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So naturally I brought out the Ancient Egypt Toob (purchased on sale a few months before) and we started talking about the figures. A few days later I picked up this book from a friend and it has been John’s choice of bedtime reading (both with me and on his own) for a few weeks.
John is particularly fascinated by the pyramids at Giza, mummies, and King Tut. He’s happy to bend anyone’s ear on pyramid building and mummy making (about 30 seconds after the babysitter arrived one night, he had the book out and was telling her all about the momma mummy and baby mummy he had found!).
After memorizing the names of the pyramids and their relative sizes, John started in on memorizing and classifying various Egyptian gods and tomb contents and working on matching and sorting activities from this awesome printable pack. Next we’ll be moving on to this pack. It’s a bit old for John, with me doing the reading and skipping the writing parts, he’ll love it.
John was bummed we couldn’t make a real mummy (he thought we could mummify Anthony, but I nixed that idea), so we followed the directions in this tutorial to mummify an orange. We made an incision in Orange Tut’s abdomen, pulled out his guts (someone ate a few of those tasty guts), cleaned out the abdomen with alcohol, rubbed it with aromatic spices (someone ate some spices too!), and set our bodies in a mixture of salt and baking soda and wrapped our guts with the same mixture for later transfer to canopic jars. We’ll keep checking Orange Tut’s mummification process, which should take about two weeks.
As long as his interest holds, we’ll move on to pyramid building and papyrus making next week.
Now that both boys are obsessed with Peso, the medic from “Octonauts”, and Anthony has developed a mysterious love of Doc McStuffins (where has he even seen that show?!), I thought I’d surprise them with a vet’s office set-up.
Playdough to Plato provided some adorable printable vet name tags and check-up check lists, I made some quick bandages and gauze wraps out of felt, printed and laminated some x-rays for our cardboard “x-ray machine”, and gathered our doctor kits and a few stuffed animals and we were ready to go!
Easy to set up and both boys love it! Anthony has been carrying his bandages around all day and John has bandaged, immunized, and otherwise healed many a fuzzy friend (and family member). Amazing to see how rearranging some toys and adding a few props can prompt so much fun play!
This box is magical. Simply magical.
After the icy snowstorm of death that bore down on Memphis kept us inside for a few days (with brief forays out to frolic in the city-paralyzing snow), John picked this box off the shelf and the magic began.
A bag of neon puffballs, dustpan, silver tray, mini muffin tin, a bag of plastic eggs, and a few random containers and spoons have sparked hours of play.
Since then, they each go back to the box a few times a day to make muffins, “bake” them on the bookshelf, and serve them to each other and to me.
John even balances bowls of muffins on a tray, waiter-style! The boys play together and negotiate who gets which bowl and how many muffins, who gets to bake them, and who serves them.
One box provides so many skills: spooning puff balls, sorting them by color, pouring them, practicing one-to-one correspondence with the muffin tin, and learning some valuable life skills with the dustpan. Fine motor skills, math, cooperation, practical life–all while playing together quietly. Magical.
I’m sensing a theme here…
Paper towel tubes cut in half, painters tape, and less than 10 minutes = giant marble maze!
The boys love marbles–the clink of marbles tumbling into glass and the plunk of marbles on floors are music to their ears (if not always to mine!). Serving Pink Lemonade‘s adorable pictures of her marble run inspired by this one at Made by Joel looked too fun and easy not to try. The giant Costco-size cereal box I found in my craft cupboard was extra stiff and worked perfectly. 10 minutes or so with a box cutter, tape, scissors, and hot glue gun produced a sturdy, compact marble run.
As soon as I brought out the dollar-store gumball machine full of marbles and the marble run, both boys practically vibrated with excitement, jockeying to dump more and more marbles down the run.
A paper funnel solved the problem of out-of-control marbles from cups of marbles being poured into a tiny hole and the empty sand table helped contain them further and gave Anthony a place to pour marbles from cup to cup while John monopolized the run.
The math on two boys and one marble run didn’t add up to one harmonious afternoon. It was go big or get out of the house: one mega-size diaper box later, we had a giant marble run, complete with toilet paper entry tube.
As the marble frenzy continued, John experimented with catching the marbles in various cups and containers as they exited the bottom of the run, counting how many he caught in each cup. The boys played with the runs for about 40 minutes, until John got hungry for dinner and followed me into the kitchen. Anthony stayed behind for a few minutes, reveling in having the runs to himself, and couldn’t resist bringing some marbles to the table to pour from one cup to the other while waiting for his pizza to cool.
Super easy and super fun! Set-up to playtime was worthwhile, even for one afternoon of play. They’ll be easy to store, and the boys keep coming back to to play for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. I can’t wait to try a more involved marble run with moveable tubes!
I saw this fast and easy DIY giant block puzzle and thought it would be a perfect quick idea to liven up our winter afternoon. Set-up was easy—roll of paper, crayon, some soft foam blocks, and masking tape. 7 minutes max, including a hunt for the ever-elusive roll of tape.
Make that closer to 10 minutes, since I had a helper who was more interested in peeling off tape and cutting it into various lengths than in tracing the shapes or matching them. He wanted a pencil to help me trace shapes–he never actually got to trace anything; sharpening the pencils was just too fun (and required a fire-fighter’s uniform). Not quite on-task, but some fine-motor skills practice anyway!
John wasn’t interested in the puzzle, but it did ignite interest in building with the blocks, a toy that usually gathers dust.
Anthony didn’t discover the puzzle on his own, despite the inviting bin of brightly colored blocks right next to the huge paper, so I asked him to come play with me and placed a few blocks myself. Anthony spent five minutes or so matching the shapes, occasionally surprising me (he placed the small yellow cylinder in the inner “doughnut hole” section of the square on the top left of the paper, where it would go in the 3-D piece, instead of on the small circle I traced and was more interested in matching the shapes than lining up the blocks to match the outlines).
When I traced a new shape, he lost all interest in matching blocks and wanted to “trace” blocks too.
Good idea to practice shapes and easy to set up, but it didn’t hold my boys’ attention (John: 4 yrs & 4 mo, Anthony: 2 years & 3 mo) for long. I did get to practice shapes and colors with Anthony for a few minutes and it did spark an interest in building and blocks!