Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Traditions Series- Hot Chocolate Bar

The Holiday season is upon us and I would like to do a series of posts (1 each week) featuring ideas for holiday traditions, some that I have started with my own family others that I would like to start someday.

The first one is tree decorating complete with a hot chocolate bar.  We did this last night for the first time and I would love to make it a family tradition.  

I made a big deal about it, hyping it up to Mallory. I told her after her nap we would decorate the tree and make our very own hot chocolate bar! She was super excited about both!

There are so many various ways to do this but we kept it pretty simple and I'm sure as the girls get older it will be altered through the years.  For now we bought instant hot coco (when the girls are older I would like to try home made hot coco).  The toppings included tiny marshmallows, chocolate chips, whip cream, and Xmas sprinkles and candy canes. I pulled out our festive holiday mugs. I bought the cute santa cups at Target and the real mugs for the grown ups are from Pier 1.

Again, ideas for toppings are endless- chocolate shavings, toffee chips, peppermint candy, ice cream, nuts etc..


The girls were able to choose what they wanted to put in their hot coco. They LOVED this!




All ready to enjoy as we decorate the tree!



The first of many family traditions we will do this season!  Simple and easy but hopefully memorable! Stay tuned for more various traditions shared in the coming month!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sensory Table and New Playroom

This will be the first of a few posts showcasing my new Reggio Emilia inspired playroom.

If you would like to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach check out this site:

While I would love to say we have a huge playroom with lots of natural light and big beautiful windows the reality is it's in a small space in our basement that's shared with our laundry area.  Since we moved here a year ago it has been a dumping grounds so to speak for all the toys we own in the house.  I didn't like going down there, it was cluttered and unorganized.  Using my own experience working in a Reggio Emilia school as well as inspiration from this site I set out to transform the playroom into an inviting organized space for my girls.

This first thing I did was purge.  I went through all the toys that are broken, missing parts, "Junk" type toys and got rid of them.  I also filled a bag with good toys- some still in their packaging and set those aside for Good Will.

The philosophy behind the new playroom was to make it an inviting pretty environment.  If I felt the chaos being down there certainly my girls did too.  It's really about setting things up for purposeful play, providing as many natural materials for exploration, and most important (in my opinion) is to have items/toys accessible.

I took the girls down to the new playroom last night and the reaction was incredible.  They LOVED it down there, were incredibly engaged and we only scratched the surface with the new experiences I set up.

It's still a work in progress but I wanted to share a few things I've done so far.

The sensory table!  This is my homemade super cheap sensory table.  As you can see it's really just an old bin I had in our basement.  There are many items you could out in a sensory table but I started it off with colored sand, measuring cups, and some gems.  My 1 1/2 year old had to be closely monitored to make sure she didn't stick the sand or gems in her mouth, but she loved it just as much as Mallory.



Mallory played with it for at least a half hour!


I also used the girls tent to create a cozy reading area in the playroom.  They looked at books in there that had been down in the play area for the last year but were rarely looked at.



Again it was about presenting them in an accessible manner, "inviting baskets" and displaying them in a cozy place. Case in point, Mallory yelled with delight "I remember this book." and proceeded to sit down and read it. The book had been in the play area all along before the transformation but by presenting it in a different way she thought it had been lost and found again!


Here are some more ideas for sensory table items: styrofoam, shaving cream, snow, water, pine cones, shredded pieces of paper, sticks/twigs, leaves, uncooked noodles, bubbles, the list is endless!

Stay tuned for more playroom ideas!