Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Sensory Tub - Brave

"I'll be shooting for my own hand!!" My favorite line in my new favorite Disney/Pixar movie, Brave. I took James and his buddy to see it last week and we all three gave it two thumbs up! And I'll admit... I cried a little in certain parts, too. But then, I'm an emotional kind of gal.

Anywho, after seeing the movie I was most inspired to make a Brave sensory tub and on my way home began creating it in my mind. Here's what I came up with...
James was on pins and needles waiting for this tub. He was really cute about helping me design it, too. He was very specific about what he wanted included, the magic cake being at the very top of the list. :)

Here's what's inside:
:: Blue/green aquarium rock (the color of Merida's main dress)
:: Orange ribbon (think of Merida's crazy locks) - I "corked" these myself using this tutorial.
:: TONS of teeny tiny arrows - I bought these on Etsy to use in making a Brave hair clip for Juliet to wear during our stay in Disney World. I only needed one, but they came in a pack of 50! Good thing after all!
:: Black bears from Safari Ltd. (supposed to represent the three bear cubs in the movie)
:: Two large wooden bears (representing the two large bears)
:: Pieces from our tree blocks
:: Blue acrylic gems (these are the wisps)
:: A Tiny castle
:: Small trees (in the movie, they spend some time in the forest)
:: Horse (Merida's Angus)
:: A "magic cake" (really just a play food donut with a flat-back gem jammed into the middle!)

I really do love this tub. I suppose that's because I really do love the movie and this is a way to keep the memory alive a little. Can't wait for it to come out on DVD!

To go along with the tub, I made a couple of activities too...
I made an archery target (in Word), punched holes around the outer perimeter, laminated it, punched holes again, and then found some soft (faux) leather string to use for lacing. I also printed out a list of words used in the movies and put some alphabet tiles (in the little green jar) so James could spell out the words.

Click the button below to see a full list of my sensory tubs or click here to view my slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ruby & Sue Giveaway WINNER!!

Congratulations to...

Entrant number 17 - Hillary!

Hillary, please contact me within 24 hours to claim your win! Thanks to all who entered!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Calendar Cards: Ice Cream

Here are some new calendar cards for you to enjoy! For July I'll be using our Independence Day cards, and I'll save these ice cream ones for August, but I thought some of you might like to use these sooner rather than later. :)
Click here to download

Please keep in mind that I format these myself, so they're not perfect, but they'll certainly get the job done. : ) Also, as with all of my printables, these are for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in a giveaway. Thank you and enjoy!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Worldwide Culture Swap: Bermuda

One of the lovely ladies at The Worldwide Culture Swap contacted me to see if we'd like to be a part of a swap. Ummm, YES! I wasted no time in signing up for the standard worldwide swap as well as the mini giveaway swap. Hooray for snail mail field trips!

Even though we are Americans, we currently live in Bermuda, so we decided to represent the island. As usual, I went a little overboard. I just couldn't help myself! I kept thinking of more and more information and things to add. It didn't feel complete to me without it all. I think it's safe to say that this package will definitely give someone a clear idea of what Bermuda is all about. I hope I did my Bermudian friends proud! :)

James and I had a total blast putting this together. I made sure he was an active part of assembling everything and I consulted his opinion wherever needed. I put together all of the paper information and he chose the images for the documents as well as all of the souvenirs. When it was all said and done we addressed the packages and went to the post office together, too. This was a great opportunity to teach him about how the mail system works.

In making these packages James learned a lot about the country we live in, so I decided to make a Bermuda package for ourselves. It'll be a great way for Juliet to learn about Bermuda too and a nice keepsake to have after we move away.

I put a lot of thought into our packages and while I'm no expert, I learned a few tricks of the trade along the way. I've shared them below in the "tips" section after each photo description.

Ok, so here's what's inside:
A flag, stamps, and local currency - the coins are real, but the bills are fake copies.

TIP: check out Google images for money photos. Some are very clear and offer front and back images of the same bill. A fun idea, especially if your group includes small children, is to make games out of things. For example, you could make duplicate color copies of stamps, cut them out in uniform sizes and voila! a matching game has been created. A bingo game would be easy to create, too, and if you're really ambitious you could make some nomenclature cards for older kids.

Brochures featuring local attractions, stickers, a newspaper, an article from a free tourist guide about favorite local spots for children (this was written by a friend of mine!), and a playing card with the map of Bermuda on it.

