Sand Art Sticker Boards

Sand art board all done
Sand art board all done

I discovered this Pocahontas sand art set the other day. I’ve never seen any sand art sticker boards before so I was a little dubious of the stickiness of the board. I’ve done color and paint by numbers before and this looked fun like them so we decided to give it a shot. This is definitely a parent-toddler-together project.

Pocahontas sand art
Pocahontas sand art

The Pocahontas set came with 4 5×7 pictures. Sophia chose the one of Meeko to do first.

pocahontas sand art

In the instructions it says you can peel one section at a time and sand it or peel all of the same number to do them all at once. We went with the later option for all except the large blue area we uncovered one side at a time. I got the bigger stickers a little pulled up and then Sophia peeled them off. The small stickers I peeled off.

Peeling off the stickers
Peeling off the stickers

First you have to match up the sand colors to the color guide with the kit. I would recommend having several edged cookie sheets to work on top of. We poured the sand we were working with in to a cup and used a small spoon to scoop and pour on to the spot we were working on.

Scooping little sand at a time
Scooping little sand at a time
Working on getting the sand in the sticker parts
Working on getting the sand in the sticker parts
First color done!
First color done!

TIP: While working we discovered a bit later that the easiest way is to have a piece of paper underneath your project because some sand will go over the edges of the project. It’s easier to funnel the sand off the paper into the cup vs trying to do the same with the cookie sheet.

Instructions say touching the sticky glue with your hands will make it less sticky so we tried hard not to accidentally stick our fingers in them. This is why I did the biggest part (blue) in two sections (you can see in the picture below that the left half of sky is still stickered).

On to the blue
On to the blue

TIP: It’s easier to push the sand to the edges of the picture than try to pour the sand on the edge.

Spreading the blue
Spreading the blue

It’s ok to overlap the sand colors once one color is done

Gray sand placed on
Gray sand placed on
After shaking off the excess
After shaking off the excess

This set came with small bags to put the opened sand in when you move to the next color. To pour the sand in the little bags Sophia held them open and I used a piece of paper folded twice as a funnel to guide the sand from the cup into the bag.

Meeko sand art board finished
Meeko sand art board finished

We had so much fun doing this project together! We can’t wait to find the time to do the next one. I’m very pleased as to how this turned out the board was perfectly sticky. We framed it so we can enjoy it for a long time (and since it’s behind glass I don’t have to worry about sand falling off from Sophia touching it all the time).

Teach Your Monster to Read

I just recently discovered this amazing FREE website: Teach Your Monster to Read. I had been hesitating on trying it out since I didn’t want Sophia using my laptop but a wireless mouse was the perfect solution. I set up Sophia’s account which took a few minutes.

Teach your monster to read
Teach your monster to read

You get to pick from 3 different learning levels, which is fantastic. I was so happy we could skip over learning the alphabet sounds portion since Sophia already knows it and would have got bored with it very quickly.

unlocked letter sounds
Sophia’s unlocked letter sounds

She started on the second level and has been having a blast with it. She has played it several times and has learned about these letter sounds so far: ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee.

tricky words
tricky words

She’s also learning and practicing non-decodable words like: he, she, the, to, we, me, be, was, no, go. It is even working on reading comprehension of short sentences.

Here are pictures of few of the different types of games you get to pick from.

Space game
Space game
save the bear game
save the bear game
balloon game
balloon game

Try it out Teach Your Monster to Read and see if it is for you. It’s free after all πŸ™‚

Product Review: Leapfrog DVDs

The Letter Factory
The Letter Factory

Sophia learned her alphabet and the sounds they make when she was 2. That was all thanks to the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD. It’s is such a great show. It has a catchy song and it is very entertaining.

The Letter Factory
The Letter Factory

When she was two she loved it so much she wanted to watch nothing else. She’s nearly 4 and we still watch it every once in a while to reinforce what she learned (she asks for it herself).

There are other DVDs in this series as well.

The Talking Words Factory
The Talking Words Factory
The Talking Words Factory
The Talking Words Factory

Our other favorites are the Talking Words Factory which is great for learning about how words are put together, and Math Circus which is a great intro to counting 1-10 and by tens to one hundred and addition and subtraction.

