Glowing Creepy Crawly Sensory Bag

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I used a black light and glow-in-the-dark spiders for this novel sensory bag. I thought Veronika would be very into the glowing bugs, but it turns out the black light was too interesting and distracting! I had read online that tonic water glows under black light. It was hard to tell if this was actually true, but the project was still fun!

To set up, combine 1 bottle of hair gel (use clear or yellow) and about 1/4 cup tonic water in a large zip-top bag.

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Seal and mix, then open the bag back up to add your “creepy” stuff. I had glow-in-the-dark spiders, as well as a few googly eyes from the craft bin.

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Seal the bag, then place on the ground and turn out the lights. Turn on your black light and watch it glow!

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When the black light was on, the hair gel mixture was most evident. If we turned it off, the glow of the spiders became more apparent.

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Veronika loved poking at the eyes and bugs with a finger, and generally just squishing her hands all over it.

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But as mentioned, the black light was very distracting, so I’m going to think of ways to make a glowing sensory bag that doesn’t involve the light. Stay tuned!

Animal Craft Challenge

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Travis loved this month’s craft challenge from Highlights magazine: to make an animal using nothing more than an empty egg carton, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and googly eyes.

I was thinking something cute and fluffy, but Travis immediately knew he wanted a snake! Pipe cleaners were the obvious choice for the body.

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We twisted several lengths together to make long snakes. He wanted to attach eyes next, but I asked him if he thought the eyes would affix well to the pipe cleaners. He decided no, and realized an egg carton piece could be the head!

We poked holes through the egg carton segments to attach heads to bodies, and glued on the eyes.

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With leftover egg carton portions all around him now, he toyed around with gluing pom poms and eyes to single segments, but this didn’t work very well. Could we use the bigger, lid portion of the carton we wondered, for a body?

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Now Travis knew what he wanted: a spider! We threaded four pipe cleaners through from one side to the other, to make 8 legs. He wanted to glue on 8 eyes, but we only had room for 5 eyes to march across.

Then Travis decided it needed to be furry with pom poms – a tarantula! He was so thrilled with this spider that he couldn’t wait for the glue to dry.

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What a wonderful craft challenge, thanks Highlights!

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Rubber Band Launchers, Two Ways

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Ok, we’ve launched marshmallows from cups and rockets from straws, so now it was time for Travis to play around with how he could launch things with rubber bands!

First up, thanks to a renewed fascination with bugs, was a Spider Launcher. This project was a little tricky; we had to redo it twice before we got the elastics right!

First, cover a sturdy cardboard tube (such as an empty roll of packing tape) with construction paper.

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We chose orange because, well, spiders and Halloween and all that, but any color would work. Glue or tape the paper on.

Glue 4 lollipop sticks around the tube so that they form a square.

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Leave these to dry for at least 2 hours, so your structure is sturdy. Full disclosure: we did have one pop off, and I duct-taped it back on.

To make your “web,” slip an elastic over all 4 posts. Loop it around each post, then push down to the bottom of the sticks.

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Slip a second elastic over the post. Completely lift the first one up and over the second elastic (so only your second elastic is now looped on the lollipop sticks, if that makes sense).

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Repeat with a third elastic, slipping it around the post, and then lifting the second elastic completely up and over it.

Repeat with a fourth elastic, slipping the third elastic completely up and over it. Confused yet? I hope the visual helps!

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Now place a toy spider in the middle. Pull back on the tautest, center of your web. Snap the elastic back, and spider flies!

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This was tricky for my four year old, but he could do it with help for bigger launches, and by himself for shorter launches.

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Even better, his bug toys now had a web to call home, so overall it was a success!

Since this turned out to be so complicated, I also asked him if he wanted to make a much simpler rubber band launcher, using just with a couple of elastics and a cup. Here, then, is the Rubber Band-Powered Cup Launcher.

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Put two rubber bands on a sturdy paper cup so they form a cross.

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(Note: It may help to stretch your rubber bands out a few times to loosen them, or your paper cups will crumple).

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Place a third rubber band around the cup to hold the other two in place.

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Press this cup down over a second paper cup. The elastics will go taut, and when you release… Boing!

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This one is simple enough to do with a crowd of kids, and would be a fun one outdoors, perhaps for any upcoming Memorial Day barbecues!

Feed the Frog

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Ha, this activity is probably more suited to a creepy-crawly time of year like Halloween, but how do you keep a 4-year-old busy on the day before Christmas? With some good, spider fun, it turns out!

Travis spotted an old trove of spider rings in our craft bin, so we set up this game.

We needed a tissue box, and I let Travis go to town emptying the box and playing with the leftover tissues – something I wouldn’t normally encourage, but every once in a while, you need a sacrificial tissue box.

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Ideally, use a green box. Ours had streaks of green as well as other colors, so I guess looked more like one of those tropical bright frogs – why not!

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I made two big eyes for the frog, simply drawing black circles onto white paper and taping to the frog. Cut out the plastic around the hole of the tissue box, and your frog is ready to eat.

