Excite and Explore

One mom, one toddler and a passion for learning and adventure.


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DIY Terrarium

   I have been meaning to make one of these with Gray for quite a while, and today we stopped by the local plant nursery and picked up the plants finally. We ended up making two because they were just so cool looking and I couldn’t stop picking out plants! These are really easy to make and a lot of fun for kids to help out with, and they look pretty funky in your house. First you need to gather some materials, you will need: some sort of glass house for your plants, I ended up buying a couple that are actually made to be turned into terrariums but for a more frugal option you can use a mason jar, and old vase, anything you want really! Moss, small rocks, potting soil ( it must be a well draining one, we used the Farfar Argo mix which was recommended to us at the nursery. You only need activated charcoal if your terrarium is sealed, mine has an opening so I didn’t get any. I used decorative gravel for my small rocks (this is for draining.). You will also need your plants, select according to where you will be keeping your terrarium, some need more sunlight than others, so they should be paired accordingly. Lastly you will need a spray bottle, I got mine at the dollar store.

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   Once you have gathered your materials you are ready to put it together. First add a 1 inch layer of the small stones to the bottom of your habitat. Place these carefully because you may shatter the glass if they are poured in. If needed use a funnel, depending on the size of your opening.

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   Next you want to add your activated charcoal (remember only if your terrarium is enclosed.) After this in goes the moss, you want a thin layer, this will keep the soil from settling.

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   You want to add about 2 inches of the potting soil on top of the moss, Gray really enjoyed this part, shoveling the dirt around and flinging it into the air.

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   Next you want to add your décor, meaning plants. This was the fun part and Gray became really attached to one of them, carrying it around for a good half hour. This part can be a bit tricky, I found that because our terrarium was not very tall I had to sort of break up the roots a bit so they spread outwards instead of straight down so that our plants would fit into our terrarium, so if necessary do so carefully.

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   We added a little pathway of these pretty stones and a couple larger stones for décor and I let Gray pick out one of his plastic animals to add since it is going in his room. The mistake I made was not limiting the options of what he could chose from, leading to a meltdown because the 2 foot dinosaur would not fit in the less than 2 foot terrarium. In the end we settled on a little lizard. This was our first finished terrarium!

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   The one we made later for my room hangs from the ceiling since I had no where to else to put one, it was a bit smaller but turned out really well.

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   Terrariums recycle their moisture so they need very little watering, and once a moisture balance has fallen into place if your terrarium is enclose it can go up to a month without water. I was told that because mine was in the open air to spritz it twice a week. It should not be placed in direct sunlight, the sun will cook the plants through the glass, but indirect is fine. To help prevent rot you will want to remove any fallen leaves from your terrarium. If your plants leaves start to droop they may need some more water so give them a spritz. That is all for tonight, thanks for joining us and please come visit us again at Excite and Explore!

 


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Mini Worlds – Bugs

We have been collecting things lately. We go outside every  day and wander around the neighbourhood with Grays wagon and he picks things he finds up and puts them in his wagon and brings them home. (Think pinecones, sticks, leaves, things like that.) So we ended up with this big pile of assorted mish mash in the garage and for the last couple weeks I’ve been a bit unsure of what to do with it, wondering if he would be upset if I threw it out. The weather forecast for later tonight and tomorrow isn’t looking great (think rain) so I decided to bring a bit of mother nature indoors and use up some of the pile of nature sitting around. About a month ago I made a bug sensory bin for the little man and it is still his favourite on to date, this was it.

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I figured I could change it up a bit and make a mini world for him to play with his bugs in, and it would be perfect for a rainy day. I used split peas as my base, since real grass is till scarce due to the time of the year.

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Next I picked some sticks, branches, rocks, seedlings, flowers, leaves, vines and pinecones out of our little collection. All of these materials were scavenged from the ground, nothing was picked out of a garden or cut off of a tree, so no worries.

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Arrange your greenery however you like and lastly add some bugs. I got a 12 pack of mine from Party City for $1.50, so this is a really frugal bin to make and doesn’t hurt your wallet.

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   I added a magnifying glass into it last minute for some added fun and voila, rainy day entertainment for tomorrow and lots of fun, imaginative play to be had. I hope you enjoyed this post on Excite and Explore and get to build your own little bug worlds, please join us again!


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3 Easy Crafts For Toddlers

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It has been a very crafty week in our house, and I thought I would share our work with everyone so you can get crafty as well. First up we have a good craft to celebrate spring, our tissue paper tree. It is an easy craft that appeals to toddlers since they just have to stick the ‘flowers’ on. Start out with a couple of pieces of coloured construction paper to make your tree trunk and leaves. Cut out your desired trunk and tree top and glue them together, then cut out a piece of contact paper and tape it to the outside of your tree top.
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Cut around the contact paper to regain your tree top shape.
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I scrunched up tissue paper into little puffs for our flowers and put them aside and your tree is ready for your little one! Once ready peel of the outside of the contact paper and let them have at it.
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Next up is another simple on perfect even for babies as well as toddlers and requires virtually no set up. The contact paper collage! I taped a piece of contact paper to the window and provided lots of fun doodads such as pipe cleaners, paper flowers, yarn bits and buttons. We are working on colours so I named all the different colours as he stuck them in place, and he had an even better time pulling the pieces off and sticking them back on again.
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Earlier in the week I was at a craft store and they had finger paint in these awesome neon colours so I grabbed some. This one is a classic, we used to do it when I was a kid. All you need is some paint, a toilet paper roll and some paper. I set this up in the garage for messes sake and we stamped away, dipping the toilet paper roll (by which I mean the cardboard tube found inside) into the paint and stamping it on the paper. My little guy really liked this one, and it brought back a lot of good child hood memories for me.
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This was our finished masterpiece.
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That was our week in crafts, I hope you get a chance to try out some of these simple toddler crafts at home and thank you for joining us, please come again!


