Sunday, October 30, 2011

* Halloween Crafts for Kids: Yarn Pom-Pom Pumpkins, Owls, and Monsters, Oh My!

The girls and I recently got hooked on making 
yarn pom-poms with a fork! 
Yes, I remember them from Martha Stewart but when 
I saw a mini tutorial over at the Whimsy Love Blog
its been a non-stop pom-pom making whirlwind ever since!

It started with a bunch of different pom-poms for our ice cream sensory box
(that I keep forgetting to post!)

On Friday, "C" asked if we could use some of our orange yarn 
to make pumpkins with googly eyes. 
The fun part, was that she had the whole craft planned out in her head!
Then she wanted to make an owl with brown yarn.
She picked out felt for the beak and wings.

I love the owl, I think he looks like an Angry Birds character!
Maybe we'll make an Angry Birds pom-pom set next. : )

She used Elmer's glue dots to stick the 
googly eyes and mouths to the yarn pom-poms. 
The pipe cleaner stems are just stuck into the pom-pom without any glue.

Sticking on googly eyes.

Carefully cutting out felt details. 

She also made a green yarn pom-pom monster,
he's hanging out in our miniature Haunted House
right now! I didn't get a photo of him.

Happy Fall Crafting! 

For another fun fall game and craft check out my 

pink and green mama, MaryLea

Friday, October 28, 2011

* Fall Art Project: Turkeys In Disguise

This project was always a blast to do with the kids 
in October or November when I was teaching elementary school art.
We would make "Turkeys in Disguise" out of cut paper
or as a drawing assignment depending on the amount of time
I had with each group of kids.

Feel free to adapt and do however you see fit,
it's lots of fun to see how clever the kids are and see what
they're imaginations come up with!

It makes a cute hallway display 
and it's also a fun Thanksgiving day craft for the kid's table!

(Shh... I'm a Lamp Not a Turkey)

I would start by explaining to the class that the Turkeys needed some help
disguising themselves before Thanksgiving. 
They aren't the smartest birds so they aren't the best at hiding in their disguises.
You need to come up with a disguise for your turkey that is clever,
but we can still tell it's a turkey.

Then, we would sketch ideas and brainstorm.
Once they had their idea worked out, they'd draw a final copy 
on nice drawing paper, or work with construction paper 
to make a cut paper collage. 

(Psst... I'm a Mummy Not a Turkey)

For the cut paper turkeys, we would start with a basic 
bowling- ball-pin-shape cut out of construction paper and build on from there.


For the drawings, we would sketch lightly in pencil,
trace over it in Crayola markers, then color in with 
Crayola twistables, colored pencils, or crayons. 

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Super Turkey!

I'm a Cheerleader not a Turkey...
Give Me a "T"!

Gobble, Gobble, I mean... ahem, Meow.
I'm a Cat not a Turkey!

You get the idea.
Happy Turkey-Disguise Making!

Pink and Green Mama

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

* Preschool At Home: Halloween Counting and Sorting Games

We have some fun Halloween-themed activities
on our preschool at home shelves this week.

"C" (age 4) has really been enjoying this counting game.
I picked up a couple of bags of mini halloween erasers
in the dollar bin area at Target and they are great little math manipulatives.

I printed out some numbers on card stock and sort them into 
this wooden box (I think it's left over from a Melissa and Doug toy)

She loves counting her little erasers and does this in the afternoon
while big sister is working on her homework.

She's also been having fun with the light table.
I stuck some googly-eyed halloween face stickers onto scrapbook paper
and trimmed around them. They're fun little light table manipulatives.
"C" drew this Haunted House to set up all of her little faces in the windows. 

"C" drawing her Haunted House on drawing paper.

This little tray has been popular with both of my girls!

It was inspired by the awesome activities from the 
(go check it out, she has the cutest games there)

"C"s favorite is cutting the strips of scrapbook paper.
She actually cut out all of the little skeletons
then wrote "Boo!" on the back of them and put them in that little tin candy box.

The hole punch is a bit harder for her but "E" (age 8) really likes it.
We also tried sharpening some Halloween pencils but she likes 
the electric sharpener better! 

