Bubble Wrap Indian Corn

bubble-wrap-painted-indian-cornI love this craft because it adds a twist to our usual painting methods.  Painting on the bubble wrap is a fun sensory experience all by itself with an added bonus of looking like Indian corn when you are done!

 

For this project, you will need:

  • Bubble wrap
  • White or yellow paper
  • Corn Cob template (optional)
  • Washable paint (I used orange, yellow, brown, and white)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Brown paper for the husks
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape

 

Before I invited the kids to paint, I prepared our craft by tracing corn cob shapes onto our paper.  (I always do this first but it can easily be done after the paint has dried if you prefer.)  I cut pieces of bubble wrap slightly larger than the corn cob papers and taped them bubble-side-up to our craft table.  When I first introduced bubble wrap painting, we spent some time exploring the bubble wrap before bringing out the paint.  Since B and G are experienced with bubble wrap crafts, they jumped right into painting this time.

I let them paint freely with an occasional reminder to cover all the bubbles with paint.  Once they were satisfied with their paintings, I helped them lay the corn cob papers (blank side down) onto their bubble wrap and showed them how to press down gently so the paint would transfer.

We let the paint dry during nap time before cutting out our cobs.  B wanted to do most of the cutting himself and I was happy for him to have an opportunity to practice scissor skills.  (G was sleeping so I cut hers out this time).  We cut out some simple leaf shapes from brown construction paper and glued them onto the back of the cobs.


This Indian corn craft provided a fun sensory experience, fine motor skills cutting practice, and made a lovely addition to our Thanksgiving decor.


Paper Plate Turkeys

One of my favorite Thanksgiving crafts is this simple and adorable turkey made from a toilet paper roll and a paper plate.  This craft is appropriate for children of all ages and uses materials you probably already have around the house!

 

For this craft you will need:

  • Paper plate
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Orange, red, and brown construction paper
  • Googly eyes or black marker
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Scissors

 

Before I introduced this activity to the kids, I cut several paper plates in half to form the turkey’s feathers.  I gave each child half a paper plate, paint, and a paintbrush and they got busy designing the feathers for their turkeys.  I taped the paper plate to the painting surface for the little ones so it didn’t move around while they was painting.

 

Baby Q was especially excited about painting his turkey!

 

While our turkey feathers were drying, each child got busy making the turkey’s body.  They glued a piece of brown construction paper over the toilet paper roll to give the turkeys a nice brown color and a more finished look.  (I found that a piece of scotch tape helped the paper stay on while the glue was drying).  Alternately, you can paint the toilet paper roll brown and let it dry.  Either way looks great!

After your toilet paper roll is painted or covered with paper, cut out a beak and snood from construction paper.  Glue or draw eyes, a beak, and a snood/waddle onto the toilet paper roll to make the turkey’s face/body.  The kids were creative in how the positioned the turkey’s features!

Lay the toilet paper rolls flat until the glue is thoroughly dry.  Once the paint and the glue are completely dry, glue the toilet paper roll onto the paper plate to complete your turkey.  A hot glue gun works perfectly for this part of the craft but liquid glue will work also.  If you use liquid glue, I recommend using a paper clip or clothespin at the top and bottom to hold the tube onto the plate until the glue dries.

 

I have never seen a cuter flock of Thanksgiving turkeys!


Fall Sensory Bin

With the arrival of (slightly) cooler fall weather, I wanted the tots to have an opportunity to explore some autumn items.  R and H are 20 months old and still fond of putting things in their mouths, so I chose (relatively) taste-safe items that were large enough for them to explore freely.

 

I used a large plastic tub with a lid from Target and added the following items for our sensory experience:

  • Hay (from a bale I got at JoAnn)
  • Small white and orange pumpkins (Trader Joe’s)
  • Small gourds (Trader Joe’s)
  • Indian corn (Sprouts; also saw at Super Walmart)
  • Cinnamon sticks (had in the pantry; also saw at Hobby Lobby and Walmart)
  • Pinecones (Hobby Lobby)

 

Tots had recently been introduced to pumpkins and were eager to dive into the sensory bin.

 

They smelled, tasted, and felt most of the items.

Then they discovered the hay and pumpkins lost their appeal.  The tots LOVED the hay.  They especially enjoyed putting hay on their heads and dropping/throwing hay out of the bin.

Since we were outside and I try to allow messy play when possible–and because they were just so adorably delighted– I didn’t stop them from exploring the hay however they wanted.  I drew the line at throwing pumpkins, though!

 

After a while, it was time to clean up the sensory bin and go inside for baths and dinner.  Even though this was a moderately messy sensory bin, it didn’t take too long to gather up the sensory items and sweep up most of the hay.  Since I was concerned about the hay getting wet and possibly molding, I didn’t put the swept hay back into our sensory bin.  Instead, I scooped it into one of our outdoor buckets to play with another day!


Beaded Candy Canes

blog-titles-2Christmas is coming faster than seems possible and our Christmas art is in full-swing. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays, I wanted to keep our art projects as simple as possible.  This adorable candy cane craft uses only beads and pipe cleaners.  It’s easy, fast, requires little preparation and almost no clean up (unless baby dumps the entire plate of beads onto the floor when you aren’t looking.)

