Gelatin Cakes Part 2

Finishing up post on gelatin cake play, started  in Gelatin Cakes Part 1.

This is the same play session using plain gelatin, pipettes, straws, and popsicle sticks.  We started using the popsicle sticks because the kids asked for them, and they really got into cutting the gelatin into teeny tiny little pieces.

It kept their attention for quite a while (for some older toddlers, over half an hour),and the most enthusiastic were scooping the crumbs into cups and calling it soup before they were done!





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Last-minute father’s day photo gift.

"My heart belongs to daddy" card from Tiny Hands, big ideas.

Father’s day sneaks up on some of us.

Here’s my favorite last-minute father’s day gift we’ve made for fathers of infants in our care:

Tiny Hands, Big Ideas father's day gift photo of infant

We were able to give the illusion that he was holding the sign (and keep him from eating it) by attaching it to a clear plastic sensory tube–a plastic bottle might do the same thing.
You can see a hand holding the tube as well, which was cropped out of the final image.

Some of the kids just sat beside it, but I think it worked well in all cases.

After we printed the images, we put them in cardboard frames the kids had painted with dad’s favorite sports team colors.  (Dad may not have  a favorite sports team, but our infants’ dads sure did!)

This is something that can be done the friday before father’s day (or mother’s day, or a birthday).

If you’re even shorter on time, like I was this year, (I had an hour!) try a pop-up card with the child’s original art.  (this almost-three-year-old seems to have written her dad a long letter inside!)

Detailed "my heart belongs to daddy" pop-up card instructions, from "tiny hands, big ideas"

What have been your favorite last-minute handmade gifts?

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Gelatin Cakes – Part 1

Injecting liquid watercolor into the gelatin cake on Tiny Hands, Big Ideas blog

Gelatin- fun as Jello, but WAY more fun as a sensory experience.

I first heard of doing gelatin cakes and pipettes in a philosophy of education class in college, a good ten years ago in a video on Bev Bos.  I was enchanted, and finally have a class of toddlers to try it on.

Gelatin cake before- tiny hands, big ideas blog
Poking the gelatin cake. It’s squishy!

It’s many kinds of goodness in one.  First, you have the jiggly, gooshy, ooey gooey gelatin.  Then you’ve got squeezy pipettes (or medicine droppers or bulb syringes)  and liquid watercolors (making this a color mixing activity as well.)

On the gelatin cake itself:
Prepare the gelatin according to package instructions.  My bundt pan was just the right size for eight cups of water/gelatin mixture.  Nonstick cooking spray is recommended, but crisco works fine.  It will set just fine in the fridge or even on a countertop, just make sure you give it 24 hours.

On liquid watercolor
I use liquid watercolor because I have it on hand and I love it the colors.  You don’t have to–food coloring works just as well, though it stains more.

On Pipettes
I love pipettes for 18 months and up.  I bought 100 for $7 on amazon (and here’s the link.  In general, the ones in the science supply section are cheaper than the ones in the toy department).  That’s cheap enough to be disposable if one goes up someone’s nose or fills with playdough.

Gelatin Cake Fresh from the bundt pan and ready for sensory play on the Tiny Hands, Big Ideas blog

This is the gelatin cake for sensory play. Cut into thirds it was plenty for ten toddlers to play with.


Gelatin cakes with liquid watercolors on Tiny hands, big ideas blog

‘Fantasgick! one toddler exclaims

Gelatin cakes with liquid watercolors on Tiny hands, big ideas blog

Gelatin cakes with liquid watercolors on Tiny hands, big ideas blog

Part 2 to follow!

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Getting a handle on apple prints.

I’ll admit, I’m a little frustrated with apple printing.  The kids (well, these two-and-a-half-year-olds) don’t seem to find it any more interesting than printing with something cheaper, like stamps we already have.
The main problem is that their hands (tiny hands!) just can’t hold the apples, and they get frustrated.

Solution: cutting handles into the apples.

Some other things we learned:

  • make sure you have a long, sharp knife.  We used a dullish paring knife, which resulted in an uneven printing surface
  • Cut the apples in several ways–at least one in the classic “apple print” shape, and at least one right through the middle so you can see the star shape made by the seeds.
  • Use tart, very crisp apples (Granny smith, maybe?) or, if you have a group of kids, several varieties.
  • Use the apples right away.  If you wait an hour (like we did) the cut surface starts to oxidize and get brown and mushy.
  • Put more than one color on the paint plate so that it can be a color mixing activity as well.
  • With young kids, keep giving them new pieces of paper– it keeps them engaged and keeps the final prints from being a gloppy mess.
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Yet another sensory bottle. This one is yellow.

This is a fiji brand water bottle with lei flowers (which held up really well) and plastic beads. I later added more yellow coloring. (I originally added glitter, which really didn’t work so well–it just looked swampy.)

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Still another sensory bottle post.

purple sensory bottle.

I think this is an eternity brand water bottle. And yes, the bubbles are that purple! pretty cool.

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Another sensory bottle post


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