In the heat of the summer, we enjoyed two fun fruit and veggie focused activities - a trip to the Farmer's Market and berry picking.
Planning activities around a sports theme turned out to be more challenging than I expected. I found lots of ideas that focused on counting, sorting, patterns, and more that just weren't age appropriate for a young toddler. And maybe I just didn't know the right place to look, but books and songs were hard to come by as well. So, I made do with what I could find, and adapted some general activities to involve sports. You can read more about our activities this week below.
We started our caterpillar/butterfly day by reading Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley. This was a fun book because it feature sparkly inset colors that were fun for a toddler to feel and look at. It was also a nice bridge between and bug week because it told the story of a little caterpillar who saw lots of colorful bugs/animals/plants around him and wanted to be colorful like them. Percival got a nice surprise when he awoke from a long sleep inside his cocoon. This also fit in nicely with the butterfly craft we did today, as you'll see below.
We also read Good Night, Sweet Butterflies by Dawn Bentley, which we saved for nap time (for obvious reasons!). Again, this story was a great way to continue incorporating colors, as readers say good night to each butterfly, color by color. It was also a tactile book, with butterflies raised out of the pages to feel.
Coffee Filter Butterflies
I have been trying hard lately to choose art projects that focus on process rather than product. I'm finding that process focused crafts are more fun for my 18 month old, more "successful" (because they don't really have a definition of success), and I think they are far more beneficial for little ones than projects that involve gluing together construction paper.
Our coffee filter butterfly craft was a simple project that focused on process, provided a sensory experience (unintentionally) and also yielded a cute product that aligned nicely with Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar. We simply used water colors to paint a white coffee filter, allowed it to dry, and then used half of a brown pipe cleaner to make the body. I pinched the coffee filter in the center and wrapped the pipe cleaner around the pinched section, then twisted the ends together to hold it in place and create two antennae.
This was T's first time with watercolors, but he quickly grasped the concept of moving back and forth between water, paint, and his "canvas." He enjoyed splashing the paintbrush in the water, and I made sure to use a shallow dish rather than a cup so that it was easier for him to reach in. He did sort of make a mess out of the paints (he didn't understand not to mix the colors), but it was easy to fix by blotting off the top layer of each color with a paper towel when he was finished. I did help him a bit to shake some water off before dipping into the paint, and I had to demonstrate the process a few times, but he caught on fast and really enjoyed himself. And the product was adorable! He liked holding the butterfly up in the air and watching it float down to the ground.
A trip to the Butterfly Farm
At first I had no idea what outing to plan for bug week. With a little searching I found that butterfly farms/gardens/houses were a popular attraction near us - there were three located less than an hour away. Only one was operational at this time of year (the others aren't in full swing until the end of June), so we made our way there to see some butterflies. We had such a great time! It was a family operated butterfly farm that raised butterflies and grew gardens to attract them. My husband and I learned about the butterfly life cycle and anatomy and T had a great time feeling caterpillars and chrysalises, holding butterflies, and planting a butterfly host plant to take home with us.
As our outing for Forest Friends week, we took a trip to a local state park for a walk on a hiking trail. I did some research on the state park website before going to get an idea of what trails would be an appropriate length and terrain for our novice walker. Of course...none of that research mattered because we couldn't find the trail I picked out when we got to the park and ended up on a different one anyway. It was a nice easy "trail" around the lake, but unfortunately didn't offer as much of a "forest" atmosphere as I had hoped for, given our theme.
We did, however, spot lots of wildflowers, trees, reeds, and some wildlife - including a family of deer and beautiful male red-winged blackbird.
As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, part of the reason we did so few activities is because we had a lot of great outings available to us to explore "Things That Go."
Getting out of the house? T having lots of fun? Little to no planning or prep on my part? Sounds like a win-win!
We took a super fun family trip to the farm to see everything we've been reading signing and talking about in person. While there, T learned a new word: "donkey!" Though he seems to think ALL farm animals are called "donkey." We had a blast visiting all of the different animals and eating some dairy fresh ice cream. Even our border collie (who's a farm dog at heart) really enjoyed herself. Read below for some pictures from our trip.
Former science teacher. Work-at-home mom to a toddler. Attempting to enrich our days with intentional play and exciting experiences to expand a growing little mind.