Category Archives: Activity

Last Week on the Light Table: 3

2015-09-15 09.34.36 I’m slowly letting the light table take over a small area in our living room. I now have out several baskets and trays that allow many of our materials to stay out longer than a week or a few days.

Last week we had: 

I added some slotted translucent builders. This is a similar set on Amazon.

2015-09-15 09.34.42We also have straws and play dough out for building. As a side note, those Play-Doh containers are damn hard to open. I wish I knew of a better way to store it so it doesn’t dry out, but Cam could get into it by herself. 

Update: Cut the straws in half. Long straws are floppy and slippery and were really hard to build with. Narrower ones might be better too. 

Quiet Boxes: September 2

I actually only put out one new quiet box this time around. I kept the magnetic builder (which you can see in the last post) both because Cam didn’t spend much time playing with the quiet boxes over the last two weeks and because when she did, she played with this.

We have:

2015-09-17 18.56.08Halloween stickers and paper. We found the stickers in the dollar bins at Target and Cam has been all about making pictures lately so I thought it would be another good opportunity. 

Last Week on the Light Table: 2

The light table has remained really popular. Cam uses it at least once a day, which has really surprised me. She especially liked the stencils so I have left them out. I also added a couple new activities and put Blokus away. 

Last week we had:

2015-09-10 07.20.12Stained Glass Coloring Sheets and loose parts: Dover makes these coloring sheets that are meant to go in your window once they are colored. I bought a small kaleidoscope patterned booklet and an Arabic patterns which has a lot of geometric patterns. I paired them with tiles, jewels, and translucent beads. 

2015-09-10 07.19.16Transparency sheets and overhead markers: A few years ago the school my husband and I work for switched to digital overhead projectors and other technologies. They ditched all the overhead projectors and a lot of transparency sheets and markers. At the end of the year we rescued a bunch from going into the dumpster. I put out markers and cut down the sheets into smaller squares/rectangles. I also drew patterns on two sheets and set them on the light table with some glass jewels. 

Last Week on the Light Table: 1

So at the beginning of September I set up our light table, a hulking wooden box with a glass top, on the floor of our living room. It used to be in our classroom, but Cam wasn’t particularly interested in it so I put it away. I don’t know if the change in scenery or her being a little older has made a difference, but Cam is all about it this week. I cleared out her play food shelf (putting it with her play kitchen) and set out a few transparent and translucent loose parts jars for her to use with the other pieces I put out throughout the week. 

2015-09-01 15.40.22Last week we had:

Blokus: It’s this nifty game that requires spatial thinking skills and strategy, but the pieces are colored and translucent. Cam has always loved putting the pieces out on the board in different patterns and arrays so I t2015-09-01 15.41.08hought I would give them a try on the light table. My only disappointment is that the board itself is opaque and it has a grid on it that the pieces fit nicely into. 

Stencils: Cam had these Tupperware stencils out in one of her quiet boxes and she was all about them. Plus it’s great fine motor practice. I thought since they are also translucent I would put them out with some thin paper. 

Quiet Boxes: September 1

For the next two weeks I have two new quiet boxes set up. Cam is officially transitioning out of her nap. Thankfully she is willing to have quiet time every day and I get a couple hours to do things mostly Cam-free. More often than not she wants to continue doing what she was doing after lunch, but as the two hour mark nears she gets fatigued and needs some guidance. The quiet boxes are a quick go-to that she knows about and I can remind her of. 

We have:

2015-09-01 15.42.34Mega Magnet Fun: Cam has been into tangrams for ages and this was an extension of it. I like that it adds in the extra dimension building the shapes up even though they are still flat pieces. They appear to sell a slightly different version (no color pieces) on Amazon which you can see here

2015-09-01 15.43.13Popsicle Stick Puzzles: I had these foam popsicle sticks and found some puzzles. I’ve had them out for a long time, but I just don’t think Cam was seeing them. The activity is pretty tricky- she has to look at the picture and copy it with her own sticks- but she’ll 

I don’t think this is the place I downloaded them from, but you can get a set of cards here. You’ll have to provide your email address to get the download link. I’m sorry I can’t find where I got them from. 


Summer of Mess: Colored Noodles

2015-08-27 15.33.55Another fun sensory experience from 150+ Screen Free Activities. Cam actually did this one on her own. If I had been there she might have stuck with it longer, but she still played for about 15 minutes which for a messy activity is great for her. 

The idea is simple, cook some noodles, put them in a plastic bag and then add a splash of food coloring and water. I chose blue and green and then added some plastic sea creatures. Also per the book I added a pair of scissors and, interestingly, she was more inspired by those. I am still finding tiny pieces of noodle stuck to my feet when I walk through the kitchen (okay, not exactly, it’s mostly dried up by now).

2015-08-27 15.33.42If you try this… 

…put out the splat mat. Cooked pasta is nasty when it gets stepped on so the more you can contain it, the better.

