Thursday, January 22, 2015

Countdown to Disney!!

After months and months of reservations and planning, I cannot believe the time has finally arrived for our kids' first Disney World vacation! Once the magic of Christmastime had passed, we immediately immersed ourselves in all things Disney. First we began our countdown. And each day after cutting off another chain, we completed one Disney craft or activity. We also read a ton of Disney books. Keep scrolling to see what we did to help us get psyched for our trip! 

21 days until Disney:

On our first day we of course created the countdown itself. The kids helped with the cutting, circle punching and gluing. Our inspiration came from this picture floating around Pinterest. How cute is the Minnie one too?!

20 days until Disney:

On this day we gathered around the computer and watched You Tube videos about our resort. We are going to stay at Art of Animation in a Nemo room, so we pulled up video tours of the room, the incredible "Big Blue" pool and even the Landscape of Flavors restaurant. Such fun!

19 days until Disney:

Today we had a family movie night: Dumbo!

18 days until Disney:

I was so excited to try this craft out. Today we recreated the Magic Kingdom fireworks. I have seen so many versions of fireworks on Pinterest, but none of them really looked right to me. Until I came across this technique from Danya Banya. You take a few toilet paper tubes, and cut them up as I did below:

The farther up the tube you cut, the bigger your fireworks will be! We chose a few bright colors. This would look cool on dark blue or black paper, as most fireworks occur at night; but I wanted to print an image of the castle on the paper. So I printed on white and taped two pieces together to give us more room for fireworks. See how incredible they came out?? Even I made one:

This is Little M&M's:

And here's Honey Pot's. Bonus points if you can spot the unintentional "Hidden Mickey" she created!

Our space on the white paper was too limited for our creative needs, so I pulled out two huge sheets of brown craft paper and we continued there. Here is one of those. I'll keep it aside for homemade wrapping paper!

17 days until Disney:

Today we made stained glass pictures to hang on the glass door. I gave each child a choice of Beauty and the Beast or Sleeping Beauty. Little M&M chose the former and Honey Pot chose the latter. So I let them each choose an image from Google and printed them onto vellum paper. They chose three colors of tissue paper and used their scissors to try to cut them up. I helped with this part, especially for Little M&M. Then I gave each child a piece of contact paper, sticky side up. And they covered it with the tissue paper. When it was completely filled, I cut out a piece of it and placed their vellum paper on top. Add a border and, ta da! They look so lovely with the sunshine coming through.

16 days until Disney:

Today we had a "Hidden Mickey" scavenger hunt! We told the kids about the real hidden Mickey's all over Disney World. I used a Mickey Mouse punch to cut out 40 little Mickey heads, and hid them around the house.

Then they both went searching!

"Where is another one?" Hmm, I don't know, Honey Pot...

They counted them up to make sure we had found them all. Then I put them in rows of five, for Honey Pot to practice her skip counting too!

On a side note, we used these again to make patterns during "Patch Time" on another day.

15 days until Disney:

Today we made paper plate Winnie the Pooh's, using paper for the eyes, nose and ears as well as yarn for the mouth and eyebrows. Aw.

14 days until Disney:

I had such a fun idea for today's activity! I found a coloring page online for Pongo and Perdita, and removed their spots in Photoshop Elements. Then the kids used a splatter painting technique to add their spots! We watered down some black paint, and shook our brushes over the paper. (If you do his inside, line the entire area with newspaper--it gets messy!) Love how this came out!

13 days until Disney:

Today's activity was baking chocolate chip Mickey Mouse cookies! I didn't know chocolate chip cookies could be used for cutouts, but I found a recipe from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle that said they could! My Mickey cookie cutter is pretty big, so the recipe yielded 9 gigantic cookies! Oh, they were delicious!

12 days until Disney:

This activity was perhaps the biggest hit yet! We played Toy Story Bingo! The printable sheets come from Six Sisters' Stuff. I love these because each card has every picture, so the kids will always have one to cover up. We used our Mickey punch as counters...they just happened to be the right size. Oh, and we used M&M's as the prize. Just two, because we played a lot of rounds!! I was surprised with how well Little M&M did with this game. Being under 3 years old he hasn't had much exposure to board games, yet he understood the rules and played pretty well!

