Busy Bag Swap

I recently hosted a Busy Bag Swap with some local Chicago moms.  It was a hit.  For those of you unfamiliar with the busy bag concept, it is an activity for your little one that is usually contained in a single bag.  It is great for travel and easy to store.

If you are interested in hosting a Busy Bag Swap here is how I hosted mine.

I first started with my Busy Bag Swap invitation which read:

I have seen these great busy bag swaps and want in on the action. What I am proposing is each mom makes 15 of the same busy bags to swap and we will all have lunch together! Bring your little one(s), pack your lunches, and (if you would like) bring some food to share. We’ll have lunch, the kids will play and we’ll exchange our busy bags. That means you’ll leave with 15 busy bags for your toddler!

Here are some Busy Bag resources: 
http://pinterest.com/msmblog/busy-bags/

http://www.secondstorywindow.net/home/2011/10/toddler-time-busy-bag-series-part-2.html

http://planetoftheapels.blogspot.com/p/our-busy-bag-swap.html

http://unsolicitedadvice-n-such.blogspot.com/2011/07/preschool-young-k-adv-2s-young-ks-busy.html

You can also Google “Busy Bag Swap”.

Please comment and let us know what Busy Bag you’ll be bringing so we don’t have duplicates.

I then waited for local Chicago moms to sign up and share what they would bring.  I decided I contribute a color matching Paint Swatch game inspired by Shannon at Tot School.  (I will post some images about how I made mine in a later post.)

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Although I was hoping for 14 other parents to attend the swap, I got only 5.  I was disappointed and wondered if I had done something wrong in my invitation, date I decided to host it, or time of day I picked.  I decided not to dwell on that.  Instead, I changed my focus on the positive; some time with other moms, possible new friends for my little guy, and new busy bags. The moms I met were all so nice and despite the rain came.  Yay!  In the end, my little guy has a total of six new busy bags to play with.

One mom brought a Pool Noodle Lacing game that is excellent for color identification, number and counting, and motor skills.  We can thank Kirby from Planet of the Apels for this one.

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One crafty mom brought this great Popsicle Stick Color Matching game that can be found on Holli’s site Full Hands Full Hearts.

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This geometric busy bag that encourages color matching and learning about shapes was inspired by Modern Parent Messy Kid.

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Another mom, who happens to also be a teacher, brought an Exploration Bag.  Her busy bag was the only one to get us outdoors and exploring.  I can’t wait to try it out with my little guy.

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Lastly, this mom created this Color Sorting busy bag.  Full of little toys, shapes, textures, and colors it is a tool for learning and practicing color identification and sorting.  I love all the different items found in the bag and had fun sorting them for this picture.

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At 18 months old, my little guy hasn’t learned his colors.  I think he knows the color blue, but that could be me just seeing something I wish was there.  All the busy bags are great but at his current stage of development they’re still a bit advanced for him.  Tonight, I broke out the color sorting busy bag to see how he would play with it.  He ended up sorting the items in the bag not based on color but based on category.  That was a fun activity him and I did for about 20 minutes.  I would begin by putting one item on each plate and he would then sort the items.  He sat in my lap as he picked out the cars, sticks, spoons, and dinosaurs.

20130628-211752.jpgI am so grateful to the moms that put in the time and effort to make these bags.  They turned out so great and I can’t wait to break out more for my little guy to enjoy.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with other parents and at the same time gather some fun activities for your little one I encourage you to host a busy bag swap.

A summer ‘treat’

Tomorrow is my last day of this school year.  It has been a year of many wonderful new relationships with students and colleagues.

To end the year, I made these Pinspired treats for my students.  I think the final product looks great!  I am very happy with them and am excited to give them to my students tomorrow.

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The idea intention of these treats is to let my students know I have enjoyed my year with them and to wish them a great summer.  I chose colors and graphics that I thought  represented Summer.

If you are interested in making these here’s how I made them.

1. Gather your supplies.

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2. Attach the straws to the individual rice crispy treat.

DSC009443. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments and dip the individual crispy treats into the chocolate.

DSC009464. Sprinkle the rainbow sprinkles on the bar.

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5.  Allow to dry.  Now this step took a few tries before I could get it right.  At first I laid the treats on their sides to dry.

DSC00948It looked so pretty, but the sprinkles on the bars did not keep and got pushed into the chocolate.

Next, I tried to have them all propped up during the chocolate drying process.

