Monday, June 28, 2010

Educational Bath Time!

I like to think that every moment of the day has the potential to be educational. I also happen to think that paying $20+ for foam toys to play with in the bathtub is a little insane. My solution? DOLLARAMA! (Isn't it always?)

So, today, as Little L sat in the bathtub, I found myself thinking, "What a wasted opportunity to learn!" Out came my dollar store bought outdoor placemats for some tub-sticking bath shapes:

What You Need:

- Outdoor placemat or shelf liner (see above)
- Scissors
(Yup...that's it!)

What You Do:

1) Cut the placemat into shapes.
2) Wet and stick to side of tub.

I free-handed my shapes, but if you need a good template you can use these coloring pages from Fisher Price.

Little L had a blast sticking these to the side of the tub, to Nana's leg, to her own tummy. Just be sure to talk about the shapes you're using and, VOILA!, educational bath time!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

News and a Giveaway!

Well, sorry (once again) for the lack of posts. We were on the road to visit family "Out East" and have arrived safely. I would like to take this opportunity to thank God for my two wonderful little girls who didn't make a peep of complaint on our twenty hour drive. Also, for my fantastic husband who did all of the driving! Speaking of thanking God, on to the good news:

YIPPEE! Baby number three is on the way! At least that explains why I was having trouble staying up past 10:00! I'm not sure just how far along I am, but that could potentially be three just under two. What a blessing and a great adventure!

Now, as I don't like to post without leaving you with something, here is my favorite chart of baby milestones from Baby Center - Very comprehensive. I like to print it out and write on the back when they actually achieved each milestone.

Oh! And I mentioned a giveaway, right? I currently have a very small and sad following soooooo...once I reach 25 followers I am prepared to have an AWESOME giveaway. I won't tell you what it is yet (do I even know?? Maybe not...) but I will tell you that it would be awesome! So...follow me!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FREE Children's Yoga Cards

I am so excited about my latest find that I just had to quickly share - ABSOLUTELY FREE yoga cards for children!! You can buy children's yoga decks on Amazon...

...but these awesome cards from Montessori by Hand are full colour actual photographs with a live child model!

Meg from Montessori by Hand suggests that you have them printed, mount on cardstock, write the name of the pose beneath the photo and laminate.

You can check out her post with a link to her photos here and her post about how to use them in the classroom here.

I can't wait to start this with Little L!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flashcard Links

I don't know about you, but we love flash cards around here! Little L started identifying animals and other things from flashcards at 7 months and has learned much of her vocabulary from them ever
since.The first flashcards we used regularly were a generous gift from her Omi:

I have since discovered, however, that there are tons of FREE flashcards available online! Here are some that we've enjoyed:

Animal "trading cards" with great photos and lots of information from Learning A-Z. These can be used to trade, as flashcards, or to play card games:

Insect flashcards that also teach the orders of insects.

A variety of flashcards from Lesson Sense, many of which are colour photographs:

Feel like learning Chinese? This was really important for us, since Little L was born in China:

Montessori landforms cards which will soon be turned into an awesome tactile experience for us!
You can also find lot of other free printable Montessori cards here.

We're big on music around here. We practice our rhythms with these Rhythm Cards from Layton Music. Take a look around - they also have lots of other great printable games and such!

So, there you have it - some of my fun finds for our kiddies! Tell me...what are your favorite online printable flashcards?

Monday, June 14, 2010

ABC Quiet Book

Okay, we get a double post today - that is my offering for disappearing for so long...

I'm making a wonderful, lovely gift for Little L right now. Is it because I'm a awesome, cool Mommy? Not's mostly for self preservation reasons! You see, long car trips and restaurant visits are getting to be a little trying for Little L. I've decided that she needs something to keep her busy in these situations and a nice Mommy-made quite book seemed just the thing.

In case you have no clue what a Quite book is, here are some great examples from other Mommy bloggers:

A beautiful and imaginative book by Homemade By Jill:

Some very cute ideas from J Squared Plus K:

Of course, you could just buy one:

But, for me, the fun is all in making it!

I started with all sorts of nifty ideas and wondered " can I do all of these?" and then it hit me - ALPHABET BOOK!!

