Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fun Cave Activities and Crafts for Kids

My theme for last week's MOMS Camp was all about CAVES! My kids are way into caves recently so I decided to make a whole week of activities based around them.  At first I felt kind of limited, but then I was surprised at how much I came up with and what a successful week it was!

Here is a list of fun activities and crafts we made during our cave week: 

- Naturally we made a giant cave in the living room out of blankets. We used an old baby gate (the kind that stands on it's own and makes a giant hexagon when linked together) to really add some space. It stayed up for a whole day and we had a blast laying in it to watch a movie; read books; and pretend to be bats, dinosaurs, bears, and even monsters. 

- Here is a fun and quick CRAFT we made that I found on Pinterest. You can make a mini cave out of a paper lunch sack. We used ours as a home for Molly's mini plastic dinosaurs, and later a tiny plush bear.

- We took TWO awesome trips this week!! First we went to the Omaha Zoo in Nebraska with my mom. We had visited before and knew all about their "Kingdom of the Night" exhibit, featuring bats and other cave-dwellers, as well as just nocturnal animals. That and a couple other exhibits featured areas that looked just like caves and the animals that lived in them! Seeing the bats - especially the Giant African Fruit Bat - was so amazing!

- Our second trip was to Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, MO.  It is the only ride-through cave in the U.S. so it was perfect for little feet that tire easily... and a little boy who is obsessed with trailers! Our tour guide was spectacular and the kids really loved being in a real cave. It was really neat to point out the different parts of the cave and formations that we had learned about from our books all week. My favorite part was when they turned of the lights and we got to be in absolute darkness: you literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face. According to our tour guide, if you stayed in absolute darkness for 30 days, you would go completely and permanently blind!! Luckily they turned the lights back on and our tour only lasted for about 50 minutes.

- We also acted out "We're Going On A Bear Hunt" which was really fun. I was happily surprised at how much my three year old really got into it! Here's what you do: sit on your knees and slap your legs gently with alternating hands to simulate walking as you chant/sing "We're going on a bear hunt/ We're gonna catch a big one/ We're not scared/ What a beautiful day!" Then you act like you come across something in your path: ie "Uh Oh! A river!" Then it's always the same: "We can't go over it. We can't go around it. Oh no! We'll have to go through it!" So then you pretend to swim and say something like "splashity splash! splashity splash! splashity splash!" .... so on and so on.. until you reach a cave and find a bear. He chases you and you have to QUICKLY go back through everything you passed again, doing the motions and sounds. Then you get home, slam the door, run upstairs, and hide under the covers. All while pretending and sitting on your knees. I remember playing this in preschool when I was little and was THRILLED to find a BOOK of it which we have read since Molly (age 6) was a baby. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bath Time Foam Robots

I love finding ways to make bath time more fun for my kids! I read a while ago on Pinterest to use foam sheets to create a fun bath toy for your kids. I finally decided to make some for our Robot Week of MOMS Camp.

Start with a variety of colors of foam sheets. I found mine at Target in their kids' craft section for just a couple bucks. Cut out several shapes just like we did with the felt busy bags. Include regular shapes, as well as silly ones like long zig zags to be robot arms.

During your kid's bath time, get each foam piece a little wet and it will stick to the side of your tub! Now your child can create robot after robot! Note of warning: if you leave the pink ones stuck on overnight, it will stain your tub!! (oops) Don't fear! It does come off with a quick swipe of a wet cloth. ;O)  These are so fun for kids and curbs the complaining at bath time!!

You could also do the same thing in your kiddie pool in the yard!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fathers Day Footprint Gift

Fathers Day is this weekend and I have put together another cute idea for my husband. I found the footprint idea on Pinterest a long time ago, but searched out a quote to pair with it to create a whole project.

First, start with the foot prints! I used a 12 x 12 sheet of card stock. You might have to print yours at an angle or use a larger piece if the dad's feet are too much bigger than my husband's! While he's away, grab one of his shoes and cover the bottom in paint. I used washable Crayola kids paint (like I do for everything!) Don't worry - it washes off so easily with water and will be dry before he gets home from work! Make an even print of the shoe... you might have to roll it around a little to get the toe, and press down at the arch to get the middle. I practiced with three different pairs of shoes to make sure I got the "coolest" print. Tennis shoes (aka sneakers) seem to work the best.

