15 Recycled Crafts and Activities

recycled crafts and activities for kids

I’m thrilled to be teaming up with All Thing Kids this month for our series on using recycled materials for play.  We’re sharing a round-up of our most creative recycled crafts and activities for kids.  For even more fun activities, check out All Things Kids Pinterest Board.

15+ recycled crafts and activities for kids

Recycling materials for crafts and activities is a great way to conserve and reuse for play projects.  It was a hard choice, but our #1 go-to recycled material is Baby O’s containers. They’re perfect for caves, tunnels, bridges, slides, ramps, vases, and more. We’ve cut, glued, painted, connected, and even paper mached them for projects.  Toilet paper and egg cartons are strong contenders too.

Toilet Paper Roll Crafts & Activities

Alligator Affirmation Box

Our super cute alligator box uses recycled tissue boxes, egg cartons, take-out box, and toilet paper tubes.

recycled alligator affirmation box

Monster Truck Foil Painting Racetrack

Create a high-octane monster truck racetrack from cardboard, foil, and toilet paper tubes for messy painting fun!

Monster Truck Recycled Racetrack Baby O’s Container Craft & Activities

Paper Mache Cave and Tunnels

Does your little one love dinosaurs and caves? Our kid-made paper mache cave and tunnels uses baby O’s containers, recycled brown packing paper, coffee cans, and jars.

Brachiosaurus in paper mache tunnel

Antarctic Small World with Recycled Mini Slides

This a really inexpensive way to create mini slides and ice circles for sensory and small world play.  With just a few steps and baby O’s containers, you can create reusable mini slides too.

Antarctic Small World with Recycled Mini Slides Arctic Small World

Brrr! Create an Arctic small world made entirely from recycled materials including wipes container, baby O’s containers, large juice bottle top and bottom, and caps.

Arctic Small World uses all recycled materials Monster Truck Sensory Bin

Our monster truck sensory bin uses recycled dirt, egg cartons, cardboard ramps, and baby O’s containers.  This easy to set-up sensory bin is great for dirt play and revs-up your child’s imagination on a budget!

Monster Truck Sensory Bin Cereal Box & Paper Recycled Craft & Activities

Farm Small World & Recycled Barn Craft

It’s a sunny day on the farm! Our recycled barn craft and small world uses cereal boxes, old popsicle sticks, cardboard, toilet paper tubes, and paper towel tubes.

Farm Small World with Barn Craft by Crayon Box Chronicles

Snowy Paper Bag Tree Craft

Don’t throw out those used brown lunch bags just yet.  Instead, recycle them into a beautiful brown paper bag tree crafts for kids.

Brown paper bag tree craft for kids

Shredded Paper Sensory Bin

Save your old paper and recycle it into a shredded paper sensory bin.  Playing with paper is a great sensory play experience for kids.  We used baby O’s containers for tunnels too.

Shredded paper sensory bin Egg Carton Caterpillar

Creating an egg carton caterpillar is an easy and fun recycled craft for kids for story time.

Egg Carton Caterpillar Recycled Nature Crafts & Activities

Mini Stick Teepee & Homemade Drum Craft

DIY teepee uses recycled sticks, fabric, twine, and cardboard.   Nothing beats an easy-to-make homemade drum from recycled coffee cans and twine.

Native American Small World by Crayon Box Chronicles

Squirrel Pine Cone Craft

Create a saber-toothed squirrel from recycled pine cones, twig, branches, and pine leaves.  They make great holiday gifts too.

Saber-Toothed Squirrel Pine COne Craft by Crayon Box Chronicles Penguin Pine Cone Craft

Create an adorable royal penguin with recycled pine cones.

recycled penguin pine cone craft for kids Creative Recycled Activities & Art

Carpet Square Painting

Put those old carpet samples to good use—explore process art and create a textured sensory board for play.

Using old carpet samples to paint

DIY Fireman Air Tank

Create your own fireman air tank for dress-up play using recycled plastic bottles, tubing, cardboard, and old bag straps and clips.

DIY Fireman Air Tank for pretend play

Magnetic Attraction Painting (guest post at Blog Me Mom)

Create beautiful recycled metal art using wrenches, nuts, bolts, screws, washers, and old yarn.

Magnetic attraction painting art

Dinosaur Melted Crayon Art

Recycled those old crayon stubs into beautiful dinosaur art.

dinosaur melted crayon art

Playing with recycled materials is a great way to create meaningful play experiences for kids on a budget.

