Lines of Tape

2 Lines of Tape (1)

Sometimes, facilitating a full morning of play is as simple as laying down a few lines of tape on the floor. To wit, here are several different ways we played with tape on this lazy Sunday!

The first idea came from Hands on as We Grow, using a few strips of tape to build gross motor skills. Lay down six lines of tape so they are almost like the rungs of a ladder. First, the kids hopped forward on them.

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But a bigger challenge was next: Hop backwards!

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Big brother Travis then tackled the course on one foot; hopping like this is still too advanced for Veronika, but she loved watching.

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Next, I challenged them to see how far their legs could stretch. Travis proudly got across 5 lines! Veronika loved imitating his pose.

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Next up was reaching with the arms…

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…and then with whole bodies! Travis was a full 6 lines tall, and Veronika stretched across 5. She wanted to measure up her stuffed puppy, too!

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From here, we moved on to a different activity using colored lines of tape. This time I taped down three different colors of duct tape, each one taking a few twists and turns.

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The first challenge was to move the building blocks in the same color as the line from one end of it to the other.

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Veronika diligently followed the lines with dainty footsteps…

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… and then loved building up structures at the other end! When I gave her red blocks and asked her to follow the red line, she looked so confused for moment until I amended, “The pink line!” This girl knows her colors.

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We ended the day with a relay race!

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This final activity was great for balance; I handed each kid a spoon with a ping pong ball balanced in the center and they each picked a colored line to walk along.

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They loved racing to the finish, Travis on green and Veronika on blue. Travis was so proud to win, and loved cheering on his little sister, too!

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Little Passports: Spain

Travis was off to Spain with Little Passports this month, eagerly cracking open the envelope from “Sam and Sofia,” pinpointing the country on the map and adding his suitcase sticker.

In terms of our unboxing review, though, the booklet this month was tough. It included tricky tasks like a crossword and a grid to copy a Picasso painting, both of which were beyond his 1st grade level. Travis did help tally up treats from a Spanish market on another page, but overall seemed a bit overwhelmed by the booklet.

Souvenir:

On the other hand, the souvenir was a mosaic art sticker kit, based on the mosaics of Antoni Gaudi, and I’ve never seen Travis so into an art project! He insisted on completing the lizard shape he chose, meticulously working his way through the color-coded foam stickers.

He was relentless until every square was filled!

Further Activities:

Based on Little Passport’s blog, it looks like the Spain package used to include a craft for felt tomatoes, to mimic the annual La Tomatina festival. We cut circles of red felt, topped them with a tablespoon of dry lentils (dry rice would work too), and hot-glued a second circle of felt on top for a quick version.

Take aim at each other with your fake tomatoes, and watch them splat!

We also wanted to further explore Picasso, so made a quick craft that was a riff on his painting La Punchinello.

Cut out semicircles for heads and triangles for the bodies, arms, and legs, then arrange on construction paper and glue down. Travis added facial features with colored pencil to complete his funny little clown!

The recommended add-on for this kit was the Barcelona: City Trails guide book, filled with facts and info about the city. Instead of purchasing it, we checked out a copy from the local library! Of course, throw on some flamenco music to listen to during all of the above, and you’ll have loads of Spanish ambiance in your home.

Recipe:

We couldn’t leave Spain without trying tapas, of course. You can make this dish part of a larger spread, with items like Spanish olives or sliced vegan chorizo, for a complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 6 red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, stirring to coat.
  2. Spoon the potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle evenly with the salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, paprika, garlic powder, and water. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. We decided these were best served warm!

Make a Sailboat

Travis has been tackling projects that hone his fine motor skills as he completes the academic year for first grade. For this one, he made a floating sailboat with just a few common household items.

First up was making the sail. Since he chose black paper, I suggested he use white crayon so his drawing would show up well. He loved decorating it with an imposing figure.

I then drew lines so he could cut the paper into a triangle.

Apply glue to the non-decorated side of the sail, then fold in half over a straw in the middle (as the mast). Let dry completely.

For the hull of the boat, wash and dry a Styrofoam tray. Travis used a blob of clay to secure the mast in the center, then it was time to set sail! This boat proudly braved the waves of Baking Dish Sea.

If kids want to get scientific, they can test out different sized sails and see if the boat floats better or worse!

Frog Pond Game

We set out to make this game after spotting it on Kiwi Co’s website… Only after saving up enough lids to make the playing pieces, I could no longer find the post. That meant we improvised, but still created a fun game!

To start, use bottle lids (from cider or lemonade jugs), and trace onto green craft foam. For each “frog”, I hot glued two lids together, and glued a circle of craft foam to the outsides. We made enough to have two playing pieces each.

For the game board, we headed outside on a gorgeous spring day to draw the pond with chalk. I added green lily pad targets, and Travis liked adding black fish to the water, too. Oh no, potential hazards!

Finally, we labeled the pads with points; smaller, further away ones were worth 10 points and nearer, bigger ones worth only 5. Take turns rolling or flinging your frogs at the lily pads and see who accumulates the most points!

This was a cute game to play in spring sunshine, and now we have plans to take a walk to our local pond and listen for real frogs!

Pond Play Dough Redux

This is an activity I did when Travis was a toddler. Today it was Veronika’s turn, but it looked so fun that Travis wanted a repeat, too!

To make the play dough, place the following in a bowl (do not stir):

2 cups flour

1/2 cup salt

1 and 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 drops tea tree oil

Add 1 cup boiling water, pouring directly over the salt. Knead the dough until smooth, adding about 2 tablespoons more flour if it feels too sticky.

We divided our dough into 3 portions to color it the various hues of a pond landscape. Some was green for grass, some was blue for the water, and some was a yellowish-brown for stones or earth.

