Friday, July 30, 2010

August Sensory Tub & Playdough - Ice Cream!

This tub makes me smile whenever I look at it - it's so soft and colorful and it's all about ice cream!!

Ice Cream Shoppe Tub
What's inside:
:: LOTS of colorful homemade pom-poms (aka scoops of chocolate, mint, strawberry and vanilla ice cream!)
:: Silicone cones - these were a surprisingly cheap find at a local store
:: Ice cream scoop and spoon
:: Little red beads - James calls these "cherries" :)
:: Small sundae cup and bowls
:: Sprinkles - because of ants, humidity and what's sure to be sticky fingers I'm keeping these sealed!
:: Wooden banana (for a banana split, of course!)

I saw this idea on Growing Up Our Style where Rebecca used tons pom-poms to fill up her sensory tub. I love her idea, but I didn't have enough poms on hand, so I had to make my own. Not that I minded at all - I look for any excuse to make something with my hands! At the end of this post I'll share with you a quick tutorial on how to make your own pom-poms. :)

3 Scoops of Spumoni Playdough
I had fun using up some of the food colors and flavorings in my stash. Here's what I used:
::Brown: cocoa (you could use root beer extract to simulate a root beer float!)
::Green: peppermint extract
::Pink: strawberry extract

This dough is so much fun to play with - James LOVES it! It smells delicious and the colors look so pretty all mixed together. :) Oh and bonus, all that tearing and pinching of the dough is excellent for strengthening those little fingers!

Now for the pom-pom tutorial. These are SO quick and easy peasy to create - each one took me only a minute or so to make. I remember making these with my sister when we were kids. This would be a fun activity for children who know how to cut and tie.

Here's what you'll need:
:: Yarn - this is a great way to use up leftover bits. I used whatever I had on hand, but I would recommend chunky weight yarn for these.
:: Sharp craft scissors
:: 5 inch piece of cardboard folded in half

Step one:
Wind the string around the cardboard. Using the chunky weight yarn, I wound approx. 25 times around.

Step two:
Cut the yarn and then cut another 6 inch piece of yarn.

Step three:

(apologies for the blurry photo)
Slide the yarn "ball" off of the cardboard, being careful not to unravel the loops. Gently center it on top of the 6 inch piece of yarn.

Step Four:
Use the 6 inch piece of yarn to tie a tight double knot in the center of the yarn "ball".

Step Five:
Using your scissors, cut the loops - make sure you DO NOT cut the knot you created in Step Four.

Step Six:
Trim and fluff the edges so they are all fairly even. That's it! You now have a happy little pom-pom!

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner, Tot Tuesdays, Montessori Monday, We Play and Creative Friday.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

I just wanted to pop in to say "hi" and "I missed you!" :)

Not many of you know this, but we are just returning from a vacation in Colorado.
We hiked the beautiful Rocky Mountains, we drove for miles on end past warm yellow fields and shared many laughs and hugs with family. We all came together in celebration of our niece's wedding.

It was such a wonderful trip!

I'm happy to be home and anxious to getting back to blogging in real time (my last three posts were pre-scheduled to publish). It's funny, I go through phases with blogging - at times I want to stop altogether and at other times, like now, I can't wait to sit down and write. Over the next week I'll be sharing our August sensory tub & playdough, my newest knitting creation and some fun beach-themed activities.

Lastly, I just want to thank you for all of your lovely comments - it was such a treat to check in now and then and to read your cheerful thoughts. Hugs to you all!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tiny Talk Tuesday

I just found out about a fun blog carnival called "Tiny Talk Tuesday" hosted by Not Before 7. James says so many cute and funny things (at least they are to us anyway!) and I think this would be a great way for me to keep track of them!

~James is 3 years and 3 months~
  • "Well... I think I need a blue popsicle." ~ First thing out of James' mouth the other morning.
  • "May I be excused? Yes I may, yes I may." ~ What James says before he leaves the dinner table.
  • "This doesn't taste like chocolate!!" ~ So says James after tasting potato salad for the first time.
  • "His name is Mr. Pocodeeo" ~ The cute and totally random name James assigned our adopted fish. :)
  • "Baa baa black sheep happy happy wool..." ~ I LOVE James' version of this song!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shiny Happy Paper People

James and I had so much fun making paper people together. Before I tell you how we made them I hope you'll indulge me by letting me share a personal story with you first...

