Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preschool Math Games: Numbers Game

Our daughter has been showing some ability to count objects lately. To support her learning curve, I made a simple preschool math game that also works fine motor skills.

She really loved it and played with it as intended as well as performing a complicated pretend piano concerto on the clothes pins.

Here's how to make this great preschool math game.


Index cards
A stamp* or Dot paints
Sharpie marker

*It might be fun to use a seasonal stamp such as apples for Fall.


1.Use the stamp or Dot paints to create quantities 1 through 10 on the index cards. Try to keep the formations for 1-6 the same as used on dice.

2.With the Sharpie, write the numeral on the clothespins.

3.Write the numeral on the back of the index cards so kids can check themselves.

How to Play:

The child should count the dots (or stamps) on each index card, find the corresponding numeral and attach the clothespin.

Believe it or not, this game kept our toddler busy for almost an hour. I know, as an adult, I look at activities and stuff-to-do-with-kids and go meh, how uninteresting. I forget I'm pushing 40, the toddler is pushing 3 so it's all new to her and new is fascinating. So if you are kind of skeptical about this game or any other activity, just remember if your kid has never seen anything like it before, odds are it will be a huge hit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brontorina: A Book About Dance Classes for Children

We recently ordered the book Brontorina for our toddler who is just dying to start a dance class. She's a dancer without a dance floor. Unfortunately, children dance classes don't start until age three, which the toddler didn't hit until this year. She is going to be soooo happy later this year when she starts her dance class.

In the interim, I bought the Brontorina book in the hopes of not only entertaining our toddler but to open up the topic of dance classes for children. We talked about how dance classes operate, what dancers wear etc...

The book is utterly charming and all about letting people be the dancer they were born to be. It also covers some basic dance terms like plie and releve.

This is a definite must read for any young dancer. Plus, it's not too girlie girl and could easily be adapted for boys who will be taking children dance classes. And it doesn't take too long to read either, which is always a plus.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cheap Toddler Crafts: Shiny Dragonflies

A few weeks ago we attempted this lovely dragonfly craft , but being unable to locate my glue gun, it became more of an adventure than I bargained for.

But the kids had fun once I figured out what the heck maple keys are (helicopters). I didn't glue my fingers together like I usually do when using a glue gun and it only took me a week of patient attention to attach everything with Elmer's glue.

So, basically, what I'm saying is, you really need a glue gun for this craft.

Below is how we did it, but definitely check out the link above to see how they made their dragonflies.


1.Glue gun. If you can't find the glue gun, just give up now.
2. Maple keys a.k.a 'helicopters' those tree seeds that churn in the air like a helicopter.
3.Short twigs.
4.Teeny tiny baby acorns or beads
5.Glitter or paints. We used glitter glue.


1.With glue gun attach the maple keys to the twigs to make wings. Glue on the acorns or beads to make eyes.

2.Let kids decorate as they wish.

3.Make a dragonfly mobile or tape them to the wall.

P.S. Sorry for the poor quality pic, I am working on taking a better picture.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Stool Goes to the Playroom

Here's a pic of the stools we made in the playroom. I am happy with the results. What do you think?

See how we made it here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crafts Gone Horribly Wrong:Making Stools for the Playroom

I am not much of a crafter. Yeah, I have a glue gun, but do I know where it is? No. Which is unfortunate since we are trying to make dragonflies with sticks, leaves and glitter today.

Anyway, I caught sight of these lovely bar stools over on The Crafting Chicks and thought, 'Huh, I have old bar stools and a playroom with a distinct lack of pint-sized seating. Also, this looks pretty easy.'

Anyone ever notice that easy is a four letter word?

So I gave my hubby orders to chop the stools down to size, bought some paint and fabric and fully channeled my inner Amelia Bedelia.

The first major hurdle, I didn't have a large craft paint brush or sponge applicator. I used the BBQ basting brush from the kitchen instead. So what if the finished product smells a little bit like liquid smoke?