To keep up with all the fun, there’s an All Things Kids series tab at the top of our main blog page with links to all our series activities throughout the year.

Be sure to check out All Things Kids bloggers recycled posts:

10 Ways to Craft & Play Recycled Materials—FSPDT

Recycled Materials Crafts and Activities for Kids—Sugar Aunts

Recycled Crafts & Activities for Kids—Mamas Like Me

Toilet Paper Rolls Easter Eggs Prints—House of Burke

Cardboard Castles—Fun-A-Day

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One Small Miracle Followed by One Big Question Mark

April 3, 2014

Today we celebrate one small miracle in Savannah Hope’s Journey. Today is our two-week benchmark for no resuscitation.  Moving forward, if she’s born while the balloon is still in-place, they will make every heroic effort to save her life.  Today is the most important day to date since her tracheal occlusion surgery.

We arrived at UCSF Fetal Treatment Center today at 1:00 pm for our weekly ultrasound and consolation.  Prior to going into surgery, I was informed that if Savannah is born within the first two weeks of the balloon being implanted, doctors would not make any heroic efforts to save her life.  Due to the severity of her condition, there wouldn’t have been enough time for the balloon to increase lung volume, therefore the risks become greater to me to perform an EXIT procedure.

Our weekly ultrasounds determine balloon placement, functionality, and measure LHR, lung-to-head ratio.  Last week, they thought they saw the balloon, so I was hopeful.  It was just too early to really see any significant change.  But, this week, our benchmark week, they should be able to see it functioning.  However, I was faced with yet another bump in our journey … where is the balloon?

After two and a half hours of scanning, the sonographer thought she saw the balloon. Next, the doctor scanned and scanned and couldn’t definitively say the balloon is in place. Today they really put it into perspective for me.  The balloon is only the size of an em dash (—) yup, that’s it.  It can rip, slip out through her nose, and be in-place, but deflated.  There are so many factors to take into consideration.

On a positive note, there is a small improvement in her lung growth.  They are comparing measurements and will be able to give me a new LHR reading tomorrow.  She’s growing beautifully weighing in at 3 lbs, 2 ounces.  All my fluid levels have resumed to normal and she’s very active.

So, what’s next? We’re having an emergency MRI tomorrow to try to see if they can determine if the balloon is functioning and properly positioned.  If they can’t determination placement tomorrow, we’ll still proceed as if it’s in place and continue to monitor growth until location can be confirmed. Could all these extreme measures really not work? That is a very strong possibility and our new reality.

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Join us at Prayers For Savannah Hope community Facebook page to share inspirational photos, positive thoughts, and prayers.  We are truly humbled and cannot thank you enough for joining us through our incredible journey.

Colored Hay Sensory Bin

colored hay sensory bin

I’m super excited to be participating in the 40 Days of Sensory Bin Fillers series from Sarah of Little Bins for Little Hands.  There’s been so many fun fillers shared already.  We’re contributing hay, otherwise known as natural wood excelsior.  Our colored hay sensory bin is full of bright, fun sensory play materials.

My favorite part about hay is its ability to be easily manipulated and colored.  Yesterday we shared how to dye hay and today we’ll sculpt, roll, and stretch it in our easy to set-up sensory bin.  Be sure to link-up your hay or spring sensory bins below too.

Materials:

  • Hay (Natural Wood Excelsior)
  • Coloring Hay Recipe
  • Colored Popsicle Sticks
  • Colored Pipe Cleaners
  • Bin
  • Glue (optional)

sculpting with colored hay

Once you’ve colored it, it’s time to play.  Simply add colored popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and or anything fun from your craft bins.  With a few pipe cleaners, we’re going to sculpt the hay into beautiful butterflies and caterpillars for an easy spring craft.

colored hay sensory bin with pipe cleaners and pop sticks

We rolled the colored hay into balls to make a cute caterpillar.  We twisted the pipe cleaners together for a colorful effect.

