Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Climbing the Big Boy Ladder

You hear a lot of talk about giving children freedom: freedom to play, freedom to move, freedom to trust their own bodies. This doesn't mean lazy or detached parenting. It means taking the time to play with your child, explore with your child and eventually letting go so your child can do these things with out you.

Last weekend we went to the park. My son wanted to climb a large climbing structure that led to a big swirly slide. I want to say the structure was about 6 ft high. My son is 20 months old. A boy who looked to be about a year older than my son climbed about halfway up the structure when his mother came hurrying up saying, "Oh no honey! That's for big boys."

Bug had his heart set on climbing it, and I have spent enough time with him in play that I knew he could do it. I trusted him, and he was about to learn to trust himself.

He got stuck at this point for a while, trying to figure out what to do next.
Sometimes, taking a step back is hard. Notice the hand wringing and pursed lips!
And he did it! That's my boy!

I linked this post with...

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fun with the Overhead Projector

A few days ago I put out another request on Facebook. I was in the market for an overhead projector, but I didn't want to spend a bunch of money. I though maybe some one I knew might have one in storage and would be willing to part with it. Well, not long after I posted my request, I received a reply from a friend who said she had one I could borrow for a couple of months. I was thrilled and made immediate plans to meet her and pick it up.

Here are some photos of the fun we have been having.

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to my friend Susie! This is such a wonderful addition to our learning space. We are going to be very busy over the next couple of months finding new ways to explore with light!

I linked this post with...

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Play Friday! We're back baby!

So let me start off by saying that I am very sorry for the two week interruption! It won't happen again, I promise. So, what have we been doing the last couple of weeks? Well, the weather has been beautiful, so we have been heading outside to enjoy it as much as we can.

Bug-a-boo and Daddy playing in the trees!

Raising the Cameron Clan was busy playing with Styrofoam and golf tees. What a fun idea!

Rainy Day Mum had a happy little music maker in the house. She looks like she is having a blast!

Growing a Jeweled Rose was busy exploring colors with pipe cleaners! I bet those were fun to chew on! I'm sure they felt great on those gums.

And finally, Three Bears Get Crafty got down and dirty with a holiday themed spaghetti and meatball dinner.

Did you and your baby or toddler have a fun time that you would like to share? Do you have a post with tips or advice concerning babies and toddlers? If it has to do with babies and toddlers then we want to hear about it! Please link up below, and check out the links of fellow bloggers who have linked. They always have such great ideas to share. You are sure to be inspired!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Tub

Can I just take a moment to tell you how excited I am about this sensory tub? Because I am so excited about this sensory tub! I am forcing myself to wait until March to give it to the girls to play with, but it's killing me!

Last year's St. Patrick's Day sensory tub was one of my first sensory tubs that I made for Birdy. I chose to go green and gold. I used dried split peas as a base, and filled in with green and gold Mardi Gras beads, green buttons, gold pipe cleaner stars, and a few St. Patrick's day souvenirs left over from the St. Patrick's Day parade in New Orleans.

This year, I decided to go with rainbows! I used bird seed that I dyed in rainbow colors as the base. I borrowed the metallic gold stars and green souvenirs from last year's tub, and to them, I added a few other things. The rocks you see are actually magnetic. They stick beautifully to the gold "coins" which are actually canning lids. They also stick to the metallic gold pipe cleaner stars! 

To dye the bird seed, I took six zip lock baggies and filled them each with two cups of bird seed. I then squirted the entire contents of red, yellow, blue and green food coloring bottles into the bags. For the orange bag, I used 2/3 bottle of yellow and 1/3 bottle of red. For the purple I used 2/3 bottle of red and 1/3 bottle of blue. I then added about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to each bag. You might be able to skip this step. I've seen tutorials that don't call for it; I've just always done it that way. Once all the ingredients were in each bag, I sealed them and began to squish all the color around. Whey they looked well coated, I poured them onto paper plates to let them dry.

Isn't it pretty? I just keep staring at it. I can't help it; I just love looking at all the colors. I can't wait to see the kids play with this one. I had so much fun setting it up, I know hope they will have a blast with it.

What are you up to this St. Patrick's Day? Leave a link in the comment section. I'd love to check out other ideas!

Pi Day or I'm a big nerd

Here at Casa de Sense of Wonder, we find reasons to celebrate. Whether it is random holidays or made up holidays, we find that taking time to make an occasion of things allows us to slow down and enjoy friends and family and company.

An example of this is Pi Day. Every March 14th (3.14) we set aside a whole day to be...well...irrational. We make pi charts and pi graphs, and lots and lots of pie. Here are some photos of Pi Days past...

 My favorite pi plate!

 My favorite pie (cherry)

One of my very favorite people, making a silly face, and holding her own handmade cheese and basil pizza pie.

Here are some of our favorite pies for Pi Day...

Savory pies
Pizza pie (with fresh herbs from the garden)
Homemade chicken pot pie
Individual meat pies made in muffin tins
Tomato and zucchini tart

Dessert pies
Apple pies
Cherry pies
Chocolate pudding pies
Pecan pies
Lemon icebox pies

Some ideas for celebrating Pi Day with your family...

Have a Pi Day scavenger hunt
Take the first few digits of pi (3.14159265) and print them on index cards. Hide them around the room and see if your children can find them all. Once you have them, try to put them all together in order.

Play with the numbers

There are lots of sites that have the first million or so digits of pi. Print them out and make a paper chain


The circumference of a circle is slightly more than three times as long as its diameter. The exact ratio is called pi. Use a hula hoop and a piece of string to show your kids how this works.

Use circular shaped cookie cutters to make circles out of play dough!

Eat Pie!

Find your favorite pie recipes or just go get some frozen pies and start celebrating!

I hope you all have a fun (and filling) Pi Day! Let me know if you plan on participating!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Alphabet Matching

Birdy has been VERY into reading and writing lately. However, she was having trouble with her lowercase letters, so I threw together this little big matching activity for her. I strung up a clothesline which stretched around the room. On this line, I hung the entire lowercase alphabet. The girls were then given cards with the entire uppercase alphabet printed on them and they worked together to match them, with their lowercase counterparts.

CC has found a match!

While Birdy has become very interested in reading and writing, she has very little patience for sitting and "working". She prefers to be up and moving about, so activities like this are great for her learning style.

The clothes line stretched all the way around the room. The girls thought it was exciting, but I think my husband was happy to see it go!

 Poor Birdy was exasperated with all my picture taking.
 "Ugh..Mom! Leave me alone!"

The other part of this activity that I love is the collaboration that takes place. The girls worked together to match up all the letters. They would look at a card and discuss where it went. Working together to achieve a goal is what project based learning is all about!

I linked this post with Tuesday Tots.
and with Family Frolics

Saturday, February 18, 2012

President's Day Science

President's Day is coming up and we thought we would honor the day with a little science experiment. This activity used to occupy me for many an afternoon when I was a kid. We would go to Taco Bell, load up on burritos and hot sauce, and use the packets to clean pennies. The acidic hot sauce would eat off all the dirt and grime from the pennies, leaving shiny new pennies in their place. I wasn't sure how it all worked, but I loved to watch the brown dirty pennies get all clean and shiny.

Now I can show my kids the same cool trick. We started out with a handful of dirty pennies and a bowl of vinegar and salt. We placed our pennies one by one in the vinegar solution and then rubbed the grime off with q-tips.

So what's happening? After a while the copper in the pennies begins to react to the air to form copper oxide. When pennies are new the copper is bright and shiny, but the copper oxide changes them. It gives them a dull patina. The acid from the vinegar dissolves the copper oxide and makes them shiny and new again!

Here you can see where the vinegar has started to clean off the copper oxide. The brown parts are where the vinegar hasn't touched yet.
We experimented with other forms of acids to see how well they cleaned the pennies. We used lemon juice and salsa. Both cleaned the copper oxide off the pennies, although, I have yet to find something that cleans as well as the Taco Bell hot sauce.

Once all the pennies were clean we took them out of the vinegar and rinsed them off. Then we had bowls full of vinegar with copper oxide floating around in it. We rummaged around in the garage until we found these nails. We soaked the heads of the nails in our vinegar  and after about 10 minutes we had copper plated nails!

