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Farm Sensory Box

26 Jul

farm sensory box

With the start of Summer and outdoor weather, I thought the sensory  box would be put away for awhile.  But alas, Rain-a-geddon ensued so we needed to find some new indoor fun. Or rather, just upgrade some fun.  Last Summer I built Matthew this barn and farm, and I added a sensory box and toddler-approved game this year.

Sensory Box

farm sensory box activity toddler

Inclusions:

  • Popcorn for the base (already had)
  • Schleich animals (our animal of choice)
  • Tractor (a gift from Grandma!)
  • “Hay bales” (TP tubes cut in half)
  • “Stables” (Melissa and Doug play food crates)
  • Mini scoop (already had)

Total Cost: Free 

** I already had all the materials, but I suspect you’d be able to put this together for around $10-$12.  A large jar of popcorn kernels runs about $3 at Walmart, and these animals are also a good choice.)

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

Books

farm books

1. Sheep in a Jeep. Matty is obsessed with jeeps right now. Sheep in a jeep? Oh my.  It’s on constant repeat around here.

2. Let’s Go To the Farm. We have two copies of this book. Both gifts. Both givers know a little something about kids. We’ve read this book at least a few times a week for the past year (at least).  It’s a lift-the-flap book, so we keep a copy in the car for road trips or restaurants.

3. Chicks and Salsa. I had to review this book for a college class years ago, and I loved it. It’s hilarious. I didn’t quite know if Matty would get it, but I guess it really is all about how excited the reader is, because it’s one of his favorites now, too.

Activities

  1. Try these Montessori inspired nomenclature cards.
  2. Matty is loving this farm-themed game on the Kindle.  We’ve been traveling a lot–so he’s soaking up the app time lately.  He’s actually learning too–he surprised me the other day by pointing to a picture of a moon and saying “creshent” (crescent). Play on, Buddy. Play on.
  3. Of course, we listened to Old MacDonald a lot. A lot.  We have this download with this version of OMD, which gets a little silly at the end.
  4. Farm Picture.  I printed two each of a variety of farm-themed coloring sheets.  I cut out certain parts of the picture, such as the tractor, barn, animals, and crops, and colored 1 copy.  On a large sheet of paper, I glued the remaining uncolored copy. Then we matched and glued the colored parts onto the uncolored outline of the pictures.

farm activity toddler

toddler farm activity

toddler farm activity

He’s still loving farms and farm animals (and tractors!!!)–any recommended activities?

A Tisket A Tasket…

9 Jul

DIY Rustic Crate Baskets

…a rustic crate-like basket. Oh yeah, I busted that rhyme.

I was in search of a couple of baskets for a new cabinet we built for our recent sunroom makeover.  Problem is, the cabinet is custom built, so I was having a difficult time finding basket that fit the dimensions.  I knew I’d have to DIY something.  Not a problem, I thought–we’ve got tons of scrap wood and materials taking up floor space in the garage.  In fact, we had a bundle of furring strips that I knew would be perfect.  But problem.  I’m not skilled enough to actually build the frame (or at least a structurally-sound frame). As I was perusing Wal-Mart later that week, I saw these:

These little baskets, while neither rustic (or that appealing) or quite the right size, where in fact perfect…nothing a little hot glue couldn’t fix! So at $1.89 each, I was sold.

The baskets had connectors on all sides, so that the baskets could lock together.  I squirted some glue in the holes, essentially gluing two baskets together.  The connectors stuck out just a tad further than the rest of the basket, which means my furring strips wouldn’t fit snugly in some parts.  So first, I created a base layer of furring strips on each side.

DIY Rustic Basket

DIY Rustic Basket

Then, I glued the outer layer of furring strips to that base.

DIY Rustic Basket

The blue baskets were still visible at this point, so I used furring strips to cover the top ledge.  Then it was time for stain–I love Kona by Rust-Oleum.  It’s the perfect espresso color–a rich brown with no red undertones.

I knew I wanted to add some sort of “pop” on the front, and after scouring Pinterest for hours, decided a black stencil of some sort would be best.  However, I didn’t have a stencil or black paint.  I did have stamps and craft ink, though!

I wasn’t entirely sure if this would work, but decided why not?  It didn’t go on completely smooth, which was actually great because it looks worn without have to sand or mar it in any way.

