Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cool Fourth of July Crafts + Weekly Wrap Up {Kid's Co-op}

Have you had a good week? I'm exhausted thinking about mine. We are in vacation overload but are loving it! 

Here's a wrap up of some things I've been up to this week... and I'm also sharing a few favorite festive Fourth of July posts and a hit or two from last week's Kid's Co-op.


Two weeks ago we were at the beach in the Pacific Ocean and this week we're hanging out by the beach in the Atlantic.

We...
  • Survived the long coast to coast airplane ride with my large 18 month old sitting on my lap. Thank you Thomas the train toys and an Aquadoodle for helping keep her entertained (among other things)! We bought her her own seat for the way home... my pregnant belly could not handle it again!
  • Made our first ever no-sew capes!
  • Visited Historic Williamsburg during a heat wave... we'll try again when the kids are older.
  • Tried out tie dying some new things for the Fourth of July!
  • Introduced my toddler to mini-golf at our resort- it was hysterical.
  • Did some friendship themed reading and crafts as part of the #readforgood MeMeTales Readathon! 
 Here are three cool toddler-friendly Fourth of July crafts and activities I've discovered! Have you done anything festive yet for the 4th?

Freedom Collages for the 4th of July via No Time for Flashcards
I seriously LOVE these. I love how open-ended they are. Perfect for toddlers.

This is a great one from the Make & Takes archives. My kids looove marshmallows!

DIY Firework Shirts via The Mother Huddle
Such a great idea to use pipe cleaners for painting/printing the fireworks!!
These are sooo simple!

My three favorite posts from last week's Kid's Co-op Linky are...

Simple Snake Sock Puppet via Jennifer Fischer (So simple and silly!)

Painting with colored ice cubes via The Children's Art Group (love the vibrant colors!)

25 Ways to Play with Goop via Growing a Jeweled Rose

 There are so many great ideas this week too, so stop by and check them out. If you've done anything this week that you want to share, make sure to come and link up!! Have a great weekend!!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Toddler Boxes {via It's A Long Story}

We're kicking off our Summer guest blogger series this week! We are excited to be sharing posts from several awesome kid's bloggers this summer. We hope you'll love their posts and head over and check out all the other great ideas they have to share on their Facebook pages and blogs. Today's guest blogger is Heather from It's A Long Story. The simple toddler box round up that she is sharing is full of great ideas to keep little ones learning and having fun. 

Hello Toddler Approved readers!

I'm so excited to be over here with you today! My home in blog-land is It's A Long Story, where I blog about my family, my faith, and a whole lot of life.

One thing I've been doing lately is putting together Toddler Boxes for my 3 year old daughter. They're simple activities that she can work on by herself. Let me tell you, they are life savers at dinner time! I thought it would be nice to put them all in one place for you.

Here we go!

What toddler doesn't love stringing buttons? This box get's regular action in our house. I love this one for days on the go because it's a self-contained activity that fit's right inside whatever bag I'm using. You can read the full post (and the idea behind Toddler Boxes) HERE.

I love this box. I like activities that can be changed up, or made more challenging as your child grows, and this is one of those. It can start out as a simple fine motor activity, and take you all the way through color matching and pattern making! Read more on that HERE.

Simplicity is key with Toddler Boxes. I don't think it could get any simpler than this box. It's pop-poms...in a box. Haha! Honestly, my daughter comes up with more to do with this one than I do. Read all about it HERE

This is another super simple box that can be adjusted to all sorts of levels of difficulty. My daughter loves to cut, and gets so excited every time she snips a new piece off! Check it out HERE

This one was actually an accidental Toddler Box. Don't you just love happy accidents? I do! Read all about that one HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this little round-up of mine. There are more Toddler Boxes coming, so make sure you connect with It's A Long Story so you don't miss any!

Thanks for having me over to play today!

Heather





Heather is a wife, a momma, a lover of Jesus, and a Special Needs Ministry Coordinator. She shares life and all that comes with it at her blog It's A Long Story.You can find more of the Story on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Take a moment and check out her shop, The Flannel Lamb, too!


