Play To Learn

Clouds 

For the last week or so Liam and I have been participating in the Go, Play, and Learn challenge over on one of my favorite blogs, Nerd in the Brain.  The timing was perfect.  Liam and I have been exploring the worlds of construction and transportation for a while now and I was more than ready for a change… apparently so was Liam as he has jumped right into this new subject to explore wholeheartedly and picked up much more than I originally thought he would with his little two year old brain.

For the most part our activities this week have focused on art, open conversation, and outdoor exploration.  These three methods are what works best for Liam to learn and are how I typically address new subjects.  For the subject of clouds we started and ended with outdoor exploration,  Liam loved this approach as he loves to go outside and play.  I loved it because our exploration included lots of walking and I am still trying to lose the last of the baby weight (as an added bonus the fresh air makes Liam and his infant sister – Catriona- sleep like rocks).

We went for walks and talked about the sky and what belonged up in the sky (the sun, airplanes, and helicopters was the list that Liam came up with on our first walk).  I slowly introduced the subject of clouds in relation to his precious airplanes and helicopter, of which there are plenty flying overhead as we live in a touristy area.   I often find Liam staring out a window looking up at the sky in fascination because there is an airplane flying over head (“see the airplane Mommy?  I see it!”).  I swear he manages to spot every single airplane that flies over our house no matter how high up they are every clear day.  Liam and I had long discussions (for a two year old… so really like 15-20 minutes) about how airplanes fly through clouds sometimes because they are “way up high in the sky” (which is one of Liam’s favorite phrases).  We talked about helicopters hovering under the clouds.  Then I slowly began to introduce the concept of different types of clouds.

I kept things basic and did some research before we started our conversations (The best website resource I found was at Science For Kids).  We only discussed three types of clouds: Stratus, Cumulus, and Cirrus.  I also pared down the facts I taught him to one or two about each cloud type.  We did art projects… lots of them.  I introduced sponge painting for the first time (he is now addicted) as well as making pictures with cotton balls.  We also found a video on YouTube of a story called The Cloud Factory which touched on some basic facts while creating a fictional and fun story about how clouds are created.    We keep looking out the window, even on rainy days (and especially on cloudy days).   We (still) continuously talk about the airplanes that fly through those clouds and how sometimes when the clouds are hanging low like a blanket (Stratus clouds, which he been correctly naming)  we can’t see the airplanes that are flying over head.  His favorite clouds are Cirrus as they don’t get in the way of his airplane viewing, though he also likes Cumulus clouds because he likes to watch the airplanes fly through them.  So far I am pretty impressed and have thoroughly enjoyed watching his mind work to relate a new concept to something he already loves.

As an added bonus I also have some new art for the refrigerator 🙂

 

 

Artsy Tuesday, Potted Shamrocks

Liam has been very into arts and crafts lately which can be a ton of fun (though a bit messy at times).  Today we created a “pot of shamrocks” in anticipation of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day this weekend.

Supplies:

  • One piece of newspaper ripped into quarters
  • One piece of construction paper
  • A toilet paper roll
  • 3 green pipe cleaners
  • A small pair of pliers (I used my jewelers pliers)
  • Finger paints
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Steps:

  1. Liam watched as I twisted the pipe cleaners into shamrock shapes and then used the pliers to pinch down any pointy pieces so he couldn’t hurt himself.  My shamrocks might need some work… He was pretty sure they were bugs.  Cool bugs.
  2. I cut the construction paper in half the long way, then taped the end onto the toilet paper roll.  Liam helped me roll the paper onto the toilet paper roll after showing him how (he rolled, I taped)
  3. We crumpled up two pieces of the paper (one of Liam’s favorite parts!) and then stuffed them into the toilet paper roll.
  4. Liam then “planted” the shamrocks along the edges while I held the newspaper to the side so he could stick the “”stems” in.
  5. The painting smock went on and the finger paints came out.  Liam used the other half of the cut construction paper to paint on.  We traced in the paint with an extra pipe cleaner at first, then Liam decided he wanted to “make a big mess” and started getting really into the finger paints.  We ended up making an extra painting on an addition piece of paper because he was having so much fun.
  6. After a few hours of drying time while we ate lunch and napped we then completed our project by taping and rolling the painted paper around the pot.

 

 

Strawberry Fun

One of Liam’s Valentine’s Day presents this year was a strawberry seed planting kit.  He was super excited about it and pretty much demanded that we plant them right away.  He just loves digging in the dirt, and actually has a pretty steady hand so there isn’t usually too much of a mess for me to clean up afterwards.  This was definitely a group activity though.  Strawberry seeds are far too small for a 22 month old to be able to actually plant (and not lose).  So Liam put the dirt in his can, and then he held my hands as we carefully put the seeds in and he sprinkled the seed covering on himself. Today, after a couple of weeks of careful watering, we woke up to little green shoots starting to come up.  Liam was very excited!  We are both looking forward to watching the plants grow, especially since it makes it feel like spring might actually come someday when the snow outside is STILL higher than our fence!

