Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring Play Dough: An Invitation to Play

*This post contains affiliate links

Play dough is a staple amongst ECE educators.  It's a great tool for imaginary play, exploration, and helps to build-up the fine motor skills needed for writing.  It's also cheap to make.  I often use this no cook recipe from The Imagination Tree. It's what I used in the picture below.  I added yellow food coloring and green glitter  to make it "springy."


The dollar store is a handy resource for cheap exploratory supplies.  If you are like me, and don't go often, Amazon is fantastic too (not to mention it'll be delivered right to your doorstep).  When I go to the dollar store, it takes me forever because I'm hunting for anything I can use for art and sensory activities.  It's amazing what you can find, especially amongst the seasonal items.  And the containers!  So many cute ways to present invitations to play/explore as well as for storing said objects.

For this particular invite, I set out the homemade play dough, sparkly Mini Styrofoam Eggs, silk flowers, and plastic butterflies.  The other play dough tools are all on a low shelf for easy access.

This particular spring themed invitation allows a child to explore concepts of spring: plants/gardening, new life, insects (life cycle), and Easter (if one chooses).  This activity allows for independent play and free exploration of materials.

You may be asking, "what is an invitation to play?" and that would be a great question.  For an awesome tutorial, check out Creating the Invitation to Play on Teach Preschool and Creating Invitations to Play! on The Imagination Tree.  

If you wish to expand this activity through reading, you might try:


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Color Dripping: Spring Flowers

 *This post contains affiliate links

Recently I purchased some Pipettes because my 4 year old likes to play in water.  I figured, amongst many other things, she could use them for water transfer and creating "potions" outside.  I also know they are great for various art projects and color blending.  While browsing Facebook I came across a beautiful spring art experiment from Fun-a-Day that inspired me to decorate for spring.  So I set to work, which included creating some liquid watercolors.  

While I prefer how vibrant purchased Liquid Watercolors  can be, I didn't have any on hand.  But I did have a bag full of dried markers I'd been collecting.  You can repurpose these old markers by placing their tips in water and allowing them to soak for several hours, or overnight.  Then you can store the created watercolors in small plastic containers.

After creating the watercolors, I cut some coffee filters into flower shapes.  The nice thing about coffee filters is they are thin, so you can cut a number of them at once.  When all was ready, I set out the flowers, watercolors, and pipettes (one for each color) for my preschooler to play with.  I used a plastic box lid to contain the mess as best as possible.  A tray or cookie sheet could also work.  Some kids like to really soak their art work, so keeping it from running all over the place is important for your own sanity.

Pipettes are a great tool for developing fine motor skills.  Toddlers may find squeezing and transferring the liquid difficult.  If this is the case, give them a paint brush.  It'll still create a lovely work of art.

There are several ways you can take this activity.  If you want to teach simple color blending, try using only two colors at a time:

  • yellow+red= orange
  • blue+yellow=green
  • red+blue= purple
If you want to move beyond the basics, try multiple colors.  Some truly beautiful flowers can be created this way.  I explained to my daughter that it's best to mix the colors on the paper, rather then in the containers because otherwise you'll end up with all brown.  Of course, if your child is like mine, they will still test this theory.  I found if you use an ice tray for your colors, rather then giving them the storage containers, you'll waste less, and it can be easily dumped and replenished.  

As much as possible, stand back and allow your child to explore the activity.  It's OK to ask them questions about the colors they are blending but otherwise let them create.  Some may chose to not blend the colors.  That's OK too.  Sometimes the process is more important then the product.  

With Easter around the corner, we also painted some coffee filter Easter eggs.  Once all the flowers and eggs were dry, we hung them in the windows to catch the light and enjoy. 

Here's a list of what you'll need:
  • pipettes or droppers (paint brush for toddlers)
  • coffee filters
  • liquid water colors
  • Scissors (for cutting flower/egg shapes)
Have you used pipettes for color blending before?  Let me know how you did and what you think of this activity.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's All OK

What can I say? I've been gone awhile. I go through these phases where I want to write, then I don't. I could play the busy mom card, which I am, but really, I get frustrated with my blog.  I don't do web design, so I'm unhappy with my blogs appearance.  I don't know anyone who can help me and since I don't make any money, except a few dollars here and there, I don't want to pay anyone to assist me.  I get frustrated because I see these other blogs that I began with, who have grown tremendously, and here I am the same. I get frustrated because my ideas aren't new, simply regurgitated versions of activities I did as a teacher or that I've seen on other "mommy" blogs a thousand times. I get frustrated because editing pictures takes so....darn....long..... I get frustrated because I'm frustrated.

