Painting wine glasses with a toddler!!

Sounds scary right? But it’s not since they don’t hold on to the glass. We had so much fun with this one! We did three different sets of glasses for Christmas presents this year. Below I’ll show you two of the 3 we did, a “Frozen” set and a “Deer” set. These could be modified for all other occasions as well, from graduation, weddings, birthdays, and even Valentines day.

Finished "deer" glasses
Finished “deer” glasses

What you will need:

    • A pair of glasses ( I got ours at the Dollar Tree)
    • Paint brushes
    • Cup with water for setting dirty paint brushes in
    • Wet wipes (for easy clean up)
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Paper towel
    • Dish soap
    • A few Q-tips
    • Shaped foil stickers
    • Oven
    • Painters tape
    • Razor knife
    • Acrylic paint made for glass painting. I used these:

Plaid:Craft Martha Stewart Pearl & Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint Set-10 Colors

First, wash the glasses with dish soap and dry them well.

Second, tape the parts you don’t want paint on. I chose to tape off the stem of the glass and the rim.

Tape overlap did not line up
Tape overlap did not line up

Press the edge of the tape on tight so the paint won’t be able to seep under it.

TIP: the easiest way I found to tape the top rim is to hold the tape in one hand and slowly spin the stem so it just barely sticks to it. This was the best way I got the tape to stay at the same height around the rim.

TIP: If it doesn’t line up totally like in the picture above then use the sharp razor blade knife to trim it to your liking.

Put the glasses next to each other to line up the tape about the same height
Put the glasses next to each other to line up the tape about the same height

Put the glasses next to each other, to line up the tape on the second glass, to get the two to be about the same height.

After taping take a piece of paper towel and put some rubbing alcohol on it and wipe the area you will be painting. You want to make sure it’s totally clean or the paint wont stick as well and may chip off.

Different shaped foil stickers
Different shaped foil stickers

You want to use shaped foil stickers.

TIP: Notice that you will only see the outline of the sticker after you remove it from the glass. So if you look at the Santa stickers above, if I had used them when removing the stickers they would have only look like random blobs πŸ™‚

Stickers placed and ready to paint
Stickers placed and ready to paint

After cleaning your glasses place your stickers on as desired.

Ready to paint the "Frozen" glasses
Ready to paint the “Frozen” glasses

I would recommend sticking with two complimentary colors for painting with a toddler. For the “Frozen” glasses I chose two shades of blue.

Excited to paint!
Excited to paint!

For the “Deer” glasses I chose a green and blue paint.

Pure concentration
Pure concentration
Painting the "targets"
Painting the “targets”

It helps to tell your toddler to paint the “targets” (the stickers). You want to make sure that all sides of the stickers are covered in paint or their shapes won’t show up when removed.

Painting the "targets"
Painting the “targets”

When she got tired of one color I let her move on to the next. I didn’t wait for the paint to dry in between but allowed them to get mixed up.

Painted the "Frozen" glasses
Painted the “Frozen” glasses
All painted and ready to peel off stickers and tape.
All painted and ready to peel off stickers and tape.

Once they are painted, don’t allow the paint to completely dry before peeling the stickers and tape off (if it dries completely the paint may peel off with them). I pretty much started peeling the one that was painted first as soon as the second one was done with and I had Sophia cleaned off.

Very carefully peel the stickers off trying not to scratch off the paint around them.

What happens when you don't test the stickers first
What happens when you don’t test the stickers first

I didn’t think about how hard the snowflake stickers would be to peel off and they came off in tiny pieces, as you see above.

When you have them all peeled off, take your Q-tips and dip it in rubbing alcohol and wipe off the sticker residue and undesired paint that may have smeared on to the shapes left by the stickers.

Baking "Frozen" glasses
Baking “Frozen” glasses

Once you have the glasses cleaned off to your liking, follow the instructions on your paint for baking them. The Martha Stewart paint curing instructions said to place the glasses in a cold oven, heat the oven to 350F and bake 30 min and then leave in the oven until the oven has cooled off on it’s own. After that the glasses are finished, ready to use and top rack dishwasher safe.

"Frozen" glasses finished!
“Frozen” glasses finished!
Finished "deer" glasses
Finished “deer” glasses

(I have tissue in them so you can see the designs)

Gingerbread Cookies and Houses!

