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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fine Motor Skills Fun with Colanders and Pipe Cleaners

Great fine motor skills activity

Dollar bin finds

I’m always looking for fun, inexpensive, and simple activities to do with Dylan, Jake and Emma.  Entertaining three busy 2 ½ year olds requires me to be creative.  I saw this idea awhile ago on Pinterest and when I was at Target with Dylan on Monday we happened to be in the Dollar bin section and came across these adorable plastic colanders.  I already had a ton of pipe cleaners at home, but you can find them at the dollar store.  This activity will only cost around $2 and its reusable!  Not only is this activity inexpensive and easy, there is NO mess!  That's is always an added bonus to me!

Dylan, Jake and Emma have great fine motor skills and they really enjoy activities that help them reinforce this skill.  This activity also allowed them to make a very cool piece of artwork that you can keep out for awhile or put away and save it for next time.
*Safety note* I find pipe cleaners to be sharp on the ends so for younger kids you can bend the ends back to prevent scratches, but in general kids should be supervised with this activity for obvious safety concerns.
Great fine motor skills activity
The idea is to have them feed the pipe cleaner ends through the holes in the colander.  Emma began by putting the two ends in to create what she announced was “a rainbow”.  Jake liked Emma’s idea of the rainbow, but he of course only wanted to use red (his favorite color).  
Jake hard at work
Emma concentrating
Dylan was very into the idea of putting just one end into one hole on the colander.  Then I showed him he could put the side that was in the air into a different hole and he was very excited so he began to do that with all of his pipe cleaners. 

Dylan learning to try it a different way
Dylan doing it the first way

It was interesting to see how differently they did the activity.  Jake and Emma liked putting the pipe cleaners in tightly and pushing them down and even bending them whereas Dylan liked having nice arches.  There is no right or wrong way to do the activity, which is a great thing for toddlers!
Dylan was so proud of his artwork
Jake was very proud too!

This activity was a complete success and they were happily playing with it until we ran out of pipe cleaners.  Luckily Nana just happened to have picked up some more at the store that day so now we will be able to extend our activity even longer next time!  Thanks Nana!

Our cool artwork  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Homemade Light Table

Homemade light table fun!

Light table fun!

Soooo I created a new sensory activity for us this week… A homemade light table!  Dylan, Jake and Emma have always been fascinated with toys or objects with lights so I thought why not create something that would peak their interests on a new level.

I have seen light tables used in classrooms but they can cost a few hundred dollars. I figured there had to be a cheaper solution.  So I decided to create my own!  It turns out, I can make a very cool, safe, and inexpensive light table for less than $30.  There are many different versions of homemade light boxes out there, many have you use plug in Christmas lights or other types of lights, but I liked this solution because there are no wires and it felt safer to me.  This one seems to be one of the easiest and the safest I came up with.

Anyone can put this together in less than 5 minutes and I guarantee kids of all ages (9 months and up) will enjoy using it.  Using a light table is a different version of a sensory table.  By incorporating the element of light into their playing, they are stimulating a different sense and learning in a different way.

There are so many different uses for light tables and I have listed some ideas at the bottom of this post.  We just invested, yes invested, in Magna Tiles and they are worth every penny.  They work perfectly with the light table and they will be used for many years to come.  I look forward to using the light table for other uses as well!

I introduced this activity after naps since it was later in the day when the house was darker and I felt they would get more of the light effects.  They were in amazement of how neat it was.  I knew right away I needed to make 2 more because I didn't want to deal with the fights that ensued because all three couldn't play at the same time without destroying each others work… Now that I knew how easy and inexpensive it is to make these I ran out to get the supplies to make 2 more! 
Happily enjoying the new sensory table!

What you need:
(1) appox 16”x14” box with a frosted top and frosted side.  The lid should have an elevated edge on it so that the object(s) can stay put on the top a little better. *The bigger the box the more lights you will need* Try these from Target 
(4-6) Tap lights Find them here 
Or try the LEDlights
Other items you may need:
Parchment Paper

I was able to fit four lights
in this box and it was plenty.

The steps are so easy! 
1.  Put the batteries in the lights and turn them on.
2.  Place the lights in the box and put the lid back on.  The more lights you can fit in the better.  I used both the regular and LED lights and liked the regular ones better.
3.  Put the table on the floor or low table and let your child explore with some of the suggestions below!

Some other things that may increase the function of your homemade light table:
*Try taping parchment paper to the bottom of the lid if you feel the lid is too see-through.
*Place foil around the sides and/or bottom the box to add a reflective property to increase the light and help the brightness shine through the top.

A homemade light table!

Things to use/do on the light table:
Magna-tiles… expensive but worth every penny (purchase from Lakeshore using a coupon!!!)
Window Gel Clings (great for seasonal variations and cheap!)
Any colored plastic bottles, cups, containers, spoons, etc
Glass beads (older children) for sorting purposes
Colored water
Check out this blog for more great ideas on what to do with your light table!