I set out all three colors on a tray, adding a few plastic frogs and lizards, and Veronika immediately came to see what it was all about. And Travis too!

Veronika loved just moving the toy animals around on the dough.

She clearly enjoyed the sensory elements, whether the way it smelled (the tea tree oil is so authentically earthy!) or the feel of pulling large portions of play dough into small pieces.

Travis enjoyed the imaginative elements that this particular play dough lends itself to. He made little “rocks” from the yellow dough, and set out the turtles and lizards to “sun”.

Next, he built a tree for a frog to hop up! I loved seeing his creativity.

In sum, this simple homemade play dough will be a hit for all ages.

Strawberry Swimmy Fish

We adapted this recipe from Travis’s latest Kiwi Crate, all about pond life. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt, but you can use non-dairy yogurt in a pinch to make these little fishies vegan!

To start, place graham crackers in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a bowl.

Working with 1 strawberry at a time, dip in a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt, then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to a plate and add a mini chocolate chip (such as Enjoy Life) as an eye.

Chances are this snack will go down swimmingly!

Make a Gift Basket

This sweet flower basket makes a beautiful gift to any springtime recipient (hint: Mother’s Day is coming up), and helps elementary school kids hone important fine motor skills, like weaving.

To start, you’ll need a cardboard berry basket, which meant this activity began with a trip to the farm stand to pick out fresh tomatoes and strawberries! After a little snack, the crafting began. Travis chose green and purple paint, which didn’t actually show up that well, but he gave it a proud coating and we left it to dry overnight.

In the morning, he added decorations with marker. Next up was weaving! We used yellow and pink ribbon, and he worked diligently at poking the ribbon through each hole and pulling through.

I helped him tie the end of each ribbon into a bow.

As the final touch, punch holes in the top and loop pipe cleaners through to be the handles.

Fill with a spring bouquet, and give to your lucky recipient!

Toppling Turtles

This adorable idea from Kiwi Co’s website brings Dr. Seuss’s story of Yertle the Turtle to life. It requires a bit of grown-up prep, but nothing too complicated. Ahead of time, I saved up bottle caps until we had 12. It would have been a bonus if they were green to begin with, but a quick coat of tempera paint solved the problem.

Meanwhile, I traced out turtle shapes on green felt around each bottle cap, (you just need a head and four limbs extending off the round body), and then cut out.

Use hot glue to add a green bottle cap in the center of each body and 2 wiggle eyes on each head.

Now it was time to watch the story! This was the perfect snuggle time on a rainy day, but the book was only halfway finished before the kids were trying to stack their turtles just like the ones in the tale.

Oh no, this tower toppled over at only seven turtles!

Veronika simply delighted in stacking a few before knocking them down on purpose. Clearly these turtles were a hit!

Travis, meanwhile, was the champion. He carefully began stacking…

…and managed to stack 10 turtles before his “king” hit the ground.

This was a wonderful way to make the book come alive.

Little Passports: Kenya

We were off to Africa with Travis’s latest delivery from Little Passports, specifically Kenya. After pinpointing the country on his map, Travis checked out the booklet, including facts about Maasai jewelry, riddles about the country’s wildlife, and info about the capital city of Nairobi.

Souvenir:

The included souvenir got a big “wow”: a 7 million year old piece of petrified wood from one of Kenya’s national parks! Travis immediately knew this was a keeper for his treasure box.

Further Activities:

The booklet also included instructions to make a Bao board, a popular game which you may also know as Mancala. We used an egg carton leftover from Easter decorations as the base. Cut off the lid and cut it in half, then tape to the bottom of the carton so the two halves form bins at either end. Time to decorate with markers!

Little Passports helpfully posted the rules for Bao online so Travis and I could enjoy a few rounds! All you need are marbles, stones, or beads for playing pieces.

The website also had beautiful photos from the country, the chance to learn a little Swahili, and a tribal name word search. Although this last was a touch advanced for a first grader, it prompted us to delve deeper into Kenya’s many tribes.

An entry from Little Passport’s blog made it seem that the Kenya kit used to include a tribe mask craft. We found a similar version online to continue the fun: Start with paper plates and cut out eye holes for each. Use torn pieces of magazine or newspaper to shape a nose and mouth.

We gave the plates a coat of brown paint to look like clay, then added stripes in additional paint colors and “hair” from construction paper.

Recipe:

We were initially surprised to see that the included recipe was for chapati, which normally makes me think of India. It was neat to learn that this flatbread is popular in Kenya, as well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 cup warm water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add to the flour mixture, then add the remaining warm water and stir to form a soft ,sticky dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic. Return to the bowl and let rise for 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Divide the dough into 10 portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Cook in oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining dough.

As you can guess, the recipe was time consuming, since we could only cook one chapati at a time in our skillet. It would be far easier if you have a large griddle surface! To be honest, we called it quits about 4 dough portions, which already had taken about half an hour. Still, it was a fun culinary adventure, and we served the chapati with curried lentils and veggies in keeping with the spirit of the meal!

Colorful Butterflies

We spotted our first butterlfy of spring today, a lovely white one fluttering by! It felt only right to celebrate with a little butterfly craft. This was a riff on coffee filter butterflies, and was great for helping Travis hone some skills from art class this year.

First, I challenged him to cut out an oval. He decided it would be best to draw it first, then cut.

I made a few additional ovals so everyone could paint one with watercolor.

Little sister included!

Once the butterflies were dry, I showed Travis how to fold them accordion-style, back and forth until pleated.

Finally, we wrapped shiny pipe cleaners around the middle of each one as the bodies, leaving the tips sticking up for two antennae on each.

Fan out the wings, then add string or ribbon and let your butterflies flutter in a pretty window. Fun fact: tell your child that a group of butterflies is actually called a flutter, and see if they can guess why!