One summer, I think it was the summer of 1986, I was a huge fan of the cartoon, "The World of David the Gnome". (Does anyone else remember this show? Here's a YouTube clip.) Anyway, it was all about gnomes and the adventures they had in the forest in which they lived. I loved the show and so I decided to make a set of paper gnomes to play with whenever I wanted to. They brought me such joy and provided me with many, many hours of magical play. Would you believe I still have them? I *wish* I could share a picture of them, but they are locked away in a storage facility in the US. :( Anyway, I tapped into that memory the other day when James and I were coloring together. We started drawing little people and it suddenly dawned on me that we could cut them out and laminate them.

Moments later I had my scrapbooking paper out and I was busy cutting little shirts, pants and heads. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time!

James was SO excited when he saw what I had set up. I told him we were going to make some paper people and he enthusiastically said, "Great idea, Mama!!"

James had such fun choosing the outfits (which matched surprisingly well!)...

and he took great care in gluing each piece onto the white cardstock.

I was beaming at the thought of sharing this special memory with my son. And, for old time's sake, I made myself a little gnome.

After we created the bodies we drew on some hands, feet, facial features and hair. James decided what color eyes and hair everyone should have. :)

Back in the 80's I had to use tons of scotch tape to get the laminating effect, but now, 30 years later (gasp!) I simply slipped our little creations into the laminator and voila! out came a set of 10 sturdy paper people!

We'll use these "friends" (as James calls them) for imaginary play, for story time, and even for counting. I numbered the backs of them so James, my number-loving maniac, could put them in numerical order if he feels like it.

I'm linking this post up to a few of my favorite blog carnivals: We Play, Sharing Time, and Tot Tuesday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Frozen Fun

I was recently reminded of a very fun activity James and I did last summer (click here to see that post). I decided to replicate it and add few new twists to it, too.

James and I created a frozen block of ice that we filled with colored cubes of ice, plastic gems and some water creatures (that big orange thing is a jellyfish!). The idea was for James to "excavate" the items from their frozen state. :)

Pretty colors in the ice

James LOVED this experiment and tried a variety of techniques to melt the water such as salt, sand, warm water and sugar (obviously I knew ahead of time that some of these wouldn't work, but I wanted James to try them out and discover that for himself!).

Curious hands

Frozen treasures

It was so fun to watch James with this activity because he looked at it so differently now that he's a year older. He definitely took more interest in the science behind it. He quickly realized water and salt were the most effective tools and really went to town with the salt shaker. :)

I laid out a variety of tools as well, such as paint brushes, a sponge, a spatula, a dropper, and a small hammer. (Thanks to The Picky Apple and her post about Ice Smashing for giving me the idea about the hammer!)

We laid chunks of the block out on the patio ledge to watch the sun melt the ice.

We will definitely do this activity again - James learned a few new things and it provided us with 2+ hours of outdoor family fun - oh and it kept us cool on a very hot July day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Felted Pear Giveaway Winner

I am thrilled to announce the very lucky winner of the Felted Pear Giveaway is...

Elizabeth, from Heartfelt Homemaking!

Congratulations, Elizabeth! I have your email address and will be in touch with you to get your shipping information. :)

Also, I just want to say very special thank you to Susan for sharing her time and talents with us!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shell Collages

James and I had SO much fun making these! We gathered a bag of shells from our ever growing collection and set off to the beach. James and I talked about the different animals and things you find at the beach and in the ocean. Then we worked together to create some collages (or 'pictures' as James calls them) of them using shells, sea glass, bits of coral and broken pottery.

fish turtle
Hooray for nature!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beach Sensory Tub & Playdough

Since I forgot didn't get a chance to make a sensory tub for June, I've created two for the month of July - our 4th of July tub is used only indoors and this beach tub is for outdoors only. (I'll have two tubs -indoor/outdoor- to share with you in August as well!)

James can't get enough of the ocean and beach! We're there every chance we get. So you can imagine how thrilled he was about having a bit of the beach at home!

Beachy Sensory Tub
Quick little fun fact: did you know Bermuda beaches are known for their pink sand? Click here to learn more.