TIP: a fun and inexpensive souvenir - I bought a deck of cards with an interesting image on them and included one in each package. Also
, visit your local tourist information location - there you'll find lots of FREE brochures and guides, and maybe a freebie or two (that's where I found the crayons!). Be sure to get enough for each package. And don't shy away from guide books - you needn't ship the entire book, (which can quickly add to the weight/cost of the package). Instead, go through the book and tear out certain articles and pages that you think are particularly interesting.

A cedar ornament, a tiny frog, some beach sand and shells (which we collected from the beach ourselves), game ribbons, a little house craft James and I made together, and fact cards explaining all of those things in better detail. There's also a postcard and some tropical fabric (I cut up a little square for each package).

TIP: It's nice to find tactile things to go along with paper information. It's MUCH more interesting to children when they have something they can touch. Also, include internet links where relevant - for example, the tree frogs in Bermuda make a very specific sound, so I included a link to a sound clip of them on YouTube. Appeal to the senses!

A detailed map of the island, a fact sheet, a postcard, and activity pages all of which have to do with the locations around Bermuda. On the right is a set that includes a coaster and has to do with the colorful-ness of Bermuda, in particular our homes and buses.

TIP: include descriptions of things and group like items together instead of just tossing everything into a giant envelope. It may all make sense to you, since you're familiar with it, but to a foreigner it can be overwhelming. Also, here's another fun and money saving souvenir - get a set of four or more interesting and relevant coasters and put one coaster in each package.

More souvenirs: a magnetic bookmark, a pin, a puzzle of the map of Bermuda, a keychain, some pencils, a special box of crayons (these are "Bermuda Colors", a line Crayola made especially for Bermuda), and a bracelet.

TIP: let the shopkeeper know you're putting together a package to send to children around the world. Sometimes, as was the case with us, they'll give you a little discount since you're buying multiples of things. Also, personalize your package - include a letter handwritten by your child, and keep in mind the gender and age of the recipients. For example, in our package, not everyone received a bracelet or pirate stickers. A handmade craft is also a very special and personal gift to include, and most of the time it's very inexpensive for you to make!

More sets. These have to do with the flora & fauna of Bermuda, and the small creatures that we see regularly around the island. I also included a copy and description of my island scavenger hunt.

TIP: It's certainly not a must, but if possible, print your paper information in color - it's much more interesting to look at and people can get a better feel of what they're reading. For example, it wouldn't be as enjoyable to read about the flowers of Bermuda and how bright they are if you're looking at a black and white photo of them. You could include links to internet images if color printing isn't an option for you.

More info packs - these include: Bermuda Art, a poem, National Symbols, local customs and traditions, a few activity pages, information about our family, and a local recipe.

TIP: try to make your package as well rounded and interactive as possible in an effort to help others really become a part of the country you're representing. For example, include a CD (or internet link) of local music, attach your favorite local recipe that the family can make together, a special treat or food mix (if allowable to ship), print out activity pages or a craft for kids to enjoy working on, and a language sheet with local phrases and/or translations.

Well, that's it! What do you think? I hope the receiving families will enjoy our package. We're expecting return packages from Australia; California, USA; Papua New Guinea; Greece; Alberta, Canada; and Slovakia (the latter is a separate and personal swap arranged with one of my lovely readers). We are SO excited to learn more about each of these countries and I can't wait to add our new information to our continent bags. I hope to be able to blog about each package we receive.

These swaps are an excellent way of bringing the world a little closer together. :) I strongly urge all of you - parents of children of all ages, teachers, grandparents, everyone! - to sign up with the Worldwide Culture Swap group. And especially those of you living outside the US as I understand the group is in need of other countries in order to arrange swaps for the US folks (there's only 1 US family per swap and they have TONS of US families already signed up and waiting).

Check out the Worldwide Culture Swap website to learn more or like their Facebook page to see updates.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ruby & Sue Giveaway

~This giveaway is now CLOSED~

I'm kicking off a summer of Disney giveaways in honor of our trip to Disney World in the fall! For my first giveaway, Ruby & Sue - my go-to shop for hair bows - is generously offering up four gorgeous Disney-inspired hair bows!!
I LOVE Ruby & Sue bows because they're each handmade with care using quality materials. They're so special and look adorable in any little girl's hair.

As you know, I've made a few bows myself, but unfortunately I just don't have the access to the materials I need to make the bows I've designed in my mind. Enter Ruby & Sue. There are tons of adorable hair clips in her shop on Etsy, but if you don't see what you want Ashlee, the lovely owner who is SO sweet and wonderful to work with, is more than willing to work with you to make custom orders. Together we designed a couple of the bows in this giveaway!

