Friday, March 29, 2013

Snow Themed Sensory Play

snow village

It seems that Winter just won’t let up at our house.  We had another big snow on Ellie’s birthday and the kids were home on Monday from school.  I thought I would share some of the snow themed play that we have been having over here.

shaving cream snow village

The other week we made a “Snow Village” which was as simple as can be!  Grab a handful of simple toys that are OK to get wet + a large tray + shaving cream = an awesome snow village.  To make my life easier I set up a board for both Bradley and Ellie.  I just used polar bear, duplo men and animals, and a fire and police set that it really chunky and can get wet.   


They played and played!  I was proud of Bradley because he actually got a little ‘dirty’


This is his version of getting dirty at least.  He used to not even touch shaving cream at all, so I was impressed!  Ellie was her usual crazy self and I had to strip her down for her shaving cream snow village play time.


They both had fun discussing their level dirty-ness!  Ellie loves sensory play, and couldn’t get enough of rubbing her hands around in the shaving cream. 


She had more fun with the shaving cream, then with her village people.  Bradley used it more as a imaginative play opportunity.



For fairly easy clean up I set up a “toy washing station.”  I pulled up two stools to our large kitchen sink.  Then I showed them how to carefully hold each object under water and inspect it for any left over snow.  Then I laid out drying towels so they could let their toys air dry.  I think they enjoyed this part just as much as playing in the shaving cream!

For our second adventure in “Snow Play” we used our same large trays, filled them with piles of snow and brought them indoors.  First I laid out large towels on the kitchen table, and put the tray of snow on top of the towels.  Then I set up four cups with liquid watercolors.  You can find them here at Discount School Supply (best site ever!!).  Along with the squeeze droppers.  You can buy 12 of them for $2.99!


Then I just let the kids go to town with the snow!  They squeezed different colors and it ended up looking quite beautiful.  I loved how they both approached the activity differently.  Bradley wanted to put his colors down deep inside the snow, Ellie just saturated her areas until they were dripping with paint.



After a few round of snow painting we were thoroughly sick of snow play!  I can’t wait for spring!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

“Just call me Pinkerella!”


If you haven’t had the chance to read any of the “Pinkalicious” books you are missing out!  They are a favorite over at our house, and they are usually read multiple times a week.  Pinkalicious is the original book and there are now many others…Purplicious, Emeraldalicious, Silverlicious, etc.  Ellie has been in love with this character for so long, and I kind of love her myself.  She eats so many pink cupcakes that she turns pink.  What better way to celebrate your third birthday, than through the eyes of Pinkalicious?! 

So we did a party in honor of Pinkalicious!  We had matching Pinkalicious wands…


I made them by spray painting dowel rods gold, then hot gluing ribbon to the top of the dowel rod.  Once the glue was set, I cut out the stars from glitter adhesive foam pieces and stuck them together!  Easy!  I also threw in a blue and green wand for Bradley and Sammy too!

Then we made our very own Pinkalicious crowns…


I found all of the supplies for these at the craft store.  Even the perfectly matching pink crowns that fit everyone’s heads.  That is always a plus!  I set up stations so children could each have a space to work on their crowns.  There were some Pinkalicious directions at each spot.


We also made Pinkalicious necklaces…



After everyone made their crafts we played, Pin the Cupcake on Pinkalicious!!  Please ignore my horrible drawing of Pinkalicious.  I tried.  Then Ellie decided she wanted to help me color her dress, and I figured why not?  It adds to her charm!


Haven gave it a whirl


I think Lilia actually won!  It was cute, and we played it a few times as a family before and after the party.  It is funny when the little things from your own childhood transfer to your our kids’ lives.  Sometimes the simple things are the best!


Then we had a simple little Pinkalicious Tea Party (minus real tea + pink lemonade).  There were pink covered strawberries, pink dipped marshmallows, and of course pink cupcakes!



Then it was time for singing Happy Birthday to our sweet Ellie!



Lastly, we hopped on some toys, took some photos, and everyone raced home to get out of the snow!  What weird birthday weather.  Last year we took beautiful photos on the porch and went for a walk around the neighborhood.  Yesterday during the party we had so much snow by the evening that the school called at 8 pm to say that schools would be closed on Monday.  I think Bradley will be in Kindergarten until August.