We also have two little buckets of spider rings with a set of tweezers
but I didn't get a photo of it.
"C" likes transferring the spiders back and forth and sorting them by color
(orange and black.) 

And, of course, we've been having fun with the Halloween sensory table.

Are you doing any halloween-themed activities
 at home or in your classroom this week?

Pink and Green Mama

Monday, October 24, 2011

* Halloween Themed Sensory Box!

Halloween is fast approaching 
so I better get the rest of my Halloween posts up this week! : )

Here is a quick peek for you of this year's Halloween Sensory Box
currently being played with in our playroom.
Except the girls dumped out the contents yesterday 
from this plastic storage box into our (empty and dry) water table. 
(Sorry, I don't have a photo, my camera's battery needs to be re-charged!)

Dry Black-eyed peas, some dry black beans,  and a handful of dry orange rice.

We also have some craft foam halloween shapes 
(a black tree, owls, tombstones, skeletons, pumpkins)
 Pumpkin, spider, and bat erasers.
Tiny plastic skeletons.
Wooden craft store ghost cut-outs.
Ghost cookie cutter, rubber rats, fuzzy spiders,
Orange Yarn/ homemade pom-pom pumpkin. 
Pumpkin scoops, and orange bucket.

Happy Halloween Exploring!

Do you have a "spooky" sensory box or table theme going on right now?

Pink and Green Mama

Thursday, October 20, 2011

* Easy Fall Kid Craft: Colored Glue Leaves With Watercolor Resist

We've been doing lots of fall crafting around here lately.
This project evolved from our colored Elmer's glue projects.

The girls asked if we could make big fall leaves with our colored glue
and I said, Absolutely!

We started by lightly sketching big leaf shapes on white drawing paper
with pencil, then outlining the pencil lines with colored Elmer's glue. 
For directions on how to make your own colored Elmer's glue 
see our post here about making your own Rainbow Glue

The next day, after the glue dried, we went back and started 
coloring the leaves in with watercolors.

We like Rainbow leaves around here, can you tell?

"E" painting some leaves.

"C" painting some leaves.

Mom painting a leaf.

While the watercolor was still wet, 
we sprinkled some table salt over some of them 
for a fun mottled look! 
(we keep a salt shaker in the art studio with our watercolors
for this exact purpose!) 

Just shake/brush off the excess salt after the watercolors dry.

Now, what to do with our giant colorful leaves?

I think we may cut them out and put them up in the 
playroom windows with our sand paper leaves!

I recommend doing this project with ages 3 and up.

For this project you will need:
Colored Elmer's Glue (see our recipe here)
Drawing paper or watercolor paper
Salt (optional) 

Happy Fall Leaf Painting!

Pink and Green Mama

Monday, October 17, 2011

* Easy Fall Kid Craft: Sandpaper and Crayon Leaves

Good morning and happy Monday everyone! It's cloudy and cool here this morning, but we had some beautiful October weather all weekend. Now if we could just get over our fall cold's we could really have some fun!

We're sniffling and hacking but we're still crafting! The girls and I decided to make some sandpaper leaves to decorate the playroom windows. (Pardon their Pajamas in the photos, that's how we roll around here.)

This project is great for preschoolers (ages 2-3) on up!

You will need: 
crayons, sandpaper, and scissors 
(if you want to cut them out like we did.)

We started out by looking at leaf shapes (collected from our yard)
and drawing the outlines in black and dark blue crayon 
on some half and quarter sheets of sandpaper from the Dollar Tree.

Then, we sat down and started coloring the leaves in with crayons
on the sandpaper. The girls really liked how vibrant the colors are on sandpaper.
Coloring on sandpaper is also a great way to sharpen your crayons!

Leaves in progress...

Happy Rainbow Leaves!

Finished leaves cut out and ready to hang in the playroom window!

You can take this project a step further and put your sandpaper and crayon leaves face down on a t-shirt or piece of paper and iron it to make a melted crayon print! Alpha Mom blog has a great tutorial here if you want to try making a crayon printed shirt!

We decided to "leave" ours alone, the girls didn't want the colors to run, I may try one later. 

Happy Fall Crafting! 

