Friday, December 9, 2011

Time Out!!!

Time out is a great discipline concept for some families.  In our family, it works great...if you can get the child to sit still.  We have tried sending them to their room - too many toys.  We have tried standing them in the corner - doorstops are a fascination like no other.  We have tried sitting them on the couch - just doesn't seem to make the point.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw an idea on Pinterest for a time out chair.  As soon as I saw it, I knew we needed one in our house.  Now the one on there was professionally painted.  I am NOT a professional!  But I knew I could have some fun with it, and make something neat.  The kids now have a place to go for timeout, where they KNOW why they are there.

I started with just a plain wooden dining chair I picked up at Salvation Army.  When I went, I knew it needed to meet certain criteria - it had to be wooden.  Plastic is too light, and in a fit they would just tip over.  Plus, wood is easier to paint on.  It needed to be sturdy - no loose legs.  It had to be safe, after all!  Finally, no rockers.  Too much fun, plus little brother's fingers make a good target for rocking chairs.  I thought I'd look for a child size chair, but the 7 year old needs it just as much as the little ones, so bigger was better.  This is what I found.

Then I painted.  I already had a bunch of acrylic paints in the basement leftover from different murals in the kids' rooms, Jesse tree ornaments, and various other crafts. So, other than the chair itself, this project cost nothing.  Most of the colors took several coats.  Especially the blue.  For some reason that blue just did not want to look right!  Once I had the base coats on, I did the polka-dots, "zebra stripes", and some zig-zags on the legs (you can't see those in the picture - sorry!).

Then I did the writing on the seat.  It says "Timeout to think about the things that you do.  But always remember that I LOVE YOU!"  I admit it freely - I borrowed that phrasing from the chair I'd seen.  But it was perfect.  I used a font called Party.  Originally I thought I could find a way to trace the words, but I ended up free-handing it.  When it was done, it was a little (OK, a lot) off center, so I added the heart. Personally, I love the way it turned out.

Finally, I added the TIMEOUT to the back of the chair, and drew the hands on the clock.

It still needs a coat of something to seal it, but it's finished!  And just in time.  Both the 2 year old and 4 year old have used it this morning...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Activity Chain

My son brought this home from 1st grade this year, and I thought it was a great idea.  I'll probably reuse this craft in coming years with all three of my kids.  It is so simple, but he loves it, and it really does help with the anticip....ation of Christmas!

All they did was make a paper chain of alternating red and green construction paper.  On each link of the chain, there is an activity to do to get ready for Christmas.  Now, this is a school project, so no religious activities.  But, if you are making your own, you could definitely include whatever you want.  Also, his started on December 9, so if you wanted to go the whole month, you would just add more links.  Each day, we cut off a link and do what it says on the tag.  When the links are gone, it's Christmas!

Here is a list of what was on the chain he brought home:
- Make a Christmas card for someone special.
- Listen to a song about Christmas.  Be sure to sing along!
- Make snowflakes from a coffee filter or paper and hang.
- Share a joke or riddle with someone.  What does a snowman eat for breakfast? (Snowflakes!)
- Do something nice for a friend or family member.
- Go sledding with a friend or family member!  If there isn't snow, draw a snowy scene.
- Make a snowman.  If there isn't snow, draw a snowman and decorate the scene with cotton balls or glitter.
- String raisins or cranberries for the birds, or put bread crumbs out for the birds.
- Give everyone in your family a hug and tell them something you especially like about them.
- Watch a Christmas movie.
- Write a Christmas story or poem.
- Write a letter to Santa Claus.
- Make a paper Christmas tree and put colorful ornaments and decorations on it.
- Read a Christmas book with a family member.
- Make and decorate napkin rings from paper or a paper towel tube.
- Help make snacks for Santa Claus and his reindeer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Toddler Busy Bag Exchange

Two year olds are difficult to entertain.  Am I right?  At least my little guy is.  So when my moms group announced we were having a Toddler Busy Bag Exchange, I was all over it!

What is a Busy Bag?  It's just what it sounds like. A bag full of things to keep toddlers busy.  In this case, 21 different games or things they can do over and over again.

Here's how our exchange worked.  We had 18 moms participate, with a total of 21 kids.  For each kid you wanted a bag for, you had to choose one "activity" to make.  So, if you just have one kid, you made one activity.   If you have two kids, you made two.  You could make anything you wanted, and there are tons of websites out there with ideas.  Here are a few:

I chose to make felt pizzas.
They were super easy.  Just cut a circle out of cream felt for the "crust", a slightly smaller circle our of red for the "sauce", circles out of a dark red for the "pepperoni", odd shaped almost circles out of brown for the "sausage" or "hamburger", green squares for "peppers", white squares for "onions", and I used grey felt for mushrooms.  I printed an outline of the mushroom on cardstock and traced it so it looked pretty close.

On the day of the exchange, we all met at our local library.  You just went around and took one of each of the different activities.  Now I have 21 different things to keep my toddler busy!  As you can see from the pictures below, some of the ideas were pretty elaborate; others were really simple.  But, he will love playing with all of them!

PomPom SortPomPom Stuff ItPasta Color Sort
Pipe Cleaner Stuff ItFelt FishiesFruit Loop Color Sort
PlaydohMemory GamePopsicle Stick Puzzle
Number WheelColor-Your-Own ButterfliesEdible Bracelets
Sand Seek-and-FindChalkboard"Bird" and "Worms"
Gel WriterAlphabet Letter MatchPaint Chip Sort
Make-Your-Own ButterfliesColor WheelFelt Pizza

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lightsaber Crafts (aka Moms, Please Don't Hate Me!)

I've made it a tradition to always have a craft for the kids to do at birthday parties.  I guess I'm just trying to pass on my addiction to my children!  We've painted wooden trains, made foam bookmarks, designed our own princess crowns, made cars out of toilet paper tubes.  So this year for my oldest's 7th birthday I wanted to make lightsabers.

A couple of years ago, he went to a Star Wars themed party where they made lightsabers out of pool noodles.  You can find "how-to"s for that all over the internet (here for example).  The problem is, this is December.  In Iowa.  And I didn't plan a Star Wars party back in the summer.  At that point he wanted Cars 2.  Kids just don't plan ahead.  And stores in Iowa evidently do not sell pool noodles in December.  Believe me.  I called at least 10 places.

So, rather than give up, I searched the home improvement stores for ANYTHING that could be used instead.  What I came up with was foam pipe insulation.  I actually loved this, because it's got a smaller diameter than the pool noodles, so it's more realistic.  However, it is black, and knowing my son and his friends, I was going to be a total failure of a party mom if the lightsabers were not the "right" colors.  So, I decided to have them wrap the entire length of the foam in duct tape.  An added benefit was that it ate up a significant amount of time! :)

After wrapping a little more than 3/4 of the tube in their chosen color of tape, we finished off with silver on the end.  I even splurged and got the shiny stuff instead of just plain grey duct tape.  Hey, he only turns seven once!  Each kid now has their very own lightsaber.

We did some Jedi mind training games involving blindfolds and knocking down cans.  The kids had pretend lightsaber fights.  Then we confiscated the weapons for the rest of the party.  I'm sure all of the moms are absolutely thrilled with me now that the kids have them back, and are at home chasing their brothers, sisters, dogs, cats, hamsters, or whatever else they can find.