After that has dried - which shouldn't be more than 45 minutes, really - grab your largest child and make a footprint right on top of the shoe print. Try to line up the heels to get a good size comparison! Once that one is dry, do another right on top of it. Keep on going until you run out of kids. Be sure to use contrasting (but complimenting) colors so they all show up.

Meanwhile, I found a saying that I really liked and wrote it out on white construction paper. I just used a Sharpy marker and my regular hand writing but feel free to get all high tech and print it out instead. I never found a source for the quote, so it must just be one of those neat things passing along the internet.

I used a glue stick to attach the saying to card stock in coordinating colors, and used a paper cutter to get those straight edges.  Since it was card stock, I used Glue Dots (love them!) to attach the whole quote to my print.

"I don't want my kids to follow in my footsteps...
I want them to take the path next to me and go farther than I ever dreamt possible."

Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Robot Crafts and Printables

Here are few projects we did over the past few days for our robot themed week! I found all of these simple printouts on Pinterest.

We loved this robot helicopter! I printed one out for each of my kids (plus myself) to color with markers. After you cut it out and fold the legs in opposite directions, it's supposed to twirl down like a helicopter when you drop it. Ours didn't work as well as hoped, but when you weight down the head by adding two strips of scotch tape, it works much better! 

We decorated a cute robot key chain! We found ours sold individually at Michael's for less than a dollar apiece but I couldn't find a link for those online. The key chains in the link look the exact same, though! My 6 year old and I decorated ours with permanent markers. Mine had a cubed head so I drew a different facial expression on each side. This was great for emotion recognition practice for my three year old!

Here's a fun robot coloring page.
Here's another.

These pages are educational and fun! Here's a cute robot activity.
Here's another.

Hope this keeps you busy for a while!!  

Robot Books and Movies

Each week of MOMS Camp I pick out books and movies to go along with our current theme. This week we did robots because my three year old is really into them. He loves to walk around the house pretending to be a robot and even reprimands me for talking like "a mommy" and not a robot!

Here's a list of our favorite robot books from the library this week:

The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot
by Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing
(A fun, outer-space version of the Three Little Pigs.)

Robot Zot
by Ian Scieszka and David Shannon
(Wonderful illustrations and a funny *little* robot who is very silly and brave.)

The Robobots
by Matt Novak
(A very zany tale of a new robot family that teaches a valuable lesson.)

See Otto
by David Milgrim
(This is part of a Ready-to-Read series that's perfect for my little blooming reader! It has easy pages, including "Go, Otto, go!" and my daughter (age 6) was so proud to read it to me and her little brother! This one actually has my favorite illustrations, by the way, because they are hilarious.)

Our favorite robot movies from this week are:

Wall-E (of course)

The Iron Giant (my 3 year old son LOVED this one because it includes tanks and weapons, but it might be a little much for your child if they get scared easily at giant angry robots and the military)

The Backyardigans: Robot Repairman

Busy Bag Idea: Felt Robots!

I haven't made a new busy bag for a long time, but Molly is always pulling them out to play with. Click HERE to read about busy bags and a few other ideas for them! I made a new one that was a big hit with both my kids, ages 3 and 6: Felt Robots!

Cut out several shapes from colored felt. You can buy single sheets of felt at Walmart for maybe $0.29 each so you can get a good variety of colors.  Make some normal shapes like rectangles, squares, circles, and triangles. Naming these shapes is great practice for my three year old.  Include plenty of smaller circles and squares to be the buttons! Also make some silly shapes like squiggly lines and crescents (for smiles) to complete your collection.  Molly (age 6) helped me cut some shapes this time and got very creative!

Have your child build a robot out of the felt shapes! This is a fun, quiet project your child can do with or without you. My favorite part was so unexpected - Molly and Ben focused on what each robot would be used for and named what each button would do! What wonderful imaginations!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hand Print Farm!

I love doing cute crafts using my kids' hand prints and our farm-themed week gave me an excuse to do plenty! I found ideas to make all these cute animals on Pinterest. We put them all together on one sheet of green construction paper to create a complete farm! As always we used Washable Crayola Kids Paint.  It shows up really well even on colored paper.

Once the hand prints were dry, we added details with permanent markers. My kids especially liked adding fleece to their sheep by using cotton balls! Regular cotton balls were a little large so I cut them in half before giving them to my kids. We used regular glue to attach the cotton balls. Ben, age 3, got kind of carried away with that part, but I sheered his sheep so you could tell what it was. ;O)