Artsy Toddlers

Liam and The Bean have been exploring their artistic side this week.  For the most part we have been playing with crayons and stickers, using this exploration in art as an opportunity to learn shapes and colors.  Today I was tired of drawing green circles and purple squares so I decided to be brave and break out the finger paints.

I set up this activity with one color of paint only placed onto a plate for easy dipping for their small hands, I also prepared by grabbing a roll of paper towels and a bowl of water in advance for emergency clean ups (surprise! there were a few!).  We started out by taking turns and making hand prints (for Momma’s memory box), then it was a finger painting free for all.  All in all it was a great time and entertained them for about 30 minutes total. Even the clean up afterwards wasn’t all that difficult thanks to being prepared with water and towels.  The kids had a blast!

And now for the photos… this is the last few days of art activities 🙂 It looks like the Grammy’s and Grampy’s are going to be getting LOTS of presents!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liam’s Gardening Update, Part 3

My little fish loves water. He loves playing it it, soaking in it, and he especially loves watering the plants with it. He has started to join me in watering all of the plants in the house now, which has become a weekly project for us. Everything is turning into a watering can in his mind… Including his sippy cups.

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So one thing I did not think ahead with when I set up Liam’s first experiment in gardening on the back deck is that his splash tub and water table also go on the back deck. This, coupled with Liam’s extreme enthusiasm for watering things has created a sad situation for the plants on the back deck. They are slowly drowning.

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Because the pot I used is far too heavy to lift up and move elsewhere I am resigning myself to the fact that the ranunculus may not bloom (or survive) this year. The bright side is that Liam is falling in love with gardening… Perhaps next year will bear more fruitful results!

Water, Water Everywhere

It is HOT! A full week before summer officially begins and the heat has finally descended on us…. That is right, I said finally. After one of the longest winters in recent memory I really can’t complain about the heat at all. Besides… It is just going to get hotter as we draw closer and closer to July’s muggy 100+ degree heat waves with ridiculous amounts of humidity. The type of humidity that leaves you feeling vaguely damp all the time despite sitting in an air conditioned room. (This is one of the benefits of living by the ocean… Right?) This year we are prepared… Far more prepared than we were last year after they let us take home a baby from the hospital without an instruction manual.

Sunglasses and a hat... its hard to be this cool.. or is it hot?  Liam's first summer.

Sunglasses and a hat… its hard to be this cool.. or is it hot? Liam’s first summer.

We now own enough air conditioners that the super drafty house that was built in 1890 actually gets cool… mostly. At least the areas where we spend the most time are cool enough that we don’t want to die or hibernate in the basement. (Is it hibernating if it happens in the summer?)  We also have two awesome new additions to our outdoor area for the toddlers in our lives: a water table and a splash pool. The kids are pretty impressed with these additions, especially since we are apparently raising a couple of fish. Sometimes I swear they smear food in their hair on purpose so that they have to take a bath afterwards (it can’t be just a coincidence that they smear food and then immediately run for the bathroom trying to climb into the tub, clothes and all).

I foresee a ton of water play in our future in the upcoming months, which provides different fun learning opportunities for the kiddos. The water table that we purchased is the Fischer Price Step 2 Arctic Splash Water Table.

The reason I got this particular water table is because it comes with a splash tower. Liam already has a watering can for watering his garden with and we have tossed it into the water table for some fun in there.  It is great for transferring water up to the top of the tower so he can watch it run down (cause and effect fun!).  This water table was also pre-tested and approved by Liam’s big cousin M who got one as a birthday present last year.  For a fun activity in the future I have purchased some larger (too big to choke on) rocks from the pet store (in the fish department) to put into the bottom of the table for some texture variations, and because throwing rocks into the water is fun.  For now we are just enjoying the splashing!

I have yet to take pictures in the awesome pool that my sister got Liam for his birthday, but this splash pool is full of activities.  It has a ring toss and a slide… it is a huge step up from the little wading pools we had when I was a kid??!?  This thing is like the BMW of the kiddy pool world.  Once I actually buy a bathing suit I will be spending my summer sitting in it (whenever the kids let me).

In the market for a Water Table for your little one?  I highly recommend this one as it was incredibly easy to set up and stood the test of 2 toddlers throughout the summer.  
You can find it here:

 

Liam’s Gardening Update, Part 2

After a week of rain we have had a sunny enough stretch that this morning we needed to water the plants.  So I started off by stripping Liam down to a diaper… i had a feeling this might get messy, especially considering how very much he enjoys playing in water.  Next up I gave him a toddler sized watering pitcher.  I think we have a little work to do with his aim…

He did do an excellent job of watering himself though and enjoyed every second of it 😉

 

 

 

Liam’s Gardening Update

Liam and I have been working on a potted plant on the back deck this spring because I think it’s never to early to start playing with kids in the garden. It started by planting some ranunculus bulbs in late April, and was filled in today with some bacopa by my little helper and I.  Part of our morning ritual is to go out and check on the pot to see if it needs watering.  I am really looking forward to enjoying some flowers on the deck this summer…

If it ever warms up!