Peep Chick Puppet Craft for Spring Pretend Play

This was a fun and easy craft to make with the kids with a few basic materials we had on hand.


Chick Puppet Craft for Kids

Pretend play with puppets is a great way to explore language with children, get the imagination, going, and just have some fun!  These chick puppets were a fun way to play and get some Spring fun going when the weather outside was not so Spring-like.  Mom loved these puppets for their fine motor work when that the kids did while making them. 

Use popsicle sticks and feathers to create a peep puppet for pretend play.

 

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Painting crafting sticks is a great fine motor activity for toddlers.
We started with a few materials.  Baby Girl painted craft sticks with yellow paint.  This was slightly messy, but big time fun.

Use Feathers, paint, and glue to make a chick puppet craft.
We’ve been on a Spring chick craft kick recently and used the same yellow feathers as we did in our chick juice box craft. 
Once the paint dried, we glued our feathers onto the craft sticks.  Let the feathers sit for a little while to allow the glue to dry.

We then used wiggly eyes that we received free from www.craftprojectideas.com.

Feathers and popsicle sticks make a fun chick puppet craft for kids

Our puppets are starting to look more like chicks (and only slightly crazy)!

These guys fit in well in our house…

Pretend play for kids with peep puppets

A little bit of orange felt
for beaks and our chick puppets were finished.  We used these cuties to play, sing songs, and act out stories.  How can you use these chick puppets in pretend play?

Spring Crafts for Kids

Happy Spring!  The birds are chirping, trees are budding, and the sun is shining…or maybe you’re still getting snow.  Either way, we’re in the mood for some Spring crafts!  This week’s Share It Saturday features are all about Spring crafts.  Pull out the glue sticks and get ready to start crafting.  These features are super cute and very Spring-y!
Lots of crafts for kids to make this Spring

Spring Crafts for Kids

What says Spring more than a flower craft?  We love this pipe cleaner snowdrop flower from Zing Zing Tree.
Want more flower crafts?  Gift of Curiosity has put together a collection of 8 Spring Flower Crafts.
These salad spinner 3D flowers from A Mommy’s Adventures are very fun.
Spring is all about birds and nests.  Get in the Spring mood with this birds nest craft (Buggy and Buddy).
How adorable are these footprint chicks from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails?
If you’re looking for a sun catcher craft, these sun catcher kites from ABC Creative Learning are very fun.
We love these cotton ball chicks from There’s Just One Mommy for their super cuteness!
Some of our favorite Spring crafts for kids:

Bug Small World Rock Sensory Bin Filler

We’re so excited to join 40 other bloggers from all over the world in the 40 Sensory Bin Fillers series hosted by Little Bins for Little Hands.  This is all about sensory bins!  Each blogger is featuring a different sensory bin filler.  So WHAT is a sensory bin filler you ask?? You know the stuff that makes up the base of the sensory bin.  Sand, shredded paper, or any other textural item might be the base of your sensory bin and part of the sensory experience.  We decided to make our sensory bin with a rock filler.  We filled a bin with rocks and added a bug small world for play and exploration.  What fun!


This sensory bin will inspire imagination, pretend play, and fine motor skills.

 


Bug Sensory Bin

{This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts}

 

We started with a bin of river rock
and added some touches to make a bug small world.  These
bugs, a few fake flowers, and strands of floral filler made a pretty fun small world.
We were ready to play!

 

These bugs are too cute and just right for some pretend play.

Baby Girl used a magnifying glass
to examine the bugs.  Love that squashed up nose!

We had a ton of fun pretending these little bugs were a family and building a house with rocks.
You’ve got to examine the rocks with the magnifying glass, of course.

Manipulating the rocks, bugs, and pieces to our sensory bin provided great fine motor play, language development, sensory exploration, and just plain fun!

Looking for more sensory ideas using rocks?  Try some of these:

Do you have a post featuring rocks as a sensory medium?  Link it up below.  We would love to see it!

Spring Chick Juice Box Cover Craft

Have a Spring play date planned?  How about an Easter egg hunt, preschool party, or hosting Easter this Spring?  These Spring Chick juice box covers would make the cutest addition at the kids’ table, right??
We made turkey juice box covers back in the Fall so these chick juice box covers came to mind with thoughts of Spring.  These cute little chicks will be the hit of your party…or just a fun craft for the kids to make and use again and again all season.


Kids can make their own juice box cover, perfect for Easter parties!