Decorated gingerbread house
Decorated gingerbread house

What better to do while counting down the days to Christmas than do some baking. My mom, Mummo (Grandma in Finnish), really wanted to make a gingerbread house with Sophia this year.

Rolling out gingerbread dough
Rolling out gingerbread dough

There are many different ways to make gingerbread houses but this recipe is fairly close to what Mummo makes. For recipe click here. If you want to make the yard and all the trees and animals then double the recipe.

Cutting out cookies while Mummo cuts out the gingerbread house parts
Cutting out cookies while Mummo cuts out the gingerbread house parts

Sophia used cookie cutters to make some cookies while Mummo cut out the gingerbread house pieces.

Tasting the cookie dough
Tasting the cookie dough

The best part of baking is taste testing πŸ™‚

Bake the house pieces and cookies as the recipe states. After the pieces are cooled off you can glue the pieces together.

Mummo glued together and decorated the house a bit
Mummo glued together and decorated the house a bit

Mummo used melted sugar to glue the house together. She also did a bit of pre-decorating of the house pieces.

So excited to decorate and taste it all
So excited to decorate and taste it all

Decorating with candied cherries, candies, sprinkles, and icing. Use the icing to “glue” the decorations on.

Placing green and red cherries on
Placing green and red cherries on
Eating a cherry
Eating a cherry

Of course it’s important to taste all the decorations πŸ™‚

Decorated gingerbread house
Decorated gingerbread house

Sophia’s and Mummo’s finished gingerbread house.

TIP: You can even dust it with powdered sugar for a light snow effect.

Decorated gingerbread house
Decorated gingerbread house

Painting fabric!

Painted fabric!
Painted fabric!

This is so much fun! It’s all about the process and experimenting with paint and new textures.

What you will need:

  • White cotton fabric. (TIP: You could use pre-made napkins if you wanted to)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Cups (for watering down paints)
  • Regular paint brushes
  • Foam brushes
  • Packaging tape
  • Wax table cloth (the paint will go through the fabric and on to the surface below it) Or something else to protect your table
  • A cup with water for setting dirty paint brushes in
  • Wet wipes (for easy clean up)
Painting acrylics on fabric
Painting acrylics on fabric

Set up:

Cut a piece of fabric to a manageable size, this is about 12″x18″. Then tape down the 4 corners to the work surface.

Since I have 4 foam brushes, it made sense to me to dilute 4 different colors for Sophia to use. So in a cup squirt a dime size amount of paint and then add about 1/4 cup of water and stir together to mix the paint into the water. You can add more paint if you want the color to be more vivid.

Repeat until you have several cups of diluted paints.

Have all the supplies in easy reach and you are ready to let your little one experiment and paint.

Toddler abstract art in process
Toddler abstract art in process

The process:

Start with undiluted acrylics, and let your little one decide the colors and how much they want to paint on. We use regular paintbrushes for the undiluted acrylics. These will show up the best and be the most vivid in the end result.

Diluted paints spread easier and will soak through the fabric
Diluted paints spread easier and will soak through the fabric

Once your little one has decided they are done painting with the non-diluted paints, move on to the diluted ones. Use the foam brushes for easy painting.

Painting watered-down acrylics on fabric
Painting watered-down acrylics on fabric

Sophia was amazed to see the paint “grow”, as she called it. πŸ™‚

You will want to cover all of the fabric piece with the diluted paints, even in the corners you have covered with the tape. For the corners theΒ  paint will spread under the tape and it will release itself off the fabric once its wet. Remove the tape and allow to dry.

Allow to dry completely.

If you chose to make napkins this is where you need to follow an extra step of heat setting your paint.

 

Painted fabric!
Painted fabric!

Counting down to Christmas! Book a day and Elf on the Shelf (modified version)

The fun of counting down to Christmas, with a book advent mailbox and Snowflake the Elf
The fun of counting down to Christmas, with a book advent mailbox and Snowflake the Elf

Instead of doing the traditional advent calendars I really liked the idea of getting a book a day instead. I saw an idea posted about (not able to relocate it now :/ ) where you wrap 25 books and have them in a basket and have your child pick a new one every night before bed. Well that concept, I felt, was a bit complex for a 1.5 year old so instead I crafted this mail box (with the help of my dad) last year. Every morning she would wake up and go get her mailbox and bring it to our bed and she’d unwrap the book and we would read it as a family in bed. She would check the mailbox after her naps too but to her disappointment the books only manifested in there in the mornings πŸ™‚

25 Christmas themed books ready for Christmas count down!
25 Christmas themed books ready for Christmas count down!

I chose to do all Christmas and winter themed books. You could do any topics that interest your children.

