I'll begin with what I brought. I am the creative activities director of the MOPS group at our church and found this activity when I was searching for crafts to do. It is called an "I SPY" bottle.
This isn't actually the one I took yesterday. I think I left mine at the swap by mistake. I made this one for my daughter several months ago. The idea is to find a variety of small objects, put them in a bottle with some sand or rice, seal it up and have fun trying to locate the items inside. On the one in the picture, I had made a list of the items inside, printed it out, and attached it with either clear packaging tape or contact paper.
She can read an item and then find it inside. For the preschoolers, however, I put each of the little trinkets on the glass bed of my color copier and made a photocopy. I trimmed each one out and laminated them and attached each one to the neck of the bottle with a rubberband.
Ok, now for what the other mothers brought. This little activity contains a coupon organizer (often found in the dollar section at Target) and a variety of colored papers and index cards. They can pretend they are "working" or sort items by color or type in the pockets inside. I think my AJ will enjoy playing with this and I am sure it will ultimately find it's way to my daughter's room and her desk. She loves to play school and I think she will find a use for this.
I am sure this activity will also double as a snack! It is very simple with a bag of mixed cereals and a piece of yarn. The yarn has tape wrapped around the tip to make it easier to thread through the cereal and to keep it from fraying.
This one is also very simple to make consisting of only three items. The idea is to roll the ping pong ball or the car through the tube. I can see where this would definitely appeal to little boys, but it sometimes surprising how much little girls like playing with cars too.
How cute is this little clothes line? All you need to make it is a rope, some clothes pins, and "clothes" cut from sheets of inexpensive felt. There are many ideas for toys made with felt online and it is definitely worth looking into. Felt comes in many different colors and you can purchase it for about twenty cents per sheet. And its quiet which makes it a nice activity when you need it to be quiet or in the car.
I think this idea might be one of my favorites. While I think my children are past the age where they would enjoy this, I can definitely see an eighteen month old really enjoying this. It is simply made from a small can with a plastic lid. Three simple shapes were cut from the lid using either small scissors or an x-acto knife. The pom poms can be purchased at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and even Wal-Mart. You can't really see from this picture, but she covered the outside with some decorative duct tape which I thought was clever. I have also seen where you can just cut an X out in the middle instead of doing the shapes. When all the pom poms are in, you can dump them out and start again. Again, this is nice because it is quiet. Can you tell I like it quiet at my house?
Another one that I liked a lot is these popsicle sticks with velcro on the ends. You can build different shapes and designs with them. I like the colors and the possibilities of doing patterns with them. These would be very easy to make and less time intensive than some of the projects. I didn't ask, but I assume the velcro dots are the same ones you can find in the sewing department at Wal-Mart.
This activity is made by attaching a button to each end of a piece of ribbon and threading felt squares onto the buttons. She included many different colors of felt and each square has a small slit in it. As the child gets older they can practice doing patterns. I do think this would be a fun activity for a two or three year old and teaches them a skill they need to learn.
Story Blocks! I have admired these in toy stores but never bought any because they seemed a little too expensive for six dice with pictures on them. I never considered making my own! This set is so cute and I can't wait to play with all my kids. I am sure even my ten and twelve year old kiddos will enjoy this game. The idea is to roll the dice and make up a story with the pictures on each die. This was a very cute idea. I can't wait to make some myself for gifts.
This one also seemed to be a big hit with the other moms. It is made from clothes pins and paint chips. It would be fairly inexpensive to make since the paint cards are free and clothes pins are only a dollar a pack. The idea is to take the clothes pins off the cards and let the child put them back in the appropriate spot to match. It is a great way to learn their colors and to understand that there are multiple shades of colors.
Let's go fishing! These fish are cut out from felt and have magnets for the eyes. The wooden dowel fishing pole has a magnet that hangs down and is used to "catch" the fish. It teaches coordination because you have to have a fairly steady hand to get the magnets close enough to grab.
These tanagrams are made from sheets of foam cut into triangles, squares, and parallelograms. I don't know if she came up with the horse design herself or if there are online sources to find ideas. I bet you can get some ideas online. On the reverse side are some simpler designs like a house that consists of only a square house with at triangle roof.
I had a really good time at the swap and got to meet several people I didn't know before. I love the idea of the swap so much. I am thinking about maybe doing one that would be good for older girls. The moms could make up little kits that contain things like bracelets or headbands or any number of crafty things that girls from seven to twelve would enjoy doing. It seems that when you buy the supplies to make one item, you often have enough to make several. An example would be bracelets. If you buy a bag of beads and some cording, you can often make up to ten bracelets for the same price it would cost to make one. I am also planning on adding this to our MOPS schedule this year.