Finger Painting Orcas and Crumpled Paper Art

I’ve been soooo quiet lately in the blogging/instagraming world lately. Lots have been happening with this little family the last few weeks and compounded with GORGEOUS summer weather, we are hardly at home! Then…I started POTTY TRAINING with N. That means: All HANDS on DECK! Anyhoo, long story short, we hardly had time to do much arts and craft!

Last week, my uncle asked if J can help draw or paint an orca for his FB banner. Unfortunately for uncle T, J’s main subjects for painting and drawings are rockets and dinosaurs. Even then, they sometimes look like amoebas 😉 I also (jokingly) offered to draw him an “ugly” whale if he wants something whimsical and child-like.

Even hubby made a submission….not bad! But it’s not a killer whale…

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To build up the children’s existing interest in these marine mammals, we hired out a few library books on whales, orcas, and dolphins. We learned that orcas are a type of dolphin! It’s not a whale!

They loved reading Humphrey The Lost Whale. It’s a true story about a humpback whale which deviated from his usual Mexico to Alaska migration by entering the San Francisco Bay. In fact, he got “lost” twice! Once in 1985 and another time in 1990.

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We also watched Meatball (aka Nemo) a few times….even saw a Nemo fish at the mall!

Who’s that behind you Dory and Marlin??

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Where’s Meatball?

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Orca Arts and Craft

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper – white, dark blue, light blue, pink/orange
  • Paint – black and white
  • Sponge
  • Cotton ball
  • Black pen
  • Scissors
  • Glue

First, I  handed the kids some light blue paper to crumple. The more crumpled the better. Then I asked them to flatten the paper out with some assistance from mummy. Once it’s flattened, I had the kids lightly paint over the paper with sponges and white paint. This makes it look like snow.

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While we are waiting for the mountains to dry, I drew some orcas with a black pen. Then I asked the kids to fill in the BLACK part of the whale with their fingers using a dotting technique. I figure this is better than using a brush since they always end up using their hands when they’re painting.

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Looks pretty good! For N, she’s younger, so I helped guide her hands to where we want the paint to go.

Once the mountains were dry, I cut the paper into mountain landscapes.

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Then glue the landscape on top of an orange or pink piece of construction paper that will become your sunset sky.

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Then I tore the blue construction paper width-wise to make the ocean.

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Glue that underneath your mountains.

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Then glue your orca onto the picture.

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Take a cotton ball and dab a little bit of white paint onto the picture to make it look like waves and splashes in the picture. If your child is older, they can help tear/cut the paper, and dab the white paint.

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And voila!

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Guess by Touch – Sensory and Discovery Game

Boy kids feel grow FAST! We have just bought our grommies some new shoes from the Outlets not too long ago. I was about to toss the little shoe boxes out when I thought of a fun sensory game for our gnomes.

First I outlined a circle on the box where I’m going to cut holes for little hands to fit into. I made them a bit big for my tots and you will catch them peeking! Haha 😉

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Then use a craft blade to cut the circles out. Use a sawing motion to cut it out more easily. The two shoe boxes we have are the kinds with flip lids. I made sure the holes were made on the side away from the opening that way I can place items into the box without the kids seeing what it was. The lid blocks their view. Although, my children tried very hard, stretching their necks to see around the lids!!

If you use a convention two-piece shoe box where the lid comes completely off like a gift box, just put the hole anywhere where there is no cardboard overlap or it’d be hard to cut through so many layers! Top of the lid would work too but you’ll just have to make sure the kids aren’t peeking when you place your object in the box!

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I bought this from Michael’s.

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Then I sanded the hole’s ridges a bit so the little ones don’t get a papercut. You can even table around the jagged edges with duct tape or masking tape.

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Then I arranged two trays. One set is for them to SEE the objects and one set for them to guess by touch. They feel the item and guess which item in the control tray they are feeling.

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Here we go!

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It’s furry! It’s a pom pom!

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Oops!

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Dinosaur!

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Then I gave them some wooden shapes and letters from Melissa and Doug to guess

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OH it’s coooold mama! ICE!

