Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas Theme - Toddler

Welcome to Sweet E's first official tot school post! We have enjoyed a few activities together here and there. But now that she is 19 months old I decided to begin intentional learning themes, just as I did with her older siblings. We're starting slowly, but take a look at what we did throughout the month of December:

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I made some homemade playdough in red and green during her nap one day. When she woke up I provided a few simple tools and cutters to go along with them.

She was curious! She loved squishing her fingers into them!

I helped her with the cookie cutters, but she enjoyed poking around with the tools all by herself. 

I later handed these doughs over to Honey Pot and Little M&M, along with a plethora of other tools and small parts for imaginative play, and they had a blast!

Magnet Play
For her next activity, I provided her with jingle bells, a magnetic wand and MagnaTiles. I showed her how the jingle bells can stay on the MagnaTile "trees" and invited her to add some more. 

She loved how they stuck on there!

So she added lots more! Awesome fine motor action at work!

Then she decided to play with the cup of jingle bells. What a fun sound it makes when I shake it!

This of course led to a mess (which was fun to make) so I showed her how to use the magnetic wand to clean them up. 

As an invitation to the older kids, I challenged them to use our entire MagnaTile collection to build a larger tree, and decorate it with several more magnetic bells. They rose to the challenge and made one as high as the ceiling! It was a great way to offer this simple toddler activity to the big kids in a new and exciting way.

Christmas Coloring Pages
A Dollar Tree coloring book. Pretty self-explanatory, but still a must in our theme because Sweet E loves scribbling with markers!

Paint Play
This was Sweet E's first time using paints. She received Little M&M's old smock, which has held up great over the years. I provided her with a squirt of paint in red and green, as well as paintbrushes and thick paper.

After trying to use the brushes, she decided to use her fingers instead. I'll allow it! Look at how fun it is!

I wanted to try a footprint craft while we had the paints out. So I painted her foot brown, and we attempted a reindeer. This was her first time using glue as well, and she really loved it. We'll have to work this into future themes soon!

The finished craft:

Ball Pit Laundry Basket
We did this activity last Christmas as well, and had to do it again while she still fits in there. She just loves climbing in and out of it!

Puzzle Pieces + Sensory Bin
A Dollar Tree blend of dry beans! She found this in my craft closet from when Little M&M used to play with it, so I pulled it out for today's activity. This was perhaps her favorite yet! I hid the puzzle pieces inside the bin, and she had to dig them out and put them where they belong.

She loved it so much, we did this twice in a row.

Then I extended the activity by adding some scoopers and a small container.

I was so surprised at how ready she was for this scoop-and-pour activity. And even more so at how careful she was. We had minimal mess to clean up when she was done!

And all sensory bins end with the feet going in! How very like her big siblings she is!

Sticker Tree
I came across this activity on Busy Toddler and thought it was just perfect for Sweet E! I cut a tree out of poster paper, and the two of us colored it in. Then I peeled the border stickers away from the sheet, and allowed Sweet E to peel her own sticker "ornaments" to place onto the tree. She quickly got the hang of it!

She did this so independently, from start to finish! We talked about colors as she stuck them on. She went through the whole sheet of dot stickers, then later looked for more!

So easy, and so much fun! Dot stickers are the best!

Color Sorting
In the previous activity, as Sweet E was placing stickers onto the tree, I noticed her matching colors. I would say, "Is that a yellow sticker" and she would gesture toward other yellow stickers she placed on the tree already. So I wondered if she was ready to sort colors yet.

She was so willing to try, and did really well with this activity!

Balls + Sensory Bin
I wanted to extend the activity a bit, and use those ball pit balls with some water! Sweet E loved scooping the balls up with her ladle and placing them in the bucket.

Eventually she sunk her hands into there too! She enjoyed splashing around, and experimenting with the ball pit balls. 

Shaving Cream Hidden Colors
Honey Pot and Little M&M were using shaving cream paint in the bathtub, and I wanted Sweet E to enjoy an activity too. So I placed some in a zip-top bag with a couple drops of food coloring, and allowed her to squish it around a bit to reveal the color inside. She kept looking at her hands to see if they were messy (LOL). I think she was disappointed that they weren't!

Dot Marker Coloring Pages
These markers were always a hit with Little M&M, so I bought a brand new set for Sweet E. I found several cute dot marker templates over at The Resourceful Mama, and printed a couple for her to enjoy. 