Present your child with the “frog”, a pair of tongs, and a set of spiders, and challenge him or her to feed the frog. Tongs are great for fine motor skills!

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Travis would happily have done this all day. To throw in a little education, I asked if he could think of a pattern to feed the frog. “Black, orange, black, orange,” he suggested. Yes!

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Next we tried rolling a dice, taking turns and feeding the frog the appropriate number of spiders.

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When our frog got full, we simply dumped him out and started over.

Travis wanted other things for froggie to eat, so we found red pom poms, which he decided were poisonous bugs.

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He even suggested we make a little mouth for froggie that could open and close, to keep all the food inside.

In sum, a great way to keep your kids entertained!

Spider Web Snacks

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To continue with some recent web-filled fun, we made edible spiderwebs for snack! This project has a few steps that kids can help out with for hands-on cooking fun.

Let your child help arrange 5 pretzel sticks on wax paper so they form a five-pointed star. Make as many arrangements of 5 as you’ll need to feed all the children snacking in your household.

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Adults: Microwave chocolate chips at 20 second intervals until melted (about 1 minute total). Transfer the melted chocolate to a zip-top plastic bag, then pipe the chocolate “web” in circles around the pretzel rods.

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Travis loved helping with this step, so our webs weren’t always perfect circles – nothing wrong with a few globs!

You can add a big clump of raisins in the center as big scary spiders. Single raisins around the edges made perfect flies caught in the web.

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Transfer the wax paper to the fridge and let the chocolate set. Once it cools, you can remove the spider web directly from the wax paper. Impatience meant that ours didn’t last nearly that long, so instead we ate a snack that looked more like chocolate-dipped pretzels – delicious either way!

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Spider Web Walk

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Travis recently fell in love with finding spider webs at our vacation house – so I surprised him this morning with a giant tape web on the floor! The web lends itself to lots of games.

First, we made “bugs” to get stuck in the web. I only had 3 pipe cleaners on hand but go ahead and scrunch up as many pipe cleaners as you like to form creepy crawlies.

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We then made up games of tossing the bugs into the sticky web and finding silly ways to get to them: on hands and knees; on tip toes; etc.

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I thought he might also enjoy driving cars through the web, since the tape lines made for perfect racing markers.

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Far more fun than this, however, was Travis’s decision to make his own spider web! He loved putting down each piece of sticky tape, which became a great chance to talk about how real spider webs are sticky, too, and why.

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He was so proud of his final creation!

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More Spider Fun!

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Between spider lanterns and spider rocks, we’ve been having fun with all manner of creepy-crawly arachnids leading up to Halloween. Today we not only made a new spider, but gave him a web to call home!

For the spider, invite your child to color on two paper plates with crayons however they like. Preschoolers can draw their own spider face, but I helped by drawing a spider on one plate and letting Travis have free reign on the other.

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Punch a hole in the center of one plate, and thread through a knotted piece of string. You’ll be able either to hang your creation, or to jump it about like a jumping spider once complete!

We then glued 8 strips of black construction paper onto the inside rim of one plate before gluing the two plates together.

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Let dry completely before the play begins.

 

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I had leftover cooked and cooled spaghetti on hand, so for Itsy Bitsy’s web, we got nice and goopy again!

 

Fill a shallow plate with glue, and show your child how to dip the spaghetti strands in the glue before arranging in a “web” on waxed paper.

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Travis couldn’t wait to get his hands on the spaghetti, and very quickly decided they also looked like worms. I finished our web while he had a blast stirring the worms around and making them “wiggle” a nice reminder that toddlers are very good at creating their own games no matter what materials we present to them!

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Let the web dry completely, then peel off the wax paper. Because the web is very delicate, I found it was best to leave some of the wax paper behind as backing.

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Don’t forget to add one of your spider friends to live inside!

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Spider Rocks

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Following up on our spider lantern decorations, Travis helped me create a few more spider friends to populate our house for the Halloween season!

Find a few small, round rocks and paint in any color – we used blue and black for a dark Halloween feel, but neon bright colors might be fun too! Let dry overnight.

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Cut pipe cleaners in half. For the legs of each spider, wrap one pipe cleaner piece around the middle of three others, then bend the ends out to make the legs. This part was a bit complicated for Travis, but he loved watching me do it, and thought the legs made great “crickets” to jump around for a while.

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Glue one rock onto each set of pipe cleaner “legs” and let dry completely – I recommend lying them upside down.

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All you need to add are stickers or googly eyes for the cutest little spiders I’ve ever had in my house!

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Spider Lantern

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween around here! Since Travis loves spiders, I knew this easy decoration would be a big hit. It was our first Halloween craft of the season, so as we made the lantern I talked about the creepy crawly things that come out on All Hallow’s Eve!

Cut the top off an empty 1-liter bottle of soda; tape around the rim to cover any sharp edges.

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Wrap the bottle in cheesecloth, draping the excess inside, then wrap colored yarn around the bottle. Kids can help with this step!

Once finished, tuck a plastic or rubber spider into your web. Add a battery-operated candle for spooky glowing decor come nighttime.

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