Colored Rice & Noodles

I love sensory play! There are so many different ideas on Pinterest. There is no right or wrong way creating a sensory activity. The best part is, you usually have everything in your home OR it’s super cheap to pick up the few items you may need.

One of our favorite sensory activities is playing with colored rice.

This is normally an outdoor activity for us. We did the rice sensory play inside once and well … it was a mess! I was still vacuuming rice up a month later! I know some lay down a large towel or tablecloth to “catch” the rice and that works for them. My son likes to get a little wild, so we keep it as an outdoor activity 🙂

Noodles are great to dye also. You can use them for sorting, making necklaces, throw in a large bin, and more. It is SUPER easy to dye everything at once. You could also dye oats and sand, but I chose to just stick to rice and noodles today. This entire process was about 30 minutes long and it could even take less time, if you have kiddos to help!

30

  1. Place your noodles and rice into gallon bags. Just eyeball a good amount. I put about 3 cups of rice into each bag and about 2 cups of noodles in each bag. 
  2. Place about 2-3 Tablespoons of alcohol into the bags.
  3. Squirt 2-3 drops of food coloring. You may want to add more in a bit.
  4. Seal the bags. Make sure they are sealed well or it will be a mess!
  5. Begin shaking! This is where the kids can help.
  6. If the colors are not bright enough for you, add more food coloring.
  7. You can now open the bags and let them dry out, or spread onto parchment paper. I keep them sealed overnight, then let them dry out the next morning. This allows the color to sit a bit longer.
  8. HAVE FUN!

Check out my other fun sensory activities and ideas!

  1. Red Activity Box
  2. Fall Sensory Bin
  3. Sensory Board

YMCA Preschool Programs: Tumble Tots

I love the YMCA they have so much to offer! I cannot wait until they build the new Northwest YMCA so all of their awesome resources are a bit closer to home.

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YMCA has some awesome classes for different ages, that you must register for. I decided to sign Monte up for Tumble Tots because he absolutely loves running around, climbing, and bouncing. This class ended up being perfect for him!

YMCA Preschool Programs

Tumble Tots is for ages 3 to 5 years old with an accompanied adult. It is slightly structured, but not too much. Monte likes to do his own thing and does not have much patience, so the fact that there is not much structure, is nice.

Tumble Tots always opens up with stretching, which the instructors make lots of fun! They have the kids act like animals, pretend they are in space, and other scenarios that get their imaginations rolling. They also sometimes do “sit-ups” and running around the gym (Monte’s favorite). Afterwards, the kids are free to run around to the different stations and play. The instructors walk around and help at each station. They show the kids different things they can do.

They have a trampoline.

A balance beam to walk on.

A spring board to jump from.

Tunnel to crawl through.

They also have tumbling mats, a bar to swing and hang from, and mats to help you learn how to do a cartwheel!

Tumble Tots is a 4-week class and it is $15 for members, $35 for non-member.

Tumble Tots and other programs/sports the YMCA offers are a perfect way to introduce your toddler to new activities and sports. It is very affordable and the classes last a short-period of time. If they are not interested, then you know that it isn’t the way to go, before spending a lot of money for a long term program/sport.

They also offer:

Tiny Tumblers 18 months – 3 years

Fun & Fit 3-5 years

Kids in the Kitchen 3-5 years

Music & Movement 2-5 years

Tiny Chefs 18 months- 3 years

Moving with Music 18 months – 3 years

 I highly recommend checking out all the classes the YMCA has to offer. Not only do they have classes for toddlers, but they also offer classes for grade school children and adults! Check out here for their online registration where you can search for a class and register all online!

Science Sleuths at the Urbandale Public Library

The kids and I checked out Science Sleuths Friday at the Urbandale Public Library. The Urbandale Public Library has become one of our favorite hang outs this winter. They have so much to offer!

Science Sleuths at the Urbandale Library-2

On the second Friday of every month, they offer Science Sleuths. This is a half hour program, that takes place in the story room. Each session has a different lesson. Friday’s lesson was ‘Sink or Float’. The kids had a blast learning about items that could sink or float!