Thanks for all of the great toddler box ideas Heather!!

Do any of you have any other favorite items that you put into toddler boxes? Share them in the comments!

If you missed any of our recent guest blogger posts, just click the link below and catch up!



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Did you catch my post on Wednesday about getting your kids to eat their veggies?


It was part of my summer BabbaBox series sponsored by BabbaCo. This month BabbaCo is offering Toddler Approved readers a special 1 cent deal on their monthly and annual BabbaBox subscriptions. You can enjoy your first box in a monthly or annual membership for just 1 cent! Just type in this code at checkout: TA1CENT Click here to sign up now! The 1 cent offer is only good until July 4th... so hurry!
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Do you like to tie dye?


I'm the kid's craft contributor at Life Your Way. This week I am sharing three classic tie dye camp crafts with a twist. I'd love for you to stop by and share your favorite camp crafting memory from when you were little! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Water Baby Sensory Bin {via The Iowa Farmer's Wife}

We're kicking off our Summer guest blogger series this week! We are excited to be sharing posts from several awesome kid's bloggers this summer. We hope you'll love their posts and head over and check out all the other great ideas they have to share on their Facebook pages and blogs. Today's guest blogger is Adrienne from The Iowa Farmer's Wife. We love the summer water activity that she is sharing!

Hi! I'm Adrienne, aka The Iowa Farmer's Wife, and I am delighted to be guest posting at Toddler Approved today! I have two little munchkins, Sweet P who is 3 and Baby Blue who is 8 mos old. We love sensory activities and outdoor play so we combined the two to create our Water Baby Sensory Bin.

Playing in the water table is one of Sweet P's favorite activities, but Baby Blue is often sitting on the blanket nearby or standing assisted at the table. He can't really reach the things he wants so I decided I'd create his own water table, baby-style!

The size of the bin was perfect for him to sit in without falling over when he reached for something. I threw in a few of his favorite bath time toys along with some new items for some water baby fun! He loved it! The water was a bit deeper than what I usually do in the bathtub so he loved splashing his legs and hands in the bin.
Grass was an added element! The height of the bin allowed him to reach over the side to grab grass when he wanted (he loves grass).

As you can see, Sweet P couldn't resist joining in the fun! She thought this was more fun than her water table (you can see it abandoned in the background)! Sweet P showed Baby Blue how to pour water and scoop water, which was a great way for them to interact with this activity.
The items in the bin included:
  • Sandra Boynton's Barnyard Bath book
  • 2 TakeNToss cups
  • 1 stainless steel bowl
  • 1 toy boat
  • several ring links
  • toy wrench
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • orange plastic bowl
  • egg separator
  • water ladle

 The Iowa Farmer's Wife is a mommy blogger and mother of two who enjoys sharing simple ideas about crafting with kids, frugal living and healthy eating. She lives in the Midwest and chronicles her family's indoor and outdoor adventures on her blog, http://theiowafarmerswife.com/.
Follow The Iowa Farmer's Wife on:
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Did you catch my post yesterday about getting your kids to eat their veggies?


It was part of my summer BabbaBox series sponsored by BabbaCo. This month BabbaCo is offering Toddler Approved readers a special 1 cent deal on their monthly and annual BabbaBox subscriptions. You can enjoy your first box in a monthly or annual membership for just 1 cent! Just type in this code at checkout: TA1CENT Click here to sign up now! The 1 cent offer is only good until July 4th... so hurry!
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Do you like to tie dye?


I'm the kid's craft contributor at Life Your Way. This week I am sharing three classic tie dye camp crafts with a twist. I'd love for you to stop by and share your favorite camp crafting memory from when you were little! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ways to get your Superhero to Eat His Veggies {June BabbaBox Activities}


As I mentioned in my previous BabbaBox post (BabbaBox: a cool learning tool for kids), we are big fans of BabbaCo and their monthly BabbaBoxes.

