Excite and Explore

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

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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.
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.
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.
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colouring, oil based food colouring such as candy colours (This is a food colouring that can be mixed with oil, it is originally made for colouring those little chocolate melts used for baking.)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.)
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.
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.

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!
After our ‘green’ bottle we made this one.
Which once shaken looks like this.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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!

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Easter Sensory Bin

Easter is fast approaching and we have been getting ready in our house. Yesterday I read on how to dye corn kernels for sensory fun or crafts and knew I had to try it, so I decided to make an Easter sensory bin. You can find the tutorial here on Fun-A-Day. http://fun-a-day.com/how-to-dye-corn-kernels/ It was an easy tutorial but I wanted to make some fun colours. I made the recipe without adding the food colouring, I made 3 batches. I used this neon food colouring I found at Zehrs.
After a bit of experimentation I made these.
The purple is 1 table spoon of the purple dye, simple enough. For the green/teal colour I used 1 teaspoon of the blue and 1/4 a teaspoon plus 10 drops of the green. Lastly for the neat deep orange I used 1 teaspoon of green, 1/4 a teaspoon of purple and 1/4 a teaspoon of pink. These measurements are for every 2 cups of corn. I let them soak overnight as instructed. In the morning I spread paper towel on baking sheets and drained the excess liquid with a strainer and gave them a quick rinse (not to long) and spread the kernels evenly over the paper towel, dabbing the tops with another piece. (If you don’t let them soak over night you won’t get as vibrant a colouring.) An hour later I removed the paper towel, dried the pans and spread out the kernels again, and left them for a further 6 hours, shifting their position once to help speed up the process.
It turned out wonderfully! They are so vibrant and bright! I threw in some Easter eggs, the hollow plastic ones. I filled one with some of the kernels to use as a shaker and added some fluff, different types of eggs, a little plastic bunny and a scoop.

We brought it outside to play with since it was so nice out and we’ve really missed the sunshine this winter. He had a great time scooping and pouring and really liked the shaker. Hopefully this will inspire you to create some Easter fun of your own, thank you for reading and please join us again at Excite and Explore!

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Painting With Tree Branches

So as Gray was pushing his shopping cart around the sidewalk out front he found some branches from our Christmas tree that somehow ended up being left behind when they picked up the tree itself. Well being a toddler he was delighted and proceeded to start ‘sweeping’ it around the driveway. After a while it passed through a puddle and left marks where he swept and that made him even happier, so I thought, why not paint with them? He went down for a nap pretty early and while he was asleep I set up a little paint station for him in the garage. I just set out some paper on an old wipes box, finger paints, and some different branches we had collected on our travels earlier that morning.
Creation Station
When he woke up he immediately wanted to go back outside, much to my delight. After a few minutes of splashing in mud puddles we wandered over to the paint station and he got right into it!

He would paint for a minute, and wander away for about 10 minutes before straying back to paint some more. This was the finished product.
The branches made some pretty cool lines, and I think that when the weather gets better we will travel to the woods near our place to collect different types of branches from the forest floor and try this activity again. I hope you enjoyed this post and will join us again at Excite and Explore!

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Easter Egg Suncatcher


So today was a beautiful day out! And I picked up some contact paper at Canadian Tire after trying Michaels and Staples to no avail. Contact paper is a liner generally used for lining shelves and drawers but it has some awesome uses when it comes to arts and crafts. I felt like we needed to get into the Easter spirit and decided on something that was fairly easy to throw together and simple enough for a young toddler. A grumpy, tired toddler who wouldn’t nap and desperately needed a distraction. Cut an Easter egg shape out of your clear contact paper, I taped mine to a piece of construction paper just to hold it in place. Don’t peel the backing off yet.


Then I cut up some tissue paper that has been laying around forever. Like since before I had a child, in fact I am fairly sure it is from when I was a child. You can do squares, circles, just rip it, whatever suits you.


Finally, peel the backing off of the Easter egg cut out. I put it all down on the floor for him and away he went. He really liked the tissue paper and for the first bit he just scrunched it up in his hands. Then you just have to press the tissue paper over the contact paper until it is covered. ( Or in our case your child is side lined by the dog food dish.)


Once they are done cut out a piece of contact paper from the roll that will fit over the egg and peel the backing off of that, sticking it over top of the egg sandwiching the tissue paper in between the two pieces of contact paper. Cut off the excess contact paper until it regains its egg like shape. I punched a hole in the top of mine and threaded a pipe cleaner through it to hang it on the window but I’m sure tape would work just as well.


Well, that’s all there is to it! I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps you and your little ones get in the Easter spirit! We hope you will join us again!


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Exploring Shapes

So it was pretty miserable out today. It was snowing, and cold, and wet (Does April know it is April?) so while my little guy was asleep I took some time to whip up a fun activity for him to do when he woke up. He has been really into shapes lately ( not in the same way he is into cars but really they aren’t nearly as exciting to a toddler) and he has a book with shapes in it. He likes to sit with me and point to them and I will name them out loud, or I will ask him where the oval (star, square, ect…) is and he likes to point it out to me. I was at the dollar store near my place last week and I picked up some Bristol board and Velcro dots. I bought them on a whim and as I figured they turned out to be useful. This is a simple activity for toddlers to learn their shapes, I did it with my 22 month old but it would work for an older or even younger child. I traced or freehanded some shape outlines onto a big piece of Bristol board and labeled them. DSC02460 I then added the Velcro dots, depending on how many of that particular shape I planned to make. I cut out shapes from construction paper. (for a more durable piece laminate the shapes.) I added the opposing Velcro dot to the shapes.


The idea is for them to sort the shapes into their proper column and stick it on. Well it was a success. Once he got the idea he spent almost half and hour figuring out which shape went where and sticking it on. I ended up sticking it on the window because lets face it, there isn’t a lot of wall space in our house, there seems to be stuff everywhere!

DSC02454(1)He had a bit of trouble telling apart the rectangles from the squares, but hey, that is the whole point of the activity. An added bonus was the fun he had ripping them off once he finished. (he really seemed to like the noise.)

DSC02459I hope you have enjoyed this post and find it useful! We certainty hope you will join us again for some more at Excite and Explore and that the weather gets better soon.<