This not so crafty momma has also been a slightly sick momma over the past few days, so what we have to share today is so simple it’s ridiculous. It did however keep the toddler active and occupied, so it was a win!
Paint (We used three colors, but how many different colors you use is totally up to you)
Paint Brush (Optional. If your little one is too little to hold a paint brush, just let them finger paint. Our toddler did a little bit of both)
This fish is perfect for little ones six months to five years old. We started by letting our toddler paint the plate.
After that, we let it dry for awhile. If your little one has as much fun with paint as ours does, it will probably take several hours. Once it was dry, we cut out a triangle shape and glued it on the plate for a tail.
After that, we flipped it over and put on a googly eye. This fish was a lot of fun without a lot of effort!
With August coming quick, we are working our way down our list of places we would like to go that are only open seasonally. Yesterday, we invited some friends to join us for a trip to Pymatuning Deer Park. Petting zoos, wild animal parks, and zoos are not just great fun, they are also a chance to sneak in some learning! Below you will find three ways that you can use places like this to encourage learning fun, but first, a quick review of Pymatuning Deer Park.
**We are not being paid for this review nor were we asked to give it. We simply enjoy giving reviews from time to time of places our family visits**
Pymatuning Deer Park is small, but does have a lot to do! There are a wide variety of animals! The park has come a long way since the early 90’s with the size and condition of their animal enclosures. The money they’ve put into it really shows. The price is $10 for adults and $8 for children. There are also several extras, such as a train, horse riding, and a bird barn. While we didn’t find it costly for our small family, trips with large families may get just a little expensive. We thought it was an overall good value for admission but decided not to do the extras because the kids were having so much fun just enjoying the park. The park is handicap accessible, but there are a lot of hills, so pushing a manual chair could be a little bit of a workout. Both children that we had with us, and the adults, had a great time. Seeing the joy on their little faces when we walked into the park was well worth the trip.
With all this fun, it might feel hard to add it some learning, but it definitely is not! Here are some ways that you can easily making places like this a learning experience as well.
Pre or Post Visit Activities
One of our favorite ways to build up to or wind down from a visit to a fun place is with themed crafts or activities. Some of our favorite we have done recently that relate to animals are the Paper Flamingo, the Paper Giraffe, and the Crab Craft. We also found some awesome crafts and activities from other great websites! Check out this Toile Paper Roll Goat from Farm Wife Crafts or this Llama Craft from I Heart Craft Things.
Encourage New Language Skills
It doesn’t matter if you have a toddler or a child who is reading, they are likely to encounter new words at an animal park or zoo. If you have a toddler, say the name of each animal out load and encourage them to repeat it. Our daughter can currently say goat and dog. We work on slowly saying the names as we visit animals. If you have a reader or pre-reader, encourage them to read the signs next to the enclosures. Some of the animals names are even hard for most adults, but others will be easy and fun.
Your children are probably the ones normally asking questions, but now its your turn! Depending on the age of your child it can be a simple question like “what does the pig say?” or if you have an older child you can ask “where do you think this animal lives in the wild?”. You can also work on descriptive words by working together to describe animals you got to pet.
We hope our suggestions are helpful for future fun trips to an animal park or zoo. Please feel free to leave some fun learning tips of your own below!
Yesterday, we continued on with our animal fun and made this cute little flamingo. This craft is super easy, fairly mess free, and doesn’t take long.
Pink Construction Paper
Blue Construction Paper
Black Construction Paper
Marker or Crayon
The prep work for this is super easy. Out of the pink paper we cut out a long rectangle for the leg, a curvy neck/head, a circle for the body, an a rounded triangle for the wing. We went ahead and added a dot on the head for an eye, but if your child is older, they can do that themselves. A googly eye could also be fun! We used the black paper to cut out a little triangle to use as the flamingo’s beak.
Once everything was cut out, we sat our little one down to assemble her flamingo. The older your child is, the more you can just let them create. We only handed her one piece at a time.
Here is the finished flamingo. Our little one loved making it.
Our little one is a huge animal lover and this little paper giraffe was a hit with her. It is fairly simple and did not take a lot of time. It also helped work on small motor skills.
Yellow Construction Paper
A Crayon or Marker
We started by tracing the little ones hand. We attempted to tuck in her thumb so that wouldn’t be part of the giraffe. The two outside fingers were the ears and the two middle fingers were the horns. I will have to admit, I totally had to google what those were, because the first term that came to mind was “antennas”, but they are actually furry horns called ossicones . After we finished tracing, we gave the toddler a paint brush and let her give her giraffe brown spots. This was her first ever time holding a paint brush. The ability to grasp things in the toddler stage is so important, so even though you might have a little bit of a mess to clean up, break out those paint brushes!
After the spots were added, we let the giraffe dry. It took about three hours before it was dry enough to cut. When we cut it, we made the outer two fingers slightly pointy because those are the ears. If you are working with a preschool or middle school aged child that can safely use scissors, let them do the cutting work for more fine motor skill practice. Lastly, we added googly eyes and a smile!
