We just got home from vacation and we are all tired from traveling, but we had a great time. S. was an amazing little traveler and got a chance to partake in many different water activities; however, since it is late Tuesday night and we just finished unpacking, I am going to keep this post short. I am still in travel mode, so I am going to write about one of our adventures that included both water and travel: a ferry ride across the Bay of Fundy from St. John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia. We were on our way to visit relatives and had the option of driving for 6.5 hours or driving for 1.5 hours, taking a 3 hour ferry ride, and then driving for another 2.5 hours. While the trip with the ferry ride was longer, we decided it would be a lot more fun and way better than keeping S. strapped in a car seat for 6.5 hours. When we arrived at the ferry terminal we had some time to wait so S. got her first view of the Atlantic Ocean. There was a lot going on, from a train crossing a nearby train track to trucks and cars driving off the ferry, so S. paid more attention to everything else going on around, but she did notice the water nearby. I also have to note here that I still love my Ergo carrier. I don’t use it very often anymore, but when I need to contain S. safely and happily, the Ergo is the way to go, traveling would have been a lot more difficult without it. The ferry across the Bay of Fundy isn’t a small ferry by any means. It has multiple decks to wander, a lounge that S. loved running around, a restaurant, bar, gift store, and a few other amenities. There are natural history lectures, geology lectures, and even a guided whale watching event during the three hour cruise (did anyone else suddenly think of Gilligan?). S. loved running around the decks which of course made me nervous since I had these images of her careening into the hard steel sides of the boat or somehow launching herself over a railing, so I made her hold my hand while she walked around the decks which caused her to emit more than one angry screech and start crawling across the deck a few times. Overall we had fun though, and it was a great way to break up the car ride. When S. wasn’t running around like crazy she did enjoy looking out at the water. She loved seeing other boats and I think she even spotted a jellyfish with me that floated by just before we started our return trip. I don’t know if S. would agree, but I think the best part of the ferry ride was her nap. I put her in the Ergo against my chest and took her on deck where the hum of the engine drowned out other noises. The air was so fresh and the boat moved through the water with a gentle rocking motion, I can only hope that her nap was as peaceful for her as it was for me. S. napped against my chest for an hour and a half while I watched pods of porpoises swim by. Before our trip I was a little anxious about how safe the ferry would be for S. and if she would nap or not, but I found out that traveling by ferry with a one year old is a lot of fun. She loved the chance to run around and I loved the change of view and the new forms of entertainment it provided for both of us. While we definitely were not in the water for this water activity, for me this was one of my favorite water adventures with S.; it was a perfect addition to our summer vacation and something I hope to do again with S. when she is a little older and can enjoy activities like whale watching, although I might miss her nap.
This week S. didn’t really get any water play time. It is hot, and she may end up playing in the hose or her water table a little bit this afternoon, but other than that and a few bowls of water to play with on the kitchen floor in the morning, we have been pretty much water free (except for bath time of course). After last week’s outing to Barton Springs Pool S. was a little congested (I don’t know if it is related) so we haven’t wanted to take her swimming again. On top of that we are packing and traveling this week for our summer vacation, YAY!, so we haven’t had a lot of spare time. I didn’t want to miss a Wet Wednesday post though, so I have been browsing some other blogs and thought I would make a list of five water related activities for toddlers that look fun. Some of these activities I want to try in the near future, others I think I will have to wait a little while until S. is just slightly older.
1) Edible Water Beads
I have seen a lot of posts lately about using water beads for sensory play with toddlers. Most of the posts I have seen use water beads that are manufactured for home decor (i.e. filling vases, etc.), and while they do claim to be “non-toxic” I still wonder exactly what they are made of and what is used to give them those vibrant colors. Here is a picture of some of the traditional water beads that are sold at craft stores or (like the ones in the photo below) from Amazon.
And here is a link to a blog post from TinkerLab about using them with small children. The author actually gave them to a 14 month old who apparently enjoyed them and didn’t eat them, but I don’t know if that would be true for S. I might try them when she is a little older and I don’t have to worry about her putting them in her mouth and choking on them, but in the mean time I was thrilled to find an idea of how to make edible water beads using tapioca pearls. Here is the blog post from A Little Pinch of Perfect, and below is a photo from her blog as well showing the colored tapioca pearls.