There are lots of options for play:

  • make fun animals and insects for spring
  • create flowers with popsicle stick stems
  • design abstract art
  • roll hay into Easter eggs
  • add shapes or letters

No matter how you choose to play, it’s a sensational sensory experience.

pulling apart colored hay

It pulls, stretches, and creates a neat textured effect.

colored hay sensory sculpting

This was my favorite part—sculpting.  We created huge towers that intertwined all four colors.  Super fun spring sensory art, right?!

colored hay caterpillar for sensory play

Along with sensory play, we made a cute caterpillar inching on a vine.  Roll the colored hay into balls—wonderful tactile sensory experience—then add pipe cleaner antennas.  You can glue the balls, intertwine the hay, or make them interchangeable. Super easy caterpillar craft for kids, right?

colored hay butterfly in sensory bin

Our caterpillar needed a friend, so we made a colored hay butterfly too.  This is such a great sensory play activity and a fun spring art crafts for kids.

colored hay spring art sensory bin by crayon box chronicles

Colored hay is such a fun sensory play material.  Plus, it’s inexpensive, reusable, and a non-food play material.  It was so much fun dyeing it too.  I can’t wait to explore more spring crafts with our colored hay.  Looking for more sensory bin play?

Here’s a few of our favorite spring sensory activities:

Raspberry Foam Dough Bunnies

Raspberry Foam Dough Bunnies Activity for Easter Spring Insect Sensory Painting

Melting Insect Sensory Painting by Crayon Box Chronicles

>>Be sure to link-up your hay or spring sensory bin posts below!!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

40 Sensory Bin Fillers Pinterest

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How to Dye Hay

how to dye hay for sensory play


Today we’re demonstrating how to dye hay for sensory play and crafts.  It’s eco-friendly, inexpensive, and reusable.  Hay or natural wood excelsior is a filler generally used for decorating baskets or flower arrangements.  But, it’s also a wonderful non-food sensory material that sculpts, glues, and absorbs colors quickly and beautifully.

Materials:

  • Natural Hay (Natural Excelsior)
  • Household Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Gallon Zip Lock Bags
  • Newspaper, Wax Paper (dry time)

materials for coloring hay Other common names for the filler are natural wood excelsior or textured hay filler.  We chose pastel colors for our upcoming Easter and spring crafts.  I bet you could even scent it?!

How to Dye Natural Hay Wood Excelsior

natural wood hay in bags to dye Add hay to a gallon zip-lock bag. We used 2 packages of hay split into 4 zip-lock bags. For best color results, loosely pack the bags and pull apart the hay. A little hay goes a long way.

how to color natural wood excelsior for sensory play Add 5-6 tablespoons of white household vinegar and 3 dollops of food gel icing or 10-20 drops of food coloring to each bag.  It absorbs the colors beautifully.

coloring hay in bags for sensory play Seal, shake, and flip the bag over a few times.  While sealed, pull the hay mixture apart to make sure the liquid color mixture inside the bag covers all the hay.

Let sit 10-20 minutes.  Continue shaking the bag to move the liquid color mixture over the hay.  I checked on it 1-2 times while it was processing to shake it up.

drying colored hay on a tree branch

Remove the hay from zip-locks and place it on newspaper or wax paper to dry, approximately 1 hour.  To speed up dry time, hang it outside on a tree branch with a large clip in the sun.  I used the clips from C’s art easel.  It dried in 15 minutes.

Wash zip-locks and reuse for another color project.

Tips:

  • Using gloves, pull apart the filler on newspaper to speed up dry time.
  • One hour should be sufficient, but set it outside for even faster dry time.
  • The color does not transfer when dried.
  • I left a bag for an hour and the colors didn’t chance drastically.  Due to the natural wood fibers, the colors absorb quickly.

green colored hay for sensory play and crafts

Vibrant colors in 20 minutes or less! This all natural filler is inexpensive and can be left out or sealed for later use.  I’m constantly on the hunt for new, innovative non-food sensory play materials that can be reused and manipulated.  LIttle C can hardly wait to play! He’s already inspired a few upcoming ideas.

sculpting colored hay

It’s unruly and oh, oh so fun to sculpt.  How tall do you think we can make it? Looking for more creative play recipes? Upcoming projects using our colored hay:

Finding unique and inexpensive sensory play materials is no easy task.  These creative bloggers have come up with some really colorful and interesting ideas:

Twodaloo created beautiful rainbow barley for play.

Fun-A Day experimented with dyeing corn kernels.

And Next Comes L made fun rainbow rice noodles for light table play.

Fantastic Fun and Learning explored colorful seashell painting.

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Tracheal Occlusion Surgery: Inserting The Balloon

tracheal occlusion surgeryMarch 25, 2014

We arrived at UCSF Fetal Treatment Center at 8:30 am on Thursday, March 20, 2014. Today was the day.  Today we undergo balloon tracheal occlusion surgery.  According to UCSF doctors, this is a last measure for extreme CDH cases and for us, a chance at life.

