Monday, October 29, 2012

Trash for Projects

Here are 7 pieces of trash you should keep for your child's art projects.

Parents post adorable and educational art projects they do at home. When I started staying home with my kids, I looked at these projects with envy. Where did parents get all this fun stuff? Sure, I could find accessories at craft stores, but I didn't have the money. Here is a list of items I've learned not to toss, but to use for educational projects.  

1. Magnets. We have an assortment of magnets that I normally toss. They accumulate from advertisements, parades, "save the date" for weddings, pizza places, etc. I cover them with paper, let the kids make drawing or attach a photograph, and then give as gifts, or keep for myself.

2. Used art projects. All that stuff Ty and Za bring home? I keep it awhile, but then we eventually recycle it (unless it is a loved piece of art). Before you recycle, take the following off: buttons, eyes, yarn, pipe cleaners, and reusable stickers. And use them again.

3. Cards. Birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, invitations, thank-you - I even received a Thanksgiving card once. All these cards have pretty pictures, on card-stock. They are great for starting art projects.

4. Ribbons. These are normally attached to cards, and they work so well on tubes and plates.

5. Paper rolls. A million activities exist. Google "toilet paper rolls."

6. Magazines. Not only do the kids and I read them, we cut pictures and fun-shaped words.

7. Cups and lids. We trace them, identify their shapes, and use them as Frisbees for doll-house people.

What recyclables or trash have you found work for art projects at home?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Five 3-year-old Activities (for when you can't move)

I have been glued to a rocking chair this last month.

I know that moms of more than one child know what I mean: I am limited with my play with Za. Baby C.J. requires lots of feeding, rocking, diaper changing, and repeating. That leaves me with a 3-year-old who needs attention. I would prefer she not spend all day in front of the television.

What works? Here is a quick list of what has helped me occupy my 3-year-old when I am frequently immobile with a newborn.

1. Memory cards. Not the entire game box of cards. I've matched about 10 pairs (20 cards) and we play. She doesn't get frustrated and it is not too many to pick up.

2. Paper and crayons. This is a bit scattered, but not messy. She has several pads of paper and a blue box of crayons. She loves this and draws everyone who visits a portrait.

3. Books. This seems simple, right? Not so much. Za cries if I start reading a book and cannot finish. (Changing diapers and reading - bad combo.). We have a pile of simple books, alphabet and counting mostly, with lots of pictures.

4. Containers. Plastic, mismatched, baskets and cups. She loves them all and builds towers, puts her drawings in them, tells me their shapes, and rearranges them.

5. A doll. Za has a baby as well, which often does what baby C.J. does. We discuss how to handle our babies, which I really think has led Za to empathize with the new baby.

Have a newborn and a toddler? Tips to keep the toddler busy.

These are a few ideas that have really helped me handle my toddler while I take care of a newborn. Any other advice for moms out there?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Science Post: Volcano

We get a bigger, better volcano when dad is involved.

I am working my way through my Pinterest boards. We've made baking soda fizzies and I've gotten healthy food ideas for the kiddos. Ty and Za especially love messy projects - science projects, so I decided to make a volcano. I wanted a small one, but my husband took over, and we ended up with a large one. It was fun, messy, and pretty inexpensive.


A pan/ cookie sheet and mixing bowl
Baking soda
Small, empty bottle (We used a water bottle, but I wish we had a shorter one).
Food dye, if desired
Dish soap
Directions. We used the recipe from Moms Who Think, but tons of directions are on the web. 

We mixed the "volcano's" outside, which made a sticky, sticky clay. My kids loved it, and it definitely taught them patience - it was very difficult to form.

The dough was heavy, and it kept falling off the bottle. We finally figured out that it took two pairs of hands - and a blow-dryer to get it formed correctly.

At this point we realized we forgot food coloring. The kids really wanted to dye it, but wanted their volcano brown. So we used - soy sauce. Don't judge.

The explosion was great, and the kids loved it. Pictures? I was too busy supervising and keeping little hands back. Safety first, but it is true they had a blast!


The kids practiced patience and witnessed their father and me getting along and problem-solving. (The blow-dryer was genius, honestly). I still need to beef  up on my science knowledge. I can tell the kids this is a chemical reaction, but I don't get much further than that. Any advice, maybe from the science-inclined?