They might not be as perfect and round as the commercial water beads, but they look like they are a little smaller (I don’t think S. would choke on them) and I could use some natural foods to color them like I did with the finger paint I made for S., making them completely safe for her to play with.
2) Glowing Bath Water
If I still had one of those black lights from high school around I might give this a try. While I don’t think I am going to go out and buy a black light right now just for an activity I am not sure S. would understand or appreciate, I do think this looks pretty cool. You can crush up and add a vitamin B complex to a tub of water and it will glow under a black light. Here is the post about it from Fun at Home with Kids, and below is a picture from the blog.
The author cautions not to serve your kid a “cup of glowing bath water” despite the fact that it is safe and edible. S. drinks bath water by the mouth full, so black light issue aside, I probably should wait on this one. Also, you obviously have to be careful and keep the black light a safe distance from the tub.
Some other ideas for making the water glow that I have seen are to use a black light with tonic water, non-toxic fluorescent paint, or color extracted from a highlighter. I guess some highlighters, but not all, will glow under a black light. I have also seen the suggestion to add glow sticks to a bath tub (or in a water bottle). I have read that people will cut open glow sticks and dump the contents into their children’s bath water, but I would be very hesitant to do that since I don’t know what is inside them.
3) DIY Water Wall
You know all those random plastic containers that enter your house with food and cleaning products in them? For us they typically go straight to the recycle bin when they are empty, but here is a great way to reuse them: make a water wall. If you search Pinterest you will find tons of examples of water walls for kids, the possibilities are literally endless, but here is one example from Happy Hooligans:
It is also nice that you can always take it apart and throw the pieces in the recycle bin, or on a cold day when you don’t want your little ones to get wet, you could give them a bucket of sand to pour through the pieces instead of water.
4) Toy Boats
There are so many ways to make toy boats that can float in a bath tub, pond, or pool. I am looking forward to sitting down with S. one day and working on different craft projects, but for now I am waiting because the second I bring out scissors she is going to try to run away with them and then throw a small tantrum when I don’t let her (we currently have this problem with forks and no, spoons just aren’t the same, she wants to run around with forks). While I am sure most of us could come up with our own ideas of how to make a toy boat, it is nice to see what other materials people are using. Here is one from the website Instructables that uses recycled materials:
While I like using materials that would otherwise go straight to the garbage or recycle bin, the downside is that it uses cardboard so it probably wouldn’t be a toy that you could hold on to very long. For a little toy boat you can make that might last a little longer, you can check out the blog post for the pool noodle boat from the blog Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails. It uses pieces of pool noodles, straws, and foam sheets to make cute little toy boats, here is a picture:
I think I actually have some pool noodle pieces stashed away somewhere and some straws, so if I get some sheets of foam or figure out something else to make the sails out of, I could probably make some of these little boats. It might be fun to let S. help put the pieces together if I cut them out ahead of time so that she doesn’t see the scissors or other cutting/hole punching implements (maybe the hole puncher, I think she might be able to handle that one).
5) Soap Boat Races
I think this one looks like a lot of fun. When I looked at it I thought to myself “S. doesn’t know what a race is”, but then I realized it was more about the activity than the racing part, which is good because I am not ready for S. to learn about competition and competitive games. The boats are similar to the pool noodle boats above, but they are made out bars of soap instead of pool noodles. While you could probably just float these little boats in a pool, pond, or tub, the real fun is the rain gutter “chute” that they go down. According to Jamielyn at i heart naptime, you can get a rain gutter from Lowe’s for $5. You can read more about the activity on her blog post titled Soap boat races, and here is a photo from her blog post:
While these are all activities I look forward to trying with S. at some point, over the next few weeks I hope to post about her first canoeing and kayaking experiences as she explores Maine lakes for the first time as well as her first ferry trip across the Bay of Fundy… aahhh, vacation, here we come.
I often get caught up in trying to create fun activities for S. in our own backyard; however I forget there are so many great places to swim just a short drive away. Or should I say, a short drive away if you don’t miss an exit and get stuck in crazy Austin traffic. This past weekend we decided to take S. to Barton Springs Pool, probably the most famous swimming spot in Austin. I have to admit that this was my first time going even though I have lived in Austin for over four years now. While it is almost embarrassing to say that I had never been swimming at Barton Springs Pool prior to this weekend, I think it is cool that S. and I got to experience it for the first time together.
