Thursday, April 26, 2018

Recycled Crafts for Earth Day

I'm not sure why, but I have always been pretty enthusiastic about Earth Day. I've done library programs for it in the past, but took a break for a while when my effort to use only recycled materials became daunting instead of fun. This year I decided to get back into it, only I told myself each craft only needed to include one recycled material, instead of being completely recycled. Plus, as I think I have mentioned many times before, I really prefer to do programs with several simple crafts, rather than one longer one. So that's what I did! Recycled Crafts for Earth Day.

I had a small yet appreciative group of 3-5-year-olds (and their parents) and four crafts for them to make, each including at least one recycled material, in an open, unstructured type of program. There was one craft per table and the families moved around from table to table to try their hands at whatever they wanted for the duration of the time. And, as usual, I accompanied the evening with a playlist! Here's what we did:

Toilet Paper Tube Black Bears

I got the idea for these little guys from (but found it on Pinterest). I was looking for a simple toilet paper roll craft that didn't require cardboard cutting, too many pieces, or too much letting paint/glue dry. In the end I settled on this, even though it required painting, because all the tubes could be painted the same color so I was able to do it ahead of time. Plus LOOK HOW CUTE. I put out the pre-painted black tubes, small squares of brown construction paper, scissors, black markers, glue sticks, tape, and self-adhesive googly eyes (the biggest of these from Oriental Trading). The kids and parents liked this project, however I decided this one was more parent-heavy and required less from the kids than I prefer. Maybe it would have been better for a slightly older crowd. Even still, it was fun for the families and the final product was really cute.

Baby Food Pouch Cap Spiders

From Pinterest again, these were technically a Halloween craft from Plum organics, but were surprisingly the stand out hit of this program! The kids LOVED these little guys. Everyone wound up making several spiders, parents included! And they were so easy! The only things I'd put out were caps from baby food pouches, pre-cut-in-half piper cleaners, and self-adhesive googly eyes (the smallest of these from Oriental Trading). Then, I showed the whole group how to weave the pipe cleaners from one side of the cap to the other (as seen here) and then sort of bend them so they'd stay in place and seem "spidery." The googly-eyes, while self-adhesive, were a little delicate for small hands so I helped the kids out a little there too, but overall everyone really really liked these!

Bubble Wrap and Paper Plate Jellyfish

After an entirely Internet-purchased holiday season, I did a lot of Pinteresting to find a good bubble wrap craft that I felt comfortable with. I had considered just bubble wrap painting and maybe I should have gone that route, but instead I decided on this cute little jellyfish that I found on (from Pinterest) that I really liked! I thought it was perfect: didn't require too much in the way of supplies and allowed for creativity. BUT NOBODY MADE IT! So disappointing! One family took the supplies home and, for everyone else, it was ignored. To be fair, I didn't have a huge turnout to begin with and the program was only 30-minutes but still. Not one kid even attempted the craft at this table. Next time I'll do the painting instead!

CD Sun Catchers

This one was so easy, there's almost nothing to say about it! I put out old CDs, ribbon, and these self-adhesive gems from Oriental Trading and then let the kids go to town decorating! I got the idea from (found on Pinterest), but kept the whole thing super easy by using the self-adhesive gems and eliminating the glue part entirely. Everyone did a nice job!

What worked least: I guess my bubble wrap jellyfish were not appealing since nobody migrated toward that table at all. Maybe it was too much white and nothing colorful to draw people over? Whatever it was, something was amiss. But crazily, I'd try it again! Maybe if I had a bigger crowd and/or more time, the kids would have enjoyed it! Next Earth Day!

What worked best: Those little spiders! Everyone loved 'em!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sadie's Top 5, 12-18 months

While, yes, this post is coming a couple of days early, I can't believe we're just a couple of days away from a year-and-a-half! Where does the time go? I cannot BELIEVE how fast the past 6-months have gone!  Since Sadie's birthday, she's gotten SO much better at sitting through books and will even sit for several books in a row! Some of her very favorites are still some of her past picks (A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy, Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia, Sneak-a-Peak Colors by Roger Priddy, Five Little Elves by Dan Yaccarino, and the Margaret Miller Look Baby! books), but in the interest of variety, I've set my rule about only posting books one time each and I'm sticking to it! So with that, here are Sadie's Top 5 for ages 12-18 months, which have not been posted in past lists:

