Tag Archives: toddler activity

{The Friday Yum} The Outlaw Mom (TM)’s Easy Frozen Berry Summer Smoothie

2 Sep

It still feels like summer around here, so we’re still outside concocting refreshing ways to beat the heat.

Unlike the White Wine Summer Fruit Sangria, this cool down beverage is toddler-friendly.  Jane had fun mixing, stirring and pouring our drinks!

The best thing about this no-fail, never-forget recipe?  It’s as easy as one.  One cup of each ingredient.  One step.  One perfect Frozen Berry Summer Smoothie every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nonfat French Vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup frozen berry medley (try Trader Joe’s Fancy Berry Medley)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (try Trader Joe’s Pineapple Tidbits
  • apple juice to taste (optional –  use only if you need extra sweetness)

Step 1

Pour all the ingredients into your blender and crush, mix and stir until the smoothie reaches your desired level of smooth.  (I like mine chunky, so stop a little sooner than traditional smoothie texture).

That’s it.

Now, enjoy!

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{Toddler Thursday} Summer Spray Painting

1 Sep

It’s the first of September and summer is almost officially over, but there’s still time for outdoor fun and making summer memories even though it’s back to school!

Materials

  • spray bottle
  • paint
  • paper
  • water (optional)

Step 1

Fill your spray bottle with paint.  (We picked ours up for $1 at Target).  Dilute the paint with water if desired.

Step 2

Get ready to get messy and spray away!

For more fun, spray with different colors and watch the colors mix together.  Try to see how many color combinations you can make with three spray bottles filled with the primary colors.  You can also tape down images and shapes and lift the tape when you’re finished for a splatter paint effect.

LEARN!  Colors, fine motor skills, planning, creativity

{Toddler Thursday} Bubble Wrap Fun

25 Aug

As Jane and Sam found out after Hubby brought home a custom handmade double guitar stand swaddled in miles of protective plastic, it’s fun to snap bubble wrap!

I know plastic is bad.  It kills our planet and can kill our babies.  But this swath of giant bubble wrap was headed straight for the recycling bin after only a few hours of protecting the guitar stand we had made as a wedding gift for our dear friends M and E, so we had to rescue it and get some enjoyment out of it!

And enjoy it we did.  Snap!  Pop!  Crack!

We snapped it between our fingers.

Popped it under our palms.

Stomped on it underfoot.

Then, we rolled it out as a runway and ran up and down our bubble carpet creating enough explosive noise to put the Fourth of July fireworks to shame.

We also tried rolling down the bubble runway and crawled down it on all fours.  Finally, we taped it to the wall and body slammed into it.

This was a great material manipulation activity and the perfect pre-bedtime activity:  both kids were fast asleep within five seconds after their little heads hit their pillows.

Need another great bubble wrap idea?  Try bubble wrap painting as beautifully done over at Red Ted Art’s Blog!

LEARN!  Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, cause and effect, sensory exploration

{Toddler Thursday} Fun With Pasta! Pasta Necklaces

18 Aug

Fun With Pasta! is our latest installment of the Fun With Food! series.

What do you get when you mix pasta + paint + a toddler?  Painted pasta necklaces and a whole lotta messy fun along the way!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your pasta jewelry (think bracelets, headbands and crowns, too):

Materials

  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • tube pasta (try penne)
  • ribbon, string or yarn
  • work surface saver (e.g., newspaper, cardboard, paper grocery bags)

Step 1

Paint your pasta.  I tried using a flattened cardboard box from the recycling bin as our paint palette, but Jane decided it would be her canvas instead.  She wasn’t ready to paint the penne right away.

Then she decided making handprints would be more fun than painting the pasta.

Eventually, she came around the idea of painting the penne.

Step 2

String each painted and dried piece of pasta together.  We used curly ribbon we had lying around the house, but you can use any type of ribbon, string or yarn handy.  Just tie several knots on top of each other to form a ball larger than the opening of the pasta; thread the pasta; and knot the two ends of the necklaces together.

Step 3

Don your fabulous creations!