You might remember a while back I took a poll on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page asking which of the Disney characters were your girl's favorites. Lots of you gave your input and the characters that received the most votes were:





One of you luckies will win all four of these beautiful hair clips! All are attached to partially lined alligator clips with no-slip grippies (which means they'll stay in even the finest of hair!) and the longest bow - the Belle bow - measures 2.5" in length.

Here's what you need to do to enter:
Mandatory entry:
1. Leave a comment on this post.

Extra entries:
2. Like Counting Coconuts on Facebook and leave me a separate comment on this post letting me know you have/already do.
3. Like Ruby & Sue on Facebook and leave me a separate comment on this post letting me know you have/already do.
4. Follow Counting Coconuts and leave me a separate comment on this post letting me know you have/already do.
5. Follow the Ruby & Sue blog and leave me a separate comment on this post letting me know you have/already do.
6. After today come back and leave me one comment per day on this post until the end of the giveaway.

*NOTE re: separate comments - each entry will be counted as a chance to win. If you put all of your entry requirements into just ONE comment, you'll only have ONE chance to win.

This giveaway will end on Friday, June 29th at 9pm Atlantic Time, and is open to those residing in US/US territories only.
Good luck!

I did not receive anything in exchange for this review, these are just my honest opinions as a satisfied customer of Ruby & Sue.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Treasure Basket: Brushes

A new treasure basket! This one is called "brushes". :)

Here's what's inside: (note: all of these brushes are new.)
:: Vegetable brush
:: Two small hair brushes - one with soft bristles, the other with firm bristles
:: Blush brush
:: Infant toothbrush
:: Paint brush
:: Nail brush

I should note that I tested all of the brushes first, pulling on them to be sure the bristles/hairs wouldn't come loose. And, as always, I monitored Juliet while she explore this basket.

Click here to read my very first treasure basket post for details on the how and why behind treasure baskets. Click here to view my treasure basket slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.
~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kindergarten Graduation

Since you all have been with me during my homeschool journey thus far, I thought it fitting to share our special day with you...

James has officially graduated from Kindergarten (a year early!) and we couldn't be more proud of him. He has evolved so much this year and not just academically, but emotionally, physically, and spiritually too.

I look at him now and it's hard for me to image that tiny baby I held in my arms for the first time 5 years ago. Time is going by a little too quickly.

~receiving his diploma from the school principal :)~
I can't express just how much I love homeschooling and being James' teacher. It's incredibly rewarding to watch him learn and grow, and to know we're doing all we can to provide a positive and enriching learning environment for him. I thank God that we are able to homeschool - it's been a total blessing for us.

First grade here we come!

By the way, we made a big deal out of this special event. Hubs and I took James out for a special dinner. This was a special event in and of itself as it was just the three of us (baby sister stayed home with a sitter), a thing that hasn't happened since Juliet was born 10 months ago. I also baked a cake, printed a free diploma from here, ordered a graduation cap from here, and took LOTS of photos (graduate sign printed from here).

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Retro Learning

Ok, I'm showing my age here, but does anyone else remember these totally rad bell charms from the 80's?
I had a bunch when I was a kid and I recently found more on Ebay. :) They bring back such fun memories - I remember my friends and I use to bring them to birthday parties and trade them. Collecting as many as possible and filling up an entire plastic chain was the goal. They were a must-have accessory for 80's preteens!

Fast forward 20 some years and they are still a must-have for me. True I don't/won't wear them as an accessory, but these little lovelies just make me smile. Of course I'll pass them on to Juliet when she's old enough and hopefully she'll pass them along to her children thus keeping the 80's forever alive. :) But what do I do with them in the meantime?

Turn them into learning tools, of course! I came up with a list of 13 different ways to use these charms for learning. Here are just a few:

~I Spy~
You know the game, "I spy with my little eye...". I've written a list of all of the charm in the above photo on a separate card. James will go down the list and check them off as he finds them.

~Sorting By Type~
I threw this together in order to get a photo, but when James does it he'll have 6 little baskets to sort in to. There's the possibility of a bit of crossover with a few of the charms, but ultimately each charm really only belongs to one category.

I couldn't think of a better title for this activity. :) Basically it's just clipping each charm onto a notch on the chain necklace. I'm not sure if it's because these little charms are nearly 30 years old, but they require a steady hand and some focus in order to attach them to the chain. Excellent fine motor activity.

