Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preschool Activities

To my loyal friends who continue to check to see if I've posted, I love you for your persistence! I am so excited about moving (which may happen earlier than planned, YAY!) that we're about halfway through with the packing. Which unfortunately means I haven't even been able to think about crafts, much less work on any. Okay, that's a lie. I think about crafts all day long. I just have so many other things going on right now that I can't focus!

But today, I got to work on some projects for and with the 3 year old I take care of on Wednesdays. I use a book series titled "Active Learning for..." insert age group. It has fantastic ideas for language, physical development, creative activites and "the world around you" - nature, senses, numbers, size, shape color. There are 6 books in the series, infants through fives, and although technically designed for childcare settings, still works well for the SAHM or nanny. So we made some discovery bottles, and a bird feeder today. (Blackbirds are building a nest in the gutter outside our door, so we'll eventually have babies!)

The bird feeder was super simple. **if allergic to peanuts, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME*** (I can say this with authority, because I ... am alergic to peanuts, but never had any problem touching them, but that has apparently changed! I broke out in a rash on both arms and had to take a Benedryl (the kids are just wishing I had given in the urge to stretch out on the floor and snore today!)

Step 1: Mix about a cup of peanut butter with approx. 1/2 cup cornmeal. Make a thicker paste, basically. Then add in bird seed. If you add too much, don't panic. Either spread the extra out on the ground around where you hang the feeder, to entice the birds, or just add more peanut butter.

Step 2: Mush together. Yup. Just like playing in the mud, or making cookies. If working with a 3 year old, have plenty of paper towels on hand because -eew, my hands are sticky- which they wipe off, then stick back in the bowl.

Step 3: Scoop mixture into an empty onion mesh bag. The birds can pick through the bag and won't choke on it. Tie bag with clothesline, and hang anywhere you choose.


The second activity seemed pretty easy too, but turned out not so much. Maybe I did something wrong.

Discovery Bottle: Color Mixing

Step 1: Empty several small soda bottles. (See, easy! Just drink your favorite soda!)

Step 2: Locate and purchase powdered tempera paint (choose a primary color for this,or you defeat the purpose). Yes, they still make it. You just have to search high and low for it. I found mine at HobbyLobby, with the regular painting supplies, not the children's painting supplies.

Step 3: Mix powdered tempera into vegetable oil. Now maybe this is where mine went wrong. I only had Canola oil (I know, not as good for you, but Good). The family only had Canola oil (see, I'm not the only one!). So Canola oil is what I used. My powder didn't really mix very well into the oil. It colored the oil a bit, but for the most part, the paint settled to the bottom of the bowl.

Step 4: Mix a primary color of food coloring into plain, unfiltered water (hey, no need wasting the filter on a toy!) Make sure your water color is one of the other two primary colors.

Step 5: Now mix equal portions colored oil and colored water into empty soda bottle. I use the 12oz version, because I also use these with infants, who have small hands! But the 16 or 20oz bottles would work just as well. I don't think I would recommend larger, just because of the expense of the oil you're using. And when mixing, it's better to put the water in first, then the oil.

If a child is helping you, I suggest using a funnel and pour spout, because otherwise...catastrophe. 'Tude (as his grandma calls him) "helped" me pour the liquids into the bottle, which I'm sure you know means I poured and he touched the cup.

Step 6: Glue the lid onto the bottle. This is especially important if these bottles will a) be used inside or b) you have small children who put everything into their mouths. My favortite glue for all children's projects like this is Gorilla Glue, because it expands and seals completely.

Now, Shake! The colors blend when shaken, but settle back out to their original colors, since oil and water don't mix. However, mine are not settling back out so well after a few shakes. The water is slowly turning the mixed color, and the oil stays yellow (my primary choice)

In the midst of all this, I am sorta working on a UFO. I created a chart for the parents, so they could see what activites we are doing each week, with the directions to do it themselves if they choose. And as you see, that requires the activities be transferred from the book to notecards, which is taking forever. And that is what I've been working on while the baby sleeps these days, rather than the fun of crafts. But it is fun, because I get excited about using these ideas, and helping 'Tude and Tigger grow and learn. Nothing is as much fun as watching the little light bulb go off when they figure something new out!

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