What We’ve Been Up To

I realized that I haven’t done a real “what we’ve been doing” kind of post up since mid-October. So, without further ado, here’s what the girls and I have been up to!

Let’s start with the end of October and November. These were some of our fall activities!

Fall wreaths. Dirt pudding. Thanksgiving “thankful turkeys”. Pine cone bird feeders.

Next up is December. These are some of our Christmas activities. We spent a good portion of December at my other nanny family’s house since his school was closed for the holiday, so we didn’t do as many arts and crafts things as we typically do, and somehow I didn’t take as many pictures of what we did do as I usually do.

Gingerbread house. Christmas presents for their parents.

Here’s some of the other activities we’ve done to keep us busy during the brutally cold days we’ve had.

Baking soda and vinegar science project. Bounce house. Kinetic sand. Microwave play dough. Making snow in our sensory bin.

I try to do one outing or one bigger project (art, science, working on math, writing, etc) each day. We still don’t watch TV or have any screen time (with the exception of the very few sick days, and even then it’s limited to one show). Occasionally, I let the girls have more of a free play type day where I don’t necessarily structure something, but we still have a schedule we follow which I’ll elaborate on in another post.



The girls and I have been enjoying a special project these past few weeks – Caterpillars! It’s one of my favorite activities to do with kids, and I’ve been counting down the months until I could do it with the girls. Had Spring actually shown up in March when it should have, we probably could have done it earlier. But oh well, we did it now!

I ordered through Insect Lore who was running a special where we got two cups of caterpillars, the habitat, and a few other things, for an awesome price. The caterpillars are contained in a little cup and you don’t have to do anything with them (except look) until they make their chrysalises.

At first I was a little disappointed because the caterpillars were a tiny bit bigger than the last time I got them (for my old preschool class) but it ended up not being that big of a deal and they still stayed as caterpillars for a while.

E taking a close look at her caterpillars

After around 2 weeks more or less as caterpillars, they crawl to the top and make their chrysalises (yes, they are chrysalises. The Very Hungry Caterpillar book is wrong. Caterpillars who turn into moths make cocoons. Caterpillars who turn into butterflies make chrysalises. I really wish they would fix it!)

The caterpillars beginning to make their chrysalises

Once they have made their chrysalises you need to move them to their habitat. Open the lid of the cup and carefully take out the paper that they’re attached to. Use a safety pin (or a paperclip) to attach them to the side, about half way up the habitat (wait until ALL the caterpillars are completely finished making them. You have at least 7 days until they come out as butterflies). If one falls, gently put it in the bottom of the habitat. It should be okay. [Check out my Instagram for a short video of a caterpillar in a chrysalis showing off it’s natural defense mechanism]

Butterfly watch 2014

Within 7 to 14 days, the butterflies will begin to emerge. It’s really a fascinating thing to watch! Unfortunately the girls were napping when the butterflies came out, so they weren’t able to watch it, but I did record a great video to show them that I’ll add at the end of this post!

Freshly out, still needing to spread it’s wings

Once they’re out, they need some time to spread their wings and let them dry. You may notice some red stuff coming from them and on their habitat. It’s not blood, it’s actually meconium. Yup, it’s poop.

Spreading it’s wings to dry them

You can either keep them for a few days (be sure to feed them) or let them go on a sunny or overcast (but not rainy day) after their wings have had time to dry (at least two hours after coming out of their chrysalises).

Honestly, I was pretty nervous they would die if we didn’t let them go soon after they came out. 5 came out one day, and then the other 5 the next. We let the first 5 go the same day they came out and the next 5 stayed overnight (due to rain) and then we freed them the day after.

The girls had a blast and were able to hold them for a few minutes before they flew away. They LOVED it!

Setting them free!

Through this activity, the girls learned a ton! We talked about the life cycle of a caterpillar, they learned a new word – metamorphosis, we talked about how caterpillars don’t grow like we do, so they shed their exoskeleton (the girls even wanted to hold it, so once we moved the chrysalises to the habitat, I let them hold some), etc. They were always very excited to watch the caterpillars and asked questions about what they were doing. I think this will definitely be a repeated special project!

Here’s the video of the butterfly coming out of its chrysalis! [Keep your eye on the chrysalis on the right. It’s a little hard to notice what’s happening at first. It will help to make the video bigger if you can!]


Clean Painting and Color Mixing

Ever wanted to let your child paint but didn’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning up the paintbrushes, their hands, their clothes, the table, etc? That’s how I felt today. It was creeping up on lunch time, but I wanted to do an activity with the girls. I knew if I let them paint the regular way lunch would be insanely late and more than likely I’d have two cranky-because-they’re-hungry toddlers on my hands while I cleaned up. No thanks. I have done a variation of no mess painting before with two year olds but not with young toddlers. With the two year olds, I taped two pieces of wax paper together with paint in the middle. I knew the girls would be a bit rougher with whatever material I used to contain the paint. Plus we’re still working on understanding “gentle” so I couldn’t really tell them to be easier on it like I could with the two year olds. In the end I decided on using plastic baggies.
I put red and yellow paint in one baggie and yellow and blue in the other (one color in each bottom corner). I gently squeezed the air out without mixing the colors, closed it up, and then taped over the seal to make sure it wasn’t going to open. {Masking tape or painters tape would probably be your best option. I’m not sure how well scotch tape would hold up} I decided instead of putting it flat on a table, I’d tape it to a glass door instead. It was nice and sunny out {sadly still too cold and windy to play outside and really enjoy the sunshine} so it was perfect!
The girls loved it! We talked about the colors in each bag, and eventually as the colors mixed, we talked about what colors they were making. E mainly stayed in front of the bag she initially walked up to, while M got super giggly and would squeeze her bag and then toddle on over to E’s, squeeze it, and then run back to hers. They were both pretty excited. M is so used to having paint up to her elbows each time she paints that I saw her checking her hand – probably wondering why it was paint free – on more than one occasion.
E ended up ripping a small hole in her bag. It was a really easy fix. I just pulled down that bag, put it into another bag (with the seal sticking out the top since it wouldn’t fit in and lay flat because of the tape) and then taped the seals of the bags together to keep the old bag from wadding up in the bottom of the new one as they pressed and squeezed. Then taped it back up to the door. Problem solved!
No, you don’t get any artwork you can really save, but if you wanted to, you could always put a piece of paper in the bag {use less paint} and take it out to dry when they’re finished painting with the bag. This was more of a toddler-friendly science experiment – a way for the girls to really see how blue and yellow make green or how yellow and red make orange and something they could do on their own. We’re definitely entering into the “I want to do it on my own” stage with the girls, so the more things I can do with them that allows them to assert their independence, the better.
I left the baggies up while we ate lunch and while the girls napped and then we came back to them later in the day. Still some interest, but not as much as earlier in the day. Overall, this is a fun activity to do with toddlers!