Ice play is a perfect exploration/activity for a snow day, after the family has shoveled the driveway, gone sledding, built a snowman, made lots of snow angels, drank up their hot cocoa.
I put ice cube trays on the back porch on a cold night, ice cube trays full of water and generous squirts of food coloring.
In the morning, I popped out the ice, put it in the bowl, filled the ice cube trays again, repeated the freezing on back porch sessions, until I felt I had enough for a good building session.
On a snow day, I set up the ice, baking trays and gloves.
The kids aren’t sure what to do with the ice at first, so I start to build towers.
The ice is starting to melt and is too slippery to successfully stack.
The kids fill a round baking sheet by circling the out to the inside.
Then they’re done.
I see a post from Nurture Store that mentions the use of salt to fuse the ice blocks together!
How could I have forgotten!
So, the next time, there will be ice AND salt.
We have a month until Valentine’s Day, a special day, when we show our family and friends how much we love them.
To prepare for our valentine making fest, we are doing a little bit of research.
We’ve checked lots of Valentine’s Day books out from the library. (Take it from someone that puts library books away, now is the time to check them out because in another week or two, they’ll be flying off the library book shelves.)
We have our sketchpads on the table, some heart shaped stencils and cookie cutters and our favorite mark making tools.
Time to brainstorm.
In the meantime, there are tools everywhere in the playroom lately. Little K takes out the foam base and pegs.
I draw dots in the shape of a heart on a piece of paper and he hammers a nail into each dot.
With each nail he hammers, he says, “hammerin a heartsies…hammerin’ heartsies…”
You don’t have to own this set to make this work.
You can also draw the dots on a sheet of paper, lay the paper on styrofoam, and hammer real nails or some golf t-s into each dot.
See this post when the boys played with hammer and styrofoam.
Here is a list of the Valentine’s Day Books we have checked out of the library:
Valentine’s Day by Anne Rockwell
Happy Valentine’s Day Curious George by N. Di Angelo
Franklin’s Valentines by Paulette Bourgeois
Little Bear’s Valentine by Else Holmelund Minarik
The Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant
Lilly’s Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes
Lily stalks are really fun and satisfying to snip with scissors.
For the younger kids, this may be too hard for their little hand muscles, but it’s a great challenge for the older kids.
I’ll warn you, the pieces pop up when they are cut and can be a hazard to those Betty Davis eyes, so hold it away from you as you snip.
I snatch up some interesting cardboard from our stash and some of our colored glue, arranging it all on the cement porch, right next to our lily patch.
The kids busy themselves, snipping and gluing.
Taking advantage of the this beautiful fall weather is on our agenda for after school cool downs. After a long day at a desk, following classroom rules about when to move, when to talk, how to eat…all the pent up energy, big voices and big body movements can be used comfortably out in the open.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors is to arrange natural materials. The garden needs tending, and the kids were happy to help pull up all the dry tiger lilly stalks. We use the lily stalks to build some outstanding LandArt.
Little J forms a square with 4 stalks and fills in the square space with more stalks and river stones.
Friend H floors me with her creation. She uses the stalks, dry clumps of grass, river stones and giant hosta leaves to create a house, complete with a door bell. She is absorbed, focused, and happy.
This is the second post in the after school cool down series. This is my attempt to find some great child driven and process focused activities to help the kids transition back into the home after school…instead of us all running around manically screaming, grabbing, pushing, teasing and melting down.
I have a great collection of caps, saved from milk jugs, water and juice bottles, and fruit sauce crushers. We’ve just made playdough with my favorite playdough recipe, and I think, how cool to combine the two. We’ve never done that before.
I flatten two colors on the table to make a very large slab. I put some of the caps in a pretty box and set some rolling pins on the side. I leave this at the table for the kids to discover.
Playdough is always a nice option for calming free play. Making the dough, manipulating the dough with the small muscles in hands, playing pretend food or roads with playdough and adding objects to the table, like cars, kitchen tools or recycled materials.
My predition: The kids will asthetically arrange the plastic objects around the slab and make up stories while they work.
What happens: They use the caps like cookie cutters and stamp out shapes collecting the pieces on the side.