DSC00950Again, it looked pretty up until the rice crispies got too heavy and started to fall off the straws.

Finally, I figured the best way was to lay the treats upside down.

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5.  The final steps were to individually put the bags on each rice crispy treat, then to tie a ribbon with my note that says, “Its been a real ‘treat’ being your teacher.  Have a great summer!”

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I think this project can be used for many different occasions.  I can see it for Valentines Day with a cute note that reads, “It is a ‘treat’ having you as my friend.”  I can see it for birthdays, holidays, and as thank you treats.  What do you think?  Is this as versatile as I think?

*All photographs and images were taken by and are property of yellow loves grey.  These images may not be used without the my written consent.

Alice in Wonderland Baby Shower

“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

A few weeks ago I cohosted a baby shower for my dear friends. The theme was Alice in Wonderland. We held it at a local venue, Cafe Ciao. The food, service, and atmosphere were perfect for our celebration. The Alice in Wonderland tea party theme brought a whimsical feel to the shower. Our color theme of red, turquoise, black and white tied everything together, providing a cohesive look. All the decorative elements were DIY. We DIYed the photo backdrop for our Polaroids photo station, photo props, a buffet table, diaper cake, tea bag favors, and table decor. It was a great baby shower.

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Infant and Toddler Valentines

Tomorrow will be my little guys first Valentines Day with friends. I made some easy, infant and toddler friendly Valentines to pass out to his classmates. Using a free printable I found at Secret Agent Josephine, a paper cutter, individually packed animal crackers, and some tape, I made these cute animal themed Valentines.

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The finished product looks so cute. I am excited to do this for him and his daycare buddies.

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Happy Valentines Day everyone!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Cupcakes


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For my little guy’s birthday I made cupcakes for him and his little daycare buddies.  I went with the “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” theme.  I love how it turned out.  Because his daycare group is made up of babies and toddlers, I made “baby” cupcakes using the Applesauce Spice Cake recipe from Wholesome Baby Food.  For the frosting I  followed their Banana Glaze recipe.  The cupcakes were a hit. For the cupcake toppers I used Microsoft Word, google images search “Hungry Caterpillar”, circle hole punches from Michaels, and glued each to toothpicks.

The recipes were adapted from the recipes on Wholesome Baby Food

Applesauce Spice Cake 

3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Macintosh apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9 inch square baking pan.

Beat the eggs until they drop like ribbons from the beaters. Continue beating and add the oil in a thin stream. Beat in the 1 cup applesauce and the 1 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate then mix in the flour gradually until well blended. Add the baking soda, ground ginger, ground almonds and apples. Fold together until well mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F about 40 minutes or until the cake tests clean with a knife or toothpick. Cool completely before frosting.

Banana Glaze

1/2 med. banana
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 or more c. powdered sugar

Mash banana well add lemon juice. Gradually add powdered sugar until you obtain right spreading consistency. Ice cake after completely cool.

 What did you do for your little one’s first birthday?

DIY Father’s Day Gift

Last weekend we celebrated the mister’s first Father’s Day.

To commemorate the day, my little guy and I made a special gift for him to use every Father’s Day, a special ‘Father’s Day’ plate. As you can see from the photo I used Martha Stewart paints and stamped the little guys feet while also writing a special Father’s Day message.

The idea behind the plate is that for each Father’s Day the plate will make an appearance. It will be a wonderful reminder of his first Father’s Day and of how much our little guy has grown each year.

What did you do to celebrate Father’s Day?

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DIY (Grand) Mothers Day Card

For this Mothers Day I wanted to send my mom something that celebrates her both as a mom and as a grandma.  She lives in California and hasn’t seen the little guy since he was just one month old.   I decided to make her a Mothers Day card with an imprint of his foot.

The supplies I used were 4 x 6 patterned cardstock, Tempura non-toxic paint, and a sponge brush

20120508-204701.jpgThe first step was to paint the little guy’s foot. As he lay there, I put some of the orange paint on the brush and proceeded to paint my little guy’s (cute little) foot.  I then took the card and stamped his foot.  I made sure each of his toes touched the paper to get a nice footprint.

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The final steps were to trace the foot with little guy’s name, the date the footprint was taken, and his current height and weight. I  wrote a short Mothers Day message and added an elephant sticker to the other side of the card.  All there is left is to drop it in the mail.

20120508-204742.jpgWhat Mothers Day crafts have you done?