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I have become a fan of a new mommy blog that you can check out here. It's written by a mom named Alicia with two kids around J and E's age (her boy is turning three) and she writes about preschooling her son at home. She just started but I've been interested in the things she focuses on and how she makes these "big ideas" kid-friendly. If you have a toddler, worth checking out.
Anyway, she did a really cool craft to help her son understand the subtleties of colors. I will tell you how things went with her, and how they went with me. It's a great craft and that's why I'm sharing it with you, even though it wasn't a complete success for us. It could be the 8 months difference between our boys that made the difference, but we had some colorful fun anyway. Don't blame the craft, blame me.
Part I: Colorful Snow-Cakes
You must live somewhere snowy for this activity to work. You take a cupcake pan and a cake pan and fill them with snow. Leave a few cupcake circles empty for mixing. Then you add some food coloring to the snow to introduce the idea of primary colors (red, blue, yellow). Before you do, you may want to add an apron because my husband says food coloring stains. When he said that my reply was, "Nah," but just to be safe, we put on Daddy's man apron (not as cute as his cousin Tyler in his apron, but close enough).
This is where Alicia and I start to differ. Her son Matthew loved mixing the colors. My son Jax mixed for two seconds then said, "Mommy do it."
I quickly realized three things. 1) mixing in a cupcake pan is hard. Maybe we should have used bowls? 2) three drops of food coloring wasn't cutting it. I added three more. Hmmm....maybe too much. 3) spoons weren't really cutting it, either, so I used my fingers. Wow! Snow is cold! The mixing went much better but now my fingers were a colorful, freezing mess. I went and grabbed a bowl of warm water to thaw my fingers in during breaks. And paper towels. Should have had those handy before. Nope, just a white towel. White? For food coloring craft project? Yup. That's how I roll.
Okay, so now we had our snowcakes full of colorful snow. I could hear JDubbs's words when I told him about this idea in my head. "Won't the snow melt?" I had scoffed at his words then; we live in Vermont! Snow never melts! But hmmmm....it was getting a little melty...
At this point, Alicia's son Matthew had a blast mixing his primary colors into secondary colors. This part of the lesson went like this for us. "Jax, let's mix blue and red together." Jax excitedly stirs for two nanoseconds. "Mommy do it."
"Okay, we mixed blue and red together. What do we have now?"
"Blue and red."
"Yes, we have blue and red, but what do they look like put together?"
"Do you see anything else?"
Nothing like an inquiring mind to make this mess worthwhile.
So then I start to notice that the snow is really starting to melt. A lot. And all of our beautiful blue and red snow turned into a teeny blue/red/purple blob.
Which Jax still insisted was just blue and red. He wouldn't admit it might be purple until he plopped it in my bowl of warm water (remember, for defrosting fingers?), to my dismay. Now my defrosting water was tinting my fingers purple.
So that was the end of our purple.
Take two. Let's make some orange. This went a little better because he had an idea where we were going with it, and he helped a little more with the mixing.
He even admitted that red and yellow make a lovely shade of orange.
But, as you can see, our snow was fading fast. I had to get part two of the craft underway!
Part II: Rainbow Snowman
Alicia had her son pick his three favorite snowcakes to make a snowman. She placed it on a cake pan filled with snow so the snowman had a little home. Hers looked great. Her son looks psyched. Let's see how mine came out.
The snow-filled cake pan was easy enough. We were in the middle of a snowstorm (got somewhere between 18" and 2 feet of snow today) so there was snow aplenty.
It was the snowcakes that were a bit wimpy at this point.
I had to combine our snowcakes, which had melted into more of a colorful slush, with some fresh snow, so they had a very melty-Sno-Cone-in-the-middle-of-July look to them. Hence the less-than-model-perfect Rainbow Snowman.
But here's the funny part. We were doing this craft on the floor in the living room. On the rug. One might ask, "Why not do this extremely messy craft at the kitchen table?" Well, it was a snowstorm today, remember, so JDubbs was working from home. He was all set up in the kitchen, and I was all fired up to do this craft, so nothing could deter me from making this snowy concoction during Em's morning nap. Even common sense.
So we had probably three feet of snow piled against our sliding glass door in the living room, mostly from snow falling off the roof. Right next to our crafting site. You can get an idea from this picture here:
So when our snowcakes were looking a little deflated and needed some perking up, did I supplement them with snow from the ample supply in the cake pan?
Oh no, I needed that for my snowman's home. What did I do? I opened the slider and reached out for some out of the snowbank.
No picture for illustration, but those of you Physics majors out there can guess that the three feet of snow right outside the slider was displaced when the door was opened. So guess where that snow had to go. Yup, in our living room. And guess who was the most excited about that? No, not Jax. He was busy eating the snowman's decorations. Our very perky and very jumpy dog Baxter, who went bounding out into the snow, leaving an avalanche in his wake.
So, we had a bit of a timeout at this point in our craft as I tried to clean up and tried to keep JDubbs from realizing how snowy our living room had become. He could hear my random exclamation of, "Oh! I didn't mean for that to happen!" and "No, Jax, give me back the food coloring. Oh, Jax, not on the rug!" so I think he used his deductive reasoning to ascertain what was going on. I did hear him mumble something about was it too early for a Bloody Mary....why does crafting bring out the cocktails in us?
Back to Rainbow Snowman. So, dog avalanche cleaned, drippy snowman perked up, time to decorate.
A small suggestion that I probably should have seen coming. Only dispense a very small amount of decorations for one very small Rainbow Snowman. No need to go crazy with the sprinkles and such, like maybe I did.
Because when your dog causes an avalanche after you not-so-intelligently open the sliding door to the ongoing snowstorm outside, your toddler is going to take advantage of the chaos to quietly go to town and consume more sugar in one sitting than in all the birthday parties he's attended combined.
So now you have stopped your son from eating the snowman decorations, causing him to burst into tears, your white towel looks like it's been tie-dyed--
--your snowman is melting and your husband needs a drink. What was the point of all this again?
Oh, right. This guy.
He was pretty cute, when all was said and done. Kind of looks like E.T. A little skinny, but we're not complaining. And he had a nice, happy, snowy home in which to live:
At this point Jax said, "Now what Mommy?"
I said we were all done.
"Can we eat him?"
"Well, sure. If you want to, you can."
(pause) "No. Outside?"
"You want me to put him outside?"
And out into the snowstorm he went.
So was anything gained from this craft other than time killed and learning something small about colors? At dinner Jax did say that blue and red make purple, so at least he gleaned some information out of this. I think if I had had a little more forethought and perhaps the use of my kitchen table, this craft may have been a little less hectic. But since things like crafty messes don't really faze me, I feel like it was time well spent, having fun and learning something, however small. And don't let my ineptitude deter you from giving this a try--Alicia and Matthew had a wonderful time. We had a lot of messy fun! I'm sure you will, too!