My little guy is very tired and therefore wired, sensitive, needy and impatient when he gets off the bus after a full day of school. It’s only been one week of school so far. We’ve adjusted his bedtime, we offer super healthy choices for meals and snacks, we give him lots of love and try our best to be patient…
and we also realize he needs a cool down time, unstructured, open-ended, free time.
This week, HappyLittleMesses will be focused on some simple, process and child driven activities that might help kids unwind, decompress and settle down. There will also be a new category called, “after school cool down.”
First up in this series: Ant House
We leave a little piece of corn muffin on the driveway. An hour later we return to find a line of ants taking it away, crumb by crumb. We follow the line of ants and find the hole in the pavement where they must reside.
After playing bug bingo at nature camp, Little J and K get a prize of some little plastic ants. We think it’s a great idea to build them a little habitat. With leftover snack, we leave a trail of crumbs and line up the plastic marching ants.
The boys gather small twigs and build a square around the food crumbs. I teach them how to build upwards, alternating sticks, like you would in the game Jenga. Little J covers the building with a flat twig roof.
We bring our sketchpads with us to the museum. The boys think of these books as investigation journals, thanks Sid the Science Kid.
Me: “When you find something that really interests you, we’ll sit down and draw it.” Sketchbooks are great for documenting what you see. You can write your ideas in words or draw what you see.
The Late 20th Century Gallery is where we spent most of our time.
We see a Kandinsky, we study the Black Garden Wall by Louise Nevelson, and we talk about what the kids call the “black square,” Plato’s Cave by Robert Motherwell. Plato’s cave brings up the most interesting discussion.
“What do you see.”
“A black square.”
“Is this art?”
“No. Yes.” (I can see they’re not really sure of this question.)
“What else do you see?”
“I think something is hiding in there.”
“What would be hiding in blackness.”
I read the plaque on the wall next to the art work and this is what we learn: Robert Motherwell was known as an intellectual and an artist, whose task he thought was to reveal the contents of the unconscious mind. Plato’s Cave gives us the experience of light and air, meditation and mimic’s the play of shadows on the wall of a cave.
artist, Nam June Paik, worked named, “Robert Goddard”
Nam was a composer, performer and artist, the inventor of video art. In this piece Nam pays homage to Robert Goddard, technological ancestor, and his invention of the liquid fueled rocket.
We spend the most time in front of the piece. There is no question why…there are blinking lights, televisions flashing colorful images…the boys are drawn in. Little J and Little K have a seat in front of this piece and choose to draw.
sponge, cut to whatever size you like
straws for the mast
paper to make sails
tape to attach the sails to the mast
Cut the sponge to the shape boat you like.
Poke a hole in the middle of your sponge with a sharp scissor.
Insert straw into hole.
Cut out a sail shape from paper
Tape sail to straw
While you are setting up the tent and prepping a tin foil bon fire dinner, you can get the kids going on this simple and beautiful project.
Save some of your cans from the recyclables, fill them with water and place in the freezer, giving a little of space at the top for water expansion. Use these icy cans to keep some of your perishables cold in your cooler on the way to your camp site.
While unpacking the car, set up on a picnic table: frozen tin cans, hammers and nails.
Younger kids might not have the strength to punch a hole though the tine, but with a little bit of help and patience, they will master the task.
Direct the kids to punch holes in the tin all over and around. My kids also liked to hammer the ice inside the cans with the nails.
We put the tin lanterns around the camp fire at night.
It’s Little J’s 5th birthday. During the Christmas season he received a Cupcake Cookbook that’s he’s poured over since, picking out favorites, asking the people he loves if they’ll pick out their favorite too. The Dragon Cupcake has been his consistent favorite.
He asks me to read the list of ingredients and we both wonder about fondant, I’m not that advanced with my baking and decorating.
When his birthdays rolls around, he puts in his official request for the dragon cupcake.
We make a trip to the store and look for things that will work in the making of the dragon. I’m not brave enough to try to make and work with fondant, so I try my hand at a material that’s more familiar, my favorite childhood candy, Starburst.
The boys help me make the cupcakes and we set them aside to cool right before bed. After I tuck them in, I get to work with my fingers trying to mold Starburst into a dragon shape.
It take some hand and finger strength, but once the candy starts molding, it’s not too hard. I was able to shape the dragon to my satisfaction and set it on top of one of the cupcakes for a birthday breakfast treat.
Upon inspection, Jonah is happy too.