First things first, an ultrasound to determine her position. From our previous fetal treatment diagnosis at UCSF, we understood that not only was she in the most difficult position possible—head down, but the location of my placenta made the surgery even more challenging.  There was a strong possibility that we could go through all the steps leading up to the surgery and doctors wouldn’t be able to implant the balloon.  After scanning, we discovered baby Savannah is still head down. 

Before we were omitted to labor and delivery, we met with our perinatologist. She delivered even more disheartening news.

‘If something happens during the procedure or within the first two weeks after implanting the balloon, we will not make any heroic efforts to resuscitate baby.  With the severity of her condition, there just isn’t enough time for her lungs to improve.  The risk becomes greater to you and future pregnancies.’

She proceeded to say …

‘After the two-week marker, we’ll make every heroic effort to save baby—ventilator, breathing tube, ECMO …’

I just looked at Nicholas with glossy eyes and confusion.  I thought to myself … no heroic efforts, than what am I doing?!  I understood, but hearing that right before surgery was difficult.  I knew this was our last effort and without the surgery her chances were so bleak. Preterm labor is common with fetal intervention and if she’s born while the balloon is still in-place, doctors would need to do an EXIT procedure.

After being omitted to L&D, I knew it was time.  The nurses prepped me for surgery. I was so scared.  I knew this just had to work.  Doctor, upon doctor, upon doctor visited our room explaining the procedure and their specialty surrounding the procedure. UCSF is a research-based hospital, so I really appreciate the team effort.

Savannah Hopes Surgery

Before we went into surgery, Dr. Hirose, Nicholas, and I joined hands and asked God for his presence … his hand to guide the surgeons hands … his miracle.  Instantly, tears rolled down my face.  

I just kept repeating in my head … God, please, please guide his hands and save my baby.  Please give her a chance at life!

Once I entered the operating room everything happened so fast.  The room filled with even more doctors, nurses, perinatologists, and anesthesiologists.  Once the epidermal was administrated, I began to feel numb.  I couldn’t move my legs.  The anticipation and noise started to raise my anxiety levels.  I keep fidgeting and trying to move—as desperate as I was to move, I couldn’t.  Instantly, I lost all sense of calmness.  The anesthesiologist heard me struggling and administered a mild sedative to calm me down.  As my anxiety began to ease, I could focus on the doctors words.  I’ll never forget them.

‘There is an opening, right there … we can enter throughout that pocket.’

The sound in their voice was one of surprise.  She literally turned, opened her mouth, and gave them a clear pathway to do the surgery.  It was a miracle.  There was no need for the perinatologists to even move her.  I was relieved. They quickly finished the procedure and rolled me back into recovery with Nicholas.  As soon as the doors opened Nicholas just looked at me and cried.  We celebrate each moment we have with her—each step is a blessing.

Now, she just needs to stay put for six weeks to allow the balloon work and improve her lung development.  The doctor mentioned, on average, the balloon has increased development by 55%, but they are hopeful for 25%.  I’ll take even 5%—anything giving her a better chance at sustaining life after birth.

baby_diaphragm

PHOTO CREDIT: BBC NEWS

What is fetal tracheal occlusion?

Fetoscopic Tracheal Occlusion (FETO) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a tiny detachable balloon placed inside the fetal trachea to temporarily block it in order to enlarge the fetal lungs.  Once the baby is in position a small 3 mm skin incision is made in the mothers uterus. The fetoscope is placed through the skin, into the uterus, and guided into the mouth and trachea of the fetus.  When the fetoscope has been directed into the trachea, a small catheter is used to guide the balloon to its proper placement site.  The balloon is inflated and detached in the trachea.

Once the fetal lungs develop, the balloon can be deflated and removed between 32-34 weeks.  Typically, it stays in for six weeks, but preterm labor is a common risk.  The goal is to keep in long enough for her lungs to develop.

Interestingly, the balloon is no larger than a single piece of arroz rice when inflated.

What happens once the balloon is inflated?

While in uterus, the fetal lung constantly makes fluid that escapes through the mouth and into the amniotic fluid.  When the balloon is inserted and the trachea ia blocked, the fluid stays in the lungs.  The lung fluid expands the lungs, stimulates growth, and pushes the organs away from the heart and back down into the abdomen. This allows the lungs to develop and grow in order to sustain life after birth.