…you can do uncooked pasta. It’s more like the colored rice. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking the noodles first or you want it to last longer, then you might try that. 

…the scissors (a suggestion from the book) were brilliant. Cam had so much fun snipping away. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 10

Just two more this week. We have…

2015-08-16 12.07.18Stencils. These are old Tupperware stencils. Stencils are excellent for developing finger control and pencil grip. They’re nice because they’re rigid plastic which makes them easier than some flimsy plastic and paper stencils we have. Cam can press fairly hard against the edge and the pencil doesn’t jump out, tear the edge, or deform it. I’ve seen these in thrift shops so you could keep your eye out or eBay has them inexpensively and readily available.

2015-08-16 12.07.00Blocks and animals. I found some little Jenga-style blocks at the dollar store. I’m not sure how she’ll combine them. She did pull this bin out right away, but she was trying to build something tall and it wasn’t working so she was really frustrated. I was prepping for her birthday party and didn’t have time to step in an help her so I don’t know how successful this one will be in the end. 

Summer of Mess: Colored Rice

2015-08-12 09.25.56 Making colored rice is incredibly simple. I scooped out a cup or so of rice into a Ziploc bag, mixed a splash or two of food coloring with some rubbing alcohol in a small dish then dumped that on top of the rice. Then I zipped up the bag and shook until it was fairly evenly coated. 

I did a rainbow of colors and laid them out to dry in the sun. 2015-08-12 13.19.31It took a couple hours, but the rubbing alcohol dries out pretty quickly. Then I told Cam we were going to make tie-dye rice and mix all the colors in a box. She was so excited and got out her metal play dough molds. There was a lot of scooping and pouring. I mixed in some magnetic letters for her to find and match up to their outlines. She was less interested in that and more interested in cooking with it, making cakes and pies and soups. 

2015-08-12 13.19.18If you try this…

…make sure the rice dries all the way before playing with it. Otherwise the food coloring will get all over your hands.

…use liquid food coloring. The gel stuff doesn’t dissolve well in the rubbing alcohol.

…this stuff pours nicely so get out cups, bowls, scoops, and funnels. 

…it keeps for awhile so make sure you can dedicate the bin you’re using to the rice for a week or so.

…also get ready to be sweeping and vacuuming rice up for the time it’s out. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 9

I moved the quiet boxes into Cam’s room this week since I usually have her do quiet time in there. In theory she could have brought them into her room when she wanted to do them, but more often than not she just wants to read and play with her stuffed animals. Moving them in there, though, meant I had to pare down to two. They’re both essentially repeats from last week.

2015-08-12 09.24.28Magic Mosaic. This one is still out. I’ll see if she wants to play with it again. If not back in the closet it goes on Sunday. 

Sewing buttons. Last week she simply had the burlap sewing on an embroidery hoop. This week I added some buttons and intend to show her how to attach them if she’s interested. 

Summer of Mess: Soap Foam

2015-08-06 17.14.14This is an activity I came across on Pinterest. I had planned on making colored beans to put in a bin, but for the second time this week discovered that I don’t have the material I need. *Sigh* We did however have several bars of soap that I had bought to do this back in May so I decided to break it out again.

2015-08-06 17.14.26All you do is pop the bar of soap on a plate and put it in the microwave. It foams up, but not in the way you would expect soap to foam up. It resembles whipped cream and is soft, crumbly and smooth to the touch. I microwaved a bar and half for about a minute. You can always add more time and I err on the side of less time because our microwave has the power of an atomic bomb. 

Cam was pretty excited to do this again and she got out some little pipettes and asked for a dish of water. We laid out the splat mat so the floor wouldn’t get slippery and put the foam on a tray. I would say Cam was engaged for a good 10-15 minutes squishing and rubbing and dripping water. 

2015-08-06 17.14.34If you try this…

…it’s got to be a soap that’s fairy light. We used Ivory, but I suspect other brands would work.Bar soap, especially Ivory is really inexpensive (a couple dollars for three bars). What I think is happening is that the moisture in the bar of soap is heating up and essentially boiling which causes the tiny air pockets to expand in the bar and pushes the soap up and out. I suspect if you have a denser soap, such as one with a lotion in it, it will have a more difficult time foaming up. 

…remember the foam will be hot coming out of the microwave. Don’t give it to your child right away. Let it cool. And know that it will remain hot in the middle so breaking it open might be a good idea. 

…you can cut the bars of soap in half and make less. Or I suggest cutting them in half to cut down on the microwave time and to ensure that most of the soap foams up. 

…don’t do this with kids who put things in their mouths. Eating soap is not such a great plan. 

…clean up is easy! Your kids already all soaped up. Just rinse and they’re clean. Same with the floor or splat mat, it’s soapy so a few good wipes cleans it up nicely. 

2015-08-06 17.16.18

Cam said this looked like a piano.