For those of you not from Austin, Barton Springs Pool is a spring fed pool right in the heart of Austin. For me, it is cold in the summer and freezing in the winter, but the temperature is actually pretty consistent year round at 68-70 degrees. The pool is also home to a federally listed endangered species, the Barton Springs Salamander. Luckily the Barton Springs Salamander has survived the millions of visitors that frequent the pool. According to the City of Austin website, Barton Springs Pool can attract 800,000 visitors a year. Matt, S., and I hardly survived all the visitors. On the way to Barton Springs Pool we were talking and missed our exit. We then got stuck in traffic, had to wait in line to pay for parking, and had to wait for a parking spot (I would complain about the person who took forever to get in their car, but I take forever too because S. usually wants to nurse as soon as I go to put her in her car seat). We thought we finally made it through all the obstacles between us and swimming, but then we saw the line to get in the pool area; it was about 200 feet long and full of families with hot tired children and college students drinking twisted tea. Matt was ready to leave when he saw the line, but I thought we should stay and wait it out. There was a playground close by so I figured I could stand in line and Matt could take S. to play. She certainly thought it was a good idea. When we finally made it to the pool area, we put S. in a life jacket for the first time. She sort of fell over and couldn’t get back up just like a turtle on its back. She wasn’t too disturbed by this and Matt and I found it pretty funny. Don’t worry though, we didn’t leave her flailing around on her back for too long. Matt loves cold water so he hopped right in and S. happily went with him. She seemed OK with being in the life jacket and contently splashed away like she usually does when we take her swimming.However, we quickly learned that there are a lot of rules the lifeguards enforce at Barton Springs Pools. S. wasn’t allowed in the area where we were swimming, I think it might have just been because she was in the life jacket, but regardless, the lifeguard told us we had to take her to the shallow murky water or an area designated for people with floats. Other rules we learned throughout the day were you can’t walk around with a child on your shoulders and you can’t swim with someone holding onto your back. After the lifeguard came to talk to us Matt and S. climbed out of the pool (no, the lifeguard said they could not just swim to the designated area) and we moved to a baby-in-life jacket approved area. Matt hopped back in the water with S. and they floated around a little bit while I got ready to jump in with them. S. didn’t even complain when Matt took her quite a ways out to the middle of the pool.However, by the time I was ready to put the camera down and go for a swim, S. was calling for me. I usually am such a wimp when it comes to cold water, but having my “baby” calling for me and saying “up up up mama” was a bit of an incentive to jump in quickly. As soon as I got in S. was shivering and ready to get out. I took her out and we sat on the edge for a while so that she could warm up. Matt took her back in when she appeared to have warmed up, but I think she was still a little overwhelmed by the experience so she just wanted me to hold her. We got back out and she and I cuddled in the hot sun while Matt swam for a bit. A little later we were all sitting on the edge of the pool with S. sitting on my lap when I felt a warm trickle hit my legs. Ah yes, a nice little reminder that swim diapers don’t hold any pee. Thanks S. We cleaned up a bit, I jumped back in the water, and then S. was ready for our swim experience to be over. I think this is the first time a swimming experience has been almost too much for S., usually even if she is shivering she wants to stay in the water. I can’t really blame her though, Barton Springs Pool is cold, and with all the people swimming and sunbathing there is a lot going on. On top of that we put her in a life jacket for the first time so I think it was all a little overwhelming for her.
Despite the fact that it took us a while to actually get to the pool and that S. didn’t last very long in the water. We had a fun time cooling off in the spring water and being true Austinites for an afternoon. There are also a lot of other great swim spots in Austin. We really like Deep Eddy Pool which is also spring fed and cold, but more of a typical pool than Barton Springs Pool. Barton Springs Pool is really more of a channelized, dammed up creek. When S. was little last year we enjoyed taking her to Little Stacy Wading Pool where we could sit in the shallow water and hold her under the shade of a big live oak tree. I found a list of the top five swimming holes in Austin on the website 365 Things to Do in Austin, Texas. Barton Springs Pool is listed as number one, but I really want to check out number five, Krause Springs, so I see more swimming adventures in our future; I don’t think S. will mind too much.