Michael Harrison, MD, at the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center explains tracheal occlusion and exit procedure.

Please visit Prayers For Savannah Hope Facebook Page to celebrate her through encouraging words, inspirational photos, and prayer.  To stay connected with our full story, visit Savannah Hope’s Journey.  Thank you for all your love and support. 

My dearest friend Maytrella, who has been my guiding light and angel through all of this, shared the most powerful prayer on the day of Savannah’s surgery.  I love you my dearest friend.  You give us such HOPE and appreciation for life.  We are forever grateful and humbled by your beautiful soul.  xoxo ♥♥♥

“Heavenly Father, we ask that you intercede and place your divine grace and hands over this delicate surgery to give Savannah the best opportunity to develop and grow strong for the time of her birth. We pray that if there are any problems that they will be resolved through the specialists guided by You. We trust in You and ask You to graciously grant peace, patience, and strength to her parents, Heather & Nick, and the entire family. Amen.”

Next Entry:

One Small Miracle Followed by One Big Question Mark

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Our dearest friend has set up a wonderful medical fundraiser for dearest Savannah.  We are so humbled and thankful for all your support.

References:

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, UCSF Medical Center

Fetoscopic Endotracheal Balloon Occlusion, University of Maryland Medical Center

BBC News: Deadly Hernia Corrected in Womb

UCSF Fetal Treatment Diagnosis: Are We A Candidate for Tracheal Occlusion?

Savannah Hope's Journey

March 17, 2013

We arrived at UCSF Fetal Treatment Center on March 6, 2014 at 9:00 am.  Today was such an important day for us.  After receiving the life-threatening diagnosis from our ultrasound, we didn’t really have a lot of answers—mostly questions.  We knew the LHR, lung-to-head ratio was the most important factor in determining her current condition.  Ideally, we didn’t want to be a candidate, but we wanted a second opinion.  Balloon Tracheal Occlusion is only offered to those patients whose fetus have the most severe form of congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  Earlier that week they provided us with an itinerary to determine eligibility for their research program: level 2 ultrasound to determine liver position and LHR, ECHO ultrasound of the heart to rule out any abnormalities, and a consult with a perinatologist, surgeon, and nurse.

In order to even be considered we had to be seen for a formal evaluation between 24 and 26 weeks and if eligible, the operation would be performed between 26 and 28 weeks.  It all happened so fast.  After arriving, our first consult was with the heart specialist for an echocardiogram.  After two hours of scans, scans, and more scans, the room was at a still silence.  The anticipation was so hard for me.  Interestingly, there was also a cardiologist in the room and a medical student.

After another 30 minutes, the doctor came in to deliver his findings.

‘The heart looks great.  All four chambers are functioning well, blood vessels and flow look good, and although the heart is pushed all the way to the right, it’s not smooshed or compromised.’

After hearing the news, we were so hopeful that she wasn’t a candidate and her chances of survival were higher than anticipated. The scariest part about all of this is not knowing how much time we’ll have with our sweet baby girl.

Next, we went to our ultrasound appointment to determine the LHR. This was really difficult for me; I lied there just watching her little stomach pressing against her beating heart.  She looked so peaceful inside my belly, so beautiful.  After two more hours of silence and scans, I broke down.  No voices, no answers, just the numbing sound of the ultrasound machine.  I thought we’d get some answers at that moment, but again, we had to wait.  After all the doctors gathered their data, we met for our consolation.

The perinatologist began reviewing our case out loud to make sure everyone was on the same page.  She pulled up our ultrasound scans and went through each image one-by-one.  She even drew diagrams to ensure we understood everything leading up to the LHR reading.  For a moment we thought maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t so serve after all, until she delivered her findings.

‘Baby has a LHR below 1.0 and she’s liver-up; she has extremely severe left CDH with a 30% chance of survival.’

Sadly, she is the ‘prefect’ candidate for the surgery.  She went from at 50/50 chance of survival to a 30% chance.  How could this be happening? The fetal surgeon joined us to review the findings and discuss our options.  I’ll never forget what he said next.

‘The fetal surgery could help her, but it could put you into pre-term labor and take her life; there is no way to know. With such a low LHR, mortality is high.’

Now, we’re faced with an unmentionable decision?! If we do nothing, she could survive, but there’s no way to know until she’s born.  If we do the surgery it could giver her lungs a chance to grow and increase her chances of survival, but it could take her life. The surgery has helped CDH babies in the past with even less of a chance, so for us, there was no other option.  We have to give her every opportunity to try to improve her condition and proceed with the surgery.