Pink and Green Mama

Thursday, October 13, 2011

* Sensory Boxes 101 Tips and Inspiration: How To Make A Sensory Box, Theme Ideas, and Frequently Asked Quesitons

Today's post is called Sensory Box 101
because we could all use a little help sometimes and because Play Matters!

We LOVE sensory boxes here. 
When I made my first one with Oatmeal for "E" 7 years ago in 2004, 
I didn't blog, I only used my computer to write papers and send email. 
I did not know to call my first "sensory box" a sensory box. 

Baby "E" playing with her first oatmeal sensory box (2004)

I just wanted something fun for "E to play with that was something she couldn't choke on
and something she could safely put in her mouth, hence the dry oatmeal. 
It was a great way to entertain her indoors in nasty weather and if she ate some, 
it was just some extra fiber. I did not introduce her to the sand table outdoors until this 
box had been mastered and I knew the "tasting" stage was over. 

She loved it. 
So did her friends.
 It was the go-to activity for play dates. 
A mini indoor sand box made out of a plastic under bed-style storage box,
 two canisters of dry oatmeal, some small cups, and some Little People figures and animals. 
I was onto something. 
We made them as gifts for friends and family - they were a huge hit! 

Do you use sensory boxes (or tables) at home or in your classroom?
Are you afraid of them? Don't be. 
They are great for hand eye coordination, fine motor development, and 
serves as a great sensory processing integration experience. 
Both of my girls (and all of their friends) have a great time digging into them!
When they're done, they get a Montessori-style lesson in cleaning up with
small dust pans and brooms. Don't be afraid of a little clean up at home or in your classroom.
It is a great learning tool and a gentle way to teach children how to play nicely together.

I got a great email from one of my blog readers this week and
she inspired me to write this post, thank you Angell. 

I figured if she has questions like this, some of you might be wondering the same thing.

Here is some of her email to me:

"I see all these bins but being someone who has never made one,
I don't have all those items to throw in there. It could actually become expensive.
I'm also not crafty, so I don't have craft supplies hanging around. Do you reuse your fillings (beans, rice, etc.)?
How do you keep the cost down? 
What is your thinking process like?
Do you have sensory bins in the back of your mind? While you are shopping do you think,
 "Wow this would be a good item for a bin in the future?
What are some things you would use as a bin?"

I'll do my best to answer these questions, so here we go.

Do you reuse your fillings?
Absolutely! I store my "main ingredients" in gallon zip lock bags, 
inside a cardboard copy paper box on a shelf in our garage.

I also re-use my boxes. I keep 2-3 sensory boxes going at a time,
then I cycle out the ingredients and store the extra parts in gallon-size ziplock bags. 

Right now I have the following stored on my shelves
(in gallon ziplock bags inside a plastic box): 

  • Dried Green Split Peas (that are seasoned with cinnamon and allspice for Fall)
  • White Rice (winter snow & wedding box)
  • Silk (faux) Dollar Tree Fall Leaves
  • Shredded Paper Easter Grass (green and yellow)
  • Oatmeal (dry, uncooked)
  • Black Fish Tank Gravel (dry black beans are awesome too!)
  • Blue Fish Tank Gravel (you could also just dye rice blue)
  • Small Pebbles/Gravel in Earthtones
  • Rainbow Rice (homemade) 
  • Coffee Grounds (Dry)
  • Dry Black Eyed Peas
  • Rainbow Pom-Poms
  • Faux Flowers and Faux Green Leaves (cut off Dollar Tree Vines)
  • Moon Sand (make your own with play sand and cornstarch - google it)

You can also use:

  • Cotton Balls
  • Birdseed (then feed it to your birds when you're done)
  • Dry Pasta
  • Un-popped Popcorn
  • Dry Beans
  • Shredded Paper
  • Faux Snow (warning: it's really messy)
  • Some moms even use real potting soil outdoors (I'm not that brave!)
  • Sand

*NOTE*: I also keep a box of goodies for sensory boxes like:

  • scoops
  • spoons
  • cups
  • funnels
  • ice trays 
  • egg cartons
  • tweezers
  • small mirrors,
  • tongs
  • etc.