Application of the Mod Podge was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated as well. It's much thicker than I thought it would be. Also, I realized, after the fact, I bought the wrong kind. I'm not much of a Mod Podge connesieur, they all looked the same to me. Mod Podge is Mod Podge, right?

Well, time will tell as the stools are still drying. While we're waiting, if you want to attempt this craft yourself, here's my take on the instructions.

Supplies & Tools
  • Paint --We used Rustoleum spray paint from Walmart.
  • Brush or Sponge applicator (FYI the BBQ basting brush actually worked okay.)
  • Scissors--We used pinking shears.
  • Fabric--1/2 a yard if you're good at cutting fabric out, 1 yard if you plan on making mistakes.
  • Large plate to use as template for the fabric
  • Thin tipped Sharpie or marker
  • 1 jar Mod Podge--We used Fabric Mod Podge, but Glossy Mod Podge is recommended.

Tip: When selecting fabric, try to find fabric that has the same background color as the paint for a seamless look. Or you could do what I did, which was pick fabric in a contrasting color for a not-so-seamless look.


1.Paint the stools at least twice, thrice if necessary.

2. Fold your fabric in half and on the wrong side (e.g. inside out) and place half the plate on the fabric. Trace half the plate (e.g. you're tracing a half of a circle) on the fabric and cut along the line to create a circle.

Trust me, it is much easier to cut the fabric like this. I cut one full circle out and it was much harder to control the fabric and scissors. The folded fabric, half circle method is much easier.

3. Apply Mod Podge. There are two ways to do this, each has its pitfalls for the impaired crafter.

Method 1. Apply a circle of Mod Podge on the stool and place fabric on top. Pro of this method: Allows for easier movement of the fabric to center it on the stool. Cons of this method: Hard to thin out thick lumps of Mod Podge trapped underneath the fabric and can lead to a bumpy lumpy finish.

Method 2
. Apply a thin smear of Mod Podge to the back of the fabric and flip onto stool. Pro of this method: Avoids the bumpy lumpy accumulation of Mod Podge. Cons of this method: You better hit the center on your first try or this could get messy.

I had two stools and used each method. Personally, I think method 2 looked better in the end.

4.Smooth the fabric with hands or a ruler to eliminate air bubbles and excess Mod Podge. Note: It's really easy to pull the fabric off center or create wrinkles so be careful--this is a real hazard of Method 1 in step 3 above.

5.Let dry for 10-15 minutes.

6.Cover the top of the fabric and stool with a thin coat of Mod Podge. Don't panic, it should dry clear.

7.Let cure for several hours or overnight.

8.Apply a clear coat or polyurethane top coat to seal the stool and add a glossy luster.

9.Let the stools cure again. The hubby is an experienced painter and we both work/worked (he's still there) for a Big Name paint company so we know something about paint and sealants. Curing can take time, especially if the weather is humid. Put the stools somewhere safe and just leave them for a couple days after step 8.

If you use the stool before it properly cures, the finish will be soft and even peel. So just set it aside and let it be. If you can put it in direct sun to cure, all the better.

Now, drumroll's a picture of our stools so far. All we need to do is seal them. What do you think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Toddler Art Activities:Six Easy Crafts for Toddlers

Today, some link love for this short 'n' sweet article on easy crafts for toddlers. Six great ideas, using stuff you probably already have, and if you don't, it's cheap enough to buy.

Check it out!

Six Easy Crafts for Toddlers

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Music for Kids that Even Adults Will Enjoy: Dan Zanes of Sesame Street Fame

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of saccharine overly oomphed music for children. I need something earthier, something with soul.

And I'm not alone. There are several artists out there producing authentic music for children. Music that doesn't make me cringe.

My favorite, hands down, is Dan Zanes. You may have seen his music video Jump Up on Sesame Street. It's a catchy tune that never failed to grab our attention and, one day, I started googling to find there were entire albums filled with his lovely music.

Here's the video for Jump Up. (Be sure to have the kids watch with you, they'll love it.)

And one for All Around the Kitchen Cockadoodle-doodle-doo, which is a fun, active song.

Albums can be purchased at Amazon.