Now, I've seen some cloth alphabet books that look really pretty, but don't really do anything. I want this to be a serious keep-the-baby-busy kinda' book, so each page has to be interactive. Based on the things Little L is interested in now, here is what I've come up with:

A - Africa - A giraffe with removable spots, a "taggie" tactile lion, a lift the flap rock hiding a snake.
B - Bears - Bears holding blocks with a number of dots to be matched to a felt number.
C - Clock - Clock with moving hands, pouch with time cards with times to move the hands to.
D - Dressing - Cloth doll with clothing to dress in. Clothing hangs from clothesline, held on by tiny cloths pins.
E - Eggs - Patterned eggs - match one half to second half.
F - Farm - Animal finger puppets inside lift-the-flap barn.
G - Garden - Button-on flowers, lift the flaps for insects, butterfly with movable wings.
H - Hearts - Match felt hearts in colours by pair.
I - Ice Cream - Sequence largest to smallest scoops.
J - Jack-o-lantern - Make faces with felt pieces.
K- Kangaroo - Kangaroo with baby in pouch, moving tree climbing koala, lift-the-flap platypus with. eggs.
L - Letters - Match alphabet letters to shadows.
M - Map - City map with toy car to drive.
N - Name - Button-on Name.
O - Outer Space - Moving rocket ship, astronaut, moon, stars.
P - Pond - Frog with velcro tongue to "catch flies", lift the flap pond creatures.
Q - Queen - Braid-able hair, removable jewels on crown.
R - Robot - Elastic limbs, LED eyes, zipper.
S - Shapes - Match shape to shadow.
T - Telephone - Removable receiver, family phone numbers in "phone book" to practice.
U – Under the sea - Octopus with snap tentacles, tactile coral/seaweed and creatures, lift-the-flaps.
V - Vegetables - Mini vegetables to pull from "dirt" and collect in basket.
W – Walk - Match animals to the tracks they make.
X – X-ray - Lay skeletal system pieces over felt doll.
Y – Yarrr! - Pirate with flip-up eye patch, tactile parrot, treasure chest with mini lock.
Z – Zipper - Unzip a clown's shirt to find pieces to make various faces.

So there you have it! I know it seems a tad ambitious, but I think I can to it!

What would you put it your Quiet Book?

Tot School - Weeks 2-4

To School Weeks 2-4 Overview: Little L - 17m, Little V - 3m seems I disappeared; I disappeared from Blogland for almost two whole weeks! I may not have even noticed, but it seems I have a small following - they alerted me. So, why did I disappear? Did my computer break? Did I go on vacation? Was I so deep into craft mode that I simply had no time? Was I abducted by aliens eager to learn my mad crafting skills? No, I just didn't have anything very interesting going on. Also, I couldn't seem to make myself stay awake past 10:00pm and any blogging I do is done way after that!

But, as it turns out, what a wonderful day I have chosen to return! My placemat game has been featured on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!


Now, I have a purpose!

So, a quick update on some of the Tot School things we've been doing:

Water Play at a playdate
      Pool time with "Uncky"

 Learning our foods by feeding Elmo

Ending sounds worksheet - doesn't she look like she's thinking hard?

Park time. Not educational, you say? You'd be amazed how much vocabulary we work on while playing!

One-to-one correspondence with rocks and a mini muffin tin

Little L "reading" her farm book to her baby sister

Here are some of the books from the set above.

I can't recommend them enough. In the farm one pictured above, each set of pages is dedicated to one farm animal. On one page is a beautiful illustration and on the other a paragraph about the animal and gray-scale illustrations of several breeds of that animal. You the find the colored stickers in the middle of the book and match them to their illustration. Little L has been having a ball with these books!

We've also been working on:
- Lots of flashcards
- Learning about North American birds
- Reading small words (so far Little L has read "hat", "cat", Mommy, and her own name!)
- Co-operative reading (we have 5 books now that Little L helps me "read" by filling on words when I pause)
- Poems (I start and leave out the last word of each line, Little L fills it in!)
- Evening prayer (Much like the poems, I leave out the last word of each line for her to say. She also says, "Amen", as usual.

I'm sure there's more, but that's enough of an overview to make me not feel like an un-fit Mommy. Really, I'm new to this blogging stuff! I will try harder to make my tot school posts once a week!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Save the Hats!!

These are some of my oldest child's hats.

Yes, some. My big girl has probably a dozen hats (mostly gifted second hand) and if it were up to me, she would have six dozen more! I love babies in hats.

