As we enter August, we will soon be welcoming cooler weather in Ohio. The end of August and the beginning of September are our favorite times to enjoy a campfire in our yard. Our toddler has not yet got to enjoy a campfire, but this should be her summer to get to do so. We thought this cute little campfire craft would be perfect for this time of year.
Brown construction paper
Paint brushes (Optional, if your little one can not hold a paint brush, just let them dive in with their hands)
Start by cutting the brown construction paper into little strips. If your child is over 3, try letting them do it themselves!
Next, let your little one glue the pieces of paper onto the white paper. We used liquid glue and put it all towards the bottom of the paper so it would form a pile, but the older your child is, the less guidance they will need.
After your “sticks” are glued down, its time to paint the “fire”. We did one color at a time with the paint brush but you can figure out what will work best for the child you are working with.
The end result was super cute and took under 20 minutes to complete from start to finish!
Last night before bed, we read Billy Bloo is Stuck in Goo by Jennifer Hamburg and Ross Burach. The cover caught our toddlers eye at the library and it did not disappoint.
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There is just something about sticky and yucky things that young children love. Our toddler is no exception. She is a giant walking mess. In this adorable picture book, Billy Bloo has become stuck in a giant pile of green goo. Our toddler is too young to play with slime, but if you have a slime lover in your home, this book is sure to make them giggle. The book does not describe how little Billy Boo got into this situation, but it does follow his journey as various people come to help. Unfortunately, the good Samaritans also get stuck! In the end, Billy Bloo is the only one who is not in the goo. This interactive book has really cute rhymes and the illustrations are really fun. We highly recommend picking up a copy!
This flamingo craft is a vibrant, fun art project for little animal lovers. Our toddler has really enjoyed going back to look at it hanging on the fridge. It is super easy to make and doesn’t require too many materials! It does make a bit of a mess, so if you are looking for a less messy alternative, try our Paper Flamingo.
Paint Brush (Optional. Let your little ones use whatever is comfortable for them
Orange Construction Paper
Black Construction Paper
We started by helping our little one paint the paper plate pink. We are working on getting her to hold a paint brush as fine motor skill practice, but at 19 months, she still prefers using her hands.
Next, we let the plate dry. We started right after breakfast and picked it up after dinner. We cut the plate in the middle and then followed the ridge of the plate to make a flamingo like neck. After that, we cut just a little off of the neck portion. In our house, this was an adult step, but if your child is elementary school age, you could draw lines for the to follow and cut.
After that, we had the little one “fold” two strips of orange paper for the legs. If you’ve ever done paper folding with a toddler, then you know that she just crumbled them into a ball and attempted to eat them. That is perfectly okay. It just gives it so much more character.
Once the orange paper was “folded”, we helped our little one assemble the flamingo. We put on the legs and cut out the black paper into the shape of a beak. We finished it with some googly eyes.
Pretend play is currently everything in our house. Our daughter will stand at her little kitchen and cook up a meal, or sometimes the occasional pony or dinosaur, then giggle as we sit down and pretend to eat it together. She has also recently discovered the joys of tea parties. I have some suggestions of great toys that will bring joy to your little one and let their imagination run wild.
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Farmers Market Color Sorting Toy $19.98
This 132 piece set is recommended for ages three and up and would be a great addition to any home or preschool setting. Children can practice a variety of skills or just take a fun pretend trip to the market.
Pretend and Play Bakery Set $21.49
This 31 piece set is recommended for ages three and up and will bring baking fun right into your playroom. Besides being fun, this set can also help with fine motor skills and with developing language skills.
Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen Set $189.99
This beautiful play kitchen is perfect from kids between three and eight years. This realistic kitchen even has a washing machine!
Farmers Market Pretend Play Cutting Board Playset $11.95
This 32 piece set allows your little ones to practice cutting on their veggies. It is recommended for little ones ages three and up. Not only will they enjoy “preparing” the food to cook, but this set will also encourage fine motor skills.
Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set $21.45
This fun 24 piece set from Melissa & Doug will capture your little animal lovers imagination. This one would also make an affordable addition to an early childhood classroom’s dramatic play area. It is recommended for little ones three and up.
We would love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to encourage little one’s imagination. What are some toys the little ones in your home or classroom love?
Since our toddler loves fish, we decided this open ended shape fish would be the perfect mix of fun and learning. A few days ago, we did this Simple Painted Fish and today, we decided to try out a less messy fish activity.
Googly eyes (Optional, but totally fun)
We started by cutting out a variety of shapes. If your child is preschool or elementary age, try letting them cut out the shapes.
After the shapes were cut, we let our little one get to work on building her fish. As she picked out a shape to glue on, we would say “You have an orange circle”, or “You have a pink triangle”. If your child is preschool age, you can ask them what color and shape they have instead. For elementary age children, try asking them to describe their fish after it is built.
Once our toddler had added all the shapes she wanted to her fish, we finished it up with a googly eye. This last step is completely optional, but we always keep a big bag of googly eyes around the house because they just make every project a bit more fun!
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.