Saturday, March 31, 2012

Challenge: 365 Days Outdoors!

Becoming a mother has led me to think/ponder/question several things. As a mom, I think about how I can be there for my son when he needs me and teach him values he will be able to relay upon when I am away from him.  As an educator, I wonder how to go about teaching a toddler in a way that will nurture his unique, God given talents.  As an individual, I question the ways I can better myself so that I will be the best role model I can to help my son become a productive, positive, and happy member of society.

I know that kids are like sponges.  They model everything that their parents say or do and eventually that leads to decisions about how they will live their lives as they get older.  When I think about my hopes for Grady, I wish for happiness, joy, independence, and a zest for life (among other things).  Now that I realize how fast time does fly, I want to savor every minute that I have with him and focus on enjoying our times together as a family.  In pointing myself in that direction, I have been trying to kick the habit of watching too much TV.  It eats up that precious time we have together.  As a SAHM,  I have the good fortune of being able to spend so much time with my toddler day in and day out. This has challenged me to try and keep our days fun and entertaining for the both of us, while also allowing him time for independent play at his own pace.  What better way is there to keep both Mommy and toddler alert and energized than by going outside?  Being the avid reader I am, I picked up Rebecca P. Cohen's book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.


This book is a must-have if you are a mom that loves to be outdoors, or aspires to be.  It challenges the reader to spend at least 15 minutes outside with your children each and every day.  It is divided by seasons and contains useful tips, along with structured and unstructured activities to do during those times. 

Ms. Cohen's book has inspired me to begin a challenge, along with my son, for the next 365 days. Beginning April 1, 2012 I pledge TO BE OUTSIDE FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EACH DAY WITH MY TODDLER.

Why should we do this?  Think of the long-term benefits!  If you are outside playing, running, and having fun with your children, you are teaching them to naturally incorporate physical fitness into their everyday lives.  You yourself will be taking the time to enjoy nature and all she has to offer. Children will learn to be inquisitive, creative, and aware of what is around them.

Why is that a challenge?  The challenge is being ready to taste each season and embrace all types of weather.  Trying to find the fun in the raindrops, wind, fog, slush, and sunlight.  Allow your child to appreciate the day as it begins at sunrise, winds down at twilight, and goes to sleep with the stars.

So, why not join us? Throughout this next year, I will chronicle our time spent experiencing the outdoors each day on this blog.  My goal is to incorporate educational activities, everyday routines that can be taken outdoors, special events, and the spontaneous moments that grow from being surrounded by nature.  

Come on! Let's go!
Let's connect with nature and each other! 

You can catch up with all of the fun we've been having outside by visiting our 365 Days Outdoors page filled with activities that you can try this summer with your little ones!

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

While browsing around Pinterest last week, I found an awesome activity from The Chocolate Muffin Tree blog called Bleeding Tissue Easter Eggs.  This egg decorating technique is great for toddlers that are still working on fine motor skills and it cuts out dyes that can make a sticky mess, which you are not a fan of.  Instead, we used bleeding tissue paper to create a colorful design on your hard boiled egg. You had a blast sprinkling all of the little tissue paper squares on the paper towels and eggs.  You also decided that it was a good idea to squeeze the eggs to make sure the paper didn't fall off.  Luckily, none got broken!!  (To try this activity at home, click here for instructions on this fun project!) The next morning, after they were dried and unwrapped, we had fun delivering the eggs to Great-Grandma and all of the ladies at her home! 

Placing the tissue paper on the wet napkin.

Sprinkling the paper on the wet egg.

Making sure they all stick!

All wrapped and drying on the rack.

Just happy that you did a good job and had fun!

The finished products!

Passing them out to Great-Grandma and her friends.

Check out the links below for more fun Easter activities!

DIY Easter Egg Touch and Feel Book

Baked Oatmeal Nests and Eggs

Sushi Easter Baskets

Thank you so much for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, please join us on Facebook. You can explore our boards on Pinterest if you are looking for more ways to foster family connections through play and inspiration!  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pass or Fail Activities

OK, Grady.  I love how easy-going you are and how you tend to just "go-with-the-flow."  Even though most people see that side of you when we are out and about, you also have another side to your personality that shines through at times.  That wonderful side includes doing what you love to do with extreme focus and joy.  When this side comes out during play you either decide to walk away from an activity that doesn't interest you in the least (not humoring Mommy at all) or you become completely enamoured by what you are doing because you enjoy it.  When I say completely, I'm talking serious face, tongue out, playing for hours kind of serious.
I took this all into account today after reading a post about overcoming "Hands On" hurdles on one of my favorite blogs: Hands on: as we grow .  Jamie explains that when you are planning activities you need to really think about what interests your child and how they like to play.  I thought back to an activity we did earlier this week that "failed" in your eyes. I took a cereal container and filled it with Easter grass and soft chicks for you to find.  The whole 3 minutes you played with it, you gave me the yuck look - as if asking me why I was making you touch something so gross as Easter grass?

Then, I considered an Easter sensory tub that we did last week that had "passed."  You loved filling the eggs, scooping, playing with cups, and trying to open the plastic eggs. 

So, today I thought about those stacking cups that you love to play with.  I inverted a couple and filled them with plastic Easter eggs, pom poms, and chicks.  It was totally simple, but you loved it.  You played with them for an hour and a half.  You threw the pom poms, filled the eggs, and played hide-and-seek (another all time favorite) with the eggs and poms together. It was so nice to see you savor life's little pleasures!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"My Daddy Hung the Moon" Storyboard

One book that you have been pulling off the shelf for me to read lately is "My Mommy Hung the Moon" by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.  This book has such vibrant and fun pictures and it talks all about what Mommies do for their children each and every day.  It also has a nice rhythm to it, which always draws you into a story. 