James is quite good at spelling, and he enjoys it too, so I know this one will be a huge hit. We're using our Moveable Alphabet to accompany this activity.

It's surprising how large some of these charms are! I image we all looked pretty ridiculous, little as we were, carrying around this mass amount of giant plastic charms around our necks! Their varying size make for a good measuring activity, though. :)

The rest of my learning activity list includes:
:: arithmetic
:: mystery bag
:: counting - skip/ordinals/rote
:: more sorting - by color/exact type (I have many duplicates)
:: transferring - tweezing/pouring/tonging
:: shadow matching
:: bingo
:: pretend play

If any of you can think of more learning activities, let me know! I'll gift one charm to the first 5 people who comment on this post with an idea! :D

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homemade Baby Food

It's the simple things that make me happy. Like this little selection of homemade baby food...

It's the colors, the freshness, the simplicity of it that I love.

I made all of James' food when he was little and I was working outside of the home, and I'm making Juliet's food, too. We're using a combined pureed-baby led weaning approach and it's going really well.

If you have a little one, I highly recommend you give homemade food a try! Making your own food is super easy, plus it's healthier and MUCH cheaper (I saved over $100 in just one cooking session!) than store-bought food. Here's are my two favorite baby food cookbooks - here and here - and my go-to website for the whens/hows/whys for making baby food.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, June 15, 2012

Treasure Basket: Rings

I noticed Juliet likes to hang on to things, so I created this basket with that in mind...

Here's what's inside:
:: Mama-made interlocked rings
:: Textured teether
:: Jumbo bead bracelet
:: Cookie cutter
:: Wood napkin ring

Click here to read my very first treasure basket post for details on the how and why behind treasure baskets. Click here to view my treasure basket slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Organizing Calendar Cards

This is nothing earth shattering, but it's a little organizational tip that's worked well for me so I thought I'd share it. :)

You all know how I love to change our calendar cards each month, right? Well, over the past couple of years I've amassed quite a collection of these cards. Ordinarily, when we're finished using them for the month, I store them by season along with the rest of that season's materials. But since some of my themes don't really fit with a season (e.g. space, weather), I had to come up with a better solution.

This is pretty simple - I made sure each card set was put back in numerical order, wrapped a rubber band around it all, put the set into an envelope (found these great pocket sized envelopes at our local general store), and labeled them. That's it!

I used a separate letter sized envelope to store our months and seasons.

It all fits nicely in the shoe box together and I LOVE that it's all in one place! Hooray for simple solutions!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Treasure Basket: Blue, Green, & Purple

More colorful treasure baskets! Here are blue, green, and purple:

Here's what's inside:
:: Circle shaped cookie cutter
:: Bristle block
:: Baby brush & comb
:: Foam cylinder
:: Mama-made knitted bird
:: Tiny cup with handle
:: Wooden sphere (from our geometric solids set!)
:: 3 nesting cups

Here's what's inside:
:: Textured links
:: Measuring spoon
:: Foam number
:: Duplo lego
:: Soft piece of fabric
:: Nesting cup
:: Sphere
:: Small silky pillow
:: Large square lacing bead

Here's what's inside:
:: Foam triangle
:: Links
:: Wet felted wool egg
:: Stacking bowl
:: "Hidden" brush - that's the purple thing with the black center - you open it up and there's a mirror and a pop out brush inside.
:: Large mirror
:: Squishy block

Click here to read my very first treasure basket post for details on the how and why behind treasure baskets. Click here to view my treasure basket slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DIY Fabric "Wipes" Toy

Juliet gets a kick out of pulling wet wipes out of their package. Now, while I encourage her exploratory enthusiasm lol, at $35/case of wipes it's a spendy activity she's designed for herself!

So, you can image my delight when I saw this idea on Pinterest. I kid you not when I tell you I had it all put together less than 20 minutes later. And bonus: it cost me $0 (new) dollars to make as I had everything (an old wipes container and some fabric) on hand already.Link
The verdict?
Kid approved!! I have about 25 different pieces of fabric inside of the container and she, Ms. Tenacious, reached in and pulled out each and every piece, one by one. She also kept closing the lid just so she could push the button that pops it back open again. :)

Funny thing about this Huggies wipes container, I got it a few months ago when I was in a pinch for wipes. Ordinarily, I buy an unscented off brand (Kirkland - LOVE these wipes) because I'm just not a fan of the thick, perfumey-ness of other brands. But I digress. It's the pattern on the container that sold me - it's so colorful! Which is why I saved it, too. I just *knew* there was a craft or project awaiting that box!