Wow!  Ellie, I can’t really believe that it has been three years!  I told you the story today of your birth (minus all of the scary stuff).  I told you that my belly really hurt and then we went to the doctors and you popped out!

You told me that you “didn’t like being in my belly, it was squishing your fingers so you had to come out.” 

God I love you little girl.


Then we sang to you tonight at dinner and cut your cake to eat as a family.  We served everyone a small piece of cake with ice cream.  I think you have decided you only like the icing.  You picked up your cake with your hands, ate the icing, and then proceeded to stick your face in the bowl to get every last drop of ice cream out.  You were covered in icing and ice cream.  Some things never change!

I love you just the way you are.  Covered in icing and ice cream. 

You wouldn’t have been the spunky little newborn that gave us the scare of our lives three years ago.  This is a picture of looking up at Daddy, and I was far away at another hospital.  An IV stuck into your head and your arms covered in bruises from the doctors and nurses looking for veins.  It is hard to believe that little newborn and the ice cream covered child are even the same person. 


Now with some time and distance on that moment I know that I appreciate your being YOU.  When you first get to hold your baby something magical happens to you as a Mom.  You see everything in your baby’s eyes.  The future.  The past.  And a world of hopes, dreams, and love.  I know that sounds cheesy, but I will never forget Chris wheeling me in to finally hold you three days after your birth for the first time.  They stuck me in a horrible upright chair, my c-section was aching, and I held you and cried and cried and cried some more.


You were YOU, and that was magical and powerful.  I love you so much and I always will.

Happy Third Birthday little one!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

there’s organized and then THERE’S ORGANIZED

I have always thought that my house was pretty neat and tidy.  Sometimes I would have a closet or some drawers that would get a little out of control.  But, since I have been home from teaching I have had a HUGE project hanging over my head.  It was in the form of 40 large bins, packed to the brim with books, supplies, and materials.  Sure, I had looked through them now and again.  I had even taken some down and I had gotten out a lot of my books for my kiddos.  I hadn’t really sat down with all of the stuff and truly sorted, downsized, and dealt with it all.  We have moved it three different times…out of the school, into our old house, into storage, and into our current home.  Chris had been getting on me to go through it all.  It was taking over our unfinished area, and cramping space from items that really needed to be stored, i.e. Christmas stuff and old keepsakes. 

Since my preschool is going to be up and running next year, it gave me the perfect reason to tackle the bins and bins of stuff.  I worked on this project every moment the kids were sleeping sunday, monday, and tuesday.  It was almost done tuesday night, so I stayed up until 1 am just to see it finished.  It is funny, because once you REALLY start organizing stuff it spreads.  I realized that all of my teaching stuff affected the closets in the basement.  And that lead to my growing supply of art and craft stuff….AND THAT lead to my ridiculous office area that was crammed to the max with stamping, sewing, and knitting supplies.  I finally finished with the office, and decided that I had enough left over bins to tackle the garage.  Yep, pretty much every inch of our house is labeled and in a bin.  It was a week long project, but man does everything look great!


This was the previous closet that housed all of the craft supplies for my children and their games.  I left all of the games in the closet, but I moved out all of the craft supplies.  Now I have all of my read alouds for school on the top shelf in magazine racks, sorted by holiday, genre, or author, and labeled of course.  My calendar system is housed here, along with all of the mini drawers full of post its, sharpies, and anything “teachery” that is needed.  The two bins with books now have favorite real alouds, along with teacher work books and curriculum guides that I thought would apply to my preschool.


The bottom of the shelves now hold anything that applies to school in the form of a manipulative or sensory activity.  The smaller bins contain beans, stamps, counting blocks, unifix cubes, dyed pasta, shells, zoobs, tongs, dry erase boards, etc etc.  The lower bins hold all of my play dough store bought and home made, along with gak, moon dough, dyed rice, pasta, and just about any sensory material that I use with my own children.  I love that everything is now at my finger tips and I can find stuff easy peesy!  Here is the whole view of my new “teaching closet” and I can’t get enough of it!


