Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers

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Well, I’m almost done posting about Valentine’s Day activities and crafts. I’ve got just a couple more to go. After that, I won’t want to see or work with another heart for a long time. Until next year, obviously.

The twins and I made Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers on yet ANOTHER snow day this past weekend (yes, that’s my back deck piled almost to the top with snow).

Materials needed: contact paper (find it HERE), tissue paper, painter’s tape (bought HERE)

As with all my other activities and crafts, I was going for easy and cheap. It was pretty easy to construct, I’d say, and it was FREE. I had already purchased the contact paper which I used for our pom pom window activity and the tissue paper came from recent Christmas and Valentine’s gifts the twins received. It’s funny, I’m starting to think differently about items I would normally recycle or throw away. Tissue paper is a perfect example. Over the years I’ve no doubt wasted TONS of tissue paper – open the gift, throw away the paper. Now I find myself thinking, “Could the toddlers use this for something?” I’ve been doing the same thing with containers I normally recycle. Now I’m a junk collector – ugh.

Anyway, I contemplated ripping up the tissue paper myself the night before this activity so that it would be ready for the toddlers to use but then I thought that perhaps they could rip it themselves. That ended up being their favorite part of the whole activity. I gave them sheets and sheets of tissue paper and they went to town, ripping it, throwing it off the table, and making a massive confetti mess all over the dining room floor. That alone could have been our activity!

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When it was ripped up (with my help), they had a bucket full of pieces, ready to go.

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Meanwhile, while they were ripping I cut out a long piece of contact paper and folded it in half. Then I drew a heart onto the folded sheet and cut out the two hearts. (I did this twice, of course). This way I had the front and back of the sun catcher done and ready. After taking the back of the contact paper off, I taped two of the four hearts to the floor, sticky side up.

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Then I invited the twins to come over and stick their tissue paper to the hearts on the floor. I remembered how, the day before, B was disappointed that his alphabet hearts didn’t stick to the butcher paper and he got frustrated as he pressed down hard, only to find the letters slipping away. I was hoping I could make up for it with this activity. Both B and C understood quickly what to do and started sticking the tissue paper pieces to their hearts.

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Of course, there’s always something else these guys want to do with the activities I plan that I never think of. This time, B was happy to have the tissue paper stick, but unhappy that it didn’t unstick. He wanted to practice putting the pieces on and taking them off again. And he kept trying to stick the tissue paper to the blue tape, which of course did not work. Regardless, he squished his pieces on until the heart was sufficiently covered. C did the same. Then I peeled up the hearts off the floor and took the backs off the other two hearts I had. I stuck them together, sealing the tissue paper pieces inside the two layers of contact paper. I handed B his heart and he admired his handiwork. (In typical C fashion, she took off for other toys after a minute or two.)

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I showed B where we were going to tape the sun catchers to the slider and he tried his best to get it to stick.

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Of course, then I made a silly parenting move and taped them right there where B and C could reach them. They immediately peeled the hearts off the slider and tried their best to destroy their crafts. So I taped them again, higher and out of reach this time. Since we’ve done the activity, the twins have enjoyed pointing out their hearts and commenting on the colors they see. One more heart activity for the books!

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Valentine’s Day Soup – A Sensory Activity

Another day at home by myself with the twins; another reason to find an enjoyable, affordable sensory activity. I’m starting to take a real interest in finding good ideas online and either copying them exactly or altering them a bit to make it work for my kids. I also love the process of picture-taking and then blogging about what I did. Most of the ideas that I find come from other blogs out there, so I’m happy to add myself to the mix to help others keep their little ones busy. And it’s not just for fun – if I don’t have something for my 18 month olds to do that’s outside of the normal “free play” (because how many hours can we do that?), they get antsy. Especially B.  I find he’s the happiest when he’s exposed to new experiences and activities. C just goes along for the ride – but it’s just a more pleasant day for us all if I’ve got something planned for them.

One of my absolute favorite blogs for sensory activities that are cheap and easy is Asia’s Fun At Home With Kids blog. She’s kind of living my dream life right now – a former teacher (ahem), she’s now a stay at home mom who has amazing ideas and activities to keep her two kids stimulated and learning. Then she takes pictures and blogs about them. So jealous.

I subscribe to her blog and came across her idea for Valentine’s Day Soup. With Valentine’s Day coming around the corner, I’d like to do some crafts and sensory activities with my two that get them thinking about lots of red and pink hearts!

I modeled our water play activity today after Asia’s almost to a T. In fact, I jetted off to the dollar store in search of some play hearts to use in our bin and came across the exact hearts she used as well (“Table Scatter”). In preparation for the activity, I gathered up some extra kitchen utensils set aside for the twins and used 5 drops of red food coloring in warm water.

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Now, regarding the mess: Yes, there’s a mess. It’s water play and the kids get wet. I also got wet. I put down two large towels under the bin and kept a hand towel ready to quickly mop up any water that made it past the towels. I put the twins in fleece, so they wouldn’t feel soaked immediately. I got my camera ready and after their nap (1 hour and 15 minutes – grrr), they were ready to roll! Water play is just an extension of bathtime. Children get to explore various objects and see how they work and affect water. They can compare sizes and colors. They make observations about wet versus dry. All in one convenient bin of water! I also like the way this is themed for Valentine’s Day – but you could do water play for any theme imaginable. If I weren’t working full-time, I’d love to do a water play activity at least once a week. It’s worth it – the kids absolutely loved it.

As I expected, both toddlers took an interest right away.

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There was a lot of stirring, splashing, and plucking out the hearts one by one, which is great for fine motor development. They transferred the hearts to cups and counted them. They put them back in the water. C tasted her wisk after stirring out of habit, as that’s how she eats with her spoon (stab, stab, stab, lick).

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We talked about dropping the hearts from high above our heads and seeing what would happen. We discussed patterns (no, B didn’t do that), and practiced “sticking” the hearts to the side of the bin. And then after 25 straight minutes of play, C got up and started doing other things. This was no surprise to me as she typically does this. She’s not the type of toddler who sits down for a long period of time. She’d rather explore a variety of toys. Free play works well for her. And also as expected, she rejoined us on the kitchen floor a few more times after that to check in and shove her hands in the water.

But B stayed at that bin, stirring, pouring, counting – so focused, so serious, for almost an hour and a half. In toddler time, that’s like 5 years.

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It made what could have been a long afternoon into a very easy, laid-back, happy one. Another successful sensory activity!