Mixing things up. Literally.

(Yes, the puns are horrible.  No, they won’t stop. *grin*)

So we’ve been OBSESSED in our house here recently with the mixing-of-things.  It started when I let the Little Scientist “help” make nerddadmathfun’s birthday cake.  I truly wish I could have gotten pictures of the ingredient dumping and egg cracking, but (as you can imagine), both of my hands were a TAD busy.  So I got pics of the VERY INTENSE MIXING process, followed by the IMPATIENTLY WAITING process.

mixing is SERIOUS business

is it DONE yet? (hint: it’s only been in the oven 2.5 minutes)

This activity made an unexpectedly huge impression on the kid – bright and early the next morning, while my head was buried in the refrigerator, he grabbed out a serving spoon and drug a chair to the counter.  Ready. To. Go.  Since the cake-baking a week ago, nary an egg has been cracked or a veggie chopped in this house without expert toddler supervision.

So I decided to capitalize on the moment, first trying a 2-color jello mixture:

immediately after this picture? spoon in mouth. big time.

This was a hit, but the jello was too “soft”, and 2 colors didn’t really hold interest.  So I found a great post on No Time For Flashcards and that night I made 6 8×8 pans of jello according to the jiggler recipe.  Cut up and stacked the next morning yielded this rainbow**:

ummm, mom? this looks messy…

Though we were unsure to begin with (see above), we quickly got in the grove of the mixing:

yeah. messy…

…but delicious

that piece. i want that one RIGHT THERE.

We spent a lot of time in this activity talking about textures (cold, squishy, jiggly, slimy) and colors.  We talked about how the different colors didn’t melt into each other like liquids, but stayed tiny little “jewels”.  We identified colors in the super-mixed final product, and looked at how some colors were hard to see (like yellow) while some were pretty obvious (blue and purple).

We also ate a lot of jello.  Since we’ve been fighting a head cold here, I took this opportunity to get some extra liquid in the kid… But if you were trying to discourage the eating of science projects, Kool-Aid mixed into plain gelatin without sugar was suggested by the original poster.

We’ve also been working on a lentils-and-buttons mixture.  I think the standard in this activity would be beans, but seeing as how beans are the LS’s FAVORITE food, that seemed like a recipe for disaster.  So I hid 5 big buttons in a tub of lentils, and let him search for them.  Word to the wise: do this activity outside.  Unless you like stepping on lentils for the next 2 weeks.

needle in a haystack’s got NOTHING on this

looking… and HOLY CRAPP is the kid wearing a shirt? How ’bout that!

everywhere. there were lentils EVERYWHERE.

I’m thinking of substituting gradually smaller colored bits (like beads) to make this harder… I’ve also moved it into a gallon zip-loc for mess containment purposes.

**INDIGO ISN’T REALLY A COLOR.  Pet peeve.  See, light has wavelengths – and different wavelengths appear to our eyes like different colors.  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue & Violet are all nicely spaced along the wavelengths and evenly distributed.  But because 6 was the NUMBER OF THE DEVIL, Newton inserted Indigo in between Blue and Violet.  Grr.

Toddler travel card… a short post.

So the Little Scientist and I are travelling in August.  By plane.  Ack.

We traveled a lot when he was little, stopping right around the time he started walking.  So this will be the first trip we’ve taken where he is fully & independently mobile.

This is me, terrified.  For real – I wake up in cold sweats envisioning him running off across tarmacs and disappearing forever.

So I made a card to attach to his waistband – a travel card if you will. (And please don’t ask me if I’ve already used a sharpie to identify him on all his diapers.  You know the answer.)

Thought I’d share.

Happy travels!

More colors! And shapes! And taping construction paper to the floor!

I think I’m ready to admit I have a problem. *Deep breath* I’m Megan, and I tape construction paper to EVERYTHING.


Ok, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… More colors and shapes!  (Pretty sure I got both of these activities from www.toddlertoddler.com… I think.  *blush* Stupid swiss cheese brain.

Activity one – stepping on shapes

The Little Scientist is getting pretty good at identifying the rainbow colors + black / white / brown, but shapes still need practice.  Particularly as his AWESOME shape magnets make good chew toys in addition to being sexy magnets.

So me and my trusty tape & construction paper got to work.  The goal is to eventually build up to some sort of twister-style game (calling out body parts and shapes), but right now we’re just standing on named shapes.

Look! Paper & tape! SURPRISE!

The RECTANGLE, LS, step on the RECTANGLE!!! *hovering foot*

oh. THIS one. Why didn’t you SAY so, mom?

Drumming on the circle. Shortly after this picture the drumming involved large sticks. Eek.

Activity two – connect-the-dots

I include this one so you can see what a mess some of my activity ideas become.  For real.  The idea is to work on a proto-connect-the-dots activity, and match giant colored dots.  In retrospect, “matching” is a little beyond our purview right now.  LS can tell you if two things YOU identify are “partners” or “matches”, but has a hard time finding them himself.  Combine that with a deep and abiding obsession with pens and pencils, and, well… I’ll let you judge:

Fun?  Oh, yeah.  Matching?  Not yet… We’ll get there 🙂

A rambling tale of two Saturdays.