Next year I think I will pick through all our most favorite Christmas books and re-wrap them and only get a few new ones to add to the bunch. I don’t need to end up with hundreds of random Christmas books after all. πŸ˜‰

Snowflake the Elf all ready for morning for Sophia to find her
Snowflake the Elf all ready for morning for Sophia to find her

We also started Elf on the Shelf last year with Sophia. She named her elf Snowflake. We are doing a modified version of Elf on the Shelf and sticking with only part of the story. For us she tells Santa about all the good things Sophia does but not the bad. We don’t focus on any negativity with her, shes just for fun. We move her to a new location every night for Sophia to find. We did keep her up high and out of reach last year as we didn’t think she’d remember not to touch her… she might be staying high up this year too.

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!

Seashell Sensory Treasures

Sensory Play Seashell boat
Sensory Play Seashell boat

This is one of my favorite sensory activities. It is a fantastic way to build new vocabulary, learn about opposites, and textures. It is fun and constructive and works on fine motor skills, building and balancing as well as imaginative play.

We went to the beach and we found a lot sea shells and even a few coral pieces and cool rocks. We brought them home and I cleaned them off.

What you will need:

Assorted seashells, rocks, corals

Seashells drying off
Seashells drying off

There are many things you can talk about. We love to compare two shells at a time and find similarities and differences.

Sensory Play Itty bitty seashell
Sensory Play Itty bitty seashell

We talk about and feel for all these things:

ridges, holes, spirals, lines, stripes, smoothness, roughness, bigger, smaller, longer, shorter, rounder, thick, thin, rock, shell, coral, dark, light, shiny, sparkly, and all the colors we can find in the shells.

Sensory Play Seashell Sorting
Sensory Play Seashell Sorting

We talk about which ones we like more and why, and pick new favorites each time. We try to come up with as many different descriptive words that we can.

They can be used for sorting too.

Also, the shells can be used in imaginative play. Below Sophia is building a cave and hiding her “seashell friends”, Princess Sofia, and and Princess Amber from Princess Ivy (She is totally in love and obsessed with the new book Sofia the First Curse of Princess Ivy) πŸ™‚

Seashell Imaginative play building a cave
Seashell Imaginative play building a cave

Shelf Liner (Contact Paper) Magazine Cutout Collage

Shelf Liner Collage Finished
Shelf Liner Collage Finished

I had a big pile of magazines ready to go in the recycle bin and decided I would cut out all the fun pictures I could find. Once I had cut out all the ones I liked, it came to me to see what Sophia would make with them and this is how her first collage came to be. Tip: If your child is working on scissor skills or has mastered them then I would suggest including them in on the fun.

What you will need:

-Pictures from magazines

-Clear Shelf liner (Contact paper) several feet long

-Tape (I prefer Packaging tape but regular clear scotch tape would work fine too)

-Scissors

Shelf Liner Collage Invite to Play
Shelf Liner Collage Invite to Play

To set it up you will want to cut two same size pieces of shelf liner. Peel one of the pieces and tape the corners of it on to your table, so it will stay put. Place the backing paper under the liner so your child will be able to see where it is located. Tip: I cut it in half before sliding it underneath for easier maneuvering.

Shelf Liner Collage
Shelf Liner Collage

I positioned the bigger pictures to the top of the pile for Sophia to pick from first. Tip: talk about all the different pictures, this is great way to learn new vocabulary

Shelf Liner Collage Fun
Shelf Liner Collage Fun

Once she had most of the areas covered I removed the larger ones so she could put the smaller pictures in the sticky parts remaining. Tip: Allow the creative process, Sophia put pictures upside down, on top of other pictures, even over the edges and that’s ok πŸ™‚

Shelf Liner Collage Finished
Shelf Liner Collage Finished

After it is all done take the other shelf liner piece and peel the backing off and line it up over as close to the other piece as possible. Remove the collage from your table and fold over or cut off the tape pieces. The parts shelf liner that didn’t line up I just used tape to cover them (so there wasn’t anymore sticky parts).

Hang it up for everyone to enjoy.