Why do fetal surgery?

While in the uterus, a fetus does not need its lungs to breathe because the placenta performs this function. However, if the lungs are too small (pulmonary hypoplasia) after the baby is born, the baby will not be able to give itself enough oxygen to survive.  The procedure can help by pushing the heart over and giving the lungs a chance to develop. 

The doctors at UCSF are incredible.  I have never been in the presence of such caring, compassionate doctors.  Their determination and grace had such a powerful effect on us – truly exceptional people.  They were so honest, so real, and spoke in simple terms.  After hours of questions and answers, we left feeling sad, but confident that we are in the best possible care.

‘UCSF has received an investigational device exemption to use a device new to North America for tracheal occlusion in severe CDH. We have the only significant experience with tracheal occlusion in the United States.’

These are the surgeons that will be performing Savannah’s surgery.  I have never seen doctors with such passion and devotion to science and improving life.  They are true heroes.

No matter how long Savannah is with us, she has touched our lives in so many beautiful ways.  She is loved and giving us all so much joy and appreciation for life.  We are truly humbled and cannot thank you enough for joining us through our incredible journey.  To stay connected with our full story, visit Savannah Hope’s Journey.  Thank you for all your love and support. 

Please visit Prayers For Savannah Hope Facebook Page to celebrate her through encouraging words, inspirational photos, and prayer.  

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Tracheal Occlusion Surgery: Inserting The Balloon

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‘Your Baby May Not Survive!’: A Routine Ultrasound Turns Life Threatening

I’m beginning to share Savannah Hope’s Journey through our recent in utero diagnosis. It all begins when a routine ultrasound takes a dramatic turn.

March 15, 2014

I will never forget that phone call on January 14, 2014 our genetics counselor.  We were scheduled for our routine 19 week ultrasound to measure baby’s organs and find out the sex.  For any mother, it’s a momentous time full of joy and happiness. All your countless worries and fears about growth and development are generally put to ease. The day before our scheduled ultrasound, the phone rings.  That call changed our lives forever.

‘ According to state tests, baby has a 2% chance of having down syndrome.  You have been red flagged.’

Red flagged? Immediately my heart sunk inside my chest.  After speaking to my sister, I was partly at ease. 2%? That means I have a 98% chance of baby not having down syndrome.  I figured my age played a role in that 2%.  Our scheduled ultrasound immediately went from level 1 to a level 2 ultrasound. The following day we held our breath and waited while the technician scanned, and scanned, and scanned.

Savannah 19 weeks

Savannah Hope, 19 Weeks

It was a bit alarming to us that she was focusing so much on the heart.  After 2 hours with no diagnosis, countless tears and examining, I finally asked for some answers. The technician couldn’t tell us anything, but she did say that she saw ‘something.’ The perinatologist came into the room, consulted with the radiology technician, then delivered the diagnosis.

‘According to the ultrasound, there are no visible signs of down syndrome based on measurements and other factors.’

Great news! But, it wasn’t over. She looked at us with such sadness in her eyes. I knew something wasn’t right.  My heart clinched and my tummy quivered as she delivered a shocking new diagnosis.

‘Your baby has a life-threatening birth defect of the diaphragm called CDH, congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  She has a 50/50 chance of survival.’

We were in complete shock.  Instantly I thought … what is CDH? Will she survive? Did I do something wrong? Is it genetic?

She immediately recommended an amniocentesis, which I was so against because of the slight risk of miscarriage.  We lost our previous child, Talan Cole at 16 weeks, so I didn’t want to take any chances. But, there was no other option.  I’ll never forget the moment that cold needle pierced my soft skin – tears rolled down my cheek. I squeezed Nick’s hand so tight and cried out in pain.

Savannah 19 Weeks2

Savannah Hope, 19 Weeks – Stomach Inside Chest

Severe CHD is determined when the contents of the abdomen are in the chest or ‘liver-up.’ It affects about one in every 2,500 live births per year.  The black mass in her chest is her stomach pressing against her heart.  Oh, our sweet a baby girl!? Our routine ultrasound went from a moment of joyous celebration to the scariest moment of our lives.

