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Spooky Spider Halloween Goop

So you just tried my ~Magical Colour-Mixing Goop~ and now you’re wondering what to do with this huge tub of glorious orange goop??  Add some spiders of course! Or any other fun little Halloween goodies to get you in the spooky holiday spirit.  The dollar store is my go-to for these types of things.

So in case you missed my last post, this is just corn starch and water with food colouring. My previous post explains the ratios you will need, but you can always just pour out your cornstarch and just keep adding water until you get the right consistency.  You could add your orange colour to the water and your goop will be orange right away or do what we did…add the colour after (you really need to see that post to see what I mean).

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Goop (or “ooblek”) is such an amazing sensory material.  It is actually considered a “Non-Newtonian Fluid”.  Yes, I use words like that.  That means it does not follow Newton’s laws of viscosity.  Want to know what I’m talking about?  If you make this at just the right ratio of water to corn starch…it’s both a solid and a liquid.  Hard and soft.  Dry AND wet.  It’s CRAZY people.

So put down some sort of mat/towel/shower curtain liner if you don’t like mess, because things are bound to get a bit (maybe a lot) messy with this stuff.  And don’t be afraid to sink those grown-up fingers in there yourself!

Adding things like tweezers give this activity an extra element of fine motor work.  Follow your child’s lead; if they use want to run their fingers through this amazing stuff instead then that’s great too.

 

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10 Easy Activities You Can Do With Leaves

Its finally here! The cool mornings, windows open in the house, the colours, the smells…Ahhh.  I keep hearing everyone I know saying how much they love Fall.  What’s not to love?  The change in temperature is so welcoming after those hot summer months…

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We have been going full force with activities using gorgeous Autumn leaves as the children have been taking notice of the changes happening around them.  I’ve put together a list for you of our top 10 favourite activities (and they don’t have to cost you any money!).

1. Go for a Nature Walk.

The first (and most important!)  leaf activity is collecting them.  Walk down your street, go to the park, or drive somewhere special.  For us, going for a walk in the neighbourhood is a natural part of our every day; we like to get out and spend time outside every morning.  We usually start with a walk (to the post office, library, or bakery) and then finish with playing in our backyard.  My kids are always collecting “treasures” (flowers, rocks, sticks, leaves, acorns, etc) when we go for walks.  So when the gorgeous leaves started to make their way to the ground, my kids naturally collected them to bring them home.

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2.   Sorting

Sorting is a great way to incorporate mathematical thinking into you play.  You could start by asking your child how they think they can sort or group they leaves.  If they need help, prompt them by begin to sort a few (ex colours) yourself and ask them to help you.  You could use paint chips or even pieces of coloured construction paper if you choose to sort by colour.  If your child is old enough, ask them if they can think of any other ways they can sort the leaves (big/small, types/shapes, texture).

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3. Hole Punch

Both my kids really enjoyed this one.  These little hole punchers come from the craft section of the dollar store and are perfect for working those little finger muscles.  Emy (3) even sat and worked very hard to put the little pieces that were punched out back into the holes like a puzzle!  This ended up being a lovely quiet activity as they both sat there concentrating on what they were doing.

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4. Decorate

I’m sure most of you have done leaf rubbings with the leaves UNDER the paper… Well, Ive done that enough times with young kids to know that it’s hard.  And not gratifying for them at all when their paper just looks like scribbles and you can barely see the outline of a leaf.  So here we used out crayons right ON the leaves themselves and it turned out great!  The leaves we used had been collected a few days prior to do this so they were pretty dry which I think works best.  We then couldn’t resist jazzing them up a bit with googly eyes and jewels!

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5. Cut

Both of my kids will be interested in pretty much any activity involving scissors.  This makes me happy because it’s an important skill to master that can be tricky and takes lots of practice.  So for this activity we are switching it up from using paper; cutting leaves!  They are all over the ground and free; saving trees and money = win!

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6. Literacy 

A fun and different way to practice letters in your child’s name, sight words, or the whole alphabet!  Emersen enjoyed putting the letters in his name together while saying them out loud.