See...wouldn't you buy a bunch of hats too?

Anywho...I love hats on little people but I have found one small problem. Come on, moms, can you guess?

You see, hats on little people have a tendency to get tossed on the ground. "No big deal," you say, "...just pick it up off of the ground!" Well, if only it were that simple. In our family, the hat gets tossed waaaaay at the front of the big double stroller and then, long after, someone realizes that it's missing, resulting in us going backwards for the next ten minutes.

One such incident happened last week. It was a precious hat. One of those hats that not only has a matching outfit, but who's outfit also has a matching sibling outfit and hat. Can't lose that one, right? Well, as we were just entering the park fifteen minutes from our front door we realized it was gone. Slight panic attacks followed. We retraced our footsteps while praying for the best. As it turns out, it never left the driveway but it got me can I make sure none of our adorable hats ends up trampled on the sidewalk?

This is what I came up with. It involves ribbon, velcro, and an old negligee...?

What You Need:

- Your favourite hats
- Ribbon
- Needle/thread/scissors
- Adhesive velcro
- Scrap fabric, preferably in a matching colour to each hat

1) Sew a length of ribbon to your hat.
2) Attach two strips of hook velcro on either side of the ribbon.

3) Stick fabric (in my case, fabric from and old negligee) to back of loop velcro.
4) Bundle ribbon between pieces of hook velcro. Place loop velcro on top. (You are now in "I don't want the ribbon dangling while I run around" mode)

5) Secure ribbon to stroller or shirt with clip or safety pin.

 Version A has the ribbon sewn on and wrapped around the already existing bow.

Version B puts the ribbon on the inside of the rim instead of on the outside of the hat. This is my favourite variation!

Long live baby hats!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tardy Blogger - Recipe Re-Post

Wow...time sure does fly! I've looked back and it seems that not only have I not posted for four days, but I didn;t write anything about Tot School week two - and we're already in to week three! Ooops...lazy Mommy. The real reason is that I can;t seem to get my toddler to bed at a decent hour and I can't seem to will myself to stay awake any longer than 10:00. Well, guess what...? You're not getting anything original tonight either! I do, however, have a yummy recipe for you! It's from a post on my personal blog from our days living in China. Just for fun, I'll give you the whole post:

Thank God we Brought a Med Kit!

Have you ever had a Capsicum burn? For your sake, I surely hope not. Let me tell you the tale of my day from h*ll...

Today, for lunch, I decided that I would make a Cream of Vegetable and Rice Soup. I proceeded to put my rice on and chop my cabbage, green pepper, tomato, and onion and put them all on to boil. About ten minutes later, after putting the finishing touches on my soup, I began to feel a strange sensation - one I had only felt one other time in my life. My hands began to burn like hellfire...much like they did the first time I ever cut up hot peppers and didn't know that I should wear gloves. Although I had touched no hot peppers or chili oil of any kind, this was a very recognizable pain. I proceeded to run my hands under water, wash thoroughly, submerged in ice water, submerge in milk, and dab with freezer-chilled wet clothes... All of which provided little to no relief.

Daniel came home as I was sitting on the bed, with my hands out in front of the fan, meditating away the pain. I told him my terrible story of woe while trying to deduce where the pain was coming from. First, I thought that perhaps one of the vegetables I had used in my soup had travelled with some hot peppers and gotten oiled. But I quickly remember that it was the inside of the pepper that was the problem. And then it came to me. Perhaps my green peppers weren't green peppers at all. My current terrible cold would keep me from telling by smell while cutting them up...

Daniel then went to eat his lunch and confirmed that there were, indeed, chili peppers in the soup. So, mystery solved; problem not-so-solved. My hands still felt like I was holding them over a Bunsen burner. I browsed the internet for ways to treat a hot pepper burn (cause by the oil Capsicum) and came across a suggestion of using rubbing alcohol to soothe the pain. At that moment, I was ready to try anything. I went to our med kit containing about 100 alcohol wipes (which I swore when I packed them that I would likely never use) and got to rubbing. And "VOILA!" it did cut some of the pain. Lucky for me, the burning mostly subsided within a couple of hours. It seems a burn of this nature can often last up to 24 hours.