Lately S. has been into helping us around the house. She usually makes any given household chore take at least twice as long, but she enjoys helping and we enjoy watching her attempts at helping. Her favorite household chore up until this weekend was laundry; she likes taking it in and out of the dryer, pushing the laundry basket around, and unloading it. This weekend she started “helping” with a couple new chores. The first was spraying any surface possible with a squirt bottle and wiping it, the only problem was we gave her an empty soap bottle that didn’t really squirt. She was quick to improvise though and figured out how to make the squirt sound with her mouth which seemed just as satisfying to her. The second chore that she helped with this weekend quickly became her new favorite: washing the car.
We parked the car on the front lawn because water in Austin is precious and we very rarely water the lawn so when we wash the car we give the yard a little bit of water at the same time. We don’t use any soaps or cleaners either, water and a good scrubbing seem to get the job done just fine. After Matt parked the car on the front yard S. grabbed her rubber duck (because you just never know when you will need your duck) and was ready to assist in whatever task was coming her way.
You could see her start to get excited when the hose came out and then when the water was turned on she was thrilled.
She quickly got into the action and loved squirting the car down with the hose. She was actually pretty good at squirting the car, but we were afraid that she would swing the hose around and the metal nozzle would hit the car so after a little while we changed out the metal nozzle for a rubber one.
She did spend a little while hosing herself down as well. She accidentally squirted me with the hose and I shrieked a little while I tried to keep the camera dry. She thought this was hilarious so for a little while I was the primary target instead of the car.
S. didn’t get quite as into wiping the car down as she did squirting it with the hose. Matt tried to get her to help on the roof, but she wasn’t really sure what to do or think so very little cleaning actually got done.
“Wheel” is one of her many new words so she has been into wheels lately. Wheels on toys, on office chairs, on bikes, on buses (she loves singing about the wheels on the bus), in books… so of course she didn’t pass up the opportunity to help clean the wheels on the car.
And S. never passes up a good opportunity to stick the hose in her face and try to drink water straight out of the nozzle. I try to make sure that she waits a little bit after I turn the hose on so that she doesn’t drink the water that has been sitting in the hose, but there is no stopping her from drinking water straight from the nozzle; if the hose is out and water is flowing, at some point it will go in her mouth.
After a while she wandered back into the garage and we emerged with her little push car. It was decided that her car could use a good washing too, so we parked it on the lawn and she hosed it down a bit.
She also decided to clean under the hood which turned into filling the little trunk full of water.And then sticking her head in the trunk full of water. Over and over and over again. It is as if she just cannot resist any opportunity to get her head wet even if it means sticking it inside a small plastic compartment. Some day I am sure household chores really will be just that for S.; chores that she doesn’t necessarily want to do. Watching her help out this weekend made me realize that before I know it we will be telling her to pick up her toys, put her clothes away, wash her dishes, clean her room etc. I know there will be days she doesn’t want to do certain tasks, there will be chores she hates doing, there will be things that we ask her to do that involve more work than her regular day to day household chores (oh no, is that when we have to start making decisions about allowance?), and there will probably be resistance on her part at times. However, right now household chores are more of a game for S. and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. She loves copying us and trying to do what we are doing, she likes it when we play games that involve her following directions, and she over all just loves to learn and do new things. I am hoping if we make chores enjoyable for her now that she will grow into a little kid who loves to help out, and that she will learn to take on responsibility with a smile.
It seems like S. is always trying to get her point across in one way or another. Even with her words starting to progress more and more every day, there is still a lot of frustration, mind changes, and screeches when she is trying to express her needs and wants. If she could express herself in sentences here are ten things I think I would hear a lot of, I call them “toddlerisms”:
1. If I see it and want it, give it to me or I will scream.
2. All cell phones automatically go to me.
3. I can type better than you can, do not take the computer away from me.
4. Outlets are put on walls at my level for a reason, stop telling me not to touch them.
5. I don’t want it, I don’t want it, I don’t want it, GIVE IT TO ME NOW!
6. Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me, I DON’T WANT IT!
7. I can walk over rocks, down a hill, by a river, or along a cliff all by myself, don’t hold my hand… Mama, Mama, Mama, I fell, it hurts, I’m bleeding, kiss my booboo.
8. I don’t care what the question is, the answer is NO!
9. Pick me up, pick me up, pick me up, PUT ME DOWN!
10. Hold me, hug me, kiss me, love me Mama.
One thing that is fun about being around S., or any young child for that matter, is watching her experience new things. It is amazing how there are so many things that are just common place to us but are new and exciting to a young child. Recently S. has been interested in ice in drinking glasses, so I thought I would give her a chance to explore ice a bit more. I didn’t want to give her small ice cubes because most things still eventually end up in her mouth, so I decided to make her some big ice cubes/blocks using plastic food storage containers. To make the ice a little more interesting I froze a few of her toys in the ice blocks.