We first listened to a couple of stories explaining why some items may sink or float.

Then we did a hands on activity to discover for ourselves, what sinks or floats. Our teacher brought in a large tub full of water and several different items such as: a plastic spoon, penny, balloon, CD, and more! She placed two signs up on the walls, in separate areas of the room. One sign read ‘sink’ and the other sign read ‘float’. Before she placed the item in the tub, the kids had to go stand by the sign that read what they thought would happen! Not only was this a good learning experience, but it also got the kids up and moving!

After the activity the kids were able to create their own sail boats using foam cups and/or trays, a dowel, paper, and tape. The kids enjoyed cutting and taping and creating their own boats that would sink or float in the tub of water. Some kids also experimented with placing items on their boats, to see if it would still float.

The kids were also given a worksheet to take home to extend their learning!

I highly recommend Science Sleuths! This is a FREE class! It is designed for children ages 3 years to 6 years, accompanied by an adult. I was also able to bring Amelia in with me. She enjoyed listening and watching 🙂 You must pre-register by calling 331-4490.

Do not miss next months Science Sleuths!

PBS for Kids

I recently just discovered what all PBS Kids has to offer! There are so many resources, besides the regular programming. I was able to create a Curious George themed day for the kiddos, using all of these resources!

Curious George & PBS Kids Resources

Here are few links to help you extend the lessons your kids learn from the shows …

  1. PBS Kids – Lots of videos, games and apps!
  2. PBS Learning Media – My favorite! Free! You can sort by grade and subject. This will filter all videos, activities and more to help your child learn.
  3. PBS Kids Play – Educational games. There is a free trial, but after trial costs $9.95 a month
  4. Pinterest – You can always find something on Pinterest 🙂

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We started off reading, one of the several Curious George books we have, Curious George Learns the Alphabet.

Pinterest, of course, also has some great print-outs and resources. I found some matching number cards, I printed and laminated. I also printed off some coloring pages for the kids to learn colors and shapes. You can find them here.

We also learned our shapes and colors by playing with some bean bags I already had. Monte and the other kids love to toss them and it is another great way to learn shapes and colors! You can purchase them here!

After all of our activities we watched an episode of Curious George, ate some bananas and peanut butter and the best part … they played with their Curious George masks!

We chose to have a Curious George day because we went and visited Curious George at IPTV on Monday. The kids had a blast! They were able to meet Curious George, had snacks, did a craft, and they were given a tour of IPTV from Dan Wardell.

My favorite thing about PBS Kids is the fact they use characters like super heros, monkeys, and trains, that entice the kiddos to learn. Every show and every episode the kids learn something. It may be words, letters, manners, or numbers. I highly recommend adding PBS Kids to your daily routine and not just the programming! Hop on to any of the sites listed above and pick out an activity to extend your kids learning.

WDM Community Center

We checked out another indoor play area last week! The West Des Moines Community Center located in Valley Junction. Another place that was recommended by Des Moines Beyond 4 Walls!

West Des Moines Community Center

The WDM Community Center has been around for awhile, but we just decided to visit because they changed their hours! They are a little bit more convenient for those with little kiddos.

It is open Monday’s & Wednesday’s 10 am – Noon

The kids had fun, but I was not overly impressed with what they had to offer.

They had several toy cars, four-wheelers, little motorcycles, a plastic stroller with baby, and tumbling mats. The room was very large, so the kids enjoyed running around and riding back and forth.

I felt that they could place more things out to play with such as plastic slides, toy houses, etc. I was expecting more, something a little more similar to Waukee Tot Lot.

After we were there for awhile someone mentioned there might be more things to play with in the closet, but it was locked 🙁

Overall, I think this is a great place to take your kids to burn off some energy in these colder months, but I think they could offer some more items to play with! We will probably check it out later this winter to see if there is more 🙂

New Year’s Eve for Kids 2014

I cannot believe that 2014 is coming to an end! Here are some awesome ideas that you can do locally with your kiddos!