The Math Circus
The Math Circus
The Math Circus
The Math Circus

I highly recommend any of these DVD’s to parents. If your kids are going to have screen time you might as well make it count πŸ™‚

Color Books Recommended (baby to elementary school)

I don’t know about you guys but I’m always on the lookout for awesome books about color. I love vivid brilliant colors and beautiful pictures. You can never have too many colors books(… or books of any kind actually πŸ˜‰ ).

My favorite colors books from 9 months to 8+
My favorite colors books from 9 months to 8+ years

Here are my top 5 favorites I’ve found for a range of ages from baby to elementary school. I’m not an Usborne consultant (in case you wondered.) I just really love a lot of their large fantastic variety of non-fiction books (which I have had a really hard time finding for my non-fiction lover before I found Usborne) as well as their fiction ones too.

Usborne Baby's very first touchy-feely Colors Play book
Usborne Baby’s very first touchy-feely Colors Play book

First up is the Usborne Baby’s Very First Touchy-feely Colors Play Book. I love this one so much for many reasons.

Usborne Baby's very first touchy-feely Colors Play book
Usborne Baby’s very first touchy-feely Colors Play book

I love that there are a bunch of things to feel and do. There are cut outs, textures, finger trails and flaps to play with. I love the vibrant colors and illustrations on each of the pages. This book is age rated for nine months and up. This book and other play books similar to this for sale here https://t4783.myubam.com/252093.

Usborne Baby's very first touchy-feely Colors Play book
Usborne Baby’s very first touchy-feely Colors Play book

Second, is a book by DK publishing called My First Colors let’s learn them all.

My First Colors Let's learn them all!
My First Colors Let’s learn them all!

This book features bright vibrant colors and real pictures of objects. This is a fantastic vocabulary building book for toddlers.

My First Colors Let's learn them all!
My First Colors Let’s learn them all!

I love that this book goes beyond the typical colors and has silver, gold, and multi colored included.

My First Colors Let's learn them all!
My First Colors Let’s learn them all!

It’s a sturdy board book that will hold up well. It has tabbed corners that are great for little fingers finding their favorite pages. This book is available through Target.com as well as Amazon.com

My First Colors Let's learn them all!
My First Colors Let’s learn them all!
The Usborne Big Book of Colors
The Usborne Big Book of Colors

Third, is Usborne’s The Usborne Big Book of Colors. I think this is fantastic for older kids that have mastered the basic colors.

The Usborne Big Book of Colors
The Usborne Big Book of Colors

I absolutely LOVE that this book goes into shades of colors, naming them like magenta, turquoise, lime green, saffron, etc so it has tons of fabulous new vocabulary.

The Usborne Big Book of Colors
The Usborne Big Book of Colors

This one is recommended for age 2 and up. The pages are thinner board, so still sturdy yet slightly flexible.

The Usborne Big Book of Colors
The Usborne Big Book of Colors

Two special features this book has are a color wheel you can spin (not super sturdy, pictured in the first picture of this book above) and an acetate page where you can see color mixing (shown below).

I love that this book shows color mixing as well as moods and meanings of colors. Plus each color page has fun facts too. This book is available here https://t4783.myubam.com/252093

The Usborne Big Book of Colors
The Usborne Big Book of Colors

Fourth up is Usborne Lift the Flap Colors.

Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors
Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors

It is recommended for age 4 and up, however I think it would be fabulous for younger kids as well for building vocabulary, learning counting, and small motor skills with the flaps. The games and activities of this book are geared for pre-k.

Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors
Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors

I think this is a great early reader book. Flap books are very engaging and create a hands on learning experience which promotes decision making and critical thinking skills. This book is available here https://t4783.myubam.com/252093

Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors
Usborne Lift-the-flap Colors

Last up, is The Usborne Art Book about Color.

The Usborne Art Book about Color
The Usborne Art Book about Color

This book is rated for age 8+. It begins with a history of how paint has developed.

