Monday, January 9, 2012

Weather or Not

I debated what theme to do in January.  Since I started doing bins & trays with Mia all of our themes have been obvious: Halloween, fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I have been collecting things for an ocean theme but I want to save those for February since I think Mia will be really into it and it will help occupy her with the new baby due that month!

So! What to do? I decided to go with learning about weather since Mia talks about it all the time.  She discusses daily if it is rainy, sunny, etc.  I thought learning a bit more may hold her interest.  Here is what I've come up with so far...

Weather Sensory Bin

In this bin:
  • Rice dyed with food coloring and a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol (here's a tutorial by pinkandgreenmama of how to dye the rice)
  • Cotton balls for clouds
  • Snowflakes (from our Christmas bin)
  • Pipe cleaners for lightening
  • Wooden sun I had from the craft store
  • Clear glass floral beads from the dollar store (for rain)
  • I also added tiny paper umbrellas later
  • Cups, bowls, spoons and a rake for enjoying the bin

And here are our trays at the moment:
Sequencing Cards

I found some royalty free clip art online about weather and made strips in Word and printed them twice.  I laminated them and then cut one set up for matching.

we checked out from the library about weather that were a hit...
  •  It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  • Rain by Manya Stojic
  • Now I Know Clouds by Roy Wandelmaier
  • The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paula (this one is too advanced for Mia but she likes looking at the pictures)

And because everything can't be all about the weather:

Monster Matching Game

This game I made up one night to fill another tray.  I had bought  beverage stirrers like these on impulse at Walmart because they were so colorful and cheap.  I figured there must be something I could do with them for a tot tray.  I ended up grabbing them and an empty snack container from my stash and trying to come up with something fun. I decided to make it a matching game so Mia could match the sticks to the colors.  After cutting the holes I realized they looked like little mouths and decided to draw monsters around them.  Anyone who knows Mia can guess that this is now the FAVORITE in our house because she gets to feed the monsters (I have no idea why but she loves monsters).  Anyway, I added google eyes and modge podged it for durability.  The sticks store right in the container when she is done. Easy peasy!

Animal Counting Game
Mia got these animal counters for Christmas. This is my first attempt at using them in a tray.  I cut circles from construction paper and put them in a muffin tin.  She can match the colors but also the numbers of animals in each cup.  Mia was quite proud of herself when she realized she could count out the animals and match the numbers.

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Homemade Gifts

Here are some gifts I made for my nephews and Mia this Christmas but they are fun for anytime!

 Personalized Tote Bags

I used this tutorial from the bloesom kids blog as a starting point. I printed out letters in a font I liked, traced them onto freezer paper & cut them out.  Then I ironed on the freezer paper like a stencil and used acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium over the freezer paper.  I let it dry for a day or two and then took off the paper & set it with an iron.

 Marble Maze

Inside the totes were some art supplies and also a couple homemade games.  I made one of these each for both older boys using this tutorial from Family Fun Magazine.  The idea is that you stretch bands in different patterns and roll marbles through the maze.  I included a bag with bands (I used the kind found in craft stores to make pot holders...similar to these) and marbles with each maze.

 Felt Fishing Game

For our youngest nephew, I made a fishing game from felt, fabric, batting and velcro dots.  There is a great tutorial here from Just Another Day in Paradise that I used.  I was excited to find fabric that looks like shiny scales on the clearance rack at Walmart - you can find all sort of fun finds there!
I don't know yet how my nephew liked the fish game but I ended up making a set for Mia because she was so enamored with them.

I also made a couple things just for Mia:


I got the idea from Mama Jenn in this post. It was super easy and cheap ($3 total) to make and Mia enjoys making patterns on it so far.  I'm using it in our Tot Trays this month with pattern suggestions in a sheet protector for her to copy.

Rag Quilted Fabric Letters

These are a big hit with Mia (almost as much as she liked the felt fish game for her cousin...haha!). She likes to throw them around and find which letters she knows.  They were pretty easy to make but do require sewing.  Get the tutorial and templates here from Happy Together.

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