Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Critters And Crayons is thrilled to participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day to celebrate diversity in literature this year!  In addition to many fellow bloggers who are supporting the event this year, MCCBD has been made possible because of the following great sponsors!

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,  Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Our family was thrilled to receive the book, The Rainbow Files Book #1:  The Day I Was The Only Kid In School , a very fun book that sparked meaningful conversation and great laughs.

The Rainbow Files The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

We sat down on a rainy day to read the book together.  Our second grade daughter started the reading by exclaiming that she knew it would be a fun book because she had already done a “Picture Walk”!

Before reading the story, we read the prologue about the authors, Maria T. and April E. Kelly.  They are a mother-daughter team who worked together on the story.  Maria’s young daughter, April, collaborated on the story as she and her mom made up bedtime stories during Maria’s active cancer treatment.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

The main theme of this book (without giving away too many spoilers) centers on the loneliness (or the even more accurate term used by Maria to describe what her daughter felt during that cancer treatment process, “aloneness”) that a child can feel.

There were many points of laughter for the kids as we wandered through the odd-awful-turned-very-memorable day of the third grade narrator who winds up being the only child at school one day.  The perspective was child-relatable, and the storytelling was full of unexpected turns and details that delighted the kids.

When I asked them what their favorite parts of the story were, they loved hearing about how a student became the teacher, and taught all of the teachers how to finally do their hair and make-up.  They also loved all of the fun sounds in the book, which aided enthusiastic storytelling through onomatopoetic literary devices throughout the story.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

 

This has been a fantastic experience.  When I asked the kids if they were glad to participate in the event and to read The Day I Was The Only Kid In School, they agreed that it was awesome.  My Kindergartener and Second Grader definitely recommend this book for other kids!

 

HAPPY MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY!

 

If you want to learn more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD), and have a chance to win some great book packages, please take a look at the information below!

 

To find more information via social media, be sure to use hashtag:  #ReadYourWorld

 

TWITTER PARTY & WIN 10 BOOK PACKAGES!

Join the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm and use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages!

 

CHECK OUT THE MCCBD BLOG!

Find Author interviews and more on the MCCBD blog here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/blog/

 

A BOOK GIVEAWAY!  

Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is hosting a book giveaway on their website that anyone can enter. Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. Book #giveaway at Wisdom Tales Press! Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. #ReadYourWorld http://ow.ly/Hr0MC

 

THE MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY ONLINE PAPER!

-MCCBD now has it’s own Paper.li! A Paper.li is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. Please feel free subscribe and stay up-to-date with this topic.

 

HAPPY READING!

#ReadYour World

#MCCBD

#RainbowFiles

#TheDayIWasTheOnlyKidInSchool

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A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids

For The Little Ones Who Love Nature & Adventure…

 

We recently moved into a new home and left our son’s bunk bed in Texas.

In the midst of packing and unpacking, we still haven’t had time to go out and find a new one, but after looking around, we figured out that we had everything we needed to give our son a room he’d love!

Our little boy wants to be Paleontologist, loves Indiana Jones, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, and Nature, so it made sense to turn his room into a Nature Explorer-Adventurer’s Campsite using our family’s camping and outdoor gear.

 

A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

Our Nature Explorer’s Bedroom!

TO MAKE THE NATURE EXPLORER BEDROOM FOR KIDS, WE USED:

 

 

AND HERE’S HOW WE USED THOSE ITEMS…

 

First, we set-up the 4-Person Tent in the middle of the room.  We laid down the area rug to help the mattress stay in place, to protect the tent floor, and to give our son something soft to walk around on inside his new bedroom tent.

Once we blew up the mattress and positioned it in the center of the tent, we put on our son’s bedding.

(Mom Confession! I was tempted to purchase new dino-themed bedding, but stopped myself.  The goal was to make use of what we had on hand to make this bedroom!)

Once the bed was set-up, we “sandbagged” the edges of the tent with rolled blankets and quilts to aid stability.  This actually was a help for Mom since I was running out of places to store the extra linen!

We placed a small bedside table next to the mattress with a T-rex nightlite, a flashlight, and his favorite animal stories.