I helped show her how to use them, by filling in some of the circles myself, and Little M&M decided to help with the border.

All in all, it was a successful first theme for Sweet E. And I am so excited to continue our activities together!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Disney Safari Party!

For Sweet E's first birthday, we had a safari party with a Disney twist! How did we arrive at this theme? Well here's a little background information:

Honey Pot and Little M&M traded in their birthday parties and presents, in exchange for an upgrade to our Disney World vacation taking place later this year. (Experiences over gifts, for the win!) So with the money that would have gone toward parties, we were able to change our reservation from a value resort to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, with a savanna view. With the money that would have gone toward gifts, we bought tickets to Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party! I am so proud of them for making this decision. It's going to be incredible! So Sweet E's party theme pays homage to them, and the amazing adventure that awaits us.

Now, let's talk about the party details!

The Outfit
I purchased a safari dress for Sweet E from Etsy. Please excuse where I blurred out her name.

Look at that cute little ruffle bottom! Could you just stay this small and sweet for a little longer, baby?

The Decorations
We kept it fairly simple and budget-friendly, using green streamers and craft paper that we already had on hand to create jungle vines. We also purchased cheap safari hats for each of our young guests, and wrapped them with animal print ribbon from the craft store.

The high chair for the birthday girl, containing animal print balloons and a banner!

Add a stuffed animal with a cute safari hat nearby...

And a clever welcome sign on the front door!

The Food
All food labels came free from Printable Treats, and they just fit the theme perfectly!

First up, The Watering Hole water bottles!


And one of our favorite drinks at Disney World comes from Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, called Jungle Juice. It is made from equal parts passion fruit juice, orange juice and guava juice and is SO good. It also goes by the name POG juice at other Disney restaurants. So we served up a great big bowl of that as well!

Crocodile Eggs.

Tiger Tails.

And we cut up a large sub to look like a giant snake! I think it came out awesome!

Lion Hummus. We also dumped a bunch of pretzel thins around the carrots once this was served.

A spinach salad we called Giraffe Food.

We also served up some Buffalo (chicken) Dip. A favorite snack when hosting.

It's not the greatest picture, but here is Grub. Some slivered up hot dogs meant to look like worms, which we warmed in the crock-pot for the kids.

And I don't have a pic of the chocolate fondue, but here is the dipper part of our Mud Bath food. We dipped pound cake, bananas and strawberries into a yummy chocolate fondue!

The Activities

Giant Coloring Page

I printed a coloring page at Staples that was 3'x4' and it was the best thing ever! What a simple party activity for kids of all ages! Before sending it in to be printed, I added a little birthday message to the top of the coloring page.

It was such a great thing for kids (and adults!) to do throughout the party. They even left personal birthday greetings around the border of the coloring page. We hung it up in Sweet E's room after the party, and she loves to point out all the animals!

Animal Tail Stomp

We had extra animal print balloons, and tied a string to them with a clothespin at the end. The kids each got a balloon tail, and had to pop everyone else's! The person with their tail still in tact at the end was the winner!

It was a wild scene!

Jungle Vine Limbo

A classic game, we made a limbo stick out of twisted craft paper. The kids had a blast!

Safari Scavenger Hunt

This was the big activity of the day! I created a checklist in Photoshop Elements, and printed one for each kid.

Then we hid that number of animals outside in the yard.

Unfortunately it was a rainy day, but that didn't stop us! It just made it a bigger adventure! My husband made ponchos out of garbage bags, and the kids went out on safari! They searched high and low for all the animals!

They had SO MUCH FUN. I think the rain made it even more exciting for them.

Photo Op
I made a collection of photo op props in Photoshop Elements, and attached them to skewers. Isn't it just the cutest? These just scream Disney Safari party!

For the photo, I purchased a cardboard jeep on Amazon, and created a jungle backdrop behind it.

Here's Honey Pot giving it a whirl.

And later, Little M&M joined her. All the kids (and even some adults!) enjoyed posing for funny photos throughout the party. We got some great pics!

Party Favors
I kept the party favors simple this year, with some assorted animal print items I found at party stores and on Amazon. The animal print sunglasses, though, were a favorite with all the kids! Super cute!

Hope you enjoyed our Disney Safari Party! We had a blast!