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Friday, November 28, 2014

A Happy Little Turkey Day

Hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving yesterday! We had a great day. We watched the parade with our Krispy Kreme breakfast and after naptime, we headed over to our cousins' house for a family dinner. James fried a turkey like he does every year and, like every year, it was deeeelish!! Though we always miss our far-away East coast family, we had a nice time with our California cousins :) 

So many things to be thankful for, and we try to live each day with gratitude. 

We are laying low this "Black Friday." James is doing some home repair stuff for my grandmother upstairs. The babies are listening to Christmas music in their jammies and playing (Calvin has been climbing and jumping on the couches like a monkey - and is taking a much needed nap at the moment - and Henry is playing with his toys like an angel.) And I am ready to whip out our Christmas decorations!! Let the Christmas season begin! 

Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Calvin vs. Collage

Did a quick art project with Calvin yesterday. I thought of another way to make a pretty fall tree with orange, yellow, and red leaves... torn paper collage! Torn paper collage is a technique where you use torn bits of different papers to create or fill in shapes. My idea was to use the torn paper to fill in the leaves of a fall tree and the feathers of a turkey.

I thought this was a brilliant idea. As it turned out, Calvin felt otherwise. But I figured it was worth sharing anyway. I mean, I like torn paper collage. Surely some other kid out there would be into this even if mine wasn't!

For a simple torn paper collage, you really just need paper and glue. If you want to get fancy, you can use fancy paper or even paint the paper first, which is a whole other art project. You could also embellish your picture with glitter or stickers or whatever else you can glue down. We kept it really simple.

Just like I had done for our fall fingerpaint trees, I drew a tree trunk and branches ahead of time. I also drew a turkey head on another sheet. I cut our construction paper into strips so that we could tear off little pieces easily - or at least, I thought it would be easy. Turns out Calvin can't tear pieces off of a strip of paper just yet. I gave him a strip and showed him how I was ripping little pieces off. He proceeded to squeeze it and pull it until it was pretty well mangled but still in one piece. 


In an attempt to salvage this project I tore little notches all along another strip and with some teamwork, he was able to rip pieces off. I held the big strip, and he would pinch the end and tear it. He got the hang of pinching the paper and twisting his hand while pulling. He just couldn't do that while also steadying the paper with his other hand. That's ok. We can work on part of a skill at a time. I even made sure to have him switch hands halfway through so he got practice with his right and left. 

We did one strip together like this and I tore the other two strips for him. Once our paper was in little torn pieces, I set out a small dish of glue and showed Calvin how to touch a piece of paper to the glue, then stick it to the picture.

He had no problem gluing on the pieces of paper. But I feel compelled to confess that I glued at least half of those feathers and leaves on myself because truth be told, Calvin was much more entertained by running around in circles than he was by this collage project!

When I found myself begging him to come glue a feather on the turkey I was like, ya know what? If he's not into it, let's move on! Honestly, I think I lost him when ripping the paper turned out to be hard for him. Ripping paper is a really good task for little hands. It takes some coordination and it works those little hand muscles which is important for other fine motor tasks and especially for writing. So, Calvin, this is not the last you'll see of torn paper collage! We shall meet again! 

Ever started a project that your kids weren't into? This is not the first time it's happened to me - nor will it be the last I'm sure! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Muddy Hike at Tilden Park

Tilden Park, just outside of Berkeley is pretty much heaven for Calvin. Maybe second to the zoo... but maybe not. We've been to Lake Anza beach in Tilden Park a couple of times in warmer weather. Today we visited the Little Farm and walked around Jewel Lake. Next time I definitely want to take the boys for a ride on the steam train and there's also a carousel that we haven't checked out yet, plus of course, more hiking trails. This place is amazing. So many things to do and it's just beautiful.

By the time we got there, we were hungry for lunch so we sat down for a picnic before heading over to the Little Farm. 

Chickens and geese and ducks - oh my!

At the Little Farm, you're allowed to feed some of the animals either lettuce or celery, but you have to bring it yourself. We didn't bring any, so at first Calvin started picking up tiny shreds that had fallen on the ground and was feeding those to the goats. Then a man who was there with a kid about Calvin's age gave us some of the lettuce they had brought so Calvin was able to feed the animals :)

These two goats were gettin' feisty over that lettuce!

When the cow's big tongue came out, Calvin panicked! He wouldn't feed the cows after that.

Calvin was still a little shy of the cow. But he liked watching the other kids feed her.

After we left the farm area, we walked through the education center. 