So, I went about my business, booked our holiday trip (more about this is my next post), and came home to get some more soup. While carrying my soup, my gimpy and still somewhat burny hands failed on me and my soup made it all over the kitchen floor. Although I did wear gloves while cleaning it, it still managed to seep through and my hands began to burn once more. This time, a soap and water scrub and alcohol swabbing did the trick quickly.

Later, it was time to make supper. I chopped and put potatoes on to boil and, while reaching for the cover of the pot, lost my grip resulting the glass cover flying across the room and landing in tiny pieces on the floor (and in my potatoes). This would not have caused me too much strife until I suddenly noticed that familiar sensation. My hands were, once again, on fire.

I though to myself, "What the hell?! I was only chopping potatoes!" and then I realized that in my haste to ease the pain of lunchtime, I had not washed the cutting board. As a result, my potatoes picked up the leftover oil and transferred it to my hands. This time, the alcohol trick did not work. Nor did a good washing. So, here I sit, typing with hands of fire.

The one good thing that came from this experience, was a wonderful soup! For anyone who would like to try it, here is the recipe:

Hands of Hellfire Soup (Clever, eh?)


2 tomatoes
1 cup cabbage
1 medium onion
1 medium sized green chili pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 250ml bag of milk (could be substituted for canned milk if you're not in China!)
1/2 tbsp thyme
1/2 tbsp pepper (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice

Chop all vegetables and garlic. Combine chopped mixture and just enough water to cover in pot. Bring to boil on high heat. Add milk, thyme, pepper, and rice. Turn to low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve.

Contrary to what my story may portray, the soup is actually rather mild and very tasty. So, for all of you soup lovers - Make and enjoy. Just remember...wear gloves!

Friday, May 28, 2010

FREE Dinosaur Flashcards!

Happy Friday!

I though I would share some of the flashcards that I have made for the girls! This particular batch is dinosaurs (and a few other prehistoric animals). They are nothing special - just images from various sources on the web with the name of the dinosaur added on the bottom. I have been making a second set of cards to attach to the back with various facts about each dinosaur, but that's mighty slow going, so these will have to do for now!

A few points of interest:

- You don't have to have the text! I left the files in a format that is editable so you can take the text off if it suits your purpose better.

- There are a LOT of files. Well, only 11, but that could be seen as a lot. I had to do it this way to save my pitifully slow computer from crashing.

- I'm sometimes lazy (see, I even used "I'm instead of "I am", which saves me only one character if you include spaces! But...then I wrote this loooong explanation of how I was being lazy, so does it still apply...hmmm...?). As a result, I haven't converted the photos from their original format. This is not only due to laziness, but also because I didn't want to muck up the formatting. Soooo...if you really love dinosaurs and you want some free flashcards as a symbol of that love, you'll have to download Open Office here. It is also free and WAY better than Word, in my opinion.

As an aside, we found an AWESOME book this week - DK's my first animal lift-the-flap beard book. Of course, I love everything ever published by DK, I think but for us at this very moment in time, this one is a winner. Little L was totally excited to lift every flap and Little V was mesmerized by all of the real life pictures. She, at 3 months, even smiled and "talked" every time I lifted a flap! You should really check it out!

Oh yeah...back to what I was saying - Dino Cards! Download them here!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homemade Deoderant vs. Deoderant Crystal

So, recently I've been growing more and more concern with the ingredients in ladies anti-perspiration. If you're interested in why, this is a good place to start. The best solution, I though, would be to make my own homemade deodorant (that, by the way, is my default solution for everything, "I'll just make my own!"). For homemade deodorant:

What You Need:

5tsp cocoa butter (you can instead use 2 cocoa and 3 shea butter)
3 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
Old deodorant container

What You Do:

1) Melt coacoa butter in microwave at 20 second intervals.

2) Stir in baking soda and corstarch.

3) Pour into old deoderant container.

4) Leave to set in fridge.


- This was a risky project. If it hadn't worked, I would have ended up smelling like a sweaty chocolate factory...eeewww...

- Even though all of these ingredients are edible, I wouldn't suggest tasting this mixture. Curiousity killed the cat...or at least my taste buds. 