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You can easily mix things up and have different themes. You can have a nature theme with leaves, rocks, sand, dirt, feathers, sea shells, pine cones, etc. Or  you can  have a kitchen food theme with uncooked pasta, uncooked rice, flour, salt, fruits and veggies.

It’s always great to learn while you play! This activity is a fantastic way for little ones to learn to discover, observe, categorize, and sort using their sense of touch. It was amazing to see and hear my near 4yo’s deductive reasoning and logic to work out what he was holding and feeling.

Hope you guys have as much fun as my little ones did! Be warned….kids younger than 4 are extremely tempted to peek but our 2yo had too much fun anyway!

Easter Activities for Toddlers

Easter is just around the corner and we’ve been busy doing lots of Easter activities and artwork! Here are a few things we did the last couple of weeks.

1. Egg Rolling and Animal Figurine Tracks

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I got this idea from  marble painting. With marble painting, you take marbles, dip them in paint, drop them in a paper-lined tray and move the tray around to paint your picture! So instead of marbles, we used boiled eggs! You can probably use craft eggs as well.

Our kids shared a single tray so this was a collaborative art project. Instead of moving the tray around, we used little cocktail stirrers to move the eggs around.

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For the stamping activity, we thought it’d be a lot of fun to use our animal and dinosaur figurines to stamp eggs on paper!

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Our kids love getting paint all over their hands and paint with their fingers/hands. So I usually let them go crazy with less structure at the end of our project. It allows them to practice following instructions and also let their creative juices go wild.

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2. Bobbing for Easter Eggs

It’s only the start of Spring here in California and it’s been warm!! So I thought it’d be a great day to let the kids with with water! Let go bobbing for eggs!

Instead of using your mouth with apples, I handed the kids some spoons. Great way to practice their fine motor skills!

Again, we used craft eggs. These were purchased from Michaels and they are kind of like ping pong balls. Very light and hallow. They float, making them perfect for this activity.

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I also colored the water with some food coloring to make it more festive haha

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It wasn’t long before they got in!!! Surprised?

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3. Easter Stamp Art – using toilet paper rolls and cotton balls

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Easter Egg – Eggshell Mosaic

1. Easter Eggs – eggshell Mosaic 

I really want the kids to try egg decorating this year but I’m not quite sure if they have the patience or dexterity to do it just yet. I still might try!!

Meanwhile, I’ve been breaking a lot of eggs lately (for breakfast). On top of that, the kids saw an episode of Mister Maker where he made a pretty mosaic out of dyed eggshells. The only thing I noticed is that he didn’t use vinegar! Vinegar helps the color stick to the shells more permanently (and vibrantly as I had noticed). Also he used brown eggshells where I used white. I just figured it’d look more vibrant with my pastel food color gels.

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Here are my CLEANED eggshells. Try and get rid of all the papery membrane inside the shells.

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I crushed the shells (by hand or with a metal spoon) and added them to separate bowls of food coloring + water + vinegar. I eyeballed it but you can probably do about 3 drops of gel with 1/4 cup of water and 1 tbsp of vinegar. I put in more drops of the pink one to achieve the color I wanted so it’s adjustable! I soaked them overnight to get a deep pastel color. It’s up to you what color you want to achieve!

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After I was happy with the coloring, I drained the liquid out and dried the shells in trays lined with paper towels. I sat mine at a sunny windowsill. Make sure you don’t forget them and they might fade a bit under the sun! Check on the regularly and make sure they are dried completely.

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After they are dried, I broke the pieces up some more so it’s like confetti. It’s easier for toddlers to sprinkle than to glue the shells piece by piece. It’s totally up to you! The benefit of smaller pieces is that there are less gaps. Older kids would be better at gluing larger mosaic shell tiles and filling the gaps.

I helped my kids to paint the glue onto the egg I drew for them (with a very easy pattern or design). J wanted to paint himself so I let him but it was going everywhere so I ended up wiping the bits that went outside the lines and finished painting it for him.

I said “paint” the glue because I colored the glue with a little bit of tempera paint. Just to add a bit of coloring to the background 🙂 You don’t have to of course. Your glue will just dry clear which will still look great!