After waiting 10 days, our amniocentesis came back with no chromosomal anomalies or down syndrome.  We immediately felt joy again. If she had down syndrome, survivability would almost be 0%.  So, we were over one hurdle and onto the next, the heart.  They needed to rule out any heart anomalies with an echocardiogram.  Babies with CDH typically have other chromosomal anomalies, especially with the heart.

The perinatologist mentioned an research-based surgery at UCSF Fetal Center called tracheal occlusion. UCSF has received approval ‘an investigational device exemption to use a new medical device for tracheal occlusion in severe CDH patients.’  Later I learned they’re the pioneers of CDH research and according to many, the best in the country, some say the world.  It just so happens that we’re fortunate enough to live here, so Nick and I were at least interested in hearing what they had to say.  If anything, it was a second opinion from top specialists.  In order to determine eligibility, UCSF needed to conduct all their own tests: level 2 ultrasound, echocardiogram, blood work, and counseling.  After 7 hours of testing at the fetal treatment center, we were astonished at their findings. 

Next Entry

UCSF Fetal Treatment Diagnosis: Are We A Candidate for Tracheal Occlusion? (March 17)

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Thank you for reading and being a part our journey.  We are grateful for your support. To share inspiring photos and positive thoughts and prayers, please visit Savannah Hope’s Facebook Page.

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Raspberry Foam Dough Bunnies

Raspberry Foam Dough Bunny Invitation to Create and Play

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Today we’re creating raspberry foam dough bunnies using loose parts. Our invitation to create and play explores sensory, imaginative play, and build-a-bunny fun.  We’ve made snowman foam dough and shamrock foam dough in the past, but never scented. Can you tell we love foam dough play?!

Scented Foam Dough Recipe:

  • Cornstarch (US) Cornflour (UK), 14 oz
  • Raspberry Scented Shaving Cream, 10-14 oz
  • Bowl
  • Pink Food Coloring or Gel Icing
  • White & Pink Washable Paint & Brush (for ears – optional)

We scored our large can of raspberry shaving cream at our local 99¢ store. If you can’t find raspberry scented shaving cream, add raspberry candy flavoring or raspberry extract. The candy flavoring is also available at Michaels and the extract in most major grocery stores.

Materials for scented foam dough

How to Make Foam Dough:

Add a full bag of corn starch and 3/4 can of shaving cream.  Foam dough tends to dry-out quickly, so we reserved a little.  Next, add your pink food coloring, 10-15 drops or 2 small dollops if you’re using gel icing colors.

child mixing raspberry foam dough

Now, mix, mix, mix! Encourage your child to squish it through their fingers and knead it.   It’s great for sensory stimulation.  For this project, the foam dough was best more sticky-like because we’re molding it and adding decorations.

Loose Materials:

  • Pipe Cleaners (whiskers, mouth)
  • Buttons (nose)
  • Egg Carton Pieces (ears)
  • Cotton Balls (tail)
  • White Felt (teeth)
  • Ribbon (neck-tie)

Loose materials to make foam dough bunnies

Once your dough is ready, gather your craft supplies.  We used whatever we had in our craft and recycling bin.  There are lots of options for loose materials.

Recycked ears for foam dough bunnies

For the bunny ears we recycled egg carton pieces.  This is another fun art project for kids.  Using white tempura paint, cover the pieces, then add pink for the inside of the ears.

Rolling raspberry foam dough balls for bunny body

Roll the dough into balls to make the bodies.  When connecting the balls, add a little dab of shaving cream to help it stick together.  If it begins to dry-out, add the remaining 1/4 can of shaving cream.  Pack the balls really tight to get them to stay together.  It’s decorating time.

child adding pipe cleaner whiskers to raspberry foam dough bunny

He added the white pipe cleaner whiskers first, then the nose.  Did I mention how wonderful it smells?!

Child adding google eyes to raspberry foam dough bunny

He continued adding loose materials to create the bunny.  In preschool children learn about their face, so this is a fun activity to help them practice placement and identify parts.

Cotton ball tail on foam dough bunny

Lastly, add the neck-tie and cute fluffy cotton tail.

foam dough bunny art

Super cute, right?! Our easy to set-up Easter activity for kids is lots of fun and a wonderful sensory experience.