- Take it from me, use the old deodorant container. You could just pour it into a small tub (which is what I did in the begging because I was too lazy to wash a deodorant container) but then you will be chipping away at your deodorant in order to get a piece to use each morning. Eventually, you will break down and re-melt it and put it into the deodorant container anyway, so you might as well start there!
Now, after using my homemade deodorant with much success for a couple of weeks, we chanced upon a mini deodorant crystal at the Dollarama (good find, Hubby!!). It claims to be free of all of the scary ingredients I am trying to avoid, so I though I would pick it up and give it a try. Much to my surprise, it too works like a charm!

So, here is my comparison of the two:

Odor Fighting Power 
Both have been tested in many conditions, including a Salsa class in which I dance in a non-air conditioned room with two babies strapped to me.
Homemade - 7/10 - Lasts about 12 hours before you would want to replenish
Crystal - 9.5/10 - Lasts 24+ hours and in extreme conditions (to my surprise). I was out salsa dancing and then playing in the 39 Celsius heat, where a black shirt and was still okay!

Homemade - Smells like cocoa butter. This, for me, is a plus. I like deodorant with some sort of scent. It somehow makes me fell like even if I was smelly, it would hide it a bit...
Crystal - Completely unscented. For those who are sensitive to scents, this would be a plus.

Homemade - I know what goes into it and I can use all 100% natural food-grade ingredients. I feel 100% safe wearing it. 
Crystal - Even though it says that it doesn't have anything sketchy in it, I have trouble believing it. Because the ingredients on bath and beauty products do not have to be listed, I'll never know for sure...

Ease of Use
Homemade - In the used deodorant container, the homemade is very easy to apply. You can put it in your purse and take it anywhere and use it just like regular deodorant.
Crystal - Has to be wet with warm water to apply, therefore making it hard to use anywhere but your bathroom.

My Personal Preference:
Based on this criteria, I can say that I am more comfortable wearing the homemade deodorant because I know what's in it and I like the smell. The crystal, however, lasts a lot longer. I would be most likely to carry the homemade in my purse for regular application and use the crystal when I know I will be out for a really long time or doing strenuous activity. 

So, no more poison deodorant for us! Yippee!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tot School Week One and Goals

To School Week One Overview: Little L - 16m, Little V - 3m

Well, our first "official" week of Tot School was at least a semi-success. We do a lot of learning on a regular basis, even by mistake, but this week we were somewhat intentional about it (we have been other weeks in the past as well). The biggest accomplishment was our farm totbook, most of which was downloaded here at 1+1+1=1. I also added some extras that weren't in their download pack.

I did put together the actual book but I'm not sure how much I like it. The size is a bit large, so I think I might make it a bit smaller in size by having it fold in on itself or something to that effect. I would like our books to be super-portable to we can take them along to our play dates. In the meantime, here's a preview of some of the components.

"On the Farm" printable book, tractor size sequencing, animal numbers, farm puzzle, animal match, heads and tails match.

Who's My Mommy Match cards, farm animal flash cards, vegetable flash cards, farm ending sounds worksheet.

There is more in the totbook, but I will do a dedicated post just for that when we're all done making it.

Here are some action shots of our farm week for Little L:

One of the tot book printables from 1+1+1=1 - the heads and tails match. In using this with Little L, I simply showed her one half and gave her two options for matching the other half.

Tractor size sequencing - another printable from 1+1+1=1. For this activity I took two tractors and asked which one was bigger or smaller. We did this several times and then we put them in order.

We love our DK flash cards! There happen to be a lot of farm animals and objects throughout the card sets that we have (including a whole farm set) to we just sorted through and picked them all out for farm week.

Little L loves board puzzles and is starting to get really good at getting the pieces into the holes on her own.

In the world of my little girl, everything has the potential to be a hat - here is the proof!

We also practiced some motor skills, including going up and down stairs and putting a necklace on and taking it off (and putting on Mommy and taking it off).

Some of our other activities included lots of books, a very sucessful potty day with two stickers on her potty chart (we aim for one a day), a nice nature walk where we learned about different types of flowers, writing practice on the magnadoodle, name recognition practice, playing of musical instruments, coloring animals that will go in a minibook for our lap book, and much more.

As for Little V:

We had lots of sisterly love...

...including some flashcard fun. every time I show a flashcard to little L she says, "Show?" and wants to show it to her baby sister. How sweet!

Mommy also showed Little V cards, including farm animals and vegetables.

