Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sticky Leaf Collage

This is a quick fall activity that kids can really enjoy, no matter what age. It's simple to set up and create, so it can be done easily at any time. Big Brother worked on his the other day while I made dinner. After coming home from some errands we collected leaves from the backyard. 

I laid out a large square of clear contact paper on the table sticky side up. Big Brother arranged the leaves by pressing them onto the paper. 

He then sprinkled a little gold and red glitter on top of the leaves because, as we all know, everything is better with glitter. When he was done we spread another sheet of clear contact paper on top of the piece he had decorated. This was the first time he was really "big" enough to help spread the second sheet.

I trimmed the edges and we had to hang it up right away so we could enjoy looking at it while we ate dinner. The fading fall light made it hard to photograph, but the process allowed us to capture the beautiful color of the leaves and the passing sunlight created a soft glow through the paper. 

Here's another shot of it the next day. Again, hard to photograph the actual colors but we're really pleased with the final product as a way to capture a little of the beauty of fall before it fades away. 

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Farm Sensory Bin

We're really getting excited about fall here, which inspired me to put together this new sensory bin. For this bin the base was cracked corn (found in the birdseed aisle.) I added in fake leaves, autumn colored gem stones, acorns, miniature pumpkins, gourds, some of our farm animals, a few pots and pretend branches, and small tractors. I set up the materials in a large, shallow plastic tub. 

When Big Brother woke up from his quiet time we began to explore the bin. His initial comment was "Does this mean it's really fall?" He then said, "It's beautiful!" which pretty much made this mama break out in a huge grin.

He then proceeded to explore the bin. His explorations included collecting all the gems to make food for the animals, using the tractors to move the corn, and replanting the trees. 

One of my favorite moments included when the horse had a birthday party with a special cake and all the other animals thanked her for being invited. 

I had set up Little Brother with some pumpkins to explore as well. 

But of course, Big Brother's activity looked way more interesting and he found his way over to the bin. I allowed him to explore a little too, keeping a close eye on all the small pieces. 

In the end, a great way for all of us to explore fall on this gray, cool day. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Virtual Book Club: Listening Walk and Book based on Bill Martin

So we missed participating in the Virtual Book Group for Kids in July and August for various reasons, but I was really excited when I saw the author for September was Bill Martin Jr. . I've only recently realized how many books he has written as many of them are illustrated by very different artists.

Although we've been reading several of his books, for our extension project this month we decided to use Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?

We're big fans of the better known Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See." Big Brother and I enjoyed talking about the different animals and their sounds while reading and Little Brother was really engaged with the colorful and bold illustrations. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alphabet Fishing Sensory Bin

Big Brother has been really enjoying a toy, magnetic wooden fishing set he was given last year for Christmas and it inspired me to create a new sensory bin for him this week.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

There's something about these cool evenings and warm days that instantly make me start craving "fall" food. My aunt had sent me a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins at the beginning of the summer and I'd been waiting for the right moment to try making them with Big Brother. The cool, crisp, sunny weather today had me convinced it was the right time.

The original recipe came from a Ranger Rick magazine and was one my aunt had enjoyed making with my cousins when they were little.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Alphabet Adventures: M is for Maze

This past weekend, Labor Day, marked the unofficial end of summer. It also marked our half way point through the alphabet on our Alphabet Adventures. So while we had originally hoped to complete the alphabet over the course of the summer we have decided to continue on the weekends this fall.

With the letter M we had lots of ideas for an adventure, but in the end our late summer timing gave us the opportunity to try a corn maze. None of us had ever done one before. We were able to go through the maze on opening day. For our local readers we went to Riverview Farm. Although known for their tasty pick your own apples, the maze was really fun and creative. Not only was the maze complicated enough to keep us all entertained, but there was a story line written like a fairy tale with large props throughout the maze.

The Adventure: M is for Maze
The three guys are ready to head into the maze. 
The corn was tall and upon entering the maze we quickly felt like we'd stepped into a different place. My husband is pretty tall, a little over 6 feet tall, and in this picture you can see how much taller the corn is than he is. This meant you really couldn't "cheat" and peek your way over to find the way out.

At first Big Brother was kind of just following the paths, not very clear on what a maze was. However, as soon as he hit the first "dead end" he started to get the idea of what we needed to do. 

We had a lot of fun finding our way out. The whole adventure took about a half an hour. The fairy tale story line proved to be over Big Brother's head but as grown ups we found it interesting. Mostly we all enjoyed the feeling of being "lost" in a jungle of corn as a group of four. 

I had thought it would be fun to end with a "m" themed snack like a muffin. But in the end, we couldn't resist the fresh cider and cider doughnuts at the farm stand. 

The Project: M is for Marble
We've done a lot of marble painting before and knew it would be a great project for the letter M. The materials are simple: paint, paper, marbles, and a flat container of some kind. (We used a gift box lid for this round.) I have particularly found that marble painting is great for toddlers and preschoolers with high energy (which I think is all of them) as they get to shake the container to roll the marbles and mix the paint. For this project we chose to use yellow and orange paint on blue paper. I always tape the paper down on two ends so that the marbles don't roll under the painting. 

A special weekend side note: Coincidentally we wound up on several other "M" adventures over the weekend. We went to Massachusetts to visit my alma mater Mount Holyoke College where we visited an art museum

Other M adventure ideas: mountain, museum, movies, magic show, and Maine. 

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