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My friend Erica sent me a link to Counting Coconuts, an amazing blog for mothers of small children. The blog is full of creative ideas, projects and inspirations. I especially liked their “sensory tub” ideas. Sensory tubs, are, in essence, plastic boxes filled with stuff joined by a unifying theme. The lady behind Counting Coconuts Blog is very organized. She writes detailed lists and instructions for every tub and project. I  hate lists, can’t follow instructions and love to feel moved by inspiration, even though I admire those that are better organized than I am. Like my husband, for example. He puts everything in files.

Anyway, this is how we got the idea to do The Earth Project.

Firstly, we got a large plastic box. Then we went on a treasure hunt. While the twins were sleeping, my boy and I went outside in search for interesting Earth-themed” items, like pine cones, twigs, tree branches, rocks, dry leaves, etc…We put all of these treasures in the box. Then, we raided the Dollar Store. We bought gummy worms, caterpillars, rubber snakes, fake flowers, a tiny shovel and a fork.We also bought some green paper and cut leaves out of it. Then, we put some of our dollar-treasures into the box, filled with earthy items and – voila! Project Earth was ready.

My son loved digging in the box for hours and finding the same worms over and over. He loved wrapping the rubber snakes around the twigs and putting a plastic caterpillar on the rock, so that “he can sunbathe.” If you want to try something like that, remember that nature and a Dollar Store are a winning combo.

How about some patriotic blocks for Fourth of July? These wooden blocks can be a great tool in learning the history of the American presidency. The package includes 45 blocks with 44 presidents and one oath of office for $ 98.

Patriotic cubes with facial renderings of forty-four U.S. Presidents and an oval office cube stack neatly into a perfect, forty-five piece set forming a grand American flag on one side. Each cube presents a face, name, nickname, lifespan, party affiliation, term and number (1-44) in red, gray and blue ink.

Beveled edges make the blocks more comfortable and easier to hold.

Handcrafted in Michigan of Basswood grown in the Great Lakes area and printed with non-toxic inks.

I jut finished reading Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic.

I believe every parent of a preschooler should have this book. It presents simple activities that you can do with your preschooler to help encourage his/her cognitive development. If you consider yourself not too creative and imaginative, the book will give you tons of ideas of learning by playing interesting games with your child. If you are already full of ideas for fun and productive play, the book will give you more.  The instructions are brief, clear, and well illustrated. The activities are fun, and generally don’t require a lot of prep on the parents’ part. The recommended materials are easily found in most homes.

There are five chapters with activities you can do at home or in a classroom setting: Life skills, Developing the Senses, Language Development, Numeric Skills and Science Skills. Each activity has a picture next to its description, a numbered list of directions, a list of  what you will need as well as other, similar,  activities to try. In the back of the book you can find worksheets to accompany some of the activities shown in the book: everything is simple, concise and well-organized. I highly recommend this book.

 

 

As adults, we tend to think in linear ways: if we are doing a particular arts and crafts activity with our kids,  it’s difficult to visualize how it can also be a game with toys in it. Or, how to take it one step further and make a library with books out of it. Playing, creating, imagining and visualizing is wonderful for growing brains. My kids taught me how to expand my mind, so I came up with these fun ideas for small art projects:

Combine your drawing lesson with your playtime:

-Draw a garage or a road for the toy cars to park in or to ride on.

-Draw a field for the rubber ball.

-Draw a doll house for your favorite doll and then add dimension by putting play dough furniture in it.

-Draw some people and “feed” them real berries and other healthy foods.

– Make a “library” out of stacked books, put a doll in it and read to it together.

– Use watercolors to paint the sky and let your toy helicopter fly.

– Paint a sea for your toy fish or for your little ship.

The possibilities  are endless, as long as you realize your limitless creativity. Enjoy!

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