First, I took out a few different size containers as well as a Ziplock bag, put a toy into each one and filled the containers/bag with water. I tried to choose toys that were different shapes and sizes and even one that would float (the white bug like creature) so that it would only partly be frozen into the ice block. I also made sure to select toys that I didn’t think would be damaged by the freezing and thawing.I put the containers and bag in the freezer overnight and then took them out for S. to play with on one of our really hot Texas afternoons.Most of the ice blocks popped right out of the containers, but I did have to use a little bit of warm water to get the ice out of the plastic bag. Once I had the ice out of the containers and bag, I put it outside in S.’s baby pool and let her explore the ice blocks. At first she timidly poked at them when I encouraged her to touch them and told her that they were cold.She quickly “warmed up” to the ice (bad pun intended) and started playing with the ice blocks a bit. She poked at her toys and would point at them and say “off, off”, meaning that she wanted to get them out of the ice.
I tried to explain to her and show her that the ice blocks were melting into water. I don’t really think she understood the meaning of “melting”, but I like to expose her to different concepts like melting ice even if she doesn’t understand them yet. I also encouraged her to feel that the ice blocks were smooth and wet, she interpreted this as “I must bend over, lick them, and try to drink the water off of them”.Matt gave her a little hammer so that she could bang at the ice cubes, which she had fun with for a few moments.But when Matt helped her bang at the ice and a few pieces chipped off we had second thoughts about the hammer idea since she immediately wanted to eat the chunks that broke off. I think for an older child chipping away at ice to get toys out could be a lot of fun, but for S. it was a bit of a choking hazard. She really was starting to want her toys out of the ice though so we decided to add some water to speed up the melting process. We also knew that adding water would be fun for S. since she is thrilled any time the hose comes out. Once her toys were more exposed in the ice blocks she had more fun playing with them. Despite the fact that toys were ones that she sees in her toy bin every day, with the ice added to them they were almost like new toys again.
This wasn’t a long activity for S., nor was it as exciting and fun as last weeks water blob; however, it was a good little activity for a hot afternoon. It was a good sensory activity for S. since she hasn’t had a lot of chances to explore ice before and I think it was also a building block for learning how water changes form, a very early building block. It was fun to see her reaction to the ice blocks with her toys frozen in them and to watch her explore them with her little hands (and mouth of course). It was also a good reminder that some activities, entertainment, and learning opportunities for young children really are as simple as throwing a few containers of water in the freezer.
S. really likes bags. Plastic bags, paper bags, and especially reusable shopping bags. She always wants to put them over her head, put the handles around her neck, and put things in and out of them. I’m not comfortable with her playing with plastic bags, paper bags get destroyed quickly, and reusable shopping bags aren’t always the best either; the handles loop around her neck, the outsides are probably quite dirty, and they are so big that she drags them around and trips on them. So I decided to make her some of her own cloth bags to play with. I have plenty of fabric from this project so I chose a couple of fabrics to make bags. I chose two fabrics for each bag. One bag I used two fabrics that I thought worked well together (the watermelon print and green fabric with white dots) and for the other bag I chose two fabrics that I just thought S. would like (the elephant print and the Russian doll print). I wanted the bags to be reversible so that there was one fabric on the inside and a different fabric on the outside. I will refer to the two different fabrics as fabric #1 and fabric #2. I wanted to make the bags big enough to put a lot of toys in, but not so big that S. couldn’t carry them around. I took a piece of 11″ by 17″ paper to use as a pattern and cut it down to an 11″ by 11″ square so that the bags would be approximately 10″ by 10″ when they were done. I could have cut the pieces with a rotary cutter, but for me it was easier just to use a paper pattern, pin it to the fabric, and cut it out using scissors. For each bag I needed two 11″ by 11″ pieces of each fabric, so four pieces per bag. I also cut two pieces from each fabric that measured 2″ by 11″. These pieces were for the bag handles.I used pinking shears to cut the fabric pieces so the fabric wouldn’t fray; however, it probably would have been fine to just use regular scissors as well. For each bag I ended up with:
- Two 11″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #1
- Two 11″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #2
- Two 2″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #1
- Two 2″ by 11″ pieces of fabric #2
Next I made the handles. For each handle I took one 2″ by 11″ piece of fabric #1 and one 2″ by 11″ piece of fabric #2 and sewed them right sides together, sewing only down the two long sides. I made two of these (to make two handles) and then turned each handle right side out. For this entire project I used a 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
Once the handles were done I pinned them onto the right side of one of the 11″ by 17″ pieces. I pinned them 3″ in from the edges (see photo below). I pinned the handles so that when the bag was done the fabric displayed on each side of the handle would be the opposite of the fabric on that side of the bag. For the bag I made with directional fabric (the elephant and Russian doll prints) I made sure I pinned the handles at the print top of the fabric so that the elephants and dolls wouldn’t be upside down when the bags were done.