We work to plan activities around our toddlers interests, and currently she likes dinosaurs. She loves dinosaurs on tv, at the natural history muesum, and in books. This open ended shape dinosaur will let your little one express their creativity and create their very own dinosaur!
Construction Paper (We just used two pieces, but you could use more if you wanted to)
Googly Eyes (Optional)
We started by cutting out shapes. If your little one is over 4, try letting them cut out the shapes! It is great fine motor skill practice. Our little one is too small to use scissors, so we did it for her.
Next, just let your little one build the dinosaur. Younger little ones may need some guidance, but older children can take the lead. We took some time to talk about each shape as we handed her them to glue down.
The last part we did is completely optional. We gave our little dino a face by adding googly eyes and drawing on a smile.
Our favorite types of activities in our house are ones that dont require a lot of guidance from us. We love watching our little toddler explore her own creativity. Little ones will have a blast creating their own little flowers.
We started by cutting out varies flower parts. The older your child is, the more selection they will enjoy having. The little one in our house is small, so we offered her only a small amount of choices.
Our favorite thing about open ended activities is that they are so relaxed and easy. We guided my little one to put the stems on first, then the circles for the middle of the flowers, then the peddles. Older children can be left to put the flowers together on their own.
We recently took a trip to Erie, Pennsylvania without Mr. Not so Crafty. We try to do a trip with the toddler, Grammy, and myself at least once a year. There are many must do’s for our family while in Erie, but here are three of our absolute favorites.
The opinions in the post are my own. I am not being compensated in any way. I am simply providing links so that you can check out each place for yourself!
This unique state park has a little bit of everything. There are several beaches to swim at, trails to walk on, and a lot of history. The traffic is a little heavy leaving at night, but it is totally worth staying to watch the sun set.
The Erie Zoo is a great place to visit with small children. It is small, but we like to visit it each summer. There is a very nice train ride and a merry-go-round. They also have a natural play area that our toddler had an amazing time in.
Waldameer is a water and amusement park that was such a huge part of my childhood. We always spent the morning in the water park and the afternoon and evening in the amusement park part. If you do not ride, you do not have to pay for the amusement park, so its a great place to just walk around and enjoy. They have a nice selection of rides and are constantly adding things.
If you’ve been to Erie, let us know what your favorite spots for family fun are!
Kids can get a bit crabby (pun intended) when it’s time to take a break from outside summer fun, but this little crab is sure to be a hit while cooling down inside.
Red construction Paper
The prep work on this little crab is supper easy. Start by cutting out the middle circle from the paper plate. Next, cut out six “legs” and two “claws”. If your child is preschool age or older, you can just draw the shapes and they can cut them out their selves.
Let your little one glue on the legs and the claws to one side of the paper plate circle. After that is done, let it dry for at least 20 minutes. It will still be wet at that point, but if you do not want to wait for it to dry completely, it will be fine. We had plans today, so we wanted to do something that could be done before we left. Once you are ready to come back to the crab, flip it over and let your child paint it! When the paint is dry, help your little one add googly eyes.
It has been pretty warm here in Ohio, so it felt like the perfect time to do this tropical pineapple craft. This craft does need to dry in between steps, so it takes a little longer than the average art project we do, but it is still very simple.
White Paper cut into a pineapple like shape
We started off by painting the pineapple yellow. If you have an older child, they can also cut out their own pineapple. Our toddler just used her fingers to paint.
We let the pineapple dry for about 3 hours, then sat back down to finish it. We used the green paper and traced the little ones hands with a pen. Then we cut those out. After that, we helped the little one glue the handprints to the back. That is all there is to this adorable little pineapple.
It has been a long last 10 days in our house. Just when we thought our tiny human was springing back from an illness, there was a second round that put her into the hospital for two nights. She is now really on her way to recovery, but we thought we’d share a few items that we highly recommend be in your bag if you find yourself living out of a pediatric hospital room for a few days!
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Even though you are likely so focused on your child that you could probably skip eating, it comes in handy to have things in the room. We had an amazing support system of family members willing to bring us in things and sit with the little one while we ran to get some food, but the snacks in my bag came in handy.
Extra comfortable clothes
If you are going to sleep on a hospital chair or couch, you’ll definitely want to be comfortable doing so. I brought a pair of fuzzy pants, a clean outfit, and a weeks worth of undies!
Your own Blanket
Sometimes smaller hospital units do not have a huge linen supply and lets face it, hospital blankets are not thick enough to be comfy in cold rooms. Our fevered child didn’t mind the cold at all, but momma was shivering! The wonderful volunteers brought our toddler a beautiful hand made blanket, but bringing your own for you will allow for just a little more comfort.
When doing our first round of packing, pretty much all the essentials were forgotten. Thankfully my mom brought a huge bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash and deodorant. The room had a shower in it and just a quick five minutes of self care felt great.
If your child has been in the hospital, what else do you suggest packing?