the value and manners of eating together. I am anything but above using media for my child, but everything in moderation and I believe it has it has a time and place.
I have rotating bags of fun to keep them new and exciting. Often I might even have three at one time. I always keep on in the car, and several right by the door. Keeping these bags handy to grab makes things so much easier and successful when heading out the door to grab a bite to eat or a place where we need a bag of fun.
Times or places to bring a bag of fun :
- A restaurant
- A Doctors appointment
- A more adult type atmosphere like a party with out children
When traveling I always make a new bag fun. We fly often because my family lives out-of-town and I have found that having these activities and special snacks makes for very pleasant travel for all.
So now I will get to the good stuff! What makes a “bag of fun,” fun!
- Snacks (need I say more?) always be prepared with a snack. Sometimes it can take too long for the food to arrive at a restaurant, or food to be served at a party, or the wait might be longer than expected at an appointment. Nothing makes for a more perfect storm than a hungry child. Apple sauce pouches are a great snack that doesn’t melt in a hot car, and doesn’t need refrigeration. Crackers, and fruit snacks are always good choices to throw in a bag as well.
- Sticker books
- Children’s catalogues
- Children’s magazines
- Coloring books with pens, and markers. (crayons melt in hot cars)
- I like index cards because they are small but have endless doodling and sticker possibilities!
- Small games
- Silly putty or play dough
- Small light weight books
- Small toys like “little people” or “play mobile”
My favorite places to shop for the bag of fun are the dollar store, Target dollar bin, Walgreens and Five and Below.
I picked up some silly putty for one dollar before our most recent trip. It was the best buy and came in handy so often! Sometimes play dough will not be allowed through security and can be heavy. Silly putty is a great alternative for air plane travel.
- There is a toy where you can color with water. It’s called “Aqua Doodle” I believe. I like this toy because the mat folds flat, and you can fill the pen with water which is usually available at most places we go.
When we travel on the airplane or car I find that using new sticker books and new “special” snacks is a great thing. Going on a trip is special and new toys and snacks make things extra exciting!
The biggest tip by far is this:
Imagine a glass case that says “BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” you may not ever have to use it, and often times I have not. But I usually have one in my purse or bag of fun when I travel. It’s a sucker (lollipop)! For extra fun on a trip my daughter really likes “ring pops.” On our most recent trip I had two with me. I am proud to say that we didn’t even use one. I have them saved for next time. These are great to have on hand for that one time you have a major situation (a code red on your hands).
No one knows your child better than you. Think outside the box and think about things your child likes. And remember if in doubt “Keep calm and carry a “BAG OF FUN!”
This sparkle dust smells wonderful, and feels great! I started this activity with Curly with the intention of doing something different. I followed her lead and we made a very interesting new sensory recipe! To make magic sparkle dust, start with some table salt on a tray. Rub colored chalk of your choice into the salt.
I asked Curly what color she wanted, and she asked for pink and purple. I intentionally gave her the color pink and blue. I told her we don’t have purple chalk, but I wonder what will happen when we rub this chalk into the salt? She started rubbing both colors, and this is where the magic really begins! You do not have to use two different colors of chalk, you only need one. The magic happens as the color of the chalk rubs off into the salt creating colored sand! As it turned out in our case we had the surprise of the “sand” changing colors as well as the blue and pink changing to purple. Curly loves to play with shaving cream and asked to add this to her play. I couldn’t think of a reason not to! I had a scented shaving cream and it was creamy and sandy at the same time with a lovely aroma!
We added some jewels for some extra magic and sparkle. It was fun to run our hands through (yes even mom had fun playing!). This is a great way to practice handwriting in a fun no pressure way, as well as practice letter recognition or story telling in the sand.
Some things they learn while they play during this activity:
- Science investigations
- Color mixing and learning colors
- Literacy (letters and story telling)
- Fine motor (writing letters and words in the sand)
- Using their Imagination
- Making predictions
Lemonade has been an interest this summer at our home. We kicked off the summer with lemonade cupcakes, and with Curly’s child led interest in setting up her first lemonade stand, the inspiration came to me with the idea of a lemon sensory and small world play tub. I think my favorite part about this rice was the extra sensory element of smell with lemon extract that I added while coloring the rice yellow. We made this little lemonade sign from a craft we had already done, and we added the writing over the top. Curley is just starting to emerge in her developmental writing. She is now able to copy a few letters. I was very proud of her that she was able to write the letter “L” in the word lemonade. This writing lemonade stand project was about the process and not the product. It didn’t matter that the sign did not say the complete word “Lemonade Stand.” She was proud about what she could write and what she “wrote” had meaning to her. I had collected yellow caps, cups, lemon erasers, pom poms, and even a pretend lemon which made it all the more “yellow” and “lemony!”
She added little people and her small dolls. She is very interested in little play of all kinds. She was able to use her sense of imagination in this “lemonade land.” Her dolls where able to buy and sell lemonade. She enjoyed how the rice felt on her hands, as while as how wonderful it smelled all at the same time. At one point I smiled as I sat back and watched her get lost in her own imagination as it went from a lemonade stand to a magical lemon kingdom.
It was fun to scoop and pour the rice from cup to cup. What a fun way to practice hand eye coordination!
In this play activity children are learning:
- Hand Eye Coordination
- Using their Imaginations
- Sensory Awareness
- Learning about the sense of “touch and smell” (Preschool Science Standards)
- The Color Yellow
- Literacy Skills and Developmental Writing and that print carries a message.
This is a great story and simple activity with a powerful way for children to learn colors. The story “Mouse Paint” is about three mice who jump into paint. The fun is when they jump from one color to another and realize what colors mixed together make another color! It’s a very fun way for children to learn colors, and mixing colors. This activity is very simple. You will need the following three items:
- An ice-cube tray, muffin tray, or a plastic recycled egg carton.
- Food Coloring.
- An eye dropper. If you do not have an eye dropper sometimes children’s medicine comes with a dropper. When the medicine is finished wash the eye dropper and this can be used as an eye dropper. An Eye dropper can also be found at a teacher’s store or online.
Squeezing an eye dropper is a skill that children need to learn in these early years. It is a great fine motor activity.
Fill your tray with water and food color, leaving some sections of water clear. Let the children experiment with mixing colors on their own. Ask open-ended questions such as ” I wonder what will happen when…” Let them make the discoveries themselves. The best part is children are learning by discovery, making these connections themselves. You can tell children that red and blue make purple, but they learn by much more meaningful connections. Making these discoveries themselves is so much more empowering as they learn through play and hands on learning.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” ~Confucius