Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Digital Cameras to the Rescue!

A couple months ago, your fearless dilly do-ers found themselves with a NEED to visit a very large and magical thrift store. As our schedules filled and the need grew we found that the only time we could do it would be in the good old summertime during a school break which would mean the kidlets would have to come with us! How were we to entertain the tots so that we could mosey about vintage linens and mismatched pyrex? The a-ha moment came when the happy, colorful, child-proof digital cameras were unearthed. We would assign them a photo scavenger hunt and buy us maybe, hopefully, at least twenty (more like fifteen) minutes to browse.**

We took a moment to pause before entertain the enormous wonderland and created a list of easy and not-so-easy objects the wee ones could photograph. We instructed NO RUNNING, TAKE YOUR TIME and STICK TOGETHER as we handed off the list to the boy wonder. Hand in hand off they went and we made a mad dash for the linens. Here's what was on the list:

*something shiny
*something cowboy
*something Hawaiian
*the letter A (x2)
*5 clocks (one must be a grandfather clock)
*a heart
*two Elmos
*suitcase, preferably blue
**bonus white shoesAnother fun thing to do with a digital camera and a bored kid involves a somewhat fancier camera that allows for color accenting. Prep the camera to a bright and happy color like yellow and ask your kidlet to snap photos of only yellow things. We did this with the wonder boy as well and he snapped some wonderful shots all from the backseat of the car on the drive home from another shopping day.

For a nifty review of digital cameras for kids, check out Chris's post on alpha mom

**some stores may not allow photography so make sure it's okay to snap away and of course, this is not recommended for an unattended child under the age of seven nor is it intended for a space so large you cannot see where your child is at all times. And of course you could always do this with a disposable camera. It will just take a while longer for the results!

This is a great activity for home, in the car or on a walk. You can come up with a list together, make it an ongoing game for the year; say pictures of things that are red or you can use it as a party game. It lends itself to oodles of ideas, have fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School Supplies For One And All!

dollar store crayonsFor as long as I can remember, September meant going back to school and going back to school meant school supplies! There was nothing I loved more than picking out new notebooks, pens, pencils and markers. I may not have gotten a new school wardrobe every year but I always managed to score a set of markers. My family did not have much by way of extra spending cash but lucky for us there were discount stores that carried oodles of school supplies on sale even! Once I was even lucky enough to get a Trapper Keeper! Go me!

This year, if you are lucky and fortunate enough to stock up at home, why not pick up a little something extra and donate the goods to a wee tot in need of new supplies? Sales may be over, but office supply stores always have deals. Check out this list of nifty organizations or check with your local schools, churches, hospitals and shelters. Crayons are such simple things but they sure can pack a smile. Get to googling, you may find someone right under your nose. The Starbucks near my school is collecting books for a local classroom. When and if you do put together a kit or two, make sure to involve your kidlets in the process. You're never too young to start giving.

*Operation Iraqi Children
*I Love Schools
*Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation
*Give a Kid a Backpack
*Adopt a Classroom

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Salt Dough Science

 Call it what you will but play dough, salt dough, play never gets old. Approach a batch of salt dough with your wee ones as a science experiment and you'll witness some great fun, dialogue and happy kidlets!

What you need:
*large bowl
*mess friendly zone
*wooden spoons
*1/2 cup measuring cup
*damp dishcloth

scrumdilly-do it!

Set out your ingredients. Doing this outside would be the best bet but indoors will work as well. A typical batch of salt dough calls for one cup of flour, a half cup of salt and a half cup of water. By using a half cup measure you can introduce fractions to your wee ones. You can have your kidlets follow the recipe exactly so that they can learn the math part of following a recipe....order and measuring, or you can have them measure out the flour and salt and then add water as they will.
Into the bowl, have your wee on measure one cup of flour. Have them then, or a different kidlet, measure out a half cup of salt. Use the wooden spoons to sift together.

Add a little bit of water either by pouring it into the salt and flour or ask your wee ones to measure a tablespoonful at a time. While you do this, talk about play dough and clay and texture and feeling. What kind of dough does you wee one prefer? Explain that the more water that is added, the gooier the dough will be. The more flour, the more dry it will be and the more salt, the more gritty it will be.

After enough water has been added to make the dough stick a bit, toss those wooden spoon and go for it with your hands. Allow your children to mix and match, add as much water as they wish, salt...flour. Talk about what is happening with their mixtures. If you wish, you may want to create a graph of sorts to see which measures make which kind of dough. Also let your kidlets know that the more they manipulate the dough, the more moisture they can work off.
 Once they have the consistency they like, they can create sculptures to leave out in the sun to harden. Once dry, you can paint the pieces with paint or permanent markers. We had more fun mixing and creating than even thinking about an end product. Have fun!