Next, I pinned with right sides together: one 11″ by 11″ piece of fabric #1 and one 11″ by 11″ piece of fabric #2. I repeated this with the two remaining pieces of 11″ by 11″ fabric. Again, with directional fabric I made sure the top of the print was on the same side as the handle. Once the pieces were pinned together I marked a 2 inch segment in the center of the bottom of the piece (the side across from the handle) to leave open to turn the pieces inside out.
Once the opening was marked I sewed the two pieces together, sewing all sides except the marked opening. I ran an extra seam across the side with the handles to make sure the handles were firmly secured to the bag.
Once I had sewed both of the 11 inch by 11 inch pieces, I turned them right side out. I now had the two sides of the bag.
At this point it looks like I have two bags that I sewed closed, but remember, I am making reversible bags so these are the sides of one bag. I wanted one fabric on the inside of the bag and one fabric on the outside of the bag so next, I pinned the two sides together with fabric #1 on the inside and fabric #2 on the outside. I wanted the edges to be as clean and even as possible to I used quite a few pins to keep them “perfectly” aligned while sewing. Also, prior to pinning them I went ahead and ironed them to make sure that the seams lay flat and were straight.
I sewed the two sides and the bottom together. This also sewed closed the 2″ holes on each side that I had left open to turn the sides right side out, I just made sure the fabric around the holes was folded in evenly. Once the sides and bottoms were sewed together the bags were done. I considered this the inside of the bag, but since the bags were made to be reversible, these sides looked finished as well; however you can see the stitching.
You can see the edges look slightly different when the bags are reversed (see below), that is why I would consider the sides that don’t show the stitching to be the outside of the bags. It is a different look, but I’m not sure I like one better than the other.
When S. woke up from her nap she grabbed one of the bags and took off with it. Of course she wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to take a picture, but I was able to snap one later, right before she ran toward me saying “baby baby baby” because she wanted to see the pictures of her on the camera.
While I made these as play bags for S., I might make some a little bigger at some point and use them as shopping bags since they fold up so small and are also washable, two qualities I miss in a lot of our reusable shopping bags. Also, I think S. might like the bags more if I don’t make them specifically for her; as soon as the bags I made for her entered the toy box they weren’t quite as interesting as all the other bags that I don’t want her to play with.
You may have noticed the “water blob” circulating on Facebook or Pinterest lately. Recently, I have seen quite a few different posts about this giant water bed known as the “water blob” as well as information on a few different ways to make it. Originally I saw posts like this one that just used duct tape and plastic sheeting. The thought of sticky duct tape on plastic in the hot sun wasn’t too appealing to me, but when I saw instructions for the leak proof water blob on homemadetoast I decided to give it a try. You can find the original post from homemadetoast here. The key to making the water blob leak proof is to melt the edges of the plastic together using an iron.
First I gathered my materials. The essentials are plastic, parchment paper, and an iron. I used a 10 foot by 25 foot roll of 3.5 mil painter’s plastic because that is the thickest plastic I could find at Home Depot that was more than 3 feet wide and less than 50 ft long. I would suggest using slightly thicker plastic if possible (it just wasn’t affordable for me in the sizes available), but the 3.5 mil did work. I also purchased some foam stars and flowers from the bargain bins at Michael’s and Target.
At first Matt said “make it as big as possible, use the whole roll of plastic”, but when we unrolled the plastic in the garage we realized that was a little unreasonable/unnecessary. I decided to use a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of the plastic and fold it in half, so the final size of the water blob was 5 feet by 10 feet. We rolled the plastic out, measured, and cut off a 10 foot segment.