 


Make your own juice box cover:

It’s a fun craft for the kids and super cute!
{This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts}
We started with a section of a paper towel roll.  Just cut the inner cardboard tube to fit the length of a juice box.  Then, slice right down the long end so you are able to wrap the cardboard tube around a juice box.
You can use a  pack of yellow feathers, or do like we did and cut up a new feather duster.  I had picked up a few new feather dusters at a yard sale last summer super cheap (5 cents a piece for awesome yellow feathers= yard sale score!). 
NOTE: if you cut a feather duster apart, do it outside!  Otherwise you will have zillions of little yellow fuzzies floating around your house for months.  Ask me how I know this 😉
Take a bottle of glue
and cover the cardboard tube.  Adding the feathers to the glue is fun for the kids…just stick them all over the tube.  Snip a small triangle of
orange felt
for the beak
and glue that on too.
We got an awesome pack of wiggly eyes from our friends at www.craftprojectideas.com.  A few of the smallest eyes in the pack and our Chick is coming to life!
Create a peep juice box cover with feathers and a recycled paper tube.
These guys are easy to make and super cute!  We pulled our chick juice box cover off of the juice box after snack time and have been re-using it for a few weeks now…even around smaller cups.  (It doesn’t fit as well, but still looks very Spring-like!)
Looking for more Spring crafts and activities?  Stop over to our Spring Pinterest board.  We’re having fun pinning lots of great ideas:

Bunny Tongs Scissor Skills Activity

When I worked as an Occupational Therapist with pediatrics, I did a ton of work on scissor skills and pre-scissor skills.  It was one of my favorite things to work on with school-based kiddos.  There was an item in my therapy bag that I (and the kids) LOVED for scissor practice.  Now being at home with my own kids, it’s so much fun to pull out my OT stash of supplies and play.  We pulled out a few things recently and the kids had a blast playing.  And if you follow this blog, you know we do a ton of fine motor activities
This is the ONE item you want to pick up from the Dollar Store this spring.  It’s a must-have for OTs working in the schools or with kids on scissor skills.  

Beginner scissor skills using bunny tongs

 

Scissor Skills with Tongs

{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
 If you see these Bunny Tongs at the store this Spring, GRAB them up!  These are awesome for scissor skills and besides being completely cute, they are SO fun to play with. 
Adorable bunny + working on developmental skills= AWESOME!
These bunny tongs are out this time of year because they are really intended for dipping Easter eggs.  We’ve never actually used them for egg dying, but I’m guessing it’s a pretty cool way to dye eggs, too.  I did find them on amazon, so if you can’t find these guys in the store, they are always available online. 
New scissor users will love to sort and manipulate crafting pom poms with bunny tongs.

I set up this sorting activity for the kids one day using our bunny tongs.  Scissor skills were really worked on with the repetition of picking up lots of assorted pom poms and sorting them into crates.

Bunny tongs for working on scissor grasp in young kids
 

Baby Girl LOVED this activity. She went through and sorted pom poms at least three separate times.  You can see how she’s got her ring finger and pinkie finger extended out as she opens the tongs in the picture above.  This is a great time to work on pre-scissor skills with her, so that as she does start with snipping with real scissors down the road, she maintains an appropriate and effective grasp on the scissors.

Tuck a crafting pom pom into the palm of the hand to improve scissor skills.

Tips for Cutting with Scissors

Not a great picture, but popping a crafting pom pom into the palm of her little hand is a great way to correct that grasp on the tongs (or scissors).  This way, the child opens and closes the tongs/scissors with the thumb and pointer/middle fingers in an effective and more controlled manner.  This will help with scissor control and line awareness.

If you’ve got a little one who cuts with scissors and snips all over the place, with their pinkie finger and ring finger extended out as they open the scissors, try this trick.  You can use any small item like a little eraser or pebble in the palm of their hand.  It’s a good physical prompt to remind them to keep their hand closed as they cut with scissors.

Kids can sort and manipulate crafting pom poms to work on beginner scissor skills.

Little Guy wanted in on this action too, and once Big Sister came home from school, she sorted the pom poms too.  This was just fun!

Kids can sort pom poms using tongs for fine motor play

Baby Girl resorted to just using her hands to sort later in the day.  Still great for color matching and identification.   we’ll definitely be doing this activity again.  It was a huge hit for my kids as much as it was a hit for all of the school-based clients I’ve worked with over the years.  It’s the cuteness of that bunny!

Interested in the items in this post?