We read books, including Henry Horse, on in a set of four "Noisy Carry-Along" books. This was another fabulous Dollar Store find for us.

This week, Little V also began working on the ancient art of teddy bear wrestling.

We also did lots of singing and dancing, worked on our colours, practised body parts, and so on...

One of my very favourite times this week was listening to traditional music from around the world. Little V was excited to show her appreciation by "singing" through all of it. Little L, because we've all been going to Salsa Babies classes, wanted to "Cha Chach" to all of it. Have you ever tried doing the Cha Cha to traditional Chinese music?? Picture that for a moment, if you will.

Anywho...because we didn't get done everything I wanted to get done, I have decided to extend our farm unit into next week. Because it will perhaps make me accountable, I will make a record here and now of the things I intend to do with the girls next week.

- Rubber duck size sequencing
- Farm shape sorter
- Cotton ball sheep
- Baa baa black sheep painting
- Rooster painting
- Tot book animal colouring (we've done some of this but will finish)
- Heads and tails match (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm counting cards ((we did this last week but will continue)
- Animal match cards (find the friend, memory)
- Who's my Mommy cards
- Farm maze (a very simple maze that I printed and laminated. We follwe the path with our finger)
- Farm shadow match (laminated worksheet, we make the matches with our finger)
- Farm ending consonant worksheet (laminated worksheet - we point to the correct letter)
- Tractor sequencing (we did this last week but will continue)
- Vegetable flash cards (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm animal flash cards (we did this last week but will continue)
- Farm board puzzle (we did this last week but will continue)
- Youtube farm videos (because we are unfortunately unlikely to make it to a farm this week...maybe though...)
- Farm songs multiple languages (Oh, Youtube, don;t let me down!)
- Chinese animal cards (Little L was born in China, so we try to keep up her Chinese)
- Chinese fruit and veg cards
- Farm animal sound match (I will play the actual animal sound Little L will match it to a photo
- Online farm games

I would also like to make sure we get in some of their other stuff (letter, rhythm and pitch practice, dot cards, etc.). I am seriously considering implementing some kind of workbox style system not because Little L needs it, but because I do to keep myself on track!

So...into week to of our farm study we go!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Garbage Turned ABC I Spy Game - Tutorial

I remember (and my Mommy likes to remind me) how, when I was a tot myself, I use to try to hoard every piece of garbage I could find - used popsicle sticks from the ground outside, old Smartie boxes, etc. My plan, it seems, was to keep it so that later I could make a "cwaft" (translation: craft) with it. Gradually that habit faded, but I am here to report a strange soon as I had children, it returned!! I now find myself collecting garbage and keeping it in an old box for later. I tell my husband that I plan to make things for the girls with this garbage. He probably thinks I'm nuts and has nightmares about us ending up on "Hoarders". You see, though, I really do have plans for each and every thing I keep!

So when we ate our mini chocolate Easter bunnies, I saw potential in the package. I started getting visions. Here is my idea come to life. This, however is only version 1.0. Look for a much better updated version soon!

What You Need:

- An old chocolate Easter Bunny (or Santa, or Cupid, or...) box with a clear plastic window
- Beads (and rice when you're making crummy version 1.0)
- Alphabet confetti
- Glue gun and glue

What You Do:

1) Painstakingly sort though your alphabet confetti until you find letters A-Z. My confetti also had numbers, so I added a 1-9 as well.
I bought my alphabet letters at Dollarama for $1. I have, however, seen similar packages at dollar stores in the U.S.A. for 2/$1.

2) Pour one tube of beads and some rice (or 2 tubes of beads and no rice if you want it to look shiny and pretty like it will in version 2.0) into the box and add in your sorted out letters and/or numbers.
I didn't buy enough beads, thinking that one tube would suit my purpose - I was wrong. I used rice for filler until I can make a better version.

3) Glue the top back together.

4) At this point you could cover the cardboard with a paper or fabric of your choice, which I will likely do in version 2.0 but, for now, the bunny adds character...right?

5) Shake to find each letter of the alphabet!

Pretty simple but, hey, it's fun!

And the moral of this story? Everything has potential!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

$1 Learning Games - Tutorial

Okay, I've got one for you...What do you do when you see some really cool, funky, kiddy placemats at the Dollarama? Why, make them into a learning game, of course!

