Saturday, 30 March 2013

Take-Anywhere: Art Bag

When I was single, I used to travel a lot for work.  I found it handy to have a ready-travel kit of toiletries and make-up that I never had to pack/unpack.  When I became a mom, I had a baby-products version of that.

And now that I have a preschooler, I also have an art-bag version of that.

It has gotten Ladybug Girl through long waits, restaurant meals, and adults-only get-togethers without whipping out the iPad all the time - that tends to turn her into a zombie at the table.

Happily busy in the airport waiting lounge...

... and at a restaurant, waiting for the food...

... or waiting for a wedding to start.

It first started as a travel busy-bag, but since it worked so well I bring the same kit around for such emergencies.  Ok, truthfully it means I just hate unpacking - so it's long overdue for some downsizing for normal pasyal.

Here's a rundown of what's always inside:
These never get unpacked, only replenished.
Update: though at one point, it got a major downgrade.

With these simple materials, Ladybug Girl's fine motor gets some practice, and best of all, her imagination goes wild:

I don't know what this is but she spent a long time cutting, folding, gluing, and coloring it.
We have dozens of variations of this, and she enjoys this kind of open-ended play the most.

Impromptu world map made to follow her interest in the "Continents Song".
She memorized them all in that plane ride!

Playing beginner tic-tac-toe with her cousin with washi tape and price stickers. 
Here's a round-up of our washi tape play here.

The same materials, made into a 3D zoo while all the adults were busy.

There are other things on rotation in the bag because they don't get as much action.  
Such as:

Melissa and Doug 'Paint with Water' sheets + a paintbrush
(This was at a church pew!)

Workbooks are a hit-or-miss (they are definitely not my favorite kind of play)
Crayola mosaic sticker activities - after just one trip she lost patience interest.

Soft-cover books are a cheap godsend - now these get a lot of action.
Adorably brilliant Taro Gomo doodle placemats gifted by her Ninang.
I'll save these for when she's a better drawer since she's not so interested yet.

I love that the adults get in on the action, too.

Here's her favorite Tito Santi hunkering down with her zoo as the adults finished lunch.
He's a little too good if you ask me.  That lion and bat are insane.

Of course I am told that a sibling would be another solution that would work just as well.

Sibling.. Art Bag.. Sibling.. Art Bag...?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Leave-Behind: Beginner Tracing Tray

The Montessori classroom uses tracing work for fine motor control in preparation for handwriting.  They have what they call "metal insets" like these:

There are a series of activities where the child either traces around the shape or traces inside the frame.

I seriously think this is ingenious.  In Ladybug Girl's former traditional-skewed toddler school (why I switched here), these were the kind of beginning writing exercises she would do:

Dotted-line tracing could be fine if fine motor control isn't a challenge for my little lefty.
Otherwise,  it's not very effective is it?

Adding tracing work at home seemed like a good idea, but how to create leave-behind activities that would be fun and intuitive for Ladybug Girl to do on her "own" while I was at work?  The last thing I wanted was to create negative pressure on her already tricky learning style since she would already shy away from writing.  

As an experiment, I left this tray setup on her play shelf:

I hoped she would have more coloring fun with it, since I left out all the pencils : but hey she still did it!
The stencil is the cover of a pattern block set from Fundamentals toy store.

I pushed my luck by leaving behind this example for a couple of days.  No stripes.
Better luck next time.

Next: in one of my early garage sales, I let go of those interlocking alphabet rubber mats that were given as a baby present.  I kept one pop-out letter though: the first letter of her name.  We've done some other fun things with it, but here's how we used it for fun tracing practice:

Day 1: Trace with a pencil (I went over it with a black pen afterwards but maybe she could have done this)
Day 2: Leave out colored pencils for art and fine motor practice.  She painted antennae to match the letter.

Her yaya encouraged her to color a little each day, until she finally finished and we could hang it up in her art gallery space:

These pencils are watercolor pencils, so next we'll brush some water on top to turn it into a watercolor painting.
For now I love seeing those pencil scratches she worked on.

Some weeks ago, I found what could be a DIY-metal inset in the form of a baby puzzle.   This is going to debut on her shelf as soon as I think of something fun.
Wish I found this sooner when Ladybug Girl was still a baby.  Would've been a nice lifespan for a toy.
Puzzle from Mothercare, Php500+

Update: here's the tray.  I kept it simple, and the next day she was so excited to show me her work.

