Ripping Bucket

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I’ve given Veronika paper to rip before, a fantastic way to develop strength in little hands, but today we turned it into a slightly more purposeful activity. This game is great because it can keep little ones busy solo for a while, or serve as an activity to do together.

First I filled a toy bucket with various types of paper as a sort of “invitation” for Veronika. I included an old magazine, colored construction paper, a few pieces of junk mail, and bright tissue paper. Newspaper would work great here too!

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Veronika was immediately curious about the bucket and started tossing out the contents.

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She still needs me to start a rip for her before she can tear a piece of paper in half, but then she loves the riiiiiiip that results.

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I started tearing pieces alongside her so we could refill the bucket. It was about halfway full when she announced, “Dump!” and this happened:

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And then she said, “Let’s fill it up!” We went back and forth like this a few times.

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Then I showed her how to rip out full pages from the old magazine. We crumpled these up and now the game turned into target practice.

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She got a fit of the giggles when I said, “Trash can!” and tossed a crumpled piece into the bucket. Hint: This was also a subliminal way to teach the idea of cleaning up, even though it wasn’t a real trash can.

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Before we ended the fun, we turned it into a craft. I pulled out a glue stick which she smeared all over a piece of construction paper, and we added a few of the torn pieces of paper into a sort of collage.

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She tired of this particular riff on torn paper play rather quickly, but at least we worked in a little bit of art.

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In sum, there’s lots you can do with just paper and a bucket!

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Mini Mask

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This cute mask will make your toddler laugh and might lead to lots more dress-up play!

To make the mask, cut a rectangle from paper that is 6×4 inches. Veronika loved helping me draw lines along a ruler!

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Place a quarter in the center and trace around it for a nose, then repeat for the eyes.

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Now add lots of silly features with crayons! While I worked on the “real” version, I gave Veronika extra paper and crayons to draw too. Side-by-side art like this is a great way to involve toddlers in crafts that are beyond their skill level; it makes them feel like big helpers.

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Cut out the mask, as well as the eye and nose holes. I showed her how to hold it up to her face.

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And to my own!

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At the same time, I had dragged over our box of dress up supplies and she immediately latched on to the idea of combining the mask with a costume.

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We added hats, capes, accessories and more as she held up the mask to her face.

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I quickly realized we needed a handle of some sort, so I taped a craft stick to the mask that she could hold on to as she lifted it toward her face. She loved the silly expression I had drawn, and sometimes just wanted to look at it and giggle!

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I love crafts like this that might seem small and quick, but which easily lead to an extension of play. One small mask kept her busy with the dress-up box for nearly half an hour!

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Spongy Pencil Toppers

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These fun pencil toppers were the final craft Travis and I put together to round out his new school supply swag. They’re perfect for any pencils where the eraser is completely worn down to a nub.

I had a bag of makeup sponges that we use for face paint, and the triangle shape made them the perfect candidates to turn into painted miniatures of triangular foods. Think: slices of cake, wedges of cheese, or sandwiches.

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A little puffy paint was all we needed.

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This one was a piece of cake (heh).

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Then we tested out other ideas, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (blue and yellow paint). Travis wanted a mint chocolate cake, which we made with black and green paints.

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Let the puffy paint dry completely, then add details like beads on top for cherry garnishes.

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Once the glue dries, poke the sharp end of a pencil into the bottom of the sponge to make a hole. (Note: You can also secure the sponges with hot glue for added security). Insert onto the eraser end of the pencil and write away!