The Usborne Art Book about Color
The Usborne Art Book about Color

It then goes on to explain how colors are used to achieve desired effects. Then finishes with how our eyes actually see color. I love all the art in this book. I only took pictures of some of the pages (it has 48). This book is available here https://t4783.myubam.com/252093

The Usborne Art Book about Color
The Usborne Art Book about Color

Easy Fast Cheap Easter Bunny Craft (sun catcher)

I found this at Hobby Lobby on sale for 40% off. I picked it up since I always have my eye out for simple fast in-expensive crafts.

Easter Craft kit
Easter Craft kit

I was a bit surprised that what I had thought was a paint brush was actually a plastic pick.

Easter Craft kit came with a pick not a brush
Easter Craft kit came with a pick not a brush
Testing out a new method of painting
Testing out a new method of painting

It’s always fun to explore new things and ways to paint.

I set up painting projects in trays to contain potential messes.

TIP: Have wet wipes handy for easy clean up

Fun painting
Fun painting

Sophia’s finished Easter Bunny.

Easter Bunny all painted
Easter Bunny all painted

Perler Beads for a toddler?

Sophia and I made a perler bead fish
Sophia and I made a perler bead fish

The recommended age for perler beads are 6+ according to the packages you buy at the store. However, I feel that in a supervised setting toddlers can benefit greatly from practicing with them. It is great for fine motor, hand eye coordination, concentration, and following directions. Also, it provides for great talks about color, patterns and provides opportunities for learning new vocabulary.

Perler beads
Perler beads

We did this fish together as she wouldn’t have the patience to do one by herself.

I would recommend to do this in a tray of some sort as the beads do roll away easily. We love doing projects like these in her highchair πŸ™‚

Pure concentration
Pure concentration

She’d knock some over and I would just comment about it being OK and I’d knock some over too. I felt that this is a good way to show her that it’s not bad and not to get frustrated when some fall over.

We just went with random colors (no set pattern)
We just went with random colors (no set pattern)

She learned a great technique of flipping the fallen ones back up on to the pegs all by herself by just experimenting. (I was working on the tail, the rest were hers.)

Almost there
Almost there
The finishing touches
The finishing touches

 

All done
All done

I didn’t let Sophia assist in the ironing process, since she had just spent a lot of time concentrating on the project. I felt that her attention span would be too short to be safe for her work with the hot iron.

All ironed
All ironed
Added a string to hang it up
Added a string to hang it up

Dinosaur matching game FREE (3 part Montessori cards)

I discovered this free print out for a dinosaur matching game, 3 part Montessori cards.

Matching the names
Matching the names

I personally love dinosaurs and was fascinated by them growing up. I wanted to introduce more dinosaurs to my daughter and this was perfect.

Fun new matching game!
Fun new matching game!

Sophia loves to do matching games and this has different options on what to match, which I love and so did she when I introduced this game to her this morning.

All I did was made a free log in for the website Teachers Pay Teachers, link for it here. Then after you log in you can print out the free ones or purchase ones if you wish. They have Spanish card sets as well for free.

I printed them, cut them out and “laminated” them in contact paper.

Matching the names
Matching the names

After a few times of playing by looking for a matching picture Sophia wanted me to ask her to find them by name only, and she would find the two matching pictures. She got most of them right with out me showing which dinosaur I called out.

She loved this game so much that I already have printed out a marsupial and a vegetable set also. I just need to cut and laminate them as well. There is a free template for the three part Montessori cards so you can make your own too if you wish.

Product Review: Coloring Paint Sets

Coloring Paint Sets
Coloring Paint Sets

My to go to for a quick, fun, cheap, easy to set up activity is the $1 coloring paint sets. They come with a paintbrush, two pictures to paint and 6 different paints to choose from.

Coloring Paint Set -Frozen
Coloring Paint Set -Frozen

I’ve found them at the Dollar section at Target and also at The Dollar Tree. I found that the ones from The Dollar Tree have been in better shape, meaning the paints haven’t been dried out. A few of the Target ones have had one of the 6 colors be dry and not usable.

TIP: Only open one paint color at a time
TIP: Only open one paint color at a time

I always have Sophia use a new brush for each of the 6 colors so the colors in the container don’t get mixed up.