We’ve got lots more ways to work on scissor skills in our Scissor Activities tab, or check out our Scissor Skills Pinterest board:

Bunny and Carrot Manipulatives for Learning and Play

With Easter being right around the corner, we started doing some fun crafts and activities to get ready.  It’s hard to believe that Easter is on it’s way already.  This year is flying by and for this pregnant Aunt, it seems like it’s going so fast (but at the same time, so slow!) 
These bunny cuties were easy to make and have been seen a lot in our play time recently.  This isn’t the first time that we’ve made Easter Bunny manipulatives.  So WHAT is a manipulative?? (Even spell check doesn’t know, so maybe we should explain…) These cute little bunny manipulatives can be used for so many fun activities: counting, patterning, sorting, arranging…so much learning can happen with little objects that kids can manipulate.  I’ve caught baby Girl playing with these bunnies and carrots as she made them talk to each other.  What a great way to work on language and conversation!  Throw these bunnies and carrots into a sensory bin and you’ve got a sensory activity where the kids can explore textures and senses. 
There are SO many ways these manipulatives can be used in learning and play.  Here’s what we did:
Easter bunny and carrot craft for kids
We received the pipe cleaners free from www.craftprojectideas.com.  They came in handy for this activity!


How to make a pipe cleaner Easter Bunny:

Fold the pipe cleaner to make Bunny ears.
To start, I created a handful of Easter Bunnies using off-white pipe cleaners.  It’s not hard to do…
Bend the pipe cleaner to make two bunny ears.

Ben a pipe cleaner to form an Easter Bunny
Twist the pipe cleaner around and through the first “ear”, then through the second “ear”.  The second ear is not a complete loop, so the tail end of the pipe cleaner doesn’t really go through the ear.  You’ll pinch the pipe cleaner so it stays put.  See the next picture.

How to make an Easter Bunny using a pipe cleaner
Pinch the “ears” in place and pull the long end strait down.  Thread a pink bead onto the pipe cleaner for the bunny’s nose.

Use these pipe cleaner Easter bunnies and carrots for pretend play and counting activities
Wrap the long end of the pipe cleaner strait up and around your thumb.  Repeat twice, making one loop to the right of the bead and one loop to the left of the bead.  Your bunny is done!  Pinch it so it stays in place.  You can kind of squash the bunny down to make it stay put.

counting, sorting, patterns with pipe cleaner Easter bunny and carrot manipulatives.
The carrots are just a piece of an orange pipe cleaner bent into a carrot shape and a small piece of green pipe cleaner  twisted around to make a stem.  Super easy to make.
Make a handful of each and you’re ready for counting, patterns, sorting, adding, and subtracting…
How many ways can you think of to learn and play with these guys?
Pipe cleaner Easter Bunny and carrots for pretend play

 

Our bunnies have been found all over the house this last week.  The carrots made their way into the Little People house and eaten by the Lalaloopsy friends.  The bunny manipulatives have even been caught hanging out with a few Ninja Turtles! 
Let us know if you make these bunny and carrot manipulatives.  We would love to see how you’re learning and playing!

Family Fun Night Activities

When you’ve got a family, your Friday and Saturday nights are no longer like they were in that time BK (Before Kids).  You find yourself on the couch after Toddler bed time, planning at-home date nights, looking forward to Friday night pizza night, or whatever your weekend rituals are!  No matter what the family fun involves, it is sure to be better than it ever was BK!  Snuggles, giggles, and general chaos are sure to be involved (with some bedtime-procrastinating antics, too).  Life sure does change once you’ve got a family and it’s all for the better.
This week on Share It Saturday, we’re featuring great ideas for Family Fun Night.  Weather you’re up for games. activities, or experiments, these are fun activities the whole family can enjoy.  And of course, you’ve GOT to have the snacks!   So get ready to plan this weekend’s Family Fun night…we’ve got you covered!


Activities for Family Fun Night

Family Fun Night Ideas

Play a family round of an Easter memory game (Happily Ever Mom).

Create a whole themed night around a game like Hi Ho Cherry-O themed activities (3 Boys and a Dog). 

If you’ve got kids who love the rainbow loom craze, get busy creating with DIY rubber band rings (Kids Activities Blog).

Got some game lovers in your family?  Try a learning game like hands-on magnet game created by Just Another Blog.

Try your hand at science with a family-friendly crystalizing science experiment (Kids Fun 101).

Make the house look beautiful with some Spring window decorations (Sparkling Buds).

Every Family Fun Night needs snacks!  Make the snack part of the fun with a create-your-own jellybean trail mix (The Taylor House on Crystal & Co.)  or make your own shaped tortilla chips (Sugar Aunts) as a family.  Enjoy dipping and watch for double-dippers!

If the weather is nice, take a family walk and go on a Spring nature hunt (Sugar Aunts).   Collect signs of nature and create pretty flower collage art.


Enjoy your Family Fun night!  Let us know how YOUR family enjoys family time.  Share a picture or post on our Facebook wall. We would love to hear all about it!

