Archives for November 2012

Handprints and Footprints

Aside from finger painting, the other art/craft activity I do with babies and toddlers are handprint and footprint crafts. I pretty much do these only for gifts or special occasions because like I said in the other post, I believe all art projects with kids should be just that – art, not a craft like these since they don’t really get much out of it. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff you can do with their handprints and footprints. Here’s a few I’ve done recently and in the past with the girls (in no particular order).

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Winter coats and Car Seat Safety

With it getting chilly outside, there’s something all parents, caregivers, and anyone who will have a child in a car seat in their car should know. When you put a child in a winter coat and then strap them into a car seat, you are actually creating an unsafe situation. During an accident, the coat will compress which in turn means the straps will be a lot looser than they should be. This could cause the child to get seriously injured or even possibly ejected from the seat. It’s somewhat hard to explain (or maybe I’m just not doing the best job!) so I’ve included a video (not made by me) that explains it much better.
Hopefully, after watching that video, you understand what I was trying to say. Also, check your owners manual for your car seat. Almost always (and if they don’t, they certainly should), they specify to remove or not use bulky clothing in a car seat. The easiest way to avoid this is to find a different option to keep your child warm in the car during the winter months. Here’s a few suggestions:

1. Start the car and warm it up before putting your child in.
2. Use a blanket on top of the child AFTER they are strapped in (so that nothing is under the straps or behind the child’s back)
3. Use a Car Seat Poncho – I have seen these personally demonstrated and they are SUCH a great idea and easy to use.
4. Put the jacket on backwards AFTER the child is strapped in (so the arms are in the sleeves, but it’s not behind them)
5. Use a polar fleece jacket. This material is known for its warmth but without the bulk that would cause loose straps when compressed.

    Here’s a few links that may be helpful as well.
             Winter Coats and Car Seats – This is an article with details from a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)
         Forum Posting – This is a forum posting with pictures demonstrating how loose straps can get.
         What Every Caregiver Should Know – This is a Yahoo article with more details. 
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    Fun with Leaves

    Even though lately it’s felt like Winter here, with the temperatures dipping into the 30’s after the sun goes down, it’s still technically Fall so I’ve been trying to give the girls more fall things to experience. Since the girls are too young for some good old fashioned leaf pile jumping (not to mention I wouldn’t want them eating leaves), I decided to find a safer alternative. I found pre-cut fabric leaves at the Dollar Store. While the girls were playing with toys, I quietly opened the packages and dumped them on the floor. I called their names and immediately upon seeing the new “stuff” on the floor, they crawled right over. E was a bit more hesitant (as she always is), but M jumped right in and started picking up the leaves and manipulating them in her hands. After a minute or so, E joined in. 

    We had a blast with them. The first few minutes were spent simply picking them up, manipulating them, dropping them, and picking them back up. Then the next chunk of time was spent crawling through them, turning around, and crawling back through them. I then started to throw them in the air. The girls got huge smiles on their faces as the leaves slowly fell back down, with some even landing on them! Surprisingly, there where very few attempts to put the leaves in their mouths.
    If you don’t want to go out on a search for fabric leaves, you can make your own “leaves” out of a paper bag. This was more of an accidental discovery on my part. It was too chilly to go outside and I didn’t have anything really planned for that day. After brainstorming and remembering this viral video, I decided to go get a paper bag and let the girls rip it. Neither girl was particularly interested at first, so I let them continue what they were doing and eventually both came over. M was into it the most, letting out a short giggle each time I ripped a piece of it. She ended up sitting on the bag and pulling the strips I had torn, which caused them to rip more, which she loved. In the end, we ended up with a bunch of paper strips. I put them all in a pile and let the girls play, much like we did with the Leaves. As a bonus, these “leaves” are recyclable! 
    As always, this is an activity where you want to closely monitor your child to make sure they don’t eat any of the materials.
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    Pumpkin Guts and Spider Webs

    Happy Halloween (almost a week late…) The girls had such a good Halloween. They dressed up as cupcakes, and were in a little neighborhood parade. Too cute!

    I decided instead of opening up the pumpkin I had bought and bringing the guts in, I’d open up the pumpkins that they painted in front of them so they could see where the guts and seeds came from. I put them in their high chairs a few feet from the table and cut the pumpkins open on the table. I gave them the stem first and then a few spoonfuls of guts and seeds.

    Talk about a fun activity! The girls LOVED it. They played in them for quite a while. They loved manipulating the seeds around on their highchair trays as well as pulling apart the stringy parts of the pumpkin guts. I narrated what they were feeling while they played with the guts and seeds – “what does it feel like? Is it slippery? It’s pretty stringy too. Look! Your hands are turning orange from the orange pumpkin!” and so on. Remember, babies need to be talked to about everything. They don’t know what “slippery” means until they’re able to feel it and it’s up to you to tell them what they’re feeling is slippery.

    I’ve done this with many groups of kids, as young as 7 or 8 months and all have loved it. The older kids I’ve done this with don’t mind getting their hands messy and sorting seeds from the guts. We’d then roast the seeds and let them try them. The orange from the pumpkin will turn clothes orange, so be prepared to wash clothes or put them in a shirt you don’t mind messing up.

    We also made a spiderweb painting. The girls painted with white paint on black paper. When they were dry, I drew a simple spiderweb on each. This was a super easy and quick project.

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