As for the fabric scraps, I simply rummaged through my stash and found as many colors, patterns, and textures as possible. I know Juliet is a big young for this now, but I did gather fabrics with some matching themes in mind: fruit, colors, and "softies" (aka the minky fabric -- it's oh so soft!).

Just a few details: I used pinking shears to help reduce fraying. Where the fabric was already seared, I left it. Even if - or especially if - it meant some selvage (I kinda have a thing with selvage... I love those colorful number circles!). I did not cut the pieces with any size in mind and they are in no way shape or form equal or perfectly cut. (I know, that's so rebel of OCD me!) And again, the wipes package came with that fun design - I did NOT adhere anything to the sides (though you could, but then that takes away from the easy-peasy-ness of it all). Oh, and I just tossed the fabric inside - I did not bother to fold them all one into the other as is done with real wipes. The nice thing about this container is that the center part - the part that hold the wipes at the ready - is made of soft rubber, so it's safe for little hands to reach inside.

Now go on and make one too! They'd make great baby gifts, don't you think?

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, June 4, 2012

Disney Family Night: The Three Caballeros

One of the (many) things we're doing in preparation for our big trip to Disney World is to have a Disney Family Night about once a month until we leave . In short, we pick one of our favorite Disney movies and then create a themed night around it. It's a fun way to bridge the long wait!

Our first DFN movie was The Three Caballeros. Here's what we did...
We decorated with homemade paper flowers, a FIESTA banner, a photo of the 3 Cabs. While we made dinner we listened to Mexican & Cuban music and later we had a little dance party with our maracas (which are actually from Mexico!) while listening to the movie soundtrack.

And what's fun without learning something in the process?! :) I gathered some materials from our North America & South America Continent Bags, bookmarked a few pages in our Children's Encyclopedia, printed out a map of Mexico, and put together a list of common Spanish phrases for James to learn. He particularly enjoyed the Spanish phrases since he L-O-V-E-S anything to do with foreign languages.

While dinner was cooking, we played "Donde este Donald?" (where is Donald). I hid a rubber duck as we don't have an actual Donald duck. :) James had lots of fun with this and we all took turns playing and telling the seeker if they were "hot" or "cold".

For dinner we enjoyed some Mexican fare. Chips & dips for appetizers, tacos for the main course, and Dulce de Leche (ice cream) for dessert. Oh and I found some imported Mexican juice in the ethic section of the grocery store. Hubs and I may or may not have splurged on a margarita (or two). :) I made little signs for each food "station", and we used special drinking glasses and place settings.

After dinner we watched the movie during which we made sombreros. SUPER easy craft and even my non-crafty boy had fun making it!

(BTW, for our banner and dinner signs I used fonts from here.)

We had an absolute blast during our Disney Family Night and we're excited for next month's fiesta!

Click here to see our other Disney nights - there are more to come!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Treasure Basket: Red, Orange, & Yellow

You know me and my love of themes. :) I couldn't resist making a treasure basket for each color - here are red, orange, and yellow. . .

What's inside:
:: Small (new) hairbrush
:: Mama-made knitted ball
:: Apple shaped cookie cutter
:: Silicone texture teether
:: Wooden disk
:: Piece of silk
:: Squishy block
:: Oval clip ring

What's inside:
:: Two oval clip rings
:: Knitted sample
:: Silicone spiked teething toy
:: Thick foam letter G
:: Squishy block
:: Textured bowl
:: Castanet

What's inside:
:: Two cups
:: Bit of ribbon
:: Tiny book
:: Wooden screw
:: Oval clip ring
:: Crochet flower
:: Triangular container

Click here to read my very first treasure basket post for details on the how and why behind treasure baskets. Click here to view my treasure basket slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Montessori At Home! & Montessori Print Shop Giveaway WINNERS!!

The Montessori At Home! & Montessori Print Shop dual giveaway has now ended - a HUGE thanks to all who entered!
Congratulations to Cris and Monika - you two are the lucky winners!! Please email me with your contact details within the next 24 hours to claim your prize. If I do not hear from you by then, I'll have to pick a new winner.
For all the rest of you lovelies, John Bowman is offering his Montessori At Home! ebook for just $6.95! Click the Pay Now button below to make your purchase.
Buy Now

~Thank you for your comments!~


Related Posts with Thumbnails