So, we are very excited to be teaming up with BabbaCo to share a new monthly summer series with you where we will feature book-related crafts and activities created exclusively to go along with the children's books included in each BabbaBox. 

The June BabbaBox (arriving this week) includes the Charlie and Lola book I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child.


This book is adorable and tells the story of how Charlie gets his little sister (a very fussy and picky eater) to eat her vegetables!

We have a similar situation at our house... except my 4-year-old is the picky eater (not my toddler). After reading this book and listening to all of the silly ways that Charlie uses to get his sister to eat her veggies, my son decided that superhero powers (and a cape) could definitely help him (and his sister) eat their veggies.

Here are some crafts and activities we came up with to get your superhero to eat his veggies (or at least like them a little bit more)!


1. Brainstorm your favorite veggies and fruits... and then turn them into SUPERHEROES!


We started off by making a list of our favorite veggies and fruits (and ones we didn't like so much). We did this mostly outloud on errands while we were driving. Some of our best creative ideas come when my son and I have downtime in the car.

Here were a few fruits/veggies that were mentioned: pineapple, strawberry, apple, tomato, broccoli, corn, etc.

Then we goofed around with our favorite superhero names and changed them by adding a veggie or fruit into the name.

Captain Tomato... Strawberry Girl... Broccoli Woman... Pineapple Man... were just a few that we came up with.

2. Design your superhero fruit & veggie logos with play-doh.


We have been loving play-doh and play-doh mats recently, so we created a very simple play-doh mat for you to print out and use for designing. You can download the blank Superhero Logo play-doh mat here.


All you do is print out the mat onto cardstock, cover it with contact paper (or laminate it), adhere it to your table somehow (we just stuck the contact paper straight onto the table), and then grab your play-doh and start creating!! If you need a visual, you can check out our recent five little duckling play-doh mats here.

If you're not a play-doh lover, your kids could also design their logos with crayons or markers. Here are the logos we created for Captain Tomato and Pineapple Man!! (we ended up changing the shield into an orange circle though)

3. Make no-sew and sticker SUPERHERO capes!


This activity was partially a mom project. I followed this fabulous no-sew cape tutorial on Jollymom and created a double-sided cape for both my son and daughter based on the superheroes my son chose for them. He wanted his cape to be for Captain Tomato and Pineapple Man, so I put a logo on both sides of his felt cape.


I am not a seamstress or a huge fan of doing anything with fabric (or even much with felt), so when I say these are EASY... take me at my word. I am now going to turn into a no-sew cape making machine. By putting a logo on each side my son can change his mind about which character he wants to be in the middle of playing.


Being Captain America or Superman is cool... but being Captain Tomato or Pineapple Man is hysterical. My son kept cracking himself up when he'd run around and yell who he was- "I'm PINEAPPLE MAN! Here to save the day!"

While I crafted with felt and my glue gun, I set up a little kid no-sew station using foam sticker paper. My son got several sheets of foam sticky paper and stickers and got to create his own foam no-sew cape while I finished up his felt cape creation. Both of us had fun creating together... and the sticker activity kept my son from messing around with my glue gun and scissors. Here is an example of one of the sticker activities.

4. Put on your capes, get in the car, and go on a rainbow hunt at the grocery store!! 


We do this activity once a week and it is a big hit with my kids. It has helped us learn about and try new fruits and veggies. You can read more about exactly what we do for our rainbow grocery store hunt here.

5. Decide what your superhero powers are going to be and practice them!


We love to pretend and be silly. Once we get home from the grocery store we talk about all the different fruits and veggies we purchased. Then we talk about our superhero powers. I try and help my son brainstorm superhero powers that will also encourage him to try new things.

Some superhero power examples could be...

