Sunday, December 15, 2013

Foam Christmas Tree and Snowmen Fun!

Our early December has brought quite a few chilly, rainy days so I was very thankful when I came across this post from Fun at Home with Kids. 

All you need for this incredible, reusable activity is "special glue" (water), foam pieces and a window (or mirror)! 

When I find things like this online I always have the same thoughts:
1. This is GENIUS!  Which is always followed by...
2. WHY have I never thought of this?!?! haha! 

We play with foam letters in the bathtub all the time so this makes complete sense! 

We decided to go with Christmas tree decorating and save the snowmen fun for January. I started with cutting out small, medium and large size trees with corresponding stars.  I'm so grateful for the large random bag of multicolored shapes I saved from my teaching days. They worked their way perfectly into this activity as ornaments. My obsessive compulsiveness may have kept me up all night cutting foam "ornaments" for decorating our foam trees. I won't tell you how many times I erased the penciled sketches from attempt after attempt in drawing three decent looking stars.  :/

Gabriella was right alongside of me "helping" as she cut her happy little heart away. (Cutting foam is really rather soothing. Well, at least Gabriella and I think so :)) I LOVED when she realized some of the scraps from her cutting were squares and rectangles that would serve perfectly as presents under the trees! She also did an incredible job cutting out three different size candy canes for decorating. It was challenging but she was rewarded with pure joy when she accomplished it. 

When it was time to play I laid out two white tubs, one to hold the pieces and the other to hold a small amount of "special glue" (water) for sticking the foam to the window. 

My little love bugs would pick up a piece, lay it in the glue then place it on the window. So easy and so fun! I did place a towel under the play area for two reasons; the floor was cold due to the weather out and I have a two year old, haha! Even if it was only a 1/4th of a cup of water, I didn't expect any of it to remain after my Mikey got a hold of it. :) 

We also experimented with using paintbrushes to paint the "glue" on the window.  I think we all liked that a bit better than the water tub. There's just something about holding a paintbrush in your hand that makes you feel like your doing something extra special.  

I really loved all the learning I got to sneak in with this activity while they played. 

We talked about the size of the trees and the relationship between them. 
We also worked on following verbal directions like,
"Place a yellow circle on the largest tree"
"Place two presents under the medium size tree" 
We even got a chance to reinforce directional terms like,
"Place the star on top of the tree"
"Place the ornament under, beside, to the right, to the left"

We used the trees to help sort shapes as we talked about their attributes. 

It wasn't until a day or two into playing with this activity that I realized we could utilize the window clings on my window. (We found then at my favorite store, The Dollar Tree)! I was actually busy trying to get them out from behind the trees (honistely, it wasn't bothering anyone but me) when it dawned on me...we can use these! So we did. :) 

With a little color sorting and graphing...

Then with number representation and counting...

We really have enjoyed decorating our foam trees. I think what I love most about this activity is that I'm not being wasteful. I can pack them up and save them for next Christmas. Definitely a win! 

Merry Christmas to all of you! May your holiday season be filled with God's love and peace and may we never forget the real meaning of Christmas...Jesus. 

Updated January 2014

Look how sweet our little snowmen turned out! 

Gabriella had such a great time helping me with them. We decided to work on them while the boys napped and surprisingly, we finished before they woke AND had a little time to play!!! Yay!

We followed the same concept we had with the foam Christmas trees; one small, one medium and one large. I decided to number the three circle body parts of each snowman to make it a bit easier when putting them together. I used a pencil to write the number 1 on each of the "large" snowman's body parts, 2s on the "medium" snowman's body parts and 3s for the "small". I also used a black permanent marker to drawl the coal smile onto each snowman's face.

The boys had a great time playing around with them too! 

Oh Josiah! He always goes straight for the unattended cup with "special glue"! He gets such a kick out of playing with the very small amount of water in there!   

I'm excited for all the future opportunities to create new foam window art. Maybe we'll try big raindrops and umbrellas for April and a little flower garden for May! Can't wait to see what we come up with. I'll keep you updated with pictures! :) 

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