His yellow lawn chair fit the theme perfectly so we positioned outside of the tent for reading, and for holding his safari vest and adventure hat.

We reserved a space in the room (not pictured) for him to display his favorite dinosaurs and crocodiles, and to store his habitat-building kit, books, and a small bin of kinetic sand.

 

This was a simple and inexpensive kid’s bedroom solution and our children absolutely love it!

The best thing about it is that we can keep the tent up as long as he still loves it, and then pack it away for family camping trips!

 

 

 

HAPPY CAMPING!

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Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!

 

How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

 

When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  

 

WHO KNEW?

 

You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.

 

How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-6

Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-9

Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-10

Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.

 

How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!

 

I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!

 

We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!

 

It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!

 

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Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gift ~ Teacher Appreciation Week

 

This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!

You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year?   That was a fun project, too!

 

To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:

  • 1 Small glass bottle with cork
  • Dandelion(s), preferably with seeds still attached to wispy parts
  • 3 Feet of thin leather cording, ribbon, or other cording for each glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper or Card For Haiku
  • Pen or Marker

 

We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.

The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!

Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.

Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!

We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!

 

Some Quick Tips:

  • If you have a knitting needle, or something similar like a rubber band loom needle, you can use it to help move the dandelion seeds into position inside the bottles.
  • I recommend placing your dandelion in a small container to protect the wisps from flying off!
  • I don’t recommend gluing the cork onto the bottle so the recipient can change contents later if he/she would like to.

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look  of each bottle with one to two seeds.

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.

I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.

 

The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.

 

HERE IS A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE JAPANESE POEM CALLED “HAIKU”:

  • Haiku refers to a traditional Japanese Poem consisting of 17 syllables broken into three lines following  a rhythm of 5-7-5 for on/off syllables.
  • That may sound very technical but it was easiest to explain to our kids by clapping as we practiced saying possible stanzas as we built the poem.
  • Haiku also usually contains a “nature” element, and a clear break between two ideas.
  • Haiku are often witty.

 

I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.

Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a  7-5-7 rhythm.

 

Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.

Haha!  :)

 
Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!
 

   “You taught me to ride the wind.

I landed safely

by MYSELF.  Thank You.”

                                                                   ~Tricia,  Critters And Crayons

 
Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC

 

THANK YOU TO ALL

OF THE TEACHERS OUT THERE

HELPING OUR LITTLE

DANDELION SEEDS LAND SAFELY

BY THEMSELVES! 

 

#TeacherAppreciation

#HaikuWithKids 

 

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Making Molecules With Kids!

I woke up yesterday morning to quite a surprise.

Back in November, I posted THIS to The Critters And Crayons Facebook Page.

Santa was going to be bringing the kids a cool Molecule Building Kit.

He totally did.

But, the kids thought it was more like a set of tinker toys and they built car shapes, and crocodiles, flowers and other things out of the contents immediately.
 

BUT YESTERDAY Our daughter said,

I made the particles on the back of that box Santa brought us.

 

PARTICLES?

I promise I have never used the word “particle” with my child.  Where did she learn that word?

She says she learned it when Batman was talking about splitting up something called “Particles”.   Go figure.

She didn’t know what she had made, but it was a real joy to  RELEARN all of the molecules I hadn’t looked at since 11th grade Chemistry class!

Water Molecule (H20) From Critters And Crayons "Making Molecules With Kids!"

Water Molecule (H2O). Two Hydrogen Atoms Linked To One Oxygen Atom!

 

Our 6-year old was fascinated to learn that the water we drink and that comes flowing from our faucets looks like the model she’d made in its tiniest, tiniest building block form!

She had also formed the molecule below  without knowing exactly what she had made while following the diagrams on the back of the kit box…..

 

Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"

The Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2).

 

I explained that the stuff we use to clean her ears and earrings looks just like the model she made if we were able to see it in its smallest form-  Lots and lots and lots of these make up what we use in that brown bottle!

WHOAH.

And, then we had fun looking up the rest that she had constructed so quietly in the play area….

 

Molecules From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"

 

Can you guess what they all are?

