Friday, March 2, 2012

Sensory Light Table: A Cover!

My awesome father-in-law made this wonderful cover for our light table!

Isn't it great?!!! Now I don't have to worry about sand, salt, liquid or anything else getting under the plexi cover and onto the light panel. He measured it when he was here a few weeks ago and it showed up on our doorstep on Saturday. I was so surprised and excited to receive it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY: Discovery Bottle (Part 2) and Gel Board

Chasing Cheerios is a great resource of wonderful activities to do with your kids. Be sure to head over there and check her blog out! Her blog actually inspired us TWICE in the last week! First, I LOVED her Starry Night jar. Many people use these glitter/snow globe jars as calm down jars in place of time outs. They have their children sit and watch the glitter fall and once it reaches the bottom the child can get up and continue on with their day. I wanted to make one for a couple reasons. One, I loved that hers was a Starry Night jar and we could relate it to art and Van Gogh through the colors in it. And, I wanted to make another discovery bottle for my son (I have a plan for a few more liquid discovery bottles but just haven't had time this week).
I used a hot glue gun to seal the cap so my son couldn't get it open. :-)
All you need is glitter glue, glitter, clear Elmer's glue, and warm water. Mix all of these together in the bottle and shake. I shook often over several minutes to make sure all the glue dissolved well. If the glue doesn't dissolve (this is why you use warm water), I believe your glitter will get clumpy. I didn't measure anything out. Just sort of estimated the amounts. Glue is used to make the liquid a little thicker. This way the glitter takes time to fall to the bottom instead of just falling quickly after the bottle is shaken. My girls liked this so much they each wanted to make their own bottles. So we now have a sunset looking bottle in purple/gold and a magenta/purple bottle.

Then, I came across Chasing Cheerios' gel board idea linked from Dollar Store Mom. I thought my girls would LOVE this idea! And it's so great that it can be a gel board on one side and a dry erase board on the back. This project actually took me quite a bit longer to make (about 25 minutes each) than I thought it would. Here is what you will need:
When we need to mix glitter glue into something, I used our Lakeshore Learning Confetti Glitter Glue. It is a little more liquid-y and the kids love the confetti in it.
You will need about 5 oz. of hair gel (this took a bit of trial and error on my part to figure out the amount). I bought hair gel at Dollar Tree. Mix the hair gel with glitter glue, glitter, and food coloring. Carefully move the air bubbles up toward the top of the ziploc bag. Open the bag and gently force the air out. Use fun patterned duct tape (I found ours at Michael's) to attach the bag to a piece of foam core cut to the size of the ziploc bag. I made ours in gallon-size, but you could use quart-size to make them smaller and more portable (for restaurants or other places you may need something quiet to entertain your kids). If you want the back of the gel board to be a dry erase board, just add a piece of contact paper to the back side of the foam core before taping the gel bag. This was the part that took me a bit longer than I thought it would. I had a tough time getting the contact paper on straight with no bubbles or creases in it.

EDITED TO ADD: After playing with these for a couple days, I have two more suggestions to make them even better. I might use two pieces of foam core next time to make it a bit thicker and stronger. All our boards have bends in them already which isn't so pretty for the dry erase side of the board. The ziploc bags also have some crease marks and slight scratches in them. No holes for the gel to escape yet, but it made me nervous. So I added another piece of contact paper to the top for more protection. This step would be easier to do before the board was finished and squishy with the gel. I would suggest putting a piece of contact paper on the bag before filling it.
These can be used to practice writing letters or spelling words. Also great for just doodling with your finger or for kids that might need a sensory activity. Just pushing the gel/glitter around can be relaxing. Here are our boards in action: