Friday, June 29, 2012

Camp Wonderland Presents: Mud Day!

I am happy to announce that with the help of some bloggy friends (my husband says I use the word "bloggy" like smurfs use the word "smurf") our summer camp has a name!

Camp Wonderland!

And today Camp Wonderland would like to present the second in our summer camp theme days...

This was our second International Mud Day extravaganza! The neighborhood kids all came over to join in the fun. You can see last year's Mud Day here.

This year we had our usual mud pie kitchen set up, but we also brought out two baby pools. The larger pool was filled with mud, the smaller pools we filled with water. It over 100 degrees so the water was definitely a way to cool off.

The kids had fun playing in the mud...

Planking in the mud...

 And sitting in the mud...

 How did you celebrate Mud Day?

“Children are like clay,
it is only on the maker’s hand to give it a
proper shape.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Camp: Painting Day

This summer a couple of Birdy's friends have come to stay while their mom is at work. Before they first day we all sat down and made a list of what they wanted to do this summer. They had great suggestions and by the end of the conversation we had a line up of themed days marked on a calendar. Some of themed days they came up with are, "Bad Hair Day" and "Bubble Day."

So today I will bring you the first of many themed days here at Camp Sense of Wonder.

 It was 109 degrees outside on painting day, but the children were excited and undeterred. I set up a shade tent to try to keep the sun off us and gave the girls lots of different materials to paint with.

They had brushes of all different sizes and a tray of all different colors. They painted with their heads...

They painted with their feet...

They painted standing up, and they painted sitting down...

They used a big tub of soapy water to clean themselves and their brushes. At first they all set to work painting houses and suns and trees, but then they began to explore their materials and looking for new ways to use them. Soon they were painting their bodies, their drop cloth, and anything else they could get their hands on!

This was a simple activity. There was not a lot of planning involved. I didn't have to think outside of the box for amazing new things to try. Instead, I just let the children do the creative thinking, and they loved it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fourth of July Pom Pom Fireworks

Today we decided to try a fun and easy 4th of July craft for Bug. He is slowly becoming a more sophisticated artist now that he is two. Before, his main focus was the feel of the paint, the smell of the paint, and yes sometimes, the taste of the paint. But lately Bug has been more concerned with the cause and effect of the paint. He is discovering that if he moves or manipulates his material in a different way, he can see a different outcome on paper, and this fascinates him.

For this project I gave Bug a tray of red and blue paint and a pom pom, which he held with a clothes pin. Bug carefully dipped his utensil in to the paint tray and dabbed it on his paper. He saw that when the pom pom had a lot of paint it make one shape, but when it was almost dry, it made a totally different shape (like a fire cracker!) He found that when he smeared the pom pom across the paper he had yet another shape.

This project is good for:

Cognitive Development

I love the toddler years because toddlers are such little scientists. When Bug is painting, he is testing the world around him. When he dips his pom pom in to the paint and sees the imprint it leaves on the paper, he is testing. Then, he makes a hypothesis about what will happen if he repeats that action. He tests his theory, sees the result, and tests again to confirm his result.

Fine Motor Development

Holding on to the clothes pin and the muscle movements involved with dipping and painting will strengthen those muscles he will need later on for writing.

Cross Lateral Movement

Getting the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain working together! You can find out more about the importance of cross lateral movement here.

Creative and Artistic Development

When Bug creates something with paint he is using his imagination and his own creative ability. He is doing something all by himself and he is proud of his accomplishments. Much more so than if I had held his hand and directed where he should put the paint brush to get MY desired effect. He is in control and this is a very special feeling to a young child!

So grab your toddler and go paint! Have fun. Don't stress. Kids are 100% washable!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Colorful Hollowed Ice Balls

Summer is here and we are looking for creative ways to cool down. Today we made hollow balls of ice. To make these you need balloons, food coloring and a faucet. 

Take a few drops of food coloring and drop them in each balloon. Next, fit the end of the balloon around your sing faucet and turn your water on. Fill the balloon until it is the size of a grapefruit and tie off the end. Place the water balloons in the freezer. Don't let them sit there for days or you will have solid blocks of ice. Only put them in there for two or three hours. The longer you leave it in there the more solid they will become.

This can be a nice experiment. Leave one in for three hours and another for two and compare the thickness of the ice.

Take the balloons outside to break. You may want to wear a smock because the colored water will splash. If you are worried about stains you can do this activity with out the food coloring. The neighborhood kids all enjoyed coming over and playing and exploring the ice balls. As they melted, they mixed the colors in the blue tub to see what colors they could make.

Variations of this idea:

Fill a tub with ice and watch them float. Do the thicker ice balls float better?

Give your children salt, baking soda, and sugar. What happens?

Go bowling with the ice balls. Set up plastic bottles to try to knock over with your ice balls.

Have you been playing with ice? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pick a Peck of Pickled Playdough

Let me just say, I didn't set out to make pickled play dough. My original idea was to make fresh minty garden play dough. But I didn't have any cream of tartar. Every recipe you see says to use cream of tartar. I searched and searched and finally found a suggestion that the cream of tartar could be substituted with vinegar. Well, I always have vinegar on hand! So I made my batch of play dough, colored it a minty green, and added my mint extract.

 I even took a picture of it with all the garden herbs I planned to give the kids to explore! Doesn't that look fresh and inviting?

But no matter what I did I couldn't get rid of that vinegar smell. It didn't smell fresh and minty. It just smelled like pickles!

The wise words of my 13 year old come floating in to my head, "Don't fight it mom. Just go with it." And so I give you our extra smelly pickled play dough!

Have fun?
I took the Play Dough Pledge with NurtureStore, The Imagination Tree and Sun Hats and Wellie Boots this week and tried something new with play dough, and this was definitely new!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fun Pool Games

Are you looking for some fun games to play with your children at the pool? Here are some of my kids favorite pool games. They are easy, and all you need is a couple of pool noodles and some donut shaped floaties.

Game 1. Red light, Green Light

Have one person be the light, with a red floatie and a green floatie. At the opposite end of the pool have the other players line up facing the light. When the green floatie goes up, every one starts to swim across the pool. When the red floatie goes up every one has to stop. The first player to make it across the pool wins.

For less accomplished swimmers, try this game in shallow water and let them run across the pool.

Game 2. The Rainbow Game

This game is a lot like limbo, and it's great to get shy kids to put their face under water. One player holds a pool noodle up like a rainbow and the other players have to swim under it. After each player has gone under, the noodle is lowered a few inches. Continue playing until the noodle is flat on the water and the players have to duck under the water to swim under the noodle.

Game 3. Noodle Races

This one is a lot of fun. Players sit on their noodles like they would a horse. When you say "GO!" they use their arms and legs to push themselves and ride their noodle across the pool. First player to the other side of the pool wins!

These games are for children who are confident swimmers. Please supervise children at all times when they are in the pool. If your child is not a confident swimmer, play these games in a very shallow section and remain an arms length away from them at all times.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Running Errands with Kids

Have you ever walked in to a store and witnessed a parent in need of an intervention? There is a tired, worn out, uncooperative child and a mother or father doing everything they can to make the situation worse? Today, unfortunately, I was that parent.

My daughter woke up in an argumentative mood. Knowing that I had errands that simply could not wait put me in a foul mood as well. By the time we got to the store, neither one of us was making good choices.
In the shoe aisle my daughter began to insist that I buy her a pair of shoes that were two sizes too small. With flared nostrils and clenched teeth I told her that I would not be spending money on shoes that didn’t fit.

Enter kind stranger

With a big smile and a gentle voice, she leaned down and got on my child’s level and said, “Wow, those shoes sure look uncomfortable. I bet they would hurt your feet.” By the end of the exchange we were rolling down the aisle. My daughter had shoes that fit and I was filled with a pang of guilt. I know better! My daughter was feeding off my bad attitude. If I had approached the situation as this stranger had, we could have avoided making a spectacle of ourselves in the middle of Hobby Lobby.

As we made our last stop, I decided to make an effort to approach this trip differently. I made a mental Do’s and Don’ts of running errands with kids list in my head.  Here is how it went.

DO keep a positive attitude! Children can feel your frustration, your anxiety, and your exasperation. They absorb these feelings. They make them their own. So instead of feeding your children these negative emotions, feed them positive ones.

DON’T forget they are children! Young children cannot go as long as we can without food, bathroom breaks or rest. If you don’t plan around these things, you will end up with hungry, soggy, grumpy children. Bring a snack. Allow time for potty breaks. Take a break to let them stretch their legs.

DO plan ahead. In a preschool classroom a teacher will often plan the schedule with calm and active activities spread throughout the day. This is because children aren’t usually able to sit down and be still for long periods of time. A preschool teacher might schedule circle time right before music and movement, or rest time right before outdoor recess. This up and down schedule allows children to jump up, run around and reboot. If you have a full day of activities planned, try to schedule regular times to stop and let your child just run and have fun.

DO involve them. Give your child a short list. Let them know what you are looking for and let them help find it. Ask for their opinions and ideas. Get down on their level. Talk with them, not at them. Your children will feel as though they are part of a team, and not in your way.

DON’T treat your child like you would your purse. Okay, this may seem like a no brainer, but we have all seen a child who has been yanked out of the car, dumped in a shopping basket and then promptly ignored for the remainder of the shopping trip. It is no wonder this child begins acting up. Children want to feel as though they have control over what happens to them. Yanking them from one place to another without word or warning will leave your child feeling very powerless. Chances are, they will attempt to regain control is some way.

As our trip wound to a close, we both left the store in a great mood. I had gotten everything on my list accomplished. Birdy was chattering away happily in the car seat, planning what she would play with when she got home and what she should have for lunch. I pulled my car out of the parking lot and said a quiet thank you to the stranger in Hobby Lobby for reminding me that MY choices could keep a whole day from ending in tears.