Then we walked to Jewel Lake and followed the trail around the lake. It was very muddy because we've had rain the past few days. Calvin found some puddles to throw rocks in.

The kid likes to make a splash.

Calvin also found a spot to throw rocks into the lake. 

Hanging out while big brother plays by the water.

Those two nuggets are some cute babies. #totallybiased

It was a fun day. I got grumpy at the end because I wound up covered in mud from carrying Calvin and his muddy shoes... but overall it really was nice. Mud and all. Such a fun park! Next time, steam train!

Anybody else love Tilden Park? Other favorite parks for toddlers in the SF bay area? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall Fingerpaint Trees

I've got another fall art project to share - and Henry got to do this one too! I've been doing art projects almost exclusively with Calvin, but I realize that Henry is at point in his development where not only is he able to start participating in the things his big brother does (with some modifications), but it's probably really good for his development, too.

Just yesterday Calvin and I were noticing the pretty fall colors on the trees and talking about how the leaves on some of the trees are orange or yellow or red. Calvin likes how the brown fallen leaves crunch under his sneakers. Who doesn't?! So today I talked with him about making a tree like the ones we saw yesterday and get this guys - when I asked him to name the colors of the paint... HE GOT THEM ALL RIGHT!! He correctly named the paint colors red, orange, and yellow. Maybe he is not color blind after all ;)

We used tempera paint and fingerpaint, because that's what I had on hand in the colors I wanted to use. I cut little paper cups into shallow bowls for the paint. I used a brown sharpie to draw the trees ahead of time (P.S. If SAHM's had prep-time it would be so much easier to do stuff like this. Amiright?). If you're not into drawing trees, you could also print one from the interweb. Or with older kids, they could draw the trees themselves.

Sorry about the blurry pics! It's hard to catch the kiddos in action. Especially Henry because I was also trying to keep him from destroying his tree painting!

This was Henry's first fingerpaint encounter. And good thing it is non-toxic, because his little paint-covered fingers went straight into his mouth! So for my little paint-eater I quickly switched to yogurt and jelly "painting" instead.

Tastes much better than fingerpaint!
Calvin had a blast. And when his tree was finished (according to him), he asked for more trees to paint.

Henry looks a little sad here. Maybe he thinks his yogurt and jelly isn't as much fun as real paint.

The trees turned out so beautifully. While they were painting, Calvin said he wanted to go see trees again and we talked about our hiking trip a couple of weeks ago. I asked if he would like to go hiking this weekend with Daddy and he said yes, and that he would like to invite his friends to come hiking too. Maybe we'll pick a hike with some nice fall colors :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fall Fruits Stamp Art

When those "baby" pumpkins that were so fun to hunt for started showing some spots, I sliced them in halves for a different kind of pumpkin painting!

I spread paper all over our coffee table and taped it down so we had a big space to work with. I set out three different stamp pads with washable paint and I put half of a pumpkin on each pad. These washable paint pads didn't put much pigment on the pumpkins. Ours might be drying out since we've had them for about a year now. But they're great because there's so little mess involved.

I put Calvin's smock on him and we started stamping!

A hand also makes a great stamp ;)
Calvin discovered that three pumpkins stamped together look like Mickey Mouse! 

Calvin also thought that the yellow pumpkin stamps looked like lions! So I put a face on this one and added legs.

On a different day, we did some stamping with apples. I saw this idea on Pinterest from an older post on the website Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds - Cut the apple so that it has its own handle for stamping! So clever.

We used tempera paint this time, and I used slices cut out from the apple to mix up some colors. 

Apple stamp! Or... ya know... hand stamp. Whatever.

I am noticing that Calvin is much more comfortable putting his hands in the paint and getting a little messy compared to a few months ago. Guess that's a good thing for his sensory development, even if it's a little messier! Oh well, it's all washable paint anyway!

We even used those little slices for painting.
He asked for another Mickey Mouse so I made this one for him ;)

I love how our pictures turned out! You miiiiiiight be able to tell which ones were mine and which ones were Calvin's...

We did apple stamping again yesterday because I had some apples that were getting too mushy to eat. This time we used bright red tempera paint and also the red stamp pad. We used both real apples and our apple-shaped foam stamp.

This art project is easy to throw together with things already in the house. It seems like kind of a shame to use perfectly yummy fruit for painting... (but it's for the sake of art, right??)... so we tend to use things that are already getting overripe.

Any other ideas for fall fruits and veggies? Maybe other small gourds and squash?