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7. Counting

Here we are using various nature objects (treasures) from a walk around our neighbourhood.  We had been noticing the bright red leaves on a few trees as summer was coming to an end,  and sure enough, I was finding handful at the bottom of the stroller basket.  I dug up all the items we had collected that day and we did a simple counting activity.  You could write numbers on a piece of paper for this or use fridge magnet numbers if you have some.  If your child is not yet at this level (my 6 year old did this on his own), help them place the items while counting out loud.  Finally, help guide their finger while counting, focusing on one-to-one correspondence; touching each object one time while you count.

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8. Pair them with Books

This gorgeous book is called “Botanicum” and we enjoyed matching the leaves we found to the illustrations.  We read a little about the different types of trees that have different leaves.  You could look at your local library for books about Fall (fiction and non fiction) and take notice of the colours the illustrator uses and make connections to what you are seeing outside where you live.

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9.  Small World  Play

Leaves are perfect for small world play as they add a very real element.  Here, I used them as the base for this simple set up for my youngest child to play with.  You could also use just a few to add to a different sensory base you may have chosen (coloured rice).  Just add a few animals (or not) and let your kids explore!

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10.  Sensory bottle

Sensory bottles are the perfect way for babies to explore in a safe and mess-free way.  This was the easiest set-up you can imagine; water and leaves.  I chose to do a bottle of red colours and another with yellow/brown.  The bottles I have used are “Voss” which I found at Shopper’s Drug Mart if you live in Canada (any plastic water bottle will work though!).

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Tnere you have it! 10 easy activities that we have enjoyed for you to use those beautiful Fall leaves.  They won’t cost you any money so try a few or try them all!

 

 

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Fall Play Dough Activity

Fall is definitely in the air here in the Nation’s Capital of Canada.  We have been enjoying getting outside and collecting leaves, acorns, and just not being so hot in general!  It was time for a new batch of play dough and a  Fall-themed invitation to play seemed like the obvious choice.  This play dough provides a great sensory experience for your little ones as they explore the soft squishy dough with their fingers while enjoying the warm and comforting fragrance of Fall.  IMG_8928

I got out all the ingredients and enlisted my trusty helper. I have made soooo much play dough to confidently tell you I have finally found the best recipe and the best method.  This recipe does require cooking- but it makes the play dough last so incredibly long and gives it a silky smooth feel.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 TBSP cream of tartar (found in the baking section)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • Food Colouring
  • 1 TBSP your favourite fall scent (cinnamon OR pumpkin spice work well)
  • glycerin (not mandatory, but this makes it so shiny an smooth)

 

First, you are going to combine all the dry ingredients; the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and your favourite fall spice.  (We just used cinnamon this time, as I didn’t have any “pumpkin pie spice” on hand.)  You can do this in a bowl, right in your pan (if it is deep with high edges), or even in a stand-mixer.  I prefer the bowl for quick and easy clean up.  I do not like doing it right in the pan as I find it tricky to really get the dough all mixed up properly.

Next, add the oil and the water.  You can put your food colouring into the water or simply mix it right into the dough.  Finally, add a few drops of glycerin and give it all a good mix.  Your dough should be “wet” and sticky.

Now you will transfer your dough to a pan on the stove that is set to medium/ low heat. I like to flatten all the dough out in the pan with my spatula.  Wait about 15 seconds then flip it all over.  You will start to see darker patches on the dough; that is the dough cooking.  Flatten it all out again and then flip.  Keep doing this until all the dough is cooked.  Then remove the dough from the pan and put it on the counter to cool.  I usually have very little patience for it to cool completely, so after about 5 minutes I start to knead the (hot- ouch) dough.  Do this for a few minutes; it should not be sticky at all.

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When the play dough has cooled enough for your child to use, just pair it with some loose parts, acorns, fall-themed jewels, rolling pins, cookie cutters, or whatever you have around your house.  My kids have been LOVING this play dough.  I love it too as it provides so many opportunities for learning and development.

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They have been practicing fine motor control as they use their little fingers to mold and manipulate the dough.  They use their imaginations as they use the open ended materials with the dough (cakes, a steamroller, a fortress, an owl).  It has been a nice quiet activity for them to do on their own, together, or with me.  We have even incorporated math into our play with games making little pumpkins and counting them together, adding more and taking some away.

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Enjoy!