Raspberry Foam Dough Bunnies Activity for Easter

Looking for more creative play recipes for kids? Here’s a few of our favorites:

Root Beer & Vanilla Play Dough

Root Beer Vanilla Float Play Dough PlayNo Cook Paper Mache Recipe for Kids

No cook paper mache glue recipe for kids

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Rainbow Sensory Collage

Rainbow sensory collage activity for St. Patty's Day

Today’s rainbow sensory collage explores tactile sensations, loose materials, cutting, and fine motor.  Our colorful sensory activity for preschoolers is easy to set-up and encourages self-exploration.  Last week we kicked off our St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids with green shamrock foam dough.

Materials:

For the purposes of teaching a child, I left out the indigo.  Ironically, C comes home from preschool and says, “Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet … those are the colors of the rainbow!” “Hey! Where’s the indigo Mommy?”  That will teach me, right?!

rainbow colored sensory materials

Have your child collect objects in various textures, sizes, shapes, in the 7 colors [minus indigo + white for clouds] of the rainbow.  After going on a sensory exploration, he chose pom-poms, beads, tissue paper, popsicle sticks, colored goggle-eyes, buttons, felt, string, sequins, tool, recycled colored pasta, and beaded necklaces.  Once he chose his loose materials, I arranged them inside a wooden tray by color order.

child adding glue to rainbow sensory collage

C started with the red, moving the sensory materials all around, then adding glue.  He really enjoyed our heart sensory collage activity, so I thought he’d enjoy a rainbow collage. You could always just explore the loose material and discuss colors too, instead of gluing.

child making a rainbow collage from loose materials

Once he realized there were beads, he immediately stopped and proceeded to cut the beads! Bead activities are great for cutting practice and boosting fine motor skills.  We scored an 8-pack of colored beads from the Dollar Store.  Now is a great time to stock up with Mardi Gras this month.

rainbow art project with sensory tray

Easy rainbow crafts for kids, right? He continued to add different materials and identify the colors of the rainbow.  We also discussed textures and sizes of the materials. How do they differ? Are they soft? What shapes and colors do you see? Is this bigger and smaller?

paper cloudsAs a final touch, we added white party bag filler for the clouds.  He wanted the color names visible, but you could fill the entire rainbow as well.

colors of the rainbow collage

This invitation to create with sensory materials is engaging and explores simple play based learning.  Looking for more sensory crafts and activities?

Rainbow sensory art collage with printable by Crayon Box Chronicles

Here’s a few of our favorite spring activities:

Melting Insect Sensory Painting

Melting Insect Sensory Painting by Crayon Box Chronicles

Easy Memory Match Coin Game for Kids

Easy Memory Matching Game For Kids by Crayon Box Chronicles

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Easy Memory Matching Game for Kids

Easy Memory Matching Game For Kids by Crayon Box Chronicles

Memory matching flash games help kids improve their short-term memory and speed recognition skills.  After making our shamrock foam dough sensory tray, I wanted to reuse our play materials. What to do with those left over St. Patrick’s Day play coins, hmm? Let’s create a fun and easy memory matching game for kids.

Materials:

  • Play coins
  • Foam Numbers

Foam number coins for matching game

Simply add your numbers 0-9 to play coins and you’re ready to play.  You can modify the level of difficulty by increasing or decreasing the number of coins to remember and match.

Coin Memory Matching Game for KidsTo play, line up your coins in rows, placing the numbers facing up in random order.  Depending on your child’s age and ability, use more or less coins.  To increase the memory game challenge, add blank coins.

play coins with matching number inside child's hand

Allow your child to memorize the coins, then flip them over.  Now the challenge begins! Flip and match the coins based on memory, until you have a match.

Kids memory match game with St Patty's Day coins

Little C flipped them, then flipped them back if they didn’t match.  But, you could leave them facing up too and work on number recognition.  We adjusted the amount of visible coins to three rows, then worked-up to six rows.

Easy memory game for kids with play coins and numbers

He even loved stacking them in numerical order.  This easy number games for kids can be changed to letters, colors, or sight words.

Other ways to play with the numbered coins:

  1. Number recognition, sequencing, and skip counting.
  2. Basic addition and subtraction with loose parts.
  3. Coin scavenger hunt collecting items to match numbers.

Using play coins and loose parts to teach math

C loves learning math and playing with loose parts, especially these mini wooden blocks.  He immediately grabbed his loose parts bin and started working on addition.  He alternated clear gems, rocks, and mini blocks with the gold numbered coins.  Such an easy St. Patrick’s day game for kids, right?!

Looking for more way to teach math concepts?

DIY Geoboard with Fabric Loops

DIY Geoboard with Fabric Loops by Crayon Box Chronicles

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