1. Bounce in the New Year

Where: Pump it Up Urbandale

When: December 31st, 10 am – Noon

Info: $10 pre-registered and $12 at the door. Come bounce with friends and celebrate the New Year with a balloon drop at noon! Each child will receive New Year’s favors. To register or find out more information click here!

2. GuideOne ImaginEve

Where: Hy-Vee Hall at Iowa Events Center

When: December 31st, 4pm – 8 pm

Info: This event is FREE! There will be inflatables, obstacle courses, slides, face painters, carnival games & prizes, live entertainment, super heroes & princesses, and a special toddler zone. For children 1o years and older there will be a tween zone and laser tag. The evening will end with a confetti drop at 8 pm and fireworks at 8:15 pm. Check out here for more information!

3. New Year’s Eve at Seven Oaks

Where: Seven Oaks Recreation

When: December 31st, 7-11 pm

Info: Come out and celebrate the New Year with snow tubing, skiing, and/or snowboarding! Admission includes a hot dog or pizza, soft drink, and party favors. Check out here for more information and prices.

4. New Year’s Eve Party at the Ramada Tropics

Where: Ramada Tropics Resort & Conference Center

Info: Ramada Tropics is hosting a very special New Year’s celebration. They have an indoor water park, slide, and tiki bar. There is something for everyone! Check out the flyer for packaging prices and more information of what is included. You better book soon!

5. Noon Year’s Eve

Where: Science Center of Iowa

When: 9 am – Noon

Info: Visit the Science Center and all the exhibits they have to offer. They will also have face painting, balloon twisting, and a huge balloon drop with noisemakers at noon! All of the special events are included with your admission and SCI Members get to enjoy it for FREE! Check out more information here

6. Jolly Holiday Lights

Where: Water Works Park

When: 5:30 pm – 10 pm

Info: Check out the last evening of Jolly Holiday Lights. Load the kids up, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy the festive lights before the end of the year!

7. Host a New Year’s Eve Party at your house

Where: Your house!

When: Whatever times you choose!

Info: Invite your friends and their kids over to your place and host a New Year’s party. Or you can invite just the kiddos and have a big sleepover. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest of games, snacks, activities and more to do. Here are some of my favorite pins to check out:

  1. 30 Awesome NewYear’s Eve Games
  2. 10 Things to Do with Kids on New Year’s Eve
  3. New Year’s Eve Countdown Goodie Bags (Free Printable)
  4. Best New Year’s Eve Crafts for Kids
  5. New Year’s Eve Activities for Kids

Holiday Pinterest Crafts

This past weekend one of my good friends came to town with her kids and we did some FUN Holiday Pinterest crafts! Every year we get together before Christmas to have a gift exchange and do fun crafts. Here are a few things we did, that I highly recommend checking out!

Fleece Christmas Tree

I came across this idea, last year, but never got around to doing it, because I was so nauseous with baby Amelia 🙁 But I finally got it done and Monte loves it! The daycare kiddos also enjoy it so it’s a win-win!

Canvas Snowflakes

This was a perfect project for the older kids. They got to choose what colors to use and had fun painting! Monte always loves painting and the hardest part is to tear him away from the paints when we are done. All you need is paint, canvas, and masking tape. Place the masking tape on the canvas so it looks like a snowflake. Then let the kids paint …

After they are done painting and the paint is completely dry, slowly remove the paint …

You end up with a pretty snowflake! An awesome decoration for the home that can be used all winter long!

Mistletoes

I absolutely loved this project and it turned out great. It is very easy to do with a baby and even easier if you have a helper to help place the painted feet on the canvas. We made one on a canvas for a decoration and made more prints on card stock for the Grandparents.

What holiday crafts are you doing this season?

Marbling with Shaving Cream

I came across another fun and easy activity on Pinterest … Marbling with Shaving Cream!