Β TIP: Only open one paint color at a time for easy clean up and minimal mess.

Coloring Paint Set -Mickey and Minnie Halloween
Coloring Paint Set -Mickey and Minnie Halloween

TIP: You should have paint left over after the 2 paintings, that you could save for future painting projects.

Finished painting Anna and Olaf
Finished painting Anna and Olaf

They are always a big hit with Sophia. She loves to paint them πŸ™‚

Product Review: Leapfrog LeapReader for a toddler?

I get asked about the Leapreader a lot by parents of toddlers. I do want to make it clear that I don’t get any kind of endorsement from Leapfrog.
1.5 Year old playing with the LeapReader
1.5 Year old playing with the LeapReader

Sophia has the Leapreader. She received it for Christmas last year when she was 1.5 years old. It was from her grandparents so I knew nothing about it when she got it. The package said 4-8 years and I was a bit nervous that Sophia would break it. It came with a demo book and the pen and Sophia was having a blast with it right away, everything she poked at said something or played a short tune.

Trying out headphones with it for our up coming  plane ride
Trying out headphones with it for our up coming plane ride
I went to buy a few books for it and found I had a lot to learn. I was all excited when I found Minnie Mouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates books until I realized they were for the Leapreader Jr and wouldn’t work. I considered purchasing the Jr but decided that Sophia would out grow it soon and got some Disney Princess books instead. I would still make the same decision a year later.
Princess Rapunzel doing a bit of Leap Reading :)
Princess Rapunzel doing a bit of Leap Reading πŸ™‚
How it works:
You will need to download and set up Leapfrog Connect to your computer. When you get a new book you will need to plug the Reader into your computer and download the audio file for that book. The downloads take maybe 30 seconds per book, depending on your internet speed of course. Unplug and it’s ready to go, pretty simple if you follow the instructions it comes with.
LeapReading first thing in the morning
LeapReading first thing in the morning
LeapReader VS LeapReader JR
  • LeapReader and Leapreader Jr books are not interchangeable.
  • The LeapReader holds a ton of books, music, and trivia. I’m told that the Leapreader JR only holds the audio for up to 4 books at a time.Β 
  • The JR reader pen is shaped like a puppy
United States Interactive map
United States Interactive map
LeapReader VS Tag
  • Tag and LeapReader are not the same thing.
  • Some of the Tag books will work with the LeapReader. If you see the audio file for it in the Leapfrog Connect then the Tag book will work with the LeapReader for that book.
Tag and Tag Jr are the older outdated versions. All the LeapReader books I’ve seen being sold say “works with Tag” and I’m not sure when they plan on not adding the audio of the new books to the older version. I’ve considered getting a Tag reader when it’s been bundled with other books I’ve been looking at getting on ebay or craigslist but so far I haven’t done so. Most books I’ve wanted to get for Sophia are available for the LeapReader.
Monster math
Monster math
LeapReader for a toddler?
It depends on the toddler since it is for older kids it’s more delicate and definitely needs supervision a lot in the beginning.
If your child is good at handling paper pages with out ripping them then I would say they are a good candidate for the regular LeapReader.
Most toddlers won’t be doing the games and understanding all the concepts in the books. Sophia loves them for the stories and the character interactions. We do have the Get Ready for Kindergarten book and she does like playing with the alphabet and counting things. Other than new vocabulary I feel that she hasn’t specifically learned anything from them so far. Mostly they just help reinforce previously learned things, like the alphabet and letter sounds. She really mostly uses it for entertainment.
If you want something that they can do by themselves with out supervision then the Leapreader JR would be the better choice.
Learning the letter sounds
Learning the letter sounds
We have not tested out any of the writing books (you use the pen on special tracing paper). I don’t think Sophia is ready for those yet.
TIP: ToysRUs has Black Friday 2014 sale for the regular LeapReader. They have the reading system with the pen for $29.99 and $7.49 for all the books.

UPDATE:
Incase anyone is looking Walmart has the LeapReader on their pre-black-friday sale for $29.00 now through next Thursday. Get the sales prices with out the crowds of Black Friday!