LEARN! Colors, fine motor skills, manual dexterity, concentration

If you liked this post, check out other posts in the Fun With Food! series, like Fun With Beans and Fun With Gumdrops.

Construction Paper Dress and Windsock

11 Aug

As y’all know, I love making crafts or projects using the bazillion brown paper grocery bags we have stockpiled in our kitchen drawer from over the years (like this One Minute Paper Bag Monster) or other recyclables lying around our house that would otherwise turn to waste (like this Repurposed Easter Grass Garden, these Rock Candy Maracas or our paper roll projects like these telescopes, binoculars and finger puppets).

This time around we made a paper dress using the top of a brown paper grocery bag and strips of construction paper:

When the fun of the dress wore off, we hung it in our backyard as a colorful, fluttery windsock:

Materials

  • brown paper grocery bag
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • tape

Step 1

Cut off the top third of the grocery bag, which will form the top or “bust” portion of the dress.

Step 2

Snip lengthwise strips of the construction paper in whatever colors suit your fancy.  Tape the strips hanging vertically from the bust.

Step 3

Cut an additional strip as a border for the top of dress and tape it down horizontally.

Do the same for the remaining three sides of the bag.

Step 5

Embellish with cutout shapes or glue on gems and glitter.  Now twirl!

LEARN!  Colors, scissor cutting, pretend play.

Themed Sticker Books

4 Aug

In the middle of Week One of my adventures as a working mom staying at home, I stood in the middle of our kitchen/family room scanning the busy counter spaces and heaving bookshelves, waiting for inspiration to pop out at me.  Luckily, it did.

“Let’s make a book!” I exclaimed to Jane, who was supposed to be sleeping but had decided to give up napping for my first week home.  She was keen and our project was on.

Here’s how you can make your own sticker book:

Materials

  • hole punch
  • cardstock
  • ribbon
  • stickers
  • markers or crayons

Step 1

Fold three sheets of cardstock in half cross-wise.

Step 2

Punch one hole in the fold at the top and the bottom of the crease line that forms the book’s “spine.”

Step 3

String the ribbon through the holes and tie a knot on the outer spine side.  You could staple the book together, but since Sam is still in the eat-everything-in-sight stage, I wanted to avoid retrieving swallowed staples from his stomach.

Step 4

Let your toddler decorate the pages of her new book and don’t forget to give your book a title on the front cover!

We chose puffy bug stickers and Jane enjoyed sticking and re-sticking the insects to different pages.  She decided this would be a “Bug Book” for Uncle B.

At this age (2.5), the fact that Jane made a book and the joy of peeling and placing the stickers was enough for her to feel satisfied with the activity.

For an older child, you might want to write the names of the various insects (or whatever theme you have chosen) underneath each sticker.  For an insect-themed book like ours, you could add fun facts about each bug and talk about what the bugs eat, where they live, and even go outside to look for one in your backyard!

LEARN!  Fine motor skills, concentration, manual dexterity, topical facts

Potato Stamping

15 Jul

This toddler activity is an old favorite from my own childhood.  Nothing like some good ol’ fashioned potato stamping fun, or “playing Juicy,” as Jane calls it.

It’s so simple, you have no excuse not to try this.  Unless, of course, you’re planning to serve the potatoes for dinner.

Step 1

Cut a potato in half and carve out a shape for your stamp.

Step 2

Mix food coloring and water to make stamping ink.

Step 3

Stamp away!

Not part of the potato stamping process, but part of Jane’s fun:  drawing on the paper with crayons dipped in the ink!

LEARN!  Shapes, colors, fine motor skills, manual dexterity.

Salt Dough Hand Prints

28 Jun

Inspired by these salt dough footprint keepsakes from The Imagination Tree, we made these salt dough handprints as one of Hubby’s Father’s Day presents:

We followed The Imagination Tree’s tutorial, so I won’t re-post it here, but will just say that it is oh-so-fun for the kids to mix and knead the dough and make the prints.

You can paint yours, but Jane and Sam were so delighted with the unpainted versions, that we still haven’t gotten around to it!

Read here for how we packaged them and to see the Truffle Brownie S’More Pops we made for Hubby on Father’s Day.

