For Damien’s 1st birthday party, I decided I would try to include some homemade items in the goody bags to his friends. Having some experience doing crafts with Aiden and making both boys several toys and games inspired by Pinterest (check out my boards for the extent of my addiction), I felt confident I could come up with something! To add to the challenge, I wanted to make something that would be interesting for both the babies (+/- 1 year) as well as the older siblings (age 3+).
I decided to make a sensory / discovery bottle (closed bottles that contain pretty much anything that moves, shines or makes noise!) that made use of sand we already had (that went with our beach theme) and created an I Spy-like game inspired by our Curious George Discovery Beach game. And voila!
Treasure Discovery Bottle and Game
I filled the bottles with sand and a variety of items I picked up at the dollar store including gems, beach-themed confetti items, beads in bright colours, bells, other trinkets. I attempted to find a variety of items that could be spotted in the bottles but which came in a variety of colours.
The cards feature most items in the bottles, and you can be creative on your cards to expand the game:
- Name and draw the item
- Have “any item” cards that illustrate items that come in a variety of colours. In my game, I had fish in a variety of colours, so I wrote “any fish” and to win the card, the player had to find any colour
- Have “any colour” cards that could refer to multiple objects. An “any blue” card in my pile could refer to a blue bead or to a blue gem, for example
The game I supplied in my gift bags included about 15 cards, though you could easily expand this based on what you decide to put in your treasure bottles.
The more sand you add to the bottle, the harder it will be to find the items, so you could vary the challenge in the game. I left the bottles with only half sand, since that made the bottles lighter for the babies who only care about picking them up to roll or shake them!
Treasure Discovery Bottle Game Instructions:
- Select a card, youngest player first
- Shake the bottle, then look for the item. If you can’t see it, the next player takes a turn. If you can see it, keep the card in your pile and select a new card for your turn.
- Take turns, one shake per turn, until all items have been found
- The winner has the most found items
All of a sudden, Aiden has become obsessed with drawing and arts and crafts in general. He never had the patience to draw or paint, but once he learned how to draw the “A for Aiden,” there was really no stopping him. It took a while before he had the interest to learn how, but once he did, he was SO proud. After that, it was only a matter of days before he was attempting his whole name. Once he mastered the “N”, which he was less confident in, he had the confidence to try any letter.
For the most part, Aiden is writing his letters without any guidance. We have told him how to write a few of them, but mostly he thinks of the letter and just writes it. It’s been astounding.
With his newfound confidence, Aiden has also begun drawing pictures, including the elephant above. He started with monsters that he would cut from paper (he LOVES to cut paper): he would cut out the monster, add an eye and mouth line on each side of the paper, then cut out a series of legs à la caterpillars. He moved on from monsters to things like the sun, trees, and clouds. He’s now drawing animals of various sorts, or cool things like a volcano with lava in them.
Art has become something that Aiden can do when he “doesn’t know what to play with,” which has been an issue with him for months. I think he’s often overwhelmed with the amount of attention that Damien gets, and it makes it hard for him to play. During these times, he goes to his little craft table and happily puts together a card or a picture or something from his activity book. It’s been fantastic for his confidence and for his ability to regain his independence.
As I mentioned, Aiden really got into the Christmas craft thing. Actually, I think Christmas helped Aiden get into crafts overall, as his interest in crafts has increased since the holidays. Although Aiden still does not enjoy drawing or painting, almost never initiating these activities even when prompted, he does enjoy guided activities or activities with props: stickers, glitter glue, cutting, gluing, etc. We made many crafts of his own initiative including a huge variety of sticker-adorned Christmas trees and candy canes – he did a lot of practice with his scissors in cutting them out (with a little guided help turning the paper)!
In addition to the activities he led, I put together some crafts that I saw on Pinterest. If you look to my Christmas board, you’ll see the instructions for some of the crafts below… and MANY more you can make for next year! I made several of the handprint snowmen ornaments as gift-toppers – though Aiden’s only contribution was the handprint. Still, quite cute. The beading was good for his fine motor skills and he seemed to quite enjoy it. The fingerprint stamping made his fingers dirty, which he isn’t fond of, so it was a mixed-result one for us. Stamping in general, however, was a big win and we sent out MANY cards with stamps.
Aiden actually did a card exchange with his friends this year, sending out about a dozen cards and creating several more for family / neighbours / teachers. He still asks to make people cards! I did not think he would enjoy this at all, since he doesn’t like to draw, but he found other ways to decorate that were more his style.
This is our second year building a gingerbread set. Last year we made a gingerbread house and realized, too late, that we should have read the packaging. The house had to be assembled and left for several hours to set, which was difficult for a toddler to sit through. This year, I bought a gingerbread train which, though it’s recommended to let set, can really be decorated right away.
Set on the EZ Build Tray, the train has enough support to be decorated while the icing dries. The same company also makes houses, so I’d be interested to know if the houses of this brand can also be decorated right away.
The icing was nice and thick, with plenty to spare (um, eat), so we had a lot of fun sticking on the candies. My only beef with the set is that all of the candies are hard candies (or gum). I would have preferred a mix of hard and soft/gummy-like candies. I like the gummy candies because the sugar adds a nice shimmer.
All in all, it made for a fun half hour. :)
I was having a bit of a rough day yesterday, compounded by a baby who wasn’t keen on taking a long nap and a 3-year-old whose ‘quiet time’ consisted of watching a movie and asking questions about it every 30 seconds. I was quite drained, so I opened up my Pinterest boards and began looking for some inspiration.
Christmas is one of my favourite times of year because it gives me a reason to make meaningful crafts – crafts that we can keep and use year to year as ornaments or give away as presents. I love crafts, though Aiden is only just beginning to warm up to them. Giving him a defined craft or project is always easier to grab his attention, so we sat down and began a few different ornaments, then went to the fridge for some gingerbread dough (thanks Whole Foods) and rolled out some cookies.
If you would like some inspiration for your difficult days, check out some of my Pinterest boards!