(No math today.  Just trying to process something relatively trivial that happened this weekend… Sorry for all the words.  I’ll try to work in some numbers *grin*)

A few months ago, we had a random heat wave in the spring.  90 degree temps, 120% humidity, the whole nine yards.  Combine this fact with the Little Scientist’s need for outside playtime, and we spend a LOT of early morning hours in the park.  On this particular Saturday, we ventured to a park near the rich neighborhood – you know, the one with the manicured lawns and landscapers?  Yeah, that neighborhood – the parks are nice over there too.

At the early hour we were there, it was me and LS, a mom with her shy 4-year-old waiting on dad to perform the great weekend custody exchange (quite civilly, I might add, even with the addition of the pregnant young new wife), and a VERY pregnant mom with her 2-year old and… photographer?

Turns out pregnant-mom was trying to get her kiddo’s 2-year portraits professionally done at the public park, before the birthday party.  Which would have been fine, except the 2-year old was acting, well, the way 2-year olds do.  And the constant monologue pregnant-mom was having a little TOO loud with herself was about how the “daughter behaved JUST FINE until these other KIDS showed up”.

At one point custody-mom looked at me and said “I think she’s talking about us… Hmmm.  Weird.”, so at least I knew I wasn’t making things up.  But then LS wandered a little too close to the party-setup taking place, and picked up a ball that the birthday girl had dropped.  Usually this occurs when he wants to hand something back to you – dropping of things disturbs him.  Maybe because me and his dad are SO FREAKING TALL, so dropping is usually a dramatic “heads-up below!!!” incident.  Preggo-mom snatched (am I being fair?  Yeah, I think so.  Snatched is appropriate.) the ball from his outstretched hand and snapped “No no!  Bad boy!”

All those things you wish you could say? Yeah, I don’t think of them until light-years later.  I still don’t know what I wish I’d said to her.  All I did in the moment was pick up one very startled Little Scientist and tell him that he was not a bad boy, and that I knew he was trying to help.  That sometimes people have bad days and take it out on other people.

So we left.  And I didn’t think about it after that day.  Really, truly I didn’t.

Until this Saturday. (I warned you about the rambling.  Sorry.)  We were at a completely different park, one on the blue-collar side of town.  When we pulled up, the situation was so very, very similar.  Pregnant mom, setting up birthday party for wandering two-year old.  Except this time it looked like older brother was the photographer.  And no-one in the group spoke English.

Because we were only going to be there for a half-hour (holy CRAPP July heat!  Oof!), I figured we could stay out of the way, and be gone long before any party commenced.  Until LS saw the balloons.

Did I mention the boy LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVES balloons?  And pregnant-mom2 with her older daughters was blowing up balloons as fast as they could to tape to the party structure.  LS marched right up to the shelter and just stared with the most awe-filled look.  SO. MANY. BALLOONS.  Pregnant-mom2 laughed, tied off a mini-balloon and handed it too him.  I thanked her in my oh-so-broken Spanish, we both laughed, embarrassed, and LS ran off to show his new balloon-friend the slide.

In a half-hour, pregnant-mom2 sent one of her daughters over with a plastic cup of ice-water and a straw for the LS.  I waved across the playground, and we took off for home shortly thereafter.

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about these two experiences.  The second mom had so little, and it never even crossed her mind that she wouldn’t share.  The first mom… well, I keep finding myself being sympathetic and sad for her.  I know she was hot, uncomfortable, and embarrassed that her kid wasn’t behaving.  She had such a plan for how the day was going to go, and it was NOT GOING RIGHT.  I know this, because so many, many times I am her.

I want to be more like the second mom.  So I keep looking at the pictures of LS with his balloon, hoping something about this Saturday will stick.

Fourth of July painting with toddlers (oy. vey.)

MOM. Stop reading right here. You’re getting one of these in the mail.

You’re still reading aren’t you. You never did listen… *grin*

So I have to admit that I actually enjoy finger painting with the Little Scientist. Maybe because (mom outed me on this one) I was and am the MESSIEST human being in the history of the world. No, seriously. My fifth period class used to worry that I hadn’t eaten if they didn’t see lunch stains down the front of my shirt. When I was preggo all the stains migrated from my lap to my belly, because that’s what caught the food on the way down. Etc, etc, etc.

All of which to say, the messiness historically bothers the LS waaaay more than me – he’s not a big fan of “squishy hands”. For this project, we decided to try some little sponge painters with handles – LOOOOOOVE. I had originally only set up 3 cards, but we ended up making 5 plus some extra “pounce painting” on spare paper. (Aside: if you sing “pounce, pounce, pounce your paint / gently down the stream”, your 20-month-old will mock you incessantly. For hours. Much to your husband’s amusement. Gah.)

To briefly outline: the idea is to loosely tape a shape to the front of a card, and paint over it. When the paint is dry, we remove the shape and have the picture in relief on the front, and little paper “appliques” to go on the inside of the card. We count the points on the stars and work on left-hand right-hand (one for each color) while we paint. Because, you know, I’m pathologically incapable of leaving math OUT of anything. Also, because he eats those Gerber Graduates meals a few lunches a week, I reuse the trays for painting… deeper and a little more paint-containing than my old standby, butter-tub lids.

Disclaimer: I gave up on trying to shirt / bib the kid while painting, eating, coloring, breathing quite some time ago… Easier just to hose him off a few times a day.

raw materials

aaaand some over heeeeere….

Concentrating on this keeping the colors SEPARATE thing…

Blue here. And here. And ON THE TABLE TOO!!

An artist, contemplating his materials.

just checking… nope. Still not crazy about how paint feels.

front, post star-removal

inside card (stars glued down)