Since Daddy has been away on a business trip for a few days, that got me thinking about everything that he does for you each day.  You've been asking for him several times since he's been gone, so I thought that we could make him something fun for you to do with him when he returns.  Since you love playing with magnets on the fridge, I thought we would do an interchangeable storyboard based on the book, only with the Daddy as the character this time. 

I started out by printing pictures of activities that you and your Daddy do together.  Then, I found some old Christmas cards that I could cut up and use to reinforce the picture.  I attached the pictures with the adhesive squares I normally use for scrapbooking.

After they were backed, I put contact paper over them to help keep sticky fingerprints from smudging the picture.  I found a roll of magnets and cut them into little squares and super glued them to the back, adding a title page to the mix.

Finally it was time to have some fun.  We put the title page on the refrigerator and then you put the pictures up and down and all around.  We made up our own story about what Daddy does to help you and then I asked you to find certain pictures like, "Where is the picture of Daddy giving you a hug?" or "Which picture are you swinging in?"  You had lots of fun with these and I can't wait until Daddy comes home to see them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Baked Oatmeal Nests and Eggs

As a part of a Virtual Book Club that I found on Toddler Approved, we tried to build more activities from their March approved book "The Easter Egg" by Jan Brett. I wanted to try out a cooking activity with you because you love being a chef in your own kitchen everyday.  You really liked the baked oatmeal cups that I found a few weeks back on the Sugar-Free Mom blog, so we adapted the idea to go with our story.  

Mama tries to feed you healthy foods each day since you are such a good eater.  We sometimes joke about where you put it as long as you're filling that tummy, why not fill it with foods that are good for you? These baked oatmeal cups are yummy too, which is a plus! First, you helped me stir and pour in all of the ingredients.  You have had a lot of practice with this since you've been using my mixing bowl and spoon for month and months now!  You were absolutely amazed that you were able to help me "for real" this time!

You figured that the recipe probably called for too much banana, so you decided to eat some when I asked you to mash it.

After everything was mixed, I scooped the batter into muffin cups and a bit into a cupcake tray that is in the shape of ovals.

 We let them cool overnight so that we could decorate the muffins to look like birds' nests and the oval ones like Easter eggs.  We used a few tablespoons of pumpkin mixed with 4 oz. of cream cheese for icing and sprinkled Cornflakes on top to give it a rough look. To top it off, we added a couple of blueberries for the robin's eggs.  We iced the Easter eggs with the same pumpkin mixture and decorated them with Craisins. Sounds good, right?  Exactly.  You thought it sounded (and looked) too good.  You ate all of the toppings and a bit of the icing.  Mama had to get more out so that we could at least get a few decorated for our breakfast.  While working fast and trying to convince you to put the food on the oatmeal cups instead of your mouth, we did get a few finished!


and decorating!

I see that you tested the icing before you started to spread it!

The few that we were able to make without them ending up in your tummy!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easter Egg Touch and Feel Book

Here's a little project that you helped Mama with this weekend.  You love looking through any type of book, so I thought you would enjoy making your own Touch and Feel book for the holidays.  I found these Easter egg cutouts and we glued on different things lying around the house to make different textures on each page.  You helped me do the glitter, sticker, and paint pages while I did the foil, fabric, yarn, and fur pages. We also sprayed the glitter page with clear paint to prevent you being covered in glitter each time you played with the book. Finally, we punched a hole in each page and then bound them together with yarn!  


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Friday, March 23, 2012

Mother Nature's Son

"Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and a world where learning is fun.  And the best place for these experiences is outdoors, in the natural world." ~Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children's Learning.

Find me in a field of grass - Mother Nature's Son
Swaying daisies sing a lazy song beneath the sun.
Mother Nature's Son ~ (Lennon/McCartney)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Father and Son Easter Fun - with Paint!

Easter is quickly approaching.  Our first ever as a small family of three.  I love beginning celebrations a little early, so I put together an activity that you could do with your dad this evening.  Earlier this morning we read the story "The Easter Egg" by Jan Brett and you loved looking at all of the colors and animals in the book.  Since you will be collecting Easter eggs soon, I thought you could decorate your own basket with the help of your father.  (You are also obsessed with putting anything with a handle on your arm and telling me bye-bye, so this works out nicely for future uses.)  

We found spring colored Tempera paints and squeezed them on a sponge that we cut so you and Dad could dip your thumbs on them.  Then, you put "Easter egg" thumbprints all over the basket that had your name written on it with a marker.  Of course you wanted to use the paints all by yourself, but you humored your dad and let him help.  When you were finished you had so much fun putting stickers on the basket...and then taking them off again.  You both ended up sticking the leftovers on each others hands and faces until you were giggling.  I think the Easter Bunny will love the basket that you made for collecting eggs!

Father and son thumbprints side by side!

Finished product!

Fun with the stickers!


For more Easter fun, pop over to these links:

Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

DIY Easter Egg Touch and Feel Book

Baked Oatmeal Nests and Eggs

Sushi Easter Baskets

Thank you so much for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, please join us on Facebook. You can even explore our boards on Pinterest if you are looking for more ways to foster family connections through play and inspiration.
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