There are all sorts of tutorials on Pinterest for this activity. I used this site as a guideline. This is what we did!

Supplies

  1. Foam shaving cream – I always have several cans on hand because there are so many activities that use shaving cream!
  2. Shallow dish – You can use a 9×13 glass dish or pan. I have some foil ones, I have kept for other activities I’ve done.
  3. Food coloring – You can use water color paints, tempera paint, etc. Whatever you may have on hand.
  4. Thicker paper – You do not want to use regular printer paper, otherwise it wont hold up well. We used 8×10 white card stock.
  5.  A wooden dowel – I happened to have this on hand and it worked really well for swirling, You could also use a plastic knife, popsicle stick, a finger (that may get messy). Whatever you think is best!
  6. Butter knife – You use this to scrape off the excess shaving cream off the paper.

Directions

  1. Squirt shaving cream into your shallow dish and squirt several colors of food coloring into dish.
  2. Give child a wooden dowel or whatever utensil they will be using for swirling.
  3. Swirl away!

This quickly became a sensory activity 🙂 Monte really enjoyed the feeling of the shaving cream. Good thing I put them in their painting shirts!

4. Once they are done swirling and creating their design. Take your piece of paper and place it down into the shaving cream. Press it down with your hand. Then slowly pull it up.

5. Flip it over, take your butter knife, and scrape off the extra shaving cream over the sink.

6. Set it to the side and let dry!

This is one Pinterest project that was easy and actually turned out how it was supposed to! I also had everything on hand!

What is your favorite activity to do with shaving cream? Besides shaving 🙂 

The Playground for Kids

We checked out another FUN indoor activity … The Playground for Kids!

Another great place recommended by Des Moines Beyond 4 Walls!

Playground for Kids

Playground for Kids is such an awesome place, located in Ankeny. It is full of so many activities. We went on a Monday and for the first hour we were there, we were the only ones playing!

You know when you go to carnivals and other kid events, they have the bouncy houses and inflatable slides? AND your children have to wait in line for their turn to go?! Well, we had none of that! Monte was so excited to go up and down the slides, over and over again. No one telling him to WAIT!

There was also a large tree house you could climb up and there were tunnels up above, that you could crawl around and slide down the many, many slides available to get down.

There was also a fun bouncy house that had a large “hoop” that you could throw balls into!

Admission into The Playground for Kids is $8.50 for 2-12 year old. Walker up to 23 months are $5.50. They also offer a $50 punch card for 10 plays, which saves you $3.50 each time you visit. I highly recommend purchasing this now, because this is a place where you will WANT to take your children to burn some energy this winter.

They also offer a3 month membership for $99, which allows discounts on concession treats, birthday parties, and unlimited visits!

I mentioned birthday parties … check out the awesome packages they offer! They also offer rentals of their inflatables if you decide to have your own party, at your house!

I definitely recommend visiting! You could even ask for a punch card OR membership for the holidays!

Imagination Playschool

Winter has hit and settled in the Midwest! Sadly, no more parks for awhile, so we are checking out some great indoor places to run and burn off some energy. We checked out another great place last week … Imagination Playschool.

Imagination Playschool is located at the Pioneer Columbus Center is Des Moines. This was another place I learned about from Des Moines Behind 4 Walls!

Imagination Playschool-4

It’s a large gym that is full with fun activities to do including foam blocks, play houses, tumbling items, and even a walk climbing wall!

Monte’s favorite were the cars and cars that went down a hill, kind of like a roller coaster!

Imagination Playschool is not officially open full time yet. They are hosting a few preview dates and last Wednesday was one of them. They have the following preview dates …

November 26th, 9 am – 2 pm

December 10th, 9 am – 2 pm

Starting in January it will be open certain days of the weeks, every week! It’s $2.50 per child to play. It’s well worth it, to keep the kiddos busy on a cold, wintery day!

I highly recommend putting this on your list of places to check out!

Have you ever been to Imagination Playschool?