  • eat an entire banana in five minutes 
  • choose two new fruits or veggies to try and swallow them without saying a word (especially any complaining)
  • secretly eat a rainbow in one day without mom knowing (one fruit/veggie from each color) 

Or... sometimes we pair them with an action and create a challenge or call the fruits and veggies something different (like Charlie did) to try and make eating them more exciting...
  • swallow four spoonfuls of superhero soup (which is what we call Taco soup)
  • stab two green trees (broccoli) with your spear (fork) and toss them into the ravine (your throat)

We practice being veggie superheros and pretend to eat a variety of veggies and fruits using our play food... and I cross my fingers and hope that the continued exposure and opportunities that I give my kids to try new things (in play and real life) will eventually help them develop a love for fruits, veggies, and a varied diet.

Making fruits and vegetables exciting or fun is just one way to get kids more interested in eating them. My son definitely has a new attitude about veggies after reading this darling book and doing some of these superhero veggie activities!

Here are some other great posts with ideas to help encourage your child to eat healthier:

How do you encourage your kids to eat healthier? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

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Have you signed up for a monthly BabbaBox subscription yet? 


To learn more about BabbaBox, a monthly subscription box filled with themed crafts and activities, head on over to my previous post here. This month BabbaCo is offering Toddler Approved readers a special 1 cent deal on their monthly and annual BabbaBox subscriptions. You can enjoy your first box in a monthly or annual membership for just 1 cent! Just type in this code at checkout: TA1CENT
Click here to sign up now! The 1 cent offer is good until July 4th!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of BabbaCo. BabbaCo will be compensating me for my monthly book-related craft and activity posts. All posts reflect my personal opinion and endorsement and are not swayed by compensation and/or free products. Please note that this post reflects my opinion and preferences and you might not share that same opinion.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simple Friendship Bracelet #readforgood


























The Readathon 2012 theme for this week is Friendship.  Inspired by the theme, and knowing how much my daughter enjoys tying knots and laces, I knew that she'd love learning how to make a "friendship" bracelet.

While she is proficient in knot tying - I wasn't sure that she'd be able to manage several strands of thin embroidery floss (or how long her attention span would last) - so I made a few changes to the basic Chinese Staircase knot technique to make it easier for her.




















We used a single piece of yarn instead of embroidery floss (because it is thicker and easier for small fingers to manage) and tied it around a shoelace (instead of several other pieces of yarn, which would be hard to keep from getting tangled).  We used a single color, however a simple way to make the bracelet multi colored would be to use variegated yarn.




















[Using the clipboard is optional - but I found it works the best to keep the bracelet in place/secure while tying knots.]

Tie a series of knots using the Chinese Staircase technique until bracelet reaches desired length:

























When finished, cut off remaining yarn/lace and tie ends together to form a bracelet.

 























Share it with a special friend.

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Two fun books we're reading to go along with the "Friendship" theme:


How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague


Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by Jacky Davis & David Soman


As well as this ebook:
StickFiggy Makes a Friend by Jane Marshall
(one of the Readathon 2012, free ebooks, available on MeMeTales)

Join Readathon 2012 
Disclaimer: Due to my participation in the Readathon 2012, I am receiving the featured books for free from MeMeTales. In exchange, I will be sharing book inspired, fun activities with you each week!

Welcome to our Dog Party {via Creekside Learning}


We're kicking off our Summer guest blogger series this week! We are excited to be sharing posts from several awesome kid's bloggers this summer. We hope you'll love their posts and head over and check out all the other great ideas they have to share on their Facebook pages and blogs. Today's guest blogger is Julie from Creekside Learning. She is sharing an activity that goes along with one of our favorite books. I hope you think this activity is as much fun as we do!




There is a book in our house that has been loved so dearly by all three of my kids, and it is fortunate that we have three copies of it: Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman. We once read it at bedtime to my oldest son when he was a toddler. Now he is 8 and he reads it to his little brother. And that warms my heart.

We decided to have some fun this week, Go, Dog, Go style. One of our favorite parts of the book is the recurring character who appears with different hats and asks her friend, "Do you like my hat?" He does not like any of her hats. Until the very end, when she appears at the Dog Party in this crazy hat, which he likes very much.



