Category Archives: Project Toolbox

Art Robot!

By far, one of the coolest project tutorials yet– found here on kiwicrate. We had recently found an old motor that was J’s as a kid, but it got lost in the shuffle. So J & D dug around upstairs and found and old tractor toy that was broke but the motor still worked. They carefully dismantled the toy and built the art robot out if it. Some duct tape, a plastic cup and markers finished it.

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What it at work!


Birthday practice

In preparation for the onslaught of 3 birthday in the next 3 weeks, we decided to do a test run on some gluten free cupcakes. Both kids are really interested in cooking and baking. Sometimes I fret too much about how much time it will take to include them in the kitchen. On an average day, getting dinner made is just a race to the finish line. But this day I really took my time with it and I learned so much! I learned that if I slow down it is really fun for all of us. I also learned that baking is just full of so many practical lessons! (Yes, I know that is obvious, but practicing it is totally different than making that assumption.) Measuring was a talk about fractions. Setting the timer and the oven was a lesson in sequence, time and numbers in general. Recipes themselves offer lessons in measuring but also in improvisation. Both kids just loved baking and decorating their cupcakes. Surely the best part was testing them out.

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We recently checked out a great book from the library that was all about drawing robots. Its served as great inspiration for 2 weeks worth of robot projects. We started out just drawing robots and giving them names. Then we did a project with cut shapes– building up our robots piece by piece.  But by far the most loved project was building robots from our recycle bin. Oh man this was fun. D and I had a great idea to attach our robots to monster trucks so they could roll. Genius! It totally worked.

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Activities (by Abby)

 Abby, I typed up your activity ideas here so they might be easy to find. So fun! ~Meredith

Hunting for Dinosaurs

  • Laundry Basket
  • Dinosaurs

Gather all dinos in a laundry basket. Sort and count according to size. Dashiell and Esme close their eyes while Abby hides the dinos. Kids open their eyes and search, putting the dinos back into the basket. Sort, count, repeat.

Paper tube bird feeder (done!)

  • Peanut butter (there is a “peter pan” PB in the pantry for this.)
  • Bird seed
  • Yarn

Spread PB on the tube then roll in seed. Use yarn to tie up outside.

Bird feeder!

Collecting rocks
Take a nature walk and collect rocks.  Come home, and sort according to texture. Paint the smooth ones and display on windowsills.

Special Soup

  • Scaps from compost
  • little kitchen pots

We can use the kids play kitchen for this. We will use left over bits from the compost– real food. We can mix it with water in the play pots in the play kitchen.  Potato peels, celery leaves, pasta and more.
Abby, you could *actually* make veggie stock for us from all those scraps! Here are some great tips about teaching kids to use knives.  Dashiell has been allowed to chop soft things with a butter knife like: cooked beets, melon, etc. If you wanted to make real stock, we can save scraps for a while and then just chop and boil.  We can freeze it and use for future soup recipes. ~Meredith

Paper bag pinatas!

  • Brown paper bags
  • yarn
  • cheerios
  • candy
  • popcorn
  • crayons and decoration

D & E can decorate their own bags before lunch.  The bags are filled with treats and tied closed with yarn.  After lunch they can swing at them till they break and get their treats!

Tissue Paper butterflies

  • tissue paper
  • scissors
  • pipe cleaners

The kids have been talking about butterflies after learning about them t the Wyck. We can use tissue paper and pipe cleaners to make some!

Searching for worms!
Esme loves gooey things deep in the soil. We’ll go in the yard and search for worms. We’ll talk about how worms are helpful to the soil and plants.

Painting with Straws (Done!)

  • Paint
  • Straws
  • paper
Painting with straws!

We will drop paint on the paper and allow the kids to blow through the straw to blow the paint around the page.

Finding a buried treasure
We will create a “treasure” using recycled and found items.  We will place them in a container or wrap them up. We will bury our treasure in the yard. In a few days time, we can go back and dig it up! We can pretend to be pirates or archeologists!

Mud magic
You didn’t get to finish this but I like it already! Mud is fun!!!! ~Meredith

Puppet Theater!

I have wanted for a long time to make a place for a puppet theater. There are lots of options: use an old box, a doorway with a pressure rod, etc. I wanted to post some ideas here and see if I can get this done and if Abby would like to work with me on it.  What do you say, Abby!?!?!

Here are some examples that I think are cool, but we can design whatever we like!

ABOVE: This is from a set of patterns that could be really fun – go here.
 Above: More here.
ABOVE: Shadow puppets! More here.

Investing in games

I just read this post on Sew Liberated that talks about games for 3 year olds.  I think these would all be great for Dashiell, but the Busytown one sounds ideal– he LOVES to do the “searches” in his High 5 magazine and the game is a searching game.

He is less interested in the memory game– but he seems to really enjoy the memory games on the iphone…. And he is digging candyland.

Esme has been enjoying fitting things together the last few weeks. I think we should focus on puzzle play with her.  We have a lot of puzzles– most of them are in her toy chest.  Perhaps we can just rotate them or find a better place to keep some downstairs too.  In particular, she has been interested in putting the wooden train track together. She also likes the little plastic pieces with the letters– they are in a ziplock with the other games downstairs.

Is there anything else we want to purchase or invest in for them for the coming months? Sometimes I forget how their preferences change and that they need some new toys now and then.

Learning to Read and Write

Dashiell is making great strides toward reading! His interest in really knowing what each word is seems to have really upticked.

One thing I have been hoping to do is create a “writing” center for the kids: a place where they can sit down and put pen to paper with purpose.  I have gathered some examples of the supplies and spaces we might like to bring together.
Sew Liberated’s writing center
And a “round up” of writing centers on Playful Learning

Jeremy and I will be getting together on the June 9th to make some more detailed plans about homeschooling and reading and writing is a high priority.