Fine motor skills activity: egg carton buttons

   
 So I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to try it + make my own tutorial. It’s pretty easy, but a few points will make it easier!So you need:

  • an egg carton
  • two pipe cleaners
  • six buttons
  • wide grosgrain ribbon
  • wire cutters
  • candle lighter, preferably the kind that don’t blow out in the wind, they put out a very focused flame with a tiny point.

Step ONE: Cut each pipe cleaner into 3 parts. Bend in the middle and thread both ends through the holes in the button, then pull it down. If you try to do one then the other, it’s hard. Don’t ask me how I know, lol!

Step TWO: Poke two small holes in the bottom of the egg cups on one side of the carton. Thread the ends of the pipe cleaner through the holes and twist. Make sure there’s a little give on the button on the top so it’s not hard to get the ribbon buttoned onto it.

Step Three: I didn’t take a pic of this because I can’t simultaneously burn ribbon and snap pics with my cell phone. I really need another hand! So, cut your ribbon slightly longer than your carton. Burn both ends by quickly running the flame over the cut edge. Cut button holes by snipping the ribbon lengthwise about the same length as the button. Fold the ribbon lengthwise and quickly burn the cut edge before you try to button it on the button! If you attempt to button it to test your cut first, you’ll see immediate fraying. Ask me how I know ;-). Cut it too small if in doubt, you can always snip a bit more and burn again.

And that, folks, is all for today!

  

Children’s spaces: outdoors 

A couple of years ago I set up a sand and water table on my porch by putting two plastic storage bins on a bench. Fast forward to this year and two children and the desire to keep sand from being tracked in the back door all summer, and I came up with a new rendition with more space and a mud kitchen addition. 

Two weeks ago I finally landed three full-sized pallets! They’re harder to come by than you would think. 

I built a pallet wall to give this outdoor “room” a little more dimension. 

  

I put two four-foot t-posts in the ground behind the wall, and propped lawn chairs against the front of the pallets until I could get them attached. 

 I screwed a 2×4 into the top of all three pallets attaching them to each other. The fabric on the far right is my first attempt at a shade cloth with a stop cloth. It started ripping in the wind, so I need to re-engineer it, or find a different solution. 

 Then I added some smaller scrap wood to match the depth of the t-posts, and screwed a 2×4 through the scrap wood into the pallets, with the t-posts sandwiched in between.   

Disclaimer: I’ve never done this before, but it feels very sturdy! Plus I built a bench with cinderblocks and 2×4’s in front of it. 

A shot of the sand and water, very mixed and muddied. A whole fifty pound bag of playground sand (from Lowes) fits in one of these 18qt Sterilite bins from Target
A week later, most of its gone! That’s a new record, usually 3-4 bags is all we need for the whole warm season. But they don’t seem to mind. 

  
 Side view of the cinderblock bench. Four cinderblocks and four 2x4s. These are untreated, and I should probably seal them, but they also aren’t touching the ground and I know from using untreated wood for garden beds that it’ll last about 5-6 years even when it is touching the ground. 
I leveled the bottom cinderblocks so they didn’t wobble at all and attached the top cinderblocks with landscape adhesive. Then I just ran the 2x4s through the holes and was done. I used 8 foot 2×4’s and the cinder blocks are about 6 feet apart. 

 Mud kitchen on the bench I built 6 years ago from the plans in this book. It’s a little wobbly for sitting on now but works great for this.  
More Mardi Gras beads! Hung over a branch and left to be discovered :-)

Montessori-inspired children’s spaces

A friend recently asked me how I had kid spaces set up in my home. I’ve been heavily influenced by Montessori and am starting to get int Reggio Emilia as I seek ways to facilitate my children’s learning. It appears we may be accidental homeschoolers, at least for a while as the personality of my oldest and school weren’t proving compatible. I’ll blog more about that adventure as I figure it out more. I also have several boards on Pinterest dedicated to this for more pictures and inspiration.

The house setup had been evolving from my now almost 5 year olds infancy. We’ve always sought to create family spaces so that each room reflects all the people who live in this house, the exceptions being the mudroom and my husband and my room.
So here’s the bulk of our living space on the first floor of our home, complete with towels on the couch because my oldest had thrown up the morning I took these and I wasn’t taking any chances!


So to the left of the couch under the windows we have a play table and rug with toys geared more for August. That give him a place to play on his own if he chooses. Wooden blocks and magnetic wooden blocks are stored underneath the table.

We have a forward facing bookcase so they can easily see the covers of the books as pre-readers recognize books by their cover, not the words on their spines.

Behind the couch area we have a larger play table with things geared more toward Eli and things we are learning about. He is majorly into dinosaurs right now so we have a dinosaur corner. We also have a space and time corner where we are learning about how time works and all about our planet and the solar system. And there’s another rug for a bit of separate play space. On the shelf are sterility bins from Target with Duplos (large one on the bottom), Stacking pegs, and animal bin with assorted dinosaurs and other animals, and a bin with Zoob tube building pieces.

In the dino corner: Large Brachiosaurus | Triceratops (similar) | Dinosaur Evolution Poster | National Geographic Little Kid’s Big Book of Dinosaurs | 1000 Facts on Dinosaurs Book 

In the time and space corner: National Geographic Milky Way Poster | National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space | 13 Planets | Ikea Clock | Sand Timers in different time denominations | Globe from Target

Another view of the block and book area with the colors from the Rainbow Sound Blocks and the Water Blocks shining on the floor. August loves his ramp racer! Plays with it every day.

On the flip side of the teeny wall that divides the dining and living room we have this slightly messy book case with some building toys, fidgets, and a basket of mardi gras beads. Both boys love those things! And since I took these pics a week ago, I’ve already changed this shelf to include some math manipulative when Eli started trying to figure out addition and subtraction.

And then I donated the bottom two drawers of this set of drawers to toy food and kitchen stuff. Gives them drawers they can mess around in, open and close, open, close, open…

I hope this helps! More on outside spaces coming soon too. Post pics in the comments of how you’ve got your children’s spaces set up!