I thought it was time to break out the Contact Paper again and create some more art. This time I wanted to get Peanut outside while she was creating and have her use nature to make her masterpiece.
Your back Yard
(Optional) Duct Tape
Before we headed outside, I cut a rectangular piece of construction paper and stripped it of it’s backing. It was a pretty windy day, so I started the activity with some toys holding the contact paper down, but as Peanut carried them away a short while later, we didn’t really even need it anyway.
I took Peanut out into the yard and found a leaf on the ground and pointed it out to her. I helped her pick it up and we took it back to our Contact Paper waiting on the patio for us. I showed her how to stick it down and press it onto the paper. Then I asked her if she wanted to put more on her picture and she took off to find something else. I could tell she was looking for something, but I really had to help her pick out things she could pick up and use on her collage. I’d point them out, she’d pick them up, and I’d direct her back to her collage on the patio. Usually she just threw the treasure down and started to walk away again, so I would remind her to come back and push it down.
Her favorite thing to add to the collage was flowers she was able to pick fresh off the plant. She went back several times to get more flowers, repeating “flowers!” all the way there and back.
She didn’t get tons on her collage before she was done and wanted to get in the sand box…but I think it’s beautiful! I added another sheet of contact paper to the back when we got inside and had to reinforce the edges with duct tape because of the rather large stick she added. When it was complete, I had her help me hang it on the fridge where she could look at it. To my surprise, when Daddy got home that night she ran right over to get it off the fridge and show him.
Vocabulary we used while playing:
Kids love to make music. So, finding different ways to let Peanut explore music has been important to me since she started interacting with toys. Buying a million different instrument toys can get expensive (unless you score them from the Target dollar section, and I do suggest checking there often)! Making them yourself is easy, your little one can get involved, and when they toss it to the side after a couple of days you’re not left wondering if you can return it.
This is probably an idea you’ve seen before or done yourself when you were a kid. We all need reminders of some of the best simple play ideas! I know you have the stuff you need to make this craft in your house now, so you can do this tomorrow with no trouble at all!
Rubber bands, preferably in a variety of thicknesses
A shoebox (or any type of box rubber bands would fit around)
Optional supplies: Washable markers, stickers, or other decorations
Since we just emptied our house of anything excessive to put it on the market, I was actually all out of shoeboxes. I thought about using a Tupperware box, but was worried about the rubber bands fitting around the box. I ended up using a cardboard box we use to store Peanut’s hair clips that I could borrow for a bit.
If you happen to have an extra shoebox lying around that doesn’t have to be used for a different purpose again later, let your little one decorate their guitar before you put the “strings” on. When they’re done, simply stretch the rubber bands over the box. When your box is assembled, hand it to your kiddo, give it a strum and watch them make beautiful music.
Really, it’s that easy! Peanut carried her guitar around with her for a good long while before ditching it for a snack.
This was one of those finds that I am beyond excited about. Peanut is a colorer. She would color all day every day if I would let her. She sees a crayon, marker, pen, pencil, or any type of writing utensil and she is immediately asking to color. Unfortunately she’s speaking her first sentence and it’s “I want…” and it’s really hard to resist when she says, “I want color.” Water books are my solution to this problem without having to worry about Peanut coloring all over everything with crayons and markers.
Water books are these amazing reusable books that fill in with a water brush. The one we have comes with its own brush that is stored right in the cover. It’s made by (the ever fabulous) Melissa and Doug. Your little one simply colors over the picture with the water and it fills in with color. Amazing. No mess, no crayons to melt in the car, no crayons to eat, no worrying about the colors getting on anything other than the paper.
I bought mine on Amazon because I figured no one in town would have them, but then a few days later I found our local children’s museum had a bunch of them. So, once you know what to look for, keep an eye out for them and you might discover that they’ve been under your nose and you just didn’t know how awesome they were!
Right now, Peanut isn’t really interested in WHAT she is coloring, just that she IS coloring. Again, it’s the process for toddlers and not the product. So, for now having one book on hand is enough for us. If you have a toddler, I’d stick to buying one book. Don’t go buying a library of them until the little one is a bit older and actually cares what the pictures are.