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Help A Bird Build A Nest

Gray has been pretty interested in birds lately, and bird season is coming into full swing now that the weather is getting nicer so today we made a little ‘cage’ full of nesting materials for all the birds visiting us every day. You can buy these little cages made out of metal from some gardening and home stores but I figured we could make our own. Gather some supplies.
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First we cut up some yarn into pieces, 4-8 inches are ideal for the birds to build their nests with. We also used colourful ribbon and leftover felt, Gray had a great time unravelling the yarn and throwing it all over the place. I cut an egg carton in half for our base and we filled it with our scraps of fabric. To cover it and keep the wind from blowing our scraps all over the yard we covered it with the netting from the top of a clementine container, quite a few fruits come in this netting.
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I ended up hot gluing the netting to the egg carton but if you have the patience you could use regular glue or poke holes in the carton and thread the netting in. I wanted to use wire to hang it but I couldn’t find ours so we used the yarn, and I figured why not find a way to attract the birds to our little helping hand so we threaded the yarn we were hanging it up with full of cheerios (Also great for fine motor development) and had a bit of a snack at the same time. This was our finished product.
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Gray was quite proud of this little project and carried it around the house for a while before I took him outside and we hung it up in our back yard, here’s to hoping we will see some colourful little nests around the area soon! Thank you for joining us at Excite and Explore, if you have any questions feel free to ask and please come again!
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Colour Mixing Bottles

Yesterday we learned how to make colour mixing bottles and they are so much fun and really easy to make. I first saw the idea on a wonderful blog called Play Trains and knew we just had to try it, the basic science behind this being that oil and water will always separate. Using oil, water, food colouring, oil based food colouring such as candy colours (This is a food colouring that can be mixed with oil, it is originally made for colouring those little chocolate melts used for baking.) and a water bottle. My sister has been drinking this Fuji water and I really like these bottles because the plastic is a lot sturdier than some of the ones we have so I ended up using those for our project. Fill your water bottle half full of water and add the desired amount of food colouring to the bottle and shake it up. ( This was Grays favourite part.)
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In a separate bottle pour in some of the oil of your choice ( Since canola is already a faint yellow it is easy to make yellow based colours.) and add some of the oil based food colouring. At first I tried using a pipe cleaner to stir it in but this was unsuccessful and I ended up using a stick. Honestly looking back all the oil based food colouring really did was end up deepening the yellow and if you don’t mind a bit less vibrant of a yellow and you used canola oil you may not even need the colouring. (If you try this let me know how it works out!) If you plan on colouring the oil other colours however you will need the dye.
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Using a funnel (or if your feeling brave just go for it) pour your oil into the water bottle holding your water, it will look pretty cool and eventually separate into two clearly defined colours. I ended up doing the pouring since Gray has somehow developed some deep animosity for the funnel and throws it across the room anytime it gets close to him.
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Make sure once you finish you hot glue or tape the lids on so busy hands can’t twist them off. Give it a good shake and you get this!
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After our ‘green’ bottle we made this one.
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Which once shaken looks like this.
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Gray insisted on making our next one with red and blue which look rather pretty but once shaken just makes a sort of murky brown purple.
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I also thought we would try one made with olive oil which is green instead of yellow and we coloured the water blue which turned out this.
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Once again I would like to stress the importance of gluing the lid on, especially if you plan on putting fun little objects into your bottles like glitter or beads. All in all it was a lot of fun and when he gets a bit older it can help teach him how mixing two colours together can make a whole new colour, but for now they are more of a visual attraction to him than anything, which is fine by me! We hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to ask any questions or share your ideas, we hope you will join us again at Excite and Explore!
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Peek-A-Puzzle

Yesterday we were outside playing and having a great time when Gray spotted a bumble bee in the garden. He was fascinated and pointed to it while looking at me, a sure sign that he wants to know what it is and wants me to name it. I told him it was a bumble bee and he looked confused. He has a game, it is a bug catching game with bugs that have bits of metal attached and you use a wooden bug catching net with a magnet attached to lift (catch) the bugs from the wooden puzzle. He has had it for about a month and a half and absolutely loves it! It is still one of his favourite toys and he loves to name the bugs and if I ask him to pick a certain one he always knows exactly which one I’m talking about. So it didn’t really make sense to me that he didn’t know what it was when he always names it when we play with the puzzle.
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I wanted to help him make the connection between the cartoony bugs on his puzzle and what they look like in real life so while he napped (sometimes I think that is what I should have called this blog) I looked up pictures of the bugs featured on the puzzle on line. I sized them up and printed them off, trying to find bugs in that looked fairly similar to the ones on the puzzle in species and colour, and taped them to the inside of the board, so that they would be visible when he pulled the corresponding piece out.
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It turned out wonderfully and later in the evening when he wandered over the game he was delighted to find the pictures underneath the bugs! It also helped him figure out which piece fit back where when he put them back in so he could play again. Here is what it looked like when I was done.
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Now he is in bed and I am looking forward to sitting back and enjoying some chocolate drizzled apple chips, I hope this gives you some fun ideas for play and learning at home, and that you will join us again at Excite and Explore!