Don’t worry.  I had to look them all up, too!

Top Left:   Diatomic Nitrogen Molecule (N2) 

Top Right:  Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2)

Middle Left:  Diatomic Oxygen Molecule (O2)

Middle Right:  Water Molecule (H2O)

Lower Left:  Methane Molecule (CH4)

 

What I love about this molecule kit is that it invites kids to play and learn without even realizing it.

There is a lot to build upon from this very beginning point of building the molecules according to the diagrams and explaining what each of the molecules actually IS to a first grader.

We can keep these models up, or break them down again- but, as the years progress, we will be able to delve into more complex concepts like the differences between Diatomic Molecules, Ionic Bonds, Covalent Bonds, Organic Compounds, and other things I’m going to have to get smart on, all over again.

I found our kit at a local craft store, but you can find them online, too!

I am so glad I happened across this “Making Molecules” activity for kids.

 

The FloraCraft Molecule Kit

 

I need to remember to thank Santa next year for the awesome toy.  And, I think I may have him throw in a “Chemistry For Dummies” book for me, too.  :)

Speaking of Chemistry…..

 

I came across some amazing ideas centered on Chemistry and Molecules….

 

Hostess With The Mostess did a round-up of Clever & Creative Mad Scientist Party Ideas For Girls

Lightbulb Books Made Molecules Using Straws And Play Doh

High Hill Homeschool’s Marshmallow And Toothpick Molecules

Kids Activities Blog Atoms & Molecules:  10 Fun Ways To Learn!

 

So, do you remember anything from your 11th grade chemistry class?

 

Oh, Good.  I thought I was alone. 

 

HAPPY SCIENCE LEARNING!

 

 

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Parenting Is Like Sledding. Sled Optional.

My kids often surprise us with the unspeakably comical things that they say.

They also make us pause when their questions require an honest and thoughtful answer.

We’re coming off of a holiday trip that bore some of the typical challenges of traveling during an already busy season.

Sometimes, reality didn’t match the idyllic scenes in a Hallmark Movie for the various tugs and pulls of life, and family, and obligations.

Essentially, it was a normal holiday season- one that many might relate to, and one that might lead a child to ask a simple, but very thought-provoking question of her parents like our six-year old daughter did tonight on the way back from a drugstore where we bought vitamins for immunity support to stave off any more festive seasonal illness-on-the-go.

 

“Mom?  Is It Easy Having Kids?”

 

I could have answered her quickly with a fleeting and dishonest, “YES! It’s Super Easy!”, but I’ve got a sort of rule about not lying about that kind of stuff. 

I don’t want to be the Army Recruiter who promises someone a job in a highly marketable computer field who then lands him in a basement working with dot matrix printers circa 1985.  That’s just bad Mommy PR.  So, I told her the truth.

 

“No.  Having Kids Is Not Easy.”

 

Our First Grader looked concerned so I elaborated,

 

“But….It IS Awesome!”

 

Our daughter was confused.

 

“How can something be hard and awesome at the same time, Mommy?”

 

I didn’t have any concrete examples to give in that second.

 

But, I told her that most things that are completely awesome

in our lives are usually not that easy.  

BUT, THEY ARE USUALLY WORTH IT.

 

I may have blanked on examples but our daughter threw one out.  She said,

 

“You mean like if we’re sledding

and we have to walk all the way up

to the top of the hill in the freezing cold

so that we can sled down super fast

and have all that fun

spinning all the way down?”

 

I didn’t think I could put it any better myself so I told her that was pretty much exactly right.

Really, that is about the best metaphor I could think of that I didn’t think of at all.

Maybe, to complete the parallel, I could have added a few crash-and-burns at the bottom of the hill, some broken sleds, or a dud slope or two to round out the analogy, but I felt pretty good she now understood that something can be TOTALLY NOT EASY while still being simultaneously TOTALLY AWESOME.

That’s Us.

We Parents.