These would be great for road trips, restaurants, to keep in the diaper bag for those time when you just need something to entertain the kiddos. I love them!
Toddlers and babies alike love to make noise. A sound can stop them in their tracks to investigate where the noise came from. This DIY noise maker is great for nearly any age, but particularly those babies and toddlers.
2 plastic cups, preferably clear
duct tape, in a fun color!
beans or beads
If you’re creating this for a baby, skip the decorating steps and go straight to the adults only part of the project. If this noise maker is for a toddler, the first part is half the fun!
Present the cups and stickers to your kiddo. Peanut needed me to show her how to put the stickers on and also needed my help to get the sticker started peeling off the sheet. We worked on grabbing the sticker sheet with one hand and getting a sticker with the other and you could tell she felt like a big girl getting those stickers with only a little help from mom. Then, I had to remind her what she was supposed to do with the sticker nearly every time. But, she enjoyed sticking the stickers everywhere on her cup. We ended up with several inside the cup to flop around with her beans. When she seemed like she was not interested in decorating anymore came my part.
I added some dried lima beans to the cup, letting Peanut see what I was doing and play with a few of the beads. I stacked the cups lip to lip and wrapped the duct tape around the cups several times. This is the most important part, and why this is the part I recommend an adult takes over. If there isn’t enough tape or the tape isn’t secure, beans will be flying everywhere in no time.
With the beans securely taped inside the cup, I handed Peanut her creation and the shaking began. I asked her if she wanted down from her chair and she was so enthralled with shaking that she just stayed put. She shook like crazy with both hands, figured out how to tip it back and forth, tried it with one had. She had so much fun…and went right back to it this morning when she found it on her toy shelf.
I like this project for several reasons. 1) it works on fine motor skills (putting the stickers on) and gross motor skills (shaking), 2) it’s a project where Peanut got to create something and there isn’t any mess to clean up 3) it can grow with her. When she’s older I can let her select what she wants to put in the cups to discover how those objects sound compared to the beans. I can also increase the difficulty of the decorating to work on different fine motor skills as she grows. It’s a great, fast project!
Peanut loved this activity. Mommy loved this activity, too. It was simple to set up, Peanut kept coming back to it throughout the day, and clean up was easy.
1 inch tissue paper squares (can be purchased here)
clear contact paper
painters tape or similar that will easily come off the window
Prepare a few supplies ahead of time if you don’t want an anxious toddler pulling at you while you get ready. Cut out a fun shape from the contact paper. I suggest either cutting a symmetrical shape or cutting two of the same shape, that way you can fold the shape in half when your toddler is done creating because they likely will not cover all of the contact paper. Find a container to hold your tissue paper squares and mix the colors up in your container. I picked a small shopping bag, because Peanut loves shopping bags. Then, tape your shape securely to a low window or glass door.
As you can tell, our dog was curious as to what we were doing as well. Once you’re all set up, bring your toddler over and show them what do. It took one square before Peanut caught on and started sticking squares on her own. If your toddler has trouble, take their hand and help them stick and square or two on the contact paper and they should get the hang of it.
Stay with your toddler and talk to them about what they are experiencing. The easiest thing to talk about during this project is color. They use a lot of different colors and can experience them with the light behind the tissue paper. We also talked about how the contact paper was sticky and the tissue paper crinkled. You can also bring shapes into the mix and describe the shape of the contact paper and the tissue paper.
Peanut ended up spilling a lot of the squares on to the floor which made it easier for her to pick up individual squares. Several times she tried to stick squares to the glass itself and thought it was funny when they fell right off.
When she had enough, I decided to leave her art on the backdoor to see if she wanted to create again later. Sure enough, that afternoon she started asking for more and then spent more time on her master piece.
Remember, projects like these are all about the process, not the product. You might want to show off beautiful art work by your very own professional artist, but it’s much better for toddlers to have unstructured art projects where the doing is the emphasis!