Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Unplugged Project this week:
We decided to go the reading/rhyming route this time. Using some small wooden alphabet letters and a homemade cardboard pattern we rhymed the word "old". If you don't have a wooden alphabet, try using the plastic magnet letters or even the foam ones.
A found the right letters for his template and then we set about looking for 'real' words that rhymed with old by trying out each of the letters in the alphabet.
Our favorite part of the activity was making silly words. A couldn't help laughing at the sound of some of them.

**Update: I had no idea my little set of letters would spark such interest! Unfortunately they are something I found in a Fijian nickel and dime store for about $5. There was no brand or "made in" information on the packaging or on the wooden box itself. So sorry to everyone interested. :-(
Check out Carrie's comment below to see some links to other wooden alphabets. Thanks Carrie!

Monday, June 23, 2008

LLL: Balloons

Here is my post for Laugh, Learn, Love's Theme of the Week: Balloons; four ideas I have created myself and borrowed from others.

Balloon Badminton: Almost every kid I know loves to play some form of "keep away" with balloons. You know, hitting it up and trying not to let it touch the ground. Well, we developed a variation on it that always results in a case of the giggles. Using fly swatters as rackets, we hit the balloon back and forth to each other like a game of badminton. Sometimes I put A on my bed so he is further from the ground (it's easier for me to get to the balloon in time when it's a higher to start with). And sometimes we use the couch as a net we have to hit the balloon over. I pretend it's my exercise on some days, but it's always great for getting A's wiggles out.

Balloon Puppets: The way a balloon slowly sways and bounces makes it perfect for a silly puppet bobbing his head up and down. We used yarn for hair, pompom for a nose, rubber band for mouth, and a Popsicle stick for the puppeteer to hold. Just about anything will work though: buttons, stickers, paper, ribbon, etc. Find what supplies you have around the house, or simply grab a marker and draw until someone new comes to life. (Markers are A's preference--nice and fast.)

Balloon Balls
: I saw this idea on Luckybeans and knew it would be an instant hit in our house. I simultaneously hoped really hard it wouldn't be a disastrous mess too! In the end it was a fantastic, mess-less activity. We made a super large one and a med-small one. World Dad stole the small one to use at work as a stress ball (not that his current job is at all stressful, just boring). We did have fun tossing both of them off the balcony to Solo who was a very good sport about being the target during target practice.

Balloon Science: We haven't done this one yet, but I want to try it soon. We have a two week school break right now, so it's looking like a perfect opportunity. If we do, I'll try to post a photo.
**UPDATE: it was a successful science project. Here are the before and after pictures.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Non-scary activities for the dark

I've become that mom who uses old toilet paper rolls for a multitude of kids crafts. I'm not proud of the extreme tackiness. But what can I say, they are plentiful and free, why not put them to use. Here's the latest activity.

Armed with a push pin and a safety pin we punched holes in several old TP rolls. Some designs were, well, quite abstract. While others were made by following a penciled pattern.
And here is the final product all lit up with a mini flashlight.
We also pulled out a blue Wal-Mart Glow Stick to see how that would work . Not a bad varriation.
We then attempted to play the shadow game. This is really a fun one when you can get it to work right. Unfortunately our flashlights were uncooperative. Let me explain, first gather a bag of random, smallish items. Then in a darkened room have your child sit facing the same direction as you, but in front of you (so they can't see you), and guess the objects as you hold them up in front of the flashlight. Here's the thing, make sure your flashlight has the right shine circumference (is there a technical term for that? Someone help me out) otherwise there are double shadows or blurry images, etc. Our best light for this activity was a headlamp which was even better because I was left with two hands free. Unfortunately the bulb gave out on me. Boo hoo. But try this one next time the power goes out. It's fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yard Soup

This was the product of his creative efforts. He spent all afternoon collecting and adding ingredients, remembering (and changing) the recipe, and constantly stirring his soup. I thought the finished product was rather beautiful.

He enjoyed the experience so much he made a second soup from leaves, sand, paper, water, and I'm not really sure what else, but it sure stunk after a day or two! Not quite as pleasant of an activity that time around, but still perfect for pretend play.

Aphabet Balance Beam

I have tried several times to make a walking line for A using colorful electrical tape. Just something he can follow with his feet while concentrated on balance. He never likes it. But, as we were playing with our small alphabet foam squares he found the very long line irresistible to his little feet. Over and over he walked along his new balance beam. It wasn't long before we were changing the configuration to make a square, rectangle, zig-zag, and more. I'm thinking this is a perfect rainy day activity to get out some wiggles.

Suva Zoo

We decided Suva needed a Zoo. So we made one! It was a great two-day activity that kept A busy...and me too.

Here is the planning and painting stages. We used a cardboard box that had been cut down one of the corners and flattened. Then we gathered up all the random boxes and cartons I had been saving from an early garbage death and glued them down according to our mental blueprints.

And here we have the finished project.

Mr. A has so many plastic animals of varying sizes and colors that we were at no loss for filling up the cages with wild critters. It was fun to move them around and play zoo keeper, but not fun enough. The activity was abandoned quicker than I hoped, but I count the creation process as the real success.

(oh-we actually did this a few months ago, but never posted it...too busy playing.)

Straw Snakes

Unplugged theme of the week is Plastic. Although very late, here is my plastic activity contribution: Straw Snakes. Simple, but thoroughly enjoyed by my four year old.

It started with some scissors and straws. I let him cut them into any size piece he wanted. We had super skinny, super long, and everything in between.
Then he threaded the straw pieces onto a shoelace (you could also use yarn with tape at the end or a pipe cleaner). Ta-da! You've got yourself a pet snake.