 

We’re all trudging up a slope,

looking for a safe route,

eyes on the peak,

moving forward when it hurts,

striving upward when we fall,

willing onward when we’re cold,

and getting to the end

as honestly and happily as we can

so that the long and arduous trip

might all be worth it

for one magnificent launch,

followed by a brief 

and validating

soar to the bottom,

on a cheap, round sled

that spins you like a top

until you crash,

or fall,

or coast to a stop,

Hoping For The Coast,

Always Hoping For The Coast,

so that we might trudge back up

to do it all over,

Again.

 

That’s Us.

That’s Parenting.

It’s Not Easy Having Kids.  But, It IS Freaking Awesome.

 

It’s Like That.

 

 IT’S ALSO LIKE THIS.

 

Parenting.  We Got This. From Critters And Crayons.

 

Trusting Clutches, Giant Smiles, And Closed Eyes

 

 Astride Quiet Screams And Immense Hopes

 

 That You Will Coast,

 

Coast Without Crashing,

 

 Still Smiling, Still Laughing,

 

Without Breaking Anything,

 

After That Fervent And Amazing Ride

 

Hoping You Didn’t Lose Your Sled On The Way…

 

But Even If You Had,

 

It Would Have Been Worth

 

Every

 

Terrifying

 

 Moment. 

 

So, to wrap it all up in a nice, pithy little phrase:

 

Parenting Is Like Sledding.  Sled Optional.

 It’s  Easy  AWESOME!

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Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

We have a very Curious Elf On A Shelf.

 

Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

 

Time is scarce so our elf, is very thankfully, not too into mischief and messes.

He IS a very curious Elf, though.

Each morning, the kids find him on top of something that came from a different place in the world.

And, each evening, we sit down at the computer together and they excited ask questions about whatever it is that they found the Elf sitting on or in or under that morning.

We simply Google Away together.

And, each image or map or costume they see triggers another question and another search.

An example of what our curious Elf On The Shelf taught the kids this morning when they found him on the Mongolian String Instrument was that it was not simply a “HORSEY BANJO”, which is what they called it when they found Snowflower Flaky Sassypants sitting on top of the traditional horse-handle like a rocking horse.

It’s called a “MATOUQUIN“.

 

It is from MONGOLIA.

 

MONGOLIA is in ASIA.

 

 The MATOUQUIN is shaped like a TRAPEZOID.

 

 

The kids now know that Snowflower The Elf is NOT simply  sitting on a Horsey Banjo.

So far, we’ve explored Mexico, Afghanistan, and Mongolia alongside our very globally curious Elf On A Shelf.

I wonder where she’ll take us tomorrow?

 

HOW DOES THE ELF ON THE SHELF BEHAVE IN YOUR HOME?

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A Hopping Popping Christmas Literacy Event!

I hope you’ll come out to to see me and my friends at Laredo 8 HEB Plus for a super fun literacy event on November 30th!

I’ll be reading some old Christmas favorites and the kids are going to enjoy some fantastic stomping on the Bubble Wrapped Floor and Christmas Tree Painting With…..

 Bubble-Wrap, of course!

 

 

HEB Plus Critters And Crayons Literacy Event A Hopping Popping Christmas

 

 

SEE YOU THERE!

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The One Hundred Board In Our Montessori Kitchen Corner: The Opportunity Learner’s Series


The Hundred Board In Our Montessori Kitchen Corner

 

Back in April, I ran the introductory post for the Critters And Crayons Opportunity Learner’s Series and I broke down how we had structured our kitchen corner to host Montessori-Style learning materials for the kids to access at any time.

It’s been a busy, busy couple of months, but here is the first part of that series featuring The Hundred Board.

We purchased our Hundred Board via The Montessori Outlet.

But here is a great post by We Can Do All Things that teaches you how to make a Hundred Board  yourself!

 

Montessori Hundred Board

 

The picture above was taken several months ago in our kitchen.  Our son had taken out The Hundred Board and tiles after lunch.

When the kids take out an activity and work for awhile, but do not complete the activity, we will generally allow the board to stay “as is” on the kitchen floor or table so the kids can come back to their work (or play) when they want to.  This differs somewhat from what you’d find in a traditional Montessori environment.  The tiles and the board would be put away at the end of the activity.

