Saturday, December 31, 2011

Banging Wall

I just realized I never shared the gift we made for Margaret's birthday, a banging wall. It's the first of what we hope will be many playful installations in our backyard over the next few years.

I got all the pieces from the dollar store. We drilled holes in the pans and hung them with knotted twine from a lattice fence that runs through the center of our yard. We added hooks to hang large spoons and stirrers used to bang on the pans.

Margaret really loves going outside and making a racket with her banging wall. I've got my eye out for more interesting pieces to add to it over time. I've salvaged some pieces of an old metal xylophone that might be fun.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Toddler Art and Sensory Material Storage

For our updated storage, click here.

With all the new art and sensory box supplies Meg got for Christmas, I decided it was time to update her storage situation. I'd been shoving all her art supplies into pigeon holes above a desk in our kitchen and keeping extras in a desk in my craft room. This meant she had to ask for help accessing her supplies, and the storage areas were overflowing.

So, I took out her (mostly unused anyway) highchair and did this:

The table is a Lack side table from Ikea. Just $6, and it's the perfect height for her.

I didn't have a large budget, but I wanted everything visible, easy for Margaret to access herself, and somewhat matching and attractive, since it would be seen from the front door.

I started with a $15 bookshelf from Wal-Mart. We have 8 of these scattered about our house in various sizes. They're inexpensive, unobtrusive, and really functional.

I bought 2 quart plastic jars ($2 apiece) and 4-packs of food storage containers ($2/pack) for the art supplies and sensory materials.

Top shelf: crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, and various blank papers in a magazine holder.
Second shelf: shaving cream, water beads, grey moon sand, blue moon sand, pinto beans.

Third shelf: paintbrushes, glue, masking tape, empty containers for painting, collage material and play dough.
Bottom shelf: outdoor play clothes.

It was important to me that the containers be clear, because I find it easier to be creative when I can see all my materials at a glance, rather than reading labels or remembering what containers hold. I figured the same would be true for Margaret. I wish I didn't have to stack them all two-deep, but our space is finite, so you do what you gotta do. Hopefully, some rotation on my part will keep things fresh.

On the bottom shelf of the bookcase, I put a dishwashing bin ($2) and a CD organizing crate ($1). They hold outdoor messy play clothes, so we don't always have to trek upstairs before we head outside to play. I tucked a pair of old shoes for myself on the shelf and we hang our "messy jackets" on pegs beside the bookcase.

I'm really happy with this new storage arrangement. There's room for both the materials and my girl to grow and change, she can access everything herself, and it looks neat and orderly. Do we call that a win-win-win?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Tree Play Dough

Here's a fun, simple activity we did recently to get in the Christmas groove (and to occupy the toddler while Mommy got some Christmas gifts made).

Christmas tree play dough:

I made up a batch of dark green play dough using this recipe.

I started by giving Meg some Christmas cookie cutters to make prints in the dough.

Then we added a straw to "poke, poke, poke" Christmas balls onto the tree.

Note: It's imperative you chant the "poke, poke, poke" while attempting this activity for optimum results.

Then I gave her some shaped buttons I had laying around from another project to use as Christmas ornaments.

Placing and removing the buttons gave her some great fine motor skills practice using her pincer grip.

The "Christmas trees" produced were abstract and even unintentional, but they kept this busy little girl engaged for an hour and a half.


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