Happy President's Day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Criss Cross Applesauce: Cross Lateral Movement part 2

Cross Lateral Movement

In the first part of this series, I told you about cross lateral movement and why it is important. To sum up quickly, movements that cause the arms and legs to cross over the mid-line of the body cause the left side of the brain to work together with the right side of the brain. This is important for activities such as reading and writing which require the hand and eye to cross the mid-line.

Babies begin to do this naturally when they learn how to crawl, using their right arm in time with their left leg to move across the floor. As children get older, there are many different activities that can encourage arms and legs to cross the mid-line.

What can we do?

Here is a list of activities from this blog and from other wonderful blogs of various activities you can do with your children at home or in the class room to encourage cross lateral movement.

Play Pirate

Give your child an eye patch and allow her to follow an object from one side of her mid line to another.


Stirring is a great way to get the left and right side of the brain working together. Invite your child to bake with you and allow them to to stir the mixture with a spoon.

Music and Movement

Song and dance is another great way to get children to cross their mid-line. Check out these music and movement activities from The Nurture Store

and Rainbows Within Reach

Build an obstacle course

Obstacle courses are another great way to mimic the crawling action done by infants. If you happen to have a child who skipped the crawling phase, creating an obstacle course which requires getting on hands and knees to move through it would be an excellent way to introduce these skills. Check out this winter obstacle course by  The Golden Gleam.


Have you ever considered doing yoga at home with your little one? Not only can it be very calming and relaxing, but there are poses which require the arms and legs to cross the mid-line, so it is also brain boosting! It is a win all the way around. Check out these great posts from Carrots are Orange!


Any projects done on a large scale will encourage cross lateral movement. Here we see a large scale activity from Play Activities done with glue and a card board box. As the child traces his fingers across the glue he is crossing the mid line.

Another example of this would be to draw a maze on a large white board and let the child move their arms back and forth, crossing their mid-line as they work.

Go Vertical

Using an easel to paint vertically also encourages children to cross their mid-lines. If you want to mix it up further, you can give the child two paint brushes so they will be working with both sides of the brain together.

Sort it out

If you are looking for some fine motor practice that also involves cross lateral movement, try this sorting exercise. Here you see that as she sorts the colored pom poms into the appropriate baskets, she is crossing her arm in front of her.

Hug of War

The last activity on my list is my favorite! Big hugs! Find someone you love, pull them close, wrap your arms around each other and squeeze! It's good for the soul and it's good for the brain!

I would like to thank all of the bloggers who helped me with this post. If you have a chance, check out some of the amazing blogs mentioned above. I would also like to thank Melissa from Imagination Soup and Gwyndolyn Jones, for all of their behind the scenes help. You ladies are awesome!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Criss Cross Applesauce: Cross Lateral Movement and the Brain

What is Cross Lateral Movement?

You have heard me say that children learn through play, but did you know that children’s ability to learn is actually strengthened through specific types of play? Activities that encourage children to move their arms and legs across their mid-line (cross lateral movements) actually have a dramatic effect on learning.

Imagine an invisible line that stretches down the center of your body. This is your mid-line. The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body, and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. When your right arm or leg crosses over to the left side of the body or vise versa, it forces the left and right side of your brain to work together.  The part of the brain that connects these two sides is called the corpus callosum.

Why is this important?

The right and left side of your brain are responsible not only for controlling the left and right parts of your body, but specialize in processing different types of information. The left side uses logic, facts and rules. It governs language and words, math and science, pattern and order.  The right side uses feeling, it sees the big picture, it recognizes symbols and images.  The right side processes spatial perception, and object function. The right side allows us to imagine possibilities.

By strengthening the corpus callosum, we are  bringing together the dreamer and the doer. We are strengthening the part of the brain that will enable children to do activities which require crossing the mid-line like reading and writing. More and more educators in preschool and elementary class rooms are incorporating activities that encourage cross lateral movement and strengthening the corpus callosum.

What can we do?

Most infants begin to do this on their own by 6 months. When they reach across their highchair for a Cheerio, or when they follow you with their eyes as you walk across the room, they are showing examples of cross lateral movement. A surprisingly important developmental stage for brain development is crawling.  When an infant crawls, he uses his left knee together with his right hand to propel himself forward. He is using his corpus callosum.

As children get older, there are many ways we can encourage these types of movements. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series which will include a roundup of activities you can use at home and in the class room that encourage cross lateral movement and brain development.