(  If the activity is in the way, or is not attempted for a period of time, the children will put the activity away once they confirm they are not interested in pursuing it further.  Unless we are working on a specific lesson for our Summer studies, I do not force them to complete the full Hundred Board activity if it’s pulled out.)

They usually do!

You can see how we were using The Montessori Hundred Board tonight with our four year old pre-school son in this YouTube Video.

 

 

When you watch the video, you’ll see that there is room for some fun and humor as your kids use the board.

 

“What’s That?”

“Ten.”

“What’s That?”

“Ten-TEEN!”

Love.  That.

 

You might have noticed that the video shows our older daughter showing her brother how to look for number patterns.

 

One of the aspects I really enjoy watching in Montessori

environments is how

children assume leadership roles

when teaching the younger children

how to do tasks and use materials…  

 

There are many ways to use The Hundred Board in a Montessori classroom or homeschool environment, but we use it for very basic purposes right now as our son is beginning to grasp simple math concepts:

  • Number Recognition
  • Number Sequencing From 1-10 
  • Number Pattern Recognition (1, 11,21,31,41,51, etc…)
  • Counting By 10s (10,20,30,40,50, etc)

This means that we don’t fixate too much on whether or not he knows all the number names up to 100 just yet.

For instance, tonight, he emplaced all the tiles properly from 1-50 on the board before we finished up our “Summer Bridging” homework.

While his sister and I worked on word endings and high frequency words, he sat quietly matching tiles to the board looking for number patterns.

To not overwhelm him,

I only issued him 10 tiles at time

to work on properly sequencing one row of 10 at a time.

 

After he completed one row, say 11-20, I issued him the next 10 to match up.

If you’re a trained Montessori Guide, you’ll probably notice that I haven’t done the lesson exactly as you might find it done in a formal video of instruction where the tiles are slid up the proper column slowly and methodically.  :)

I give our son ten tiles out of order and he sorts through them to find the numbers he wants to fit into the patterns on the board.

There IS one thing that has stuck in my mind since speaking with a Montessori Director  that I find fascinating and try to remember when working with my kids.

It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me.
It’s actually very hard for me to remember and implement.

 

A lot of the interaction between Montessori Guides

and children can seem to be…

very smooth,

very methodical,

very slow,

and at times,

even elegant. 

 

Our Montessori Director said that Montessori Guides move slowly so kids could see “clear snapshots”.    It makes so much sense.

 

If we are hurried when talking,

 

or teaching,

 

or listening….

 

something is going to be missed.

 

It’s not the easiest thing to do

 

or remember when doing anything “instructional”

 

as a parent, or otherwise.

 

Not at all.

 

The Hundred Board was one of our daughter’s favorite Montessori Materials in the home and I can see our son really enjoys it, too!

This photo was taken over a year ago in our play area….full of lots of conventional toys that she chose to by-pass to “play” with this educational material.

Isn’t Montessori cool?  :)

 

Montessori Hundred Board Critters and Crayons Opportunity Learners Series

For more articles about how to use the Hundred Board,

you can check out the following links!

 

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Lots Of Fun, Foamy, Flubbery, Sandy, Salty, Scented Doughs For Summer

Super Fun Doughs To Make At Home!  Bubble Dough, Sandy Wheat Dough, Scented No Cook Play Dough, & Foam Dough!

 

Critters And Crayons recently participated in the HEB & Pampers Little Texans Tour as it visited the Laredo HEBs.

 

Critters And Crayons Little Texans Tour

 

The kids and I had a great time meeting some of the fantastic families in Laredo who came out to chat and play with some of the items we brought with us!

At our booth, I set up a few items to show some of the topics you might find on The Critters And Crayons Blog.   There were some:

There are many other topics covered by Critters And Crayons, of course, and you can find those by clicking HERE.

 

There was a great turn-out and I am very thankful to all who took time to come and visit!

 

I promised to write a post about the materials we brought

with recipes, tips, and resources so everyone could do the same at home…

 

We made four different “Fun Doughs” for families to take home with them and they are all easy and cheap to make!