DIY Rustic Baskets

There’s no significance to the numbers, though Hubby doesn’t believe me.  He thinks it’s the phone number for my hot Latin lover or the combination to some top-secret safe with dead bodies or loads of money.  He clearly thinks highly of me.

They turned out perfect, and will work great in our sun room for outdoor candles, bug repellent, and other outdoor odds and ends.

Rockin’ It Out

23 Jun

rock painting

Last week I had Matty help me out with a little project I needed in order to complete his outdoor playspace.

Paint + Rocks + Outside = Very Happy Toddler

rock painting

rock painting

rock painting

Things Needed:

1. Rocks
2. Acrylic Craft Paint. These are the little bottles found for $.97 at Wal Mart.
3. Brushes (any kind)
4. Stickers
5. Sharpies
6. Modge Podge
7. Newspaper or cardboard (to paint on)

Directions:

1. Clean and dry rocks.  Painting over dirt just won’t do.
2. Paint. Solid colors, half-and-half, swirls, anything goes.
3. Let dry thoroughly–at least an hour
4. Apply stickers, glitter, or write & draw with Sharpies
5. Apply two quality coats of Modge Podge.
6. Let dry (pretty quick drying time) and enjoy!

This is a great activity for colors and even color mixing.  I only gave Matthew primary colors, then he asked for green.  So he watched as I mixed blue and yellow, and was thoroughly impressed it turned green (and I was thoroughly impressed I only had to think for a second to remember what colors to mix!).

These make great outdoor “toys”.  In addition to Matty’s colorful masterpieces, I added a few “learning resources” as well.

rock painting

There’s a lot of great uses–sorting games, stacking, making up stories–the possibilities are endless.  I started off by using basic things he already knows, and we’ll add to it throughout the Summer (especially since he loved the painting so much!).  He’s really into Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so I’m thinking we’ll add some character rocks soon from his favorite books.  Independently, he really likes just naming the items on the rocks (he knows everything except the numbers!) and putting them into buckets.  Together, we sort colors and letters, or make up a story about a cat chasing a butterfly.  Either way, it’s a great vocabulary builder!

Buckle It Up: Toddler Buckle Toy

23 Apr

Oh yes. We’re in the that phase.  The “me do” stage.  The “I can buckle my carseat by myself, MOM!” stage.  Since this is a skill he obviously wants to practice, I went on the hunt for some sort of buckle toy.  The best I could come up with was this:

Buster Buckle Toy

Don’t get me wrong, this is cute and pretty close to perfect, but at $25 + $5 shipping, it might be one of the most expensive toys we own (seriously).  I thought I could probably make my own for much, much cheaper. And I did!

diy toddler buckle toy

My sewing skills are very subpar.  But this was relatively easy and quick.  I used the basic “pillow sham” theory–sewing two pieces of fabric together inside out, then turning it right side out, stuffing it with some batting, and sewing the top.  However, before sewing the sides, you’ll want to pin your ribbons for the buckles.

The longest part of the ribbon (the part the buckle will be attached to) gets pinned to the inside, so when it gets turned right side out they’re on the right side.  Make sense? OMG, it took me a good 5 minutes staring at it to get this right.  It probably didn’t help that my ribbons were patterned, so I had to get the right side of the ribbon right side up. ::sigh::  I need a sewing class.

Attaching the buckles were easy, even if my sewing lines were not so hot…I used a combination of 1″ buckles and 1/2″ buckles.  I wanted to use colorful buckles, but I couldn’t find any bigger than this.  This actually was a happy surprise, because Wee One loves those the most–huzzah for super-fine motor skill development!

Drumroll, please…total price: $3.50

Granted, I already had the fabric, batting, thread, and ribbon. I estimate a yard of fabric, a couple spools of ribbon, and some batting (or use an old throw pillow?) shouldn’t run more than $7-$8 dollars if you use $.99 fabric quarters from Jo Anns (or Walmart).

I also had to buy the buckles in bulk, so the upfront cost was a bit more, but I actually made a few extras that I plan on trying to sell at our upcoming community garage sale.

And of course, it’s a hit.  My original plan was to keep it in the car to keep Wee One occupied during numerous drives back and forth to Lowes (hello, landscaping weather!), but as you can see, it has made its way into the house.

As he masters the buckles, I have plans to add a few more doo-dads–clips, carbiners, and rings–for even more fun!

Questions:

  • Ever see a toy and think, “I could make that!”.
  • Anybody have a love-hate relationship with the sewing machine like I do? Grrrr…
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