Thursday, June 20, 2013

Car play area for toddler

 Little Man needed a place for his car/truck/vehicle play.  So we recently worked to set him up a little spot!  A felt road with yellow felt lane markers, a box garage (I have a little sign that says "Beck's Garage" to modge podge on it someday soon....), our montessori box (above) that is supposed to hold wooden balls--but all kids who live at/visit my house really love to put cars in it--so we're going with that right now!

 And you know I am not a fan of tubs/baskets of toys typically.  So of course I recommend putting out just a few vehicles at a time.  I needed a way to display/organize them, so Matt whipped up this super simple shelf using scraps in the garage in 5 minutes.  It is not AT ALL fancy, but just something to hold a couple cars!
 And I set out some blocks and a piece of scrapwood for building a ramp.  Great science lessons learned while having fun here!

 Here's the whole area.  Nothing fancy, but definitely does the trick of providing him a play place with his wheeled loves!

Toddler Fine Motor--Banana Peeling

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pretend Play Taco Stand

 Look!  Honey's eating a taco from the coolest taco stand around.  Ours!

We love tacos at this house.  Q thinks taco trucks are the sweetest things ever and we go crazy for a super yummy taco place downtown any chance we get.  So I decided our playspace should become a taco stand.

One night I spent several hours in the studio and came up with this:
The box is a Melissa and Doug wooden box from something....I don't know what.  I don't often leave that stuff in the boxes, but I keep the boxes for displaying items in our playroom.  The tongs are a fun touch to promote fine motor development--and just cause my kids love using them!
 Q's favorite type of tacos are salmon tacos.  So I made salmon using pinky-orange felt and just sewed some designs on them with white thread. 
 Next comes chicken and steak.  I cut out pieces of felt and sewed around the edges in corresponding thread. 

 Refried beans.  Two pieces of felt sewed in bean shape. 
 These tomatoes I needlefelted.  First I cut out a disc from red felt, felted on red roving, and then felted on some red wool yarn.  They could also be made from just regular felt if you don't needlefelt. 
 The cheese is just little strips of yellow-orange felt.  And yes, it gets all over my house all the time. 
 I also needlefelted these avocados with two colors of green roving.  I am mighty proud of these two guys, let me tell you!  The jalapenos are made from green felt sheets. 
 The lettuce is made from green felt sheets that I sewed on. 
 I cut cream-colored felt sheets to fit into a round cakepan.
 Of course there has to be foil to wrap the tacos in.  We are definitely authentic around here!
 And chips and salsa!  I made the chips by cutting two sheets of felt into various triangle designs and sewing around the edges.  The salsa and guac are wool roving. 

 Napkins and rings for the tables. 
 Here's the table area.  I actually needed a bigger table than the one we were preciously using--as the tacos wouldn't fit on em.  Matt was throwing away a piece that went inside our armoire because he'd made a stronger one to hold a tv in there.  I spotted this piece--he cut it down to size (it was too tall) and reinforced it to stand up to kiddos, and it makes the PERFECT table!  I love the little shelf underneath to hold additional items!
 I decorated the top of our little kitchen with Mexican-restaurant-y looking items I had around the house. 
 And a pad and pencil for taking orders--awesome emergent literacy!  Also I have a jar of cholula and salsa (for some reason the salsa is missing from this picture).  Remember my stance on including fragile items in play areas to teach my kids to handle materials gently. 
We had made the yellow chalkboard stand for Beck's birthday party--out of some old cabinet doors off our wetbar when we remodeled it.  It was perfect for the menu for the taco stand!  Q and I worked on it together--she wrote the title and I wrote the menu items.  She is very proud of this! 

I turned our pennant banner backwards to the plain felt side for a change and hung two festive paper lanterns from the window. 
 Here's a wide-angle view of our playroom this month!
So...lots of fun has been had with the taco stand.  Playing restaurant is a wonderful activity for toddlers and preschoolers--it promotes pretend play, problem solving, comprehension, following directions, literacy skills, and it is just fun!  Great, now I'm hungry for tacos.  :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

feather display

To go along with our bird materials in the playroom, I wanted to find a brick to use as a feather display.  Matt came through for me and found one when he was out and about one day--so he cleaned it off and brought it home for our nature shelf!  I lined the bottom with some felt to keep from scratching the paint on the windowsill.  My kids love putting the feathers in and out and I love the beauty of this simple display!
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Inviting play

One way I like to invite my kids to play with certain materials is to set them up in an inviting way.  With blocks this often means building something!  A stack of blocks just calls little hands to come knock it down and build something new!  It does take a few more seconds at clean-up time to rebuild this pyramid stack, but I've found it's worth the time investment, as my kids have enjoyed their blocks much more than when they were piled into a basket the previous month.  Try it!
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Baby Care Area (pretend play)

We have a few different pieces of baby furniture.  I like to rotate them through the playroom so that there is a change of scenery every now and then.  So I put away the wooden cradle that had previously been out (it actually fits inside of a wooden trunk I use as a lamp table in our living room, so that's where I store it when not in use...) and got these bunk beds back out.

I am also loving "rug stacking"--I've done this in several places of my home--using two smaller rugs overlapping to make a larger rug (to fill a space that needs something bigger.)  And I am even trendy with this--I've since seen it done in catelogs for home decor!

I placed a little rocking chair nearby for baby rockin', put up a pretty wood burned deer picture (from my favorite antique store), and set up a little shelf with essentials.

 I set up a little area for baby care.  We have lots of baby things--doll clothes, bottles, carriers, etc., but children seem to do best (and play most imaginatively) when they have just a few choices at a time.  So I set up a little tray of "babyfood" in wooden jars with some little baby spoons.  I had thought about putting little paper babyfood labels on these jars, but my kids were enjoying them so much as-is that it seemed unnecessary.

The second shelf holds two baby bottles and a burpcloth.  

The bottom shelf holds a little basket with two doll diapers (cloth diapers my mom made!) and a couple of doll-sized bibs.  

My kids have enjoyed this area so much!  Both of them (1 yr and 4 yrs) love to feed, change and rock the babies over here and I feel like they play so much more imaginative than when they have more items--in that case they mostly just spend all their playtime rifling through the items and not as much pretending.  
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