We have origami paper handy (from National Bookstore or Muji) and she intuitively matched the colors.

  As for the tracing worksheets, they'll just have to wait till we're good and ready. 


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Play Spaces: Ladybug Girl's Art Gallery

Art had become such a regular part of our play by the time Ladybug Girl turned three, that I needed to find space for displaying her work.

Back then the only real estate we had left in her room were her closet doors.

I hung up some framed book covers and clipboards for a changeable art display. 

With the closets upgrade project last December, that no longer became option.  I didn't really have a plan, but I freed up more wall space via moving the mirror on the wall to make room for a low play shelf.  That would leave room above for an art gallery.

I'm talking about the space on the right

I repurposed these frames I used to display Ladybug Girl book prints as decor for my Ladybug Girl's birthday celebration last year.

I still loved the clipboard trick, so I just put both ideas together and used what I had on-hand:

I used 3M picture hangers so this was pretty quick to set up

Someday I may get two more clipboards for those empty frames, but I kind of like the clothes-line art display.  Here's what it looks like with a week's worth of art:

It's been a month, and it's working really well!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Last-Minute Snack Assignment

Last-minute solutions have been the story of my life - and the last day of school was no exception.  Luckily what my domestic skills lack, my corporate spin skills compensate for.

Two days before school ended, we got a memo asking for extra snacks to be shared for the last breaktime of the school year.  No junk food allowed.

I contemplated repeating my solution last year:

Instant snack : Mary Grace ensaymadas are universal!

But frankly I was too pooped to park and run to Serendra after work.  
And so this was Plan B:

Awesome Guy picked this up for a total of Php 400.  Cheaper too!

Lastly, a little packaging detail.

Believe it or not, the pretty paper is on-hand: leftover from my DIY wedding place cards years ago.

And just like that, it all suddenly looks like something planned.
(*fist bump* for all working moms!)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Our Light Table = Bedtime Play Without Disrupting Bedtime

We hadn't played with our DIY light table for months.  But it sits nicely on our playroom shelf, waiting.

Waiting... waiting... waiting on the bottom right of our shelf.

Until a few weeks ago, when I got home from the office to find Ladybug Girl all excited for her best friend's birthday the next day at school.  She had made this:

She was very proud of her "present"
(good thing I took a picture of this in the morning : she really did bring it school the next day!)

She immediately asked for the light table and I didn't know why.  Until she did this:

What a lovely way to appreciate her special kind of art.

Art is all about process when it comes to kids, but we ooh-ed and aah-ed over each detail.

And then a few nights ago, we caught a bug and brought out our handy light table again to inspect it.

We couldn't figure out what kind of bug it was

She got her Cat-in-the-Hat book "Oh Beyond Bugs" but she couldn't find it.

Even her daddy had no clue.

She built a home a tried to draw the bug while mommy went on a google search.

After some time, we finally googled the right clues to lead to this:

The ENSIGN WASP : it doesn't sting and it eats cockroach eggs!  Coooool.

We let it go soon because our light table was becoming too hot.  Ladybug Girl willingly let it go after welcoming it warmly into our home.  

"Welcome, Ensign Wasp!  Goodbye, see you around!"

And just as before, Ladybug Girl is trained to take yellow lights as her downtime routine.  That's why our nighttime play with the light table is a painless transition to bed without getting all wound up (at this point, if I switch on the white overhead lights she reminds me that it's not the right time for them).

Best of all, these nights become special memories of spontaneous play together, even after mommy's office day.  Sometimes it takes a little preparation to be spontaneous!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Display-Worthy Art Supplies

Still channeling the summer with this tiny home organization upgrade.  

Can you guess what this is?

It's Ladybug Girl's colored sand supplies.

For fun with sand ideas, head to the round-up here.

You can see how random it all was, depending on the containers I had available.

Empty finger paint tubes, spice and food coloring bottles, moon sand squeeze bottles, even hotel shampoo bottles.

Last December I bought one of those magnetic-backed circles for use as storage for ribbon, pompoms, stickers and other small art supplies .  But that didn't work out because the caps were not screw-on/off ones.

Not very kid-friendly to get the lids off.

Luckily I spied these holes which gave me an idea: 

sprinkle or pour : the perfect lightweight colored sand container

Long story short:

Her little outdoor play nook looks so much more inviting - for both of us.

And those colors are so yummy.  Bring on the summer!