Saturday, September 27, 2008

Construction Themed Sensory Box : Under Construction - Hard Hat Area!

The bottom of this post contains affiliate links that help fund my blog. 

The girls have been having such a blast with their Ocean themed sensory box, that I decided to expand our play repertoire with a new addition to the playroom. We now have an "Under Construction" themed Sensory Box. My youngest daughter, "C" is a die-hard Bob the Builder Fan and my older daughter, "E" has always wanted to follow in her handy-daddy's (work boot) footsteps.

The girls had a blast in their hard hats today shoveling, loading, and unloading their mini gravel quarry. We had quite the menagerie of construction vehicles at our house and another empty under bed box in my storage area in the garage. The girls and I ventured over to the Dollar Tree this morning to spend $5 on 5 mini bags of rocks to fill the site. It is a great place to find affordable materials for sensory boxes! The girls have been playing with it non stop all afternoon.

My oldest daughter's Kindergarten teacher was over here last night for a scrap-booking crop and loves my Ocean Sensory Box so much that we spent part of the evening brainstorming different centers for her classroom based on their thematic units of the year. I picked up some Pumpkin Patch materials (courtesy again of the fabulous Dollar Tree by our house) for their fall unit. The kids will have fun raking miniature leaves, stacking mini bales of hay, and learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin with their observation journals and some fake pumpkins, vines, flowers, pea gravel or bean "soil" and some pumpkin seeds to "plant" You should see the mini farm they'll be playing with later this spring! The winter box I'm working on for the girls will be made in triplicate: one for our house and two more for the two Kindergarten classrooms at her school.

If you make one of these for your house or classroom I would love to hear about it!

Pink and Green Mama,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ocean In A Box

Make your own Ocean In a Box Sensory Box. 

So Being the resourceful (read: green not cheap) mother that I am,
I like to make my own version of cool toys for my girls to play with.
I saw these really cool My Sandbox Kits (10"x 10".)
I loved the ocean mermaid box but they're kind of small.

So, I decided to be the artsy (read: clever, brilliant, and modest)
mama that I am and make our own Ocean Sensory box at home with stuff we already had.

I found an empty underbed-style storage box in the garage and thought it would be a better size
(so both girls can play in it at the same time.)

Then the girls helped me collect assorted mermaids,
fish, sea shells (real and the mini macaroni kind), polly pockets, and plastic mini trees
from the playroom menagerie to populate our "underwater" world.
The only thing we had to buy at the store were 2 small bags of new/clean turquoise aquarium gravel
(there was no way I was going to use sand in the house)
and 2 fake plastic aquarium plants/coral from the fish section at WalMart.

The girls (and I must admit myself as well) love playing in their new ocean habitat.
You could even make your own coral and plants out of Fimo or modeling clay with your kids.

It is so popular with my daughters that I'm thinking about making them as gifts
for the umpteen million birthday parties we'll be attending in the coming school year.
* Update: We gave a few of these boxes as gifts to friends and they were a HUGE hit!* 

How cool would that gift be?
Little do my daughters know that I'm plotting to surprise them
this Christmas with a Winter Wonderland sensory box
made out of another under bed box and dry rice "snow"
to be populated by some penguins, polar bears, a dogsled, an igloo, and some eskimos!

Think about the possibilities:
Construction trucks with brown fish tank gravel,
mini horses with a stable and oatmeal ground cover,
space men and aliens on Moon Sand.
* Update: We made all of the sensory boxes list above and they're so much fun!*

To see our complete list of sensory boxes, 
check out my Sensory Box 101 Post! 

Who says homemade gifts aren't fun?!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keep 'em Busy...They Just Might Learn Something! Create An Invention Box With Recyclables.

So the Frog Princess is obsessed with Robots. She has been since she was less than a year old when she would sleep with her baby einstein robot flash card every night. A week ago she received one of those musical Hallmark cards and immediately wanted to rip it open to see the circuit board and speaker. She cut it out carefully and has been hauling it around playing the music incessantly...if I hear "Boot Scootin' Boogie" one more time....argh!... I hope her next card plays "Claire de Lune."

Since I'm an avid recycler and can't stand to see bits of random plastic in the trash we came up with an "inventions" box. The Frog Princess loves to create robots and other creative machines from the inventions box. Lately she's been asking for "real circuit boards" like the ones in her robot (DK eyewitness) book and her musical card. So, this morning we disassembled an old telephone and a remote control from our garage into parts. Right now she is in scientific heaven investigating all of the parts and making up elaborate stories for her mini robots. I would rather entertain my kid for a few hours and let her use her explore and create with her imagination with some of my old trash than have it sitting in a landfill. Next time you're about to toss that soap pumper, wine cork, or twistie-tie ask yourself if a little artist or scientist you know would have fun making it into something new.
You both might learn something new in the process!

Pink and Green Mama,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of a New Year

The first day of a new year isn't January 1st for me. New Years Eve is a night for party invitations you don't want to go to, watching a movie, and looking up at the clock sometime past midnight and nudging my husband and saying, "oh, happy new year."

I track my life in school years. Even though it's been years since I sat in a classroom it's the way I can always remember doing things. Elementary school: K, 1,2,3.... Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate school. As a teacher, I kept track of the school years in clusters: '98-'99, '99-2000. Then I kept track for a while by my daughter's age: 6 weeks, 4 months, 13 months...

The process came full circle today as the Frog Princess got on that big yellow bus for her first day of Kindergarten. I wasn't as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. Yes, she looked very small climbing those big steps, yes she was at my bedside at 5 am this morning in the darkness crying about being scared of school, and yes I brought extra kleenex and wore my dark sunglasses so she wouldn't see me cry. But, there was comfort in knowing that I can start keeping track my my days again with a new routine and the start of a new school year. It seems fitting that my first/ever blog entry would be posted after that same little girl bounded toward our family at the bus stop this afternoon and announced "Kindergarten Rocks!" Here's to the first day of a new year.

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