For this project you will need:
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  • Red and white tri beads (I got my giant tub of beads 50% off at Hobby Lobby)
  • Red and/or white pipe cleaners (chenille stems)
  • Paper plate (optional–not pictured)
  • Sharp scissors (optional–not pictured)

I decided to cut my pipe cleaners in half to make mini candy canes, since I wasn’t sure how long my little elves would be engaged in stringing the beads onto the pipe cleaners.  The small size was perfect for B and G (4.5 years old) but E (5 years old) happily beaded two candy canes and probably would have kept going if her mom hadn’t arrived to pick her up.  I did this craft with two groups of kids and found that the half-size candy canes were best for the 3-4 year olds and the full size ones were great for 5 years old and up.  All of my photos show the smaller candy canes but both sizes are made exactly the same way and both look adorable hanging on the tree!

p1030601Before the kids got started, I folded down one end of the pipe cleaner and pushed a bead as far as it would go to that end.  This created a stopper so that the beads didn’t fall off the end as the kids were pushing their other beads into place.  I tried gluing the bead into place with liquid glue but that only made a sticky mess.  Folding down the tip of the pipe cleaner seemed to work well; none of the beads have come off our candy canes so far and it keeps the end from being so pointy.  I also bent the pipe cleaners into candy cane shapes.  They don’t hold their shape well during beading, but it gives the kids an idea of what their finished craft will look like.

I set out a plate of beads and a pile of ready-to-bead pipe cleaners and the kids got busy.  blog-designs-750-x-225We talked a bit about different patterns they might choose to use for their candy canes but I didn’t push them to use a pattern if they weren’t interested in doing so.  I knew they would be getting some great fine motor skills practice with this activity no matter how they ordered their beads.  Next year I might make some simple pattern cards and encourage them to follow a pattern as they bead their candy canes.

The kids stayed very focused threading their beads onto the pipe cleaners.  I modeled a 3 red, 3 white pattern on my candy cane but the kids were disinterested in my patterning.  B wanted to follow a red-white-red-white pattern for his candy cane and the girls were more creative in their designs.  Theirs might not look like traditional candy canes but I loved seeing the different ways they approached this simple craft.  When the kids finished, I folded over the bottom tips of their candy canes just like the tops to hold the beads on and protect little fingers from the sharp point.  We reshaped the pipe cleaner into a candy cane shape and the kids eagerly placed their candy canes on the tree.  Don’t they look great?

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6 Awesome Christmas Books for Babies

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I love finding great books.  When I started looking for Christmas board books, I expected the biggest problem would be narrowing down my choices to my favorites.  Surprisingly, despite the extensive selection of books I found, there were few that met with my criteria–colorful pictures to appeal to babies, a short, simple story to keep baby’s attention, and something I wouldn’t mind reading over and over and over again.  I also wanted books that were readily available which eliminated some good ones that are hard to find.  After looking at dozens of books, I found these six board books that I can wholeheartedly recommend as great Christmas books for babies.  (Notice:  This post contains affiliate links.  By clicking on the links you help support this blog at no cost to yourself.  And you make me happy.)

Christmas in the Manger is written by Nola Buck and illustrated by Felicia Bond who you may recognize as the illustrator for the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series.  In this adorable book, various characters, including a donkey, an ox, wise men, and Mary each give a statement about their role in the Christmas story.  Told in simple rhyming text, the story stays short and sweet and ends with a reminder that Jesus is the reason for our celebration.

Where is Baby’s Christmas Present? by Karen Katz follows the usual pattern of her well-loved lift-the-flap books.  In this one, Baby finds candy canes, ornaments, Christmas cookies and more as he searches under and behind things for his present.  Toddlers will love opening the flaps to find the surprises underneath!

Fa La La written by Leslie Patricelli follows an excited baby through a variety of Christmas activities which include decorating (more than the tree), visiting Santa (smile for the camera), making presents (homemade ones are the best), and finally opening LOTS of presents!  Parents will appreciate the gentle humor found in the illustrations.  Whether you’re already a Patricelli fan or not, this is one book worth checking out.

Little Llama Llama returns in Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney.  Short, rhythmic text and colorful illustrations introduce babies to the sights and sounds of the holiday as little llama prepares for Christmas.  I particularly enjoy the natural flow of the text and the details in the illustrations–there’s even a Salvation Army llama ringing a bell!


thats-not-my-snowmanThat’s Not My Snowman
 is one in a series of Usborne touch-and-feel-books. Following the same storyline as the other “That’s not my. . . ” books, a little mouse looks for his snowman.  He finds several that aren’t his for various reasons (“its hat is too soft”) before delightedly finding his own.  This is a sturdy book that will hold up well to being handled (and chewed on).  I am excited to see that this book is currently available on Amazon!

Oh what fun it is to read Jingle Bells, illustrated by Janet Samuel.  In this book, the well-loved story of a sleigh ride through the snow is told both in the words of the traditional carol and through fun, colorful pictures sure to engage even the youngest readers.  Or should I say singers, since it will probably be impossible not to burst into song when you open this book.

For now, these are my absolute favorite Christmas books for babies.  I would still love to meet my original goal to have ten books on this list, so I’ll add more books as I find them. Some it’s just a matter of tracking down a copy at the library or the bookstore so I can check them out personally, but if I wait until I do that this list may still be in progress next Christmas!  In the meantime, these six books are a wonderful place to start whether you are building baby’s book collection or choosing library books to read together during the Christmas season.

What is your favorite Christmas book for baby?