Three Little Mermaids by Mara Van Fleet-- and also the similar Little Color FairiesNight-Night Princess, and Mama's Pajamas (also all by Mara Van Fleet)-- have all really piqued Sadie's interest on the later end of this age bracket. I tried a few of these with her when she was about 10-months-old and, while she certainly enjoyed them even then, she is really the perfect age for them now, at 18-months. In fact, Sadie is intrigued by these books from the moment she sees the pull-tabs on the covers! She is constantly handing them to me to read to her. They are each SO interactive; the pull-tab covers are just the start! On the first page of Three Little Mermaids, for example, there is an octopus holding a fun, sticky lollipop that Sadie likes to touch over and over again. The book also has fuzzy seals, bumpy star fish, flaps to open, and--best of all--MORE PULL TABS! What's crazy is that, while these stories themselves seem like they'd be too long to be interesting to a child this age (in Three Little Mermaids, all the sea friends help the mermaids prepare for a tea party), I think Sadie is actually focused on the stories! Even when we come across a rare non-interactive page, she still seems engaged. It's so crazy! We can read any of these four selections over and over, or switch between them, and she's happy for a while. So thanks, Mara Van Fleet, for letting this very pregnant momma sit for a few minutes while her active toddler actually interacts with a few books in a row!

Pete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus by James Dean has been a hit in our house since Sadie was a newborn, but only now has it become one of our solid, regular go-to's. Or should I say, one of Sadie's solid, regular go-to's. She is always yanking this one off her (fairly tightly packed) bookshelf and handing it to me to read to her. She'll sit nicely in her chair while I sing The Wheels on the Bus song (with some fun variations thanks to Pete) over and over, and occasionally point out things like the bird, the dog, and Pete's guitar. Sadie definitely learned the word "guitar" because of Pete the Cat. She's even just begun to mimic The Wheels on the Bus hand motions that I try to do along (as I also hold the book). This is one we're gonna read again and again for a long time in our house!

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is a CLASSIC that I have been just waiting for Sadie to be old enough for. And now she is! In fact, I think this book has helped Sadie hone in on some of her animal sounds. She's mastered the elephant noise, lion noise, and snake noise, I'm certain, thanks to Dear Zoo. If you're unfamiliar, the premise of this story is simple. The narrator wrote to the zoo to send him/her a pet and each pet that comes back is unfit. The elephant is too big, the lion is too fierce, the frog is too jumpy, etc. But, at the end, the zoo sends a dog (finally!) and it's just perfect! Sadie loves to lift the flaps as we read and she has an easier time finding which end to lift from in this book that in other books. (If you look carefully, there's a small, half-circle cut out next to each flap that guides little fingers to the right spot and I think it really helps!) Just like the dog at the end of the story, this book is perfect for us!

This exact "Slide and Find" version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle is a book that Sadie keeps migrating toward, especially toward the second half of this age-range. She lovessssss to slide the little tabs to reveal the animals underneath. Then, when we finish reading it, she almost always asks for, "More?" so we read it again! Also--here's something crazy-- her favorite animal in the book is not an animal at all but the teacher on the second to last page! She LOVES the "chee chee!" Maybe it's the glasses? Who knows! Another classic book, making our top 5 list today!

That's Not My Kitten by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells is a favorite from the earlier end of this age range-- one that Sadie still definitely enjoys now but really stood out as a favorite when she was about 12-14-months-old. The first time we read this, the day after her birthday, I pointed out all the "touchy-feely" spots in the book for her and then every time we've read it thereafter, Sadie's felt the spots herself, without any guidance. The "plot" is simple. Each spread says something like, "That's not my kitten, its ears are too soft," or "That's not my kitten, its bell is too shiny," or "That's not my kitten, its paws are too rough" until the last page, when we finally find the narrators kitten and it has a big, soft belly! This is another one I am able to read to her a few times in a row without her getting too antsy. Side note: Sometimes (often), when I read this, I change the word "kitten" to "cat" because  I feel like it makes things simpler for Sadie, but I'll probably stop doing this soon.

Next up... Sadie's Top 5 as a TWO-YEAR-OLD. 😳