Saturday, February 6, 2016

Toddler Painting

Today we did some painting with water. My little guy is a handful. So finding activities that entertain him in one location for a few minutes can sometimes be a challenge. This activity gets a thumbs up from me. He "painted" for about 5-7 minutes straight which is lengthy for this guy. Thank God it wasn't paint since he drank it and ate the paintbrush! 
He was quite proud of his masterpiece and showed it off to his brothers and sisters. We will definitely do this activity again. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Penguin Coloring Page from Animal Coloring Pages

I just love all the new coloring pages I see online and in the stores.  The only problem is that they take way toooooooo long to color!  I just created a set of 20 zentangle animal coloring pages that are easier and less detailed. Translation - you will actually be able to color the whole picture!  Download the free penguin page here.

To get the complete Animal Coloring Pages download for  $1.99  SALE PRICE of $0.99 until 2/28/16 click on the ADD TO CART button below.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Unique Pretend Play Ideas

1.  Pretend Play Library - if you follow my blog you know that one of my favorite things to do with my children is go to the library.  It is so peaceful and quiet with so many learning opportunities.  Here is a great set of free printables so the children can play library at home.

2.  Pretend Play Travel Agent - set up a small chair and table.  Write Travel Agent on a piece of paper and hang it from the desk.  Toss some brochures, maps and these trip planning printables on the table and start booking a trip.

3.  Radio or Television Station - set up a table with two chairs.  Divide up the roles - show host, person to interview, make up, hair, camera person, etc depending upon how many children are playing.  The children can pick a topic to discuss or just ask random questions.  Here are a few questions to start with from Minds in Bloom.   

4.  Pretend Play Ballet or Exercise Studio - check out this homemade ballet bar which would be even better if you put it in a room with a large wall mirror.  Add some seating and move right into the pretend recital.  Ballet not your thing? Throw some mats on the ground, jump ropes, cardboard tubes for weightlifting bars and open up an exercise gym. 

5.  Orphanage - my children love to play this game!  We set up all the dolls in shoe boxes, on pillows or in pretend cribs. Someone runs the orphanage and other people come to visit to see who they would like to adopt.  We make up all these crazy stories about why the babies are there and why we have come to adopt them.  Super simple set-up with hours of fun and imagination.  

Need quick ideas for pretend play?  Check out all of our printables.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Reasons Why Play is Purposeful

Many times, as adults we may not always remember how necessary play is for children including teenagers.  There is a purpose for play.  Here are 5 reasons why children and teens play:

1.  To develop social skills and interact with adults and peers.
2.  To explore objects - touch, hear, taste, see and learn from objects.
3.  To be creative and develop imagination skills.
4.  To develop motor skills so that hands can manipulate objects and children can move throughout their environment.
5.  To learn cognitive skills - cause and effect, motion analysis, number correspondence and more!

Need game ideas for your family?  Check out the Growing Play game collection.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 Tips to Help Children With Pretend Play

Many children love to play pretend and create elaborate imaginative settings and characters.  Some children may need a little extra help to expand their make believe play skills.  Here are 5 simple tips to help your child or student develop pretend play scenarios:

1.  Ask questions about what the children are playing?  This will encourage the children to effectively communicate about what they are pretending.  In addition, it gives you an peek inside a young child's thought processes. 

2.  Participate in the play.  Once the child has explained the scenario join in at their level - sit on the floor or small chair and get into "character" ie restaurant customer, patient, pet owner, etc.  

3.  Role model pretend play.  Once you are in "character" display appropriate behavior and conversation related to the theme.  Pretend to eat the play food, talk on a play telephone or check the next patient.  This allows the child to observe other play scripts to add to their scenarios.

4.  Offer suggestions if needed.  If a child seems stuck on advancing the scenario offer some suggestions of how they could expand the pretend play.  Maybe suggest different characters or different ways to use objects.  Remember to just suggest not force changing the scenario.  Sometimes children have an extensive play script in their minds. Follow their lead whenever able.

5.  Provide ample time and different environments for pretend play.  With children, pretend play can take place over hours, days and even weeks.  My daughter and I have been playing that we are orphans for weeks.  A few months ago, she was the school teacher and I was the student. Vary the environment, playing pretend outdoors brings a whole new experience.  Read here about 5 Outdoor Imagination Activities.

Need visual prompts or suggestions for pretend play?  Check out the most popular pretend packet - Doctor and Hospital.  The Hospital and Doctor packet includes 22 forms and signs to play pretend hospital and doctor.  Included are waiting room signs, check in desk, insurance cards, appointment 
cards, emergency forms, plan of care, nursery forms and more!  Kids of all ages will love this packet to take playing pretend a step further.  FIND OUT MORE.

