Lemon Tarts Play Dough

I haven’t posted much about our sensory play lately. We’ve spent the past several months mostly stuck inside due to the weather – sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow (for this area at least). We are still doing lots of sensory play, but it hasn’t been terribly original or ground breaking. This activity turned out cute enough to share, though: Lemon Tarts!

 

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I whipped up a quick batch of lemonade scented play dough using my basic recipe (read more here) then turned the kids loose with various kitchen implements that Grace got for Christmas to use in her play kitchen. Plus glitter – there is ALWAYS glitter around here! The bowl full of lemons was just sitting there for inspiration.

Lemon Tart Play Dough at Gabi Sunshine

Aren’t these tiny tart pans the cutest?

We continue to use the play dough, but the glitter is a one-time thing. I put it away after our first use. By then the glitter is worked all the way through the dough and more just means more mess for cleaning up. These girls never get tired of playing Bakery. Every time the play dough comes out, they ask for tart pans or cake pans plus a handful of tooth picks and craft sticks for candles. It’s been their go-to game for about 5 months now.

In case you didn’t know, play dough is a great activity for developing hand strength and fine motor skills. I can tie a lot of learning in without any pressure. I offer simple ideas to direct their play in ways that work on the target skill. We used this activity to practice making balls and putting them on sticks – also known as cake pops! This reinforces shape knowledge, hand strength, and lots of coordination to actually make the balls, line them up, and get them on the stick in the middle without pushing too far.

Lemon Tart Play Dough at Gabi Sunshine

What are you playing this long, snowy winter? Without sensory play, I know we’d be going CRAZY by now!

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Crafting the Christmas Story

For the past several years, I’ve been somewhat disillusioned about Christmas. I’m sure you’ve heard it – “Christmas is for kids.” Whether that’s true or not, it’s how I’ve felt. After getting married and having Grace, we’ve waffled back and forth on what role we want Christmas to have in our family. I’m sure it’ll be an annual conversation, but for this year we wanted to focus in on the Bible story and actually celebrate!

Which sent me into the crazy twilight zone that is Pinterest, where I was promptly overwhelmed. I thought about combining a little of this; doing a little of that; modifying the creepy elf thing; calenders, paper chains, oh my! And then a friend pointed me to Truth in the Tinsel. It’s like the best parts of what I was trying to create, except already created! (which was good, since it was already December 3 at this point).

Every day, there’s a short Bible story focusing in on one aspect of the Incarnation – Christ coming to earth as a man. Each scripture passage is used at least 2 days to really drive it home. Then, there is a simple ornament craft to help you remember that element of the story. We collected the ornaments on a small 3′ tree I call our “touch tree” – Grace can’t touch the big tree so I redirect her to the little one to play with as she pleases.

new tree

It was such a blessing to share this experience with our friends who join us 3 days a week. The big girls get each other all excited as we do the Bible story. They each remember different parts of it so by the end of each lesson we’ve covered all of it. Even the little guy happily joined us as we sang various Christmas carols – Joy to the World is the smash hit of 2013! I love how every time we reviewed, they knew exactly what each symbol on our calendar meant and how it pointed to Jesus. Same with each ornament. For the calendar, the green square symbols are included with the ebook. My husband made the number circles in PSE. The board was a hideous painting that I covered with wrapping paper. I may post a quick tutorial later this week.

calendar

And what did we make? A mess, mostly, of paint and glitter and straw and yarn. Fuzzies from cut pipe cleaners. Broken crayons. And lots of lovely memories! We didn’t get to every ornament this year, partly due to scheduling and partly due to ages (1.5, 2.5, 3.5 years old), but I have every intention of doing the program again in 2014. And then the little hands will be better equipped to tackle some of the ornaments. All the same, I’m super thrilled with our collection! 12 out of 24 ornaments isn’t bad, and we actually hit about 16 of the lessons through combining.

ornament collage copyFrom left to right: Row 1 – The sun; a crown; Mary and Joseph; Row 2 – a CD (for Mary’s song in Luke 1); 3 wise men; zzz (Joseph dreams of Gabriel), a candle; Row 3 – The angel Gabriel; the stable; a sheep; Bottom middle – Baby Jesus in the manger

Now that Christmas is over, I’m a little torn about not having an activity and a lesson all laid out each day. I may keep some of them up in Grace’s room as decorations. One thing I won’t miss though – glitter all over everything! (Though I did see something on the author’s blog of Truth in the Tinsel that she’s got a non-seasonal lesson guide… so we might be right back at it again soon!)