Once I had the plastic laid out in the garage I placed the foam flowers and stars between the two layers of plastic.Next, I tried to make sure that the edges were lined up as best I could before I got set up to iron them together. I cut a piece of parchment paper the length of my ironing board (I have a small table top ironing board so it was probably about a 2 foot long piece of parchment paper) and folded it in half. I drew a line 2.5 inches in from, and parallel to, the folded edge. The instructions on hommadetoast said 2 inches, but I decided to give myself an extra half inch because some of the edges of the plastic were a little ragged and I wanted a good solid 2 inch seam. Finally, I slid the edge of the plastic into the crease in the parchment paper. I started with the 10 foot side and then moved on to the two 5 foot sides.
I put my iron on max and proceeded to iron the seams together, being careful to only iron between the folded crease in the parchment paper and the line 2.5 inches in. I found that pressing firmly in a couple of places first helped to tack everything down and then I proceeded to firmly, but gently, press/iron the whole area. I didn’t have any trouble with the plastic ripping, tearing, or stretching. Here is a picture of what the final 2.5 inch seam looked liked after it was ironed:It is best to let the parchment paper and plastic cool for a few minutes after you iron it so I went ahead and cut another piece of parchment paper to make the process go a little bit faster; while one segment cooled I could go ahead and start another segment. I ironed all three of the open sides to seal the plastic together except for a small 2 inch spot near the corner. I left the 2 inch opening so that I would be able to stick a hose end between the plastic. I think a typical hose end (without a nozzle) is about a 1 inch diameter.
And that was it, the water blob was made. One thing I was concerned about was the plastic being smelly when it melted, but there was no odor at all. I made the water blob one evening after S. went to bed and it took me a little over an hour total to make it. I had to wait a few days to have the time and space to fill it up, see if it leaked, and let S. play on it. When I did, I rolled it out on a flat grassy area and started filling it up with a hose. I ended up propping up the hose end and the corner with the fill hole in it so that the water wouldn’t flow back out; I just used an upside down flower pot to prop it on.
At first it looked like every little bump in the ground was going to affect the water and keep it from filling evenly and that there were going to be tons of air bubbles. However, after a while (and a little bit of work pushing the air bubbles towards the small opening) the water blob started to look much better which is good because I discovered there is no point in trying to move it once there is a descent amount of water in it. Once it was full I used a few pieces of duct tape to cover the hole.
And the water blob was ready for action.You can see I wasn’t able to get all of the air out, but it was a lot worse before I pushed some of the air bubbles to the opening. I thought it was kind of fun pushing the air bubbles around and seeing how they moved, split-up, and came together. S. didn’t really take notice of the air bubbles, but older kids might enjoy playing with them.
Finally (she had been waiting as patiently as a toddler can wait) we let S. hop on. At first she didn’t quite know what to think because she had trouble standing and balancing on it, she looked a little bit like she was surfing.
But before too long she figured out the water blob was to roll around and play on and she had a great time. She really liked it when we sprayed water on her with the hose and made the water blob a bit more slippery.
We also put a small slide next to the water blob so that S. could slide down and land on top of it, she really enjoyed that too.
S. also took a little bit of time to stop and smell the flowers while she played on the water blob.As you can see from the photos above, the water blob held up pretty well with S. playing on it and it supported Matt well too. I didn’t notice any leaks and all the seams stayed well sealed. The duct tape held well too. The only thing I noticed were small marks across the top where the plastic was slightly stretched out. At first I thought the marks were from S. trying to grab onto the plastic with her hands, but I think it was actually her little heels digging in when she ran across it. This is why I would recommend slightly thicker plastic if possible.
When S. was done I drained the water blob and cut off one of the short sides so that I could turn it inside out and dry it. I knew it would be a while before we used it again and I didn’t want to leave water inside so I decided it would probably be best to just dry it out really well and then reseal one of the sides before we use it next time.
While S. enjoys all water activities, I have to say that, based on her reaction, this was probably her favorite water activity so far. I saw some really great smiles while she was playing on it and heard some little giggles as well. It was also fun to see her work on her balance while standing on it and explore new textures as she poked at the plastic. Overall, this was a really great activity for S. and I think Matt enjoyed it as well. I enjoyed watching them play on it.