Reference:  Marna Winter & Heidi Hollingsworth (2015) Promoting Pretend Play in the
Preschool Years: Teacher Practices and Strategies for Involving Families, Childhood Education,
91:3, 182-189, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2015.1047309

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let's Play Make Believe Poster

Ever need to spark some ideas for pretend play?  Print out this poster to hang in your playroom, early childhood center or preschool.  You can download it here

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

10 Things Our Youngest Children Get Away With

Funny, how as time goes by, my parenting rules seem to all fall by the wayside.  I am the youngest of seven children and have heard my whole life from my older siblings how my parents let me get away with everything.  Now that I am the mother of six, I completely get it! Here are 10 things I let our youngest children get away with:

1.  Stay up past 7:00 pm.  When our oldest 4 were little they were all in bed by 7 pm sharp!  My husband and I would blissfully head downstairs to watch television in peace.  Now, I am lucky if I get the youngest in bed by 9:00 pm.  Life is so hectic in the afternoons here by the time dinner is cleaned up, homework is done and baths are complete and we can start reading it already way past 7:00pm.  

2.  Wear whatever they want.  If you can dress yourself, you can wear it.  I was still dressing my older two daughters up until first grade.  That is pathetic on my part.  Now, my 5 year old has been dressing herself for years.  I just have to work on training the one year old!

3.  Drink juice boxes.  My older four children only had juice boxes as a treat or the occasional picnic. Now, if you can grab a juice box by yourself at dinner time it works for me. One less spill and one less glass I have to pour.  Thankfully, they don't choose them too often.  

4. Quit a peewee sports team.  We used to say to the older kids once they signed up for something they had to finish. They were part of a team, the team needed them, blah blah blah....  Ok, I get that in high school but at 5 years old?  The "team" will probably not care that you may not be there to pick grass or dig in the dirt while you wait for the ball to come to you.  

5.  Play with food and water if you are occupied.  My oldest children sat in high chairs where I spoon fed them until they were way too old.  When they started to make a mess I would wipe it up right away.  Occasionally, they were allowed to play with their food when I was in the  mood to clean it up.  Now, I feel like every meal is a sensory exploration of food while my youngest eats.  He could probably use a bath after each meal.  But if it means he will sit for a few minutes in the high chair while I get the lunches made or the dishes done it works for me.  I just rinse him off in the sink, change his clothes if necessary and go about our business.

6.  Sleep in our bed.  This one is laughable!!!!  Our oldest never came in our bed.  I didn't even nurse in the bed.  I sat up in the chair morning, noon and night.  That went by the wayside with each child.  By the 5th and 6th child, they never slept in a crib until close to 6 months old.  If it meant I could sleep, I didn't care where they slept.  No one is in the bed now and the youngest is 20 months so we have come full circle.

7.  Act like a lunatic during meal time.  My oldest children ate dinner all at the same time and in a somewhat organized fashion.  Now my youngest will climb up and want to eat at the big table with the older kids - fine by me just eat.  He runs back and forth on a bench we use in the dining room while he eats one bite at a time - fine by me I didn't have to get up for a few minutes.  One time he was eating ketchup from a mini cup at McDonalds and I had no clue.  Once I realized, I did take it away but we still crack up about it, I was sitting right next to him.  

8.  Giving in to screaming.  Oh boy am I guilty of this one.  Our youngest is a screamer.  He is a late talker so I understand why he screams but I should ignore it more often.  That being said, ear piercing screams are painful and super annoying so if giving in to you makes it stop, I do it.  There is a time and place to work on this and I have to choose my battles.  Shopping at Target is not one of those places where I want to pick a battle - so go ahead and eat a baby food pouch while we shop.  I will just warn them at the check-out that he licked it all over before they touch it.

9.  Do things one more time after I just said "only one more time".  I get side tracked easily from the older children who need my help so I tell the toddler "only one more time" only to let him to do it probably 100 more times because I need to help with homework, sign a paper or cook dinner.

10.  Eat lollipops at age one.  I think my oldest daughter was three years old before she ate a lollipop!  The last two definitely had lollipops as babies.  Of course, I watch them very closely with it but we have many events that the older children have to attend and the babies need something to keep them occupied for 30 minutes during an award ceremony, basketball game or a long car ride (and I do not want the baby to fall asleep).  Someone is always watching them with the lollipop so that is guilt free but the fact that we never brush those baby teeth afterwards....whoopsie!

What are you guilty of letting your youngest get away with? 

Need to occupy your little ones?  Check out Toddler Book Pages.