This past week, I've noticed a lot of other bloggers posting their top 10 posts of 2011. Just to be different (and because I've only been around for a little less then a year), I'm going to share the Messy Kids Top 5 Posts of 2011.
With Christmas fast approaching, sometimes we forget there are other holidays celebrated this time of year. While my kids are singing Rudolph and Noel, my nieces are learning to play with dreidel and light a menorah. This week It's Playtime is dedicated to them and the Festival of Lights.
I've often expressed my love of sensory bins. I'd hoped to create my own winter "snow" bin at my house but bags of plastic snow disappear early in the season (us southern Californians find snow where we can). I guess I'll have to be as creative as these wonderful posts shared on It's Playtime!
I love all the different elements this Christmas Sensory Tub from Pre-school Play has to offer! The mirror "pond" is my favorite. I remember one of my grandmothers having something similar when I was a child and I loved imagining the characters ice skating over it.
H is for Homeschooling also put together a Christmas Sensory Bin. I love how completely different it is from the one created by Pre-school Play!
We Can Do All Things shared their Homemade Iceland created from colored salt. The little penguins look so happy!
If you were featured this week, don't forget to grab your special "featured button."
Ahhhhh....Christmas. That jolly time of year when people suddenly become friendlier and kids fear the wrath of Santa. A time for love and good cheer. Also, it seems, the biggest collection of DIY decorations and gifts to found on the internet. Blogs are ablaze with wreaths, garlands, cookies, and ornaments. So was last weeks It's Playtime link party. Therefore, this week, I've rounded-up some of my favorite DIY Christmas decoration ideas for your enjoyment. Move over Martha Stewart, here comes some holiday family fun from mom's (and teachers) around the web.
Garland can be made from many different materials: popcorn, cranberries, oranges, and of course, pasta! Over at The Artful Child, you can find the recipe for coloring pasta, then using some string, your kids can make beautiful Christmas garlands for hanging around the house and/or on your tree.
Advent Calendars come in all shapes and sizes. Some provide treats while others provide a daily winter/Christmas themed activity. This great Advent Calendar from Serenity You is made from toilet paper rolls and wrapping paper! It's festive, creative, simple and a fun way to recycle!
Grrrrr, life gets busy sometimes. TinkerLab held this wonderful creative challenge today involving magazines. I've known about it for at least a month, but I allowed time to creep away. Lucky for me my daughter is off school early this week for conferences, so as soon as we arrived home, I bombarded her with the challenge. "What can we make with magazines?" I asked her. In the Christmas mode already she began spitting out ideas....decorating boxes for Christmas presents, collages, bows (for presents...hmmmm...there's a thought), and finally, a countdown chain for Christmas. Easy, festive, we had our winner.
Materials needed for Christmas countdown paper chain:
stapler, tape, or glue
The children began by cutting strips of paper from a magazine. Ariel looked for colorful pages. Michael cut what ever he could, and gave up quickly. I encourage him with scissor practice but he becomes frustrated easily. I should have torn sheets from the magazine for him to cut but I was busy with my own project which I'll share towards the end.
Ariel stapled each link of the chain.
It grew and grew!
Using construction paper and markers, my daughter designed a sign, taping it at the top. I wasn't in the room so she sounded out the word "Christmas" on her own.
Ariel's completed chain.
I hung it in a door frame and each day we'll cut a link as we countdown to Christmas.
More you say?
make a chain for your Christmas tree but cutting appropriate sized strips. I tried to get the kids to do this but my daughter said, "mom, do you know how long that would take?" Yes, yes I do...
Before stapling, taping, or glueing the strips together, lay them all out, spread glue on them, and add a bit of glitter. Once they are dry, link them together. I also prompted my daughter towards this, but apparently, she didn't want to spend all day on this project.
While Ariel was making her paper chain, I was trying out the "bow" idea she mentioned during our brainstorm session. I too, cut paper strips with fancy scissors. Then I rolled them around a pencil giving them some curl.
I made a bunch of curls.
Once the curls were made, I stapled them together making a curly bow (pretend the pink box is a present). I think it came out pretty good but my daughter didn't care for it much. My son, could have cared less. Personally, I think it's a great way to recycle old magazines and save money on decorating presents that are going to be ripped open anyway.
These other great blogs have also participated in the challenge!
Between the Thanksgiving holiday and our family feeling a bit under the weather, I am way behind in my blogging. I failed miserably at the 30 Days of Hands on Play challenge (hosted by hands on: as we grow and The Imagination Tree), making it only about half way through, but I hope to keep playing on my own with the remaining challenges I missed. One of the activities I did participate in was Day 16: Go on a Hunt. As it happened, on the day of the challenge, my play group was going Geocaching. Geocaching is a real, life treasure hunt! In order to play, you need some sort of GPS device. This is used as your "treasure map". Geocaching.com has an application you can download to your phone or device. Once it's installed you log in and search your location for caches. The basic application is free, but if you plan to play on a regular basis, you may want to pay the monthly charge for the upgraded version. You'll receive more and better clues.
Before this event, I'd never been geocaching before. Luckily, two moms in my group frequently play so they led the expedition.
The hunt was set up at Lake Murray Park. We all set off, ready for an adventure.
The younger kids quickly became bored and found their own fun by throwing rocks into the lake.
The first cache was difficult to find so once the adults discovered it's location, it was moved to an easier spot for the kids discover.
Now with geocaching, the idea is to bring something to swap with something else in the cache. This one had a lot of junk! I think most do. I think one child did swap, but most of the kids simply enjoyed looking.
The 2nd cache was amusing. Hidden well, yet in plain site.
The kids LOVED that the cache was a duck decoy! Again, the treasure was more junk.
We decided to hunt for one more cache. My daughter, Ariel, loved the hunt! She's almost 9 and at the right age for it. Really, the little kids could have cared less. They were simply happy running around outside with their friends.
The last cache directions took us a bit off the trail. Despite the slight protest of their dad, I allowed my little billy goats to climb the rocks. Ariel was carefully hunting around the rocks for the cache but Michael just likes to climb.
We didn't find the treasure, but we did find this awesome snakeskin between some of the boulders!
So here's what we learned:
Geocaching is a lot of fun!
It's a great way to get outside and exercise. It makes walking more exciting!
Bring along some trinkets to exchange or to add to the cache.
It's a secret so when you are searching, be sneaky. Don't yell out directions, or "we found it!", or flash the cache around for "muggles" (non-geocachers) to see. Some muggles will take the cache not understanding what it is, so it's best if they don't know.
If your little one isn't interested in the hunt, it's O.K. They'll enjoy being outside either way.
Geocaching isn't just for kids! I think the adults in the group had more fun then the kids. It's like a puzzle and if you enjoy solving puzzles, then this is for you. This is a great way to get your map loving husband involved in an outdoor activity!
Geocaching is world wide and there are caches everywhere if you simply take the time to look. If there aren't any near you, start one and log it. It won't be long before somebody finds it.