 

Fun Doughs Critters And Crayons-2

 

One of the best things about making these fun doughs at home is that it’s something that the kids can do with you!   The act of simply mixing the ingredients together is huge sensorial fun!

It CAN be messy, but there are some pretty easy ways that even the most mess-averse parents can totally beat the mess!

 

Kids Enjoy Making DIY Fun Doughs!

 

See that large floor covering underneath my kids while they play on my kitchen floor with four very different and potentially very messy Fun Doughs?

 

It is paper cut from a huge spool of butcher meat-packing paper I bought at a bulk warehouse a couple of years ago for around $17.   Duct tape it to the floor and let the kids have at it.  The paper is the boundary.  You’ll note that that I even lined the sidewalk with it in the photo above for the kids to play with the doughs I brought to The Little Texans Tour!

 

Kids Playing With Different Fun Doughs!

 

SO….AS PROMISED….HERE ARE THOSE GREAT FUN DOUGH RECIPES!!!

 

FUN DOUGH #1: 

FOAM DOUGH!

 

Foam Dough 1

 

I first saw this recipe for Foam Dough on Mom Trusted!    It’s super simple and uses just corn starch and shaving cream, of all things!   For the recipe, please go to the original source HERE!

 

Foam Dough 2

 

This dough is unbelievably silky and airy light!   It is even finer and lighter than the flour/baby oil cloud dough I’ve written so much about!

It was definitely our daughter’s favorite of the four different doughs we made for the HEB Little Texans Event!

Foam Dough is perfect for making little snow people…..

 

Foam Dough 3

 

And speaking of snow…. What’s incredibly awesome about foam dough is that there are recipes out there that turn this awesomeness into SNOW DOUGH.  Check out my friend over at Creative Playhouse who totally froze her recipe using the same two kitchen ingredients and it was perfect for cold sensory play!

 

FUN DOUGH #2:

SCENTED NO-COOK PLAY DOUGH

 

Scented No Cook Play Dough 1

 

There are a ton of homemade play dough recipes out there.    I’ve modified a pretty good no-cook recipe I used in Critters And Crayons’ post The 4-Day Sitter.   THIS simple recipe for play dough is on the E-How website.   The only difference is that when I make my version of the no-cook play dough recipe, I double the amount that the E-How recipe calls for which makes a lot of play dough to save for the kids.  You’ll find that you’ll make small adjustments here and there to get the consistency you want.

FOR EACH BATCH, I USE:

  • 3 Cups of Flour,

  • 1/3 Cup of Salt,

  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil,

  • 1 TBSP of Cream of Tartar,

  • and 5-7 Packets of Crystal Light (* Always use sugar-free flavor packets to avoid stickiness.)

I’ve done it by hand, but I totally use my mixer now!

 

 It’s much easier to start it all by hand in a large mixing bowl so that the flour and salt are moistened before putting it all into a mixer.  

*You can tell if the dough is too moist if it sticks to the dough hook.  If this happens, I make a small well in the center of the dough ball, add a tablespoon or two to the center, cover it over with the dough to prevent flour splatter, and then mix.   I adjust with a little more water, a touch of oil, or more flour until the dough reaches the right consistency.

*You can also tell if the dough is too dry if it separates too easily or is crumbly.  In this case, use the same process I describe above, only add a tbsp or two of water into a well in the center of the ball and cover it back over with some dough before starting the mixing process again.   Adjust as needed until the dough is a smooth consistency.  You may find that coarse salts will not dissolve well.  (Once I had to substitute Irish Grey Salt because that’s all I had left, and it didn’t dissolve as well as table salt- but it DID give a glittery sheen to the dough).

 

Scented No-Cook Play Dough 3

Scented no cook play dough 4

Scented No-Cook Play Dough 2

 

FUN DOUGH #3:

BUBBLE DOUGH!

 

Bubble Dough

 

We can also thank Creative Playhouse for this awesome recipe for Bubble Dough!!!

When I was looking for ideas to do with my kids, Kat suggested we try her Bubble Dough recipe, and THIS is our Son’s Fave of the Four Fun Doughs!