Next up was the out of control unfinished area.  I went through each and every bin.  I donated hoards of stuff to goodwill, and threw away equally as much stuff in the trash.  I really wanted to sift through it all and make good decisions about the items.  Some of it really was in good condition, but I felt that if I held onto it for teaching in the public schools it would surely be outdated by then.  It was important to be honest about how much of it was really ever going to get “used” again. 


This just part of the extra bins that I went through (the rest are now in the garage storing helmets and balls).  To say this was a huge messy project was an understatement.  Chris said it looked like a bomb of books, papers, and plain old crap had gone off in our basement.  But, I did get the shelves better organized.  These are my remaining “teacher” bins….


The clear bins are the only ones left from and for my new preschool.  I divided them up into sections, put the paper in front of them and labeled each and every thing inside for easy access during the school year next year.  The bins are divided simply into literacy based materials, math materials, sensory pay (funnels, scoops), classroom management (binders, bowls, bins, organization), holiday activities, and two bins of older math/literacy materials that I could use with Bradley.  My paper cutters and the overhead are sitting on the far left.  The far right is actually now our gift wrapping area and one container of “presents” that I hide for whichever upcoming holiday is next.

The gift wrapping area was previously in our basement bedroom closet.  It got moved because that will soon be Crozet PlaySchool’s art studio.  I figured while I was moving everything around, I mine as well organize and consolidate the many, many, many craft supplies I have for my kids.  We had them spread out around the house, some near the kitchen and some in the basement.  It is so nice to have them all in one central location, and labeled for easy art projects.


I also came across a TON of art supplies in my teaching bins too.  It made sense to just group everything together for the future.  This is the overview picture of the new Art Studio supply closet.  The top shelf now holds bins with similar materials organized together.  There are paint supplies, dot art, holiday crafts, watercolors and pastels, chalk, natural materials, found objects, modeling clay, etc.


I bought this little organizer back when I was teaching, and I still love it!  It has organized lots of different things, but now it holds all of those funny little  hard to keep track of art supplies.  There are buttons, stamps, beads and more beads, perler beads by color, pom poms, and stickers, and probably more that I am forgetting.  I didn’t label the drawers because they are always changing. 


Lastly I used these rolling drawers for all of my larger art supplies.  The bins were left over from my classroom.  They don’t match and aren’t attractive, but they will be hidden away in the closet so that is fine!  They are storing paints, paper, rolling brushes, art brushes, cookie cutters, pom poms, pipe cleaners, foam stickers, smocks, crayons and markers, the list goes on and on.


That pretty much sums up the downstairs space.  All closets and storage rooms are completely cleaned and tidy!!!!

Then I knew I had to tackle my office area.  Since we have moved into our house I have taken up a few new crafts.  With each new craft comes loads and loads of supplies.  Sewing especially!

But, my office space was originally set up for all of my stamping and paper crafting.  I still like to do that now and again, but I needed to downsize all of that stuff.  I actually took a good majority of my stamps and put them in the art supply closet for school.  I had tons of alphabet stamps, numbers, dinosaurs, and animals that I know my kids will enjoy more than I am right now!

With that extra space I was really able to make room for a great deal of sewing and knitting supplies!!  I love the look of the office now, and the way the light is just beaming through the window.  It is screaming for someone to come and create, sew, and relax!


My new knitting nook is all set!  The rainbow of yarns is so inviting!


In the cabinets I now have sewing on one side and my stamping and paper crafting on the other side.  My felt is all lined up and my fabric scraps are all in baggies and organized by colors.  It makes sewing so much more fun when you can find your notions easily.  I was previously digging through this enormous basket for scissors, measuring tape, and thread.  It is so frustrating when you can’t find what you need!


Now that you have pretty much seen a picture of every closet and storage area in our house I am going to say that I truly now feel ORGANIZED!  It is so nice to know where your stuff is and be able to get your hands on it easily!

I think Chris was worried about me, because I was pretty much obsessed with this project for an entire week.  Now that it is finished I can sew and knit in peace…


Someone very silly is a few days away from turning three, I can’t believe it!!!  Love you Ellie Belle…