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After your child is done with one section / color, pick up the artwork and give it a little shake to rid of any loose shells. You or your child can patch up the gaps. Then start with another color / section.

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Even mummy got into it!

I used a decorative egg I had bought from the shops and did the same thing.

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Mine had a bit of gap in it since I used bigger shell tiles. I thought it looked pretty neat that way. I might try one with smaller pieces later on.

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Alphabet Activities and Games + Name and Word Recognition Games

1. Reading Game – I Spy the color/letter….

I’ve learned that kids love interactive shows like Dora, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates….the list goes on! They also LOVE a good game of “I Spy.” Why not incorporate that into reading?

Tools:

  • Book
  • Colorful Alphabet letters (We use Melissa and Doug‘s See and Spell letters)
  • Colorful plastic shot glasses (For more color recognition and a bit of extra fun!)
  • Magnifying glass (We bought these from ToysRUs but you can find these at Amazon as well)

We didn’t have a purple shot glass to match J’s purple letter “o” so we used this opportunity to learn a bit of basic color theory.

Red + Blue = PURPLE!

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Here J is matching the colorful glasses with each of the colored letters.

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What’s this? We’ve already spotted a letter from our name! “S”!

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J having a closer look at the text to spot any other letters from his name.

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Here he is matching the blue sky in the illustrations with his blue “j” and blue plastic glass.

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear was the perfect book to do this activity!

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2. Alphabet Rock SMASH

This is revisiting an old post. These are easy and fun for the kids to make and it’s even more fun when they smash them! WARNING: This is a messy activity!!

Here is the link to the post.

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Josh wanted to spell “rocket”

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3. I Spy

I walk the kids to our local shops every week to get some miscellaneous grocery items. Sometimes it can become a bit of a struggle as they tend to get restless and don’t want to sit quietly in their prams as I get our shopping done. So I thought I’d give them a little (educational) task!

I wrote two letters down in upper and lower cases and asked the kids to spot anything that would start with “A” and “B”. Yes, they’re too young to know, but I’d point them out to them and reinforce their letter recognition and word association by showing them the letter and the item we spot.

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Let me just say there are A LOT more “Bs” in this world than “As”! No pun intended!

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4. I Spy – Part II (Name Recognition)

Again, I used index cards and spelled out the kids’ names. Initially, I had the idea of them tallying the letters as we go. Every time we see something that starts with the letter “J” we’d make a tally with the crayon. Then I thought maybe using stickers may be more age appropriate and more fun for my kids. Plus, I had heaps of St Patrick’s Day stickers leftover!

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Josh is doing well spotting the letter “J” in “juice”!

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5. Name Recognition – Homemade Sand Excavation

I got my pre-made homemade sand (see previous post via link for recipe) out and split it into two trays. I hid two sets of the kids’ names (Melissa and Doug wooden letters) and kept one set out so they can visually spell out their names and to match the letters they find.

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Some sifting tools for their excavation!

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Warning! Sand flying! Be prepared for some mess especially with littlies! And don’t worry. Just sweep or vacuum later! You can always top up your sand later with more materials.

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Found our last letter!

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Cardboard Dinosaur Cave

More Dinosaur FUN! We have had a few deliveries from online vitamin shops and Amazon lately which usually come with a good size box and tons of brown construction paper. I knew it’d be a waste to just recycle them and/or use the box as my recycling bin…. Light bulb moment: A dinosaur cave for the kids to pretend play with! So after looking on Pinterest a bit and using whatever creative juices I had left with this mummy brain of mine….I came up with this!

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My biggest challenge was finding the time to do this fun project. I had so many ideas but I lacked the patience and wanted to get this done. I figure I can always add to it later on or just build another one and call this the ‘test pilot’. I’ve had this material for two weeks already and I just want to get this to a playable state!