What's inside:
:: Sand from one of our favorite beaches. We plan on returning it to the beach when we're finished with this tub.
:: Shells - most of these are from our stash, but I bought a few at our local tourist shop.
:: A family of three wooden peg people :)
:: Sea glass and bits of coral
:: Leaves (fallen) from one of the trees that lines the pathway to the beach.
:: Shovel and pail

Sandy Playdough

I love this dough! As always, I used my favorite play dough recipe and kept it a plain color and added some sand to give it an interesting texture. It look just like the sand on our beaches! I found some beach/ocean themed cutters and put out a little basket of shells.

James had SO much fun with this activity and played with it for nearly an hour. He scooped "sand" in and out of the bucket, hid the shells and even made a sand castle!

Here he is making "sand balls". See that furry thing sleeping on the shelf in the background? Nope, it's not a radical new Practical Life work, it's just our kitty taking advantage of the open space. :)

~I'm linking this post up to some of my favorite blog parties: Montessori Monday, The Preschool Corner, Tot Tuesdays, We Play and Sharing Time. Join in and share your ideas!~

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Felted Pear Giveaway

~This giveaway is now closed~

Oh boy
, are you guys in for a treat!!

My friend, Susan, author of Chasing Marcus and owner the lovely Etsy store, The Felted Pear, has made a veritable cornucopia of beautiful felt food to give away to one *very* lucky winner!
Just look at this feast! A true rainbow of colors.
And yes, ALL of this will go to one of you!
(note: dishes and bowl are NOT included)

Not only is Susan a felt food guru, she's also a Registered Dietitian. She designed these healthy foods with the four main food groups in mind and has provided enough of it to create several balanced meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. See the photos below for details of each food group...

~A chicken leg, a cute lil' fish, a slice of ham, and two eggs~

Fruits & Vegetables
~A banana {removable from the peel!}, the most beautiful starfruit, an eggplant, a carrot, and five sweet strawberries~

~An adorable carton of milk, a wedge of white cheese, a slice of cheddar cheese, a bit of shredded mozzarella, and a stick of butter~

~Two slices of whole wheat bread, 20 (!) pieces of whole wheat bowtie pasta, and two perfect pancakes~

Amazing, right? Each of these items were handmade with care by Susan using child-safe, environmentally friendly materials.

And can I just say that I am beyond impressed with the handiwork and fine attention to detail on each piece of food - from the delicate french knots on the strawberries to the unbelievably uniform blanket stitching on the pancakes!

I'm totally blown away by Susan's generosity with this giveaway. This huge collection of food will completely stock the play kitchen of one very lucky child! In addition to all of the food shown in the above photos, Susan is throwing in some sauce for your pasta! Oh and she's sending it all to you in an adorable "recyclable" bag, the color of which is chosen by the winner. That's a total of 45 items (A $100 value!) - FOR FREE!

You'll find even more fabulous food options at Susan's store, The Felted Pear, where she's generously offering a 20% discount to Counting Coconuts readers - simply enter "coconuts" in the comment section when you check out. This offer is good until July 18th.

You'll have 8 chances to win this amazing bounty! None of the following are mandatory; they simply offer you the maximum amount of entries:

1) Visit The Felted Pear and let me know in the comment section your favorite item in the store and what food item you'd like to see added to the store.
2) Become a fan of The Felted Pear on Facebook.
3) Become a follower of Counting Coconuts.
4-8) Come back to this post and leave ONE comment per day until the end of the giveaway, which is Friday, July 16th at midnight (AST).

This giveaway is open to anyone in the United States (incl. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Island) and Canada.

Good luck!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Snack Time!

Here are a few Practical Life food preparation activities I recently put together for James. He loved each one! Again, anything involving food or eating usually receives two thumbs up from my little cutie. :) He must take after his mama!!

Table Setting
This activity was made successful thanks to the adorable placemat you see below...
This was handmade by Eva of Handmade Beginnings. I LOVE it! So bright, colorful and extremely well made. Visit Eva's Etsy store to buy one of your own!

Apple Slicing
I wasn't sure how well James would be able to work the slicer, but he put those little muscles to work and was determined to do it himself. And he did!
Buttering Bread

This activity works well with other condiments, too - jam, cream cheese, peanut butter. I made sure the pat of butter was soft enough for James to spread easily across the bread.

He took great care in making sure he covered every square inch of the bread :) and when he finished he ran to get another slice of bread for me too.

Linking up to Montessori Monday and The Preschool Corner - click the links to see what others are doing with their children.


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