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19

Dec

Today’s Toddler Exploration was The Most Wonderful Time!  We had five great stations:  1)  You be the Cookie Cutter (Play-Doh, cookie cutters, rolling pin, and a cookie sheet…this was, without question, the most popular station today)  2)  Hung with Care (felt stockings, a “fireplace”, a bit of yarn strung across, and clothespins)  3)  Trim It!  (felt tree and ornaments for decorating)  4)  Ribbons and Bows (slatted shelves and ribbons for weaving…no one enjoyed this except one child’s mother told me she found it soothing)  5)  Dashing Through (beads, jingle bells, pipe cleaners for making bracelets or ornaments)

This was my last Toddler Exploration (I’m moving to a new library) so I’m glad it was such a fun one.  We had a great time!

18

Oct

Yesterday’s Toddler Exploration’s theme was Let’s Get Spooky.  I was back to five games (as opposed to four when we did bubbles) and I found myself struggling a little find the fifth game…so I ended up with a printable shape-matching game that I kind of hated.  The others, though, were great and everyone seemed to enjoy them. 

We had a bean bag toss game with a jack o’lantern (one of those foam ones but very easy to carve and I just made his mouth huge…I’ll reuse him next week for my spooky candlelight storytime), a jack o’lantern feltboard that I called Jack O’Lantern Makeover.  I just created two felt pumpkins and cut several shapes out of black with which to make faces.  One kid did an incredible jack in the style of Pablo Picasso!  For fine motor skills, we did object sorting using a spoon (little plastic pumpkins, acorns, and leaves I found at Target…they were labelled “table scatter” whatever that means) and tweezing with chopsticks to place spider rings onto sticks.  Those were, by far, the most popular.  Finally, the aforementioned shape game that was destroyed by program’s end…but not really from overuse!

15

Aug

Today’s Toddler Exploration was “Bubble Bonanza”.  We had four activities.  Bubble Expressions - blow (with a straw) into soapy water and paint then lay a piece of paper over the tray to make a print.  Human Bubble - I filled a swimming pool with long-lasting bubbles (water, dish soap, corn syrup) and kids could use hula hoops to make a bubble around themselves.  Make it Snake - a cup with a piece of fabric stretched over the end and dipped into soapy water to make a “bubble snake.”  Suds n Such - literally just a bucket filled with bubbly water and wands.  This proved to be the most popular of all the activities.

As you can see, we did this activity outside (to the left of the building) in a nice shady spot.  The weather was perfect and we really did have a pretty big turnout.  Mostly, the kids just made a big mess and blew some bubbles (not one human bubble or bubble print was created).  Still, I think they had a great time and, since it was outside, no one seemed to mind getting super messy. 

I find that nearly every time I do this activity, the kids surprise me by finding new ways to play with the things I’ve set up.  There was lots of camaraderie today so that was fun to watch, too. 

18

Jul

Today’s Toddler Exploration was “We All Scream for Ice Cream!” in honor of National Ice Cream Day on July 15th (just a little behind).  So, I have to admit that I phoned a few of these activities in because the big project was making actual ice cream.  So, we had a color matching game printable, a memory game printable, a fine motor exercise with a scoop, pom-poms and some plastic cones, and a big sensory bin that I filled with ice cream shaped objects, pom-poms, spoons, scoops, and shredded paper.  

To make the actual ice cream, we put ice and salt in a gallon zipper bag.  Then, we put 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 tbs sugar, and 1/4 tsp vanilla in a sandwich-size zipper bag.  The smaller bag goes down inside the larger and we shake (like crazy!) for five minutes.  Everyone got some ice cream (and I provided sprinkles, too) and it was a hit!

24

May

We had a visit from the local Montessori school this morning.  We split them into two groups (pre-school and elementary ages).  While one group toured the building and checked out books, the other group played these “MathMagical” games in the conference room.  Here’s what we had today:

3-D Shapes Matching (a picture of a 3-D shape on one side of the page, a list of names on the other and they drew a line to connect them)

Puzzle Ball Mania (one of our SLC prizes are these puzzle balls.  They were incredibly popular and someone was always playing with them, but they are hard!)

Pattern Perfection (they could recreate patterns in egg cartons based on pictures I created in Publisher…they used dyed pasta and pom-poms to make the patterns)

Measure it in Steps (I put down tape lines last night and gave each one a letter.  Students were given a sheet with those same letters and they could record how many steps long each piece of tape was)

Tangrams

You’re the Architect (I put out the cups for the younger kids and LEGOs for the older kids but the older kids really preferred the cups and built and knocked them down all morning)

Coverall (a dice game that requires the players to use math to race to color in squares…if you Google this game, all the info will come up!)

Card Pick Up (similar to Coverall but with cards rather than dice)

20

May

Last week’s Toddler Exploration. The theme was “How Does Your Garden Grow?” The stations included: The Big Dig Up (wooden fruits and veg planted in a pot of black beans…I provided shovels for digging up and an empty watering can for maintaining the crops). This one was mostly fun for them to take handfuls of beans out of the bin and throw them onto the floor! Counting Crops (10 baby food jars, a pot of dry black beans, and a toy tractor…the idea was to use the tractor to move the grains into each bin with the correct number of grains in its corresponding bin). Again, mostly just a lot of bean throwing. The tractor was a hit! Mother & Child Reunion (a set of cards with pictures of adult animals and corresponding baby animals on them for matching). Plant a Letter (large letters with a pot of dry kidney beans…the idea was to outline the shape of the letter using the beans). Seed Sort (egg cartons with a different seed/bean in each little bin and a large pot of a mixture of beans…here, they were supposed to sort each kind of bean/seed into its correct bin).

This was, without a doubt, my messiest Toddler Ex. so far! Those beans were EVERYWHERE. However, we had a great turnout and it was so much fun!

21

Mar

Today was Toddler Exploration for March.  Toddler Ex is a sensory play time we offer as an alternative to traditional storytimes.  Originally, it was conceived as a place for children on the autism spectrum.  However, it has sort of just become a monthly toddler play time in general.  We don’t get a huge number of patrons for this one, but today the turn out wasn’t bad.  The theme was “Spring Into Fun” and I designed five stations:  Flower Arranging, Pick Up Plastic Eggs with Tongs, Put a Prize Inside a Plastic Egg, Sort Flowers by Color, and Match Butterflies (I have more clever names in the photos).  For the most part, I used plastic Easter eggs from Dollar Tree, some leftover plastic frogs we had in the back, silk flowers I filched from old display arrangements, and I printed the butterflies on card stock and then cut them out myself.  Easy peasy.

02

Mar

The first set of photos from Dr. Seuss’s Birthday Party.  After much online searching and some bright ideas, I came up with some games, crafts, and general fun-time stuff to do.  It was definitely a success since 109 people showed up (an absolute blow-out for us here…also, it was Seuss’s 109th birthday, so I take it as a sign).

The second set of photos from Dr. Seuss’s Birthday Party.

07

Jan

This penguin puppet is super, duper easy and I decided that despite the plethora of templates out there for such a puppet, none met my personal needs. So, using Auto Shapes again (we’re bff’s now), I created the shapes and printed them in color. Kids cut them out and glued them to paper bags. Done and done.