We’ve spent the past week doing patriotic activities and wrapped it up with my parents last night, watching the Nashville fireworks from their downtown condo balcony.
Earlier this week I took the boys to the library and picked out over a dozen(!) books about the United States, presidents, soldiers, and Independence Day. Andrew signed up for a summer reading program, so he’ll get a prize for every 10 books he reads. He used to love reading and would read all day long from sun up to sun down, but he hasn’t been reading as much lately and I’m hoping the prizes will motivate him.
I’ve started babysitting for a neighbor who has two sons (J is Andrew’s age and I actually watched him when they were toddlers and he’ll be here daily until school resumes, and P is just 5 months old and will just come one day a week to give his grandma a break). They were here on Monday when we did some of our crafts and then I put them all to sleep with a long story about Abraham Lincoln.
The first craft J & A did were popsicle stick flags. I got the idea here, but I wanted the boys to learn something from the craft so they made their flags with the correct number of red & white stripes. We didn’t have 50 stars for each of them, but they did learn how many stars are on our flag and what they represent. I think skinnier popsicle sticks would work better for this craft. You could probably paint each of them a different color, instead of painting each jumbo stick part red & part white like A & J had to do.
Then they did some firework painting which was a big hit! There are several ways you can do them but we chose to put small dots of paint on the paper and use toothpicks to “draw” the fireworks. Another way you can do it is to dip the tip of dot markers/bingo markers in water and smack it down hard on a piece of paper (see the link for a picture). I really wanted to do that with Silas (smacking anything down hard sounds right up his alley) but the only dot markers I could find were nearly $10, and I wasn’t sure if they would last for other activities after we dip them in water. So we didn’t do that, however if we ever have some dot markers lying around after another activity with them I’ll let Silas go to town with them!
Silas did his very first painting yesterday morning before breakfast. I dipped a couple star shaped cookie cutters in red and blue paint, and he knew exactly what to do with them. His painting turned out a little more “abstract” than Andrew’s though, lol. Cookie cutters are a great way for toddlers to paint, and we have a ton of them so we’ll do this again for sure!
A few of our activities required a little more prep time, but were totally worth it! I cut pieces of felt for Silas to have his own movable flag. He has no idea what it is, but I thought it was a great way for him to become familiar with the flag using materials that were safe for him (or safe from him… paper wouldn’t stand a chance with Silo Destructo). I didn’t cut out 50 felt stars (he can’t count anyway so it didn’t matter) but I may buy a star shaped hole punch in the future so we can have the correct number of stars for these kind of activities. Silas didn’t know what to do with this flag. It was just something really cool for him to take apart, wad into a ball and throw on the floor. I put it back together a few times for him, so he could see it reassembled. I’ll put it away with our other 4th of July things in the attic, and hopefully it’s more useful next year.
With some of the leftover felt from the flag, I made a star streamer like some I had seen on Pinterest. Why, oh why, do my projects never turn out like the ones pictured? After looking back at the original picture, I realize that I could’ve cut stars with straight points (instead of the rounded points like the ones on the cookie cutter that I used to trace and cut from) and I could’ve stitched them together on the outside rather than turning them inside out to stitch (which made the points even rounder). By the time I turned it right side out and realized how sloppy it was, I really didn’t care to even hide my blanket stitch where I closed the gap next to the streamers (which were also far from perfect). Did Andrew care that this was probably one of the sloppiest Pinterest recreations ever? Absolutely not! We played dodgeball with it at my mom’s condo last night until he got carried away and started throwing it at her glassware.
I think this next activity will be fun for years to come as Andrew learns more about the presidents. I created a new template for his Guess Who! game with pictures of presidents to replace the Spongebob characters that came in the game. We have the newer edition of Guess Who! that has one large template snapped into the back of the game board, instead of the pictures that snap into the doors like they did in the old game. I couldn’t find a blank template for the new game online, so I used one that someone had already put faces on. I deleted their faces and names, cut out transparent “holes” in the background layer (for those of you that understand Photoshop) and then I dropped the Presidents’ pictures into the PSD file behind the background layer so they show through each “hole”. I’m providing the template for you here, but you have to know a little about Photoshop to add your faces. Please know the “holes” aren’t all exactly the same size, and the template isn’t perfect (I was in a hurry when I was doing it) but it works and fits perfectly into the newer Guess Who! boards.
We ended our USA theme week with my parents last night. Their condo has a great view of Downtown Nashville, so we had dinner there and watched the fireworks from their balcony. The boys were getting sleepy, but they both loved the fireworks! Silas was so excited by them that he couldn’t get his “words” (not really words, but his usual sounds) out right. When the fireworks started booming, he said “ooooh, ah, quack! ooh! quack quack! OOOOhhhh!! QUACK!” LOL! I tried to teach him “boom! boom!” but he kept quacking. He used to only quack for animals (not just ducks), but now he quacks at everything.
I hope everyone had a happy and safe (fire-free) holiday! We had a great time learning about our country and all of its leaders and protectors this week. I’m still trying to decide what our next theme will be. I’m leaning toward a long theme about Earth. I have lots of ideas & some things that I’ve been wanting to do with Andrew for awhile. I just need to figure out how to incorporate some age appropriate activities for Silas as well. Thanks to Pinterest, I think that should be easy enough.