Be a Good Neighbor

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rodgers!  Did you know March 20th is Fred Roger’s birthday?  Growing up,  Mr. Rogers was one of us Aunts’ favorite shows.  And now we love to watch Mr. Roger’s DVDs with our kids. What an accomplished man and such a role model for parents, educators, and all who teach and play with kiddos!  I think we feel a special connection now to Mr. Rogers because he was born and worked in our neck of the woods. 

Quote from Fred Rogers: Play is the work of childhood

 

One of the best and well-known songs and mantras of the show is the classic, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine; Could you be mine…” 
We are SO blessed to live in a quiet little neighborhood where we can interact, play, chat, and share with our neighbors.  Being a good neighbor is easy when you live by people that end up being friends.  We’ve got some great folks nearby and as far away as next door, we’ve become friends with people who were once total strangers.  The kids play outside with each other, there is always someone you can text and ask for a cup of flour, and if you need a shoulder to cry on, a smiling face or a friendly wave.  We love to play outside and are always waving to neighbors…or in the kids’ case, yelling, “HEEEEELLLLLLOOOOO!” down the street.   

Be a Good Neighbor

Give a small give to neighbors on their doorstep
One day recently, we made a special delivery to special neighbors with a little boy about the age of Baby Girl.  We had finished up playing with our fine motor color sorting activity and thought our little friend next door would love to play as much as we did.  It was so nice to get a text later that day saying how much our little friend loved playing with our special delivery! 
How many ways can you think of to be a good neighbor?
Wave, pull in trash cans, shovel snow from a walkway, deliver cupcakes or other goodies, invite a new (or old) neighbor over for dinner, arrange a neighborhood yard sale (collaborative de-cluttering makes everyone happy, right??!!).

Tips for Being Neighborly

To help encourage neighborliness with your little ones at home, here are some tips inspired by the “Neighbor Day” episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that will help show your children that doing something nice for their neighbors can be a rewarding experience that makes them feel good about themselves!  
  • Volunteer!:  Check out your local food bank, library or neighborhood park for opportunities for your family to contribute, whether it is going through your house with your preschooler and donating extra canned goods or old books  or helping plant brand-new trees!
  • Play outside and meet new people!:  Bring your young children for a fun visit at the neighborhood playground, so they can make new friends and interact with old friends, too!
  • Ask to help!:  When your family sees someone who might need a hand, offer it!  Work together with an elderly neighbor who needs extra assistance in their yard or even have your preschooler help take care of a friend’s pet while they’re away on an end-of-summer trip.  You can also just talk with your child about times when you helped someone in need.
  • Smile and say, hello!:  Sometimes the littlest things makes the biggest difference!  When you are walking through your own neighborhood with your kids, greet passing neighbors with a friendly smile and a “hello” – you might just brighten someone’s day!
  • Make Coupons for Giving: Help your child create homemade paper coupons for kind and helpful acts, like “a hug,” “help with household chores” or “reading a book to a younger sibling.”

To honor Fred Rogers and in celebration of neighbors, we’ll be participating in “Be My Neighbor Day” on March 22, 2014.

Be My Neighbor Day 

The United Way of Allegheny County, in partnership with The Fred Rogers Company and WQED, presents “Be My Neighbor Day.”  On March 22, 2014, four YMCA locations across the Pittsburgh area will host a variety of fun, free, family-friendly activities to give children the opportunity to practice being neighborly. Daniel Tiger of the PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will make his first Pittsburgh appearance as part of the event. (Times vary by location).
“’Be My Neighbor Day’ builds on the indomitable legacy of Fred Rogers, who for more than 40 years taught kindness, generosity and respect to thousands of children and families,” said William Isler, president, The Fred Rogers Company. “Like our new series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this event embodies the values Fred stood for and carries his timeless message to a new generation of children.”
Inspired by an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, “Be My Neighbor Day” encourages neighbors to come together to help one another. Families will learn about acts of kindness, work together on craft projects to benefit their local communities, participate in YMCA Healthy Kids activities, and have the opportunity to meet Daniel Tiger.  
Additionally, in honor of Rogers’ favorite attire, families are encouraged to bring a new or gently worn sweater to the event. Sweater donations will be distributed to needy families throughout the region.

Interested in joining us??  If you’re local to Pittsburgh, we would love to meet you!!
Those interested in participating are encouraged to visit www.bemyneighborday.org for more information and to register at one of four locations: Baierl Family YMCA (Sewickley), Western Area YMCA (Coraopolis), Penn Hills YMCA, or Thelma Lovett YMCA (Centre Avenue).  There is no cost to attend.