11 days until Disney:

Today we made Nemo hand-prints! I was going for something like this, which I had seen on Pinterest, but ours came out a little different. No matter though! The kids had fun! They painted their oceans with sponges, to give it a bubbly look. They also added some seaweed and sea stars. The kids each wanted to do a second hand-print, so we also made one on white paper, and the white stripes were much clearer!

10 days until Disney:

We made Cinderella's glass slipper! This marvelous idea comes from A, Bee, C, Preschool. I found a glass slipper coloring page online, and printed it onto blue cardstock. Then the kids colored in the flowers as they pleased. Next, they used a foam brush to paint the slipper with glue, and we sprinkled glitter over the top of it. We are so in love with this craft. We hung them up on the wall and they really shimmer as we walk by them.

9 days until Disney:

We played a game of Little Mermaid Go Fish, which I had created as party favors for Honey Pot's 3rd birthday party, remember? We had loads of fun! Here's a picture of what the full set looks like, and there are four of each card.

Little M&M was on Daddy's team.

And Honey Pot was on her own team, and played super well.

Such fun!

8 days until Disney:

We enjoyed another family movie night tonight: Finding Nemo!

7 days until Disney:

Today we finally tried a bit of melted crayon art. I'd been seeing them everywhere on Pinterest, and decided it was time. So we picked up some crayons and two Crayola canvases from Michaels, as well as some 3D Disney stickers. And this is what we created:


6 days until Disney:

I took suggestions for today's craft, and the kids wanted to do Bambi. I printed a coloring page for each of them of a young Bambi, after removing his spots in Photoshop. Then they colored it in and we pasted it onto construction paper. We decided to make it a textile craft, by adding tissue paper spots and flowers from my scrapbooking stash. They used their giant pushpins to poke holes for the brads in the center of each flower--great fine motor practice. Honey Pot's is below, she also glued on a sun and drew a butterfly, heart and spider.

And here is Little M&M's. He also drew a butterfly!

5 days until Disney:

Today we prepared our containers and pennies for the kids' first collection: pressed pennies! Since they are too young to read, I felt they wouldn't appreciate character autographs too much. So instead, we'll collect pressed pennies at Disney World. I used the printable labels from here, and taped them onto mini M&M containers. Marie the Aristocat for Honey Pot and Lightning McQueen for Little M&M!

Here are our dirty pennies:

We plunked a few at a time into a bowl of 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Then we counted to ten very slowly before pulling them out.

Rinse under water:

Then let them dry.

It actually worked really well! Some pennies were too dirty to make a difference; but most of them really shined. It was pretty cool to watch. Here is a mid-process picture for comparison:

We've pulled aside a couple rolls of quarters too, and now we're ready to stop at a few pressed penny machines! We're so excited!

4 days until Disney:

Today we created Frozen hearts! We did this experiment for Valentine's Day a couple years ago, and it was nice to revisit it. First, we shaped blue pipe cleaners into hearts. Honey Pot was able to help with this part! Then we tied a piece of string to each heart, and tied a craft stick to the other end of each. We filled each cup with boiling water + 1/3 of a cup of Borax, then stirred. Insert heart and let them sit overnight!

In the morning, they looked like this:

I took them out carefully and let them dry on a paper towel for just a minute. The kids enjoyed touching them and exploring the crystals that had formed.

Then we hung them up in the window. They looked especially beautiful when the sun shined through!

3 days until Disney:

Today we watched a Disney parade on You Tube! I chose the "Pixar Play Parade" from Disney's California Adventure, since I knew that we weren't going to see that one during our trip. The kids loved it so much, that we ended up watching another show. It was called "Dream Along with Mickey" and the kids were absolutely enthralled! Little M&M was particularly excited to see Maleficent, because she's a favorite of his at the moment. What a great way to psych them up for the trip, and expose them to what these characters are going to look like in real life!

2 days until Disney:

Today was a big packing day, so we had another family movie night! Today's pick: Beauty and the Beast!

1 day until Disney:

Our countdown just flew by! On our final day, we finished packing. The kids got to choose which toys/books they wanted to bring in their backpacks. (I also sneaked in some never-before-seen toys and some yummy snacks as a surprise when we're on the airplane.) They'll carry these backpacks themselves through the airport and as their carry-ons. This is their first time flying, so we also read a book about airplanes today and talked about what to expect.

