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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.

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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!

Today, my friends and I were bouncing off some ideas about things to do with our active toddlers to get them to slow down and be creative.  Here’s what I do:

The “Salad” project

materials:

colorful paper, child-safe scissors, large bowl

Ask your toddler to cut green vegetables out of green paper. Of course, you can help! Then, ask them to cut some red ones and later move to other colors. This part of the project gets them thinking about colors and grouping things together. Once the “veggies” are made, they can be cut into stripes, squares, triangles, etc…. The little pieces can be put into a bowl and “mixed together.”  The results can be fed to dolls, or (in our case to Mr. Jeep.) The project is good for fine motor skills, creativity, learning about colors and shapes and the love of salad, of course!

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