So one morning, we stayed in our pj's and made our own crazy dog party hats. I took some cardboard canisters, like the kind oatmeal comes in, and cut them in half. I attached half of the canister to a large paper plate with my glue gun. I instructed the kids to cover up all the brown and white parts of the canister and paper plate. They could choose markers, paint or anything really, including a box of leftover party streamers we had laying around.

 

Once they covered their hats, they set about to decorate them with more streamers, stickers, pom poms, balloons and more. I glued two lengths of ribbon so the hats could tie under their chins. Ta da! Aren't they some awesome creative hats? Didn't the dog do a great job making her hat? Kidding. I made that one.

 

Then we had a Dog Party! Daddy read the book to them while I served them bowls of snacks and water, which they ate from like dogs. My daughter pulled out an old Halloween dog costume and wore that. By the way, when you let kids eat their snack like dogs, they are a very quiet and captive audience for story time. Just thought you should know.

   

After snack and reading the book, we danced to some great music like the dogs at the end of the book. Of course, we invited our actual dog to dance along with us. Which means she basically stood there barking and looking confused. But fun was had by all.

   

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Julie blogs about her adventures in learning alongside her kiddos, and her dog, at Creekside Learning. When not setting her kitchen on fire from science experiments gone awry, she enjoys doing lots of outdoor activities with her kids. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. She lives in the suburban Washington, D.C area.





Thanks so much Julie for sharing this great activity! I love that you involved every member of your family!


If you missed any of our recent guest blogger posts, just click the link below and catch up!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sky Themed Bath {via Growing a Jeweled Rose}

We're kicking off our Summer guest blogger series today! We are excited to be sharing posts from several awesome kid's bloggers this summer. We hope you'll love their posts and head over and check out all the other great ideas they have to share on their Facebook pages and blogs. Our first blogger is Crystal from Growing a Jeweled Rose.


Hello, my name is Crystal, and I am so excited to be guest posting on Toddler Approved today!  I am the writer of Growing A Jeweled Rose, a play based blog where I share play and learning activities for small children.  One of our favorite ways to play is at bath time, so today  I am sharing one of our fun bath ideas.

My older daughter Rosie has been fixated on the sky lately, always pointing upward at a helicopter, bird, or unique cloud formation floating by.  This inspired me to create a sky themed bath for her.
Sky themed bath
To create this bath, I dyed the water blue using food coloring.  It does not stain the bath or child, and adds such a fun element to bath time.  I added a touch of rain scented bath oil to further enhance Rosie's senses, and really bring the sky them to life.  I then cut various shapes out of foam craft squares.  I also threw in an airplane, and a strainer so that she could make rain.

This was such a fun way to focus on Rosie's interests, and further explore the sky!

Rosie had a lot of fun sticking the foam shapes to the wall, and my younger daughter Jewel delighted in taking them down.

We talked a lot about the weather, and how the rain comes from the clouds. 

Then Rosie delighted in making a little rain of her own. 

This was definitely Rosie and Jewel's favorite part!

 This fun bath activity presented great opportunities to introduce new vocabulary words.  It was also a great way for a toddler to explore the varying elements of the sky.  

There are so many fun ways to explore and play at bath time.  Some other fun baths that we have created are a Glowing Outer Space Themed Bath, a Birthday Celebration Bath and an Ocean Themed Sensory Bath.

I would love for you to drop by Growing A Jeweled Rose and check out some of the other fun playtimes we have shared.  We especially love sensory play, things that glow, and getting messy

Lastly, I would just like to thank Toddler Approved for the opportunity to share here today!   It has been such an honor! 
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Crystal is currently staying home with her two small children, Jewel and Rosie.  She firmly believes in the value and importance of play, and strives to make the most of everyday.  She loves coming up with fun and creative playtimes ,and sharing them on her play based blog, Growing A Jeweled Rose.  You can also follow the fun of Growing A Jeweled Rose via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+

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