What You Need:

2 of the same plastic placemats (2/$1 at Dollarama)

This is the style of placemat you're looking for - something with individual sections.

Really, that's all you need to make a game!

What You Do:

1) Cut out the individual sections of your dollar store placemats.

If you don't have a toddler who likes to flail things about (making corners a serious blinding hazard) that could be the end. However, in our house, we move on to step 2...

2) Round off the edges of each section!

This is also a good time to make all of the cards a uniform size. On these particular mats, the end pictures are a tad smaller than the rest. Take one of those, round off it's corners first, and then sit it on top of the others as a template while you cut.

We stop here but if you want to use this as an upside-down flip-the-tile style classic memory game, you won't be able to - you can see the graphic through the back. So, if you have older children and want to use them in this way, or if you just want your cards to be cool and pretty, please proceed to step three...

3) Use one of the cards as a template to cut out enough pieces of felt to cover the back of each card.

In this house, we don't discriminate based on geometrical shape, so feel free to choose circles for your game!

Now, so things you could do with these cards:

1) Play a beginner visual discrimination game - Choose a card. Lay out two more cards (one being the match) and ask your little one to find the matching card. As they master this level, work up to three or more cards for them to choose from.

2) Play the classic tile flipping memory match. You can start with only four cards for we ones and work up the size of your grid from there.

3) Talk about the colours on the different cards.

4) Talk about the animals on the different cards.

5) Use them for following instructions ("Billy, bring me the blue card with the green frog, please.").

6) Use four placemats and use them for a go fish style game.

What else? It's your turn! Give me some great, creative ideas on how these cards could be used!

Now, for the mandatory baby-showing of the day. After a wonderful visit today with our six awesome cousins and an Auntie we love very much:

Little L concentrating very hard on drawing with her sidewalk chalk. She is sporting a hat that is perched precariously on her head because it no longer actually fits...

Little V ready for a day out on the town!

Don't forget to leave a comment and tell me, how would you use these cards? If you can give me a really cool idea, and you don't have a good dollar store in your area, I might even be incline to mail one lucky person a set!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Headband Tutorial...and "Rawps"

As promised, tonight I will be posting a tutorial for the flower headband I made last night (in case anyone is wondering, it fits best on the head of Little V, the smallest of the heads).

I really wanted to make this a nice, fancy tutorial where I go into Photoshop and put the text right on the photos (...ooohhh...aaaahhh...).Unfortunately, Photoshop would never even think of working on my machine and hubby's is all the way downstairs! I will put up my extremely cruddy photos for the time being and if anyone is really that interested, I might take better photos when I make the next one for Little L and if you're really interested, I'll even take the time to go all the way downstairs to add instructional text.

Now, on with the show!

What You Need:

1 nylon knee high (I suppose you could use a recycled one, but that thought makes me go, "Eeeewwww")
Thread matching nylon color (or kinda matching, if your a little short on thread colours, like me)
Artificial flower
Glue gun and glue sticks
Hair clip (the name of the type eludes me at the moment - fill me in if you know)

What You Do:

1) Cut the toe and the top band (what is that called?) off of a the knee-high.

2) Cut the nylon in half vertically and the band in half horizontally so that you are left with this (plus one more "half band" which somehow didn't make it into the photo):

3) Sew the open side of the half band and the half nylon together by hand (if your a crazy sewing machine deprived freak, like me) of with a sewing machine. Turn each piece inside out. You will have something that looks like this:

4) Loop the small band around the large band and sew the ends of the small band together.

5) Sew the ends of the large band together resulting in this:

5) Snip a blossom off a bouquet of artificial flowers and glue to the hair clip (I added a leaf too). Then, clip the clip to the small band.

6) Find the only model in your house that is not asleep and snap away! (Doesn't "Sweater Bear" look dashing?)

So, there you have it - my very first tutorial. Yes, I've read it over, yes I realise that it doesn't make perfect sense, and yes, I'm posting it anyway! If you have questions, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to clarify.

Now, a couple of my favorite shots from today because I can't resist. This is also how I ensure that my blog has at least on regular reader - my Mom!

Little L after discovering that throwing her ball onto the slide would result in it rolling back.

Little L off in the corner of of the yard "discovering" while yelling back to us "Rawp! Rawp!"

Little V resting after a long hard day of Salsa dancing and playing.

Goodnight, all!