It uses just two kitchen ingredients:  Dish Soap and Corn Starch.   I had a bottle of Babyganics Dish Soap we weren’t using so in it went!

 

Bubble Dough 2

 

The amazing thing about Bubble Dough is that it really reminds me quite a bit of Oobleck.    It’s not quite as solid as oobleck can get, but Bubble Dough definitely shows properties of being both liquid and solid.   When you first mix it, it’s a gooey, rubbery ooze.   But, as it settles in the bin, it has a smooth, solid surface that you nearly break open in order to play with it.

 

Bubble Dough 3

 

Our daughter pretended her bubble dough was ice cream.  She smoothed this ice cream out, and then watched as it actually seemed to melt down like an actual ice cream.

That’s Bubble Dough.  It’s completely cool.

You  need to check out Kat’s new and improved Bubble Dough Recipe on her blog at Creative Playhouse.  I hear she’s getting ready to make something like this with Strawberry Hair Conditioner and Corn Starch Soon….

 

FUN DOUGH #4:

WHEAT-COCONUT SANDY MOON DOUGH!

 

Wheat Coconut Oil Moon Dough

 

After I wrote about the things every parent needs to watch out for when it comes to Cloud Dough, I came up with a new recipe that I and my kids actually prefer over the baby oil and refined white flour version!

Instead of white flour, we use wheat flour.  And, instead of baby oil, we use coconut oil.

 

For every 5 lbs of wheat flour, add 2 cups of coconut oil.  

Rub out all the clumps between your palms and work the oil into the flour.  The kids love to help with this part!

When you make a fist with the dough in your hand, it should form the shape of your fist without falling apart.  If it does fall apart, add a little more coconut oil.

And, if it’s too greasy, add more flour.  If you run out of wheat flour, you can always add a little white flour.

The coconut oil smells great!

 

Wheat Coconut Oil Moon Dough 2

 

TO STORE YOUR HOMEMADE FUN DOUGHS!

 

I recommend keeping any homemade fun doughs in air-tight bins.

I highly recommend using hobby scrapbook boxes since they are low and shallow, and also small enough to not contain an overwhelming amount of dough.

 

Scrapbook Box being used to hold colored sand to practice pre-writing skills. This is one of the materials found in The Critters And Crayons Montessori-Inspired Kitchen Corner. The Scrapbook Boxes are fantastic for storing all kinds of sensory doughs.

 

If you have more than one child, you could always give one square scrapbook bin to each child.

You can rotate different doughs through the scrapbook bins, especially if you are short on space.

They pack away neatly underneath shelves or beds for easy storage.  They stack neatly and look tidy.

Although cloud dough and homemade moon doughs where oil is used to moisten the dry ingredients do not have to be covered to be stored, I recommend it to keep dust, pests or other allergens out of the dough.

 

CLEAN-UP TIPS!

 

I am a huge fan of buying butcher paper in bulk!

You can use it to cover tables at parties and it always comes in handy for play dates and parties!

If you have a tarp, an inexpensive sheet or tablecloth that you have reserved for arts & crafts work, then I recommend laying that underneath your Fun Dough Play Area!

Or, you an always do what I do, and duct tape a few rows of butcher paper underneath your kids!

 

Butcher Paper to Protect Surfaces

 

All that Salty, Scenty, Sandy, Foamy, Bubbly Dough Crazy Fun-Having Left Me With This Awful, Horribly, Messy……..Mess?  :)

 

Butcher Paper Easy Clean-Up

 

Just a quick paper roll-up (which you can recycle once you remove the duct tape, by the way) and a sweep….the Kitchen Floor is fine, again.

To clean off doughed-up, powdered up feet-sies, I definitely recommend that you use a clean paintbrush or something bristly to work any clumps off little soles and toes!

The children should wipe their feet (if they can) with a wet wipe or wet cloth before running around on your carpets.

Again, I’ll refer to  my cautionary post about what can happen if you aren’t careful with the baby oil/flour cloud dough.

 

Fun Doughs To Make With Kids!

 

For More Creative & Fun Doughs,

Check Out These Awesome Ideas & Sites!

 

 

SO…..WHICH ONE ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE??? 

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