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What I used:

  • A good sized box – spacious enough for your dinosaurs to play in
  • Brown butcher paper or construction paper – you get a lot of these from deliveries or buy them at Lowes, Home Depot, Bunnnings, or any art supply stores
  • Tape
  • Stapler – up to you. You might worry about little fingers getting pricked by a loose staple
  • Hot glue gun & glue stick
  • Egg carton – brown preferred but you can paint them
  • Rocks, leaves, bones (homemade), dinosaurs, etc

I would have loved getting craft felt to line the floor of the cave. You can even use some craft moss or fake grass depending on budget. I was thinking of gluing dried used coffee grinds as an idea. But if you read my Homemade Sand blog entry, you’d know I have trouble accumulating enough coffee grinds in a reasonable amount of time!

I’d love to make a little plateau or hill with the egg carton lid as well. Cover it with mache to blend into the backdrop. Another idea was to create an anchialine pool (aka cave pond).

Later on, I’d like to make an erupting volcano to accompany this cave on a dinosaur playing sort of day!

I didn’t have a chance to document this project with too many photos.

I simply crumpled the construction paper up to a shape I liked and started adhering it to the box to make it look like a cave. My little man helped supervise telling if it looked good or not haha. I used stapler, tape and glue gun to complete the project. I would have loved to make use of paper mache to harden the lining and the cover of the box but I lacked time and patience 😉

In this photo, I’m making stalactites out of the pointy bit inside an egg carton. Use hot glue so it sticks more easily.

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I left the remainder of an egg carton inside the cave for the kids to play with. N was pretending her little dinosaur was eating one of the egg cups 🙂

J said they were dino eggs!

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Then I put my premade dinosaur bones inside the cave along with the more lively dinosaurs.

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The kids loved it!

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I’ve been wanting to do a Dinosaur themed day for the kids and I will definitely incorporate this awesome cave into it. Hopefully I’ll find some time to incorporate some of those upgrades I had mentioned!!

St Patrick’s Day – 5 fun activities with toddlers

1. Leprechaun’s Gold Hunt

I did a simple activity with the kids searching for piles of gold our little leprechaun friend has hidden in our house.

I cut up some green clover stickers

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Then I made a little rainbow pompom and green clover trail that the leprechaun has left behind.

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Then hid piles of gold

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Easy, simple and lots of fun for the kiddies. They loved counting their loot!

2. St Patrick’s Day Edible Sensory Bin

Our kids. No, KIDS love jelly (aka jello). Bonus: it’s got a color for EVERY occasion! Green jelly it is!

What I’ve added into our St Patrick’s Day sensory bin:

  • Green Jello
  • Whipped Cream
  • Green sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Gold coins (we used chocolate gold coins – none was eaten though)

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Instructions: Put everything together and let them go nuts! It is a bit of a sugary treat. So be warned if you worry about having hyperactive children in the house! Yet, what’s the big deal if it’s only once in a while if you can allow it? I, personally am borderline diabetic so I’ll be watching THEM with a careful eye they don’t “sample” too much!

A good tip is to feed them right before the activity so they’re less likely to gorge themselves with sugars and lollies!

Another good tip is to let your child know they can only taste 1 of each (limit is up to you of course). J was really good about that and N was just not interested in tasting!

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The first sampling haha

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Josh found all the coins and sorted them. We also counted his loot together

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We even tried to stack the marshmallows. Do you want to build a snowman?

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Then Josh wanted to make small bowls of Leprechaun breakfast.

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3. Rainbow Pot of Gold – mosaic using paint sample tiles

If you child need some guidance with the rainbow colors, I’d start them off by putting a few color tiles on the paper for them. I even showed the kids pictures of rainbows on my laptop as a visual example. You can even draw lines across the page so the kids know where to glue their tiles in. Label each line with the colors of the rainbow if you are teaching them to read.

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4. Green Puffy Paint Shamrocks and Mosaic Shamrocks

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Instructions can be found here in our previous post.

5. Attend Local St Patrick’s Day Festivities

We live in Dublin, California and they have an annual St Patrick’s Day celebration. This will be the city’s 32nd annual festivity and it will be held on the weekend of March 14, 15 (10 AM – 5 PM) we are really looking forward to all the fun!

Festival, parade and other details can be found at the Dublin official website.

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