How do you keep the cost down?
Great question, my husband asks me the same one all the time! ; )
I don't just go out to the store and buy everything to make a sensory box. 
Most of it evolves from stuff we already have here at the house, even if it's from the recycling bin. 

I do occasionally have to buy the bulk dry ingredients but they get re-used.
(for example, I had to buy the dry rice, peas and beans at first but now I re-use them all the time)

I re-use/recycle the dry ingredients
Take the green split peas for example, I've used them for: 
two "Fall" boxes, a "Spring Garden" box,  a "St. Patrick's Day" box, and the "Apple Box". 

I make a lot of the "ingredients" 
like my homemade felt toilet paper tube trees for the Apple Box.

Homemade "Fall Trees" by gluing brown felt to TP tubes and gluing fake leaves on top.

For example, we just made an "Ice Cream" sensory box
and I saved tiny gelato cups from Whole Foods and 
tiny Blue Bunny Brand single serving ice cream containers from our recycling. 
I made ice cream balls by wrapping yarn around forks and making pom-poms.
We made tiny popsicles by gluing felt to popsicle sticks and felt "cones"
Then, I gave the girls some deep spoons and our ice cream scoop.

Homemade (inexpensive) felt popsicles. 
Glue a popsicle stick to two piece of felt or card-stock/scrap-booking paper. 

How do color rice or noodles? 

I use the same technique for both. It's quick and easy and you DON'T cook anything.

Where To Find Ingredients For Sensory Boxes

While you are shopping do you think, 
"this would be great for a sensory bin"?
Sometimes depending on the store. 
Especially at "Goodwill,"neighborhood Garage Sales,
 the Target Dollar Binsand Dollar Tree.
And...occasionally at my two favorite craft stores,"Michaels" and "JoAnne's" in their seasonal areas 
(they always have coupons and... JoAnne's gives a teacher discount to teachers and home-schoolers).

Goodwill and Garage Sales are great for:
 ice trays, cookie cutters, scoops, tongs, small containers, 
faux flowers/leaves (you can dismantle a wreath or centerpiece)

Grocery store and big box stores like Walmart have sales and good prices 
on bulk dry goods like pasta, rice, popcorn, beans, oatmeal for "filler." 

Dollar Tree, Target dollar bins, and craft stores are great for seasonal goodies
and trinkets think major holidays and 4 seasons. 

What are some things you would use in a bin?
It really just depends on the "theme" 
Small toys, trinkets, and figurines from the playroom.
Goodies from the kitchen like scoops, measuring spoons or cups, and funnels.
Items from recycling like egg cartons, yogurt cups, wine corks, bottle caps, etc.
Bathroom goodies like cotton balls, Q-tips, Toilet Paper Tubes.
Seasonal decorations and do-dads.
Pom-poms, buttons, wooden cut outs from the craft store.
Doll house furniture and accessories.

Sensory Box Themes

What is your thinking process like?
I work off of themes like seasons and holidays, they're the easiest to do. 

Our "Spooky Halloween" Sensory Box

Our "Winter Wonderland"Box (which turned into a rice table)

Our Easter and Bird Themed Spring Box

Our St. Patrick's Day Box

4th of July/Patriotic Box

 I also try to make boxes with stuff I think would be fun to play with and touch. 
For example: 

The "Coffee Box"

and the "Oatmeal" box is just fun to play in.

Or...I'll do a theme box based on the girls' current interests 
or tie it to a unit they're doing at school or with me like:

Our "Outer Space" Box

"Zoo Box"

Our "Farm Box"


Our "Cats" Sensory Rainbow Rice Table for "C"s 4th Birthday Party
was a huge hit with all of the guests.

Sometimes the material sparks an idea for a theme:

White Rice for our "Wedding Box"

Pom-poms for our "Ice Cream Box"

Blue Fish Gravel for our "Ocean Box"

Gravel for our "Under Construction" Box

Some ideas are inspired by other wonderful bloggers, 
visit my Pinterest board and check out 
my Sensory Box Love! page for tons of great ideas
 and get your own inspiration from around blog land! 

I hope this helps answer your questions 
and helps to spark some fun new sensory box/table experiences 
so you can CREATE * PLAY * EXPLORE in your own home or classroom!

Pink and Green Mama, 

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