Our kiddos are super excited, and I think they have a good idea of just how amazing this trip is going to be. How very lucky are we?! Now we're off on our adventure!


C is for Car!


We began our C is for Car week with a trip to the library, to borrow books about cars. Our very favorite is If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen. What an imaginative story, and the rhyming text was sweet and fun.

Learning Shapes

1+1+1=1 has a fun printable packet about Disney Pixar's Cars, a movie that Little M&M is just in love with. So I printed out the matching game to help him review his shapes.

We glued it into a file folder, and returned to it multiple times throughout the week. He's really getting the hang of these, and loves the accomplishment of matching them all up!

Magnetic Pom Poms

For some letter recognition and fine motor practice, we printed out a letter C from Shannon's Tot School and slipped it into a plastic sheet protector. We pulled out the magnetic pom poms and a baking sheet, and he got right to work!

Leap Frog Fridge Phonics

This used to be how we introduced each letter during Honey Pot's alphabet units. Today we pulled it out for review, as Little M&M learned A and B before our long Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas themes! He listened to each ditty about A, B and C.

Then I asked him, "Which is C?" and so on.

Mega Block Puzzles

We LOVED this activity during our Valentine's Day theme last year! So I used the same template and created some car puzzles for Little M&M.

There were some familiar faces, such as Lightning McQueen and Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. And I also created a big letter C puzzle for him. He loved these and did them often throughout the week.

Letter C Roads

I had these filed away since Honey Pot's Letter C Unit almost three years ago!

We pulled out our little cars that we bring on road trips, and we drove them around the C's.

Eventually he even made a racetrack!

"Car'd" Game

This idea and printable comes from the amazing Toddler Approved! I gathered a few of Little M&M's cars in various colors, and we tried to follow the pattern cards.

Honey Pot helped too. She was awesome at it.

Little M&M struggled with placement but always grabbed the right color.

Afterward I asked them to work together to try to build a big letter C out of all of the cars!

Pattern Blocks

I printed out two templates for our pattern blocks: the upper/lowercase C's and a car. We love these puzzles, and I love finding so many free templates on Pinterest!

He said, "Do it with me," so I placed a few pieces and helped to straighten them out so he wouldn't get frustrated while he worked.

Car Lacing

I picked up this fun transportation lacing set from the Dollar Spot at Target at Christmastime. So I pulled out the car one, and let him do a little bit of lacing today. We've done this without a "kit" before though...just print any image onto cardstock, punch holes around it, and have the kids thread yarn (with one end of it taped) through it.

Scavenger Hunt and Review

I started gathering various letters we had around the house, and came up with this activity for review. I placed A's, B's and C's in a container with paper shreds. Little M&M had to first find them, then sort them by letter.

We used playdough cookie cutters, blocks, fridge magnets and AlphaBots. When he found one, I would ask, "What letter did you find?" Sometimes he knew it, and othertimes I helped him. The repetition of saying their names is wonderful!

For final review, after all had been found, I asked him, "Where are the C's?" and so forth.

Playdough Fun

We do this during most of our units. Today we made a fresh batch of playdough, and made some C's and cars.

Honey Pot added eyes to her cars!

C is for cupcake too, so Honey Pot extended her play with these cupcake liners that we also keep with our playdough stash.

Monster C's!

And I have various playdough mats with our stash as well. Today we pulled out the car one, and Little M&M added wheels with playdough and buttons.

Honey Pot has been working on beginning sounds and spelling. So she pulled out another playdough mat and put candles on the cake, which she discovered also start with C!

Car Bath

Stir the Wonder had a great idea to make bath-time extra special. I cut out some roads from black foam, and drew white lines on them with crayon. This was the set-up I created before bath-time: 

It also contained four cars, and two stop signs that I cut out from red foam. Little M&M loves pointing out all stop signs while we're driving!

After the initial drive across my track, the kids pulled the roads down and built their own tracks!

This race track entertained Honey Pot for a long time!

In the end, this inevitably happened. But the novelty of playing with cars in the bathtub was a huge hit! Honey Pot in particular stayed in here for a long time!