Butterflies and Binoculars {More Paper Roll Ideas}

17 Jun

I guess we’ve been on a “roll” lately.

Last week was telescopes, this week it’s butterfly finger puppets (and room decor) and binoculars.

Butterfly Finger Puppets

Materials

  • toilet paper roll tubes (or paper towel roll tubes cut in half)
  • construction paper or coffee filters (the cone type)
  • pipe cleaners
  • crayons (or markers, paint or stickers)
  • double-sided tape (or glue)
  • scissors

Step 1

Cut a piece of construction paper to fit around the paper roll tube and tape or glue the paper to the roll.

Step 2

Cut along the two seams of the coffee filter and spread it out on your work surface to create butterfly “wings,” or cut out construction paper wings.

Step 3

Decorate the “wings” with crayons, markers, stickers or paint.  Then, lay the butterfly’s “body” in the middle of the wings and tape or glue down.

Step 4

Add butterfly “antennae” by folding a pipe cleaner in half and curling the ends.  You can tape or glue the antennae down if necessary.

Now, put them over your fingers and flap away!

Even Hubby enjoyed playing with the butterfly puppets!

*Tip #1:  if you have a small toddler, place all her fingers into the tube and it will be easier for her to manipulate.

*Tip #2:  When your toddler tires of her puppets, you can always use them as a fun new room decoration!

We taped ours to Jane’s bedroom mirror to go along with the butterfly theme:

Binoculars

Step 1

Use tape to stick two paper roll tubes together.

Step 2

Decorate!

Tell me that wasn’t the easiest toddler activity ever!

LEARN!  Fine motor skills, coordination, imaginative play

Pirate Themed Birthday Party

12 Jun

Ahoy there, Mateys!

You’ve read about my inspiration for Sam’s pirate themed first birthday party and how to make your own pirate party invitation – now here’s how our party turned out and some ideas for your buccaneer bash.

The Pirate Ship

From the second I came up with the idea for the pirate theme, I became obsessed with building a life-sized pirate ship for our partygoers to play in.

If you’ve been following on Facebook, you know that I even resorted to the extreme of dumpster diving in the parking lot of Michael’s for cardboard boxes.

After harassing every shipping department from Sears to Safeway for refrigerator or washer/dryer sized boxes, I ended up purchasing 5 grand wardrobe boxes from U-Haul.  The plans I downloaded from Mr. McGroovy called for 7 boxes, but it was hassle enough for me to maneuver the five I had, so I figured we could make do and be creative about it.

The $23 I spent on the plans and Mr. McGroovy’s rivet project kit were so worth it.  The plans were easy to follow and the rivets made building and taking down the ship – literally – a snap.  The great thing about the rivets is that you can re-use and rebuild your project over and over again.

We cut the cardboard pieces for the ship walls at home two days before the party and decorated the cardboard cutouts the evening before and the morning of the party when Hubby and Uncle B set up the ship at the park.

Jane had a blast painting and setting up the ship:

Hubby and Uncle B (dressed as a pirate) finished building the ship just as the guests began to arrive:

We spray painted the outer hull of the ship with black chalkboard paint with the idea that the kids could draw on the ship as a party activity.  For the inside, we kept it bright and cheery in playful preschool colors.  We also added some chalkboard contact paper to a few inside walls for the children to draw on.

The finished ship:

The net and bamboo pole masts with pirate flags – Grandma’s ideas – were the finishing touches.  I couldn’t find any starfish or other sea creatures to attach to the net, so we ended up using those toy animals that soak in water for 72 hours and grow 6 times their original size.  Of course, after Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides was released, pirate party paraphernalia showed up everywhere!

The Treasure Chest Cake

What I really wanted to do was this amazing cake by The Willow Blog.  But since we designed, created and decorated the cake the night before the party, we changed the concept to an old sea-weathered treasure chest.  I say “we,” because this cake was truly a family effort with Grandma, Granny, Hubby, and Uncle B all involved into the wee hours of the evening.