I decided this is all OK.

See, besides ADHD, I suffer from depression and anxiety.  The depression, in my case, is genetic. The anxiety stems from being abandoned by someone I loved, plus some other things in my past.  They come and go, sometimes hanging around for months, other times peeking out for only a day or two.  It's not the sort of thing I can simply will away by thinking happy thoughts.  But I can accept that this is a part of me.  I can tell myself that it's OK to step back from things less important then my family and my health so I'm not overwhelmed and shut down completely.  Caring for my children and myself is more important then keeping up with my blog.  It often means getting out of the house, into the sunshine so I'm not bogged down by the tired feelings I get at home.

And don't get me wrong.  I have albums and albums of ideas I intended to blog at one time or another. I take loads of photos, everywhere I go, and during almost every activity I provide at home for my children.  But sitting down to edit photos and write tends to be overwhelming.  My mind wanders to other things, or I'm interrupted by my children, or it's simply too late (by the time they go to bed), and my mind has shut down for the evening.  My husband often complains that I'm simply too lazy to write.  That's really not the case at all.  I've been working on this piece for almost a week now and it's been difficult.  I'm forcing myself to get it out, right at this moment, because I need to do it.  I'm not writing this particular piece for anybody, other then myself.  I don't expect my readers to look at it.  I probably won't even post it on my Facebook page.  This is for me because I need to get these thoughts out.  I need to express that I'm not lazy, I'm bogged down by the swirling thoughts in my head and the emotions I feel so strongly each and every day.  I have a gazillion things to do today and if I accomplish one, on top of caring for my kids, I can pat myself on the back.  Each and every task is a baby step: clean off the coffee table, vacuum the downstairs, empty the washer, vacuum upstairs, clean at least 1 of the 3 bathrooms in the house, feed the dogs and cats, cook dinner, provide art/sensory activities for my kiddos, etc.  The list each day is long.  I don't mind cleaning and such; I'm happy and privileged to be home with my kids to care for them and the house.  But sometimes the amount that needs to be done becomes too much.

But that's OK.  It's OK that I need to sit and put my thoughts in order.  It's OK if I don't complete my list each day.  It's OK if I only post on my blog twice a year because I've decided that other things in my life are more important.

But I also need to make goals; goals outside of the everyday tasks.  Do I want to build my blog back up this year?  Yes.  Do I want to go back to work and then school when my youngest starts TK?  Yes. Do I want to have enough extra income to pay a housekeeper to come and help me at least once a month?  Absolutely!  Do I want someone to help me with my blogs appearance, even if I have to pay them?  Yes.  These are my goals.  So where do I start?  I start with the simplest, building my blog back up to where it was 5 years ago.  Back then it was growing.  I was starting to make a little money from it.  I was getting product reviews.  I was reaching people.  This is where I start.  Do I have a goal for posts each week.  No.  I'm not sure I can handle that yet.  Maybe I make it small.  One post every two weeks.  That seems reasonable.  Maybe I expand past my normal postings.  Instead of only posting activities you do at home or school, I open up to places we visit.  My kids and I love to hike and explore.  Since moving to the bay area, we've discovered some cool places.  This gives me more to write about beyond staging sensory and art activities for my smallest child.

Ok, I have to stop there.  Sometimes even excitement at what something could be can be overwhelming.

So here I am.  Laying this out for myself and anyone else who understands what it's like.  Or maybe you don't understand and this helps.  It's OK if you don't understand; being inside the head of someone like me is difficult to explain.  Just don't assume people like me are lazy.  I mean, of course there are times I am lazy, and I'll admit it.  But most of the time that isn't the case.  Most of the time I'm simply frustrated and overwhelmed because I'm unable to sort through the mess that is my mind.  I'm sure that's the case with many of the people like me who live with ADHD, anxiety and depression.

If I don't post for while, well, that OK, because I'm spending time with my kids or cleaning house, but probably spending time with my kids, because even this blog started because of them.


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