Here’s how we did it:

Construction

After stacking two rectangles of sheet cake, I did a crumb coat using my favorite buttercream frosting.  Then Grandma fashioned the top lid of the chest with a curved piece of cardboard and not-to-be-overlooked outstanding architectural and design direction from Hubby and Uncle B.  We covered the lid with aluminum foil and placed a few squares of leftover sheet cake under the lid at the back of the rectangular base to prop it up.  Another layer of buttercream frosting over the lid and back of the cake sealed the lid to the base.

Decoration

Using Wilton gel icing color in brown, I mixed a dark brown frosting to cover the entire base of the cake.  To cover the lid, I pressed on dark brown fondant, and then placed light brown fondant around the base for a decorative trim that would help outline the shape of the treasure chest.  Silver, gold and white Wilton shimmer dust added a pearlized, dusty effect proper for a glistening treasure chest washed ashore.

The fun part came next:  I rolled several small fondant balls of varying sizes to make pearls and then covered them with pink Wilton pearl dust and the white Wilton shimmer dust.  If you’re wondering about the difference between pearl and shimmer dust, the pearl dust is much sparklier – so of course I preferred it!  I placed the glistening pearls in strands along the two sides of the chest so they would appear to be spilling out.  Note:  the homemade marshmallow fondant from The Frosted Cake and Cookie that I was so excited to work with didn’t work out so I opted for pre-made fondant.  (I might try it again because of the rave reviews, including praise from SugarBelle, and because it was the most fun to mold and shape).

Finally, I stuffed the cake with as many chocolate gold coins (correctly pointed out to me as “doubloons” by Jane) as I could fit to achieve a stuffed, overflowing look.

We carried the cake to the park the next morning on a homemade cake board (cardboard covered with aluminum foil) and decorated it during the party.  To create the beach, I poured light brown sugar around the sides of the cake and added some blue frosting for a bit of “ocean.”  Then I added a sea of gold coins in the remaining space in front of the bit of ocean and on the sand.

We ended up never cutting the cake at the party!  (See The Birthday Boy below).  But the kids were treated to cupcakes decorated with buttercream frosting, M&Ms and cute pirate cupcake toppers from Meri Meri.

The Fare

We offered a pared down version of the menu for Jane’s Special Agent Oso themed birthday party:  bagels, cream cheese coffee and juice.  We also offered personal organic watermelons, carved out with a melon baller and re-filled with watermelon balls, strawberries and grapes.

Inspired by all the beautiful dessert tables showcased around the blogosphere lately, we topped the tables with glass containers filled with rainbow Goldfish crackers, black and red M&Ms, Swedish Fish and  RedVines to go along with the black and red pirate theme.

{What I wouldn’t give for a beautiful “blog worthy” shot of a lineup of our yummy containers!}

These Swedish Fish in blue jello technically were edible, but we just used them as decoration.

We followed Chica and Jo’s advice on mixing the blue Jello with clear gelatin, which worked, but the “water” was still a bit dark.  If you’re going to make these, be aware that the Swedish Fish will blow up into Swedish whales if you make them too far in advance!

The Favors

Jane helped make these jewel encrusted treasure chests out of styrofoam boxes we picked up for pennies at a nearby pharmacy’s going out of business sale:

We simply painted the chests and then glued on jewels.  A word of advice:  don’t use Gorilla Glue!  I had it on hand and was too lazy to search for our other kid safe glue and it foams and poofs up, which makes for a tight, but funny looking, bond.

We had planned to put foam pirate swords (similar to this), bubble wands and pirate teddy bears in the decorated chests for our toddler guests to find on a treasure hunt, but you know toddlers . . . the second they saw the treasure there was no keeping them away!  It was much better this way, though – the kids enjoyed sword fights and blowing bubbles from the get go.

Jane also made these great homemade telescopes that we passed out as another pirate prop to play with.

We planned to give out these little pirate booty bags with sticker, chocolate coin and temporary tattoo loot that Granny put together, but never got around to it:

The Birthday Boy

Did Sam enjoy his party, you ask?  So much so that he snoozed under the trees.

Since he was sleeping during the party, we took the uncut treasure chest cake home and saved it for a celebration at home later the next evening.

Hope your pirate party turns out to be a swashbuckling success!

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